DSG | Discipleship Study Guide | Vineyard Boise

Archive for June, 2013

Remember Our History | 1 Corinthians 10:1-12

Genesis 1_11FRIDAY
Reflection 10 of 55


Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.

The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.

These are all warning markers—DANGER!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.

1 Corinthians 10:1-12 | MSG

So much of the Old Testament was not meant to be normative on any level as a divine prescription for a long and happy life. In fact, to take the Old Testament as normative on a human level is to simply reinforce our own dark and broken norms and to miss the whole point. God is ultimately challenging the fallen norms of humanity, the normal way we do things, the way we push and shove as we make our way, leave our mark, on this world. Nearly every story has the warning “Danger!” posted over it even as it reveals Divine touches leading us to the ultimate, better Story. Of course, some of those “Divine touches” themselves seem fraught with danger as we contemplate them. Back to glaring glimpses of God as dictator “only larger and more arbitrary.” Perhaps it might be helpful for us to remember that though we are seeing a pretty thorough x-ray of humanity in the Old Testament, we are only getting a view of God’s backside there. Recall that when Moses asked to see the face of God, the response was, “you can’t see my face. No one can see my face and live. You will only see my backside.” In the Old Testament we get only the reflected glory of the moon displayed on fully, tragically flawed, human faces; whereas now it is the full direct light of the Sun – a healing light that doesn’t merely search out and reveal those same flaws, but that brings increasing healing to and even through them.

What is your favorite Old Testament story? Which do you find most distasteful and confusing? Why?

Lord Jesus, meet me in this journey through the Old Testament. Open my eyes to see you in unexpected places. And through all the muck and mess, lead me through this journey to the Abba’s arms.

For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.



Cleverly Devised Myths | 2 Peter 1:16-21

Genesis 1_11THURSDAY
Reflection 9 of 55

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:16-21 | ESV

“Cleverly devised myths.” Now we’re talking Old Testament in estimation of many. Just drop the word “clever.” Many in our generation would retain “devised” and “myth” but instead of “clever” would substitute “backwards,” “banal,” or “unsophisticated.” I recently heard it expressed this way: “Sure, old books collected by a bunch of illiterate goat herders is meant to shape our destinies.” Such a view would see the Old Testament as not only irrelevant but as actually malevolent and harmful. And certainly the Old Testament has been used to justify quite the list of man’s inhumanity to man – everything from genocide, to gender oppression, to slavery. Of course, abuse says much more about the abuser than the abused. We seem possessed of an endlessly creative capacity to take the best of gifts given and twist them into curses. Peter points our gaze higher. And while he would likely have no issue with “myth” as a primal story with great shaping and formative power, he clearly takes issue with “myth” as contrived fiction meant to control. He also would undoubtedly take issue with descriptors like “backwards,” “banal,” and “unsophisticated” – okay, he might actually not object to that one. I can see him picking up the word “unsophisticated” and running with it; after all, he insists that these are not “cleverly devised myths.” We tend to see the Old Testament as a dark place, and I suppose we’re right in that for a good chunk of it. But Peter looks at the whole of it and sees not a dark place, but a light shining in a dark place. A light shining just brightly enough, though it often seems to flicker, to dispel the darkness of the room until the Sun rises with healing in its wings. Maybe that’s why we find such graphic honesty in the Old Testament about the darkness in and around this story. The darkness only serves to draw our attention to the light shining in the midst of it all, the same light shining in the midst of our darkness – the light pointing to the full day.

What parts of the Old Testament especially strike you as “cleverly devised myths”? What parts ring most true? Why?

Lord, it’s so easy to be pulled into the darkness like a black hole, rather than to be drawn to the light. Help me to see the light that shines through the story of the Old Testament right into the pages of the New, and on into the pages of my own life. Give me grace not to kick at the darkness of this story – or at the darkness in all the stories I encounter this day. Turn on the light instead, and help me to see it. Through Jesus.

For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.


Christocentric | 1 Peter 1:10-12

Genesis 1_11WEDNESDAY
Reflection 8 of 55

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. 1 Peter 1:10-12  | ESV

Christocentric. It means more than turning the Old Testament into a happy hunting ground for proof texts as we contort ancient prophesies and pictures into images of Christ. It takes us back, rather, to this whole business of our vantage point. If Christ is the Word through whom all things were made, if he is the one holding all things together by his very nature as that Word, then his is the thread that runs through all of existence, through all of history, and through all of this history. That is the vantage point of New Testament witness. True, the New Testament book of Hebrews directly gives us this image of the Old and New Testaments with the Old aging, obsolete, and ready to vanish away – but I would contend the reference is to the former system of temple ritual and sacrifice, not to the rich community library we know as the Old Testament. The more holistic, healthy, and biblical view is that these writings flow into what we know as the New Testament community library, the one completing the other, the old unfolded in the new, the new enfolded in the old. You might call it a symbiotic relationship. They are meant to be taken together, the one informing, amplifying, clarifying the other. Peter goes so far as to say that the Spirit in evidence moving in these Old Testament pages is no less than the Spirit of Christ, that the Old Testament prophets, writers, and compilers did their work ultimately for us, their words directly speaking to us. And if we were having a hard time figuring that out, Peter would tell us to take a number. The angels are wondering what’s up with it too.

Where is it easiest for you to see Christ in the Old Testament? Where is it most challenging?

Spirit of Christ, help me to see your movements, to see the thread of divine grace and love in this, often darker, tapestry of the Old Testament. Help my eyes adjust to frequencies of mercy in its movements. Through Jesus.

For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.


Warmly Personal God | Romans 15:1-6

Genesis 1_11TUESDAY
Reflection 7  of 55

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!  Romans 15:1-6  | MSG

“Warmly personal God” is no doubt the last thing many of us will think first when asked about the God revealed in the pages of Old Testament lore. Dorothy Sayers with tongue in cheek catches well our typical conception: “He is omnipotent and holy. He created the world and imposed on man conditions impossible of fulfillment; he is very angry if these are not carried out. He sometimes interferes by means of arbitrary judgments and miracles, distributed with a good deal of favoritism. He likes to be truckled (i.e. pandered) to and is always ready to pounce on anybody who trips up over a difficulty in the law or is having a bit of fun. He is rather like a dictator, only larger and more arbitrary.” Yeah, that pretty well catches it. When Paul was Saul, he would no doubt have agreed! But as Paul, loved by God and called by his grace, “dependably steady and warmly personal God” is the tune he now sings. One’s vantage point makes a huge difference in what one sees, doesn’t it? What we can see as cold, cruel, and harsh from another vantage point can offer warm, personal counsel to others that keeps us alert for opportunities for life and love all around us. What for one is a chorus of banality is for another source material for a harmonious choir. Through the past two millennia there has been an ongoing motion for amputation of the Old Testament. Down with the bloody Red Queen, the harsh and hard God, the larger and more arbitrary dictator! In with the Lamb of God, the meek and loving Son who gets us. I get that. I do. But I would bid us look harder, though it threatens us with whiplash. There is more here. They are bound together, the two. The One flowing into the other…

What is your primary image of God from the Old Testament? How does that image of God relate to how you see God through Jesus?

Father, help me to see you as you are, not as I would imagine you. Let me not pass too quickly over unsavory portraits of your past movements in this world, but let me not fixate on them too much either. Take my hand and lead me through these Old Testament pages into your mercy that triumphs over judgment. Through Jesus.

For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.


Why the Old Testament? | 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Genesis 1_11MONDAY
Reflection 6 of 55

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:14-17  | ESV

“At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.” Philip Yancey tells of sharing this delightful verse (it’s 1 Chronicles 26:18 in the KJV if you want the address) in his Old Testament college course when asked for his favorite Bible verse. He would of course get blank stares. Which is actually the response much of the Old Testament gets from us. If not head-scratching confusion or hair-pulling frustration. It does have its moments, though, for most of us. We are comforted by the still waters of Psalm 23, but then consternated by the mayhem of Judges; spell-bound by the wonders of the creation story in Genesis 1, but then bored witless by the tedious descriptions of tabernacle furniture in Exodus. And then there’s all those names in all those genealogies. And all of the blood and gore. And sex. And broken homes. Finding a model marriage that didn’t involve multiple wives can be a challenge. We just seem to be all over the board in this so often dense and confusing Old Testament world. It sounds so much…like…us. Perhaps our bottom-line take away from the Old Testament is that God visits humanity run a muck. He meets us in the mess where we are, as we are, and points us forward. Paul calls this takeaway “becoming wise to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” To those who will look harder, there is teaching for us here in the midst of our mess, showing us our mess, showing us the way on and out, and leading us onto a new path beyond the mess, confusion, blood, gore, and sex into a new heavens and a new earth where justice rolls on like a river and anguished tears are but a dim memory. Look harder.

What has been your primary response to the Old Testament? Why?

Lord, help me to look harder as I dip into Old Testament pages, words, and stories. Remove distorted views and caricatures of human kind and of you. Help me to see your movements, and see how your movements then continue to shape us this day. Through Jesus.

For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.


I dance to the tune of your revelation | Psa 119:65-80

Genesis 1_11FRIDAY
Reflection 5 of 55


TetBe good to your servant, God;
be as good as your Word.
Train me in good common sense;
I’m thoroughly committed to living your way.
Before I learned to answer you, I wandered all over the place,
but now I’m in step with your Word.
You are good, and the source of good;
train me in your goodness.
The godless spread lies about me,
but I focus my attention on what you are saying;
They’re bland as a bucket of lard,
while I dance to the tune of your revelation.
My troubles turned out all for the best—
they forced me to learn from your textbook.
Truth from your mouth means more to me
than striking it rich in a gold mine.

YodWith your very own hands you formed me;
now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you.
When they see me waiting, expecting your Word,
those who fear you will take heart and be glad.
I can see now, God, that your decisions are right;
your testing has taught me what’s true and right.
Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight!
just the way you promised.
Now comfort me so I can live, really live;
your revelation is the tune I dance to.
Let the fast-talking tricksters be exposed as frauds;
they tried to sell me a bill of goods,
but I kept my mind fixed on your counsel.
Let those who fear you turn to me
for evidence of your wise guidance.
And let me live whole and holy, soul and body,
so I can always walk with my head held high.  Psalm 119:65-80  |  MSG

What is your key takeaway from your experience of this psalm?

Lord Jesus, meet me in this journey through the Old Testament. Open my eyes to see you in unexpected places. And through all the muck and mess, lead me through this journey to the Abba’s arms.

For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.


I set your instructions to music | Psalm 119:49-64

Genesis 1_11THURSDAY
Reflection 4 of 55

ZayinRemember what you said to me, your servant—
I hang on to these words for dear life!
These words hold me up in bad times;
yes, your promises rejuvenate me.
The insolent ridicule me without mercy,
but I don’t budge from your revelation.
I watch for your ancient landmark words,
and know I’m on the right track.
But when I see the wicked ignore your directions,
I’m beside myself with anger.
I set your instructions to music
and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way.
I meditate on your name all night, God,
treasuring your revelation, O God.
Still, I walk through a rain of derision
because I live by your Word and counsel.

ChetBecause you have satisfied me, God, I promise
to do everything you say.
I beg you from the bottom of my heart: smile,
be gracious to me just as you promised.
When I took a long, careful look at your ways,
I got my feet back on the trail you blazed.
I was up at once, didn’t drag my feet,
was quick to follow your orders.
The wicked hemmed me in—there was no way out—
but not for a minute did I forget your plan for me.
I get up in the middle of the night to thank you;
your decisions are so right, so true—I can’t wait till morning!
I’m a friend and companion of all who fear you,
of those committed to living by your rules.
Your love, God, fills the earth!
Train me to live by your counsel.  Psalm 119:49-64  | MSG

If the Bible were a song for you, what kind of song would it be? Rhythm and blues? Rock and roll? Country? Classical? Or what? Why?

God, open my eyes to see how your love fills the earth! Let that set the tone for all of my words and movements today. Through Jesus.

For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.