Posts in Spiritual Formation

Church Discipline: Spiritual Formation Assignment 7

By Charlie Trimm Jun. 29, 2015 9:00 a.m. Christian Education, Church Life, Spiritual Formation

Although I talk about many controversial topics in my classes, I receive no greater pushback from students than when I talk about the need for church discipline in churches today. We spend a class period introducing the topic, discussing various reasons why Americans do not like it, how to go about practicing all stages of church discipline, and reflecting on some difficult cases. The main point I want them to take away from the discussion and the assignment is to see how church discipline can be helpful for spiritual formation and encourage them to develop relationships in which their friends feel free to rebuke them over sin. For the assignment (see details below) I have them read a chapter on confession from our textbook on spiritual formation (Joanne Jung’s Knowing Grace), reflect on the practice of church discipline, and meet with a trusted friend or mentor to practice confession.

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The Emotions of Jesus, Part 4: Joy

By Thaddeus Williams Jun. 24, 2015 9:00 a.m. Biblical Exposition, Church Life, Culture, New Testament, Spiritual Formation, Theology

As we learn emotions from Jesus, not only does our blood start to boil (see Part 2) and our stomachs turn (see Part 3), he also shows our hearts how to beat with real joy. There is a stereotype floating around which says that Jesus and the faith he represents are about cold-hearted duty, doing the right thing at the expense of our happiness. There are enough grim-faced moralistic systems out that brandish the name of “Christianity” to keep the stereotype alive. But they have more in common with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant than with the kingdom of Jesus. The day after he stormed the Temple, Jesus returns to the same Temple courts to announce that his kingdom is like a big party, and everyone is invited; not a boarding school, not a boot camp, not a prison chain gang, but a party.

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The Emotions of Jesus, Part 3: Compassion

By Thaddeus Williams Jun. 15, 2015 9:00 a.m. Biblical Exposition, Church Life, Culture, New Testament, Spiritual Formation, Theology

If we peer underneath Jesus’ table-flipping rage at the Temple (explored in Part 2), we find a still deeper emotion to reflect. Matthew’s account tells us that immediately after protesting the poor-oppressing, God-mocking Temple system, “the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them" (Matthew 21:14). What a beautiful moment. In it we see that Jesus was outraged not in spite of His care for people but precisely because of it. The very people marginalized and trampled under the religious power structure are brought into the spotlight and elevated by Jesus. (He has a way of doing that.) He didn’t take anything from them or treat them like chumps in a captive market. He gave them vision and sound bodies. He treated them like the intrinsically valuable human beings they each were—and all for free.

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The Transfiguration Is Amazing … But What Can We Learn From It?

By Dave Talley Jun. 8, 2015 9:00 a.m. Biblical Exposition, Church Life, Marriage and Family, Ministry and Leadership, New Testament, Spiritual Formation, Theology

In Mark 9:1-13 we read about an unparalleled event in the Bible. It is absolutely amazing to let our imaginations wander to consider what the disciples actually witnessed. What a moment it must have been. But what does it actually mean to us? What can we learn from this event?

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The Emotions of Jesus, Part 2: Outrage

By Thaddeus Williams Jun. 3, 2015 9:00 a.m. Biblical Exposition, Church Life, Culture, Ethics, Ministry and Leadership, New Testament, Spiritual Formation, Theology

To see and experience something of Jesus’ emotions, let us join eighty to a hundred thousand religious pilgrims on their trek to the sacred city to worship at the Jewish Temple. It is Passover week. In order to participate in the traditional Temple offerings, people need doves or pigeons. Since worshippers need these birds, they were sold at the Temple at a premium price. You could get a more economical bird outside the Temple courts or lug one from home through the hot desert. However, every bird used in Temple rituals had to pass the rigid purity standards of the Temple’s in-house animal inspectors. Only inflated Temple-sold birds had the guaranteed certification of the scrupulous inspectors. In this way, the house of prayer had become a classic case of what economists call a “captive market.

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The Emotions of Jesus, Part 1: The Age of Feeling

By Thaddeus Williams May. 28, 2015 9:00 a.m. Culture, Spiritual Formation

If Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and a mix of our ancestors from virtually any age of human history were crammed into a time machine and hurled into the twenty-first century, there is something normal to us that they would find totally bewildering. I am not referring to air and space travel, or the worldwide renown achieved by a cartoon mouse, or even technologies that put all human knowledge at our fingertips that we use to watch endless cat bloopers, bizarre as all of that would seem. I am referring instead to the sacred, unquestioned authority granted to feelings in our day. Western culture has been through a so-called ‘Age of Faith’ and an ‘Age of Reason.’ We live in what Princeton’s Robert George calls “the Age of Feeling.”[1]  Canadian Philosopher, Charles Taylor, prefers the moniker, “The Age of Authenticity,” to describe how staying true to your feelings, whatever they may be, has become the highest virtue of our day (unlike historic virtues in which certain feelings could and should be chastened).

 

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A Divine Appointment

By Joe Hellerman May. 27, 2015 4:00 p.m. Church Life, Marriage and Family, New Testament, Spiritual Formation

I wrote a book titled When The Church Was A Family. Considering its rather narrow focus, it has sold pretty well. I am particularly delighted that the book has become required reading in one of our Talbot Spiritual Formation courses.

One person who has read When The Church Was A Family is Mark DeNeui. Mark is a New Testament scholar who has been training Christian leaders in Europe for over twenty years. He and his wife Lisa have been on furlough from the mission field and will shortly return to France. I was Mark’s youth pastor back in the late 1970s, I officiated at their wedding a decade or so later, and my wife and I have remained close to the DeNeuis all these years ...

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