Friday, February 29, 2008

Learning the Science and Art of Medicine

Please realise that the study of clinical medicine is unlike any other schooling you have gone through before.

Here you are called on; you are asked a question; you answer it.

Why don't I just give you a lecture? Because through the questions, you learn to teach yourselves. By this method of questioning-answering, questioning-answering, we seek to develop in you the ability to analyze that vast complex of facts that constitutes the relationships between health and illnesses.

Now, you may think, at times, that you have reached a correct and final answer. You are assured that this is a delusion on your part, there is always another question; there is always a question to follow your answer. Yes, you are on a treadmill.

The questions spin the tumblers of your brain. You are on an operating table; the questions are fingers probing your mind, urging you to think clearly and rationally. We do brain surgery here. You teach yourselves the scientific facts of medicine and we train your minds to think like a doctor.

The Facts of Medicine is the SCIENCE of medicine, How to think like a competent doctor is the ART of medicine. You need both.

HT: Punna


picture credit

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Community Spiritual Formation

James C. Wilhoit (2008), Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered: Growing in Christlikeness through Community, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic

Spiritual formation has become a catchphrase in churches and is gathering as much attention as churches that are ‘emerging.’ Unfortunately, different people understands spiritual formation differently. To some, it is the practice of spiritual disciplines, to others the introduction of ancient spiritual practices, while in yet other churches, it is adding candles to the church service. James C. Wilhoit is the Scripture Press Professor of Christian Formation and Ministry at Wheaton College. He explains that “Christian spiritual formation refers to the intentional communal process of growing in our relationship with God and becoming conformed to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit” (2008, 23). The key words of note are Christian, intentional, communal, process, Christ-likeness, and the Holy Spirit.

Wilhoit proposes a ‘curriculum for Christlikeness’ which have the following dimensions (1) receiving, (2) remembering, (3) responding, and (4) relating. Each dimension has a few ‘community practices’ to achieve it. This curriculum is for community spiritual formation. Receiving is to be open to the grace of God and involve ‘worship, confession, sacraments, and prayer’ as community practices. Remembering means ‘tranformational teaching’ leading to knowing that we are part of God’s community. The community practices are ‘teaching, preaching, evangelism, meditation, spiritual guidance, and small groups’. Responding is in service and involves ‘discernment, honouring relational commitment, setting aside prejudices, ministries of compassion.’ Relating is living in a faith community and involves ‘hospitality, handling conflict well, honouring relationships, Sabbath observance, (and) attending to pace of life.’ The community practices are similar to that of the Christian practices as suggested by Dysktra, Dorothy Bass and Diana Bass (Bass 1997; Bass 2004; Dykstra 2005).

Wilhoit recognises that we are all being spiritually formed all the time and that formation through the work of the Holy Spirit occurs before conversion (2008, 27). He builds upon and interacts with Dallas Willard’s work on spiritual formation (1988;1998; 2002). However he did not interact with Willard’s psychosocial transformation of the soul as spiritual formation (2002,38-39). Instead, he uses the concept of the ‘imitation of Christ’ as the means and ends of spiritual formation (Meye 1994). Also, he did not expand on how different this is from discipleship.

Growing in Christlikeness through community implied that community is the context in which spiritual formation takes place. However, aside from naming the community practices, Wilhoit did not explain how the community become the means of spiritual growth. Are the community practices the only means of spiritual formation? Are there any weightage to the community practices? Are any practices more important than others? Who is to practise these community practices? Does it involve only the pastors, leaders or everyone? It must be recognised that it is unrealistic to expect all the members of the church to practice all the community practices. Community practices are also spiritual disciplines practiced by individuals (Foster 1989; Whitney 1991; Tan and Gregg 1997). Whitney has shared on some ways how some of these disciplines can be used for both individual and the church (1996). However both Wilhoit and Whitney has not indicated whether there is a critical level of participation of members of a community before that community becomes a context for spiritual formation. What is this critical level?

The weakness of this model based on community practices is the danger of legalism. The Pharisees in the bible epitome legalism in spiritual practices. Though theologian Roy Zuck has written in length on the role of the Holy Spirit and educator Parker Palmer of the importance of the teacher, the danger is real as the community practices become the end rather than the means (Zuck 1984; Palmer 1998). It may become another ‘church activity.’ It will have been useful if Wilhoit has explained how his community spiritual formation model can be sustained.

Baptist Jeff Woods concludes from his meta-analysis of recent congregational studies done in the United States that there are five factors of influence in a congregation that is spiritually vital. They are (1) a willingness to change, (2) right theological thinking, (3) appropriate organisational metaphors, (4) clarity of purpose, and (4) missional leadership (2003). Wilhoit in his survey of the bible discovered that there are three families of images or metaphor for spiritual formation; nurture, journey and resurrection (2008, 24-25). These organisational metaphors are appropriate as church does matter in spiritual formation. Spiritual formation is not about a lone wanderer but a people journeying together.

Soli Deo Gloria


Bibliography

Bass, D. B. (2004). The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Church. Herdon, V.I., The Alban Institute.
Bass, D. C., Ed. (1997). Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People. The Practices of Faith Series. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
Dykstra, C. (2005). Growing in the Life of Faith: Education and Christian Practices. Louisville, KN, Westminster John Knox Press.
Foster, R. (1989). Celebration of Discipline: The Path To Spiritual Growth. London, Hodder & Stoughton.
Meye, R. P. (1994). The Imitation of Christ: Means and End of Spiritual Formation. The Christian Educator's Handbook on Spiritual Formation. J. C. W. Kenneth O. Gangel. Grand Rapids. MI, Baker Books.
Palmer, P. J. (1998). The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
Tan, S.-Y. and D. H. Gregg (1997). Disciplines of the Holy Spirit: How to Connect to the Spirit's Power and Presence. Grand Rapids, MI., Zondervan Publishing House.
Whitney, D. S. (1991). Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs, CO., NavPress.
_____,(1996). Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church: Participating Fully in the Body of Christ. Chicago, Moody Press.
Wilhoit, J. C. (2008). Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered: Growing in Christ through Community. Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Academic.
Willard, D. (1988). The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives. New York, HarperCollins Publisher.
_____,(1998). The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God. New York, HarperCollins Publishers.
_____,(2002). Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ. Colorado Springs, CO., NavPress.
Woods, J. (2003). "New Tasks for Congregation: Reflections on Congregational Studies." Resources for American Christianity Retrieved 12/1/07, from http://www.resourcingchristianity.org.
Zuck, R. B. (1984). The Holy Spirit in Your Teachings: The relationship That Makes All the Difference. Wheaton, Victor Books.

more here

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Questions about Child Development






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Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life

Henri Nouwen (2007) The Selfless Way of Christ: Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books (originally serialised in Sojourners magazine 1981)

Henri Nouwen, in this simple little book points that the way to spiritual growth is not in doing great things but in letting go of great things. All our lives, we have all been upward mobile-better jobs, better houses, better education, better social contacts and bigger incomes. Nouwen suggest that the path to spiritual growth is the path used by Jesus- the path of downward mobility.

Nouwen writes that the path of upward mobility is filled with three temptations (as exemplified by the temptations of Jesus). These are the temptation to be relevant, be spectacular, and be powerful.
Downward mobility involves the self-emptying of the heart through the disciplines of the church, the word and the heart. Nouwen himself has walked the path, moving from the glamour and power of Harvard Divinity School to looking after a retarded man in L'Arche.


This is a book for reading, meditating and lectio divina.


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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Honestly Love You

a wonderful collage of a beautiful lady


I Honestly Love You
Olivia Newton-John
(Peter Allen/Jeff Barry)

Maybe I hang around here
A little more than I should
We both know I got somewhere else to go
But I got something to tell you
That I never thought I would
But I believe you really ought to know

I love you
I honestly love you

You don't have to answer
I see it in your eyes
Maybe it was better left unsaid
This is pure and simple
And you should realize
That it's coming from my heart and not my head

I love you
I honestly love you

I'm not trying to make you feel uncomfortable
I'm not trying to make you anything at all
But this feeling doesn't come along everyday
And you shouldn't blow the chance
When you've got the chance to say

I love you
I honestly love you

If we both were born
In another place and time
This moment might be ending in a kiss
But there you are with yours
And here I am with mine
So I guess we'll just be leaving it at this

I love you
I honestly love you
I honestly love you

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Scot McKnight's Hermeneutics Quiz

The Hermeneutics Quiz

Your biblical blind spots and what you tend not to see.

by Scot McKnight


For some reason of late, I have become fascinated with the portions of the Bible we don't tend to read, passages like the story of Jephthah. Or how God was on the verge of killing Moses for not circumcising his son, and his wife stepped in, did what needed to be done, and tossed the foreskin at Moses' feet, and God let him alone.
I'm curious why one of my friends dismisses the Friday-evening-to-Saturday-evening Sabbath observance as "not for us today" but insists that capital punishment can't be dismissed because it's in the Old Testament.


I have become fascinated with what goes on in our heads and our minds and our traditions (and the latter is far more significant than many of us recognize) in making decisions like this.
What decisions? Which passages not to read as normative. The passages we tend not to read at all.


If we're all subject to selective perception, at least to some degree, it's important to recognize what we tend to miss or gloss over, especially if we're church leaders.
This quiz is designed to surface the decisions we make, perhaps without thinking about them, and about how we both read our Bible and don't read our Bible. Some will want to quibble with distinctions or agree with more than one answer. No test like this can reveal all the nuances needed, but broad answers are enough to raise the key issues. On a scale of 1-5, mark the answer that best fits your approach to reading the Bible. (If you fall between response 1 and response 3, give yourself a 2.) Your score will reveal where you land on our hermeneutical scale.


Take the Hermeneutics Quiz

The scores divide you into conservative, moderate, and progressive.

My score is 61 which makes me a moderate. What's yours?

First, the conservative hermeneutic group scores 52 or lower. The strength of this view is its emphasis on the authority, ongoing and normative authority, of all of Scripture. It tends to operate with the line many of us learned in Sunday school: "If the Bible says it, that settles it." Such persons let the Bible challenge them with full force. Literal readings lead to rather literal applications. Most of the time. The problem, of course, is that very few people are completely consistent here. At times one suspects something other than strict interpretation is going on when the conservative is willing to appeal to history to suspend the commandment to observe a Saturday Sabbath, but does not to appeal to history on other issues (e.g., capital punishment or homosexuality).


The moderate hermeneutic might be seen as the voice of reason and open-mindedness. Moderates generally score between 53 to 65. Many are conservative on some issues and progressive on others. It intrigues that conservatives tend to be progressive on the same issues, while progressives tend to be conservative on the same issues. Nonetheless, moderates have a flexible hermeneutic that gives them the freedom to pick and choose on which issues they will be progressive or conservative. For that reason, moderates are more open to the charge of inconsistency. What impresses me most about moderates are the struggles they endure to render judgments on hermeneutical issues.


The progressive is not always progressive. Those who score 66 or more can be seen as leaning toward the progressive side, but the difference between at 66 and 92 is dramatic. Still, the progressive tends to see the Bible as historically shaped and culturally conditioned, and yet most still consider it the Word of God for today. Following a progressive hermeneutic, for the Word to speak in our day, one must interpret what the Bible said in its day and discern its pattern for revelation in order to apply it to our world. The strength, as with the moderate but even more so, is the challenge to examine what the Bible said in its day, and this means the progressives tend to be historians. But the problems for the progressives are predictable: Will the Bible's so-called "plain meaning" be given its due and authoritative force to challenge our world? Or will the Bible be swallowed by a quest to find modern analogies that sometimes minimize what the text clearly says?

read rest of article here

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Chickenpox


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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Unless...


Unless the eye catch fire
The God will not be seen.

Unless the ear catch fire
The God will not be heard.

Unless the tongue catch fire
The God will not be named.

Unless the heart catch fire
The God will not be loved.

Unless the mind catch fire
The God will not be known.


(Anon)

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Cliff Richards Sings

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You're so vain


You walked into the party
Like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror
As you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they'd be your partner
They'd be your partner, and

You're so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You're so vain
I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't you?


You had me several years ago
When I was still quite naive
Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved
And one of them was me
I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and


You're so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You're so vain
I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't you?


I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and


You're so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You're so vain
I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't you?


Well, I hear you went up to Saratoga
And your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well, you're where you should be all the time
And when you're not, you're with
Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend
Wife of a close friend, and


You're so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You're so vain
I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't you?



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Monday, February 25, 2008

Hey Dude, What Happening to My Blog Post?

Picked up this interesting post from Bill Reichart of The Provocative Church blog.

Wired magazine: issue 16.02

The Life Cycle of a Blog Post, From Servers to Spiders to Suits — to You
By Frank Rose 01.22.07 3:00 PM

You have a blog. You compose a new post. You click Publish and lean back to admire your work. Imperceptibly and all but instantaneously, your post slips into a vast and recursive network of software agents, where it is crawled, indexed, mined, scraped, republished, and propagated throughout the Web. Within minutes, if you've written about a timely and noteworthy topic, a small army of bots will get the word out to anyone remotely interested, from fellow bloggers to corporate marketers. Let's say it's Super Bowl Sunday and you're blogging about beer. You see Budweiser's blockbuster commercial and have a reaction you'd like to share. Thanks to search engines and aggregators that compile lists of interesting posts, you can reach a lot of people — and Budweiser, its competitors, beer lovers, ad critics, and your ex-boyfriend can listen in. "You just need to know how to type," says Matthew Hurst, an artificial intelligence researcher who studies this ecosystem at Microsoft Live Labs. Here's how the whole process goes down during the big game.

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The Christians' Responsibility to Vote

The Christian’s Response to Government

Introduction

On February 22, 1986, Saturday evening in Manila, Philippines, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Deputy Armed Forces Chief Lieutenant General Fidel Ramos announced over the radio that they were quitting the Marcos government saying that Marcos did not win the February 7 election fairly. They holed up in Camp Aguinaldo (later transferring to Camp Crame across the road), with only a few hundred soldiers to defend them. Over the Roman Catholic Radio Veritas the call was issued for a large number of civilians to surround the military camps to serve as a buffer between the rebels and the Marcos forces that were sure to come.

Many Christians are in a quandary. Would not participation in a barricade be equivalent to armed rebellion against the Marcos government? Is it not better to simply pray in our homes and in our churches? As it turned out, many Christians elected to pray as the main and only response.

There are Christians who did not hesitate to join the barricades. They have no intention of toppling the Marcos government by force of arms. Their reason for joining the barricades was simple and straight-forward: by providing a civilian buffer between the Enrile/Ramos forces and the Marcos soldiers, a shooting war would be prevented from breaking out and a peaceful resolution of the conflict could hopefully be worked out. The Christians know that their lives were in danger should the Marcos forces decide to attack. Their faith were in God.

read complete sermon here

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The Knights of Islam

James Waterson (2007) The Knights of Islam: The Wars of the Mamluks, London: Greenhill Books.

Many of us are aware of the formidable legendary armies of the Greeks, Romans, Mongols, and Persian. Few of us will have heard of the Mamluks, the legendary armies of Islam of slave soldiers. So, it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered a book on them at my local MPH bookstore.

The Mamluks were the greatest military force during the Islamic era of the Middle Ages. These soldiers were trained from boyhood when they are either purchased or kidnapped from the steppes of present day Turkey. From this tender age, they were brought up in a military lifestyle that rivals that of the Spartans. To ensure their loyalty to their sultans, they were isolated from the rest of society; living in their own cities and military camps. They developed their own caste system and had a military code that rivals that of Western chivalry and the Japanese Bushido.

They were the first army to defeat the Mongols and effectively contained and destroyed the armies of the Crusaders and the Ottomans. At the height of its influence, the Mamluks established a powerful Mamluk sultanate under Baybars.

Interesting reading.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Conversation With Eugene Peterson 2007

An interesting conversation with Eugene Peterson.

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How To Look Death in the Face



Dr Raudy Pausch a Computer Science Professor at Carnegie Mellon University has incurable pancreatic cancer. This is his 'farewell lecture' to 400 of his students at Mc Conomy Auditorium.

What do you say when you know that you are dying? What you say when you are dying reflects on what you believe and act upon when you are living.


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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Reunion with Dr Brian Hill



Some former participants of the Master of Theology (MTh) programs of the Asian Graduate School of Theology (AGST) met up with their Professor in a recent reunion dinner in a Japanese restaurant in Singapore. Professor Brian Hill is a retired Professor of Education in Murdock University, Perth, Australia. There is a certain amount of communion and fellowship amongst students and their professors that cannot be described but can only be experienced. This is akin to the bond between apprentices and their master craftsman.


Of course, the sashimi dish helps too.



More details about the AGST programs here

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Is Our Gospel Too Small?


I love this cover, don't you?

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Soulcraft: Spiritual Formation


Eugene Peterson is the retired Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada. This is a series of videos of his lecture series on Soulcraft: Spiritual Formation.

I am enjoying the DVDs. It is so nice to attend lectures from the comforts of my own home. You can pause, replay and rewatch. Not to mention popcorns. Excellent series of lectures. I believe watching a lecture beats listening to one because without the visual cues and nuances, we often miss important points.

Disc 1: God & Predestination
Disc 2: God & Predestination (cont)
Disc 3: Paul & Soulcraft
Disc 4: Grace & Great Love
Disc 5: Cross & Cornerstone: Mystery & Glory
Disc 6: Saints & Church
Disc 7: Gifts & Growth
Disc 8: Gifts & Growth (cont)
Disc 9: Truth & Forgiveness: Love & Worship
Disc 10: Family & Society: Prayer & the Devil

Great stuff. This and other lecture series can be ordered at Regent Bookstore online.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Be a Clown, Be a Clown, Be a Clown


For those who are interested to be a clown for God, the Holy Light Church (Chinese) in Johor Bharu has started a clown, not clowning ministry. I like their motto

We don't do clown, we deliver joy

For more information read here
Send in the clowns
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The End of HD DVD


Toshiba quits HD DVD business
Decision hands victory in DVD format battle to Sony-backed Blu-ray technology.

TOKYO (AP) -- Toshiba said Tuesday it will no longer develop, make or market HD DVD players and recorders, handing a victory to rival Blu-ray disc technology in the format battle for next-generation video.

"We concluded that a swift decision would be best," Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida told reporters at his company's Tokyo office.

The move would make Blu-ray - backed by Sony Corp (
SNE)., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic brand products, and five major Hollywood movie studios - the winner in the battle over high-definition DVD formatting that began several years ago.

read more

Anymore want to trade a second hand HD DVD player and a HD DVD collection?


picture credit

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Your Rights and the Law

Teo Say Eng (2007) Your Rights and the Law, Malaysia: LexisNexis

Teo Say Eng presently holds the post of Judge Advocate General, Ministry of Defence, Malaysia. In this interesting book written in non-legal jargon, Teo sets out to explain to us our rights as citizens of Malaysia. It is horrifying to note the misconceptions many of us non-lawyers have about the law. The book is written in simple language and is easy to read. Some questions answered are


-What must you do when stopped by the police for questioning?

-What are your basic rights when the police arrest you?

-Under what circumstances can a person be detained under the preventive laws?

-Can a husband be charged for marital rape?

-To what extend is corporate punishment allowed in schools?


Worth reading.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Learning Imaginative Praying

Leadership Journal, Winter 2008

Learning Imaginative Prayer
by Greg Boyd

Prayer is foundational in spiritual transformation. So we interviewed Gregory Boyd, pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the author of Seeing is Believing: Experiencing Jesus through Imaginative Prayer (Baker, 2004).

How do you introduce imaginative prayer to a church unfamiliar with the practice?

Carefully! Differentiate imaginative prayer from the New Age movement. Imaginative prayer is focused on biblical truth; whereas New Age uses the imagination to go on shamanistic journeys.
This is simply thinking about God in concrete and vivid ways. It's rooted in the biblical tradition.

What are examples from Scripture?

In Psalm 27 David says he wants to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord in his temple. What kind of gazing is he talking about? A physical scene, or a spiritual scene? Hebrews tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. This is spiritual seeing. All of this requires the imagination.

I often use 2 Corinthians 3 to introduce imaginative prayer. Paul talks about a veil over the minds of unbelievers, and the veil being removed so we can behold the glory of God. The whole passage is about what goes on in our mind. He identifies what we see in our mind as the key to transformation. As you see the beauty and the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, you take on that glory from one degree to another. We become what we see.

So imagination is key to spiritual formation?

It's the main place where we encounter God. I call it the inner sanctum. When a person is not surrendered to Christ, that inner sanctuary is darkened. There's a veil. But when we turn to Christ, the veil is removed and we have a capacity to see and be transformed by something that we didn't previously have.

How do you guide people into imaginative prayer?

I first encourage people to make a date with Jesus simply to enjoy the beauty of Christ. Intercession is important, but so is resting in Christ. While in a space conducive for prayer, I have them ask the Holy Spirit to help them experience Jesus; to make him become real to them. Then I invite them to imagine Jesus speaking to them what we already know he has said about us. I print Bible verses out, and have people imagine Jesus saying these words to them. The goal is to sense as vividly as possible Jesus communicating these truths. They may already know them, but they may never have experienced them. That is the goal.

What has been the impact in your own church?

Many people tell me it's been life transforming. It makes their faith come alive. They tell me stories of healing. One guy, for example, in prayer saw himself as a little boy sitting on a curb and crying. He remembered it was the day his father left their home. He remembered feeling so abandoned and alone. His relationship with his father was never healthy after that. But in prayer he saw Jesus put his arm around him and say, "Sometimes people in life leave you, but I never will.

I will never leave you or forsake you." I get touched just repeating it.

read more

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Desiderata

Les Crane (1971)

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Fire and Rain




Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can't remember who to send it to

I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again

Won't you look down upon me, Jesus
You've got to help me make a stand
You've just got to see me through another day
My body's aching and my time is at hand
And I won't make it any other way

oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again

I’ve been walking my mind to an easy time
My back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line
To talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.

oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you, baby, one more time again, now

Thought I'd see you one more time again
There's just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I'd see you, thought I'd see you fire and rain, now


James Taylor

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Asian Theology Reloaded

Books & Culture, January/February 2008

Mustard Seed and Leaven
Reflections on Asian theology.
by Nate Jones

A few months ago, I left my home in Wheaton to return to Indonesia, where I was born. Besides a few boxes, my trans-Pacific baggage included a handful of stubborn expectations about the shape and substance of my future work. Above all, I carried with me the conviction that God was calling me to sojourn with him again in a new place.

As the weeks and months passed, Jakarta smeared my Wheaton polish of perceptions, opinions, and convictions. Learning again how to live in my adopted home, I was peculiarly ready to pick up and listen to some of Asian theology's foremost authors. My guides in this new (to me) theological world
began their reflections where I was—at the margins of divergent political and cultural worlds. I read how Kosuke Koyama tried to piece together his own fractured past, torn between Japan, America, and Thailand. Peter Phan taught me about theology among the in-between and "in-beyond" lives of Vietnamese Americans. Michael Amaladoss emphasized to me that Jesus himself was marginalized, articulating a Christology in which Jesus is sketched from Asian cultural reference points. Together, all three authors emphasized the marginality of Asia's poor and religious masses, declaring confidently that a theology that does not mean good news for these people is utterly inadequate to the Asian context.


Writing from this conviction, all three authors were inevitably concerned with the dynamics of power. What political and economic centers relegate Asian peoples to the margins? What theological center relegates Asian theology to the edge of acceptability and perhaps orthodoxy? What kind of power characterizes the Kingdom of God, in which the last become first and a homeless, itinerant patriarch becomes the spiritual father of all God's people? What kind of power works triumphantly through the resurrection of the crucified Christ? ...


In their eagerness to reread the gospel in light of Jesus' kingdom teaching, Asian theologians have forgotten that Jesus is also the Lamb of God, and that the God who brings in the kingdom also reserves to himself judgment for the wicked. In fact, Asian theologians have little to say to the survivors of 20th-century genocides, or the victims of the torture and war crimes perpetrated across the globe. By ignoring or denying a soteriology that has historically been strongly associated with Christianity-as-institution, Asian theologians have shut their ears to the cries of the martyrs.

Asian theology needs to reread both the Scriptures and the global context more carefully, listening for the rumble of God's not-so-distant judgment in Jesus' promises of the kingdom and remembering that the Son's incarnation and crucifixion were conditioned entirely upon sin—sin that the entire canon describes consistently in both personal and corporate terms....


read complete article

What will Asian Christians say?

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eLearning Reloaded

e-Learning Reloaded: Top 50 Web 2.0 Tools for Info Junkies, Researchers & Students
Published on Monday 18th of February, 2008
By Jessica Hupp

There's a reason why the Web is called the information superhighway-it's full of seemingly limitless resources for learning and research. And with the advent of Web 2.0, harnessing this information has never been easier. These are some of the best tools for organizing, citing, searching, and more online.

Organization
With all of the information available online, it's hard to keep track, but these tools will help you stay together.
1. RSS: For ongoing publications, you can subscribe to syndicated feeds and get updates every time there's new information.
2. Backpack: Backpack does what it sounds like it does-it keeps all of your stuff like notes, lists, ideas, calendar, and more all in one handy place.
3. Remember the Milk: Create a checklist for your project, stay on top of assignments, and more with this handy to-do app.
4. Google Docs and Spreadsheets: Keep all of your documents online, and even collaborate with peers using this tool from Google.
5. Google Notebook: Add clips, organize your notes, and even access your notes from your mobile phone with Google Notebook.
6. openonmy: Store files up to 1GB so that you can research and save information from anywhere with an Internet connection.
7. ThinkFold: Create outlines that can be shared and collaborated in realtime using ThinkFold.
8. Bubbl.us: Use this mind mapping tool to get your thoughts in order.
9. Flowchart: Create charts to organize your thoughts or notes with this neat tool.
10. Connotea: Designed for researchers, clinicians and scientists, this reference management tool is great for organizing and sharing references.
11. Google Calendar: Stay on top of assignment deadlines and more with this calendar. You can even add publicly-available calendars, like school schedules and more.
12. Zotero: Use this handy extension to collect, manage, and cite your research sources right from your browser.
13. Netvibes: Use Netvibes as your go-to page for collecting RSS feeds, and for jumping off points for research.
14. Notecentric: Using Notecentric, you can not only organize your notes online, but also share them with your classmates.

Bookmarks & Citation
Stay on top of references and generate bibliographies using these neat tools.
15. Yahoo! Bookmarks: Yahoo's bookmark tool makes it easy to organize with folders, utilize the drag and drop functionality, and more.
16. Diigo: Diigo makes it easy to highlight, clip, and sticky-note right on a web page.
17. Notefish: Put all of your web research in one simple page with Notefish.
18. Qipit: Take a photo of notes and documents, and this service will turn it into a readable, taggable document.
19. BibMe: Enter books, websites, journals, and other sources into this tool, and it will automatically create a bibliography for you. They'll even let you choose between different formats.
20. Clipmarks: Clip out important pieces of the web using this neat app.
21. Del.icio.us: Use del.icio.us to organize your bookmarks online, and access them easily with tags.
22. Google Bookmarks: With Google Bookmarks, you can keep track of sites and add your own searchable notes to them.
23. Wizlite: Highlight the Internet like it's paper, then share it with your classmates or colleagues.
24. MyStickies: This awesome sticky note app allows you to put post-its on your desktop, or perhaps most importantly for researchers, on specific web pages.

Communication
Get connected with experts, classmates, and colleagues using these tools.
25. ConceptShare: If you're working on a group project, this tool is great for collaboration. Because it's web based, this tool is particularly ideal for long-distance group members.
26. LinkedIn: This professional networking tool is great for research. You can find experts in specific industries and even ask questions for the community to answer.
27. SpeakLike: Forget about language barriers, and use this chat application that will translate between two languages simultaneously.
28. Campusbug: This cool community has loads of useful tools, like flashcards, a bibliography generator, rapid learning, and a question bank.
29. NoteMesh: Using NoteMesh, you can share your notes with classmates whether they're right next to you in class or on the other side of the world.

Money and Numbers
Whether you're figuring out student loans or deciding how much to charge for your research, these tools can help out.
30. Instacalc: This calculator will do just about anything you want it to, and you can save links for later reference.
31. Prosper: Find the money you need to pay for school on this peer-to-peer loan site.
32. Calcoolate: With this cool calculator, you can do calculations, save your calculating history, and even replace your Windows calculator with the app.
33. Wesabe: This dashboard has it all, with advice, accounting tools, and more.

Search Tools
Use these tools to find the information you're looking for.
34. trueknowledge: Get answers to your questions from this search engine built on knowledge.
35. CiteULike: Find academic papers on this site using their easy search and tags.
36. ChaCha: Use this human-powered search engine to find what you need. You can even use a live guided search with a real person who will ask you questions to find exactly what you want.
37. PennTags: Search through this user-created catalog to find articles and other references.
38. Footnote: Use this tool, and you'll get access to millions of original documents from archives to shoeboxes.
39. SiteTradr: Find sites that are ranked socially by the education community on SiteTradr.
40. Wikipedia: Wikipedia is a great repository of information, both as an end point or a place to get started.

Learning
Learn how to do just about anything with these collaborative sites.
41. Instructables: Find out how to do just about anything, with pictures, on this instruction site.
42. BookRags: Find guides, lesson plans and more on BookRags.
43. College-Cram: College-Cram offers "social learning," with resources, study groups, and more.
44. eHow: In this community, you'll learn how to do everything from sneaking your child into a gifted program to creating a scavenger hunt.
45. Edublogs: See what instructors are saying and check out blogged classes on Edublogs.
46. TutorLinker: Get one-on-one guidance with a tutor from this site.
47. AnswerU: Ask a question, or look up old ones on this student-governed Q&A site.
48. MIT OpenCourseWare: Some colleges offer free courses, but MIT is the Queen Mother of them all with 1,800 courses to choose from.
49. SuTree: Get community knowledge with video lessons from all over the web.
50. wikiHow: In this collaborative writing project, you can get and share knowledge on more than 30,000 articles.

HT: Jessica for this excellent collection of links.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Blade Runner- The Final Cut

The upcoming movie with Harrison Ford as the main actor brings to mind, another Harrison Ford movie which I regard as one of the greatest science fiction movie ever made- Blade Runner (1982), directed by Ridley Scott, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel,
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

[contain spoilers]

The story is set in Los Angeles of 2019, a Los Angeles that only those in the early 1980s will dream of. At that time, the Japanese were buying up large chunks of the US of A. This future Los Angeles is like a crowded Tokyo, implying that Japan actually owns the USA by then. The concept of the film actually predicts globalisation, global warming and climatic change and genetic engineering (the word cloning was not in common use then). Genetically engineered humans called replicants were created to work in dangerous places in off world colonies. To keep them in check, these replicants were implanted with false memories of their past and they do not know that they are genetically engineered. They have only a lifespan of 5 years. Following a small replicant uprising, replicants become illegal on Earth; and specialist police called "blade runners" are trained to hunt down and "retire" (kill) escaped replicants on Earth. Retired blade runner Rick Deckard (Ford) reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment to hunt 6 replicants in this movie.

The movie received mixed reviews on its opening. Many people could not understand the story. Despite the box office failure of the film, it has since become a cult classic.
Seven versions of the film have been created, for various markets, and as a result of controversial changes made by film executives. A rushed Director's Cut was released in 1992 on DVD. As one of the first films chosen for the new DVD format unfortunately it has mediocre video and audio quality. In late 2007 Warner Bros. released in theater and DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray the 25th anniversary long-awaited digitally remastered definitive Final Cut by Scott.

The movie asks two basic questions (1) Does a replicant or a genetically created human being or a human clone has basic human rights? and (2) Does a replicant or a genetically created human being or a human clone has the right to ask of his or her creator, ‘why am I created’? In the case of the replicants in the movie, they were created to be used and exploited for 5 years after which they cease to function (die). The two questions have haunted me since I first saw the movie in 1982. Does the created have a right to ask the creator, ‘Why am I created to suffer?’ The movie asks the existential questions of the book of Ecclesiastes while playing out the Greek tragedy of Job. The final question that will ring in our minds as the credit roll will be that, ‘Is Rick Deckard a replicant too?’







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Indiana Jones Returns

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Chinese Pakua

Ong Hean-Tatt (2007), The Chinese Pakua: An Expose, Kuala Lumpur: Pelanduk Publications


Dr Ong presented some interesting conclusions from his extensive study of the Chinese Pakua. The Pakua is a powerful mystical symbol of the Chinese. The circular eight-side diagram, often with a central mirror (or yin-yang symbol) hung over doors of Chinese homes to ward off evil. Its origin remains a mystery.

Ong postulates that the Pakua originates from Mesopotomia, the origin of human beings and is a device for recording the historical origins of the Chinese people. The Chinese people were from Akkadia in Mesopotamia and migrated to China overland after the Tower of Babel incident in the Bible.

The ‘Gammadion Four Directions’ design of the Pakua is a symbol of the Garden of Eden with its four rivers. The ‘Four Heraldic Animals’ arrangement of the Pakua indicated the worship of Shang-Ti, the Supreme and only God, surrounded by His four major angels. The ancient Chinese were monotheistic until the Eastern Chou period (771-256 BC) where polytheism was introduced. This monotheism occurred because the Chinese came from the same region as the Hebrews people.

Other evidences were
• Chinese pictograms are similar to the Sumerian writings and also contain amazing descriptions of the legends of Creation, the Flood and the Tower of Babel suggesting a similar origin.
• The Chinese Pakua’s astrology is circumpolar which is similar to the Hebrew-Biblical stars system suggesting they both originated from ancient Babylon (subsequent astrology was elliptical).
• The Magic Square symbol of the Chinese Pakua is similar to the Hebrew Kabala Sigil of Saturn.
• The Chinese Ganzhi system of twenty-two symbols is the precursor of the twenty-two Hebrew Sofrot alphabets of the Hebrews.

Ong also suggests that the Nine Emperor Gods Pakua is a memorial of the time of the nine patriarchs of the Bible; Adam to Lamech (Noah was the tenth). The eight-family of the Pakua are the eight members of Noah’s family who survived the Flood. The Five-Poisons Pakua (the Dragon Boat Festival) is an ancient memory of the Tower of Babel where a war was fought to destroy Nimrod. The 5th Day of the 5th Moon, also known as the Summer Solstice, is a day for human sacrifices. The Dragon Boat races are apparently held for accidents to happen and people to die. This day is equivalent to the time of Saturnalia and May Pole Dance. The Kadazans of East Malaysia also have their harvest festivals around the same time, which in the past also meant head hunting. “This day is evidently some very ancient memory among many cultures of a universal event of a great evil.”

As in his earlier book, Ong reiterated that the Chinese dragon or ‘lung’ was not the limbless ‘Biblical serpent-dragon’ but a limbed-winged holy seraphim of God!

This is an interesting book that bears further study. Ong is making a case that the Chinese people were originally monotheistic and that the Chinese Pakua contains symbols of Biblical history. However throughout its long history it has acquired occultist properties and powers.


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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Who is F.W.Boreham?

An example of the way F W Boreham deals with the ordinary, everyday stuff of life is evident in an essay he writes about ‘tiffs’ which begins this way:

A friend and I found ourselves standing the other day before a fine picture by G. T. Pinwell in the Melbourne Art Gallery. It is entitled 'Out of Tune.' It represents two lovers whose honeyed hours have been temporarily embittered.I say 'temporarily' advisedly, for, although Mr. Pinwell's picture does not forecast the future, any one with half an eye can see how it will all end.

‘Tiffs,’ as Principal P. T. Forsyth says in his book on Marriage, ‘are not tragedies. It is childish, as soon as the clouds begin to drop, to think that heaven is burst. A happy marriage depends on the way these things are handled, and not on their entire absence. And a mistake is not irreparable.’

There is some comfort in that, but I am afraid that the statement is too sweeping. It requires some modification. ‘Tiffs are not tragedies,’ says the Principal. But they may be, and very often they are. ‘A happy marriage depends on the way these things are handled,’ says Dr. Forsyth. It also depends on the way these things come about. We must not generalize.

F W Boreham, ‘Tiffs’, The Golden Milestone (London: Charles H Kelly, 1915), 258-259.






Who is F.W. Boreham? Check out this wonderful blog,The Official FW Boreham blogsite by my friend Dr Geoff Pound.













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How to Tell Your Child About Anesthesia


Sometimes, our child may need an operation. It may not be a problem with babies and toddlers but may be one with older children. This link from the Royal Children Hospital in Melbourne is an excellent aid to tell your child about anaesthesia. It also reflects how we should treat our child with respect.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Not Just For Monks

read my article

Spiritual disciplines are for anyone who wants to love God and others more
read here
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When I Grow Up, I Want To Be a Paediatrician


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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Top 10 Articles from CTLibrary.com

Top 10 Articles in CTLibrary.com

The list includes the top ten articles accessed since the CTLibrary.com launched in October 2004.


10
CHRISTIANITY TODAY

Trapped in the Cult of the Next Thing

If ever there was a cult that gave us stones when we asked for bread, this is it.

by Mark Buchanan


9
CHRISTIANITY TODAY

Colson: Why Not Gay Marriage?

If people believe marriage is just an invention, then they will feel free to change it, redefine it, or even discard it.

by CHARLES COLSON


8
LEADERSHIP

Unlikely Candidates

What do you do when no one seems qualified to lead?

by Mark Jobe


7
CHRISTIANITY TODAY

Church in Action: Straw Houses on a Firm Foundation

Habitat for Humanity goes low-tech with big results.

by Laura Horne in Tucson, Arizona


6
CHRISTIANITY TODAY

Directions: Are Christians Required to Tithe?

We should be careful not to isolate the tithe from broader demands of generosity and social justice.

by D. A. Carson


5
CHRISTIANITY TODAY

Holy Sex

How it ravishes our souls

by Philip Yancey


4
CHRISTIAN NEWS & RESEARCH

Gay Marriage: The New Sexual Revolution

After a decades-long losing fight, maybe for Christians a new strategy is worth a try?

by Rob Moll


3
CHRISTIAN HISTORY & BIOGRAPHY

Civil Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr.

No Christian played a more prominent role in the century's most significant social justice movement.

by Russel Moldovan


2
CHRISTIAN HISTORY & BIOGRAPHY

Evangelicalism: Billy Graham

As an evangelist he has preached to millions; as an evangelical he put a movement on the map.

by William Martin


1
CHRISTIAN HISTORY & BIOGRAPHY

Apologetics: C.S. Lewis

The atheist scholar who became an Anglican, an apologist, and a patron saint of Christians everywhere.

by Ted Olsen

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Children- First and Always

video

source: Viva Network Lausanne Conference

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hope Management

John Ortberg on Hope Management
Optimism is the one responsibility no leader should delegate.
by John Ortberg

For this reason I've realized that I must learn the art of hope management. I must learn about the activities and practices and people who build hope, as well as the activities and practices and people who drain hope.

When I looked back at my old journals it came as a surprise to me how often they were simply chronicles of failure. I would write down how I felt inadequate as a pastor, incompetent as a dad, and not-all-that-great as a Christian in general. These weren't so much confessions with absolution and forgiveness; they were vague general expressions of discouragement that left me more discouraged. They were the opposite of what David did when he "encouraged himself in the Lord." I was "discouraging myself in the Lord."

So now I try to steward my hope; not by avoiding thinking about my sin, but trying to confess it, learn from it, and live in the reality of newness and grace. I have identified people in my life who breathe energy and hope into me, and I try to get large doses of time with them—especially on Mondays.

Psychologist Martin Seligman, though not religious himself, notes that not only does faith produce hopeful people, but more robust faith produces more robust hope. For all the great hopers are mystics. And long before FDR said we have nothing to fear but fear itself, a great hoper known as Julian of Norwich sang her song from the depths of the Black Plague-infested fourteenth century:

But all shall be well,And all shall be well,And all manner of things shall be well…He did not say,

"You shall know no storms, no travails, no disease,
"He said, "You shall not be overcome."

You can't delegate hope.

John Ortberg is editor at large of Leadership and the pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

read whole article here.

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Thomas Merton on Accountability

In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for "finding himself." If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence.

Thomas Merton

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Totally Unofficial Walter Brueggemann Page

Hats off to Anthony (Old Testament Passion) for pointing to this excellent new website, The Totally Unofficial Brueggemann Page.

Here can be found a good collection of Brueggemann's writings and writings about him. Hope more articles, audio and video archives will continue to be added.

Great stuff are found here

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

To Imitate the Passion of My God


So far as I am concerned, to die in Jesus Christ is better than to be a monarch of earth's widest bounds. He who dies for us is all that I seek: he who rose again for us is my whole desire...Leave me to imitate the passion of my God.


Ignatius of Antioch
Epistles to the Romans

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Made by God


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Monday, February 11, 2008

Gitanjali 76


Day after day, O Lord of my life,
shall I stand before thee face to face?
With folded hands, O Lord of all worlds,
shall I stand before thee face to face?

Under thy great sky in solitude and silence,
with humble heart shall I stand before thee face to face?
In this laborious world of thine, tumultuous with
toil and with struggle,

among hurring crowds shall I stand before thee face to face?
And when my work shall be done in this world,
O King of kings, alone and speechless
shall I stand before thee face to face?





Rabindranath Tagore

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Spiritual Formation: Education of the Heart



Spiritual Formation : The Education of the Heart
Text: Mark 12:28-31


28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Spiritual formation is the process of growing into Christ-likeness; characterised by knowing and loving God, knowing and loving ourselves, knowing and loving other people and experiencing the Presence of God in our everyday lives. The basis of spiritual formation is the call of God the Father, the finished work of Jesus Christ the Son and is empowered by the Holy Spirit.

read complete sermon here

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Monastic Evangelicals

Monastic Evangelicals
The attraction of ancient spiritual disciplines.
Chris Armstrong posted 2/08/2008 10:03AM

A growing number of evangelicals—younger evangelicals in particular—are maturing the movement in another way. They are taking their newfound love affair with Christian tradition and the early church beyond the realm of books and talk and into their churches and Christian lives. Covenant's Kenneth Stewart noted at the Wheaton conference that more and more traditionally evangelical congregations are now experimenting with advent candles, sampling practices associated with Lent, and marking Holy Week with special services like Tenebrae—an evening service featuring songs, readings, and the gradual extinguishing of lights to represent Christ's death.

This fascination with early liturgy has perhaps grown out of the recent trend toward what Richard Foster has called "the classic spiritual disciplines." In his 1993 book Devotional Classics, Foster argued that "pure modernity makes us parochial," so we need to return to practices "weaned from the fads of the marketplace" that will give us "perspective and balance."

One aspect of these disciplines that has captured the imaginations of evangelicals is monasticism. In The New Faithful (2004), Colleen Carroll Campbell believes the public love affair with things monastic surged with the 1996 publication of Benedictine oblate Kathleen Norris's The Cloister Walk. Among evangelicals, the trend has extended to retreats at Catholic monasteries, recovery of Celtic spirituality, and observance of the divine hours. Not surprisingly (given the biblical focus of evangelicals), the slow, meditative monastic prayer technique called the lectio divina has captivated many. They have taken up the practice guided by such books as the three-volume Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle, The Rhythm of God's Grace: Uncovering Morning and Evening Hours of Prayer by Mennonite professor Arthur Boers, and a book for youth, Divine Intervention: Encountering God Through the Ancient Practice of Lectio Divina, by Minneapolis Emergent leader Tony Jones.

More radically than the sometimes cafeteria-style adoption of monastic practices, a small but growing group of Protestant "new monastics" has now taken up the task of molding their lives by ancient practices. Their goals are described in the book Schools for Conversion: 12 Marks of the New Monasticism, and their desire to learn from the monks and nuns of the early and medieval church is explored in Inhabiting the Church, by Jon Stock, Tim Otto, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. At the conference, Trinity Western's Mark Charlton noted that the phrase "new monasticism" now crops up almost every day on Internet news services, and that writers such as Rodney Clapp, Jonathan Wilson, Arthur Boers, Tom Sine, and Brian McLaren have all been calling evangelicals to monastic models as a guide for the future.


read more here

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The Future Lies in the Past

The Future Lies in the Past
Why evangelicals are connecting with the early church as they move into the 21st century.
Chris Armstrong posted 2/08/2008 10:01AM

Today's ancient-future Christians have begun recovering buried veins of treasure—in exegesis, theology, spirituality, praxis, and ecclesiology—from the deepest deposits of our shared tradition. Today we live in a world more complex than ever before: more broken families, more disparity between rich and poor, a more confusing variety of life choices, and fewer accepted standards by which to sort it all out. We live in the ruins of modernity and have witnessed the failure of so many social silver bullets and "sure things" that we now distrust advertisers, politicians, and religious leaders alike. We viscerally feel the deceitfulness and woundedness of the human heart, and we know it does not yield to any one-size-fits-all solution, religious or otherwise.


It should not surprise us, then, that some of the ancient-future Christians, having recovered older truths and practices, are indulging a tendency to wield them as a stick to beat aspects of the traditional way of doing church.


They know intuitively that the individualism, consumerism, rationalism, and worldly definitions of success and happiness that have crept into some churches fail to touch hearts and mend relationships—human or divine.


And so, rejecting both rigid propositional definitions of the faith and the pragmatic promises of the church-growth movement, these Christians are seeking a way of living the faith that can be for them an anchor and a bulwark against the culture. At the same time, they seem to have learned the lessons of postmodernity, and thus are moving beyond the "golden age" approach of earlier attempts. Instead, they have begun to mix critique with appreciation and even reverence as they return to the historical sources. And it will take a great deal of wisdom to learn both the strengths and the limits of each phase of the history in which they hungrily seek answers.


From Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and living, practicing monks and nuns, they must learn both the strengths and the limits of the historical ascetic disciplines.


From Tom Oden, D. H. Williams, and living, practicing Eastern Orthodox and Catholic brothers and sisters, they must learn both the strengths and the limits of engagement with the whole tradition of the whole church—one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.


From "missional" pioneers such as Lesslie Newbigin and George Hunsberger, and from such diverse sources as the Anabaptists and the Anglicans, they must learn the crucial power of the church. And they must understand it not as a pragmatic set of programs and organizations to be manipulated by managers into a cash machine for the needs of modern Westerners, but as the powerful, untamable, Spirit-driven, Mysterious Body of which Paul spoke.


This is the road to maturity. That more and more evangelicals have set out upon it is reason for hope for the future of gospel Christianity. That they are receiving good guidance on this road from wise teachers is reason to believe that Christ is guiding the process. And that they are meeting and learning from fellow Christians in the other two great confessions, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, is reason to rejoice in the power of love.

read complete article here

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Friday, February 08, 2008

REVEAL: Willow Creek Survey 2007

Finally my copy which I have to order directly from Willow Creek Resources, Barington, USA arrived just before Chinese New Year.

I have blog ealier about Bill Hybels' response


Gary Hawkins, Cally Parkinson and Eric Arnson (2007) Reveal: Where Are You? Barrington, IL: Willow Creek Resources


Methodology
Qualitative-2004 & December 2006 (one to one interviews) and Quantitative – 2004 & January- February 2007 (questionnaires).

Approach: Consumer marketing strategy research analysis.

Analysis: 3 years of research and analysis based on 2.6. million data points from eleven thousands completed surveys from Willow Creek and six other churches (diverse in size and location; larger churches in Florida and California, suburban church in Illinois, Ohio and Texas, smaller African-American church in Michigan. Include denominational, seeker-targeted and independent/Bible churches).

Research Hypothesis
(1) There is a migration path for spiritual growth based on church activities
(2) The most effective evangelism tool is a spiritual conversation
(3) Spiritual relationships are a key driver of spiritual growth


Results
(1) Involvement in church activities does not predict or drive long term spiritual growth. But there is a “spiritual continuum” that is very predictive and powerful.

• “We arrived at the conclusion that church activities alone do not drive spiritual growth…” (p.33)

• Measurements of spiritual behaviours (tithing, evangelism, serving etc) and spiritual attitudes (as response to these three questions: “I love God more than anything’; ‘I seek God’s guidance for every area of my life’; ‘I have tremendous love for people I know and those I don’t know.’)

• The spiritual continuum that emerged from the research is a predictive description of staging how people grow spiritually.

• Exploring ChristianityGrowing in Christ  Close to Christ  Christ-Centered

(2) Spiritual growth is all about increasing relational closeness to Christ

(3) The church is most important in the early stages of spiritual growth. Its role then shifts from being the primary influence to a secondary influence

(4) Personal spiritual practices are the building blocks for a Christ-centered life


• In the early stages of one spiritual life, the church is importance. As one matures, personal spiritual practices such s prayer, journaling, solitude, studying Scriptures become more important (p.43)
• “Our conclusion based on the data is this: The church doesn’t need to handhold people who are moving along in the later stages of the spiritual continuum.” (p.45)

(5) A church’s most active evangelists, volunteers and donors come from the most spiritually advanced segments

• “This came as a surprise to us. At Willow, we had long operated under the assumption that evangelism fervor is at its highest early on in a person’s faith journey.” (p.45)

(6) More than 25 percent of those surveyed describe themselves as spiritually “stalled” or “dissatisfied” with the role of the church in their spiritual growth

• “The stalled segment seems to include people at the beginning of the faith journey who have run into difficult life circumstances or have come to face-to-face with a personal weakness that is incompatible with following Christ.” (p.49)
• They report “significant barriers to spiritual growth”: addictions (27%), inappropriate relationship (16%), emotional issues (48%) and not prioritizing one’s spiritual life (89%).
• The “dissatisfied” segment are committed followers of Christ; regularly attend weekend services (96%), participate in small groups (55%), volunteer at church (61%), serve those in need (25%), tithe (31%) and are diligent in their personal efforts to grow their faith through Bible study (39%) and prayer (59%).
• They are committed followers but are highly likely to leave their church and may make up of 10% of your congregation!
• In the survey, the two statements rated lowest by this segment is ‘The church keeps me on track as I try to lead a Christian life.’ (7%) and ‘The church helps me to find a spiritual mentor’ (4%).
• “Although the Dissatisfied segment appears totally aligned with the attitudes and behaviours related to a Christ-centered life, they still want the church to help “keep them on track,” to hold them accountable and keep them challenged.” (p.53)


Comments
Willow Creek Repents? Why the most influential church in America now says "We made a mistake." (Christianity Today)
Bradley Wright's 11 part comments (Bradley Wright)
Read This Before You Jump on the Willowcreek “Reveal Study” Band Wagon! (Pro or Con!) (Chris Forbes)
What Willowcreek's "REVEAL" Reveals: ON JUST HOW DIFFICULT (IMPOSSIBLE?) IT IS FOR THE MEGACHURCH TO UNDERGO CHANGE (David Fitch)
Williow Creek Reveal (Ken Bussel)
Willow Reveal Study(Scott McKnight)
What REVEAL reveals (Christianity Today editorial 2/27/2008)
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