Christ-Like Manhood

To watch them there, three men dying together, it evoked a strange mixture of fury and breathless grief.  It was a scene where justice and injustice commingled. It was light clashing with darkness, good with evil.  All three men struggled for life as their death sentence pounded firm.  They were among the millions of men our world has extinguished for crimes against humanity. But in the array of opposites, a strange unity pierced the chaos.  Here were three men made in the image of God and two deserved the grave; one was innocent.  Their weakened forms betrayed their storied paths, but their death now harmonized in one agonizing reality: the journey to true manhood and the one to false manhood both lead here.  They three shared this cruciform culmination, but their lives could not have been more different.

Perhaps there was a mother there, her eyes filled with tears and memory.  How could life have driven her little boy to the tipping point?  She watched and remembered a thousand days as her infant grew, as a young boy explored his unfolding independence, as a young man changed into the image of her husband, as violence crept its way in and snuffed out the sparkling hope she once held dear in the eyes of her little man.  Where was God then in all the choices?  Her son had the potential for great things, but all had turned the wrong way.  There was now no anticipation left.  Her son hung struggling upon the hill of Golgotha.  No generations would remember her.  She bore a boy that became a violent man, one who was full of judgments, caught up in lies, a wounder of humanity who caused poverty and grief to all he touched– a man in whom society lost hope and saw no route to heal him.

There was another mother there, weeping that day.  All generations henceforth would call her blessed.  She had the thousand memories too.  But her grief held within it an altogether different shade.  Three men hung that day, but unlike the scars of the others, there was no unhealed childhood wounds beneath the nail marks.  In this One, there were only the contours of a beautiful man among men.  She had watched him live a life of reckless compassion and calculated suffering against a system of injustice.  Strength, hope, and confidence exuded from her Man even as his life was leaving him.  Where was God now after all the choices?  Her son had confusingly broken away as a young man, abandoning his responsibilities as firstborn.  Now her heart seemed open to the transformation he offered from his cross, “Woman, here is your son”, and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” Her firstborn was a healer, filled with life and laughter, in touch with poverty and grief, full of grace and truth.  How could things have come to this?

Spirituality and the Active Life: An Order

Behind the scenes of our chaotic world, God is renewing the face of the earth.  The holy seeds of his Great Plan sprout like clover, spreading out to world’s end.  And as great forests of Christian life are blooming in lands once deemed impossible, people in the North Atlantic are searching for their souls.  Sensing that we have a lot to relearn, we also see how the DNA of the Christian message has the power to fund the best possible North Atlantic society filled with the best possible North Atlantic people.

Making life among the overgrown ruins of our industrial cities, we are discovering fresh street value from ancient wisdom.

Seeking a healthy spirituality for the active life, we are finding ourselves poised to join in the divine mission.

Strengthening the connection between social concern and spiritual formation, we are humbled by the reality that the Christian message for today must include an authentically motivated social witness, a demonstration of the gospel’s power to build peaceful and just communities filled with compassionate and loving citizens.

Struggling with life together, we sense that we stand on the shoulders of saints who inspire us to join hands and explore new visions that birth new practices for the renewal of our lands.

Saturdays Through Ephesians

For me and my family, Saturdays are for rest and the Word of God.  For a time, I am dwelling in Ephesians, so I thought I would invite you along.  What you will read is my translation, which like Eugene Peterson’s translation, reads more like a paraphrase than a literal interpretation.  So, with that in mind, here’s hoping that Saturdays through Ephesians gives us both rest in a restless age.

 

Ephesians 5.11-20

So, do not have a shared part with the fruitless works of darkness.  Flip your role around.  Challenge and call the works of darkness out.  For it is shameful even to chatter about the things they do in secret. All things that are challenged and called out will be revealed by the light.  For everything that gets hit by the light will be made light. That is why it is said, “Get up, oh sleeper. Stand up again from among the dead, and Christ will give light to you.”

Therefore, pay attention carefully to how you tromp about, not as unwise folk but as wise folk, transforming things, in these evil days, that had simply been meant for evil.  Do not be unwise about of this.   But discover what is the Lord’s will.  And by all means, do not use wine to reach intoxicated states of ecstasy. That brings out the worst in you. There is another way to be supremely joyful. Fill yourselves up in the Spirit.  What will this look like, you ask?  Well, speak to one another using psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.  Sing them too.  Sing songs in your hearts to the Lord.  And be grateful in everything to God who is also the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What it Takes to See the Image of God in Others

Wisdom for centuries has challenged us to see the image of God in others.  The earliest Jewish and Christian texts point us there and the spiritual masters do too.  They tell us to look carefully and find the hidden nobility planted in each person we meet.

Reverence for human personality marked the ministry of Mother Teresa:

All my time belongs to others, because in dedicating myself with all my heart to the suffering, it is Jesus whom we serve in his disfigured face, for he himself has said: “You have done it for me”…

Another master, John Wesley, pointed this out to us too:

“You have well night lost your zeal for works of mercy as well as of piety.  You once pushed on through cold or rain, or whatever cross lay your in your way, to see the poor, the sick, the distressed.  You found out every scene of human misery, and assisted according to your power: Each form of woe your generous pity moved; Your Saviour’s face you saw, and, seeing, loved.

So why do we find it so difficult?   Why when it comes to our ordinary, everyday lives, do we have problems seeing the image of God in the homeless, in the rich, in jails even in communities of faith?  True, we humans leave a lot to be desired. If we are honest, we must admit that even after trying hard, we all struggle to see even the image of God in ourselves.

So how do we get there?  Do we focus on our nobility first? On others?  Like any virtue, we can not change ourselves.  We have to join in the ancient flow of the universe, which seeks to make us into people of faith, hope, and love.  This means keeping our eyes and ears open to the messages embedded in every disappointment and joy we encounter.  Yet, we can also join in the process.  We can first come to realize that all is not well if we struggle in this arena.  We can mediate on our nobility and others in a mysterious cycle. We can ask God to open our eyes.

Yet, what is most important in the challenge to see the face of God in every person we encounter is a simple humility.  When we give ourselves to this life, rather than trying to take what is rightfully ours, we find deep mystery wrapped in skin and bones.  When we give some effort to perceive the nobility in others, we engage in that benevolent circle of life that strangely runs on 10% of our effort and 100% of God’s.

Saturdays Through Ephesians

For me and my family, Saturdays are for rest and the Word of God.  For a time, I am dwelling in Ephesians, so I thought I would invite you along.  What you will read is my translation, which like Eugene Peterson’s translation, reads more like a paraphrase than a literal interpretation.  So, with that in mind, here’s hoping that Saturdays through Ephesians gives us both rest in a restless age.

 

Ephesians 5.1-10

Therefore, as beloved Children, be mimes of God.   Do what he does.  Be like he is.  And tromp about in Christ-like love.  Remember, Christ gave himself to God for us in a way that pleased God very much.  Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice and an offering.

What does this mean for you?  That these things must not even be heard about among you: sexual sin and any impurity or greed. None of these things are right for the people of God.   There is more.  There should be no indecent behavior, foolish talk, or dirty jokes.  These shoes do not fit the type of people you are supposed to be.  Flip it around to a greater degree and if you have anything to say, shower blessings with the things you say.

So, now that you know it, live it.  Sexual sinners, and people who do impure things, or people who are greedy, these people are ultimately idol worshippers.  They do not have a place in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

And do not let any one deceive you with trendy words about these matters. For the wrath of God will come upon disobedient sons and daughters.  Therefore, do not be bound with them.  For you were once in darkness but now you tromp about with light in the Lord as children of the light. For the fruit of the light is to discover what is pleasing to the Lord in all goodness and righteousness and truth.

 

Asbury International

TRENDING GLOBAL EXPERIENCES AT ASBURY THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

 

 

Upcoming: April 8- 15, 2011:


Upcoming

Campus Life: Modern Abolition

Monday, April 11th, 2011 :: 7.00-9.00am :: Asbury House of Prayer

Looking for worshipers and activists, intercessors and non-conformists.  The Modern Abolitionists of Asbury Theological Seminary are looking for men and women who are willing to bring together the gifts of the Body of Christ, as the Spirit leads, to build God’s Kingdom in the area of freeing those affected by Human Trafficking

One of the ways we are being transformed and transforming the world in the area of Human Trafficking is through prayer.  On Monday Mornings from 7-9 am and Wednesdays from 12-12.45 pm, we will be meeting in the AHOP space on the camps of ATS. We would love for you to join us, helping us intercede for the millions held in bondage from Human Trafficking.

Our time together will also consist of sharing testimonies of those affected by this injustice, joining our hearts for specific geographical areas with respect to certain themes, and seeking God’s will through praying His Word.  If you have any questions or need further clarification, please contact Colby.Cuevas@asburyseminary.edu or Gary. Liederbach@asburyseminary.edu. On behalf of the Modern Abolitionists of ATS, thank you for taking the time to think and pray about joining us.  Whether God would have you join us in these times of prayer or not, be blessed as you follow the Way, liberating the oppressed and taking stands for justice.

Ministry for Global Community Development: Local Service and Community Dinner

Mondays in April 3.30-6.30pm :: Wilmore

Join the weekly rhythm of formational family friendly service opportunities. Build relationships across the ethnic, racial, institutional and city boundary lines. Start your ministry now through experiential hands on service together with fellow community members, students, and families!

If you would like to be added to the weekly service mailer, please respond to gcd.asbury@asburyseminary.edu.”

E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism:

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 :: 8.15-9.30am :: ESJ Lounge

The seminar meets every Wednesday morning, 8:15-9:30am.  The focus of the seminar is on spiritual formation, community formation, and development of academic skills.  For more information you can contact the seminar facilitator Dr. Eunice Irwin.

Ministry for Global Community Development: Spiritual Formation for Global Citizens: Reflection in Common

Thursday, April 14,  2011 :: 6-7.30pm :: Richard Allen Chapel

We will reflect on “Appreciative Abandon.”  Masters include St. Paul, St. Teresa of Avila, John Wesley, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Future themes include:

  • Courage
  • Action and Peace
  • Compassion
  • Making the Best out of Hopeless Situations
  • Seeing the Image of God in Everyone You Meet
  • Learning to Call Forth The Best in Others
  • Appreciating Uniqueness in Others
  • Cultivating a Globally Responsible and Interculturally Sensitive Heart
  • Turning Depression and Fatigue on Its Head with Appreciation

Our schedule looks like this (session runs from 6-7.30pm in the Richard Allen Chapel):

  • Thursday, March 31
  • Thursday, April 14
  • Thursday, April 28
  • Thursday, May 12

We hope that you can join in this semester.

Campus Life: Church Planting Lecture and Informational Dinner

April 13 and 14,  2011 :: Location Varies- See Below.

The Reverend Dr. Tommy Gray an ATS graduate will be coming to Asbury Theological Seminary April 13 and 14th. Dr. Gray planted ClearBranch UMC in 1996 in the North Alabama Conference and was there 12 years as the church grew to over 1,600 in worship. Dr. Gray is now the Superintendent of New Churches for the North Alabama Conference of the UMC.  He is also working with church planters from three conferences developing a church planting network with a goal to plant Global Impact Churches in every major metropolitan area in North America in one generation. How is that for a goal?  Tommy (he is my DS and he cringes when I call him Dr. Gray) is on the cutting edge of church planting. He has read all the texts from this class plus more. He is going to the Exponential Conference, uses Griffith’s boot camp methods, and has a passion for transforming the church. I have served with Tommy in prisons and in the streets. He is the real deal and will assist you and have your back if you are in ministry with him. He believes, as do I, that the church is in a time of great opportunity and that God is in the process of birthing something that will have a kingdom impact. Do you feel a call to take part in this goal? If you are interested on learning more Dr. Gray will be speaking in Dr. McPhee’s 21st Century Church Planting course on April 13 at 6:15pm in SH 231. Interested students and their spouses are also invited to an informal informational dinner the following evening Thursday April 14th at 6:00pm at my house (Gary Liederbach) located at 703 Woodspointe Way, in Wilmore. Dr. Gray will also be available to talk with in the Student Center during the day on Thursday. He is also scheduling half hour interviews from 1:30pm-4:30pm. If you are planning on coming to the dinner or for more information contact me at gary.liederbach@asburyseminary.edu or at 256-302-3785.

 

Internship/ Job Opportunities

Students should take care to notice four internships/ job postings:

  1. Heart of God: International Ministries“: Haiti. We currently have an orphanage with 77 children and 12 Haitian staff members.  We are feeling urged by the Holy Spirit to develop a full-time support staff for the Director, relieving him of some of his duties and allowing him more freedom to evangelize among his own people (this is his first love).  Although we have just begun the search, we would like to be able to have someone ready to go in May, 2011.  The next several months could be spent in raising support and additional preparations necessary for a long-term assignment. Interested applicants can contact Jan Ross, President/CEO Heart for God International Ministries at jross@heartofgodinternational.org.
  2. World Hunger Relief, Inc.“: Texas. WHRI is a teaching and working farm, with an emphasis on sustainable agriculture as it pertains to the alleviation of hunger worldwide. Interns & Live-In Volunteers train at the farm, learning about sustainable agriculture and technology appropriate to the developing-country setting, and leave equipped for holistic ministry through agriculture. The intern assistantship lasts 13 months, and during that time, interns receive a small stipend and health insurance, plus room and board. Interns learn by doing hands-on farming, personal experiments, and by attending twice-weekly classes, covering a broad range of topics. The classes are taught by farm staff, seminary and college professors, and local and commercial farmers. Live-In Volunteers stay for as short as two weeks, up to one year. Live-In Volunteers work 25 hours per week on the farm in exchange for room and board. LIVs do not receive a stipend or health insurance, but are encouraged to participate in all aspects of farm life, including morning devotions and intern classes. Interested applicants should contact Asbury Alum Kelly Lawson, Education Coordinator for World Hunger Relief, Inc.at educationcoordinator@worldhungerrelief.org.
  3. Internships with Good Works, INC. Not sure what you are doing this summer? Why not consider a 9-week paid internship in leadership development working with youth and adults serving at-risk children, widows, people who struggle with disabilities, people who struggle with poverty and people without homes in rural Appalachia? THE COMMUNITY OF GOOD WORKS has been providing internship experiences for 17 years. This summer, we will hire 6-8 interns who will live in Christian community and…• Oversee the relational discipleship of the visiting teens and adults who are participating in a week-long Work Retreat during our Summer Service Program. You will grow in a deeper relationship with Christ as you serve with hundreds of youth and adults who will visit Good Works from all over Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, New York and Illinois.
    • Provide leadership for our every day Summer Kid’s Discovery Club.
    • Assist with the daily Summer Lunch/Community meal provided to children and adults in the Athens, Ohio area.
    • Provide leadership for our visiting short-term mission teams in hands-on projects that serve people at their homes in rural Appalachian, Ohio who are elderly and/or who have disabilities.
    • Provide leadership for a teen agricultural summer internship program. Be involved in establishing gardens at the homes of widows and citizens with disabilities.
    • Discover and participate in direct service to people without homes who live in our shelter – The Timothy House. You will see a different model of ministry with the rural homeless.
    • Work alongside our friends struggling with poverty as they participate in service and earn “points” to obtain cars, appliances and food through our Transformation Station.
    • Participate in FRIDAY NIGHT LIFE, our weekly community meal followed by health education, Kids Club, live music, poetry readings and other community building activities.
    • Experience leadership development as you interact with the Good Works staff on the issues of discipleship, ministry with the poor, community, poverty and justice in weekly discussions. The Summer Service internship begins on June 12 and ends on August 13. Applicants must be at least 20 years old or have completed one year of college. Good Works provides housing and most of your food and pays $1,500.00. Interns can also raise additional funds. The
    deadline for applications and references is March 31, 2011.THE NEXT STEP –-
    1. Visit our web site and explore Good Works
    2. Read through the section on INTERNSHIPS.
    3. Select Summer Service.
    4. Request an application through e-mail at goodworks@good-works.net. Applications must be completed by March 31st. Interviews are conducted at Good Works in April. THER INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
    • Good Works also offers a year-long residential internship with a stipend called APPALACHIAN IMMERSION for people 18 years or older. Interns live together in the Good Works Hannah House and are immersed into the many different outreach initiatives of Good Works.
    • Good Works also offers a one-week internship, called WEEK OF SERVICE (especially during the summer), for anyone 16 years or older. Visit our web page and click on INTERNSHIPS for more information.
  4. Missions to Czech & Slovak Republics. Since graduating from Victory World Missions Training Ctr, in 1992, the Bruners have helped establish four new churches, in Olomouc and Prerov, CR, and Trnava, and Senec Slovakia.  They have served as local pastors, taught in Bible School, raised up several music groups, and established Christian TV programs.  Their current project is a full service restaurant near Olomouc, Czech Rep. which also  houses an outdoor band stage, patio restaurant, a 6 room Bed & Breakfast, 2 indoor dining areas, and a seminar/ events hall.  It features live music each weekend in summer, and regular presentations of the Gospel thru testimonies, Bible stories, drama and skits, and numerous youth and children’s events.

Outline of the internship program:

Internships may last 10 days to 3 months, between May and Sept. 30.  Some winter months programs are available on request.  The intern is responsible for their own airfare to and from Czech Rep.  We provide lodging and food, and some ground transportation.  Lodging is free in our Podskali Center facilities.  Cost of food and ground transportation varies according to number of hours the intern works in our center.  For example, interns who work 40 hours per week in our summer program receive free board, and free transportation, each work day.

Applications should be returned by mail or email within at least 3 months prior to your arrival dated.  Forms be obtained by emailing us at: brunerslovakia@hotmail.com. Must be accompanied by written references from your Pastor or Youth Director, and 2 personal references.

Experience in missions is helpful, but not required.  Areas of need: food service and pre, music & drama, arts & crafts, English camps, sports & games, sound/lights tech., construction and maintenance.

Contact Information: Mark and Tommie Bruner USA service agency: RAIN 7600 Humbolt Ave. N. Brooklyn Park, MN 55444. tel. 763-566-7411.

Guest Post by Ruth Tipton- The Will to Love

During the 2003 and 2004 holiday season I received a call from an uncle to let me know that his wife, my mother’s sister, was not doing well. She was 82 years of age and was the last living member of her birth family. She and her husband had been married for almost 60 years, and now after several years of declining health she was on her death bed. Several years before her death my aunt had suffered a stroke which restricted her mobility, but my uncle never ceased to care for her. He cooked for her and fed her when she could not do it herself. As she improved he took her to church, to visit her relatives, to eat out in restaurants, and to take trips in their camper. Eventually her health deteriorated to the point that she was no longer able to go out, and he cared for her at home. I went to visit my aunt after I received his telephone call. She lay in a hospital bed in their living room where my uncle continued to care for her until she drew her last breath. As I left their home I thought about their long term relationship and realized that my uncle was personifying love.

My uncle’s love for his wife reminded me of Christ’s love for humankind. As Christ was anticipating his own death he said to his disciples, “This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” (The Message by Eugene Peterson: John 15:12-13). Figuratively my uncle did “put his life on the line” for his wife. Love is an act of the will, and those who love communicate their love by their action. I Corinthians 13:4-7 speaks of actions of love. The Message says,

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

What a challenge! A Christian who wills to love points others to Christ, and encourages them to will to love as Christ loved. The kind of love Christ calls us to, is much deeper than the shallow, selfish love that our society often depicts.