Fall Series at Chelten: Factions and the J-curve

Paul is leading a weekly Bible study series at his church, Chelten Baptist, with material from our forthcoming study A Jesus-Shaped Life. This week's lesson is titled, "Factions and the J-curve." Please feel free to use the participant's guide for this week's lesson. 

Part 1:

Fall Series at Chelton: 10/25/15, Factions and the J-Curve from seeJesus on Vimeo.

Part 2:

Fall Series at Chelton 10/25/15-Factions and the J-Curve part 2 from seeJesus on Vimeo.

Parenting Conference - October 2015

Our primary role as parents is to build faith.
Be helped in this endeavor by Paul and Jill Millers' teaching on cultural influences and child-centered perspectives that have seeped into our parenting.
Be challenged to repent of the ways our kids have become our idols.
Be reminded of the hope we have in parenting by prayer.
And much more.

In case you missed this weekend parenting conference, you can check out the videos from the conference here.

Fall Series at Chelten: The J-curve at Phillipi, Part 2

Paul is leading a weekly Bible study series at his church, Chelten Baptist, with material from our forthcoming study A Jesus-Shaped Life. This week's lesson is titled, The J-curve at Phillipi, Part 2. Please feel free to use the participant's guide for this week as well as last week's lesson.

Part 1 of 10/11/15 Lesson

The J-Curve at Philippi part 2_10_11_15 from seeJesus on Vimeo.

 

Part 2 of 10/11/15 Lesson

The J-Curve at Philippi Part 2b_10_11_15 from seeJesus on Vimeo.

 

Fall Series at Chelten: The J-curve at Phillipi

Paul is leading a weekly Bible study series at his church, Chelten Baptist, with material from our forthcoming study A Jesus-Shaped Life. This week's lesson is titled, The J-curve at Phillipi. Please feel free to use the participant's guide for this week as well as next week's lesson.

The J-curve at Phillipi_10_04_15 from seeJesus on Vimeo.

A heart for Nepal

 


 

seeJesus Director of the West Coast and East Asia, Jon Hori, spent some time in Nepal with his wife earlier this summer. 

We marvel at God's timing -- the group had invited seeJesus last year to come in May 2015, to teach A Praying Life. None of us could have known that their trip would be directly after a devastating earthquake.

Watch Jon's moving video below.

Special bonuses: You'll see Jon teaching about prayer cards, a surprise delivery of food to a remote village, and Sonia handing out the sweet treat of sticks of gum to an excited crowd!

Visit Jon's blog (www.nearhisheart.com) to read more.

May 2015 Update

Dear Praying Friend,

Thank you for caring for our work through prayer...even if you just pray now as you read this email.

 

I especially covet your prayers for one of the most difficult writing projects I've ever done. It is on the gospel, how we need to not only believe the gospel but have our lives mirror the shape of the gospel. Our new working title is A Jesus-Shaped Life (we've been calling it Believing and Becoming the Gospel). I wrote Love Walked Among Us into a desert (not many in the church are seriously interested in the person of Jesus). I wrote A Praying Life into a badly farmed, but fertile field (a lot of bad teaching on prayer but people were eager to learn). I write A Jesus-Shaped Life into a minefield. That is, Christians have very strong feelings about what the gospel is and isn't. My hope is that this book will be used of God to prepare the church to enter into the pattern of Jesus' life in a much deeper way. As I write, Satan has been active. So I covet your prayers.

 

Jon and his wife Sonia Hori (our new West Coast/East Asia Director) are off to Nepal this month to do an A Praying Life Conference for over 100 missionaries who are in the thick of it in the aftermath of the earthquake. Lydia Leggett (our Seminar Coordinator), is off to Croatia to do a Person of Jesus mini-seminar. I'm off to Switzerland to teach a seminar on A Jesus-Shaped Life.

 

I've asked you to pray for our finances. Giving to date to our Annual Fund is $272,000. We have eight weeks to go and we are $89,000 short of our need of $361,000. 

 

May the Lord bless you richly!

Paul Miller

Become the Gospel 4.5.2015 – The Justification of Jesus

For his Easter morning message, Paul Miller chose to explore the justification of Jesus and how our justification connects to His. He highlights the point that we as followers of Christ are no only forgiven but also declared legally righteous (Romans 5:9). We rejoice on Easter and every other day that we who are in Jesus are thus also justified along with Him - Praise the Lord!

Grace Through the Eyes of Jesus - Seminar

Interested in seeJesus's new study, Grace Through the Eyes of Jesus?

Paul taught it in Doylestown, PA recently:

 

 

Rare Honesty & A Good Laugh

____________

 

Sign: "Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you're stupid and make bad decisions."

 

I laughed when I saw this sign that a friend of mine just emailed me.

What makes it so funny is that American and Western culture is dominated by Secular-Liberalism.

Secular-Liberalism is secularized-Jesus: that is, the attributes of Jesus (inclusion, compassion, mercy, care for the poor, honoring women), without the theological and moral frame of Jesus. Those Jesus-values dominate in the public sphere. In fact, Obama continually used those values to defeat Romney in '12. When those values are disconnected from the real Jesus, it creates a victim mindset. So, things like moral responsibility are not trumpeted in our broader culture... but moral living is still at the root of those who remain in touch with how life really works. 

The sign's humor comes from "outing" a principle that we all know is true but no one talks about openly. Because modern Secular-Liberalism picks and chooses the Jesus it likes, it ignores the parts of Jesus that refer to the moral frame. They like Jesus saying (in John 8) to the woman, "I don't condemn you," but they dislike him saying, "Go and sin no more." They like Jesus' acceptance of the Samaritan woman (John 4), but they dislike his telling her she has had five marriages and she is now living with a man in sin.

Secular-Liberalism is grace without a moral frame.

When that happens, grace becomes a demand, simply an excuse for doing your own thing. That is even happening in the church today. But an equal danger is to respond to this moral collapse with the harshness that you see in this sign. What Jesus does, what the gospel does, is blend grace, inclusion, and mercy, with truth and a moral frame. Blending those not only in our theology but also our lives is one of the most critical needs for us as a church in a world that is going through a moral collapse.

My concern for the dangers of Secular-Liberalism's impact on the church breathes through the new interactive Bible study I've just written called Grace Through the Eyes of Jesus. 

In fact, WTS Books is having a 50% off sale on it right now. Hurry, though, the sale ends Wednesday!

Missing the Person of Jesus - Part 2

This is the second part of a letter I sent to a friend regarding why the Church misses the disabled. Read Part 1 here.

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The missing community in our lives results from the missing gospel, and quickly reveals missing holiness.

In Luke 14, Jesus tells his host that he invited all the wrong people to party. It may look like generosity on the host's part, but really it is just an exchange because they are going to invite him back. It looks like love, but it isn't. Next time he has a feast, he is to go out and invite the disabled, the blind, and the poor. This isn't about something else--this is about who I invite to my next party. Jesus is dead serious. He wants the community that bears his name to love the least, the lost, and the lonely. This completely transforms such a simple act as entering a room of friends and strangers. My first question is not, "Who do I know? Who would I be comfortable with?" but "Who is lost, who is weak, who can I include into Jesus?" So instead of searching for community, I'm creating community wherever I go.

So the missing person of Jesus, is related to our missing community. It is also related to the missing gospel. Here's a familiar text, Philippians 3:7-11:

(7-9) But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith(10-11) that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Verses 7-9 are Luther's great re-discovery in the Reformation. Justification by faith alone is the foundation of the Christian life, not just the beginning. It's the entire life. But the Reformation freezes at verses 10 and 11. We literally don't have any idea what Paul is talking about. The Greek text is clear: Paul is talking about two complementary ways of knowing Christ. The first (vs 7-9) I call "believe the gospel," and the second (vs 10-11), I call "become the gospel." That is, once a foundation of justification is laid, we enter into the shape of Jesus' life, what I like to call the J-curve--following the pattern that Paul has just laid out in Philippians 2. 

I like the letter J because it traces the downward path of Jesus' life into death and then upward into resurrection. Paul wants that. He doesn't just want free justification, he also wants the experience of re-enacting in all his life, all his relationships, the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. Paul embodies Jesus. So the entire Christian life is a life of suffering-love followed by repeated resurrections. That is your life. It is mine. It is millions of other followers of Jesus. We've just not had a paradigm for it, so suffering is strange. Again, we aren't Stoics, we don't embrace suffering; instead, like good Jews, we recoil from suffering. We pray against it. What we need to do, though, is embrace Christ in the suffering. "Becoming the gospel" is not application. For Paul, it is how he gets to know Jesus even more deeply.

Speaking very practically, my whole life then is love. Love constantly leads me into suffering. When the typical Christian sees a disabled person in church, he sees "the other." He doesn't see or hear Jesus loving the disabled, forming a new community out of the broken and despised pieces of this world. He doesn't look, feel compassion and then act. Instead the typical Christian is frozen, fearful of the unusual. (Let's picture, say, a person with Down's syndrome for a second.) Neither does he understand the call to enter the J-curve. He has no category or model to understand Paul's strange passion, his desire to inhabit the pattern of Jesus' life. So he pulls away, fearful that Down's might be contagious.

What does the J-curve look like? My favorite story for explaining it is a Joni and Friends story from camp about four years ago. "Marilyn" was a short term missionary who had paid her own way to camp. Another parent thought Marilyn said something negative about her parenting at one point. Marilyn had no recollection of her saying this. It became a big drama, involved the camp directors, and no one could get at the truth. I think half the camp knew about it. Marilyn was completely distraught. She came to Jill and me on Wednesday almost beside herself.

I told this story recently to an intro to ministry class at Westminster Seminary. I asked them, "What has happened to Marilyn's ministry?" They all said, "It is over." I turned to Philippians 3:10-11 and said, "No, it has just begun." Before Marilyn was in a transaction. She was giving of her time, energy, and money and getting back thanks and the camaraderie of being part of a team. Now she isn't getting anything back. She has entered into a "fellowship of sharing his sufferings." When she helps out on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, she is going to feel the shame and maybe even get looks from others. She is on the downward journey of love. For her, to love is to die, to enter into the dying life and love of Jesus. She becomes a trophy of grace, reflecting the undying love of Jesus, his beauty.

So now strange passages like Colossians 1:24 begin to make sense. How could anything be lacking in Jesus' death? The answer is simple. Because Jesus' death is complete, once and for all, finished... done... for Jill and for Kim, for everyone I meet, it is to know the love of Jesus. I now complete his life, I re-enact the pattern, the downward shape of his love, in all my relationships. Whole sections of Paul that seemed mystical (I Co 1-4, II Cor 1-5, 10-12) now glow with meaning.

Out of this comes a new holiness, a new earthy, real goodness that touches everyone I meet. The impact of the person of Jesus was absolutely immense on the early church. After I "discovered" the person of Jesus, I finally understood this strange passion for martyrdom in the early church. They wanted to re-enact his life. They re-enacted his life all the time, so martyrdom was the ultimate Emmy award of the early church. Why mention this? We've missed in the New Testament the incredible high call to holiness. Pick almost any application passage in Paul and it jumps out. Here's Philippians 2:14-15:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

What jumps out is the incredible call to purity of life. Pastors miss this almost completely. We miss this incredible call to love. My summaries of this passage: "Love all the time" or "You don't ever have to be grumpy again."

If you are the host in Luke 14 and you follow Jesus' command to fill your table with those affected by disability, that means that you are going to be loving all the time. So, the person in church who sees the Down's boy instinctively realizes that to make friends with that boy will be work. It will disrupt his Stoic calm. It will be messy. He will make mistakes. He has no paradigm for accepting the fact that he might have to love every second for the rest of his life. That seems overwhelming, unusual, in fact -- impossible. He'd rather hear a sermon on grace, on how much God loves him. He has no theological frame to enter into God's life of grace, the J-curve, so he quietly recoils from any real relationship with the boy.

The result? The Down's boy is alone. His mom is alone too. Isolated and overwhelmed by life.

It is in embracing Christ in the J-curve that we are enabled to love when it's impossible.

The problems run deep, but I actually believe we'll win the day. He did!

_______
For further study, listen to this talk I gave in the UK on the Missing Jesus and the Missing Gospel. 

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