Short Takes

These are brief (3-7 minute) sections of Biola chapel videos, selected by Dean Todd Pickett to focus on one particular issue or topic. Following each video, there are some "Talk About It" questions, intended to stimulate thought and discussion.

What difference would it make if we understood Christian “salvation” as “healing”?

In this Advent season talk, Dr. Gary Moon (psychologist and Director of the Dallas Willard Center for Christian Spiritual Formation at Westmont) challenges us to think of biblical salvation as “healing” (a possible translation of the Greek word, sozo), and to recognize that season of Advent is really an invitation both to the healing work of God in our lives and our awareness of what might be blocking this in our lives.

Talk about it:

  1. What difference would it make if we understood the biblical notion of salvation--and the ongoing work of sanctification in our lives (Phil. 2:12-13 “work out your salvation”)--as a process of healing? How might we see our journeys and those of others differently?
  2. Moon references Nelson Baker’s Understanding Your Bible through its Uniting Themes, where the author claims that, from any point in the Bible, we won’t have to go too far to see one of these four themes:

i) God wants to be with you (Garden, Tabernacle, Temple, Holy Spirit’s indwelling)

ii) God wants to give you something, an inheritance (paradise-Garden of Eden, Promised Land, the Kingdom, the abundant life)

iii) We continually reject the inheritance

iv) It keeps being offered.

Do you find this to be true in your reading of Scripture? If so, how might this influence our understanding of the overall story of God’s relationship to humanity?

  1. Moon makes the point that positive mental health and spiritual maturity look a lot alike--permeated with love, peace, joy, and hope. If this is so, where do we need healing in our lives right now from their opposites--anger, fear or anxiety, and discouragement? What might be a first step for us in seeking that healing?



Why does Jesus, the discipler par excellence, care about what we want?

In this first excerpt from the Torrey 2015 Torrey Memorial Bible Conference, Dr. James K.A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College, observes how many times Jesus asked, not what do you think nor what do you believe, but what do you want? Why is this question the fundamental question of discipleship?

Talk about it: How would you answer Jesus’ question, “what do you want?” Looking at your life, your pursuits, your choices, how you spend your time and money, your “addictions,” etc., how do these reveal really what you want? What do you want to want? How do you think our wants change?



Why can’t we think our way into holiness?

In this second excerpt from the Torrey 2015 Torrey Memorial Bible Conference, Dr. James K.A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College, wonders at how often our resolve to live out the truths and ideas we hear, know, and that even inspire us at the time, fails to motivate actual changes in our lives. In other words, why is there such a large gap between what we know to be true and how we often live? Why can’t we just think our way into holiness? Smith will suggest that it is because the center of discipleship lies not in the head with its thoughts, but in the heart with its desires.

Talk about it: What do you think about this? What does Smith mean by “head” and “thoughts,” especially since the Bible most often speaks of the heart as the deep center of both thought and desire? Smith asks, if the center of seat and human person is in the “gut level regions of the heart, the seat of our wants,” what difference would that make in understanding the process of discipleship, and how that takes place in ministries, churches, and among friends?



What is the secret of missions?

In this excerpt from the Biola 2012 Torrey Memorial Bible Conference, Pastor Michelle Sanchez tells the story of her struggle with a seminary professor who insisted that the foundation--what Sanchez calls the “secret”--of missions was not first a technique, education or strategy but something or someone else. Have a look, lend an ear, and take to heart this excerpt from Biola’s undergraduate chapel.

Talk about it: Why might the “secret” of becoming more like Jesus be a missional calling that is more important now perhaps that it has ever been?



What is a ‘rule of life’ and why is it so important to a fruit-bearing life?

In this excerpt from a Biola chapel, Pastor Ken Shigematsu, author of God in My Everything, takes a look at the life of Daniel and how his rhythm of prayer--his “rule of life”-- allowed him not only to thrive in hostile circumstances but caused others to say ‘there is a man in whom the spirit of the gods must dwell.” Shigematsu urges us to consider what rules of life might become the trellises by which we grow into the light of God and thrive. Have a look, lend an ear, and take to heart this excerpt from Biola’s undergraduate chapels.

Talk about it: Who is God calling you to become and what “rule” or rhythm of life might help you grown into that?



What is the one thing we need to know about spiritual formation?

In the first of this two talks, “Furnishing the Soul,” Dr. Todd Hall from Biola’s Rosemead School of Psychology walks us through the five relational dimensions of spiritual formation. In this excerpt, he explains that it is not first about about doing enough (the ‘just do it’ approach), knowing enough (the intellectual approach), or feeling enough (the emotional high approach). Rather, it is about connection and relationship, and in this and the following video, Hall helps us explore five dimensions of relationality that must form the foundation of our life with God. Have a look, lend an ear, and take to heart this excerpt from Biola’s undergraduate chapels.

Talk about it: In what ways might our struggles be not just a matter of getting better but growing nearer to God and others? Put another way, in what way might our problems with sin be the result of our relational needs?



How have your early relationships shaped what you believe about God?

In the second talk in his two-part series, “Furnishing the Soul,” Dr. Todd Hall from Biola’s Rosemead School of Psychology explains how gut level memories formed in our earliest relationships actually become the filters that shape how we imagine our relationships to others and what we expect from those relationships. These relational filters for many of us shape the core of what we believe about God Hall invites us to let God lead us beyond these, to a richer, truer relational understanding of who He is. Have a look, lend an ear, and take to heart this excerpt from Biola’s undergraduate chapels.

Talk about it: When you come to God’s mind, what do you really think he thinks? Ask yourself, does this sound like the Father and Jesus Christ his son that you know from Scripture?



How does beauty transform us?

Poet Dana Gioia, the Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at USC, walks us through not only the experience of beauty, but to a Christian understanding of it wherein “the world is charged with the grandeur of God”--the perception of which can change us and, as Dostoevsky wrote,even change the world. Beauty leads us by pleasure to knowledge, and by knowledge to love. Gioia states, “Art unlike philosophy or science speaks to in the fullness of our humanity as incarnate beings,” addressing our mind, senses, soul and body, “without asking us to divide them.” Have a look, lend an ear, and take to heart this excerpt from Biola’s undergraduate chapels.

Talk about it: What memory of beauty has been powerful for you and maybe transformational?



Do you think your pain is the most interesting thing about you?

Through the story of the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda, Adele Calhoun notices how Jesus invites people to participate in their own healing. Cooperating with God in our own healing requires both choice and desire, but Calhoun asks, do we really want to get well, or or do we think our pain is the most interesting thing about us? Our answer will be more evident in what we do rather than what we say. How might God be calling us to participate in our own healing? Have a look, lend an ear, and take to heart this excerpt from Biola’s undergraduate chapels.

Talk about it: Where is God inviting you to participate in your own healing? What might that look like?



Why is it so hard to find our identity in Christ?

In this talk, Biola Dean of Spiritual Development Dr. Todd Pickett unpacks the “prayer of recollection” that helps us find our identity in Christ. In this excerpt, however, he discusses the brilliant lie that makes God's love such a foundation so hard for us to trust. Following in the footsteps of Adam and Eve, our temptation is to think that we are on our own in this life, and so we better find a way to secure ourselves--something that will set us apart. Have a look, lend an ear, and take to heart this excerpt from Biola’s undergraduate chapels.

Talk about it: What what gift, talent, skill or power has helped you make your way in the world so far, allowing you to enjoy a sense of purpose and affirmation (which are good things)? On the other hand, how much stress have you experienced to keep this up as the chief way you find love and acceptance in life?



Why good worship is boring (or is it us)?

In this talk on “Liturgical Training in Self-Forgetfulness,” Simon Chan speaks of liturgical worship—repeated actions, words, prayers, and patterns of mind and heart—as that which deeply forms our lives around the gospel.

If we are going to be proficient in anything, says Chan, repetition is necessary. However, the craving for novelty in our worship undermines this work in our lives. Is repetition in worship boring, or are we bored with God, the gospel, and our lives, looking for worship that will distract us from this?

Talk about it: Is Chan right, that most things that we come to deeply understand or know require repetition? Why do you think people resist this when it comes to knowing God and his ways in worship (confession, prayer, thanksgiving, etc.)? Why might the search for continuous novelty in worship mislead us? How should our worship leaders speak into a congregation that wants the next new thing in worship?