2009 Photo by Lambert Wolterbeek Muller, flickr

Written by Administrator Monday, 23 December 2013 00:00

Christmas day will soon be here and with it comes an array of emotions for Christians: wonder, gratitude, hope, and loving kindness; also worry, regret, and longing—sometimes gut-wrenching longing—for restoration, peace, forgiveness.

The Christmas “season,” as it’s called commercially, emphasizes emotions like joy, peace, and happiness while hushing allusions to suffering, pain, and loss.

But the true Christmas season for those who welcome the Christ child embraces all emotions because in the celebration of the birth of Christ we remind each other—and the whole world—that the light that shines in Christ promises that the love of God is in us and among us.

 

Written by Kyuboem Lee Friday, 20 December 2013 00:00

Christmas Gifts for the Poor

It has become a well-established tradition in the Western world for good folks to come together at the end of the year and give back to the community by looking out for the less fortunate among us, in the spirit of the season.

We give out turkeys and serve at soup kitchens during Thanksgiving.

We make out checks to worthy charities and make year-end, tax-deductible gifts.

And we purchase toys—good ones that we’d get for our own kids, not some cheap, dollar-store kinds—and bring them wrapped to poor homes and deliver them to delighted children who wouldn’t have been able to enjoy such warm Christmas cheer if not for us good people.

What could possibly be more demonstrative of the Christmas spirit?

   

Written by Steve Taylor Wednesday, 18 December 2013 00:00

On Sunday Nelson Mandela was laid to rest at Qunu, his ancestral home, ten days after he passed away. In the interim between his death and burial, South Africa was not so much a nation in mourning as it was a nation in celebration and thanksgiving—celebration of and thanksgiving for the life of Nelson Mandela.

This was true even for the great majority of South African Christians. White South African, Michael Cassidy, founder of the evangelistic organization, African Enterprise, and regarded by many to be the Billy Graham of continental Africa, marked Mandela’s passing with these words:

The moment South Africa has in many ways been dreading has come upon us and our Madiba [Madela’s tribal name] has ended his long earthly walk to freedom. Nelson Mandela has died and South Africa is bereft. The country will never have a greater son nor one who left a greater legacy. We need to pray that the values he sought to bequeath to us of forgiveness, reconciliation, large heartedness, non racialism and true democracy benefiting all should not be in any way compromised or abandoned but re-embraced with renewed commitment and deep resolve. . . . If as a nation we can do this it will constitute the best expression of gratitude possible to this great man who has left our midst.
   

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.

   

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