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Written by David Lamb Monday, 28 April 2014 00:00

BTS in Israel

For eleven days in late March and early April 2014, a group of twelve students, two alumni and two professors (Derek Cooper and myself) from BTS traveled to Israel to visit the land of Abraham, David and Jesus, and along the way we visited the three tombs traditionally associated with those individuals.

The itinerary for our first full day in Jerusalem included a walk down the Mount of Olives (Mark 11:1; 13:3; 14:26), past the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32), a visit to the Chapel of the Ascension (the supposed site where Jesus ascended to heaven), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (the supposed site where Jesus died, was buried and resurrected — I have no doubts about what Jesus did, just about exactly where he did it), the Dome of the Rock (the third most sacred site in Islam; above the group is listening to our Jewish tour guide, Nathan, with the Dome in the background) and finally the Western Wall, sometimes called “The Wailing Wall.”

 

Written by Philip Monroe Friday, 25 April 2014 00:00

In the U.S. a large swath of people have been exposed to trauma. Why is it that not everybody who is exposed to trauma gets Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? The dictionary would tell you that resilience is the power or ability to return to original form after being compressed, bent, and stretched. This definition gives you a picture that when resiliency is in play, it is as if the compressing, the bending, and the stretching never even happened.

However, when it comes to trauma this is far from what happens. At a recent ABS Community of Practice event, I did a talk on resilience to trauma healing specialists.

If you have ever wondered why some people are resilient and are curious to know if there are ways we can support people’s resilience, take a look at the video.

   

Written by Derek Cooper Wednesday, 23 April 2014 00:00

Aladdin Genie

Most of us are familiar with the story of Aladdin in Arabian Nights. Aladdin, the young protagonist in the folk tale, discovers an oil lamp in a cave with magical powers. Upon rubbing the lamp, a genie appears who is compelled to grant the wishes of the person responsible for summoning him out of the magical lamp. As the story unfolds, Aladdin receives a beautiful wife, a magnificent palace and a wonderful life. Although many challenges present themselves over the course of the story, everything works out in the end, for such is the life of anyone who has a genie at his or her disposal!

Some people, Christians included, think that God is a genie. The origin of this thinking is as ancient as Christianity itself. The book of Acts describes a Samaritan named Simon the Magician, who was one of the earliest converts to Christianity. After recognizing the spiritual authority the Apostles Peter and John wielded in the presence of the people, Simon desperately pleaded with Peter to “Give me this power also” (Acts 8:19), so that he could use it as he wished. Since this time, a generation has not passed that Christians have not attempted to manipulate God for their own reasons. Of course, Simon would no doubt protest that he had all the best intentions, but we know the truth. We want unbridled control and no one to hold us accountable for how we use it.

   

Written by Kyuboem Lee Monday, 21 April 2014 00:00

church to community

Churches started by immigrants are facing new challenges as they seek to reach their urban communities, especially the poor.

I was recently asked to spend time with a second-generation Korean-American congregation located in a major US city. They sought me out because they had been reaching out to their community for some time, specifically to two homeless shelters for women and children nearby. Church members held cookouts and invited the families; they babysat the kids for mothers' nights out. Then, lo and behold, some of the homeless families started showing up at Sunday services. Some of the kids from the shelters started coming to youth group meetings and Sunday school classes.

   

Written by Philip Monroe Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00

distressing and suffering

Recall for a minute some of the statements made in the Bible by heroes going through distressing events,

  • If I perish, I perish... Esther as she decides to risk her life by breaking the law to defend her people (Esther 4:16b)
  • You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good... Joseph as he offers his brothers mercy for their evil deeds (Genesis 50:20a)
  • The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him... Jeremiah after lamenting over God’s destruction of Israel (Lamentations 3:25a)
  • Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes…no sheep... yet I will rejoice in the Lord... Habakkuk after learning of God’s impending doom on Judah (Habakkuk 3:17f)
  • Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering... But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ... Peter to suffering believers (1 Peter 4:12-13)

These and many other pictures from Scripture might suggest to some that increasing maturity in the faith not only enables one to be obedient, even rejoicing, in the face of personal distress, but also decreases the sensation of distress. The examples above might lead some to think that faith and fear/anxiety are incompatible, that faith and angst, faith and lament, faith and spiritual struggle cannot go hand-in-hand.

Why do I think this? Because many of my Christian clients wonder why their faith does not seem to reduce their own distress.

   

Written by Philip Monroe Wednesday, 16 April 2014 00:00

suffering

If you are not a fan of David Brooks you should be. David is a New York Times columnist who seems to be hitting it out of the park on a weekly basis in his columns. In his most recent editorial (April 7), he says this:

People shoot for happiness but feel formed through suffering.

He then makes it clear that while suffering may produce good results, it isn’t something that has intrinsic good value. We may cherish the results, but we never cherish the suffering. Here’s what Brooks thinks about what suffering does (or can do) to us:

   

Written by Drew Hart Monday, 14 April 2014 00:00

Disunity in Christ

Jesus' prayer for the Church was that we would be 'one', yet it seems that oneness couldn't be any further from the current reality of the Church in our society. Every imaginable division possible seems to be wreaking havoc in the Church. The Church is divided by race, socio-economics, partisan politics, education, theology, geography, and the list could go on and on. While we all know that we are called to unity in Christ, it seems that we are helplessly lost, moving towards a trajectory of deeper and deeper division. Why can't the church live into its calling, so that we can be a distinct and visible alternative to the normal patterns of division found within society?

**Cue for Christena Cleveland to enter the dialogue**

For those who do not know, Christena Cleveland is a Christian leader, educator and author. She also happens to be a social psychologist. With that particular skill set, coupled with her strong commitment to the unity of the Church, she is situated quite nicely to help the Church understand many of the "hidden forces" at play in our every day interactions that unknowingly divide us. Thankfully, she has written that exact book in Disunity in Christ. In an accessible, thoughtful, and often entertaining manner, Cleveland weaves together social psychology research and theological principles on unity, with effortless grace. She manages to breakdown complex concepts, time and time again, with everyday illustrations and encounters as her teaching tools. Far from a highly theoretical text, Disunity in Christ will leave its readers with a basic yet usable foundation of social psychology when they are done. Yet, much more than that, they will walk away more committed to the unity of the church, and better equipped to actually live out such unity in their lives.

   

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