DSG | Discipleship Study Guide | Vineyard Boise

Archive for February, 2013

Daily Reflection: Saved by the Bell | Galatians 4:3-4

ea_series_galatians_header_2THURSDAY
Reflection 39 of 70

Reflect

It’s the same way with us and this whole Law and Promise business. We’ve just been runts strapped with rules too, and the Law was our prep school where we were enslaved to the tedium of the abc’s of world religion. Until the time finally, fully came, the bell announcing more than recess – it announces the hour of sweet release, of full redemption from our prep school days in the person of the Son sent by the Father; the Son, who went through his own regimen of a mother’s birth, who endured decades of his own religious calisthenics in the same Law prep school, fully joining us in that confining space so that he might lead us out of it into the full light and right of sonship.  Galatians 4:3-5  |MAV

Receive

I always loved recess. It’s sometime just after ten in the morning. The bell rings. Books are closed. Pencils are put up. And then the dash out the door. Air! Playground! Play! Running, kickball, tetherball. It didn’t matter. For a brief moment we were free from the confining classroom, the frequent tedium of the work. Emphasis on the word brief. A short fifteen minutes later we were right back in that classroom, staring with longing eyes out those windows. Paul’s astonishment with the Galatians is that though they had graduated in Jesus from the tedium of the “abc’s of world religion,” gentile style, they have now re-enrolled in that same abc’s of religion school, Jewish style. Paul points to the bell violently vibrating on the wall; to the clock that clearly reads 3:30. School is over. You have graduated. Class dismissed. And this through the presence of One who became a fellow student, who enrolled in the same school, went through the same regimen, subjected himself to all the same lessons, moving to the Head of the class – so through him we can all move into the freedom of the playground that is transformed into life.

Relate

Is your experience of life in general (and Christianity in particular) feel more like the tedium of a classroom or the liberation of the playground? How can it be more of the latter and less of the former?

Respond

God, help me to hear the bell and to accept your invitation to taste the freedom of graduation, of liberation on the ever expanding playground of life in you.

Additional Reading
During these next weeks we are processing Galatians 3-4, be making your way through Abraham’s story in Genesis 12-25. This week you might also tack on Exodus 19-24.

For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.

bible-reading-guy-782907


Daily Reflection: Boarding School | Galatians 4:1-2

ea_series_galatians_header_2WEDNESDAY
Reflection 38 of 70

Reflect

And here’s the point. You can be an heir to millions and be all set to rule the roost, but while you’re a minor, you’re still just a runt strapped with rules and enslaved with duties, answering to nannies and then shipped off to boarding school, jumping through the endless hoops of external requirements and expectations. Until the day you finally grow up and reach maturity according to dad’s timetable,
not yours.   Galatians 4:1-2 |MAV

Receive

I suppose it’s not just the wealthy with the burdens of prep and boarding school. We all no doubt know something about having life and all “the goods” dangled in front of us – and then having to deal with all the hoops and hurdles to get there. If we ever get there. Often it seems there’s no end to the hoops! Too often this is how Jesus is sold to us. We have this marvelous end game, the glorious finish line of heavenly, eternal bliss, only to have the obstacle course of religion placed before us. And like mice having to work through the maze to get to the cheese, we spend our days working through the maze of religion, trying to figure out where the walls are, what the rules might be, trying desperately not to get lost, to keep going, as we forever press on, hoping that in the sweet by and by we finally make it to the cheese. It’s a bad sell. As Paul transitions into this second “thinking” chapter of his letter, he shows us the maze that all of humanity has been struggling through in all our different but common ways – and then turns our gaze to the Son, who offers not a way out, let alone another maze of his own for us to navigate. The hoops and hurdles are gone. He places us on a path of wide open fields, cheese waiting to be found all along the way, and he tells us to be free. This is the way, he beckons. Walk in it. And that’s amazing.

Relate

Where in your life do you most identify with the image of being lost in an eternally frustrating maze? How might you trade the maze for amazement? How might he be showing you to move through or out of the maze?

Respond

Abba, I would trade the frustrating maze of life, religion, and my performance for your amazing grace. Set me free from hoops and hurdles self-imposed or placed on me by others. Set my heart free to embrace the liberating reality of your grace today.

Additional Reading
During these next weeks we are processing Galatians 3-4, be making your way through Abraham’s story in Genesis 12-25. This week you might also tack on Exodus 19-24.

For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.

bible-reading-guy-782907


Daily Reflection: The Great Leveler | Galatians 3:28-29

ea_series_galatians_header_2TUESDAY
Reflection 37 of 70

Reflect

Which means there is no longer Jew or Greek (no more ethnic/religious divide), no slave or free (no more social walls), no male or female (no more gender barriers), because Christ Jesus is the great leveler and unifier of one common humanity. Which means you are so owned by Christ; which means further you are so totally in the family of Abraham; which means, finally, you are all in line for the goods promised to and through Abraham all those centuries ago.    Galatians 3:28-29  |MAV

Receive

Pyramid. Caste. Status. Hierarchy. It’s a human thing. Pretty much every culture, every continent, every century finds a way to segregate and categorize humanity into separate compartments. The Haves and the have nots. The young and the old. Black and white. Left and Right. Gay and straight. Jew and gentile. Male and female. There is no end to our creativity in coming up with ways to keep each other (and God!) at bay. Life becomes a game of knowing your place, or, if you are bold and want to buck the system, of changing the rules and jumping tracks. One of the most radical implications of Jesus plus nothing is how he effectively levels the entire field of humanity. All the barriers we put between each other, all the cultural, religious, social, and political divides fall to the ground, meaningless. Not that we are now forced into some dreadful, Borg-like conformity where everyone has to be the same. If we learn anything from creation it’s the manifold diversity and hues that surround us. The Author of creation is the Author of intense, passionate and complementing diversity! Jesus isn’t about monotonous sameness either in form or function. He unleashes all humanity onto the vast playing field of a new creation in which all can shine in the unique ways waiting to be unfolded from within each of us. To behold this is to behold the Glory.

Relate

What cultural, social, religious, political walls need to come down in your life? How are you holding others at arm’s length? How are others keeping you at bay? How is God calling you to invite the Great Leveler into your life?

Respond

Lord, tear down these walls I cherish, these walls I hide behind, these walls that hide others from my view. Come, great Leveler, into my life and do your great leveling work in me, through me. In Jesus.

Additional Reading
During these next weeks we are processing Galatians 3-4, be making your way through Abraham’s story in Genesis 12-25. This week you might also tack on Exodus 19-24.

For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.

bible-reading-guy-782907


Daily Reflection: Plunged through Water| Galatians 3:26-27

ea_series_galatians_header_2MONDAY
Reflection 36 of 70

Reflect

And so, you see, you are all God’s sons and daughters through your simple trusting faith in the faithful doing and dying of Jesus Christ, because you all share the same birth experience: plunged through water in baptism into a dynamic walk with Christ, then totally wrapping yourself up in him. Galatians 3:26-27  |MAV

Receive

“That’s not the issue Delmar. Even if that did put you square with the Lord, the State of Mississippi’s a little more hard-nosed. [laughs] Baptism! You two are just dumber than a bag of hammers!” It’s one of my favorite lines from O Brother Where Art Thou? Right up there with “Mrs. Hogwallop up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T.” Baptism doesn’t make much sense to us. Neither does Jesus. Especially Jesus plus nothing. So totally disarming. Nothing to boast about. No bragging rights. No achievements to parade. Just the faithful doing and dying of Jesus and our simple trust. Trust through which we ultimately lose ourselves in him so we can really find ourselves. And perhaps that’s why “baptism” retains its place as a culturally significant faith portal of sorts through which we find ourselves plunged into Jesus, overwhelmed with his mercies, deluged with the divine design, emerging wrapped up in him, clothed with Christ – even if Mississippi is a bit more hard-nosed and we only appear to be all wet, and, well, “dumber than a bag of hammers.” But as Jesus told the master of religion known as Nicodemus, it’s not a matter of hard work (though we will be pressed!), but only of being born. So Paul reminds the Galatians that it’s not the circumciser’s knife and all that entails, but rather the birth they had already experienced through their simple trust in Jesus’ work on their behalf. A trust captured, encapsulated in the plunging through baptism’s pool.

Relate

Where in your life are you still hunting for bragging rights? In what ways do you need to allow the effects of the new birth, of this plunging through water in baptism, to disarm you of your religious pretentions so you can be free to simply wear Jesus for all the world to see?

Respond

Jesus, overwhelm me anew with your mercies today; let me be deluged again with your divine designs for me. Let me not take on airs today – let me simply put on the garment of grace that is you. Amen.

Additional Reading
During these next weeks we are processing Galatians 3-4, be making your way through Abraham’s story in Genesis 12-25. This week you might also tack on Exodus 19-24.

For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.

bible-reading-guy-782907


Daily Reflection: Pedagogue | Galatians 3:23-25

ea_series_galatians_header_2FRIDAY
Reflection 35 of 70

Reflect

But before the curtain rose on the faithful doing and dying of Jesus, the Law served as humanity’s prison warden, faithfully standing guard until the faithful Messiah showed and anted up. Or, to try another picture, the Law served as bus driver – and bus – bringing us to the divine schoolroom that is Jesus so we could begin learning the abc’s of quiet trust and find our feet in God. And now that we have arrived in the schoolroom of faith, we can get off the bus!  Galatians 3:23-25  |MAV

Receive

“And Paul was dialoguing daily in the schoolroom of Tyrannus” (see Acts 19:9). Schole (sko-lay) translated “lecture hall” or, well, “school.” It literally refers to a place of leisure, a place free from labor and deadlines, from pressures and stress. Perhaps the best English equivalent is “hang out.” Sounds like the Greeks knew a thing or two about education – a thing or two we could probably stand to learn in our culture. Paul says the Law was our “schoolmaster” in the classic translation. The Greek word is the word from which we get our word pedagogue. The pedagogue typically was a slave in a more well-to-do Greek household into whose care the child was entrusted. Think Jiminy Cricket. The pedagogue passed on some key life lessons as he walked with child, protected him from danger and distractions, and made sure he made it to the schole where the child could finally sit at the teacher’s feet in a place of leisure and the real learning could take place. The Law is the school bus in our culture. It gets us to the real School so we can learn from the real Teacher. Lessons of God, of grace, of love, of faith. Time to get off the bus, people, and join the ultimate student body at his feet.

Relate

Does Christianity feel more like a classroom in our culture with its assignments, homework, finals, pressure, and stress? Or is it a place of leisure and learning, of absorbing the truth of God? What would you say is the key to it being more of the latter and less of the former?

Respond

Jesus, let me not have to be pried out of the bus – let me eagerly run to join the circle of disciples sitting at your feet. Thank you for making space for me in that circle. Show me the way to find leisure with you there today.

Additional Reading
During these next weeks we are processing Galatians 3-4, be making your way through Abraham’s story in Genesis 12-25. This week you might also tack on Exodus 19-24.

For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.

bible-reading-guy-782907


Daily Reflection: The Mother of All Deficits | Galatians 3:21-22

ea_series_galatians_header_2THURSDAY
Reflection 34 of 70

Reflect

So, does this mean that the Law of Moses stands opposed to God’s promise? No, no, NO! In fact, if a system of religious law and performance could have communicated life, then the Law of Moses would have been the answer to our need for a whole, healed, upright walk before God in this world. But instead this very Law made it very clear that sin has taxed and spent us into the mother of all deficits – and the bill is now due; the Law could offer only a temporary bailout at best. And this set us up for the promised way out: the faithful doing and dying of Jesus Christ has fully arrived paying all in full, leaving a hefty surplus on the doorstep of each and every one who possesses quiet trust in his finished work.  Galatians 3:21-22  MAV

Receive

Murion talanton. A myriad of “talents.” It’s the amount specified in Jesus’ tale of the unforgiving servant (see Matthew 18:21-35). Some say this amount was equivalent to the gross national product of the entire Roman Empire. Ten times over. How could anyone even spend that much? But we have. We do. It’s the mother of all deficits. We are powerless to even begin repaying such a dept. All the creditor can do is sell us, our spouse, our kids, our stuff. And then it’s off to work off the rest in debtor’s prison. Sounds too much like most religious systems to me. The Law is all about ensuring we know we are debtors and that we must pay in full. And it will hound us all our days like Javert in Les Miserables until we do. Religious systems are always promising a bailout – but though the immediate situation may be eased, the debt and deficit remains, leading us to always come back for more. And then there are always those pesky attached strings. Law and Religion are only witnesses to our ruin. But Jesus pays. The Promise is the ultimate pay out, not only getting us out of the red, but leaving us swimming in a divine surplus beyond our wildest dreams. And it’s just ‘cuz.

Relate

Does your spiritual walk feel more like endlessly paying off your debt (and perhaps someday we’ll actually get beyond the interest to the principal!) or do you feel like you are swimming in a surplus? Why? How hard is it for you to let someone else cover your debts?

Respond

Lord, let me receive your generosity (grace) and then let that generosity flow through me to others. Make my life the ultimate swimming party with people crowding into the deep waters of your abundant supply in Jesus.

Additional Reading
During these next weeks we are processing Galatians 3-4, be making your way through Abraham’s story in Genesis 12-25. This week you might also tack on Exodus 19-24.

For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.

bible-reading-guy-782907


Daily Reflection: Direct Deposit | Galatians 3:19-20

ea_series_galatians_header_2WEDNESDAY
Reflection 33 of 70

Reflect

So why then all this bother with the Law of Moses in the first place? How exactly does it fit into the equation? Three words:  our moral failures. Law was added to the overall equation to identify and try to contain our troublemaking transgressing tendencies – until the real Solution showed up: the Seed, Abraham’s Progeny, the Primary Point of the whole promise. And to leave no doubt that the Promise is Primary, the Law was not even a direct deposit! It was commissioned through heavenly reps who put it in the hand of a human mediator (Moses) who in turn delivered it to the all too human people waiting below. The mere presence of a mediator proves we are dealing with multiple parties resulting in a secondhand arrangement rather than the divine one-on-one direct nature of the promise.  Galatians 3:19-20 |MAV

Receive

During my former religious life in another church franchise, we commonly used the analogy of endorsing a check for receiving salvation (the divine goods). It went something like this: God has given us salvation through Jesus, but it’s in the form of a check (a promise to pay). And now we must endorse it. So between us and our by-and-by receiving of the goods is a piece of paper, and a financial institution. Hopefully the bank is open. Hopefully they will honor this check. Will they accept my I.D.? Hopefully there aren’t any check cashing fees. And hopefully my pen doesn’t run out of ink. We would emphasize water baptism as the real endorsing of God’s check. The religious bankers that showed up among the Galatians insisted it was the snipping of circumcision. Oh yes, and there are fees, too. It’s complicated. Paul reminds the Galatians (and us!) of some very basic good news: there’s no check to endorse. No fees to face. No institution in which to line up for the goods. Jesus is direct deposit. The promise is instant download. “When you heard the Message, the Truth, the Good News of your salvation, and when you believed it, you were marked in Him with a seal, the Holy Spirit, the Promise” (see Ephesians 1:13). Forget the check. Take the download.

Relate

Does your spiritual walk in Jesus feel like direct deposit – with the goods on hand and ready to be accessed now – or do feel like you are still waiting for a divine check to clear? Why?

Respond

God, can it be true? Can it be so simple, so direct to access you and all you have for me? Give me faith to see it, and a heart open and ready for you to deposit in me exactly what I need this day. Through Jesus.

Additional Reading
During these next weeks we are processing Galatians 3-4, be making your way through Abraham’s story in Genesis 12-25. This week you might also tack on Exodus 19-24.

For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.

bible-reading-guy-782907