What’s Been Going On (And What’s Happening Now)

(Cross-posted with Circleslide)

I’ve spent the last three weeks in the USA, attending the Pepperdine Lectureship and visiting family, friends, and churches.  During that time, I have NOT been teaching, and have not posted any new material.

All that changes this week! Much new content on the way!

  • Starting this week, I am posting a new class here at Narrative Discipleship.  This is a tečaj  (a short course) I am teaching at Biblijski institut, a paragraph-by-paragraph study of Paul’s letter to the Romans.  I will post new lectures in Croatian and English every week, along with all the handouts etc.
  • In July, I will begin posting new weekly Bible class lessons from Kristova Crkva Kušlanova in Zagreb.  I think I will be teaching the letter of James.
  • In September, we will pick up the Narrative Discipleship series with part 4, the teaching of Jesus.

Narrative Discipleship: The Story of Ruth

This lesson, taught at Kristova Crkva Kušlanova on 22 April 2018, demonstrates the application of the principles and approach of narrative discipleship to a single book (or story) of the Bible.

Part 1: What is the story of Ruth? It is a wisdom story about how God works in unexpected places, through unexpected people, to redeem (make good things happen in the midst of difficulty.)

Part 2: Character-building: One of the principles of applying narrative discipleship to a story is to notice how the characters are built. Here, we get to know the characters in Ruth’s story by watching what they do, and how the text describes them.

Part 3: Redeemed.  As we get to the end of the story (but not the end of the lesson), we see how the organization of the plot, the sequence of events, adds “punch!” (emphasis, prominence) to one of the significant points that the storyteller wants us to understand.

Part 4: Wrapping it up: as the story ends, we talk about some of the things it teaches us about God and our faith.

Covenant, pt 2 (Genesis 15)

If anyone asked me what piece of doctrine can, properly understood, have the greatest positive impact on the life of the average Christian, I would answer: “Understanding that your relationship with God is not a contract, where you get what you deserve.  Your relationship with God is a covenant, where you belong to him and he belongs to you.”

The covenantal basis of your relationship with God is the foundation for understanding grace, faith, obedience, EVERYTHING.

And the background for understanding this doctrine is Genesis 15.  I am not overstating when I say that this is the most important chapter in the Old Testament for Christian theology, faith, and life.

I taught the following lesson at Kristova Crkva Kušlanova in Zagreb, Croatia, on 25 March 2018.  Slides and audio are in both English and Croatian.

Here are the handouts:

Pt 1: Review and background for understanding Genesis 15; in this section, I discuss the context of Genesis 15 in the Abraham story.

Pt 2: God renews and expands his covenant promise to Abraham.  What is the point of this odd story in Genesis 15, where Abraham cuts animals in half and sees fire hanging in the sky?

Pt 3: How does God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15 play out in the rest of Abraham’s story?  The rest of the story shows Abraham’s faithfulness and failures.  Through it all, God demonstrates his faithfulness to Abraham, even when Abraham is faithless.  2 Timothy 2.13: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.”

Pt 4: How does the covenant of Genesis 15 apply to our lives?  It shows us the promise that provides the foundation of God’s faithfulness to us.  We are just like Abraham, and our relationship with God is based on HIS relationship to God.

Covenant, pt 1

Part 1 of the Narrative Discipleship lesson on Covenant (Savez): “God the Redeemer”.

I taught this at Kristova Crkva Kušlanova in Zagreb on 18 March 2018.

In our review of the second part of the story–Corruption, the effects of the fall–I pointed out how God acts as redeemer from the minute sin and destruction enter the picture. God is ALWAYS acting to save sinners, and to make good things happen in the midst of the wreckage we leave behind.

Part 2: “What is a covenant?” How did ancient Near-Eastern covenants work?

Part 3: “Abraham’s Covenant and Ours”.

Why should you care how ancient Near-Eastern covenants worked?  (How Abraham’s covenant with God helps us understand our covenant with God.)

Finishing “What’s the Problem” “Što nije u redu?”

Here are the materials for the Narrative Discipleship class I taught on 4 March 2018 at Kristova crkva Kušlanova in Zagreb, Croatia.  The materials are in Croatian and English.  There were no new handouts this week; we finished the material from last week.

1.Intro and review

2. Discussion of what Satan is like, and the nature of sin.

3. Discussion of the far-reaching consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin, focusing on shame.

The discussion of shame’s legitimacy got a little side-tracked; we had several definitions of shame operating, and didn’t separate them out.  I will follow up in a future lesson, because I think there are a couple of additional things to say that will frame why I say that shame is illegitimate for Christians.

4. In the aftermath of Adam & Eve’s sin, the consequences and corruption spread, violence proliferates, things keep getting worse (Genesis 4, 5, 6), until “the inclination of their minds was only evil, all the time” (6.5) and God expresses regret at having ever created humanity (a standard ANE story).

But in the midst of the trouble, we see a new facet of God’s character, as he becomes his creation’s redeemer.

Which one LOOKS better? (Koja vam djeluje najbolja?)

I’ve made videos of lectures (audio or audio & video combined) with Powerpoint presentations three different ways.

Which of the three options looks best to you? (Koja vam od ove 3 mogućnosti djeluje najbolja?)

1.Powerpoint slides with audio voiceover only?

2.Powerpoint slides with iMovie picture-in-picture?

3.Zoom screen recording of Powerpoint presenter mode with Zoom picture-in-picture?