Monday, July 30, 2012

Where is the Sea?

Carolyn Gratton uses the following story to introduce her book The Art of Guidance. It's about a wise fish.

It seems that there once were some fish who spent their days swimming around
search of water. Anxiously looking for their destination, they shared their worries
and confusion with each other as they swam. One day they met a wise fish and asked
him the question that had preoccupied them for so long: "Where is the sea?” The
wise fish answered: "If you stop swimming so busily and struggling so anxiously, you
would discover that you are already in the sea. You need look no further than where
you already are." (Gratton 2000:5)

For Gratton, the wise fish represents a spiritual director. The search is God's kingdom; hurry is the devil.



Sunday, July 29, 2012

What do I love when I love God?

 Jurgen Motlmann's response to Augustine's "What do I love when I love God?"

When I love God I love the beauty of bodies, the rhythm of
movements, the shining of eyes, the embraces, the feelings,
the scents, the sounds of all this protean creation. When I love
you, my God, I want to embrace it all, for I love you with all
my senses in the creations of your love. In all the things that
encounter me, you are waiting for me.

For a long time I looked for you within myself and crept
into the shell of my soul, shielding myself with an armour of
inapproachability. But you were outside - outside myself - and
enticed me out of the narrowness of my heart into the broad
place of love for life. So I came out of myself and found my soul
in my senses, and my own self in others.

The experience of God deepens the experiences of life. It
does not reduce them. For it awakens the unconditional Yes to
life. The more I love God, the more gladly I exist. The more
immediately and wholly I exist, the more I sense the living
God, the inexhaustible source of life and eternal livingness.

Moltmann, A Broad Place: An Autobiography, 349-50


Sunday, July 22, 2012

How to Overcome Discouragement

When all you know is discouragement
Seven ways to overcome discouragement

Sermon statement
The way to deal with discouragement is to take the word courage out and uses it. We overcome discouragement when we realise that (1) nothing happens according to our plans; (2) we need to be realistic in our expectations; (3) avoid dwelling on discouragements alone; (4) controlling our emotions; (5) not to give up; (6) that a closed door may leads to many open doors; and that our God is bigger than all our problems.

Discouragement occurs when you did not get what you want. You may be hoping for a A++ grade in your exams and all you get is a A+ and you get discouraged. Your friend, who always has been getting Cs, getting a A+ is a great encouragement. What are some of the areas we experience discouragement?
  • Studies
  • Grades
  • Physical appearances
  • Spiritual life
  • Relationship
  • Friendship
  • Parents

Life of David
As a young man, David was a shepherd who was anointed king by the prophet Samuel. Saul was king then and it took many years before David could be king. David served as a musician to King Saul for many years. Even after he killed Goliath, David was not appreciated by King Saul. In his later life King Saul became increasing paranoid and even tried to kill David with a spear. David had to flee for his life and live a life of banditry.

Do you want to be king?
Later, as king, David had to rule over a nation of people who are self-centred and rebellious. Like today, evil men seem to be in control. King David faced threat to his life and his throne. It must be very discouraging to be king.

Text: Psalm 11:1-7

     Psalm 11

For the director of music. Of David.

  1 In the LORD I take refuge.
    How then can you say to me:
    "Flee like a bird to your mountain.

                 2 For look, the wicked bend their bows;
                 they set their arrows against the strings
                 to shoot from the shadows
                at the upright in heart.

 3 When the foundations are being destroyed,
                                 what can the righteous do?"

                                                                                        PS 11:4 The LORD is in his holy temple;
    the LORD is on his heavenly throne.
  He observes the sons of men;
    his eyes examine them.

                                5 The LORD examines the righteous,
                                but the wicked and those who love violence
                                his soul hates.

                 6 On the wicked he will rain
                fiery coals and burning sulfur;
                 a scorching wind will be their lot.

  7 For the LORD is righteous,
    he loves justice;
    upright men will see his face.

David expresses confidence in God even though wickedness appeared to be so very strong. David was facing a national crisis that threatened to overturn the stability of the nation of Israel. All around him, the moral foundations of the people were crumbling. This upheaval was caused by evil men who sought to do him harm. Adding to this ordeal, the people who were loyal to David panicked, counseling him to flee Jerusalem. But David remained calm and resolute, keeping his eyes on the Lord. In this hour of crisis, David determined to trust in God in spite of his circumstances. His faith, unshakable and unwavering, kept him steadfast in uncertain times.’

The psalm can be divided into two parts: the voice of discouragement (vv. 1–3) and David’s voice of courage (vv. 4–7). The first is the voice which David heard. The second is the voice with which he answered.

The voice of discouragement
The psalm begins with a note of surprise. David was trusting in the Lord in the midst of his trial (v. 1). Although his faith was well known to his friends, this did not keep them from grimly advising him to ‘Flee as a bird’ (v. 2).
To them it was all very clear. The wicked were ready to shoot ‘secretly’ (v. 2)—from the cover of darkness—at the godly.
David’s friends evidently considered his adversaries to be so numerous, so strong and so crafty that there was little hope of success against them. It appeared as if these enemies would cause the very foundations of society to be destroyed.
We often hear the same gloomy assessment that was given to David.

Wickedness is so strong and flourishing! The foundations are crumbling! All is hopeless! The righteous can do nothing to stem the tide!

3 When the foundations are being destroyed,
                                 what can the righteous do?"

David’s Response
David’s friends quite clearly expected one answer and one answer alone when they asked: ‘What can the righteous do?’ (v. 3). That answer was: nothing!
But David would have none of it! The very same logic offered to him on this occasion would have kept him from facing Goliath! David refused to yield to it then, and he here refuses it again. He does so for the very same reason, namely, his faith in God. The God who was greater than Goliath was also greater than the wicked who were seeking to destroy the foundations!
So David sets himself to remind his friends of certain key truths about God.
  • He is sovereign over all (v. 4a).
  • He is well aware of the wicked and what they are doing (v. 4b).
  • He is not ambivalent about evil but has the utmost hatred for it and in due time will bring judgment on the wicked (vv. 5–6).
  • He loves righteousness and smiles upon those who practice it (v. 7).

I believe that David has much to teach us about how to overcome discouragement even though we are not kings or queens. He can teach us how to take the courage out of discouragement.

Seven ways to overcome discouragement

1.      Nothing happens according to our plans (Prov. 21:31)
2.      Be realistic in our expectations (Prov. 24:3-4)
3.      Avoid dwelling on discouragements alone (Eccl. 4:9-12).
4.      Control your emotions (Prov. 25:28)
5.      Don’t give up (Gal. 6:9)
6.      A closed door may leads to many open doors (Gen. 50:20)
7.      Your God is bigger than your problems (Psalm 11)

1.      Nothing happens according to our plans (Prov. 21:31)
  PR 21:31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but victory rests with the LORD.

King David is a warrior-king and knows full well the power of the cavalry against the foot soldiers. The horse in these times will be equivalent of an Abrams tank today. Yet, the author of the proverb warns against being overconfident with our own planning. Basically ‘shit happens.’ Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.

Bruce Wayne in the first two Batman movies by Christopher Nolan has good intentions. He wants to fight crime in Gotham by becoming a legend of fear to the criminals. Unfortunately things did not go according to plans. In Batman Begins, the movie ended with his house burnt down. In The Dark Knight, Batman ended up being accursed as a murderer.

So we should expect things to go wrong in our lives, no matter how smart, rich or powerful we are. Things are going to go wrong. We are going to be discouraged. Discouragements are part and parcel of life. Expect discouragements and you will not be disappointed.

2.      Be realistic in our expectations (Prov. 24:3-4)
  PR 24:3 By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
  PR 24:4 through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

Can we change reality to the way we want things to be? Inception is a 2010 British-American science fiction film with the elements of action heist, and thriller. Former architecture student Dominick "Dom" Cobb and business partner Arthur perform corporate espionage by dreaming and using an experimental military-developed machine to infiltrate the subconscious of their targets and extract information, their latest target being powerful Japanese businessman Saito. The movie suggests that we can change ourselves by implanting suggestions in our self conscious through our dreams. We all have a need to change ourselves. But we need to have a realistic expectation as to who or whom we change ourselves into.

Beauty and youth are two of the most lucrative commodity on earth today. Everyone wants to have the beauty and youthfulness of the models and movie stars. Is that a realistic expectation? We need wisdom to set realistic goals. Otherwise we will be setting ourselves up for a fall and discouragement.

3.      Avoid dwelling on discouragement alone (Eccl. 4:9-12)
  ECC 4:9 Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their work:
  ECC 4:10 If one falls down,
    his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
    and has no one to help him up!
ECC 4:11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
ECC 4:12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Marvel's The Avengers is a 2012 American superhero film produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. In facing the onslaught of the army of Loki and Thanatos, the heroes and heroines found that that they need one another. Only in teamwork can their combined efforts defeat their enemies.

The presence of friends who will walk with us during our discouragement cannot be underestimated. The Preacher recognizes that and calls us to have friends.

4.      Control your emotions (Prov. 25:28)
  PR 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken down
    is a man who lacks self-control.

The Incredible Hulk is a 2008 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character the Hulk. It is directed by Louis Leterrier and stars Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner. It is the second film to be released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the fifth chronologically. This film establishes a new backstory where Banner becomes the Hulk as an unwitting pawn in a military scheme to reinvigorate the supersoldier program through gamma radiation. On the run, he attempts to cure himself of the Hulk before he is captured by General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt), but his worst fears are realized when power-hungry soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) becomes a similar but more bestial creature. Liv Tyler also stars as Betty Ross, Banner's love interest and General Ross' daughter. The hulk is pure rage.

If we look closely at our discouragement, we will find that feelings play a major role in expressing our not getting what we want. While there is a place for feelings (pain, sadness), there is also a place when we move beyond the feelings and look for possible solutions. Bruce Banner finds himself only when he learns to control his feelings and to integrate them.

5.      Don’t give up (Gal. 6:9)
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

The apostle Paul reminds us not to give up because if we persist, we will succeed. If our goals are realistic, then the chances of our success are good provided we do not give up. Po from Kung Fu Panda 1 & 2 is an arrogance panda. One of his redeeming characteristics is that he never gives up.

6.      A closed door may leads to many open doors (Gen. 50:20)
20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

These words, spoken by Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt illustrate this principle perfectly. If a closed door appears, instead of standing in front of it in self pity or trying to break it down, look around instead. There may be many open doors around.

7.      Your God is bigger than your problems (Psalm 11)
This principle brings us back to the text of this sermon which is based on Psalm 11. David is effectively saying that God is greater than all his problems and ours.


How do we deal with discouragement? Discouragement is part of life. We can choose to remain discouraged or we can pull the courage out of discouragement and uses it to continue with our lives.

I suggest these seven ways to deal with discouragement

1.      Nothing happens according to our plans (Prov. 21:31)
2.      Be realistic (Prov. 24:3-4)
3.      Avoid dwelling on discouragements alone (Eccl. 4:9-12).
4.      Control your emotions (Prov. 25:28)
5.      Don’t give up (Gal. 6:9)
6.      A closed door may leads to many open doors (Gen. 50:20)
7.      Your God is bigger than your problems (Psalm 11)

What says you?

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Along came a Choices

Spiderman is a fictional comic hero created in 1962 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Unlike most other comic books heroes, Spiderman whose alter ego is Peter Parker is in high school and not a grown up. This presented Lee and Dikto with unique opportunities to explore the adolescent angst involving homework, boy-girl relationships and relationships with adults. Peter was an orphan who was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben until his tragic death which 'motivated' Peter to become the superhero. Spiderman used to be my favourite comic superhero until the last decade when poor storytelling, mediocre artwork and endless reimagining of his origins turned me off the series completely. I have often sympathized with Peter - his endless money problems, his secret identity and his personal insecurity which makes him a wise cracking superhero.

He is a young man who seem to be crushed by life yet never gives up. One of my most vivid comic book frame was Spiderman/Peter Parker being pinned under a building devastated by his battle with Doc Octopus who happens to have stolen the radioisotopes which is to be used by the doctors to treat Aunt May's cancer. Though exhausted and bruised, there is this full page picture frame that is forever etched in my memory. Against impossible odds, Spiderman lifted the building off himself! Needless to say Aunt May is saved.

The last decade has Peter Parker graduated and teaching science in a high school, his disastrous marriage with Mary Jane and his willingness to be a pawn for Tony Stark/Iron man in the Civil War storyline (apparently for financial security and comfort!). The origin of his superpower was also explored. There were some story arcs that it was not the radioactive spider bite that gives him his power but that he belongs to the 'spider force' like the Spiderwoman. There is also more recent reworking of the source of his powers. Somehow I felt that Spiderman franchise has lost its way in more ways than one and in the process lost many of his fans.

There has been a few attempts to reboot the franchise, not least of all the highly successful movies; Spiderman 1 (2002), Spiderman 2 (2004), Spiderman 3 (2007) and recently The Amazing Spiderman (2012). Each of these movies have tried to recount Parker's search for his own identity, his sense of responsibility to help others in need and how his secret identity may hurt the people he loves. Basically it is all about choices and these choices have consequences. Most of these consequences affects the people we love. I have commented on this in one of my sermons which I preached in 2004, comparing his decision making to that of Joshua and Jesus. My sermon transcript may be found here.

Spider- Man 2, the movie is one of the summer blockbusters of 2004. In a way, spider-man, conceived by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1961[2] is the antithesis of a hero. He is Peter Parker, a teenager who was bitten by a radioactive spider gain fantastic powers like ability to climb to walls, strong webbing's that shot out of his wrists, agility and strength of 10 men. Yet Spider-Man/Peter Parker is driven by guilt and self-doubt. He blames himself for the death of his Uncle Ben because he failed to stop the robber who shot him. He wants to do the right thing, but is not always sure what that is. He is constantly forced to choose between helping others and helping himself. In Spider-man 2, Peter Parker is struggling to make a choice – to remain as spider-man and reject the love of his childhood sweetheart, Mary Jane because as spider-man, he will have many enemies and will put Mary Jane’s life in danger or to give up being spider-man and live life as a ‘normal’ man with the woman he loves. A movie poster shows spider-man/Peter Parker at the top of the city looking down and holding his mask. It was titled ‘choice’. Spider-man reminds me of the Christian life. Out of the blue, he was given superpowers when he was accidentally bitten by a radioactive spider-man. We too are given ‘super power’ when we are born again and receive the Holy Spirit. Like Peter Parker, we too have to make a choice- to live a new life in Christ who means we have to sacrifice some things or to live life as ‘normal’ not using the gifts God has bestowed on us. The elder Parkers often give good advice. In the first movie, Uncle Ben teaches Peter that with great power comes great responsibility. In Spider-Man 2 Aunt May teaches Peter that sometimes, to do what is right, we must give up what we want the most, even our dreams.

 The above is the story arc by John Romita in which Peter Parker gives up being Spiderman, something he enjoys and felt he is able to do some good in order to protect the people he loves. That is a tough decision. All of us may be called upon to make such decisions in our lives. Though we do not swing around in spandex ( I hope not!), we are all called upon to make responsible choices or decisions. Will it involve getting a lower paying job with less prestige to stay at home and look after our children, give up an addiction for the sake of our families and even give up some activities that is productive to focus on our main calling? Choices have consequences.

Spoiler alert!

The Amazing Spiderman movie seems to approach the same questions, only with a more contemporary feel. Unlike the former movies and story arcs where there is more introspection and discussion, Peter Parker seems to be more driven by the need to know who his parents are and why they abandoned him, The elder Parkers do not seem to offer much advice except to worry about Peter. It was a wise Captain Stacy who asks Peter to promise to protect his daughter by staying away from her (a promise which Peter implies he is willing to break). While the audience may be wooed by the awesome special effects that include realistic web swinging through the roof tops of New York, one cannot be but saddened by the values that seem to permeate the movie. It is not so much about Spiderman as about Peter Parker who is a narcissistic and self-absorbed individual; rules are meant to be broken and the ends justify the means. Give such an individual superpowers and one hesitates to think of the consequences.

nuff' said.


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Friday, July 13, 2012

Swallowed magnets are dangerous

Powerful, rare earth (neodymium) magnets are widely available in consumer and industrial products
o Desk or office toys
o Toys
o Office supplies
o Jewelry
o Pain relief products
o Machines and tools
§ These magnets usually are small in size and round in shape, like BBs or ball bearings. Magnet ball brand names include BuckyBalls™ and Neocube™
§ Though intended for adult use, they are difficult to keep out of the reach of children
o Shiny and attractive to toddlers
o Used by “tweens” and teens to mimic body piercing jewelry
§ Extremely powerful magnetic attractions are produced
o When more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnetic force can bring two pieces of intestine tightly together, and make holes in the intestines
§ Magnet ingestion can lead to bowel injury, blockage or severe infection
o Over 200 documented cases of children swallowing these magnets
o Most require emergency procedures for removal
o Some require major surgery
What can parents do?
o Keep tiny ultra-powerful magnets out of the reach of infants and toddlers
o Educate your older children and teens about the risks of swallowing these magnets. These magnets are not children’s toys.
o If your toddler or child swallows these magnets, immediately call your doctor or go to the emergency department. 

HT: Don Cameron
Paediatric Gastroenterologist Royal Children Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts - SFI seminar

Spiritual Formation Institute Seminar 2012/2

Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts 

Date : 2.00pm- 9.30pm, Saturday 11 August 2012

Place : Berea, Holy Light Church, Johor Bahru

Synopsis : Spiritual gifts are endowed to all people of God because of His grace. They are meant to empower every part of the body of Christ to serve God effectively to build up the body of Christ for God's glory. It is vital for Christians to know the gift(s) that God has given them so that they are able to live a fruitful Christian living. Among the major topics that this seminar aims to discuss include the meaning and significance of spiritual gifts, importance of knowing one's gifting and ways to discover it.

Speaker : Rev. Dr. Philip Siew, BTh (Trinity Theological College, 1983); MTheol (SEAGST, 1991); MTh (Fuller, 1993); PhD (Fuller, 1999), is a lecturer in Homiletics, Missiology, Evangelism, Church Growth and Hebrew in the Chinese Department of Seminari Theologi Malaysia, and the Director of Advanced Ministerial Studies.

All are welcome

(Seminar cost RM20.00 includes refreshment,dinner and seminar notes).
Please register with Sister Grace Soon of HLCE (Tel:07-2243285)


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Monday, July 09, 2012

Who is a Soul Friend?

Soul Friend
    1. A person possessed by the Spirit
    2. A person characterised by holiness of life and closeness to God
    3. A person of experience-in prayer and life
    4. A person of learning – particularly in the scriptures and the patristic writings
    5. A person of discernment who can read the signs of the times and the writing on the wall of the soul 
    6. A person who gives way to the Holy Spirit

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Saturday, July 07, 2012

A Mightry Fortress, Masada (2)

To protect us from the world, we built mighty fortresses. We choose to live in sheltered communities in the richer suburbs, have high walls with motion and vibration sensors, security guards and CCTV to protect us. We accumulate banks accounts with amounts that will be enough to see us through many lifetimes. We have doctors, physical therapists and life coach to keep us young, healthy and motivated. To maintain our emotional state of well being, we have psychotherapists and meditation masters. We numb our existential pain by mindless entertainment, drugs and alcohol. And we hide from the painful realities of life by hiding behind our middle class rationalisation and avoidance of the poorer part of town. We desensitise ourselves from the sounds bites on television  and the media from the extreme poverty, suffering, injustice, diseases and violence that 'others' on our planet face daily. As song writer Paul Simon writes,
I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island. 

Like the zealots on Masada, we make ourselves believe that we live on an impregnable fortress until the Roman did the impossible. They built a 900 feet high ramp to break down the wall. It is an illusion that we can be safe anywhere on earth. Recognising this Martin Luther wrote about another type of fortress.

  1. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
    Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
    For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
    His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
    On earth is not his equal.
  2. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
    Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
    Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
    Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
    And He must win the battle.
  3. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
    We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
    The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
    His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
    One little word shall fell him.
  4. That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
    The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
    Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
    The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
    His kingdom is forever.
Do we trust in man and things made by man or in God who gives us all things by grace?


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Wednesday, July 04, 2012


 For many Christians, our knowledge of the history of Israel ended with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, then we fast forward to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and then to the formation of the state of Israel in 1948. Actually there are lots more in the history. Most of our knowledge about this period comes from Josephus, a former Jewish Zealot who became a Roman historian. According to him, Herod the Great built a wonderful winter palace for himself on Masada and also fortified it in case there is a revolt. It was a magnificent engineering feat considering the plateau is located in the Judean desert beside the Dead Sea.

According to Josephus, during the First Jewish-Roman War, a group of zealots called Sicarri, overcame the Roman garrison on Masada and entrenched themselves on the mountain fortress. After the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple, thousands of refugees escaped to Masada. From Masada, the Sicarri carried out raid against the Jewish settlement which were under Roman control. A raid on Ein-Gedi was recorded by Josephus where an alleged 700 Jewish villagers were massacred.

The Romans decided to end this rebellion in 72 AD and laid siege to Masada. It was almost impossible to mount a frontal attack on the fortress.

The cliffs on the east edge of Masada are about 1,300 feet (400 m) high and the cliffs on the west are about 300 feet (91 m) high; the natural approaches to the cliff top are very difficult. The top of the plateau is flat and rhomboid-shaped, about 1,800 feet (550 m) by 900 feet (270 m).(Wiki)

In typical Roman fashion, the Roman built a ramp up to the walls- a result of great strategic thinking and engineering skills.With the ramp built, they were able to breach the wall in the evening. They decided to invade Masada in the morning. However, all they found are dead bodies because in a last act of defiance, all 960 inhabitants committed mass suicide during the night. Ten men were chosen by lots to kill the rest and then each other.

view of the plateau from the direction of the Dead Sea

Snake path -route up and down; the rectangle in the back is the remains of a Roman camp

residential area
model of Masada

commandant's headquarters

remains of the Roman ramp
Map of Masada: 1. snake path gate. 2. rebel dwellings. 3. Byzantine monastic cave. 4. eastern water cistern. 5. rebel dwellings. 6. mikvah. 7. southern gate. 8. rebel dwellings. 9. southern water cistern. 10. southern fort. 11. swimming pool. 12. small palace. 13. round columbarium tower. 14. mosaic workshop. 15. small palace. 16. small palace. 17. public immersion pool.
18–21. Western Palace: 18. service area. 19. residential area. 20. storerooms. 21. administrative area. 22. tanners' tower. 23. western Byzantine gate. 24. columbarium towers. 25. synagogue. 26. Byzantine church. 27. barracks.
28–39. Northern Palace: 28. grand residence. 29. quarry. 30. commandant’s headquarters. 31. tower. 32. administration building. 33. gate. 34. storerooms. 35. bathhouse. 36. water gate.
37–39. Herod's Palace: 37. upper terrace. 38. middle terrace. 39. lower terrace.
A. ostraca cache found in casemate. B. Herod's throne room. C. colorful mosaic. D. Roman breaching point. E. coin cache found. F. ostraca cache found. G. three skeletons found.
source: Wiki

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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Spiritual Direction Course Syllabus

Course Description
This is an introduction to the art and science of spiritual direction as soul care in the Protestant tradition.  The course will provide a model for spiritual direction as soul care in the local congregations. The primary focus will be upon listening, seeking wisdom and direction of God in journeying with others. Attention will be given to two other questions: the inner spiritual life of the spiritual director as well as the art of discernment.

Course Objectives:
The desired outcomes are that by the end of the course, students are able to
  • develop a biblical and theological basis of Christian spiritual formation and transformation
  • understand the psychospiritual dynamics of spiritual development
  • differentiate between the dynamics of spiritual friendship, mentoring, counseling and spiritual direction
  • listen and cultivate discernment concerning the movements of the Holy Spirit
  • acquire some basic skills in spiritual direction

Course Outline
  • Defining spiritual direction and its role in spiritual formation and transformation
  • Spiritual direction in different traditions (Reformed, Pentecostal, Wesleyan, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, etc)
  • Biblical and theological foundations of spiritual formation (concepts from shalom, Trinity, imago dei and missio dei)
  • The psychospiritual dynamics of spiritual development
  • The continuum of soul care: spiritual friendship, discipling, mentoring, coaching, counseling and spiritual direction.
  • The spiritual life of a spiritual director
  • The art of listening
  • Discernment
  • Guidelines in spiritual direction

Academic Requirements

Small groups
Reflection paper
Reading and Review Essay

1.      Attendance.
All students are expected to attend all lectures; this is a short, compact course; attendance is therefore expected for all sessions.

2.      Small Group Discussion and Reflection Paper.
Each student will either choose or be assigned to a small group of 2-4 persons (ideally
3) discussion. The faciliatator will provide guidelines during the first session for these
groups which will meet outside of the lecture time, but during the week of the course. From this small group interaction each student will submit a reflection paper of 3-4 pages.  

DUE: Mon., Nov 26, 2012

3.      Reading and Essay.
Read the recommended texts the course reader (500 pages for 2 or 3 credit students)
and from the bibliography, and write a review essay of your reading. The review
article should be a critical examination of material read, which both reviews the book
but then also provides an extended reflect critical response. The response to this
reading should give clear evidence of understanding of the course lectures; ideally,
the review of these books should provide for critical interaction between the lectures
and the readings. Note: only books from the bibliography may be chosen for this
assignment; any additional books need to be approved in advance by the facilitator.
Word limit: 1,500.

DUE: Mon., Nov 26, 2012


Small Group/Reflection Paper               30%
Review Essay                                       70%

Recommended Reading

Required reading:

(1)   Anderson, Keith R. & Randy D. Reese. 1999. Spiritual Mentoring. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
(2)   The course reader
(3)   One of the following:
a.       Peterson, Eugene H. 1989. The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
b.      Barry, William A., William J. Connolly. 2009. The Practice of Spiritual Direction. New York, NY: HarperOne.

Benner, David G. 2002. Sacred Companions. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Bakke, Jeanette A. 2000. Holy Invitations. Grand Rapids, Ml: Baker Books.
Baker, Howard. 1998. Soul Keeping: Ancient Paths of Spiritual Direction. Colorado
Springs: NavPress.
Barry, William A. 1990. Discernment in Prayer: Paying Attention to God. Notre Dame:
Ave Maria Publication.
Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. 2005.  Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.  Downers Grove, IL:
InterVarsity Press.
Demacopoulos, George E. 2007. Five Models of Spiritual Direction in the Early Church.
Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame.
Edwards, Tilden. 1980. Spiritual friend: Reclaiming the Gift of Spiritual Direction.
Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
Dyckman, Katherine Marie, L. Patrick Carroll. 1981. Inviting the Mystic Supporting
Prophet. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
Gratton, Carolyn. 1995. The Art of Spiritual Guidance: a Contemporary Approach to
Growing in the Spirit. NY: Crossroad.
Guenther, Margaret. 1992. Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction. Cambridge:
Cowley Pubs.
Horsfall, Tony. 2008. Mentoring for Spiritual Growth. Abingdon, UK: The Bible
Reading Fellowship.
Houston, James M. 2006. Joyful Exiles.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press
Howard, Elmer B. 2008. The Brazos Introduction to Christian Spirituality. Grand Rapid
Brazos Press.
Johnson, Jan. 1999. When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative
Prayer. Colorado Springs: NavPress.
Jones, Alan 1982. Exploring Spiritual Direction. Boston, MA: Cowley Publications.
Jones, W. Paul. 2002. The Art of Spiritual Direction: Giving and Receiving Spiritual
Guidance. Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books
Leech, Kenneth. 2001. Soul Friend: Spiritual Direction in the Modern World. Harrisburg,
PA: Morehouse Publishing.
Nouwen, Henri. 2006. Spiritual Direction.  New York, NY: HarperCollins.
May, Gerard G. 1992. Care of Mind, Care of Spirit: A Psychiatrist Explores Spiritual
Direction. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Moon, Gary W. David G. Benner. 2004. Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls.
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Phillips, Susan S. 2008. Candlelight: Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction. New
York, NY: Morehouse Publishing.
Reed, Angela H. 2011. Quest for Community: Reclaiming Spiritual Guidance for
Contemporary Congregations. New York, NY: T&T Clark International.
Tan, Soo-lnn. 2008. Friends in a Broken World. Singapore: Graceworks.
Voon, Choon Khing. 1999. Spiritual Direction in a Malaysian Context: in Search of a
Viable Way Ahead. Donaldson, Indiana: Graduate Theological Foundation.
Wilhoit, James C., Evans B. Howard. 2012. Discovering lectio divina: Bringing Scripture
 into ordinary life. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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