Recently I taught on 1 Timothy 4:7-8: "7...train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." Over the course of about 40 minutes, I get into WHAT true godliness is, WHY it's important, and HOW we train ourselves for it.
As the Brookside Institute champions values like biblical literacy and theological formation, let's not forget that these aren't ends-in-themselves. Let's train ourselves for godliness.
Earlier this summer I took some time and worked through John S. Feinberg's helpful (and thorough - 799 pages!) Light in a Dark Place: The Doctrine of Scripture. Among so many other things I enjoyed about the book, I benefited from how we approached something called "the animation of Scripture" - the belief that Scripture has life-giving, life-changing power that no other book shares.
This life-giving, life changing power of the Bible is WHY the Brookside Institute champions biblical literacy and Bible engagement in all the ways it does. Not because Bible engagement is an end-in-itself, but because the Bible is the primary means by which God introduces Himself, a primary way the Spirit works to grow us, and the clearest presentation of the all-satisfying Person and work of Christ.
Toward the end of this chapter on the animating power of the Bible, Feinberg draws several practical implications from this belief. Let me quote one of the implications he highlights (from pp. 678-69), in hopes that this will encourage all of us to keep coming back to the Bible, that we might experience the life-changing, life-giving power it offers in all the ways it offers it:
God's word has power like no other words ever spoken. Thus, it should be the focus of our study and of our everyday living. Whatever we are called to do, and whatever challenges confront us, our first response should always be to ask what Scripture says about the subject and the deeds in question. Needless to say, that can't happen if we don't read and ponder Scripture. Sadly, even Christians committed to verbal plenary inspiration, the fully inerrancy of Scripture, and the power of God's word find little time in the course of a week to read even a little of it. Believers know the message of Psalm 1 as it compares the happy and blessed man with the man who is unhappy and heading for disaster. The key to both is what they do with Scripture. They happy man grounds his life in God's word. He does not merely take a 'small taste' of it for a half-hour each Sunday morning when his pastor preaches. He meditates on God's word both day and night. As a result, when the storms of life confront him, he survives and even flourishes. The unhappy man, whose life is grounded in pleasure, money-making, self-aggrandizement and / or any of the many philosophies that leave out God and his word, is not ready for life's challenges. At some time in his life there will likely be disaster and ruin, and even if not in this life, he is headed for a horrific eternity.
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Did you miss some of the most frequented posts at the Brookside Institute recently? It's not too late!
Based on the number of "hits" each month, here's our highlight reel of the top 5 posts here on the Brookside Institute blog for the last six months - January 2018 through June 2018.
Take a minute to scroll through the list below, and either catch up on things you may have missed or revisit things that were especially helpful.
In 1 Corinthians 6, the Apostle Paul includes a strong command that will sound counter-cultural to any American in the early 21st century: "Flee sexual immorality" (1 Corinthians 6:18).
As we read this command, we may ask, "How can Paul say this?" The short answer is that Paul's gospel-centered theology drives the way he thinks about ethics and lifestyle issues. To see this, we need to zoom out a bit and look at the larger context.
Summer is upon us!
If you've got some extra time over the next couple of months - maybe you're traveling a bit, or your summer schedule allows you more time to read for other reasons, or you just want some book recommendations as you maintain a habit of reading - here are a few books (in categories we should keep on our radar screens) you may want to consider. These are books that I've either read recently myself, or am hoping to dig into in the next couple of months.
I encourage you to explore these books a bit (each is linked to their Amazon page where you can learn more), then choose whichever one or two jumps out at you most and dig in!
Every year my wife plants a big garden, and we look forward to all the fruit of that garden throughout the summer and into the Fall. She plants lettuce and tomatoes and peppers and whole lot of other things.
But we also know that if we’re going to eat the fruit of the garden, we need to actively be dealing with the weeds in the garden. Because weeds will steal light and nutrients from the plants we want to grow. Weeds crowd out space you want for the crops to flourish.
Dealing with weeds is a struggle. It’s work! But it’s worth it.
In Colossians 3:5-11, the Apostle Paul tells us to make sure we're dealing with the weeds in our garden. Listen to what he says:
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality,impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
In his recent book, Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, author and pastor Timothy Keller summarizes the storyline of the Bible - climaxing in the sending and sacrifice of Jesus Christ - in a helpful way. And all in about 300 words. (306, to be exact.)
His summary is too good to pass up. I've included it here (from p. 58 of his Preaching book):
If you ever check out either the Library or the footer of this site, where we highlight the top 5 posts of the previous month, you'll have seen "What's Good about Having the Bible on Mobile Devices? And What's Dangerous?" has been on this "Top 5" streak for a while (a long while!). And it's understandable why.
We should WANT to make the Bible accessible in all of the ways we can. Getting God's Word into the hands of as many people as possible is a good thing. But we should also want to be aware of any dangers that can accompany recent trends - not so we avoid the trend itself (and all its benefits!), but so that we can mitigate against particular dangers and have them on our radar screen.
If you've not checked out the post, you can do so here.
So as a nod to the popularity of this post, I'm officially going to "retire the jersey." I'll leave the post just as it is on the site and will include it in the "retired jersey" category of this site's "Library" page. However, moving forward I'll no longer include it in numbers 1-5 of each month's top posts (even though it continues to rank highly among the website "hits" for individual posts), thus allowing room for other posts.
Interested in other posts that have gotten a lot of traffic on this site recently? Click here to check 'em out!
Interested in seeing all of the "retired jersey" posts up to this point? Here they are:
I love to teach. I believe that a healthy teaching ministry is vital to the life of a vibrant local church. And I want to emphasize a healthy, deeply-understood gospel centrality as I teach.
Since that's the case, I'm grateful for how Trevin Wax - Bible and resource publisher at Lifeway Christian Resources - articulates what gospel-centered teaching looks like in this brief (less than 3 min) video clip. I'm including it here, both to circulate good content via this site, and to keep it for handy reference for the future! :)
There are all sorts of ways to engage the Bible. We want to be reading it daily. We hear it preached. Both of these are good things. And, I would even say, they're the most common and frequent habits we want to encourage. But these two disciplines - hearing and reading - aren't the only "tools in the toolbox" for how we engage God's Word.
Here's where the time-tested "word hand" developed by the Navigators is a helpful overview of the various methods we want to use as we get into the Bible. The five methods outlined in this "word hand" are (1) Hear, (2) Read, (3) Study, (4) Memorize, and (5) Meditate. As we engage the Bible over a lifetime, we don't want to limit ourselves to only hearing and reading. We want to discover the benefits that EACH of these habits offers as we follow Jesus.
In this post, I want to briefly touch on the third method mentioned above, studying the Bible.
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