Our team has been busy creating videos to enhance our training seminars! We made an extra one that highlights a welcome message from Robert Schmalzle, the author. Follow this link to the website's landing page to watch: http://www.7habitsofjesus.com
Watch for upcoming videos where Schmalzle reviews the benefits of each of the 7 Habits of Jesus in the daily life of a disciple!
·LISTEN for how God is describing his solution for our broken relationships with God and others ·LISTEN for God's promise to help us with our sinful nature that destroys the fullness of life. ·LISTEN for God's free gift of eternal life, which does not involve God's judgment or punishment. ·LISTEN for the phrase for you. The Gospel says it straight out: You are forgiven, Jesus died to save You. Eternal life is God's gift to You, given by the Savior. ·LISTEN for the many ways that God's promise of eternal salvation is being offered to us, despite our sinful separation from God.
+ Both the explicit and the implicit examples of the gospel in a text will be a response to our problems with sin, death, and the devil. We want to anticipate that the gospel will be expressed within a given biblical text with a wide variety of words, images, and metaphors. And yet, all of these expressions of the gospel will have either a direct or indirect connection to Christ crucified and risen.
+ The core confession of the Christian faith is that the Good News of the Gospel is always connected to the Good News of Christ’s death and resurrection. The gospel is best defined as Christ our Savior. The gospel of Christ Jesus, crucified and risen, is God’s only solution to our problem of being estranged sinners.
+ Within most texts (even a gospel text) the words Christ, crucified, or risen, are not present. And yet, when we examine a text for its gospel content we will often find evidence of the gospel’s effectiveness in changing lives. There are times when we will need to borrow a gospel text from a neighboring section of the Bible. Think of the Bible as a large neighborhood with plenty of gospel to share between neighbors.
+ For those texts within the Old Testament it may require more effort to identify the gospel. In the Old Testament there will be no explicit material about Christ crucified and risen. Instead, there will be specific references to God’s promise of a Savior. All those words in the Old Testament that reveal God’s promises are considered gospel texts.
·LISTEN for the should, could, ought, must, have to, and shall words in each Bible text. ·LISTEN for how we regularly violate God's First Commandment: You shall have no other gods. ·LISTEN for how we are being asked to think, act or speak in a different way. ·LISTEN for how our sin is drawing us away from a life with God and into a more self-centered existence. ·LISTEN for how God is describing a problem all people share in common.
The primary purpose of God’s law is to reveal the truth that we are incapable of having a relationship with God without the saving work of God’s appointed Savior, Jesus. The Bible does not sugar-coat the truth that all people are sinners, making themselves enemies of God. In the Bible Paul teaches: The wages (result) of sin (sinful nature) are death (eternal separation from God) (Rom 6:23).
+ We initially identify God’s law in a biblical text as it applies to all people. The reason our law questions are in the third person (our), instead of the first person (my), is to restrain our defensiveness at the law’s accusations. If we accept that God’s law in a text applies to everyone, it becomes easier to apply God’s law to ourselves.
+ For some it is difficult to identify the consequences of violating God’s law. If a person has not experienced the fullness of God’s love, especially as a child, it becomes quite difficult for them to accept that the result of being a sinner, without the Savior, is death.
+ Whenever God’s law and our sinfulness is minimized, the ability for us to appreciate Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection for our salvation is also minimized. When the life and death urgency of God’s law is not recognized, the law becomes incapable of leading us to the gospel.
+ The most common error in a law & gospel Bible study is to attempt to identify God’s moral law (i.e. the Ten Commandments) only as rules or a guideline for living, instead of a means to reveal our desperate need for the Savior. Only Christ is able to give us the capacity to live by the great commandment: Love God and love your neighbor.
How do you feel about being an enemy of God without Christ?
The “Ascension of our Lord” recalls that after the risen Lord appeared to his disciples (Luke 24:13-35,36-43), he bids them farewell, blesses them, and promises them the Holy Spirit. At this final moment he helps the Apostles to understand the meaning of his death in the light of the Scriptures. For Jesus it is the end of his journey in this world. For the Apostles it is the beginning of a long journey into the world to take Jesus’ message everywhere. But they are not sent to go alone. Jesus promises them a companion on the road: the Spirit. Through this Spirit they will realize that he is still with them. Luke has two versions of the Ascension. In the Acts of the Apostles, the Ascension to heaven happens only after appearing to the disciples for forty days which is a symbolic figure. During this time Jesus prepares his disciples to be his messengers. Their missionary journey will start in Jerusalem and reach Rome, the center of the Roman empire. The Gospel of Ascension tells us that like the Apostles we are all sent out on a journey into the world to take Jesus’ message of love to all we meet on our road of life. As followers of Jesus, we have also to be his messengers. The task of evangelizing all peoples is the most important mission of the Church. Every Christian is called to tell the Good News of Jesus to others by word and action. Ascension reminds us also that—as for Jesus—our life is a journey home, to our Father’s house. Although God has given us the important mission to transform this world into his kingdom, we always remain “strangers and foreigners on earth” (Heb 11:13). Our true home is heaven.
The 7 Habits of Jesus team was just awarded a very substantial grant from Together In Mission (TIM is a mission facilitator for the Florida-Bahamas Synod-ELCA). This very generous grant will make it possible to provide discipleship training seminars for all fifteen of the Synod’s conferences (188 congregations). The 7 Habits of JesusFaith Formation Handbook will be used for discipleship training in all of the congregations of the Florida-Bahamas Synod!
Together In Mission writes: "The Grant Team is energized and hopeful for your vision of congregations growing in discipleship and the bold path set out in your application to lead us all forward in our faith formation and openness to the presence, power, and promises of Christ in our lives. We at Together In Mission are strengthened by the passion of applications like yours which see to stimulate the entire Synod to mission."
WOW! Please keep our team in your prayers as we embark on this amazing opportunity!
Are you interested in hosting a discipleship training or coordinating a seminar with the 7 Habits of Jesus team? We are currently working with church bodies and congregations all over the country and would like to hear how we can serve your discipleship needs! Click the Discipleship Training button for more information!
"If preaching in the Church today is sick it is because preachers do not know how to preach both the law and the Gospel. Preachers are lulling people to sleep with a foreign Gospel of unconditional love (Bonhoeffer called it cheap Grace), instead of arousing them with the law of a wrathful God. Only the law can reveal our problem with sin, satan, God’s wrath, and hell. If the Gospel is not placed in bold relief against the background of the law’s sin, death, and the devil, the Gospel degenerates into a saccharine message of feel good religion devoid of Christ. In Scripture, Jesus Christ is pictured as the fulfiller of the law’s demands, the appeaser of God’s wrath, the victor over satan, the conqueror of death, the atoner of sin. When the law is taken seriously, it then has the ability to prepare us to hear the Gospel. For the reformers it was not possible to hear the Gospel apart from the law." Carl E. Braaten (b. 1929)
We learn from the Bible that our souls are best nourished by the voice of God. This is an important benefit of Bible reading which we cannot underestimate. Jesus said, What good is it for us to gain the whole world and lose our connection to God through our soul; What can a person possibly get in exchange for their soul? (Mark 8:36). We lose our souls when we neglect the life giving power of God’s voice. Tragically, many in our society have become enslaved to the desires of the body (world), ignoring the importance of the soul. The Bible describes the soul as the command center which serves to direct our daily lives. A contemporary analogy of the soul is to liken it to the steering wheel in a car. It is the steering wheel (soul) that has the ability to turn in one direction or the other, either toward God or away from God. Allowing God’s voice to penetrate our souls through regular Bible reading and our attention to the proclamation of God’s Word in worship is an important and essential habit needed to nourish the soul of a disciple.
Do you understand your soul as your connection to God?
At no other time or place in our week does God’s Word, his voice, break into our lives as forcefully as when we are gathered together in worship. God’s transforming power in worship is his voice, which we hear through the Bible and the sacraments. It is important that we prepare to hear God’s voice in worship by doing a law & gospel study of the assigned Bible readings for each week. These readings are organized in a three year cycle of readings, called the Lectionary, which has been used in varying forms for centuries. Martin Luther described worship as the time when, The power of God’s Word (voice) must have free course. That is to say, we can prepare before worship to listen for God’s transforming voice by doing a law and gospel study of the assigned readings so that we will be open to receive the specific message God’s voice has for us in worship.
What do you think of Luther’s description of worship?