Food for the Soul

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Posted 4/9/09 at 11:19 AM | Religion Ethics

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly - April 10

A Production of Thirteen/WNETNew York

This week's edition of the PBS newsmagazine program RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY(distributed Friday, April 10 at 5 p.m., check local listings) will include the following reports: FULL POST

Posted 4/2/09 at 3:05 PM | Religion Ethics

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly - April 3

This week's edition of the PBS newsmagazine program RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY (distributed Friday, April 3 at 5 p.m., check local listings) will include the following reports:

  • MLK Jr. in Gandhi's Footsteps - Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the commemorative visit to India by a special State Department delegation retracing the steps of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic pilgrimage there 50 years ago to pay homage to Mohandas Gandhi.
  • Hispanic Holy Week - Kim Lawton looks at the many ways Hispanic Americans make Holy Week come alive.
  • Walzer on Passover's Exodus Story - American political philosopher Dr. Michael Walzer discusses how the Exodus story told during Passover has been an inspiration for social change through the ages.

Posted 4/2/09 at 11:20 AM | Audra Jennings

Emmanuel Kolini: The Unlikely Archbishop of Rwanda

From the Killing Field to the Mission Field
A Prophet Emerges from Rwanda's Pain

Any pastor will tell you that no church is immune to conflict, whether the issue in question is a central point of doctrine or the choice of new carpet. But imagine serving a congregation made up of both the victims and the perpetrators of the most brutal massacre in recent history. In assuming his new post as Archbishop of Rwanda in the wake of the 1994 genocides, Emmanuel Kolini faced huge challenges. How was he to turn a sick, confused, and broken society full of widows, orphans, and prisoners and their families into a reconciled, cohesive society?

Emmanuel Kolini: The Unlikely Archbishop of Rwanda by Mary Weeks Millard
Emmanuel Kolini: The Unlikely Archbishop of Rwanda by Mary Weeks Millard

Emmanuel Kolini: The Unlikely Archbishop of Rwanda

traces the story of this remarkable man through the impoverishment and racial tensions of his childhood, the years spent in refugee camps, his life as a husband and father, and his ascent through the ranks of Anglican leadership. Based on their friendship of almost ten years, author Mary Weeks Millard shines the light on the inner workings and motivations of a leader who has inspired cooperation between Muslims and Christians, led the way in restoring a nation ravaged by genocide, and pioneered HIV/AIDS initiatives.

"Kolini felt the role of the church should be to pick up the broken pieces of a nation one by one and, by the grace of God, to put them back together. There would be no quick fix. It would be slow, painstaking work, but there could be no other way," Millard says. "As he pointed out, no university could train a person to do such work; it was only through the grace of the Holy Spirit's power that such a miracle could happen."

Prior to his work in Rwanda, Kolini and his wife, Freda, had served for many years in Uganda and Congo. Much of their ministry had been focused on reconciling strained marriages, strengthening families, and training new pastors. These early experiences in the art of reconciliation would be put to the ultimate test in his next assignment.

As the newly appointed Archbishop of his native Rwanda, Kolini was the first leader from any denomination to offer a public apology for the failure of his church to respond immediately to the genocide of 1994-a murderous spree that was carried out with shocking, sickening efficiency while the rest of the world carried on with "business as usual." Kolini inherited a region steeped in pain and bitterness, one in which many of the bishops had long since fled the country and the traumatized people were desperately in need of a shepherd. With God's help, he has met every challenge.

Above all, the success of Kolini's ministry rests on his unwavering commitment to obey the Scripture-a stance that many within the embattled Anglican church have been longing to see. He speaks with the voice of a prophet calling his people to return to biblical truth and is one whose example of personal sacrifice has earned the respect of the world. In a move that turns the North American stereotype of world missions on its head, a growing number of American congregations are choosing to place themselves under the authority of Kolini's province and the missionaries he and other archbishops in the developing world have sent through the Anglican Mission in America.

Times of war, oppression, and adverse living conditions can break a man-or they can forge him into the leader for which the world has been waiting. From the villages of Africa to the gleaming sanctuaries of North America, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini is that leader.

Emmanuel Kolini by Mary Weeks Millard
Authentic Publishing January 2009
ISBN: 978-1-934068-65-6/239 pages/softcover/$16.99
www.authenticpublishing.com

Posted 4/2/09 at 10:58 AM | Audra Jennings

Dying with Christ is the only way to live

Dying to Live by Clive Calver
Dying to Live by Clive Calver

A true stimulus in a spiritual recession

"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matthew 10:39

These are some crazy times. We find ourselves in the midst of an economic crisis and an uncertain future. Our politicians are scrambling for solutions, Wall Street is teetering on the brink, and the average American is struggling with, or knows someone who's struggling with, job loss and financial ruin. Many analysts contend that this crisis is a corrective, a shift in the direction of our economy resulting in necessary adjustments that will ultimately lead to a more balanced financial framework. Regardless of the explanation, people are scared, and they're looking for something not only to stimulate the economy, but also to stimulate their search for meaning in life.

In his new book, Dying to Live, Clive Calver offers a powerful corrective to the human soul that injects hope and peace into a world that is looking for something real. Calver gives some wonderful insight into what it means to "re-start" a stale Christianity in favor of a walk with God that is marked by true power and abundant life. But Calver's proposed stimulus isn't found in a surface Christianity filled with the excesses of legalism and emotionalism. Instead, he sets forth the idea that true life, true power, and true stimulus can only be achieved through death.

Dying to Live is in the same vein as the great writings of Francis Schaeffer, who often wrote about "the centrality of death" in the Christian life. Calver writes that, in his own experience, "It was becoming clear that Jesus' death on the cross had achieved two things: It showed me the way to live and it showed me the way to die." Death for the believer means transformation through the work of Jesus and not "self-improvements in my old life."

After seven years as head of World Relief, a ministry dedicated to partnering with the local church to help the most vulnerable people on the planet, Calver decided to return to pastoral ministry in order to teach the church what he had learned about living a life of lasting impact and eternal meaning. Dying to Live embodies Calver's long running commitment to presenting a clear picture of the gospel in a way that is seminary deep, yet dinner table authentic.

More than anything, Calver's message in Dying to Live bucks the trend of much of today's Christian literature by warning against the excesses of "programs and processes" that lead to greater individual benefits. Instead, he argues, "When we stop trying to prove or to improve ourselves, God can step into our lives in a fresh way." Rather than offering works-based platitudes and step-by-step plans for growth, Calver simply and effectively calls us to "surrender our inner nature and priorities for a higher purpose."

Dying to Live deals with the epic themes of crucifixion, surrender, sacrifice, giving, and exchange in a way that points believers to give up their own efforts in light of the completed efforts of Christ. Calver calls on the power of death to bring the thrill and spark back to the Christian life. In so doing, his stimulus plan brings hope to those mired in a recession of the soul.

Dying to Live by Clive Calver
Authentic Publishing March 2009
ISBN: 978-1-934068-80-9/154 pages/softcover/$16.99
www.authenticpublishing.com

Posted 3/30/09 at 10:12 AM | Audra Jennings

New website turns negative tension into positive momentum

Can Anything Good Come From Hate?

A recent article in Britain's Telegraph brought international attention to a decision by Oxford University Press to remove certain terms associated with Christianity (i.e. disciple, abbey) from a popular children's dictionary, replacing them with modern words like "MP3 player" and "blog." In short order, this story has become fodder for the blogosphere, and it's not hard to see why. After all, our understanding of the world and of ourselves is formed, in the most foundational sense, by our vocabulary. Words are powerful. Words are important.

Author Jason T. Berggren is among the many who have spoken out against the attempt to expunge Christian words from the new lexicon. And so it comes as a surprise to many that his first book release is entitled 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith, with his website similarly dubbed www.10thingsihate.com. How could a Christian author-and former pastor, no less-use such derisive language to describe his faith?

10 Things I Hate About Christianity by Jason T. Berggrenn
10 Things I Hate About Christianity by Jason T. Berggrenn

Choosing the right word has always been important to Berggren. As the founder, former front man, and lyricist for the hardcore Christian band Strongarm, he developed a knack for turning memorable phrases. Strongarm is considered by many in the hardcore Christian music community to be one of the most influential bands in the history of that genre, based in large part on the power of Berggren's verbal style.

His rocker/poet days behind him, Berggren now traffics in prose, with recent freelance credits including an article for Engage, a newsletter for North Point Community Church leaders. As an author, Berggren is convinced that the right words-even negative words-can bring about positive change. 10 Things I Hate About Christianity is based on his realization that all of the problems in his Christian life originated from a relatively short list of issues and misunderstandings. The book is completely free of pretense, church-speak, and even the basic niceties one would expect from a work on Christian living. Berggren's goal is to get readers talking about some of the biggest let-downs in Christendom-whether it's faith that doesn't deliver, love that doesn't come easy, or churches you'd rather avoid-and to see them rise above their frustrations.

His website, www.10thingsihate.com, will be the main site for the book once it releases, featuring ordering and booking information and a free sample of the book, as well as the link to Berggren's blog. The blog (www.MorethingsIhate.com) is the perfect place for believers, seekers, and skeptics to engage in the kinds of discussions that fill the pages of Berggren's book. Featuring everything from the latest non-chick movie trailers to laugh-out-loud personal reflections to commentary on current events, Berggren describes the blog as "the ongoing version of the book." Recent posts include "Sometimes I Hate Christians," "I Hate the Green Bible," and "I Hate the Media."

Berggren firmly believes that positive momentum begins with negative tension. This often requires plumbing the depths of difficult issues, both for him and his readers. As such, Berggren expects to offend some people-but he considers this to be merely a step in the process of maturing in faith. "I have worked in construction off-and-on for years. The first thing you do before you remodel is demolition. If you ever watch HGTV, you know this to be true," Berggren states. "You tear down walls and break up old cabinets to make way for the new. That's what this book and this website are about. I am simply trying to change into the person I want to be and inviting you to join me in the process."

While his fledgling writing career begins to take flight, Berggren also runs a handyman business to provide for his family. He and his wife have been married since 1999. The couple has three boys and attends North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA, where they lead a small group.

www.10thingsihate.com

Posted 3/27/09 at 10:47 AM | Audra Jennings

The Breakthrough of Christianity in the Middle East

Q & A with Tom Doyle, Author of Breakthrough

Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East by Tom Doyle
Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East by Tom Doyle

Hate, killing, tension, and violence are all we read and hear coming out of the Middle East, and yet, God is doing amazing things. The seemingly impossible is happening right now in the heart of the conflict between Jews and Muslims.

Tom Doyle has a passion for both Muslims and Jews and travels to the Middle East frequently. He reports that in recent years amazing numbers of people in the Middle East-Muslims and Jews alike, have come to Christ. He has witnessed this profound reality throughout the Middle East, and at the heart of his book, Breakthrough, are the breathtaking firsthand accounts of what God is doing.

Q: Why do Christians in the West need to hear the message of Breakthrough?

A: Some of the books I have read recently about the Middle East were written by people who don't spend much time there but were merely reacting to the news that they hear on television or on the Internet. But there is so much more-a story that is not being told, in my opinion. Since I work in the Middle East-in Israel, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, including the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip-I am privileged to see this story unfold time after time. The story is this: Jesus is reaching out to the people of the Middle East in a powerful way, and the people are responding in record numbers. Millions have given their lives to Jesus Christ in the last ten years. That's right-millions. This story is more important than the latest suicide bombing and the latest threat of war.

Q: News footage coming out of the Middle East is often full of angry crowds chanting anti-American slogans and even burning the American flag. Is this an accurate depiction of the way the majority of Muslims in the Middle East feel about America?

A: On September 11, 2001, a dividing line was drawn in the Islamic world. Most of the Islamic world felt shame and dishonor for the actions that led to the deaths of nearly three thousand people. Of course, jihadists were celebrating the significant impact made upon "the great Satan." But the average Muslim was not. Since I began traveling extensively in the Middle East, I have learned that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and not into jihad. They just want to feed their children, send them to good schools, see them get married, and enjoy a houseful of grandchildren running around their homes when they break the fast each evening during Ramadan. From Egypt to Iran, the Muslims we talk to are sick of the Islamic fundamentalism that isolates them from the world and makes them all out to be bloodthirsty killers. We must reach out and love these people with the love of Jesus.

Q: How are young people in the Middle East responding to the demands of fundamental Islam?

A: It's true that the militant Muslim leadership is directing some young people into the path of jihad. But in extensive interviews throughout the Middle East, we continually hear that over half of Muslims worldwide are not practicing their faith whatsoever. Muslims are born into their religion and do not choose it like born-again Christians do. Therefore a significant number of people within Islam have little investment in it. You can clearly see that in the young people in the Middle East today. In Syria, the majority of young people dress in very modern clothes. In Iran, drugs are plentiful and parties are a nightly occurrence. Most young people in the Middle East don't want to grow up and live like traditional Muslims. And the majority of young people in the Middle East don't think like traditional Muslims. There is, in fact, a strong desire not to be isolated from the West. After 9/11, Muslims worldwide began to ask questions like, "Do I have to be a terrorist to be a good Muslim?" and "Will I have to live the rest of my life in the midst of war because Islamic leadership will have it no other way?" These questions, combined with genuine apathy toward Islam, are great signs for the gospel.

Q: How would you describe the new generation of believers in the Middle East?

A: In our work in the Middle East, we have met some of the most godly, loving, and committed believers we have encountered any place in the world. They are constantly watched and often persecuted. They have a special calling as they live with the understanding that today might be their last day. Yet they often state, "We pray for you believers in the West every day." Many of the leaders we work with were at one time terrorists. This new generation of believers who serve Christ is willing to give their lives to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to hear of Jesus' offer of grace and forgiveness. They are willing to risk everything to make sure that new believers have a Bible and can grow in their new life in Christ. They put themselves in harm's way daily as they start new churches in places that have had no Christian presence for centuries.

Q: How has the church in Israel faired over the past several years?

A: Jews still hold deep feelings of resentment toward the church. Many in the church, unfortunately, including some early church fathers, have made anti-Semitic remarks and even condemned the Jewish race. When you throw in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, and the fact that many leaders who have endorsed the killing of Jews claimed to be Christians, it's easy to see why Jews are horrified when someone in their family becomes a believer. But that barrier is coming down for Jews living in Israel today. I have a friend who moved to Israel in 1959. At the time, he knew only four Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Today, that number is growing rapidly. In his book Epicenter, author Joel Rosenberg-himself a Jewish follower of Jesus-states that there are more than 1,000 native-born Israeli Christians and some 10,000 messianic Jews total in Israel. Estimates on the number of Jewish believers worldwide vary between 100,000 and 300,000.

Q: What is the most important thing Christians in the West can do to advance the cause of Christ in the Middle East?

A: The most important thing we can do for the Muslims of the world is to pray for them. I am convinced that one of the reasons-perhaps the greatest reason-we have seen so many Muslims come to faith in Christ in the last few years is because of the fervent prayers of believers around the world. For this reason, Breakthrough includes a detailed prayer guide so that readers can focus their prayers on some strategic areas-for Christian leaders and their families, for all believers who live in constant danger, for Muslims to embrace Christ, and for the women of the Middle East. I have also included a list of the 52 countries with the largest Muslim populations so that readers can focus on a different country each week of the year.

Breakthrough by Tom Doyle
Authentic - February 2009
ISBN 978-1-934068-63-2/207 pages/softcover/$17.99
www.authenticpublishing.com

Posted 3/26/09 at 1:30 PM | Tracy McCarter

Through the Storm

By Kimberly Cash-Tate

Naomi knew who she was. She was a wife and mother. She was from the nation of Israel, a follower of God, and she was blessed by God. Life wasn't easy-they had to leave their native Bethlehem and journey to foreign soil to escape famine-but with her family and her God, she could weather the storm.

But then her husband died. And a few years later, both of her sons died. The storm, now fierce and raging, ravaged her soul, told her everything had changed. She was no longer a wife and mother. And while she still had a relationship with God, she was no longer in His favor, certainly no longer blessed, "for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me," she said (Ruth 1:13).

The storm convinced her that her very identity had changed. Her name, Naomi, meant "pleasant." But when she returned to Bethlehem without her husband and sons, she told the women, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara [which means ‘bitter'], for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?" (Ruth 1:20-21). FULL POST

Posted 3/19/09 at 3:41 PM | Religion Ethics

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly - March 19

A Production of Thirteen/WNET New York

This week's edition of the PBS newsmagazine program RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY (distributed Friday, March 20 at 5 p.m., check local listings) will include the following reports: FULL POST

Posted 3/10/09 at 5:00 PM | Audra Jennings

Association of Biblical Counselors announces 2009 conference

Association of Biblical Counselors Invites You on a Quest for More
2009 conference features first-ever meeting of the minds

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX-We live in a broken world. The evidence is everywhere-broken marriages, broken families, broken hearts, broken people. In response, more and more people in the Christian community are exploring biblical counseling. Yet this growing interest brings new questions and fresh discussions about what biblical counseling really looks like. The landscape of biblical counseling is changing, thanks in part to the work of organizations like the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC). For anyone interested in these exciting new developments, ABC is pleased to announce the 2009 conference to be held May 14-16 in Fort Worth, Texas. The theme of this year's event is "A Quest for More," based on the book by keynote speaker Paul Tripp, one of the most dynamic speakers in biblical counseling today.

"I am overwhelmed with excitement over this year's conference for several reasons," says ABC President Jeremy Lelek. "On opening night, we are going to have four of the top scholars from various counseling ‘camps,' including the American Association of Christian Counselors, Christian Counseling Educational Foundation, and the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, who will discuss emerging trends in biblical counseling as well as distinctions between the various schools of thought. This is a truly groundbreaking event!" Residents of Dallas/Ft. Worth who are not attending the conference may purchase tickets to this exciting Thursday night-only event. The weekend will also include a tribute to special guest Elisabeth Elliot for her pioneering work in South America and across the world.

Lelek emphasizes that this event is not just for licensed counselors. These sessions are for counselors, pastors, and laity. Hurting people and those struggling to overcome certain issues in their lives are encouraged to attend. The conference features over twenty-five elective sessions with topics ranging from marriage and sexual addiction to spiritual warfare and crisis intervention. A sampling of titles includes:

• Living a Pure Life in a Sexualized Culture: Overcoming Lust, Understanding Your Enemy, and Living a Life of Repentance
• Soul Care: Starting a Biblical Counseling Ministry in Your Local Church
• Learning to Think Like a Christian
• The God Empowered Wife (for women only)
• Biblical Counseling with Adult Victims of Childhood Trauma
• When Suffering People Need to Know "Why?"

In addition, conference attendees will encounter opportunities to discover reliable referral services, network with like-minded believers, receive nationally approved Continuing Education Units, and be encouraged in their own lives and counseling ministries.

With new chapters opening around the country, ABC's influence in the Christian counseling community continues to grow. Recently, the organization, together with its sister ministry, Metroplex Counseling, has acquired new office space which will allow them to build a state of the art, high quality biblical counseling center right in the heart of Dallas/Ft.Worth.

"Through the gracious efforts of John Meador, senior pastor of First Baptist Euless, the Lord has provided us with an amazing facility, capable of housing a team of counselors, where we will be able to provide competent and biblical care for hurting souls in the Metroplex area," Lelek says. "We're going to kick off our official opening with a pastors and ministry luncheon (at FBC Euless) featuring the dynamic speaker and lead pastor of The Village, Matt Chandler."

ABC is also excited to announce the publication of a new biblical counseling training curriculum, Equipped to Counsel, written by Dr. John Henderson of Denton Bible Church. These materials will provide pastors, counselors, and laity with a wonderful foundation on which to build their ministries of soul care. Positive reviews of the curriculum are already rolling in from leaders like Matt Chandler and Mars Hill Church's Mark Driscoll who described the materials as "...a very useful, gospel-centered, Bible-saturated, and Jesus-exalting help to the care of our people at Mars Hill Church."

With an ever-multiplying membership, a groundbreaking conference, a brand new counseling facility, and curriculum endorsed by some of America's leading pastors, ABC is making great strides toward accomplishing their mission of encouraging, equipping, and empowering all believers everywhere to live and counsel the Word. For more information about the conference and the many training opportunities offered through ABC, visit www.christiancounseling.com.

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