Sep 02 2014

thoughtfulpastor: Let’s Talk About Sex #UMC

An article in the New York Times recently caught my eye. Titled, “Let’s Not Talk About Sex,” it is written by Paul A. Offit, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  He writes despairingly of the very low compliance levels for the HPV vaccine. He…

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Sep 02 2014

Grand Rapids District: The Go On Tour!

Cornerstone UMC ~ September 28 ~ 5pm
Register online here!

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Sep 02 2014

Pastor Patrick - Never On A Sunday: Spiritual Renewal Study Bible – A Review

Spiritual Renewal Study Bible

Notes by
Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop

A Review

Each Bible book begins with a brief synopsis of the book (“The Big Picture”) and review of the key themes found in the book as they relate to Spiritual Renewal. As expected, these prepare the reader to read the whole book.

The bulk of the notes are not quite a Study Bible (in spite of its name); neither are they quite a Devotional Bible. This book might best be entitled a “Devotionally Centered Study Bible” most notes help the reader understand each section of the Bible as presented in the NIV and includes a brief devotional thought or two which will help the reader apply the text to his or her own life.

What truly gives value to this edition of the Bible are the “Study Notes” found at the rear of the Bible. The authors provides a comprehensive index to the text note found in the body of the book. The editors provide a series of devotional readings focusing on seven “Spiritual Keys”:

Key 1: Seek God and Surrender to Him
Key 2: See the Truth
Key 3: Speak the Truth
Key 4: Accept Responsibility
Key 5: Grieve, Forgive, and Let Go
Key 6: Transform Your Life
Key 7: Preserve Spiritual Gains

Each of these themes, though somewhat disquised in the notes. Provide ten to twenty devotional thoughts scattered throughout the scriptures centered on the given Spiritual Key.

Two additional back end notes contribute to the book’s worth – a set of character profiles integrated into the text notes and a set of readings on ten Spiritual Disciplines:

Bible Study and Meditation Fasting
Prayer Repentance and Confession
Service Silence
Solitude Spiritual Friendship
Stewardship Worship

Though not strong on theology, this Bible would be a good book for anyone seeking to renew their walk with God or for a new believer seeking to find how God’s word can apply to everyday life.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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Sep 02 2014

Rural Minnesota Ministry: Readings for September 7, 2014

Hello Everyone,

This week will be Communion Sunday at both churches. This would be an opportune time to invite the people of our churches who haven’t been in church for a while to come back. Please don’t hesitate to invite them to join you in worship.

Our readings for this week are:

Exodus 12:1-14 – Moses has confronted Pharaoh and ten plagues have taken place. Pharaoh’s heart continues to harden. In our reading the Lord instructs Moses and Aaron about the first Passover Meal. A year old male lamb (sheep or goat) is to be slaughtered and its blood painted on the doorpost and lintel of their houses. The lamb is to be roasted and eaten that night with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The hardest part of this reading is that the Lord will pass through the land and city and every firstborn son, human and animal, will be killed. The Lord will “pass over” the houses with the lamb’s blood. How are we to understand this passage in light of Jesus’ revelation of the Lord of Love?

Psalm 149 – The psalm praises God for God’s goodness to the people of Israel. Like many psalms, it takes a dark turn at the last part of verse 6. But who is the psalmist speaking about? In verse 5, the psalmist turns from speaking of God to speaking about the faithful people of Israel. The two edged sword is in the people’s hands. They are the ones who will execute vengeance and judgment. All for the glory of God. Does God need or want that kind of glory?

OR Ezekiel 33:7-11 – Ezekiel was a prophet during the time Babylon besieged Jerusalem, eventually destroying the city and its temple. In the first part of our reading, verses 7-9, God warns Ezekiel to proclaim what God says to him. God’s warnings are to help people turn back to God. In the second part, verses 10-11, the Lord proclaims that he has no desire to see the wicked perish and is ready to take back the repentant. In what ways do we fail to turn back to God when God is always ready to forgive? (Theological mind twister: Does repentance happen because we are forgiven or are we forgiven because we repent?)

Psalm 119:33-40 – We have encountered Psalm 119 twice before this summer. If you recall, this is an acrostic by stanza psalm. Each stanza is 8 verses and each verse in each stanza starts with the same Hebrew letter. This reading is the fifth stanza and the verses start with the letter “He” or ה. The psalmist appeals to the Lord to be taught the Law that leads to righteousness. He asks the Lord to turn his heart and his life to the Lord’s way. What does it take for us to be turned from the world’s ways to the Lord’s Way? How can we desire God instead of desiring things and power?

Romans 13:8-14 – The last two weeks we read all of Romans 12. The lectionary skips 13:1-7, which is about our being subject to the governmental authorities including paying our taxes (13:6). Paul returns to how we are to live as followers of Christ: love. Basically, he says that all of the commandments are fulfilled in the simple act of loving our neighbors. He then appeals to us to not gratify our human desires but to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Leave behind the works of darkness and put on the armor of Light living honorably. See my questions for Psalm 119.

Matthew 18:15-20 – This little passage is often called “The Rule of Christ”. What are we to do if someone in church hurts or sins against us? There are three steps. 1) Talk to the person who hurt you one on one. 2) If the first step doesn’t restore the friendship then take two or three others with you and have another talk. Those others are witnesses. 3) If those don’t work then take it to the church. If the offender still refuses to listen or change then she or he is to be put out of the church. They are to be like Gentiles or tax collectors. But what did Jesus do for Gentiles and tax collectors? He talked with them, ministered to them, healed them, and ate dinner with them. If the people we put out of the church are to be like Gentiles and tax collectors then we have a lot of work to do with them because the Good News is to go to all people.

May you be blessed by the readings this week. May God work through you to lead you in his paths of righteousness. May you love your neighbors inviting them into a life changing relationship with God and Jesus Christ.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

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Sep 02 2014

An uncommon path: Launch of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Unit, John de Gruchy conference

This evening we launched the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Unit in the Beyers Naudé centre for Public Theology at Stellenbosch University.

In the front row of this picture are some of the most famous Bonhoeffer scholars (from left to right), John de Gruchy, Clifford Green, Wolfgang Huber, Dirkie Smit, Frits de Lange, and Wentzel Van Huyssteen next to Robert Vosloo.

I recorded John de Gruchy, Dirkie Smit, Nico Koopman and Robert Vosloo’s short presentations at the launch. They were fascinating. I will upload that audio as soon as I have had a chance to edit it. So do look back – I found de Gruchy’s section on Bonhoeffer reception in South Africa and Beyers Naudé fascinating. As was Dirkie Smit’s talk on Russel Botman and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Tomorrow we will host a three day conference in honour of John de Gruchy. Many of these visitors are speakers at the conference. Others include Prof Graham Ward Regis Professor of Divinity at Oxford University and Prof a Serene Jones (President of Union Theological seminary – where Dietrich Bonhoeffer studied before his return to Germany). The prominent ethicist Larry Rasmussen will also be a speaker, as will Prof Iain McGillchrist from Oxford.

I will be chairing the panel on science and theology.

Here’s a peek at the program.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

9h00: Opening

Session 1: Engaging Dietrich Bonhoeffer [Chair: Robert Vosloo]
9h20-10h00: Wolfgang Huber: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s question: How a coming generation
is to go on living?
10h00 -10h40: Nico Koopman: Bonhoeffer and the Future of Public Theology in South
10h40-11h10: Tea:
11h10-12h40: Panel Discussion: Clifford Green, Michael Phiri, Karola Radler, Frits de
12h40-14h00: Lunch
Book launch: A Theological Odyssey: My Life in Writing (John de Gruchy) (Sun Media);
Chair: Len Hansen; Speakers: Keith Clements, Roderick Hewitt, Cas Wepener
Session 2: Theological Aesthetics [Chair: Lyn Holness]

14h00-14h40: Graham Ward: Sanctification: Towards a Pedagogy of Affect
14h40-15h20: Frank Burch Brown: The Aesthetics of Forgiveness: Representing
Forgiveness Artistically.

15h20-15h50: Tea
15h50-17h20: Panel Discussion: Janet Trisk, Marnus Havenga, Awet Andemicael, Johan
18h15-19h15: Welcoming function
19h15: Concert: Libertas Choir

Thursday 4 September 2014
9h00: Opening: Robert Steiner
Session 3: Christian Humanism [Chair: Elna Mouton]

9h10-9h50: Denise Ackermann: The Mystery of Hope
9h50-10h30: Jim Cochrane: The Spirit of Humanity: Contra Theologies of Death

10h30-11h00: Tea
11h00-12h30: Panel Discussion: Karin Sporre, Martin Prozesky, Nadia Marais

12h30-14h00: Lunch
Book Launch: Denise Ackermann, Surprised by the Man on the Borrowed Donkey:
Ordinary Blessings (Lux Verbi)
Speaker: Dirkie Smit
Session 4: Theology and Science [Chair: Dion Forster]
14h00-14h40: Iain McGilchrist
14h40-15h20: J. Wentzel van Huyssteen: The Emergence of Personhood: Why the
Evolution of the Moral Sense and Symbolic Behavior defines the Human Self
15h20-15h50: Tea
15h50-17h20: Panel Discussion: Ernst Conradie, Gys Loubser, Larry Rasmussen, Rika

18h15: Evening reception: Clos Malverne wine estate

Friday 5 September

9h00: Opening: Bruce Theron
Session 5: The Struggle Continues [Chair: Edwin Arrison]
9h10-9h50: Serene Jones: Economic Freedom
9h50-10h30: Allan Boesak: ‘A Hope Unprepared to Accept Things as They Are’:
Reflections on John De Gruchy’s Challenges for a Theology at the Edge

10h30-11h00: Tea
11h00-12h30: Panel Discussion: Rothney Tshaka, Christo Lombard, Helené van Tonder,
Deon Snyman
12h30-13h00: Conclusion: John de Gruchy

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Sep 02 2014

UMR: After kidnapping schoolgirls, Boko Haram takes aim at churches in northeast Nigeria

Five months after Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls in Nigeria’s Borno State, the Islamic extremist group has begun occupying churches in the country’s northeastern region, church officials there said.

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