Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Midweek Meditation: Second Century Wisdom (Justin Martyr)

Christian Apologist (AD 100-165)
On Sunday Worship
"We hold this gathering on Sunday, since this is the first day on which God, by making a transformation of darkness and chaos, made the universe, and on the same day Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead."

"Plain singing is not childish, but only the singing with lifeless organs, with dancing, and cymbals, etc. Whence the use of such instruments, and other things fit for children, is laid aside and plain singing only retained."

On Conquering the Flesh
"To yield and give way to our passions is the lowest slavery, even as to rule over them is the only liberty."

On Being Peacemakers
"We used to hate and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies."

"We who formerly hated and murdered one another now live together and share the same table. We pray for our enemies and try to win those who hate us."

On the Different Sides of Atheism
"Thus we are called atheists. And we admit that in respect of such supposed gods we are atheists; but not in regard to the most true God, the Father of righteousness."

"We are not atheists, for we worship the Creator of the Universe with the word of prayer and thanksgiving."

On the Tongue
"By examining the tongue of a patient, physicians find out the diseases of the body, and philosophers the diseases of the mind."

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Monday, August 22, 2016

BookPastor >> "Effective Generational Ministry" (Elisabeth A. Nesbit Sbanotto and Craig L. Blomberg)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Feb 29th, 2016.

conrade


TITLE: Effective Generational Ministry: Biblical and Practical Insights for Transforming Church Communities
AUTHOR: Elisabeth A. Nesbit Sbanotto and Craig L. Blomberg
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016, (282 pages).

How do you build community among the three largest generations in this day and age? What are the cultural and generational differences among them? How do we navigate the complexities and varying expectations across the different generations? To what extent do we allow cultural contexts influence our ministry in churches? In the words of the authors, how can we do effective generational ministry? In a book that strings together various ideas from sociological, spiritual, anthropological, ecclesiological, and other fields of study, Sbanotto and Blomberg have put together years of research and experience to give three key generations some understanding of themselves and of one another. First off, they define the three groups as follows:
  1. Baby Boomers: Born 1946 - 1964
  2. Generation Xers: Born 1965 - 1981
  3. Millennials: Born 1982 - 2001

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Midweek Meditation: Second Century Wisdom (Ignatius of Antioch)

St Ignatius of Antioch (c.35-c.108)
"There is only one physician, a physician who is at once fleshly and spiritual, generate and ingenerate, God in man, true life in death, born of Mary and of God, first passable then impassable, Jesus Christ our Lord."

"I am God's wheat, and I am being ground by the teeth of the beasts so that I may appear as pure bread."

"I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is our desire."

"Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas, but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ. So pray that I may never fall into the trap of impressing people with clever speech, but instead I may learn to speak with humility, desiring only to impress people with Christ himself."

"Take heed often to come together to give thanks to God and show forth His praise. For when you assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which He aims is prevented by the unity of your faith."

Monday, August 15, 2016

BookPastor >> "The Radical Pursuit of Rest" (John Koessler)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Feb 27th, 2016.

conrade

TITLE: The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap
AUTHOR: John Koessler
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2016, (176 pages).

Is the title of this book an oxymoron? How can an active pursuit in itself be restful in the first place? It's like mixing a bottle of restlessness into a bowl called rest. Which will prevail? According to the author, this book about the "radical pursuit" is not so much about activities and techniques but the meaning of rest is "radical" in itself. In other words, to the perennially busy and constantly preoccupied individual, arriving at the restful disposition is already a radical position in itself. For our day and age, it most certainly require us to be "radical" in our pursuit of rest simply because we have lost the art of rest. The author uses nine chapters to explore the range of rest and restlessness. Beginning with faith, he notices how even the Sunday church services are nowhere near the rest that worship requires. Stuck in the hamster wheel of seeking success, Christian activities are full of advice giving, non-stop working, and wearing soldiering ahead just to do religious stuff. Rest needs to be found and the path to reach that state is not through work but divine rest. The way forward is to depend on the one who knows how best to rest: God. God rests because it is the rest of completion and contentment over the day's work. Remember how God says each day is "good?" Rest is a place where God is present. Rest is dependent not on what we have or not done, but completely on what Christ had done at the cross. Probing the notion of Sundays as that supposedly "day of rest," Koessler laments at the lack of uniformity in the practice of the Lord's Day. Far too often, it has been filled with all kinds of activities. Obviously, with the lack of practicing rest on a Sunday, no wonder the rest of the week is packed with lots of restlessness.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Midweek Meditation: Second Century Wisdom (The Shepherd of Hermas)

"Remove every evil desire and clothe yourself with good and holy desire. For it you are clothed with good desire, you will hate evil desire and bridle it as you please." (The Shepherd of Hermas)

"Hold fast to simplicity of heart and innocence. Yes, be as babes who do not know the wickedness that destroys grown people's lives." (The Shepherd of Hermas)

"Those who are rich in this world cannot be made useful for the Lord unless their riches have been cut out of them. (The Shepherd of Hermas)

"7. When, therefore, the rich man reaches out to the poor those things which he lacks, the poor man prays to the Lord for the rich. And God grants to the rich man all good things because the poor man is rich is prayer, and his requests have great power with the Lord. 8. Then the rich man ministers all things to the poor, because he perceives that he is heard by the Lord, and he more willingly and without doubting affords him what he needs, and takes care that nothing be lacking to him.
9. And the poor man gives thanks to the Lord for the rich, because they both do their work from the Lord.
10. With men therefore, the elm is not thought to give any fruit; but they do not know or understand that by being added to the vine, the vine bears a double increase, both for itself and for the elm.
11. Likewise, the prayers of the poor to bless the rich are heard by the Lord; so their riches are increased, because they minister to the poor of their wealth. Therefore they both are made partakers of each other's good works."

Monday, August 08, 2016

BookPastor >> "Spiritual Companioning" (Angela H. Reed, Richard R. Osmer, & Marcus G. Smucker)

This review was first published on Feb 19th, 2016 at Panorama of a Book Saint.

conrade


TITLE: Spiritual Companioning: A Guide to Protestant Theology and Practice
AUTHOR: Angela H. Reed, Richard R. Osmer, & Marcus G. Smucker
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015, (186 pages).

Every believer wants to grow but not all of them know how. While Church attendance is important, going to Church alone does not necessarily make one a growing Christian. We all need spiritual growth. We need to make disciples and obey the commandments of God. According to the authors, we need spiritual direction. As many of the resources available out there are of Roman Catholic origin, this book offers spiritual direction from a Protestant orientation, that draws from the riches of tradition and evangelical spirituality. In this book, spiritual companioning means "a way of accompanying others in intentional relationships of prayerful reflection and conversation that help them notice God's presence and calling in their personal lives, local communities, and the world."

Like any good scholar, the authors give us a working definition of terms that can be commonly misunderstood or used too interchangeably. Terms such as:
  • Christian Spirituality
  • Spiritual Guidance
  • Spiritual Direction
  • Spiritual Friendship
  • Spiritual Practice

Friday, August 05, 2016

Margaret Gordon's Top 12 Tips of Parenting Teens

I found this list of 12 tips very enlightening. The following is taken from Karyn Gordon's Guide to the Teen Years.

  1. Accept the uniqueness of each of your teens.
  2. Be willing to admit your own mistakes and ask for forgiveness if you have hurt your teen.
  3. Spend time with each teen; play with them, get to know their likes and dislikes.
  4. Help them when you are asked but don't take over! Give them space to develop their own gifts.
  5. Affirm them, focus on their good qualities, praise them for effort and work well done.
  6. Teach them to be truthful.
  7. Set realistic boundaries and rules, but be flexible.
  8. Be consistent with your boundaries and rules (this is not always easy but it is important)
  9. Be authentic, be real! Kids can tell right away if we are phonies.
  10. Teach them to be responsible for their own things like jobs, money and school work.
  11. Love them unconditionally; be patient, kind, accepting of who they are as people; separate who they are from what they do.
  12. MODEL, MODEL, MODEL what you preach and teach. For example, don't tell them to tell the truth and then ask them to lie for you on the phone. 
(From: Karyn Gordon's Guide to the Teen Years, HarperCollins, 2008, p57)

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