Educating Church Members to be Apologists – by Alistair King

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I have often been challenged by the need to equip church members so that they are all able to evangelize rationally and intelligently. What many Christians do when in a difficult position when discussing their faith with an unbeliever is to refer that person to a ‘higher authority’. I find it unsatisfactory when a relatively mature (in years) Christian says ‘I’ll speak about this to my pastor and get back to you.’ Or ‘Come speak to my elder.’ While, of course, in any church fellowship, there will be those of greater and lesser maturity, those more equipped to give account of the faith and those less equipped, it is surely the goal of church leaders that all of the members be enabled, empowered and emboldened to give an account of their faith.

Evangelism is more than telling unbelievers: ‘Come to Jesus and you’ll be happy; all your troubles will disappear!’ and the awful line – ‘Smile, God loves you!’ In the case of Saul of Tarsus, his troubles seemed to begin when he met the Lord Jesus!

I once heard a young Christian lady speaking to an unbeliever, whom she was zealous in seeking to bring to Christ. She kept repeating more and more loudly: ‘But you MUST believe! You must take these things on faith!’ The unbeliever said something like; ‘you can yell all you like, but that doesn’t convince me. Can’t you present any rational argument? You might have blind faith, but I don’t.’ This lady was trying to evangelize without Apologetics. It seemed to me that this was Fideism at its lowest level.

Fideism is rather common. When we are in a cozy church fellowship, we all (hopefully) believe the same things, so we are not called upon to give an account/defense of the hope that is in us. We can use our favorite phrases and Bible verses, knowing that there will be no challenge. Outwith the fellowship, alone with unbelievers, the situation is often very different and the challenges hard.

While Ephesians 4:11-12 notes the evangelists as one among several ministries, I would suggest that all need to be equipped to an adequate degree, if we are to follow 1 Peter 3:15. While Evangelism and Apologetics are not synonymous, there is a very strong connection. Apologetics refers to having the doctrinal base from which to be able to speak of one’s faith; this could be when engaging with either believers or unbelievers. Evangelism refers to bringing the good news of salvation to unbelievers. When we seek to propagate our beliefs unto the salvation of those outside of Christ, we need to be sure of what our beliefs are.

Ultimately, for an individual to be adequately grounded in doctrinal issues, he/she needs to be in a meaningful and independent relationship with God. An independent relationship with God means that study of Scripture and personal application and assimilation in our lives of what Scripture reveals about God is at the foundation of a dynamic faith which we can share with others. While Apologetics is an academic, theological area of study and discourse, it is also about the individual’s personal relationship with God and engagement with Scripture. Thus, a Christian seeking to bring the good news of salvation to the unbeliever need not have a PhD in Theology, but he/she must have a life typified by a love for God and a desire to delve deeper into Scripture.

I would suggest that to teach church members the differences between the arguments (cosmological, ontological, etc) for the existence of God and how to use them is the easy part. The challenge is, as mentioned above, to nurture our people into a life typified by a love for God and a desire to delve deeper into Scripture. Once these are firmly in place, there are receptive foundations for education.

Technology and media our Parents Major Challenge Today – By Deneen Ray

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The phrase Contemporary Culture itself can be defined in so many different ways based on the combination of how they chose to define their worldview and faith view. There worldview varies through encounters they have experienced throughout life. We have all traveled life’s journey through different world experiences based on our geographic location and families’ financial status.

Just as there are many worldviews there are just as many faith views for Christianity that can cause additional confusion. So, we have to take all of these varying factors into account when generalizing the challenges a parent may face in our current contemporary culture.

When I was growing up, cell phone did not exist and computers were just being introduced on wide scale as I graduated from High School. We were still required to type all papers on typewriters. So, this generation has so many resources and technology that have flooded and shaped their culture.

Example being, I’ve asked varying young people if they knew what a card catalog was. The sad part of that question, some libraries don’t have them anymore as well. To take it one step further, kids don’t go to the library for resources; the instant gratification of Google has spoiled them.

On that note, one major issue parents are facing is children are not patient. Things are made available immediately, everything to be provided instantly. Google, text messaging, Netflix, iPad as some of the items used that gives you what you want (instant gratification) without much time delay.

So, a parent’s greatest challenge is how I raise my child in a culture that is moving at light speed with technology that they are not so far behind, but not absorbed in it.

Let me explain, children need exercise, play time both alone and with others to build and foster real friendships. If you randomly, canvas a neighborhood you probably won’t find many outside on their bikes, skates or playing basketball in the driveway. You can probably find them, in front of the T.V. watching something a bit mature for them, playing Xbox/PlayStation IV, or on a computer/iPad or cellphone.

The current culture teaches isolation and enforces nonverbal skills, which makes it harder for parents to reach a general that they have taught to by themselves. We have to be more present and go back to family dinner time even if it’s once a week, scheduling weekly time to catch up with each other and down time from ALL electrical devices. Monitor your child’s time on the computer, cell phone and video games. Designate time they spend outside playing with others or in the organized sport of some type but not to the extreme where they feel forced and form a hatred for it.

I believe parents, major challenge is media and technology and will need to play an active role in their children’s life and not allow these outside cultural challenges to raise their children.

How Not To Treat The Bible – By Braxton Hunter

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I’m not always realistic, but I try. It’s something that, for me, requires a lot of work. What I have found to be a necessity for getting to the root of a problem – in my family, work, etc. – is the ability to stop and ask myself one simple question, “What is actually going on here?” For example, last week after preaching in downtown Evansville, IN, a man approached me and said that he was very upset and would likely not be back to that particular church. For about thirty minutes we discussed whether or not one should spank their kids, go to seminary, read books other than the Bible and the nature of hell. The situation was not improving. My new friend was growing more and more adversarial by the moment. I really wanted, as a Christian apologist/theologian/preacher to believe that things really were as they seemed. I wanted it to be the case that the root of all of this was a misunderstanding on his part about some theological or practical Christian issue. If I could only harness the intellectual and spiritual prowess that I had honed over the past fourteen years of study his eyes would be opened and instantly a transformation would occur that would render the man the most agreeable church member in Evansville. That didn’t happen. Instead, I asked myself the simple question, “What is actually going on here?” This led to the realization that he had been asked by a member of our church security team not to keep moving in and out of the sanctuary. Only then did I remembered that the very individual was constantly in and out of the service charging his cell phone and such. While I usually don’t care about this sort of thing, in his case, it had become a huge distraction. Case closed.

However, the same simple question, “What is really going on here,” is one I bring to bear on theological and biblical issues as well. I’m immersed in a theologeek culture that I love, but that is sometimes characterized by the high-minded, holy-cloud mentality found in the philosophers of Acts 17:21 of whom the bible says, “Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing some new thing.” This often leads young Bible-scholars and theologians to erect complex and daunting towers of proof-texts in an attempt to build some new construct or system atop the pages of the sacred text. These begin as theories that serve as fodder for coffee house discussions, then they become alternative hypothesis of interpretation, next they may become new perspectives as the progenitor of the idea publishes a book on the subject. The final step may or may not involve this formerly bazaar concept being crystalized as doctrine. . . Don’t get me wrong this can be a good thing. Sometimes, though very seldom, there is something that has gone unnoticed for centuries that needs to be teased out. Unfortunately, the lust for that holy grail of theology leads to some strange things. Theologians can end up looking less like scholars and more like mad scientists in a lab mixing and stirring various scriptural texts together in an attempt to find some way of elucidating a “truth” that is not there. Alchemy. Often it is in such moments that the Scientist needs to remember the hermeneutical principle of asking, “What is really going on here?”

It is at this moment that I should mention that my latest preacher/theologian infatuation involves a man named Brian Zahnd. Brian took part in a highly publicized debate on Calvinism recently and while some of what he says I cannot help but reject (much to my chagrin) his sermons articulate this principle with words I had not thought to use. He says, “Taking its cues from the scientism of a bygone era, Western Christianity has tried for too long to make the gospel a kind of scientific formula—a pseudo-science of Biblical facts, atonement theories, and sinner’s prayers—when it’s more like a song, a symphony, a poem, a painting, a drama, a dance, and, yes, a mystery.” Now, while I cringe at the preemptive use of the term “mystery,” and actually think the “sinner’s prayer” would fit well into Zahnd’s imagery, (ala the wedding proposal/moment of marriage/invitation and agreement to dance etc.) I agree with him that often we tend to miss the point in an attempt to clinically and lifelessly probe a passage until it gives us either something new, or confirms our latest hypothesis.

I truly don’t want to make this a post about Calvinism, but I see it there in technicolor. The story of the Bible is one of choice. God repeatedly affirms, “If you do this, I will bless you, if you do that I will bring you down.” The story of the Bible is one of choice. Without genuine libertarian freedom, there is no genuine ability for sacrifice. Without the genuine ability for sacrifice there is no genuine ability to love. Yet, God is love and commands us to love. Jesus died for every individual in a universal atonement so that anyone who chooses to place their faith/trust in him might be saved. Yet, budding reformation enthusiasts tend to get so pseudo-sciencey with the atonement/sacrificial system and clinically probe and mix enough that they come away with a peer-reviewed limited atonement. Now someone is sure to misunderstand and think that I am saying that an honest exegetical investigation is not necessary or a bad thing. God forbid. Others might think I am conceding that the most rigid and academic work on the atonement actually does give us a limited one and we should just ignore that. God forbid! What I’m merely getting at is a clarion call for sobriety in theology. When your work brings you to a conclusion like limited atonement, the best thing might involve asking the question, “Is this really what’s going on here? . . . Really?”

Lastly, after fourteen years of staying away from this sort of thing for fear of being called a liberal, I’m going to mention a rock song. Secular? You decide. In the year 2000 U2 released a song called Beautiful Day that cleaned up at the Grammys. What most casual fans never heard was an early version of the song called Always, that only appeared on the single release of Beautiful Day. Remember CD singles? Now you feel old. The song speaks of the need to answer the question, “What is really going on here?” The whole album, that it would have been on, was about the need to remove clutter and cling only to All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Because of this, the song uses imagery like “crack the bone – get to the marrow,” and “get down off your holy cloud – God does not deal with the proud.” Always draws to its close with “turn each song into a prayer – now and forever.” I had already been thinking of this what’s-really-going-on approach to the text when I got in my car and heard the song. I’m not saying God was speaking through a rock band or anything. I’m just saying that the song was in many ways a reminder that truly understanding the Christian faith requires you to be a student of the Word and a lover of Jesus.

Always

U2

Here today, gone tomorrow
Crack the bone, get to the marrow
To be a bee and the flower
Before the sweetness turns to sour

What we have we’re gonna keep, always
What we’ve lost we don’t need, always
What is it that won’t let you sleep, always

Be the arrow and the target
Put your head over the parapet
Be uncool, yes be awkward
Don’t look in the obvious place
The soul needs beauty for a soulmate

Get down off your holy cloud, always
God will not deal with the proud, always
Well if you dream then dream out loud, always
Eternally yours, always

I want you
I want you
I want you
Touch me now inside
I wanted to be a man
I wanted to call

You say you come to know yourself, always
Don’t find yourself in someone else, always
And always wear a safety belt, always
Wait for me I’m running late, always
This is the moment that we share for always
Turn each song into a prayer, always
Now and forever
For always

The All-Important Testimony of the Disciples – By Joshua Tate

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The events of resurrection Sunday, as presented in the four synoptic gospels, present us with a confusing mélange of separate encounters between various disciples, angelic beings and, of course, Jesus Himself. By choosing to highlight certain aspects of the day’s events, glossing over others, or omitting some details altogether the different gospel accounts can, at first, appear to difficult to reconcile with one another. Skeptics of the resurrection have long contended that inconsistencies exist between the gospel accounts surrounding the resurrection of Jesus. By casting doubts on the veracity and reliability of the gospel writers’ testimony, such critics have sought to call into question the historicity of the resurrection itself. This is a critical issue for Christian apologists because as Paul famously argued in 1 Corinthians 15, and here I am paraphrasing liberally, if there was no resurrection there is no Christianity. From the first until now, the truth claims of Christianity regarding the resurrection, and by extension the faith in its entirety, have rested primarily on the testimony of the disciples who claimed to have encountered the risen Jesus. Of course, Christian apologist have long argued, that the differences in the gospel accounts compliment rather than contradict one another. However, for the moment, let us leave that debate to others, and instead let’s concentrate on the heart of the matter, which is the testimony of the disciples themselves. Were they liars? Were they deluded?

Toward the end of that eventful day when Christians believe Jesus was raised from the dead, we find the disciples, sans Thomas, gathered in a house behind locked doors, for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). We are left to infer that they were afraid that that at any moment they might be arrested and ill-treated, possibly even killed, as Jesus had been. We can only imagine their conversation as they shared about the events of the day, and tried to make sense of it all. Many of them were claiming to have encountered the risen Jesus, but others, like John, had no such encounters. Others had tales of conversing with angels. There must have been a wild range of emotions in the room as they talked, and no small amount of confusion as well.

The 24th chapter of Luke and the 20th chapter of John record that as they were gathered together in the house, Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst. Luke’s gospel even records that Jesus ate some food and invited the disciples to touch him in order to confirm to their senses that he had been raised bodily, not just in Spirit. It’s worthy to note that Jesus’s message to the disciples in this moment, as they are huddled fearfully behind locked doors, was, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21b, ESV) Jesus doesn’t seek to calm their fears by telling them that they are overreacting, or that their concerns are imaginary like a child’s monster at bedtime. He says, “as the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” This wouldn’t have allayed their fears at all! With the sights, sounds and emotions of the crucifixion from just a few days prior still an open wound in their memory this would have only confirmed their worst fears. “As the Father sent you?,” we imagine them thinking to themselves, “And you are sending us to share in the same sort of treatment?”

Some Christians might wish that they, like the disciples, could have a face to face encounter with the risen Jesus. After all, what an aid to faith it would be if a person could see the nail-pierced hands with their own eyes, hear Jesus’ words with their own ears, and test his physical substance with their own two hands. However, before wishing for such an encounter the Christian should pause to consider what it would mean for the disciples personally to have encountered the risen Jesus, and what it would mean for them to have been sent as Jesus was sent. The entire Christian faith hangs off the truth of their testimony regarding Jesus’ resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:3 Paul described their testimony as being of “first importance.” It was such an important matter that God required not only that the disciples testify to the truth of it with their words, but also with their entire lives and, indeed, with their very lives. The years ahead would require them to sacrifice much to tell others that Jesus had risen from the dead. In being sent as Jesus was sent, they would have to leave their homeland along with friends and family. They devoted the remainder of their lives to the work. They experienced threats, beatings, jail time, rejection, horrible persecution and it is believed that all but one, John, would die a martyr’s death.

Something caused them to stop hiding behind locked doors, and to boldly venture forth with the sometimes unpopular message that Jesus had risen form the dead. The things that had frightened them did not go away. Neither, I suspect, did their fear, but their fears no longer seemed to govern them. What happened to bring about such a change? If they had gotten rich off of their claims, or if it had gained them standing among their peers, or if it had helped to avoid something unpleasant we might then view their claims with some skepticism. After all, the first rule of lie-telling is that the lie must benefit the liar in some way. Despite all of these difficulties though, not a single one of them would recant their testimony or turn away from proclaiming their message. Perhaps one of them might be foolish or deranged enough to persist in their lies in the face of such costly consequences, but all of them? Such a willingness to suffer and die for their claims about the resurrection would seem to indicate that they sincerely believed what they were saying. One may argue perhaps, though I think unconvincingly, that the disciples were all deluded, but, in light of these facts, it would be difficult to make the case that they were lying. The disciples were making an improbable and fantastical claim, but they demonstrated a willingness to give their lives for it. They obviously believed what they were saying, and because they did, we can too.

The Role of Apologetics in Post-Modern Christianity – By Samuel Quartey

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The need for apologetics and its role in Christianity in our post-modern world cannot be overemphasized. We live in a rapidly changing post-modern world that is full of people with diverse worldviews who have questions about the role of religion in general, and Christianity in particular.

The term apologetics is from the Greek word apologia which literally means “in defense of.”[1] In general, it is a field of Christian theology that aims at presenting a rational basis for the Christian faith and defending it against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other worldviews. By the above definition, apologetics has a dual purpose in Christianity. Principally, it helps to strengthen one’s faith in Jesus Christ as the one and only true way to God, the Creator (John 14:6), and enables the Christian to share his or her faith in a cogent manner.[2] Thus, apologetics has missional implications, and hence very important in evangelism as it makes the sharing of one’s faith in Jesus Christ very effective.

Secular culture views the Christian faith as a blind leap and Christians as simple-minded and shallow-minded people. Ted Turner, an American media mogul and founder of CNN once said at a United Nations’ Peace Summit that “Christianity is a religion for losers!” He asked the Christians present, “What are you, a bunch of Jesus freaks?” “I guarantee I’ll see you in heaven. I’ve lived a really good life.”[3]In the introduction to his book, “Core Facts: The Strategy for Understandable and Teachable Christian Defense,” Braxton Hunter states: “Uneducated, ignorant, behind the times; these are the labels that Christians often receive from co-workers, classmates and friends.”[4] This assertion is not far from the truth and reality, and especially of the times in which we live. It is important for people with such ignorant worldview about Christianity to understand that Christianity is not a religion in the first place, and neither are Christians shallow-minded people. It is a relationship. Moreover, faith in Christ is not based on fideism.[5] On the contrary, Christians, all throughout history, have been thoughtful and rational. Our arguments for the nature of truth, the reliability of the Bible, and the existence of God, and the resurrection of Christ, are all verifiable and demonstrable by reason.[6]

As noted above, apologetics is important in evangelism because it supports faith. Both faith and reason cooperate to bring a person to Christ.[7] However, in evangelism, apologetics must be carefully accompanied by gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-17). When Apostle Paul stood before King Agrippa in defense of his faith, he demonstrated a lot of reverence for the king. He said, “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.”[8] Paul’s humility is evident in his address and presentation. There is the tendency for the apologist to become arrogant in his defense, but it is important to understand that in apologetics, the objective is not to win an argument, but to win the lost.

I strongly believe that the role of apologetics in Christianity is pivotal in our post-modern Christian world as it both strengthens the body of Christ and makes evangelism effective.

_____________________________________

Bibliography:

[1]Ergun Caner and Ed Hindson (eds.) The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2008), 265.
[2]Sean McDowell (ed.) Apologetics for a New Generation: A Biblically Relevant Approach to Talking About God (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2009), 18-19.
[3]http://www.com/articles/?a00/829/19330
[4]Braxton Hunter, Core Facts: The Strategy for Understandable and Teachable Christian Defense (Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2014), vii.
[5]The view that religious knowledge depends on faith and revelation, and not on reason.
[6]Ergun Caner and Ed Hindson (eds.), 410.
[7]Ibid., 411.
[8]Acts 26:2-3 (NIV)

Starving Our Pastors – by Jorge Salazar

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I just heard a report that 90 per cent of pastors work 55-75 hours a week. On top of ministry work, many of the times these pastors are also forced to work additional hours in the secular marketplace in order to meet the needs of their family. The church is not caring for their pastors.

Somehow, politics, demagogic leaders in the world and our pop culture has driven us to believe all pastors do is stand behind a pulpit and talk for half an hour, give a couple of advises a week to some cry babies and hang around church just in case someone has a theological question. This off course doesn’t justify a professional salary. So we don’t feel compelled to meet their needs.

Other times the sermons are so poor, the pastor is almost always busy with so much stuff, he never has time to visit us, he didn’t attend Melanie’s birthday party… “If we had a real pastor that would accommodate to my image of what he is supposed to be” then I would feel compelled to meet his needs… and we treat church as we treat the revenue agency; I want to see my taxes working or else I won’t pay them!

There are also all those examples of churches where as the church grows so does the pastor’s toys! So now that the church is bigger he got a new car, a bigger house, he even purchased a boat… some own private airplanes, mansions in Beverly Hills, country houses and so on. All this makes us hesitant to meet our pastor’s needs.

You see, if we look carefully, we are a big part of the problem. We want comfortable churches, great Bible programs for our kids, theologically sound prepared pastors… but we don’t tithe nor take care of the church in a better way than the world takes care of their employees. I know exactly what I am talking about since one day I found myself so disappointed when I opened my fridge after a couple of weeks of eating only scrambled eggs (cooked in water since we didn’t have cooking oil) and there was nothing left to eat. I looked at my seven and a half months pregnant wife and went to the other room to cry out to God. How was it possible that I was going through that because I decided to obey the call to full time ministry in a church that believed that if God called you He would support you and you should not receive a salary! I asked God: if a CEO in the secular world would see my situation his heart would be touched, what happens then in the church?!

We are responsible for one another as a church, especially for our pastors and leaders. We should provide enough to meet their needs and allow them to devote their time to the teaching of the Scriptures and prayer. To properly prepare a 35 minute sermon I have to spend at least three days studying the Word, contexts, commentaries, history books, Greek or Hebrew lexicons not to mention the time in prayer. What happens when a pastor doesn’t have the time because he is forced to chase after the stake to his family’s table? A poor preparation, a diluted spiritual meal on Sunday, lack of time for other important concerns in ministry, and the list goes on.

We must take care of our pastors, give them the rest they need, the medical plans they should have, not overburden them, and provide them with the resources they need to honor God through their service. I’m not saying this because I am a pastor, but because I have seen both sides of the coin. I have seen a healthy church that takes care of their pastors and it is healthy and Biblical, a true Acts church. And I have seen churches that struggle for decades and grow divisive and fight to survive because they have made their opinions the rule of practice and not the Word of God.

Let’s teach our congregations the responsibilities we have as Christians to feed our pastors as they tend for our souls

The Habituation of Separation – David Baker

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There has been evidence since the beginning of time (1) that at the core of any relational dysfunction lies the inability of individuals, both male and female to express negative feelings in a constructive, Godly manner. Perhaps because these feelings are not Godly to begin with! The end result of this inability to communicate is separation. Separation brings the inevitability of death.2 Jay Adams suggests that any sinful habit is the responsibility of the counselee to acknowledge and change. (3) According to Gary Chapman, “Communication is basically an act of the will, not a matter of the personality”. (4) In the Garden of Eden, at the center, there are two trees, the tree of Life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (5) As such, all mankind has the choice to submit to the sinful nature and express or suppress goodness and evil, or choose the tree of Life, which is the Christ at the center of us all.

In an effort to bring God’s children into an effective means of communication, we as Biblical Counselors are charged with the process of becoming involved with our brothers and sisters in order to be able to attain enough information to isolate the sinful problem(s) and show by direction and presenting the problem(s), and its alternate biblical solution in an nouthetic manner that gives hope and encourages change from within by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Positioning ourselves as Spiritual friends, we are able to connect with others in such a way as to express our own limitations in communication without the help of the Spirit. By being in a continual state of prayer and communication with the Father, Son, and Spirit, we are able to discern the best possible way to model Godly communication habits as opposed to suppressing any negative feelings which leads to separation and death. To be able to instruct others in this practice, and it is a practice to which we never achieve perfection this side of Eternity, it is essential to unveil the unhealthy, or sinful places from which we relate to others. We have to discern and expose the flesh dynamic vs the Spirit dynamic. (6) The flesh dynamic stems from our original sin nature and the knowledge of good and evil. We all tend to put our fig leaves on in an effort to avoid feeling shame, remorse, and/or guilt. Until we can begin to rely upon the inherent Goodness of God as a means of helping us to a position of freedom in relationship and communication, there will be a natural or worldly desire to suppress and cover up our negative feelings. How do we know they are negative unless we are embracing our sinful knowledge of good and evil?

When we embrace the tree of Life, we are free to express ourselves as loved and protected children of the Most High God. Expression without fear or guilt for the wrongs we have done, acknowledging the saving grace of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Having given His life for us, the veil was torn and we are free to be seen in the reality of His redeeming love for all of creation. Thus, our communication is in its purest form, that of a supernatural process initiated by the cross. The Holy Trinity experienced the ultimate breakdown in family relationship when the Father gave His only Son, who asked why he had been forsaken, and gave up His Spirit and died. There was the ultimate separation for three days until the Resurrection, which gave life, overcoming death and the grave.

When working with people experiencing death in relationship, homework instruction may look something like this. Stressing the importance of listening (7), each person should be encouraged to express where they think communication is most needed, the other person is not to reply, but to prayerfully consider the others statement of feeling. They are each to journal what God has revealed during their prayerful reflection. Secondly, each of us have a wealth of Godly qualities that enable healthy communication. Each counselee should express those qualities that are seen in the other that can make communication easier. When we see and acknowledge the Christ in the other person, it not only makes it a safer place to communicate from, but it encourages our own view of Christ who resides in us all. (8) It is important to have the couple express their willingness to abandon old habits of communication and ask for help from the other and God in doing so. Even our secular wisdom agrees that “small, positive behaviors, frequently repeated, can make a big difference in the long-term success of a marriage”. (9)

1. Genesis 3:12-13

2. Genesis 3:23

3. Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselors Manual, Zondervan 1974, pg 174

4. Gary Chapman, Towards a Growing Marriage, Moody Press, 1996, pg 105

5. Genesis 2:9

6. Larry Crabb, The Safest Place on Earth, Word Publishing, 1999, pg. 116-118

7. James 1:19

8. 1 Corinthians 2: 11-12

9. Gottman/Schwartz, 10 Lessons to Transform your Marriage, Crown Publishing, 2006, pg. 7

The Silence was Deafening – By Michael Boso

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We each have good and bad stories surrounding the preaching that’s heard each Sunday service. The term “arm chair quarterback” has come to mean the critical critique that’s made over someone else’s performance from the comfort of our cushy chair. If there seems to be ironies attached to it about sporting event, where is this right in the Church?

The world and media has made the real heroes of life seem weak and silly. This same knife has found the backs of the preachers that stand in the pulpit each Sunday to proclaim the word of God. The corpses have been piled so high that the bleeding is coming through the walls of the Church.

The world has made the men of God that standup to confront its sin look foolish, narrow minded, and egotistical. Some may have opened the door for this kind of attach, others are discredited by association. The Church may have delivered the deadliest blow however to their man of God by not honoring him for the work he does.

We may not always be appetitive to the labors in the pulpits. Our expectations may be very high for the pastors that stand before us and tend the flock. The sheep may be dull of hearing rather than being subjected to a dull speaker. Never the less, what will it be like when the pulpits become silent?

The task of a contemporary preacher is to deliver the resounding voice of God with strength and vigor from each watch stood behind their pulpit. Among the chatter that the world offers the sound has become deafening in its ears, but the pulpit has not been silenced. Even among the hardest heart the preaching of the gospel message find the smallest crack in which to flow. God is at work in the world in which we are honorably called to take part.

But who will speak the living, life giving, heart changing, soul liberating word of God when He says it’s enough? Can you imagine with me the moment when the Holy Spirit becomes quite and the voice of God becomes silent?

Amos 8:11-12
11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the LORD.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD,
but they shall not find it.

Where will they find the living water that satisfies the hungry heart? If the pulpit is disregarded and the men of God become silent how will they hear? If the Church becomes a free cheap seat for entertainment between the regular scheduled events how will they be sent? Where have all the beautiful feet gone if not to bring the good news?

Reflections On Trinity Graduation – by Johnathan Pritchett

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One of the most amazing things about Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary is the diversity among the student body. Our students come from many cultural and national backgrounds, as well as many different orthodox theological traditions and denominations within Christendom. Being a distance learning institution with a worldwide imprint, aside from connections on social media, occasional phone calls, and the lively chats in the webinar classrooms or the TOLC forums, it is not always easy to put faces and voices with names.

Graduation weekend at Trinity is that one time of year where many of our students converge here in Newburgh Indiana to visit the campus, meet and greet their professors and advisers, share a meal together at a banquet dinner, and finally, assemble together for the graduation ceremony to celebrate accomplishment. For our students, it is a reminder that all the hard work they have put into their education has a reward. From the caliber of students that come to Trinity, it is obvious that they truly do honor God in their work, given the outstanding quality of the students themselves and the work they have turned in. This is an indication of the incredible ministries that the Lord has blessed our students to serve in as well. The majority of the students at Trinity are in some full or part time ministry already, and one of the blessings of graduation weekend at Trinity is to hear the stories of how the Lord is working in both big and small ways through the various ministries of our students. It is wonderful to hear the testimonies of how time spent in education at Trinity has helped these students grow and accomplish amazing things for the cause of Christ all over the world.

Unlike many other seminaries in the United States, Trinity is truly a global ministry with a global impact for the Kingdom. Graduation weekend is that reminder that seeing our students, staff, and faculty come to convene in celebration and worship, that we are truly blessed with a glimpse of what God gave John at Patmos. It is a vision of what Heaven will be like, worshiping with people from every tribe, tongue and nation. (Rev. 7:9) That is Trinity. In the U.S., that isn’t most other seminaries.

The high caliber of Trinity’s many students in both scholarship and heart-felt desire for service makes Trinity a unique institution of higher learning for the global Church. God has graced all of us to be a part of this fascinating experience of Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. For 45 years, this institution has stood out with a firm commitment to honor God in all our endeavors, assisting people all over the world in reaching their academic goals to aid them in their calling to service. The results and accomplishments of what the Lord has done in and through our students around the world speak for themselves. Trinity truly is the global intersection of scholarship and discipleship, evangelism and missions, academy and ministry.

Congratulations to all our 2014 graduates! We are all blessed beyond measure.