Written by Dan LaValla Wednesday, 14 August 2013 00:00

Last month, I had the privilege of serving on a short-term mission team of 28 men and women and high school youth who traveled to Kodiak, Alaska where we served the Kodiak Baptist Mission (KBM) for youth and families. On the first day, we divided up into five teams according to the giftedness and the work each person wanted to take on. I was on a team of six that took on the roofing and repairs of a three-story house and consisted of a professional roofer/general contractor, KBM’s executive director and maintenance director and my two sons (ages 14 and 17).

This was the closest I have ever come to experiencing the dynamics described in 2 Cor. 8:7-15: specifically, a unity in Christ characterized by a shared equality that was based on mutual respect and humility regardless of one another’s abilities and assigned responsibilities.

Reflecting on the trip upon our return home, I realized the conditions for experiencing the dynamics of 2 Cor. 8:7-15 were ideal for several reasons. First, all six members of our team put aside their selfish motivations for a unified goal to serve Kodiak Baptist Mission to the fullest of our abilities in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Second, our team’s abundance of time and effort were providing the skills and resources that Kodiak Baptist Mission lacked to make the repairs on their own.

Third, the project was too immense to accomplish for a team our size under normal circumstances, requiring several hours of overtime for eight consecutive days, through the final workday of our mission trip to complete the project.

Finally, we had the privilege of experiencing daily encouragement from our gracious Lord by witnessing miraculous answers to the prayers of many that helped us overcome extenuating circumstances.

While our team worked with minimal interpersonal tensions and strong relationships formed for the hours we worked closely in a limited space, not all of the above lessons were realized in the midst of the project or without challenges. As the coordinator of the mission trip, I admit that I felt our team was called to accept the roofing project, but I accepted with some fears and concerns about whether or not we would complete the project without injuries.

First, the size and conditions of the roof and house were extremely difficult; the executive director later informed us later in the week, several teams over the past two years declined the job for the number of difficulties involved.

Second, Kodiak’s climate is a temperate rain forest where it is common to rain three to four days per week and any bit of rain would have slowed us down enough to prevent us from finishing. Our church prayed for 40 days leading up to and throughout the trip and each team member recruited a minimum of ten additional prayer partners all of whom were praying for suitable weather to complete our assignments. For our entire trip, the weather was dry, a stretch the native islanders had never observed. The successful completion of the project was obviously the result of willingness to accept a calling with faith and not just on assessing our human capacity, selfless commitment to serve God and His mission, answered prayer, and our team working with mutual respect and humility towards one another.

Dan LaValla is Director of Library Services and Development Associate at Biblical. He is Chair of the Endowment Committee for the American Theological Library Association and is very active in his church and community, coaching youth baseball and football and has served on several community boards. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/daniel-lavalla


Written by Dave Lamb Monday, 12 August 2013 00:00

I was running in the rain a few weeks ago.  Later that day, a friend from work who spotting me on my rainy run asked, “Why do you run in the rain?”  (Usually when friends honk at me on my runs, I wave, but without my glasses I have no idea who I’m waving to.)

I said, “I like to run in the rain.”  I don’t understand the fear of rain.  If it rains we stay inside, we use umbrellas, we cancel golf tournaments and baseball games (but not football…).  We don’t go on runs. 

I like the rain.  I don’t like the fact that it makes my hair frizzy, but compared to the bigger problems facing humanity (national debt, climate change, royal baby names), a little moisture on the head seems trivial. 

The main thing I like about running in the rain is that it connects me to God.  God dwells in the heavens, humans dwell on the earth.  Rain connects heaven to earth.

Psalm 68 captures this idea as it describes God with his people in the wilderness. 

Psalm 68:7-10 (NRSV)

O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness, Selah

8the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain at the presence of God,
the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

9Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
you restored your heritage when it languished;

10your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness,
O God, you provided for the needy.

OK, so God and his people were not running, but they were marching, slightly slower than running, as they went through the wilderness.  Then the heavens poured down rain, and they didn’t go inside or under their umbrellas, they said, “bring it on.”  They saw the rain as a blessing. 

Why was rain good?  Because it represented two good things. 

First, rain represented God’s presence. Rain came from heaven where God dwelt and the rain in Psalm 68 is clearly connected to God being with his people.  He used the pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night to guide them (Exo. 13:21-22), but according to Psalm 68, he also used a shower of rain to signify that he was with them.  He was God with them, not technically in the flesh, but in the water. 

Second, rain represented God’s provision.  God rained abundantly.  He showered rain everywhere, which somehow restored his heritage as it languished.  God’s goodness was connected to how he provided rain for his people.  It was a way he provided for the needy.  We all need water.  God provides it with rain. 

Next time it rains, don’t avoid it, bask it, run in it.  Gene Kelly advises singing in it, which is good, but remember who sends the rain.  Thank God for it, and connect to the God that provided the rain. 

What do you do in the rain? 

I should probably stop writing, our grass is long, it’s going to rain, and I don’t like mowing in the rain. 

David Lamb is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Biblical. He’s the husband of Shannon, father of Nathan and Noah, and the author of God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?He blogs regularly at http://davidtlamb.com/. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/david-lamb.


Written by Derek Cooper Friday, 09 August 2013 00:00

In my book, So You’re Thinking about Going to Seminary, I tried to help individuals who were wrestling with the question of whether they should attend seminary. It’s an important question, and I addressed any number of issues related to it. One of the first issues I tackled in the book had to do with myths that many people held about seminary. In the previous blog, I discussed five myths about seminary. In this blog, I will discuss five additional ones, before offering some final comments about seminary myths. As before, these myths will be included as questions, as I often get inquires from prospective students with these types of concerns.

10 Seminary Myths / Questions

6. Do I have to know exactly what I’m going to do upon graduation?

No. You definitely do not need to know what you are going to do after seminary - only that you are called to go to seminary. Remember that most of us did not go to college completely sure of what we wanted to study or do for the rest of our lives. And for those who did know this, they probably changed their minds! You can go to seminary without knowing whether you want to be a teacher, a pastor, an administrator, or a layperson. In addition to the different programs and classes that you will take, both faculty/staff and fellow students can help you figure out exactly what you are going to do upon graduation (while you are still in seminary).

Nevertheless, it would naturally be helpful to have a good indication before you enter so as to save money, time, and frustration. I personally went to seminary not knowing exactly what I would end up doing. Would I be a missionary, a pastor, a teacher, or none of the above? What mattered most was that I believed that I was supposed to go to seminary. The rest fell into place while I was there. If that describes your situation, go to seminary. While in school, you will get a better feel for your interests and abilities. 

7. Do I have to be a pastor?

No. The general makeup of seminaries today has evolved considerably over the years: from ones historically made up of pastors and priests to ones currently full of students who are pursuing a variety of diverse career paths. Although seminaries will always be filled with future pastors, other more non-traditional opportunities abound. You can be an educated layperson, teacher, musician, writer, counselor, missionary, administrator, or professional basketball player (all right, not exactly, but you get the point). When I graduated from seminary, I got a job teaching Spanish to high school students!  It never occurred to me in a thousand years that I would end up doing that after seminary, but life is full of surprises. I personally know of graduates who have entered fields very different from what they had imagined - including medicine, business, art, the military, and so forth. There is no set path.

Obviously, if you want to be a pastor, seminary is the place for you. But if you do not want to be a pastor at all - like most all of my friends from seminary, quite frankly - then you will actually fit in more than you think. The trend today is for many seminarians to be in pursuit of professions outside of pastoral ministry. One of my good friends from seminary, in fact, entered seminary believing that he would be a pastor upon graduation. But when he graduated from seminary he took a full-time position at an art gallery.

8. Do I have to finance it myself?

No. There are many ways to keep money from coming out of your own wallet to pay for seminary. There are scholarships, denominational monies, local church support, grants, loans, assistantships and other part-time jobs that could defray the cost of seminary education.  However, do not rely on this as if it is already in the bank.

Research your school of choice and be sure not to enter into seminary with an extremely heavy debt. This is because the costs of seminary, like everything else in the world, are on the rise and definitely not cheap. One class, for instance, might cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000. You have to be sensible financially when in graduate school because most people will have already accumulated a

certain amount of debt while in college. For this reason, many students work full time for a couple of years before seminary. This way you will have less debt after graduating. Of course, you could consider robbing a bank in order to finance your theological education; however, that is probably not the best way to secure money for seminary!

9. Do I have to write a dissertation?

No. Dissertations are usually only reserved for more academic and advanced degrees.  The run-of-the-mill seminary degree, the Master of Divinity, rarely requires a written dissertation. If you are interested in writing a dissertation while in seminary, then you should probably take a more academic route in your studies (or attend a graduate school of religion instead of a seminary). This is a viable alternative for those individuals who want a seminary education but do not want to become ordained pastors or priests. But only the advanced or purely academic degrees at a typical seminary will require a dissertation, not the standard degree. 

10. Do I have to live on campus?

No. Seminaries are, by design, graduate institutions. Practically speaking, this means that their students are adults and thus not able to drop everything - their spouse, children, house, car, pet, and iPad - for a degree. In contrast to many undergraduate institutions, therefore, graduate schools do not require students to live on campus during their studies. Students live wherever it is convenient for them to reside.

Nevertheless, many seminaries do have residential apartments on a limited availability. If you are willing and able to reside in them, there are many bonuses: They foster community; they are usually cheaper than houses and apartments in the surrounding area; they are in walking distance to class and the library; and they will enable you to make life-long friends. However, each seminary is different. Some campuses offer no housing; some offer excellent accommodations for both singles and families; others have hosing only for singles. 

My advice would be to live on campus if you are able, but stay where you are if you unable to move. Just remember two things: (1) Your seminary education does not have much value without the vibrant community you experience along the way. The friends you make at school are just as important as the classes you take. (2) Your primary obligation is to your spouse and children (if you are married or have children, that is). Keep in mind that your family is probably sacrificing a great deal so that you can go to seminary; therefore, be very considerate of their sacrifice.

I personally have only lived on the campus of one of the seminaries I attended. But it was a great experience. However, there is usually a high demand for living on campus and housing is frequently limited—if you are interested. As a result, you will need to contact the housing department at your seminary of choice and complete a form in order to be considered. And do not delay: Campus housing goes quickly. Upon being accepted to a particular seminary, the question of whether to consider campus housing or not should be on the top of your priority list.

Putting It All Together

Well, did we bust any myths? I thought so. There are many aspects that you need to consider when looking into seminary. In fact, there is one thing that you must always be telling yourself: The more accurate knowledge you have about seminary, the better off you are going to be. In all honesty, it is not my intention that just anybody goes to seminary. And it is not even my intention in this blog to try to encourage or discourage you or someone you know from going to seminary. My intention is to give you the best information possible so that you can base your decision on factual information. Seminary requires a great deal of time, money, and effort. Make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into. You will hopefully discern this by prayer, discussion with your community of faith, research, and conversation with friends and family who will have your best in mind.

Dr. Derek Cooper is assistant professor of world Christian history and director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Biblical. He is the author of several books, including So You’re Thinking about Going to Seminary. His faculty page can be found here: http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/derek-cooper.


Written by Derek Cooper Wednesday, 07 August 2013 00:00

In my book, So You're Thinking about Going to Seminary, I tried to help individuals who were wrestling with the question of whether they should attend seminary. It's an important question, and I addressed any number of issues related to it. One of the first issues I tackled in the book had to do with myths that many people held about seminary. In this blog, I am including five myths about seminary. They will be included as questions, as I often get inquires from prospective students with these types of concerns. In the following blog, I will include five additional myths before bringing the discussion to conclusion.

10 Seminary Myths / Questions

1. Do I have to have a bachelor’s degree in Bible, Religion, or Theology? 

No. Most all seminaries allow anyone with a bachelor’s degree to enter. Although seminaries do not necessarily require a certain college major, they generally prefer students who have taken several courses in the liberal arts. In other words, they prefer students who will have studied literature, history, philosophy, logic, and languages. This is because these courses are believed to better prepare you for the types of subjects that you will study in seminary.

What if you have never even taken a class in literature? That is not a problem; it will not keep you out of seminary. When all is said and done, seminaries admit students from every possible undergraduate field available: from architecture to zoology (but, sorry, seminaries do not usually let you dissect cats!). My advice is that in college you should study what you love learning about and what you do well in.

Following this advice may get you a degree in anything from Engineering to a degree in German. (I was a Spanish major, and my first job after seminary was teaching Spanish to high school students.) But any degree is acceptable. You will most likely get more mileage out of your German degree while attending seminary, but a degree in Engineering would always provide you with a back-up job if necessary. I personally know many students who have majored in Engineering and have done very well in seminary. Besides, these students make you laugh as they walk around with Hebrew or Greek cards tied around their belts when studying for language classes! (You will get it when you go to seminary.)

2. Do I have to have years of ministry experience?

No. Because seminaries exist in order to prepare you for ministry, it is not a prerequisite for entrance. You do not go to medical school, after all, because you know how to perform an appendectomy: They are supposed to teach you how to do that—at least the really good ones do! However, seminaries will expect that you have had some involvement in the Christian community. This involvement need not be extensive, but they would like to see some kind of experience on your part—whether as a Sunday school teacher, a youth leader, a summer camp counselor, or something similar. But again, your seminary will help you with this.

If you are not already involved in a local congregation, I would encourage you to become active as soon as possible. It would help you tremendously to spend a couple of months in ministry in some capacity before going to seminary. This activity need not be formal; the important thing is that you get some experience. You may even find out within a week that you are not cut out for such a career. Then you will get to dissect more of those cats after all while in veterinary school!

3 Do I have to take a standardized test of any kind in order to start seminary?

No. Very few seminaries require students to take standardized tests before being granted admission to seminary. Usually all that is required for admission into a basic seminary degree are letters of recommendation (oftentimes from a former professor, your pastor, and a friend), a completed application (with usually includes answering several questions), a marginal fee to cover the time necessary to read and review the materials, and sometimes a telephone conversation.

There are rare exceptions for more academic programs, but the standard seminary degree, the Master of Divinity, does not generally require these types of tests. Standardized testing, at the seminary level, is almost always reserved only for students applying to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

4. Do I have to first enter the workplace after graduating from college?

No. Just like the myth above, a seminary will not reject your application as a result of little or no work experience. (I had no experience at all before attending seminary, and I think I turned out all right!) Seminaries would certainly be enthusiastic if they observed that you have had past career experience, but you should not get a job after college just to improve your application. Remember that all schools thrive on diversity. This means that seminaries admit students of all different backgrounds and personal histories: students directly out of college, students who have worked for twenty years, domestic students, foreign students, and students who have traditionally been overlooked or neglected from theological education. Do you have a great opportunity to work for a couple of years before going to seminary? Then do so. If not, go straight to seminary and gain experience along the way. Ultimately everyone has different circumstances, and you must decide when your circumstances are right for attending seminary.

5. Do I have to attend school full time?

No. Many schools these days actually participate in distance learning or they offer classes at non-traditional times. Some classes are held one day a week; on the weekend; in the evening; during the summer; as well partially or fully online. Biblical Seminary, for example, offers a degree for people who work full-time, which can be earned in three years. It’s called the LEAD Master of Divinity, and excels at allowing those with full-time jobs to also attend seminary full-time (and even have a life outside of work and school!). Students take their classes in the evening and on the weekend.

However, for those who want or need to attend seminary part time, most all schools these days allow for this. Many schools, in fact, offer classes online or in a modular format (which means that some class time is held on campus while the rest is offered online). As a result, it is relatively easy to attend seminary on a part-time basis.

Of course, you can always attend full time or part time for a while and then full time. Just bear in mind that the longer you stay in school, the longer it will take to graduate. But by no means rush things for that sake alone. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Are you supporting a spouse and kids? Do you have a mortgage? Are you bankrupt? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to attend school part time so that you can work either part time or full time as well. By contrast, are you debt-free? Are you single? Are you ready to start your career? Then go to school full time. Find a job in the summer or on a part-time basis. Or better yet, do not work at all! Whatever the case, do not fall for the myth that you have to attend seminary full time.


I hope that in these brief questions we have already begun to break some myths about seminary. In the next blog, I will conclude this discussion about myths with some parting words as you continue to think about seminary either for yourself or for someone you know.

Dr. Derek Cooper is assistant professor of world Christian history and director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Biblical. He is the author of several books, including So You’re Thinking about Going to Seminary. His faculty page can be found here: http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/derek-cooper.


Written by Sam Logan Monday, 05 August 2013 00:00

Why would we want to build credibility among Muslims?

Well, there are short and long answer to that question. The short answer is all I will try to provide here.

The fundamental reason we would want to do this is that Jesus deserves their praise, just as He deserves the praise of every single part of Creation.  Of course, we know that only the Holy Spirit can cause a heart to want to worship and honor Jesus and that, in one sense, therefore, even “preaching is foolishness.”  But we still preach and we still work to prepare the best sermons we can and we still deliver those sermons with energy and enthusiasm.  God’s absolute sovereignty does not eliminate our responsibility to be the kind of channels for the Spirit’s work that the Scriptures call us to be.

Many passages of Scripture describe the kinds of channels that we should be – wise but gentle (Matthew 10: 15 – 17), well-prepared (I Peter 3: 14 – 16), loving (I Corinthians 13), consistency between our message and our lives (James 3: 13 – 16) and “all things to all people” (I Corinthians 9:22).  Of course, there must never be any compromise with the truth but Jesus, Peter, and Paul knew that and none of them, in giving the commands above, was suggesting the slightest such compromise of the essential Gospel message.  But they were teaching us that the qualities of the messenger matter.  And all of the qualities mentioned in the cited passages (and in many more such passages) involved “credibility.”  How we live has a significant amount to do with whether those to whom we are speaking even listen to us.

Living biblically before Muslims is, therefore, critically important if we really do want them to bring to Jesus the honor and worship and obedience which He deserves.  I will mention here just three (of the many) things that such living might entail.

1) Oppose injustices committed against Muslims.  I will say this even more strongly – oppose injustices against Muslims as vigorously and publicly as you oppose injustices committed by Muslims against others.    The July 1, 2013, of Time Magazine included (pp. 42 – 45) an article which described attacks on Muslims and Christians by Buddhists in Myanmar.  In addition to my service at Biblical, I work with the World Reformed Fellowship and the gruesome details of the Time article were personalized in an e-mail which I received from one of our members in Myanmar and which I posted as a “News” item on our website (http://www.wrfnet.org/). Loud and vigorous denunciation of the violence against Muslims in Myanmar would in no way compromise the essential Gospel message.  But it would go a very long way toward giving us credibility with the Muslims with whom we share that Gospel message.

2) Find ways of expressing appropriate support for Muslim communities.  The key word, of course, is “appropriate.” Such support must never compromise the essential truths of the Christian faith but, then, that is true of any support we give to projects involving non-Christians.  At the end of the street where Susan and I live is a small neighborhood park.  This park is used by all kinds of folks in our area, not all of whom have a discernible Christian identity.  It is biblically appropriate for Susan and me to work with ALL of our neighbors to make sure that park is clean and safe. How can we do something similar with those who are clearly Muslim (and whom we want to come to the point of worshipping Jesus)?

Let me get specific (although that is always dangerous!). When a Muslim community in New York City announced plans to construct a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center, “building credibility” with our Muslims neighbors would have been dramatically enhanced by Christians giving their support for that project (I told you that getting specific was dangerous!). Perhaps some Christians had solid and genuine biblical reasons for opposing that location for the mosque and, if so, those reasons must be honored. But there would have been other ways of “coming along side” the Muslim community in that situation and becoming the kinds of channels the Scriptures command sometimes requires us to be creative in such efforts. However one regards the particular instance of the mosque in NYC, if we want to be credible witnesses to Jesus in the Muslim community, we must find ways to work toward the kind of behavior toward Muslims which the Lord commands His people to demonstrate toward their Babylonian captors in Jeremiah 29:7 and which Peter commends to the Christians living under Nero in I Peter 2: 13 – 15.

3) Where appropriate, seek the advice of Muslim leaders on religious matters.  There’s that word again – “appropriate.” There are many religious matters on which it would be INappropriate to seek the advice of Muslim leaders.  But the Muslim community faces some of the same challenges which the evangelical Christian community faces, especially in the area of sexual sins, and asking for advice from an Imam in responding to those challenges would NOT be inappropriate.  Asking for advice does not necessarily mean following that advice.  But seeking counsel from Muslim spiritual leaders will communicate to them that we want to hear them and if we really do want to hear them, the chances are just that much greater that they will, at some point, be willing to listen to us.   Once again, it is a matter of being the kind of credible messengers that will assure that rejection of our message will be cause by the scandal of that message and not by the offensiveness of the messenger.

I have focused in this blog on building credibility among Muslims.  But if these comments have any value at all, they have value with respect to whatever non-Christians we are seeking to win to Christ.  Knowing Jesus and His infallible and inerrant Word is of primary importance in Christian life and ministry.  But “primary” does not mean “only.”  The qualities of the messenger really do matter, no matter whom that messenger is addressing.

Sam Logan is Senior Counsel for Major Gifts at Biblical. He also serves as the International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship (www.wrfnet.org). He is an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and is President Emeritus of Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia).. He is married to Susan and they have two sons and two grandsons. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/samuel-logan


Written by Susan Disston Sunday, 04 August 2013 00:00

There’s a new book from Jim Wallis called On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned About Serving the Common Good. Jim makes the case that it’s long past the time for Christians “to reclaim the neglected common good and to learn how faith might help, instead of hurt, in that important task" (p. 5).  He says that religious traditions need to align themselves on God’s side rather than seeking special blessing for their own enterprises, however worthy they might be. “Trying to be on God’s side requires much more humility and grace …. It means seeing God’s purposes ahead of our own or our group’s self-interest. It means loving our neighbors, even when they are in a group different from ours, and even when they are our enemies” (p. 9).

Here at the Seminary we resonate with Jim’s message because what he is describing is missional living. Missional living is purposeful living as a Christian who embraces loving neighbor as oneself (Matt. 22:36-40). We resonate with Jim’s plea for the faith community to “move from our ideological analysis of problems to practical solutions that would promote the values of both personal and social ethics" (p. 169).  I encourage you to watch Jim’s moving YouTube Video recorded at the Lincoln Memorial:

From time to time in the coming year I will use this blog to highlight some ways that people I know are working for the common good. This first post is from Katharine Oswald who works at the Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia is on the cutting edge of legal aid in some of the city’s most under-served neighborhoods. Legal aid services are prominent in Center City, but few organizations position themselves close to individuals who need pro bono or low-cost services most. In cooperation with four churches and community centers in North, West, and South Philadelphia, CLCP operates bi-weekly “clinics” – three-hour slots of time where individuals can meet with a qualified attorney for up to one hour at no cost. Family, housing, and criminal matters are among the legal issues our attorneys see most.  In a non-intimidating, community setting, individuals are offered the best advice, given quality, low-cost referrals, and connected to other community services they may need.  The prayer and ministry offered during each session place individuals' legal issues within a greater spiritual context, affirming that God cares for them and hears their cries for help. People come weighed down with difficult issues, and CLCP aims to send them away not only with legal help, but with the Hope of the Gospel, the Gospel of a God who carries their burdens with them. Two client stories help readers to see what hope meant to real people. 

Here is Kathryn’s story: 

Feeling alone, exhausted, and traumatized, Kathryn did everything in her power to seek justice. She e-mailed the founder of the low-income housing assistance program to which she belonged. Eventually, she walked through the doors of a legal assistance organization for the first time, knowing they existed to help people like herself who were in dire straits. She provided clear documentation of her predicament, yet, after a brief interview she was simply told, “We have a conflict of interest; we can’t help you.” Her story is called “NOWHERE LEFT TO TURN”

Here is Miguel’s story:

Up to this point, Miguel’s experiences with lawyers had all been negative. After a run-in four years ago that ended in his good friend being stabbed, Miguel found himself in court, under the representation of a seemingly apathetic attorney. “The lawyer did not even meet me once. He pretty much didn’t want to fight my case. I felt hopeless!” His story is called “A SECOND CHANCE”

For more information on how you can make a difference through this ministry:

  • Visit clcphila.org
  • Schedule a visit to their main office at 4455 N. 6th Street, Suite 100, Philadelphia, PA 19149.*
  • Volunteer as a clinic attorney.
  • Accept referrals of clinic clients.
  • Become a donor

Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy - Psalm 82:3 KJV

*This is the same building where Biblical Seminary leases classrooms for its Urban LEAD MDiv program on Tuesday nights and one Saturday per month.

Dr. Susan
Disston was assistant dean of curriculum and assessment at Biblical Seminary and taught in the doctor of ministry program.


Written by Dr. Phil Monroe Thursday, 01 August 2013 09:07

Did you know that there is a form of Christian cancer? You may know it better by the more common name of…gossip. It shows up in prayer meetings, board meetings, side bar conversations, “processing” with a friend, and yes, therapy sessions. It is found in Christian institutions where we discuss who has the best vision, most accurate theology, or best ministry method. Like cancer, it spreads quickly from the heart over the tongue, and in just a few minutes, it can be around the country. Spreading happens quickest in cases of juicy moral failings of church leaders. Side effects include increased cynicism, egotism, the freedom to sin against a really bad sinner without penalty, justification of our own flaws.

I confess I am prone to have a case of it. As a counselor I hear all sorts of pain and brokenness in Christian circles. One pastor lacks integrity, another leader is a megalomaniac, another provides dangerous, superficial counseling, and yet another has a farce of a marriage. How will I handle it? Will I tell a trusted friend? Will I “process” with my wife? Where is the line between needed debriefing and gossip? I fear I’m far too willing to cross it at work, church, and the neighborhood.

How about you? In a discussion of church vision, do you criticize the pastor/elders by bringing up unrelated evidence of weakness? In a driveway conversation, do you discuss the neighbor’s recent arrest? In an office discussion, do you discuss a colleague or board member’s mis-steps? Should you?

Phil Monroe is Professor of Counseling & Psychology and Director of the MA in Counseling program. He also directs the newly formed Global Trauma Recovery Institute. You can read more of his musings here.


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