Episode 137: Discerning Christ in the Old Testament with Chris Green (Part 2)

In this episode we pick up our conversation with Dr. Chris Green on discerning Christ in the Old Testament. This is part 2 of 2. If you missed last week, catch it HERE. You can follow Chris on social media – @cewgreen (Twitter and Instagram) and cewgreen.substack.

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{ON PSALM 23}

The first point on Psalm 23 would be that when we say “shepherd” we mean Jesus… Jesus is teaching us in it… he is “the Lord” who is also “my shepherd…”

We need to also notice how we start the psalm with a claim in the first person… but then suddenly we are in the valley of the shadow of death… if the Lord is leading me, how did I wind up here?!

The key is in the text… the shift from the third person to addressing God directly… and we are now at a table in the presence of our enemies, and because we know him, we know what to do at this table: we serve our enemies…

I started as a little lamb under the care of the Shepherd, to being a co-shepherd in his house… and this is the movement of discipleship, of sanctification…

{ON NUMBERS 17}

If we scan out, we see a series of stories of rebellions… judgment falls, but in every case, without exception, what comes next is an outbreak of a worse sin… 

This story follows Korah’s rebellion, and so we know what SHOULD come next… but instead, we see God taking a new tack… he brings “resurrection” out of a dead branch…

This sets a new trajectory for Israel: that God’s response to rebellion is not condemnation but resurrection… and Jesus is the culmination, the embodiment of it…

{THE FLOOD}

The first thing here to remember is to remember who is teaching us… Jesus says things to us to put us in a position of discernment… for instance, in the parable of the unjust judge, he compares God to a wicked judge… so he often says things that make us stop to think, “Is this true of God?”

This is another story where the judgment doesn’t work… the floodwaters recede, and yet nothing has changed… Noah is described as a “man of the earth”, which is the same phrase used for Cain… the text is telling us that even if all your wicked neighbors are removed, the trouble is still in you… 

There is a sense in which the Old Testament is a photo negative… we often feel like there’s something that “should be there”… the “what should be there” is Jesus… 

Episode 136: Discerning Christ in the Old Testament with Chris Green (Part 1)

In this episode we sit down with our friend Dr. Chris Green to talk with him about what it means (and how!) to discern Christ in the Old Testament. This is part 1 of 2. Be sure to catch part 2 next week!

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One of the real tragedies of the American culture wars is that the Bible is divided as we have been divided… there are texts that are too “progressive” for some and too “conservative” for others…

You can often tell where we are aligned politically and socially in the culture wars by which texts of the Bible trouble us… which do we find difficult to handle or tough to swallow?

We’ve all been conditioned to believe that the truer something is, the simpler it is… but when you read the church fathers, you start realizing that we have an allergy to difficulty… traditionally, Christians have embraced the difficulty of the text…

When we’re teaching people the faith, we often say, “Jesus was a simple teacher…” but when you read the Gospels, you realize that isn’t true… we need to realize that God teaches us the way we need to be taught, not the way we want to learn… 

The demand of the Old Testament is that God is riddling us… we’re not used to that… 

Our relationship to Jesus as our rabbi requires that we search for him in the Old Testament, because he is using these texts to teach us… he is giving himself to us in these texts… 

Not only was Jesus raised in and trained in these texts… but these are always his… he is the one who inspired them in the first place… that’s where you have to begin… these are his words… 

The right reading of Scripture always has “salt” in it… often the plain reading will meet the “rules” of interpretation… but that’s not yet Jesus… and when Jesus speaks, he’s never “plain”, it’s “salty”, it has an edge or a burn to it… that’s how we discern if we’re reading in the right spirit or not…

There are lots of readings of the Old Testament (and the Bible in general) that we can justify but don’t actually sanctify us… if our reading of the OT doesn’t cripple our self-righteousness, we haven’t yet touched the Spirit of Christ…

We need to acknowledge that we come to these texts as guests… these are Israel’s texts that God has invited us to read… if I ever lose that sense of having been shown hospitality, I will go wrong… 

Episode 135: Streams in the Wasteland

In this episode Daniel and Andrew sit down to talk about Andrew’s recently released Streams in the Wasteland: Finding Spiritual Renewal with the Desert Fathers and MothersGrab your copy on Amazon!

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We moved here in 2017 after having been a pastor for eight years in Denver… and I was not prepared for the spiritual crisis that would create… it felt like getting put in a witness protection program… I couldn’t find my equilibrium…

In the midst of that, someone told me I needed to read the desert fathers and mothers… when I asked why, he said, “Because the thing that you feel like is being thrust upon you, they sought out, and found it to be a place where God could be found…”

They gave me language to make sense of the desolate space… God’s people find God in the wilderness… my own healing was not complete where I got to the point where I never needed to lead again… I fell in love with “My God and my All…”

It’s easy for us to look at them as socially awkward misanthropes who justified their retreat with spiritual language… but sometimes a situation is so toxic that you have to separate yourself in order to find the love of God and others again…

A mischaracterization of them is that they severed themselves from the truth… even if they create some creative distance, they still live in community and they still go to church…

Thomas Merton said that now, the wasteland is everywhere… which means that the wisdom of the desert is wisdom for our time… what does it look like to cultivate true humanness?

Our speech is one of the most critical issues in our moment… social media invites and even rewards us for adding more heat to the conversation than light, which is why we’re living in an increasingly polarized society…

God’s speech is creative speech that gives life, and he gives that same gift to human beings… fallen man can take the power of the word and warp it and cause reality to fray… it grieves the Spirit when we use our words to tear down…

Maybe the greatest moral achievement of our age is can we sit in a room with people with whom we vehemently disagree and neither feel the need to conquer them or feel the need to bail out and run away… 

Episode 134: 10 Keys to Finishing Well

In this episode we celebrate Pastor Brady and Pam’s 15 year anniversary at New Life Church by reflecting on some keys to finishing well. You can download the full list HERE. You can also purchase Brady and Pam’s devotional Oceans of Grace HERE.

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I’m sobered by how quickly people can rise and fall… the enemy hates the church and so he targets those who lead it…

I’m not thinking about finishing in five years… I’m thinking about finishing today… I want to go bed tonight with a clean heart… the micro decisions are really important…

We need to pray all the time… the common thread among men and women who have moral failures is that somewhere along the line they lost their private devotion with the Lord…

You also need to surround yourself with honest friends… with people who like you but are not impressed with you… I’m not looking for constant critics… if something that I’m doing is bad, friends will tell me without harming me…  

Remember, we’re all interim pastors… New Life Church will be around after my funeral… it’s not built around me… pastors, we need to learn to hold our congregations loosely… we go from dust to dust, and need to remind ourselves of that…

The reason most pastors don’t transition well is they have nothing else to do… ending well is hard for pastors for whom ministry has become an unhealthy identity…

When I die, what I want on my tombstone is this: Here lies Brady Boyd: A Faithful Husband and a Good Dad… if my wife and kids can say that about me, that’s enough for me…

We need to forgive quickly and hold no grudges… the only way to become a gentle, tender old shepherd is to learn to give away those offenses and hurts that inevitably come our way in ministry…

Learn to share the credit… the mark of a spiritual mom and dad is the ability to walk away from the spotlight and watching others succeed… 

Keep Jesus at the center of it all… if people are walking out of your church talking about you rather than talking about Jesus, you have had a terrible Sunday… 

Laugh at yourself—you’re not that important… 

Episode 133: The Challenge of Unity

In this episode we take you to a conversation New Life Midtown’s Jayde Duncan and New Life Friday Night’s Jordan Victoria Lewis recently had with our ministry staff on the challenge of cultivating unity in the church in a culture that is very often divided over issues of race. (This conversation is based in part on a chapter in Glenn Packiam’s new book The Resilient Pastor. Order here.)

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Unity is important because God is essentially unity… our concept of unity must be rooted in the ontological nature of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…

John 17 tells us that there is an unanswered prayer that Jesus prayed [on unity]… our posture towards one another is a nonnegotiable, it is critical to the validation of our entire message…

Unity reinforces or qualifies our witness, and division disqualifies our witness… division is the way of the world… 

I’ve had a lot of difficult and shameful experiences… I’ve sorted through a lot of that with the Lord and have sensed that this is a kingdom issue… thinking that way has enabled me to take a bird’s eye view of what’s going on… 

For me this is not just a call, but an act of spiritual warfare… if I leave, the spirit of division will think that it has won… 

The early church was radical and revolutionary in its unity because it believed that Jesus is Lord… Jesus was a new King who brought a new Kingdom… 

We need to recover the sense that King Jesus has exclusive right to ask us whatever he wants to ask us… and what he is asking us is to lay down our own perspectives for the sake of listening to the stories of brothers and sisters who are in pain…

Distance is fatal to empathy… I wish I was making up the humiliating things that have happened to me… I wish it wasn’t all true… it is a real shame when someone tells you about their experience and you tell them that it is fabricated or exaggerated… 

Over the course of many conversations, what I have come to discover is that for many black Christians, white Christians seem to want to have statistical conversations rather than lament-type conversations, which exacerbates the pain…

I can’t tell you how healing it has been to be able to call a white friend—and there are a few that I call—to carry the burden with me so that I can carry my black friends… 

Episode 132: The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb? – An Interview with Kyle Strobel

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Kyle Strobel to talk about the nature of power via his book (co-authored with Jamin Goggin), The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb? Grab it here.

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There’s a power system assumed by the world, the flesh, and the devil, and you see it when Jesus rebukes Peter: he’s set his mind on the things of man…

Another way to talk about the way of the dragon is the way of power in strength for the sake of control and domination; whereas the way of the lamb is the way of power in weakness for the sake of love…

One error is to see power as bad… those who are left-leaning have a tendency to demonize power… those who are right-leaning tend to worry less about power but are almost willing to embrace ANY power as long as it leads to the right ends…

Many of us simply accept the world’s definitions of power and then assume that Jesus is doing something else (not power-related)… but that’s not right… Jesus is redefining power entirely and is calling us to faith…

When we started this project, we knew it was an important issue… it influences everything… how you pray, how you worship, how you engage or don’t engage in politics—it all presupposes power… but the church is refusing to talk about it…

If you assume a vision of worldly power, the way of Jesus just won’t make sense…

Even a lot of the ways we understand spiritual gifts—it tends to be about actualizing strength, which is ironic, because Paul’s correspondence to the Corinthians is all about power being realized in weakness…

For folks in fulltime vocational ministry, the temptation is to construct a self… and if true power is love, if we really internalize that, it will help us realize that our value is received and not generated… 

The central temptation for leaders is to use their natural ability to get things done… that’s the way of the dragon… if you’re a natural speaker, for instance, you’ll be tempted to use that gift to “win”… your strength is a place of wild temptation… 

We need to constantly ask, “Lord, how am I tempted not to trust you? How am I tempted not to have to have faith…?” 

Episode 131: “Where the Light Fell” with Philip Yancey

In this episode we sit down with one of the most prolific authors of the last hundred years, Philip Yancey, to talk with him about his new memoir Where the Light Fell.

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I knew that the version of Christianity I had been given—racist, angry, legalistic—couldn’t be right, and yet I also knew there was something worth salvaging…

I’ll often tell people that I grew up thinking that God was a scowling super-cop in the sky… it took me a long time to realize that the heart of the universe is not a scowl but a smile… the story of history is the story of God’s love…

Many “exvangelicals” have wistful memories of their youth… I wrote this book because I wanted to reach those people… my reasons for becoming an “ex” were stronger than most of theirs… and yet I emerged having discovered the love and grace of God…

My father was a victim of polio… he was 23 and he and my mother had planned to go on the mission field… after he died, my mother made a vow to God that me and my brother would replace him as missionaries to Africa… when we didn’t fit the script, the vow became a kind of curse… it was a theological error… 

My brother and I took different paths in relating to our upbringing… he became one of Atlanta’s original hippies… I saw what that did to him… it was a living illustration of what happens to us when we have nothing to go toward… 

Pain redeemed impresses me more than pain removed… often, it’s the hardest things we go through that are most important as we look back… 

We are at a hinge time for the future of the evangelical church in the United States… we need to adjust to the fact that we’re not the home team anymore… this is new, and a lot of people don’t like it…

We are always called to live both in the city of God and in the city of humanity… we don’t take our marching order from political parties but from God… but there’s such an atmosphere of partisanship that it can be hard for people to know what to do…

The dialogue has gotten so crass and adversarial… Christians need to stand up against that… I want pastors, whatever they believe, to show the style of Jesus… our country needs this…

Episode 130: The Art of Healthy Conflict

In this episode, we share six rules for the art of having healthy conflict.

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I wish leadership was just sitting around reading your Bible, praying for a few people, and going home… but the reality is that we live in a fallen world, and in a fallen world there will be conflict… 

Leadership is managing the differences of opinion among our people… people feel and think differently and when they come together in an organization, there will be conflict… leadership is stepping into that, knowing that the best things are often born out of conflict…

In a fallen world, any peace that is not conflictual is not true peace… we are living in a world that is not yet as it should be, and if we’re not willing to name the brokenness and deal with it, we have abdicated our responsibility as leaders…

What’s your motivation for leaning into conflict? For me, I’m not looking for a fight… I’m looking for the Holy Spirit… I’m looking for ways to build up and not tear down…

The first step is to confront in a timely manner… if something bothers me, I try to sleep on it and pray over it… if it is still bothering me after that, I need to go talk to that person… 

The second step is to begin the conversation with affirmation… that affirmation is born out of prayer… we need to lead with what we love about the other person…

The third step is to not accuse but share your feelings… we don’t need to question people’s motives… we just need to speak honestly, without accusation…

The fourth step is to learn to listen… not every conversation needs to be argued… what I’ve found is that if I can just get people to start talking, I’ll learn everything I need to know… 

The Bible calls the devil the accuser of the brethren… one of the primary functions of the enemy is that he accuses us one to another… the voice of accusation in our ears about each other is not the voice of the Spirit…

The fifth step is to be honest… oftentimes people lose courage in the face of the need to be honest… we need to learn to tell the truth and say it to the strength that we feel it… truth needs to be the benchmark of our organizations…

The sixth step is to be gracious… come into the meeting willing to entertain the possibility that you are wrong… both parties in the conversation need grace: you and them… if you pour out grace, that’s what you’ll get in the long run…

Episode 129: Good Study Habits

In this episode Glenn and Andrew sit down with Dr. Michelle Anthony to talk about the why, what, and how of developing good study habits.

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I was fortunate to have lifelong learners around me growing up… my parents were voracious readers and learners, and a lot of my mentors were like that as well… I grew up loving that learning process…

At some point in ministry, I realized that my output would always be a lesser quality than my input… that if I wanted to preach like Tim Keller, it wouldn’t be enough to listen to Tim Keller, but rather to read who Tim Keller was reading…

For me the love of learning ignited watching the senior pastor of our church preach… it was clear he was drinking from wells that were outside of the norm for our tribe… I saw a pastor whose mind was working…

My study habits have changed over the years… when my kids were young, I studied late at night or in carpool… right now, early in the morning before I come into work is my best space… when I do it in the morning, I find that it comes back to me during the day…

What has helped me is having time goals rather than quantity goals… what I’m trying to do is see if I can sit down for 30 minutes five days a week to read, trusting the cumulative effect of study…

I want to see younger leaders stretch… the brain is a muscle, and with the amount of podcasts and audiobooks, there are lots of reasons now NOT to study… you need to exercise the muscle when you’re young…

The difference between listening to a podcast and reading a book is that a podcast is primarily passive… it’s better than nothing… but the activity of studying requires so much more of me, which means that the output is greater…

You need a balanced diet of reading… I make it a matter of prayer… I like reading things that are more technical, and also things on the leadership side… I also like to read something that’s more narrative in nature… 

I have “buckets”: for my own personal development, for my areas of ministry and expertise, and then I also try to read one book a year by someone I completely disagree with or about something that is going on in pop culture…

For me, poetry and fiction have recently become important… as preachers, we are storytellers, and fiction will help give you a good eye and ear for story… 

Episode 128: Attracting Strong and Capable Leaders Pt. 2

In this episode we pick up the conversation on attracting strong and capable leaders by talking about just what we mean by “strong and capable”.

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Regardless of if you’re pastoring a small rural church or a large urban church, we all need the same kinds of leaders… 

The first thing is, I am looking for leaders who will help me expand the vision… the senior pastor shouldn’t be the sole vision-carrier for the church… I want people with ideas…

I get so frustrated when leaders come to me simply to tell me that something is broken… I want leaders who see not only problems but also solutions…

I want people who are creative and innovative, and if I want that I know that I can’t make fun of bad ideas… I always tell leaders, if we shoot one messenger, we won’t get another one… 

The second thing is, I am looking for leaders who can coach others around them… many are good at their craft, but the question is, “Can you coach people in your craft?”

Coaching doesn’t mean always been punitive and corrective… it’s about helping people grow…

If I came into your area, would it be clear and organized and would everyone on your team know what it means to win…?

Lastly, I am looking for people who can carry the weight of the organization… can they take responsibility and deal with problems without involving me all the time?

This a question for all leaders… have you actually empowered your staff to lead?

If you as the senior leader have to be involved in every issue and conflict that’s happening in your church, it will wear you out… it can happen in small churches as much as in large churches…

The key to longevity and your organization growing is making sure your team feels equipped and empowered deal with issues with very little input from you…

Recently I took a trip to Central America and took a number of staff with me… I didn’t need that many folks with me, but I did it to get purposeful time with some of my staff whom I’ve empowered to carry the work with me…