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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.

   

Written by R. Todd Mangum Thursday, 10 April 2014 00:00

Lordship of Christ

We take back not one iota the truths with which we started three blogs ago:

  1. Is truth “pluralistic”? Hard to say and may depend on what one means; but falsehood definitely is.
  2. Truth — including and especially metaphysical truth about Jesus’ being Lord — can be known by human beings; this is stated explicitly in Scripture, and, when it is, this “knowledge and understanding” is credited actually to a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (on the person’s mind, heart, soul) in the metaphysical realm.
  3. Not only is the Lordship of Christ discernible as a truth principle, affirmation of this truth is crucial for an overall perspective that is accurate or at all credible in forming a general worldview.
  4. Truth has an antithetical quality — that is, truth statements (in this case, about the Lordship of Christ) assert a point positively that must be affirmed over against rival points of different perspective that are false.
  5. The biblical portrayal does not imagine the world as consisting of a vast mural of truthful perspectives in which the truth of Yahweh or the Lordship of Christ adds a slight hue of additional nuance; rather, on the contrary, the biblical picture suggests a world consisting of a sea of falsehoods and rival swill, against which the small-but-sturdy vessel of truth rows to the sure arms of the one-and-only Lord Creator God.
  6. To these very conservative and traditional sounding points, we have added in the last blog this additional point, which adds a qualification, a nuance:

  7. All truth statements — including truth statements about “absolute” (metaphysical) principles — are inherently non-absolute. That is, all truth statements are inherently contextual statements, subject to qualification by context; and as context changes, either the statement or the understanding of the statement, likewise needs to be adjusted accordingly.
   

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