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Written by Todd Mangum Monday, 16 December 2013 12:11

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And it’s all rooted in the most wonderful aspect of redemption’s story. Isn’t it?

Mighty God, the Warrior King of sometimes violent penchants in the Old Testament, appears in the early pages of the New Testament in the form of an innocent, vulnerable Child, cradled by the (original) Madonna. Angels appear to announce the birth of the Savior to shepherds watching their flocks by night, with the message, “Glory to God in the Highest, and peace on earth, good will to men” (Luke 2:14). Far away wise-leaders get word of the birth of the King through “star navigation”; they show up in Jerusalem looking for this new “King of the Jews,” which sends a shock-wave through the city. They provide the first recorded instance of gift-giving in celebration of Christmas.

But then the plotline gets gray.

 

Written by Bryan Maier Friday, 13 December 2013 00:00

A couple of weeks ago, I was afforded the privilege of hearing Dr. Diane Langberg (an adjunct professor here at Biblical) teach during one of our counseling classes. Her topic for the evening was Narcissistic Personality Disorder. One of her main points was that while each of us struggle with making ourselves the main character of our lives, some people take it to such an extreme that they can become dangerous to others.

What was more troubling was Dr. Langberg’s assertion that many people who go into Christian ministry actually harbor a Narcissistic Personality Disorder underneath their seeming wealth of charm, passion and gifts. What was even more troubling was the subsequent assertion that many churches also suffer from a myopic view of their own importance and therefore can unwittingly be looking for a Narcissistic Personality Disorder to fill their ministry position. This would explain some of the ministry train wrecks that usually result from such a combination.

Sooner or later, the narcissist reveals his true allegiance (which of course is to himself).

What if ministry candidates were honest about their Narcissistic Personality Disorders when they interviewed for various ministry positions?

   

Written by David Lamb Wednesday, 11 December 2013 16:26

O Come, O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel.

Christians often sing these words from the familiar hymn as Christmas approaches. The name Emmanuel (or “Immanuel”) literally means “with-us-God.”

With the advent of Jesus, God is with us dramatically as “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). And yet, the idea of God dwelling in the midst of his people appears in Scripture much earlier than Jesus. God walked with Enoch and Noah, he ate a meal with Abraham, and he wrestled with Jacob (Gen. 5:22; 6:9; 18:5; 32:28). Whenever God calls people into his mission, he gives them a promise of his presence (Exo. 3:12; Josh. 1:5; Judg. 6:16; 1 Kgs. 11:38; Jer. 1:8). Even the title “Immanuel” from the song goes back to the reign of King Ahaz of Judah, when God promised to be “with” even evil Ahaz and his people as they worried about the threatening kingdoms from the north, Israel and Syria (Isa. 7:1-17).

   

Written by Daniel LaValla Monday, 09 December 2013 16:46

A Missional Calling Requires Commitment to a Holistic Gospel

war on poverty

What has happened to the church’s mission to the poor in the West? While the Church’s mission to the poor has always been present, its emphasis has waned since the mid 20th century in many western countries. Why? Can the Church regain its effectiveness in sharing the Gospel while serving the poor in the West?

Welfare programs and social work efforts in Europe and the United States are deeply rooted in the Christian Church’s missions to the poor. The Roman Catholic Church in medieval times collected alms for the poor and developed a welfare network that crossed national boundaries throughout Europe. Modern day welfare and social work initiatives began with English Poor Laws and the workhouses where tax money was collected by the government, but distributed to the poor by the chaplains or almoners of local churches.

   

Written by Phil Monroe Wednesday, 27 November 2013 00:00

Thanksgiving is that time of year when we get together with family to enjoy good food, maybe a football game, and to be thankful for God’s provision during the past year. Sometimes, though, we don’t feel all that thankful. Yes, we recognize that God indeed has given us many good things, things like food, water, salary, housing, and the like. We acknowledge that we have no rights to demand these things. We acknowledge that there are many who are far worse off. Given recent events, we can imagine how much more blessed we are than those who suffered a direct hit from a typhoon in the Philippines.

And yet, despite our knowledge of grace and mercy, there are times when all we really notice are the broken things in our lives—our bodies, our families, our communities.

I confess this is my state this Thanksgiving. I won’t bore you with the details but I struggle to stay focused on the many good things God has given me.

   

Written by Phil Monroe Monday, 25 November 2013 00:00

Recovery? Healing? Restoration? What words do you like to use when describing the process of getting better after a traumatic experience? The words I just used convey information as well as movement. They evoke feelings about what happens after a crisis.

For those of you continue to contend with a troubled past, ponder this: How do you communicate that you are better but not so much better that you have no more bad memories; that you have no more nightmares; that you are not triggered into panic when you see someone who abused you?

What words do you shy away from?

   

Written by Todd Mangum Friday, 22 November 2013 00:00

John F. Kennedy Shooting

I don’t always cry at sad movies, but sometimes I do. I almost always cry when I’ve watched one particular movie, though — and this one less than 30 seconds long. I’m talking about the infamous “Zapruder film” that inadvertently recorded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

I was alive at the time, but just a baby; thus too young “to remember where I was” when I heard the news — though I understand that some sociological studies have confirmed the phenomenon that people who were old enough commonly really did remember exactly where they were when they got the news that the President of the United States had been shot. It’s testimony to the entire U.S. populace that day experiencing something like large-scale PTSD.

   

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