Written by Jeffrey Monk Friday, 16 January 2015 10:01

How should we read Hebrews 11? What is the writer doing in that chapter? In the previous context, the writer recalls the community’s beautiful display of courage in response to persecution in its earlier days (10:32-34).

Instilling Vision

The readers’ situation and their existential need are important to understanding the meaning of Hebrews 11. Overcome by fear at the prospects of an oncoming persecution, the Hebrews had succumbed to doubt and disillusionment. In effect, the readers were in a crisis of faith.

The writer retells the history of God’s people in light of Hab. 2:4. Habakkuk’s faith had been tested to the core when he learned of God’s plan to use the wicked Assyrians to judge Israel’s unfaithfulness. In his perplexity, he discovered that “the just shall live by faith.” So, he voiced his doubts honestly to God, and actively waited for God to provide further clarity.

 

Written by Derek Cooper Friday, 09 January 2015 10:06

In or around 1625, men digging a grave in the central Chinese countryside discovered a two-ton slab of limestone buried deep in the ground. Carved in the front with 1,900 Chinese characters as well as almost 150 personal names and words written in Syriac — a Semitic tongue akin to the language Jesus spoke — this stele measured nine feet high by three feet wide.

Christianity in China

The beautiful Chinese calligraphy inscribed on the stele was to be read from top to bottom and from right to left. At the trunk of the slab rested a giant tortoise and at the top stood opposing dragons holding a pearl, adorned with clouds and a cross rising from a lotus flower. Though resembling thousands of others from China’s past, this stele contained a story that those living could scarcely believe: It proved the establishment of Christianity in China around 600 years before previously thought.

   

Written by Chang-Hoon Oh Tuesday, 06 January 2015 15:44

Missional education is no invention of the 20th or 21st century. The foundation of missional education finds its basis in the very life of Jesus. The question is: “How can missional teachers challenge students to adopt the mission of Jesus in their own lives and to organize their activities and relationships in such a way that His mission is theirs?”

Missional Teachers

The missional teacher’s role starts with equipping students by helping them be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:2). Missional education is, thus, summarized with an acrostic, TRANSFORM.

Teaching the truth based on the Word of God

(Bible-centered Philosophy)

Most of all, the education of missional teachers must be based on a God-centered view of truth, which puts the Bible at the center as the key factor in the communication of knowledge. As the convictions of BTS read: “Scripture is inspired by God and as such is infallible and authoritative for the life and witness of the church throughout history and across cultures.” A missional teacher always should seek to encourage the spiritual development of students since this is the foundation for their academic, social and personal growth (Col.1:28; Proverbs 1:7).

   

Written by Rick Houseknecht Monday, 29 December 2014 00:00

Most people appreciate humility when they see it in others. It is refreshing to hear examples of highly successful people who are “down to earth.” Can any such thing be said of the Supreme Being?

God Down to Earth

Absolutely, and more. One of my favorite psalms is 113, in which the poet calls people to extol YHWH in all places and at all times. What makes the Lord so great, so incomparable? He is both distinctive and down to earth: “Who is like YHWH our God, who makes high his seat, who makes low his look, in the heavens and on the earth?” (vv 5-6).

God’s downward look implies action: “Raising the poor from the dust, lifting the oppressed from the ash heap to seat them with princes… seating the barren woman of the household as the joyful mother of children..” (vv 7-9). Some of the “lifted up” and “seating” language describing God’s glory in verses 4 and 5 is applied to his work of exalting the lowly in verses 7-9. It is a recurring theme in Israel’s history that YHWH stoops down to raise up his people.

   

Written by Susan Disston Wednesday, 24 December 2014 00:00

Advent is a period of waiting that is built into many church calendars for the purpose of focusing attention on the birth of Christ. In sermons, carols, and songs, Christians are reminded of why Jesus came into the world, echoing Zechariah’s song:

And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you shall go before the Lord to prepare the way, to give God’s people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:68-79)

Our world is anything but peaceful.

   

Written by Charles Zimmerman Monday, 22 December 2014 00:00

Nothing like the Christmas season stresses us out and overloads our lives. Into our already busy lives we add shopping expeditions, meals with family, office parties, extra church services, decorating the house, finding the perfect tree, baking cookies…

A few years ago, I read a time-test that assessed how out of control our lives are and things haven’t gotten any better. I know you don’t have much time to actually mark your answers to the quiz, so just keep track in your mind – yes or no.

   

Written by R. Todd Mangum Friday, 19 December 2014 00:00

An old superstition says that bad things happen in threes.

I don’t believe in that superstition – but I nonetheless am chilled by the slaughter of innocents this past week that occurred in three horrifying acts. First, there was the news of the Taliban in Pakistan reviving their notoriety for terrorism by carrying out a military style attack on a school, deliberately targeting and killing 132 children. Meanwhile, Boko Haram in Nigeria went on another rampage, again killing andtargeting women and children for kidnapping into sex slavery.

Then, as though to underscore that such terrors are not just in distant lands far away, right here in my home town of Souderton, a man, allegedly in a nasty custody fight with his ex-wife, murdered six people (including the children’s mother right in front of them), before fleeing to the woods and taking his own life

“Come on, God. Why must such horrors happen – at Christmas time no less?” I find myself praying.

   

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