1. 10 Theo Tweets You Missed This Week (8.22.14)

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  2. Iraqi Muslim Weeps Over ISIS Driving Out Country’s Christians

     
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  3. How did we get the Gospels?

     
     

  4. How Does Discipleship Happen? 3 Possibilities

    Yesterday I was listening to an enlightening talk by William Abraham (who will be a speaker at New Room Conference, by the way) and he remarked at one point, “There is no way that we are to have [church] people who are going to survive, given the changes in our culture … if we don’t make disciples one on one. ‘Cause we’ve got some people who are so screwed up, small group work is not going to work!

    It got me thinking about how every tradition has its preference for how it does discipleship. The questions that are often begged include, which one is modeled in Scripture? Which one is most effective?

    So, how do you think discipleship happens most effectively? Have you been a part of churches that do all of these really well?

    1) The Program

    This seems to be the assumed position of many high church traditions and mainstream evangelical churches. The new liturgists like Simon Chan and James K. A. Smith are strong advocates, opening our eyes to the way the church liturgy in particular subverts cultural influence and shapes us into the people of God. There’s usually a high emphasis on the social nature of spirituality here and a theological anthropology of people as affectionate beings.

    The shortcoming of this point is that it relies heavily on developments in church history, with only small foreshadows of what this may have looked like in the early Christian community. But the proof is there, even if their worship wasn’t as elaborate as ours. What is fascinating is the way some would so hard-wire the liturgy as if every component of their program were fixed and God-ordained (of course theological reasons are mustered up). Nonetheless, following a general structure does have the benefit of grounding us in the universal church.

    2) The Small Group

    People who emphasize small groups usually use a historical model like the early Methodists or contemporary groups like AA where the practice is highly effective. Some proponents do actually make their way back to Jesus, pointing out his choice of 12 disciples.

    Some use small groups as multiplication strategies, especially in the global church (“cell groups”), but there isn’t really an agreed upon approach or purpose of these gatherings. Should they be for fellowship, over meals? For outreach in the community? For accountability? For Bible study? Gender-specific? Age-specific? To use a curriculum, or not? There is something very natural about getting together in small groups though—it’s what we do in the rest of life, so it would naturally be for the church as well.

    3) One-on-One

    Many people in the new “spiritual formation” or “catechesis” groups don’t prefer one-on-one, and in fact, prefer to not use the term discipleship altogether because of the one-on-one connotations. For many, one-on-one discipleship lends itself to rogue Christians moving about communities with no real anchor or accountability. It also usually emphasizes the cognitive aspects of formation, such as Scripture memorization and indoctrination, to the neglect of others.

    But some of the quickest turn-arounds and most effective disciples have come as a result of this approach. It does take a mature leader though, and in my opinion, the discipler should not be acting outside a local church.

    What do you think?

     

  5. How to depict text messaging on film

     
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  6. The Roosevelt Lodge at Yellowstone

    Not too long ago we got back from Jackson Hole, where we had a family wedding and vacation. It was nice to get away for a week. A couple of days we also ventured out into Yellowstone National Park. My favorite parts there were the Hayden and Lamar valleys—where we were glued to our windows with high hopes of spotting bears moving through the meadows along the tree lines. There will be lots more to share on this end once I get all of the pictures loaded up, but for now I want to share about this lodge you see here (picture by John Holland).

    For lunch we packed picnic food but by the end of the day we were ready to get out of our cars, stretch, and eat a hot meal. Thankfully there are a few lodges and villages dotted throughout the enormous park, and we found this one back on our way down one day. It’s called the Roosevelt Lodge.

    This place seemed like a true haven for park visitors. The parking lot was full, and horses pulled up from along the trails as well. That day was particularly dreary by the end of it, and it made me wonder at the stories people would carry with them inside the cabin, back in the day as they would take a load off, maybe pour a drink, and wait for a spot at the dinner table. The spot was probably crawling with adventurists, ranchers, and explorers anxiously waiting for company and rest from elements.

    Fast forward to 2014, and the place still seemed like a favorite for park visitors. As you may notice in the picture above, the front porch had lines of folks sitting on rocking chairs—at least 10 of them on either side—waiting to be called in.

    It was a peaceful experience to sit with my legs resting up on the rail as I sat and watched campers pull in and out, with the gentle rain falling. For dinner I decided, at the nudge of family, to go for the Bison burger. It was quite tasty and was very close to traditional beef, though maybe a little less tender. The meal came complete with biscuits and honey.

    After a while this meeting place reminded of the Possum Lodge from the Red Green Show. Fond memories came to mind from watching this as a child in Canada. That night at the Roosevelt Lodge, fond memories were formed once again. Great family, food, and a special escape from the vast wilderness that is Yellowstone National Park.

     

  7. 10 Theo Tweets You Missed This Week (8.15.14)

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  9. "What if an increasingly aggressive secularism (coming especially from secular “elites”) is itself a defense measure, a kind of last gasp of a worldview that feels frustrated and even threatened?"
    — James K. A. Smith, “Cracks in the Secular
     

  10. The Power of God in Ephesians

    God’s sanctifying work in our lives isn’t so much about what we do in response to grace, but what he is able to do. I was in Ephesians this morning and noticed the recurring theme of power. Unlike the power of the world, which is coercive and destructive, God’s power orients people to holy love.

    1:19 The power to save us

    3:7 The power to transform lives for gospel service

    3:16; 20 The power to strengthen your inner being

    3:18 The power to grasp Christ’s deep love for us

    6:10 The power to clothe us with his protective armor

     

  11. 10 Theo Tweets You Missed This Week (8.08.14)

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  14. 10 Theo Tweets You Missed This Week (7.25.14)

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  15. Understanding the Fast of Ramadan

    View it on Seedbed.