The belief scale

Posted by tom | Feb 14, 2013

“The belief scale" is highlighted in today's Emerging Scholars Network Blog post on "A Jigsaw Guide to Making Sense of the World" (Thomas B. Grosh IV. 2/14/2013). 

From the Sandhills of Nebraska to the Universe Next Door . . .

Posted by tom | Jan 17, 2013

James Sire, former IVP editor, interviewed in Christianity Today! As you may remember, we not only posted excerpts from his recently e-published memoir, but also engaged in a question-and-answer series with Jim on the ESN Blog, http://blog.emergingscholars.org/page/2/?s=james+w.+sire. HT: Gordon.

We desire catharsis -- dealing with The Dark Knight Rises

Posted by tom | Jul 25, 2012

Agree/disagree with Deception's Darkness: Seeking the light in the films of Christopher Nolan (Nick Olson. Christianity Today. 7/18/2012):

[P]erhaps the greatest signal of transcendence in Nolan's work is his meta-commentary on moviegoing in "Inception": We desire catharsis. In a sense, it doesn't matter whether or not the totem fell — not because reality doesn't matter, but because the fact that we desire it to fall says something about ourselves. Something's wrong. And we need a Light to break through.

Bonus feature: The Dark Knight Rises and Truth Has its Day (Nick Olson. Christ and Pop Culture. 7/25/2012). 

Confession: As some of you know, I have found the work of Christopher Nolan connecting with me at a deep level from his first releases. Furthermore, I have been prayerfully considering my thoughts regarding whether the recent shooting squashes my strong desire to see "The Dark Knight Rises." 

It is significant to me that (More)

FREE Audiobook of Dallas Willard's "Hearing God"

Posted by tom | Jun 23, 2012

Hearing God coverReminder: Only a few days left to receive a FREE Audiobook of Dallas Willard's Hearing God: Developing A Conversational Relationship with God, click here.

Let me know if you have interest in a summer or fall Google+ Hangout discussion of Hearing God. Note: Willard's a Philosophy Professor at U. of Southern California - Los Angeles.

R.C. Sproul's "The Lightlings"

Posted by tom | Jun 16, 2012

Yesterday, I enjoyed R.C. Sproul's The Lightlings (Animatic DVD version with author commentary, 6 minute, 56 second run time) as part of a short break.

The Lightlings was recommended to me by one of my girls.

Thank-you to Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church library for having the The Lightlings as part of the collection. I commend the piece to Groshlink readers.

Randy Newman's "Questioning Evangelism" -- back again

Posted by tom | Mar 28, 2012

Randy Newman's Questioning Evangelism

At last week's InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Gradute & Faculty Team Meetings for the Northeast region, we gave significant attention to Randy Newman's* Questioning Evangelism -- Thank-you Paula! You may remember, in Fall 2006 I co-taught an adult elective at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church based upon his material, for more read Questioning Evangelism and Christ of Christmas.

Below's a quote from Questioning Evangelism

“… maybe our world has changed so significantly that we need to rethink evangelism . . . I’m calling Christians to use questions in the venture of evangelism.” Christians need three skills in evangelism: declaring, defending and dialoguing the gospel. “The third skill – and this where Questioning Evangelism fits in – is built upon the foundations of declaring and defending the gospel.  . . . Often neglected, difficult to master, but absolutely essential, this skill of giving and taking – asking questions and bouncing ideas back and forth – might be just what our postmodern audience needs.” (13, 14, 15)

Newman's Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well is on the self and I look forward to reading it after the end of this term :) An excerpt from the newer book is posted at here.

At Tuesday's PSU-Hershey CMS/CMDA lunch lecture, Dr. Pauline Bridgeman shared a powerful and deeply personal message regarding the challenge of being a medical missionary family with CURE in Honduras AND the call to follow Christ alone no matter the danger. To learn more about the Medical Missions work of Jay & Pauline Bridgeman visit Why do you do what you do? - Medical Missionaries (Groshlink) and the Cure blog.

In the evening one student missed Bible study to share the gospel with another student. We prayed not only for this conversation, but also for a number of other relationships, including a crosscultural evangelistic Bible study (Note: keeping this intentionally vague). Pray for God's insight and grace in the next step of these various labors for the Kingdom of God.

*Randy Newman is a Teaching Fellow at the C.S. Lewis Institute. He has been with the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ since 1980 and currently serves with Faculty Commons, their ministry to university professors. He ministers on campuses and elsewhere in our nation's capital to students, professors and policy-shapers. He is an honors graduate from Temple University and has a Masters of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he is also engaged in doctoral studies. Randy is a Jewish Believer in Jesus and is the former editor of The Messiah-On-Campus Bulletin. He lives in Annandale, Virginia together with his wife Pam. He is the author of numerous articles and the books Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did and Corner Conversations: Engaging Dialogues about God and Life, both published by Kregel Publicatios, and Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well, forthcoming from Crossway. -- http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/blog/2011/07/why-i-read-c-s-lewis-2/.

Question: What key historical place in the Christian tradition would you most like to visit?

Posted by tom | Mar 15, 2012

The Eagle and Child pub, where C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and the other Inklings met to write and dream togetherThank-you to InterVarsity Press for posting Chapter 1 of James Emery White's A Traveler's Guide to the Kingdom (May 2012)! With A Night with the Inklings tonight with David C. Downing, it was fun to read through Chapter 1.

Based upon the impressive list of places given in the Table of Contents, my answer to "What key historical place in the Christian tradition would you most like to visit?" . . . 

Corrie ten Boom Museum: "the Hiding Place"Ten Boom House, Haarlem, Holland: As I raise my girls, I've used the illustration of Corrie Ten Boom's father leading daily family devotions and the long term importance of this discipline. As such I'd like to take my family to the Ten Boom House, Haarlem, Holland, & then to Ravensbrück. A trip for when they're a little older . . . start with reading from the book and looking at the pictures.

Following Jesus on my Birthday

Posted by tom | Jan 17, 2012

In preparation for Kent Annan's February 13 - 16 visit, a number of people have shared with me how much they have been challenged in their faith by reading Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle: Living Fully, Loving Dangerously (InterVarsity Press, 2009) and how his early work prepares one to digest After Shock: Searching for Honest Faith When Your World Is Shaken (2011). Today, I am reminded that Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle is a helpful word to me as I turn 38.

As I begin a new year of life, I have the opportunity to live "One More Day" to the glory of God. This is not a time to slack in "Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle." Hold me accountable to live out this commitment with a deliberate, daily passion for Christ alone.

I Want (Excerpt from "Following Jesus through the Eye of the Needle" by Kent Annan)

Posted by tom | Jan 11, 2012

Mark your calendars for February 13 - 16. Kent Annan, author of two InterVarsity Press books and co-founder of Haiti Partners, will be in South Central PA sharing an honest word about his journey with God in Haiti.

He kicks off with Helping Haiti, a South Central PA grassroots networking event involving a group of people with a heart for Haiti and representatives of several local organizations with work in Haiti (Elizabethtown Public Library, 6 pm). For more information visit the Library Event Page and/or the Facebook Event Page.

Praise: Yesterday's Merchandiser interview on Kent's visit went well. What a joy to partner with Elizabethtown Public Library on this project! Lord willing, the article will run 2/1. I've started sharing posters, lots of interest at "Bearly Used Boutique," "Mount Joy Gift & Thrift," & "Pages." Also I let "Folklore" know some of us would be dropping by afterward . . . If you'd like a poster to hang and/or some quarter sheets to share, drop me a line :)

Update: 1/11/2012 (9:41 AM).

What is my, our, your legacy?

Posted by tom | Nov 3, 2011

How is legacy defined/understood? A week-and-a-half-ago I posted Reminded of "Cat's in the Cradle"? Today I'm sharing a piece on Mother Teresa, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Q_sepFXPCU . . . How do you embrace and care for "the outsider?"


Finding Calcutta CoverAs Theresa and I love God with our head,heart, and hand in higher education, we have the opportunity to bless many who have the opportunity to bless many. I am particularly struck by this with our work at Penn State Hershey Medical Center's Christian Medical Society (CMS)/CMDA. Part of education is short term mission and the listening to the whisper of God as to whether one is calling to serve in 'long term mission' (e.g., Jay & Pauline Bridgeman).

For more posts in the Finding Calcutta series, click here.

Updated: 11/5/2011, 7:34 PM

God listens for our voice at daybreak

Posted by tom | Sep 25, 2011

Psalm 5:3

The New Jerusalem Bible

I say this prayer to you, Yahweh,

for at daybreak you listen for my voice

and at dawn I hold myself in readiness for you,

I watch you.

The Way of the Three Sisters

Praise God! A text for us as we celebrate the Sabbath. One with which to begin the day and one with which to end the day with the expectation for tomorrow. For Psalm 5 in The New Living Translation click here

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Bedtime Hobbit Reading: Sticking to the Path

Posted by tom | Sep 21, 2011

"They had escaped the dungeons of the king and were through the wood, but whether alive or dead still remains to be seen" (187).

As you may remember from Bedtime Hobbit Reading, I'm pressing on with some reading of The Hobbit.1

 alt

Gandalf instructed the party to "Stick to the forest-track . . . DON'T LEAVE THE PATH!" (137-138) But as you know, the party did not, leading to much misadventure. None-the-less, it is in the time "off the path," where Bilbo grows in the craft of burglary and hence, respect from the dwarves -- especially when mixed with two "prison" breaks (maybe this should be cast as "freeing the innocent and/or bumbling travelers").2

I've not thought about it from this perspective before, but it feels like a significant maturation point of a main character, possibly even a "walk through the valley of the shadow death" serves as the hinge of the book. I'll revisit this thought later. Can't wait to pop the lids in Chapter 10: A Warm Welcome.

Question: Over the past several weeks, have you been taking care of yourself (and those for whom you are responsible)? Are you still on the path? If not, what steps can you take to return to it?

Teaser: We find something interesting about "sticking to the path" in Chapter 10: A Warm Welcome. An example of not drawing such truths from fiction and the disagreement between J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis regarding the writing of fiction?

1J.R.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit: or There and Back Again. Revised Edition. Ballantine Books. 1994).

2I'm starting to wondering whether I should be an enthusiast for the relationship of the craft of burglarly/"prison" break and respect from one's colleagues in a mission to steal back treasure, even though it is MiddleEarth before the teaching of Christ :) More on this train of thought coming . . .

Richard Foster on the "Sanctuary of the Soul"

Posted by tom | Sep 17, 2011

In Byron's 5 new books to help you grower deeper, journey inward, move outward and move forward (Hearts & Minds Books. 9/14/2011), I came across the excellent video interview of Richard Foster for his new InterVarsity Press book Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey Into Meditative Prayer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU1am7s7VVk). Enjoy :)

Below is part of what Byron shares about Sanctuary of the Soul in his post, just a long teaser to encourage you to visit his post:

The guidance Foster offers is clear as a bell and the material is solidly Biblical, so I commend this to one and all.  Foster is eminently reliable and his wide awareness of the best spiritual classics and devotional literature of the ages make him one of the finest and most important writers in spirituality.  He includes a lot of Bible study, yes, but he tells stories from his life, too.  The stories (including a major chapter at the end of each section where he narrates a particular experience) rang true -- I met Foster once and had a remarkable and memorable episode that blessed me profoundly, so I can imagine that his stories and illustrations are quietly so.  He is gentle, not breathy, but also very profound and serious.

Richard Foster has written a bit about meditative and listening prayer before (in Celebration of Discipline, for instance) and many of us have long wanted more good guidance about this discipline. (Foster, by the way, notes that Dallas Willard's Hearing God is one of his favorite contemporary books on this subject and we agree!).  Of course he draws on older authors like Madame Guyon and even older authors like Theophan the Recluse.  He warns against inappropriate versions of meditation, new age or Eastern, and affirms a keenly Biblical approach.  (There are those who mistrust Foster but we are proud to carry his books, glad to stand with and for him, and eager to commend this book on meditation to you.  I am not a mystic and certainly no master of the sorts of stuff he invites us to.  But I hunger for it.  Don't you?  I love Ruth Haley Barton's good Invitation to Solitude and Silence and perhaps that is a more foundational place to start.  But if you want simple guidance about silent, listening prayer, about Christian meditation, entwined with Foster's telling of his own on-going journey to the "sanctuary of the soul", this book will be a beloved ally for you.  Certainly in these hard days of political controversy, of national sadness, and of the already hectic new season upon us, we need to be still.  This book will help us, and now is a good time to read it.  Highly recommended. -- http://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com/booknotes/5_new_books_to_help_you_grower/. Accessed 9/17/2011. 3:20 pm.

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How to Read the Psalms

Posted by tom | Sep 11, 2011

How To Read The Psalms by Tremper Longman III

In addition to Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction (David G. Benner. IVP. 2002), which I'm reading for SF723: Christian Spiritual Direction, I'm also digging into How to Read the Psalms (Tremper Longman III. IVP. 1988)* for OT559: Psalms. Wish I would have picked up this InterVarsity Press book years ago! A lot to share, but I couldn't help "kick off" the fall season with . . .

Worship in many churches is a spectator sport. If we listen to the commands of the psalmist, our worship will radically change. It will become communal and enthusiastic:

Clap your hands, all you nations;

shout to God with cries of joy. (47:1)

Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones,

Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Ascribe to the LORD glory due his name;

worhip the LORD in the splendor o his holiness. (29:1-2)

Praise the LORD, O my soul;

all my inmost being; praise his holy name.

Praise the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits (103:1-2)

The Psalms were born from life struggles, and they speak to people who struggle today. They also arose from people who had experienced liberation from struggle, and so we find expression to our joy when God liberates us from oppression.

Conclusion

As we read a psalm, we learn about God and his care for us. We learn about ourselves as well. We understand our situation better because the whole gamut of human experience is expressed in the Psalter. As David Hubbard put it, the Psalms speak to all seasons of our souls [Psalms for All Seasons (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971) and More Psalms for All Seasons (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975].

Our intellect is informed, our emotions are refined, and our wills are directed. What further motivation do we need to spend time reading and meditating on the Psalms?

Amen!

*Note: if you're interested in discussing the material with me (possibly even reading How to Read the Psalms alongside me), please drop me a message.

In partnership with the church, Evangelical Seminary develops servant leaders for transformational ministry in a broken and complex world by nurturing rigorous minds, passionate hearts, and Christ-centered actions

Sacred Companions: Hospitality, Presence & Dialogue, Chapter 2

Posted by tom | Sep 8, 2011

Sacred Companions cover

As you may remember, I began sharing material from Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction (David G. Benner. IVP. 2002), which I'm reading for SF723: Christian Spiritual Direction, with Sacred Companions off the shelf and in the reader's hand (8/25/2011) and followed up with material from Chapter 1 (8/28/2011).* In Chapter 2: Hospitality, Presence & Dialogue, I begin to wrestle with the call of spiritual direction.

Hospitality, Presence & Dialogue begins with an illustration of the author, as a parent, learning from his "son about being a companion on a journey . . . a successful tour leader" (46, 46).

All it takes is liking people enough that you don't mind being with them eighteen hours a day, listening to them enough to know what they want and like even better than they do, and being ready to be their mother and take care of whatever goes wrong! (46)

How true it is that "[b]eing must precede doing. . . . spiritual friendship is a gift of hospitality, presence and dialogue. While all of these have a component of doing -- that is, they have to be lived out -- they are grounded in ways of being" (46).

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"Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity" Discussion: Chapter 7, Part 2

Posted by theresa | Sep 7, 2011

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity. Keri Wyatt Kent. Zondervan. 2009. Cover.“Are you tired? Worn out?  Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” (Matt. 11:28 MSG)

On Sunday, the Disciples Fellowship Group at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ wrapped up their discussion of Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity(Keri Wyatt Kent. Zondervan. 2009).* We invite you to enter into a Sabbath prayer with us.

Rest (Keri Wyatt Kent)

Disciples Fellowship Group/Summer 2011

Chapter 7: Praying: An Antidote for Self-Absorption, Part 2

“Praying is not necessarily reciting words but listening.  It’s noticing where God is at work and then joining in that work.  It is appropriate to do something to help the poor on Sabbath or to serve others.” (p. 193)

“The point of fasting and repentance is not to demand things of God but to identify with the oppressed… ‘The Sabbath is a day for sharing, for gifting others in many ways, for knowing that the Lord of the Sabbath provides abundantly for us so that we can, in turn, be generous.’” (p. 194)

“Why serve the poor on Sabbath?  Because Sabbath is more than a day.  It’s a mindset that informs not only spiritual practice but economic realities.  Exodus 23: 10-12

6 years of sowing and harvesting but on the 7th year let the land lie unplowed.  6 days to do your work, but on the 7th day, do not work.  “The Sabbath thus captures the double theme of the creation story: abundance as divine gift, and self-limitation as the appropriate response.” (p. 196)

“Torah’s Sabbath regulations represent God’s strategy for teaching Israel about its dependence upon the land as a gift to share equitably, not as a possession to exploit… the goal of ‘enough’ for everyone, and the prohibition on accumulation.” (p. 198)

Do you think of self-limitation as the appropriate response to abundance?

“If we live a life of Sabbath Simplicity, we don’t rest all the time.  In fact, we work six days out of seven.” (p. 196)

Fundamental difference between Shabbat and mere leisure:  Sabbath is not just a day to chill out and relax (though that may be part of it).  It’s a day to cultivate gratitude, which should lead us to generosity.  It is a spiritual practice, meant to transform our hearts.  The heart of the Sabbath commandment is freedom, not just for those who practice it but also for all people.  The call to Sabbath is a call to social justice. (p. 197)

Discuss what activities, practices, etc. you could implement in your family to practice Sabbath as described above.

Praying with your Family

I Sam. 7:12, Samuel acknowledged a miraculous victory over the Philistine army by building an altar.  He took a stone and named it Ebenezer which means “stone of help”.  One family set a small bowl of stones on the table and asked each family member to take one and answer the question, “Where has God helped me this week?” (p. 199)

Pray without Ceasing

Breath prayers.  We breathe whether we think of it or not.  “Just as we are not often conscious of our breathing, we are often unaware of God.  This does not negate God’s existence, anymore than our lack of attention means we have stopped breathing.  Rather both instances tell us something about our level of perception.  Becoming aware of God is like becoming aware of our breathing.  We simply need to be quiet and pay attention.” (p. 201)

“What if ‘pray without ceasing’ is not about talking at God but about listening to God or simply noticing that everything that has breath is praising the LORD, because everything that breathes is saying his name: ‘Yah, hey, vod, hey’”? (p. 201)

*Desire more? Below are the links to the whole series . . .

Theresa prepared the below material to facilitate the conversation (Note: study posted in PDF here). You'll note how our fellowship group's consideration of Rest has themes similar to what is found in Theresa's God at Work Testimony (6/19/2011).  Feel free to share your thoughts with us by comments, email, personal conversation ...

Updated: 3/23/2013, 9:11 AM 

More books from my employer

Posted by tom | Sep 6, 2011

Another glimpse into the unique nature of serving with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. . . .

Every now then, I receive a box of free books. Why? They're new titles which "my employer" thinks are of value to me as a whole person engaging the whole campus with the whole Gospel. Last week I received:

Practicing the Way of Jesus by Mark ScandretteGod Behaving Badly by David T LambAre You Waiting for The One by Margaret Kim Peterson and Dwight N. PetersonGod in a Brothel by Daniel WalkerThe Parable of the Unexpected Guest by D. A. Zimmerman

I guess it helps that "my employer," i.e., InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, understands a significant aspect of it's call to be in the Word and share the Word through publishing, i.e., InterVarsity Press (IVP), not only Bible study/commentary material, but also broader application pieces (culture, family, higher education).

If you haven't heard of InterVarsity Press, take a few minutes to look at

Note: In memory of John Robert Walmsley Stott (1921 - 2011), http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tD6JW-RnBQQ#at=23 ( on Jul 27, 2011). Second memorial video can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_apQBnUrfTE.

The Awakened Heart: Opening Yourself to the Love you Need

Posted by tom | Sep 4, 2011

Sacred Companions cover

I sleep, but my heart is awake. -- The Song of Songs 5:2

As you may have noticed I've started posts for SF723: Christian Spiritual Direction with Sacred Companions off the shelf and in the reader's hand (8/25/2011). Another reading for SF723 is The Awakened Heart: Opening Yourself to the Love you Need (Gerald G. May, M.D. HarperCollins. 1991). A quick internet search brought up an interview of May (a psychiatrist, author, and spiritual counselor), regarding his seventh book, see http://www.csec.org/csec/sermon/may_3513.htm.

According to the interview, May found The Awakened Heart difficult to write because material on practicing the presence of love (influenced by Brother Lawrence's Practicing the Presence of God) kept flowing. I can't wait to read how he addresses the cultural conflict between efficiency and love and how the parents love of their children informs a household's understanding of God.

Pray for Theresa and myself that we may truly love our children and not demand production (at our local assembly, home, school, athletic field/gym, music hall . . .).

In partnership with the church, Evangelical Seminary develops servant leaders for transformational ministry in a broken and complex world by nurturing rigorous minds, passionate hearts, and Christ-centered actions

 

Sacred Companions: The Transformational Journey, Chapter 1

Posted by tom | Aug 28, 2011

Sacred Companions cover

I began sharing material from Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction (David G. Benner. IVP. 2002), which I'm reading for SF723: Christian Spiritual Direction, with the post Sacred Companions off the shelf and in the reader's hand (8/25/2011). Below I pick up with Chapter 1.* Note: if you're interested in discussing the below material with me (possibly even reading Sacred Companions alongside me), please drop me a message. 

Chapter 1: The Transformational Journey dives into framing spiritual friendship in terms of a biblically based understanding of accompaniment on a journey. The follower of Christ engages in "a journey of following and trusting God as he leads us on the adventure he has planned for us" (26). Who/what comes to mind in Scripture?

How about Abraham, the children of Israel in the wilderness, Jonah (added by Tom), the call of disciples to follow Jesus (Mark 1:14-19, 2:13-17; Luke 5:1-11, 27-32; John 1:35-51), Paul (added by Tom), John in the book of Revelation (added by Tom)?

"The essence of Christian spirituality is following Christ on a journey of personal transformation. The distant land to which we are called is not heaven. . . . The distant land is the new creaure into which Christ wishes to fashion us -- the whole and holy person that finds his or his uniqueness, identity and calling in Christ [inside-out (27)]. Spiritual friends accompany each other on that journey. . . . The inner self counts and in fact is the primary focus of the personal transformation that Jesus calls conversion" (26 - 27).

As I asked in Sacred Companions off the shelf and in the reader's hand (8/25/2011), with whom do you share your soul? Is your spiritual life centered upon the Spirit of God, in union with God through Christ (16-17)?

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Sacred Companions off the shelf and in the reader's hand

Posted by tom | Aug 25, 2011

Sacred Companions cover

If you've been in my office (or seen pictures of it), you know that I have a small library. And when upstairs I regularly look out the window to see/hear my kids excitedly receive/open deliveries of more books to add to the queue :) Thankfully, as I begin reading for the fall term at Evangelical Theological Seminary (Myerstown, PA), I had opportunity to pull Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction (David G. Benner. IVP. 2002) off the shelf for SF723: Christian Spiritual Direction.

For some reason, Sacred Companions has sat unread for several years. Now's my opportunity to focus upon a piece by a clinical psychologist who is "concerned about the predominantly therapeutic face of soul care in our culture's church and society" and the entrusting of "the care of the inner life of persons to experts who understand their role primarily in problem-solving and therapeutic terms" (18). "The care of souls is much too important to be left to clinical professionals" and as an amateur Benner does what he does "out of passion" (19). Amen!

Below are a few quotes/questions, more coming as time permits. Such is the life of an amateur :)

Preface

Of all the social changes in the last several decades, nothing as surprised me more than the recent rise of interest in spirituality ["a person's awareness of and rsponse to the Divine" (15)]. For many in Western societies, a hunger for the sacred has emerged out of the bankruptcy of materialism and secularism. And for many in the church, a longing for a deep encounter with God has arisen out of the arid soil of knowing about God but having little personal, experiential knowing of him (13).

Benner wrote in 2002. I find spirituality rich, complex, and experimental on campus (especially Penn State - Hershey Medical Center). I enjoy carrying over musings and resources from the campus to family, local assembly, neighbors, library, etc. But what is spirituality like in the larger culture? Thoughts? 

In the core of our being [i.e., soul (15)] we yearn for intimacy. We want people to share our lives. We want soul friends ["offer each other the sacred gift of accompaniment on the human journey" (15)]. We were never intended to make the life pilgrimage alone.  And attempting to make the spiritual journey on our own is particularly hazardous.

Paradoxically, however, what we most deeply long for we also fear. How else can we explain our reluctance to be genuinely known by those with whom we are most intimate? Often it seems that what we want is the fruit of companionship without the demands of genuine intimacy (14).

Amen!

With whom do you share your soul? Is your spiritual life centered upon the Spirit of God, in union with God through Christ (16-17)?

Personally, I have found through the years the below soul/true friends of great value, helping me "remember that this is our Father's world" (17-18).

  • my spouse
  • a small groups of spiritual friends ["nuture the development of each other's soul" (16)] with whom I meet monthly (various configurations through the years)
  • weekly prayer meetings
  • various mentors, in particular faculty and partners-in-ministry who have invested significant time during specific seasons of my life
  • several spiritual directors ["one-on-one relationship organized around prayer and conversation directed toward deepening intimacy with God" (17)].

Back to reading. It may be awhile before the next post. The life of an amateur blogger/writer and those who journey with him ;)

In partnership with the church, Evangelical Seminary develops servant leaders for transformational ministry in a broken and complex world by nurturing rigorous minds, passionate hearts, and Christ-centered actions

Akin: Script for The Manga Bible II

Posted by tom | Aug 24, 2011

Picking up from The Manga Bible to The Rhyme Bible to The Manga Bible (8/19/2011), More on The Manga Bible by Siku (8/20/2011), Siku: concept/art for The Manga Bible (8/22/2011), and Akin: Script for The Manga Bible (8/23/2011) . . .

I came across this Youtube clip, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoQcpD3Km9Q, of Akin sharing The Manga Bible with school kids in London (BBC).

The power of art and storytelling to engage. Is the The Manga Bible what the youth need today? I like the idea of a 'first step.' It's not where they are dwell as there is teaching/wisdom alongside (and informing) the action of the Biblical story. Maybe in some ways the The Manga Bible is also prophetic wake-up call needed by some in the church to remind them of the gritty Bibilcal story. A question, one might come away with is, "How much of the Bible do you really read and such has does that inform your life as shared with God and others?" If I was revising, I'd seek to weave in the central themes of creation care/culture-making (left out of creation account) AND the Shema (Loving neighbor question is answered by 'The Parables of Jesus: The Good Samaritan,' but I don't remember Loving God, Loving others being explicit).

Akin: Script for The Manga Bible

Posted by tom | Aug 23, 2011

Picking up from The Manga Bible to The Rhyme Bible to The Manga Bible (8/19/2011), More on The Manga Bible by Siku (8/20/2011), and Siku: concept/art for The Manga Bible (8/22/2011).

 The Manga Bible

With the limited time I had to explore on-line for more on The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation (Siku/Akinsiku. Doubleday. 2007), I came across an interview of Akin on Beliefnet (along with pictures of some of the first pages). Well worth a read as one receives more insigh on the genesis and direction of the material. Below's a quote:

Describe some of yours and Siku’s illustration background and your Christian background.

I studied Fine Art at Yaba College of Technology in Nigeria and Animation in England. In between, I illustrated a strip for Sphinx magazine and wrote “Fever of the Gods” for Judge Dred Magazine. Siku also studied Design in Nigeria and went on to become one of the major artists working on 2000 AD. My Christian background is someone very mixed. I grew up in an Anglican household, switched to Roman Catholic as a child, then to Evangelical Pentecostal as a teenager, and now I am just a plain Christian. I like simplicity.

When were you and Siku first inspired with the idea of drawing a “Manga Bible”? Was there a particular moment or life event that made you guys know it was time to collaborate?

Well, "The Manga Bible” is really Siku’s baby. I was just made godfather. I came into the project by divine default. Siku and I have worked together over many years on different projects. With "The Manga Bible,” I came on board last-minute as a writer and, for me, it was a dream project in terms of merging two worlds that are of great interest to me. I have been a long-time fan of Japanese comics and animation. In fact, the first cartoon I got hooked on as a kid was “Gigantor.” I absolutely loved that show. I really want to do an all-out Mecha-meets-Bible intergalactic fest. That would be fun!

For more, including how they shaped the Biblical story and what they thought the response would be to their work, visit http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/Bible/The-Manga-Bible-Interview.aspx.

If you've read The Manga Bible, I'd love to read your thoughts/comments.

Siku: Concept/art for The Manga Bible

Posted by tom | Aug 22, 2011

Picking up from The Manga Bible to The Rhyme Bible to The Manga Bible (8/19/2011) and More on The Manga Bible by Siku (8/20/2011) . . .

 The Manga Bible Cover

Three more pieces of The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation by Siku/Akinsiku (Doubleday. 2007) which I appreciate are

  • Read this first!
    • the disclaimer before one begins the text, which underscores Siku's heart for inviting others in the Biblical story
    • "The Manga Bible is an adaption of the Holy Bible. It tells the story of God's relationship with his people, from the creation of the earth and the early history of the Israelites, to the life of Jesus, his death, and the adventures of the first ever church, in graphic novel form. It does not claim to to tell all the stories or cover all the teaching of the Bible, but is intended to provide a helpful 'first step'; to give you, the reader, a taste of the most important themes and characters, and a basic idea of what it's all about. . . ."
  • Key Scenes Commentary
    • Siku and Akinsiku (Akin) discuss the relationship between the art and the script.
    • One receives insight into how the Word speaks to and through both the artist and the scriptwriter as they seek "to provide a helpful 'first step'" into the Big Picture of the Word of God.
    • In the discussion of Exodus, Siku comments, "There's a question that I'm asking now: does God free slaves? If you look around today I'm not sure that he does." Akin comes back with, "So who does it?" Siku's reply, "We do. God doesn't come down in glory and BOOM! 'Here's my kingdom laid out on you all.' It's our duty to free slaves. It's our duty to feed the hungry." In the dialogue one realizes that this has been maturation for Siku, something about which he and Akin used to argue. He concludes his thoughts with, "I used to think that if we just had enough practicing Christians then there would be a kind of critical mass that would make poverty and oppression irrelevant. It might still happen, but now I've changed my mind. We need to work for it." Akin responds, "Exactly! If we'd just sat about and waited for things to improve we'd still have slavery." 
  • Hello Humanity, This is your story
    • Siku lays out 'The Grand Story' and how we fit in it. His focus on hero and action is evident. He wraps up with this challenge, "We may look on . . . but God does not. He became human, got involved and got his hands dirty. We ask, 'If there is a God, why does he look on?' The question is, 'God showed us how it is done, so why do we look on?' This book is God's story, the story of Angels and the story of humanity. It is your story and and somewhere in your guts you've heartd it told to you before becaue God buried it here, a long, long time ago."

Note: Siku is the pseudonym of British/Nigerian artist and writer Ajibayo Akinsiku, best known for his work in 2000 AD (comic). He's quoted by various articles as stating, "As a Christian, it is my job to show others the work of God, whatever it takes!" May it be so. To God be the glory!

If you've read The Manga Bible, I'd love to read your thoughts/comments.

More on Akin coming . . .

"Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity" Discussion: Chapter 7, Part 1

Posted by tom | Aug 21, 2011

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity. Keri Wyatt Kent. Zondervan. 2009. Cover.

“Are you tired? Worn out?  Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” (Matt. 11:28 MSG)

Today, the Disciples Fellowship Group at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ will discuss Chapter 7, Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity(Keri Wyatt Kent. Zondervan. 2009).* We invite you to enter into Sabbath rest with us.

Rest (Keri Wyatt Kent)

Disciples Fellowship Group/Summer 2011

Chapter 7: Praying: An Antidote for Self-Absorption, Part 1

It has been said that “Generation Me” (those born in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s) are more self-centered, more disrespectful of authority, and more depressed than any generation prior.  They have been indoctrinated into “self-esteem” which has ironically led to them thinking more highly of themselves than is warranted.

“The antidote for our self-absorption and self-importance is the practice of prayer…  The traditional Sabbath prayers begin, ‘Blessed are you, Lord God,’ and not, ‘Please bless me, God.’” (p. 180)

“Prayer informs our Sabbath; it infuses it with holiness.  Otherwise, the Lord’s Day becomes ‘our day,’ simply time to take a break.” (p. 180)

“If we limit our understanding of prayer to a narrow definition that includes just ‘talking at God’ and little else, we will miss out on the richness and restfulness of Sabbath prayer.” (p. 180) (More)

More on The Manga Bible by Siku

Posted by tom | Aug 20, 2011

Picking up from The Manga Bible to The Rhyme Bible to The Manga Bible (8/19/2011) . . .

Moses the Storyteller in THE MANGA BIBLE by SIKU

I particularly appreciated

  • the emphasis on the Biblical story and the various storytellers involved. For example, framing the early history in Moses' encouragement to the people of God at the Red Sea with the Egyptians pursuing was stunning (see picture above, for more visit)* and Paul's writing of the letters in response to various appeals, concerns, and conflicts.**

"The rise and fall of God's chosen people . . .

The mysterious stranger who brought about a new world order . . .

And the ultimate showdown between the forces of good and evil . . . 

This is the greatest story ever told . . . as you've never seen it before.

Containing both Old and New Testaments, this is the first ever English manga of the most important book of all time." -- from the back cover.

  • "Want to know more?" captions noting the Bible references for the sets of comic strip panels.
  • Black-and-white: honestly, color probably would have been too much for me.
  • Glimpses of "the story drawn for today," e.g., Job: A Story of Human Suffering (61), Psalm 18 (107), Temptation of Jesus (145), The Parables of Jesus: The Unforgiving Servant, AKA the Unforgiving Underboss (155), The Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ (framed by a 12 year old girl in the "Rainbow Children's Ward'" of the "21st Century - Newham General Hospital, London," 196)
  • Portrayal of Solomon's reign/fall (108-111). As with the story of the disobedience of Moses (60), David (105-106) and Jonah (121-122), led me to prayer for myself and others called to lead the people of God.
  • Emphasis on the prophets of God. Note: one might include the insertions of Jesus' parables into the telling of the Gospel story as the delivery of prophetic words.

Caution: Not surprising with Siku's Judge Dredd experience that the art is too much for little children. In addition to violence, a few (very few) panels expose nakedness and some edgy language is used periodically -- also not surprising as it is the Bible :) I'd place The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation by Siku/Ankinsiku (Doubleday. 2007) in the teen section.

Personally, I'm hoping for an expanded version with more of the story

  • More from Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes -- I like the material woven into the story'
  • More on Jesus' birth
  • "I AM" passages
  • Footwashing
  • Letters/epistles beyond Paul
  • More of Revelation -- which has some of the best art
  • Central themes of creation care/culture-making (left out of creation account) AND the Shema (Loving neighbor question is answered by 'The Parables of Jesus: The Good Samaritan,' but I don't remember Loving God, Loving others being explicit)

But The Manga Bible was intended to be a taste which encourages one to seek more :) On Monday, more on SikuIf you've read The Manga Bible, I'd love to read your thoughts/comments.

*The art reminded me of Gandalf encouraging his fellow travelers with the history behind them, the story they are currently making, and the end redemptive end goal.

**E.g., the appeals of a delegation from Corinth followed by it's reading in Corinth.

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