Food for the Soul

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

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.

Posted 3/5/09 at 2:36 PM | Religion Ethics

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly - March 5

NEWSLETTER
MARCH 5, 2009

This Week on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

Following is a brief outline of the stories Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly will be covering this week. SPECIAL NOTE: Because the show may be pre-empted in several markets due to special PBS Pledge programming scheduled through March 15, the following reports listed are being rebroadcast and are already available on our Web site.

FEATURED SEGMENTS FULL POST

Posted 2/27/09 at 10:27 AM | Audra Jennings

Is the Recession Inflating Your Waistline?

You can maintain a healthy lifestyle in a tough economy

The current economic woes will force many of us to make some difficult decisions. When faced with the task of trimming the fat from the family budget, costly gym memberships and pre-packaged weight-loss food plans are often the first items on the chopping block. At the same time, the effort to get the most out of every grocery dollar often results in an increase in our consumption of cheap convenience foods (remember all those ramen noodles you ate as a starving college student?) that offer little by way of actual nutrition. Unfortunately, unhealthy habits bring an entirely new set of woes. These short-term fixes will often cost us more in the long run.

Part of the First Place 4 Health line of products
Part of the First Place 4 Health line of products

The great news is that healthy living doesn't have to be expensive. With more than half a million members, First Place 4 Health is a reliable, proven method of weight loss and healthy living. Members have achieved real, lasting change-all without spending a dime on pre-packaged foods or pricey workout programs-by bringing the four areas of life (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) into a healthy balance. Formerly known as First Place, this revised program uses everyday foods, includes a support and accountability component, and focuses on biblical health and disease prevention.

First Place 4 Health's new and improved brand lineup includes resources that tackle everything from determining correct serving sizes to starting an exercise routine to memorizing Scripture. Members will appreciate the simple, sensible new food plan based on the USDA food pyramid and new exercise guidelines.

According to First Place 4 Health Registered Dietitian Erin DuBroc, rising food costs have played a major role in more Americans choosing to dine in rather than dine out. "Some other reasons include the high price of gas and restaurant food being too high in calories-the recognition of which is music to this dietitian's ears," DuBroc states. This migration back to the family kitchen presents the perfect opportunity for America, as a whole, to rethink the way we eat. Now is the time to learn new habits that will set us on the course to healthy living.

New for 2009, First Place 4 Health is also introducing a brand new fitness kit that includes everything you need to customize your own exercise plan, at a fraction of the cost of a gym membership. The contents of the kit include the First Place 4 Health 30-Minute Fitness DVD, which combines cardio, strength, and stretching exercises for all fitness levels from beginner to advanced and a handy pedometer for keeping track of every step toward your fitness goal. The reusable eight-ounce water bottle slashes the cost of bottled water and makes proper hydration a snap. The kit also contains a flexible exercise band that will maximize resistance for every movement in a workout and an official First Place 4 Health towel to use when the work is done.

First Place 4 Health has achieved miraculous results in the lives of members-all at a much lower cost than many other programs. Standing on 27 years of personal success stories, the First Place 4 Health program proves that, with an alteration in mindset from mere weight loss to pursuing God's design for total wellness, lasting change is possible. It's never too late to find the balanced life and the wholeness that is offered only through a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ.

First Place 4 Health Resources
Regal Books
www.regalbooks.com or www.firstplace4health.com

Posted 2/25/09 at 12:31 PM | Audra Jennings

David Cowan comments on economic stimulus plan

In the Market for Some Peace of Mind?

That'll be 787 billion dollars. Cash, check, or credit?

David Cowan
David Cowan

In the few days that have passed since President Obama signed the economic stimulus bill into law, many Americans have begun to wonder how this massive government spending will benefit their own lives. Not much, according to economic expert David Cowan. In fact, though some speculate that the price tag is high enough to finance 13 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the end result of the bill can be nothing more than a temporary (and very expensive) feeling of relief. FULL POST

Posted 2/25/09 at 12:15 PM | Audra Jennings

The Return of Hope to the Middle East

Can Anything Good Come Out of the Middle East?
How God's love is combating terrorism and militant Islam

Every night on the evening news, we see images from the Middle East of war, terrorism, bold threats, and a hatred that has been smoldering for centuries. The lead news story of the day often emanates from this volatile region-and rightfully so, because of its instability. The Middle East is the place where history, religion, and politics collide head-on. The future of the region appears hopeless...until you discover that there is more to the story.

"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!" author and Middle East expert Tom Doyle points out. "This story is more important than the latest suicide bombing or the latest threat of war. And Christians need to hear it."

In his new book, Breakthrough, author Tom Doyle gives Christians a glimpse of what is really going on in the Middle East-and this is an angle that you won't get from the mainstream media. For the last seven years, Doyle has served as the Middle East director for e3 Partners, a dynamic global church planting ministry. Breakthrough tells the stories of vibrant churches who are growing-even thriving-in the midst of constant danger and unimaginable persecution.

Breakthrough includes the testimonies of both Jews and Muslims who have come to faith in Christ, people who are constantly watched and often persecuted, who understand that this day might be their last. Yet they often state, "We pray for believers in the West every day." Among the many testimonies featured in the book are the conversion stories of former terrorists, Muslim missionaries to America, a Palestinian guard led to Christ by an Israeli believer, and even a Muslim Imam, all of whom have become committed Christian leaders.

With media attention increasingly focused on the global threat of militant Islam, it's easy to assume that the majority of the Muslim world supports jihad. Not so, says Doyle. "In extensive interviews throughout the Middle East, we continually hear that over half of Muslims worldwide are not practicing their faith whatsoever. I have learned that even the vast majority of practicing Muslims are peaceful and not into jihad," he says. "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."

Breakthrough takes readers to the streets of Gaza, a secret pre-dawn gathering of believers in Iran, and an underground Bible college for former Muslims offering a course entitled "What to Do When You Are Arrested for Your Faith." The book includes a brief history of Islam and the resurgence of fundamental Islam and helpful strategies for Christians who want to reach out to the Muslims in their lives. An entire chapter is devoted to the specific prayer needs of the Middle East.

"The most dangerous places to serve Christ are usually the places where he is moving the most," Doyle states. "There is a new day in the Middle East. Muslims are coming to Jesus, and the church is blessed to have them."

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

load more