Here are the class notes for The Bible:
Here is the video from Week4:
Of course no two colonies, or social groups within each colony, translated their commitment to liberty into laws and institutions exactly the same way. But by 1776 all American patriots called the cause of liberty “sacred” and endowed their glorious cause with the attributes of a religion, including a creation myth, a theology, a moral code, a martyrology, and a teleology promising a limitless “empire of liberty” (in Jefferson’s words) if America snapped the chains of Old World corruption and made themselves worthy through abstinence, courage, faith, and community. In other words, while many colonial patriots interpreted their struggle in Protestant terms and others in secular terms, all patriots made America itself a sort of religion – and that made resistance to Britain and Tories at home into a holy war.
Just something to think about….
Those who have a heart for morality, believe God’s heart centers on morality.
Those who have a heart for orphans, believer that God’s heart centers on orphans.
Those who have a heart for America, believe that God’s heart centers on America.
Those who have a heart for prayer, believer that God’s heart centers on prayer.
Those who have a heart for the church, believe that God’s heart centers on the church.
Those who have a heart for missions, believe that God’s heart centers is for missions.
Those who have a heart for individuals, believe that God’s heart centers on the individual.
Those who have a heart for families, believe that God’s heart centers on families.
Those who have a heart for the Bible, believe that God’s heart centers on the Bible.
And on it goes…
Nothing is as sobering as seeing your sin and weakness and then marveling at the consuming beauty of grace. God has used a book over the past few weeks to do both in my life. I have had to put it down several times because the pain was too great and the worship so strong. Wrestling With an Angel is about a father’s experience with his special needs son and God. The subtitle of the book tells it all: A story of love, disability, and the lessons of grace.
It surprised me that it hit so hard. The chapters are short but the connection to what it means to be a fallen parent regardless of the child God has entrusted you to raise is sharp. I strongly recommend this for all parents. It will help you see your journey in a whole new light. Parenting is never for the faint of heart and some hearts grow through unimaginable pain. Here is an extended excerpt to provide a taste.
The alarm goes off inside my head usually a few moments before the clock on my nightstand sets in motion the events of the morning. It is amazing how the mind and body can sync to a schooled stimulus response, almost to the minute, each and every day.
It’s 5:58 a.m. and I have two minutes before my morning routine begins.
I watch the clock and wait for the alarm. It’s not a desire for more sleep that holds me in place. Nor is it the comfort of my blanket on this crisp, cold, dark morning. I take refuge in my bed for these few peaceful moments to think about my life.
I reflect on my weakness and inability to meet the demands that have been placed on me through the circumstances of my journey. I wonder why God’s plan for my life includes so much frustration and hurt. Then I question why God even has a plan for me at all as I contemplate my sin, self- centeredness, pride, and constant sense of failure.
Suffering seems to be the tool He uses to draw me close. But the very affliction of my soul and the anxious weariness of my heart, things that should force me to run to the light, often drive me furiously into the darkness.
I know He loves me and cares for me but sometimes I cannot understand this strange affection. What kind of love is it that brings so much pain into my life – especially from a sovereign being who has the power to make all things right. And so, by nature,I resist the One who ultimately has designed all these difficult conditions for my good and for His glory.
It’s 5:59 a.m. I want to turn off the alarm, go back to sleep, and wake up in a different place and time. I want to wake up a better man or in different circumstances, something other than what’s right here, right now. I am exhausted already, simply by anticipating the next twenty minutes. Guilt begins to disguise itself as conviction, and so I pray.
Father, forgive me for my sins – cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Make the cross of your Son visible for me this morning as I approach this day. Show me your greatness in the smallness of my life. Lord, I am helpless against what is before me this morning, and I do not know what to do. But my eyes are on you. Please wake my son gently and peacefully. Create in him a good mood and a cooperative spirit. Give him an understanding of your love. Give me an understanding of Your love. Ease his frustration and help me to get him out of bed, cleaned, dressed, and off to school. Create in me the heart of a father, that I might be the man my son needs me to be. Make me like Jesus. None of this will be possible unless you intervene in my life and my family this morning. Lord, before my feet touch the floor, give me strength and grace – especially grace. I am desperate for your grace…
The shrill tone of the alarm clock pierces my thoughts and brings an impromptu amen to my prayer. A bit startled, my heart begins to beat faster, pumping much-needed blood into my reluctant extremities, a slight injection of adrenaline to assure the job gets done.
Yesterday, during the worship service as we celebrated Jesus’ birth and looked forward toward his arrival, the absurdity of it all hit me. It is absurd that Jesus came as a baby. Babies can’t do anything. They are completely dependent on others. They are helpless. They get sick. They need to be fed and changed. They are needy. They are powerless over their world.
As I pondered how absurd Jesus’ arrival was, I began to think through Bible stories I know and how absurd they are. God created people knowing they would rebel. He called a nation to follow Him and all they did was make a mockery of His name. He used a harlot to deliver the spies of Israel. He used a bitter prophet to call a godless nation into repentance. Even Jesus using twelve people to change the world and then the most competent one betraying Him. And it goes on and on. It is just absurd.
But then it hit me. It is absurd that God would show me complete acceptance based on Christ and not my own effort. It is absurd to love your enemies. It is absurd to forgive those who wrong you. It is absurd to trust God rather than our own efforts. It is absurd to live by faith.
Those who have placed their faith in Christ are called to live an absurd life. It is absurd to a lost and dying world. It is absurd to logic and strategic thinking. Many things in relationships are absurd. A person who has first experienced the emotion of love does absurd things…and it is wonderful!
The challenge is to live the absurdity of this wonder out on a daily basis.
O’Connor insisted that it was her Christian faith that kept her skeptical. She says that the cultivation of skepticism is a sacred obligation because skepticism keeps us asking questions. Against whatever flavor of brainwash is popular, skepticism “will keep you free – not free to do anything you please, but free to be formed by something larger than your own intellect or the intellects of those around you.” This redemptive skepticism is a religious commitment to avoid being swept up by bad ideas, especially ones that wear a godly guise and demand absolute, unquestioning allegiance.
I was talking to a homeless man at a laundry mat recently, and he said that when we reduce Christian spirituality to math we defile the Holy. I thought that was very beautiful and comforting because I have never been good at math. Many of our attempts to understand Christian faith have only cheapened it. I can no more understand the totality of God than the pancake I made for breakfast understands the complexity of me. The little we do understand, that grain of sand our minds are capable of grasping, those ideas such as God is good, God feels, God loves, God knows all, are enough to keep our hearts dwelling on His majesty and otherness forever.
Terry Storch gave a talk at MinistryCOM 2007 entitled “Communication Revolution.” In this talk he highlights how our culture is slamming into the traditional ideas of the way churches operate. He list the top five impact points as:
1) One Way Communication vs. Participatory Conversation – No longer is the expectation that you will tell me what I need to know. I want to be part of discovering what I need to know.
2) Service Times vs. On-Demand Content – Our world will not wait for us. They want the content when they want it. We need to provide access so that can interact with content at point-of-need.
3) Walls vs. People – We have tended to think about church inside the building. We need to move the practice of church out into the community.
4) Going to Communities vs.Being in Communities – The way we think about missions and outreach needs change. We need to change from going to communities to becoming involved in the communities we want to reach with the Gospel.
5) Asking People to Just Invite One vs. The Power of One Inviting Everyone – Addition through just bringing one friend is not overcoming the attrition churches are experiencing. We live in age when one person can invite so many more to experience Christ. We need to find and equip those people.