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God's favor towards some serves God's plan for the larger world. The fact that the Jewish people are especially chosen by God is an idea affirmed by both early Christians and rabbis. However, the idea that God would favor one person or group over another is highly problematic in today's democratic and pluralistic society. Being the Chosen is often seen as better ignored or even repudiated by both Christians and Jews. According to Joel Kaminsky, God's larger plan for the world is worked out through the three-way relationship between God, Israel, and the nations of the world. He asserts that we need to reexamine the Bible in light of this matter. What is needed is a better understanding of what the Bible really says about God's choosing. Beginning with the familiar stories in Genesis (Cain and Abel; Isaac and Ishmael; Jacob and Esau; Joseph and his brothers; but also Hagar and Sarah; Leah and Rachel; Isaac and Rebekah), Kaminsky shows how God chooses, how humans participate, what we know from the Bible about God's intentions, and whether God's plan for the chosen people succeeds. The book continues through the Old Testament, asking about the fates of those whom God chooses to favor, those whom God rejects, and those who are neither favored nor rejected. Finally, Kaminsky shows how both the New Testament authors and the rabbis affirmed the Old Testament view of God's election. Each chapter engages modern problems with a theology of election and every chapter affirms the biblical paradox the God's choice in favor of some serves God's plan to benefit all.
Helpful and insightful strategies for preaching from the writings of Paul. Few biblical figures are more compelling to preachers than the apostle Paul. The story of his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus is a favorite example of the way that God turns lives around. His writings contain the earliest witness we have to the Christian gospel. His message of God's offer of grace in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is deeply appealing. So why is it that when it comes time to choose a text for this Sunday's sermon, preachers so often choose something other than Paul? When Brad Braxton asked himself that question, he realized that preachers are often daunted by the size and complexity of the Pauline corpus. Drawing on his expertise as a New Testament scholar and homiletics professor, as well as on his experience as a pastor, Braxton offers the reader tools with which to wrestle more effectively with the complex, yet essential, message of Paul. Eschewing either a solely historical approach or a completely spiritual one, the author brings the two together to explore the meaning of Paul's message in its original context, as well as its contemporary application. Written with imagination and depth of understanding, this book is for anyone who wishes to know Paul better and to preach from his letters more effectively.
Learn how to work for genuine and effective change in your church without trying to throw out everything that has gone before. Pastors and other congregational leaders are eager to institute meaningful and effective change in their congregations. They know that old attitudes and perspectives prevent the church from fulfilling its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Yet too often church advocates insist that if genuine change is to occur in the church, then everything must change. The board must be wiped clean, and new technologies, new worship styles, and even new theologies must replace what has come before. The problem with such calls for radical change, says Lovett Weems, Jr., is that they are not true to the way that genuine and lasting change takes place. Like every other organization, churches rest on a cultural foundation of shared assumptions, values, and practices. The paradox of successful change is that this foundation is at the same time the source of resistance to change and what makes change possible. Lasting, transformational change grows out of the congregation's current sense of its story and its mission. Transformational leaders know how to build on the church's identity, making new ministries and emphases the natural extension of what has gone before. In other words they know how to make the story of change the next chapter in the book of the congregation's life, rather than throwing the book away and trying to start over. An astute student of management and leadership theory, Weems offers congregational leaders essential insights into how they can work with and through their churches' ministries to bring about authentic and faithful growth.
Share the story of the world's first and best Christmas gift with your children. Based on the biblical account, The Promise of Christmas tells of the angel's visits to young Mary and ever-faithful Joseph, the journey to Bethlehem, the birth of baby Jesus, and the visits of the shepherds and the magi. The promise of God's greatest gift as written in Isaiah 9:6, is fulfilled.
Everyone agrees that America is polarized, with ever-hardening positions held by people less and less willing to listen to one another. No one agrees on what to do about it. One solution that hasn't yet been tried, says Adam Hamilton, is for thinking persons of faith to model for the rest of the country a richer, more thoughtful conversation on the political, moral, and religious issues that divide us. Hamilton rejects the easy assumptions and sloppy analysis of black and white thinking, seeking instead the truth that resides on all sides of the issues, and offering a faithful and compassionate way forward. He writes, "I don't expect you to agree with everything I've written. I expect that in the future even I won't agree with everything I've written here. The point is not to get you to agree with me, but to encourage you to think about what you believe. In the end I will be inviting those of you who find this book resonates with what you feel is true, to join the movement to pursue a middle way between the left and the right - to make your voices heard - and to model for our nation and for the church, how we can listen, learn, see truth as multi-sided, and love those with whom we disagree." Read more about this title Adam Hamilton's Seeing Gray Blog Now available! Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White - DVD UPC: 843504001902 A five-session video resource featuring Adam Hamilton teaching these concepts on DVD for group or individual study. Includes leader's guide as well as bonus video. Click below to view a preview of each video session. Where Faith and Politics Meet Christ Christians and the Culture Wars How should we live, The Ethics of Jesus Spiritual Maturity and Seeing Gray What Would Jesus Say to America?
In Prayers for a Privileged People, this much-published author sculpts--as carefully as if with chisel--prayers on behalf of those who are people of privilege and entitlement--the haves--at an urgent moment in our society. The privileged face, on the one hand, the seduction of denial or, on the other, the temptation of despair. These prayers of wisdom and prophetic power remind us that when things go wrong , when we are afraid , and when we feel prodded by those who lack voice, there is a conversation we can have--a conversation situated amid the promises and commands of God.
Learn the "Big Picture" approach that will aim your congregation at the mission field in your back yard, or around the world. Many churches want to make the transition from an inward to an outward focus, from catering to the needs of members to reaching out into the world to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Too often they try to accomplish this radical change by taking half steps and partial measures, initiating a new program here or adding a new staff members there. Yet this kind of change requires more. To succeed in changing its core focus this way, a congregation must learn strategic thinking; it must commit itself to seeing the big picture, and to taking the steps necessary to paint that picture afresh. Everyone, including pastors, lay leaders, key teams and groups, and the congregation as a whole must be involved in a process of transformation. Paul D. Borden, author of Hit the Bullseye and Direct Hit, knows that this transformation will not be easy. But if the target is bringing more people into saving relationship with Jesus Christ, what could be more worthwhile?
Over the centuries the church developed a number of metaphors, such as penal substitution or the ransom theory, to speak about Christ's death on the cross and the theological concept of the atonement. Yet too often, says Scot McKnight, Christians have held to the supremacy of one metaphor over against the others, to their detriment. He argues instead that to plumb the rich theological depths of the atonement, we must consider all the metaphors of atonement and ask whether they each serve a larger purpose. A Community Called Atonement is a constructive theology that not only values the church's atonement metaphors but also asserts that the atonement fundamentally shapes the life of the Christian and of the church. That is, Christ identifies with humans to call us into a community that reflects God's love (the church)--but that community then has the responsibility to offer God's love to others through missional practices of justice and fellowship, living out its life together as the story of God's reconciliation. Scot McKnight thus offers an accessible, thought-provoking theology of atonement that engages the concerns of those in the emerging church conversation and will be of interest to all those in the church and academy who are listening in.
Every child is born to be a blessing. Many parents experience overwhelming love when their children are born, and strive to raise their children to experience a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This guide for parents enables them study, learn, and grow together to find answers to shared questions and concerns as they raise their children. Parents will deal with many areas of children's lives such as self-control, truth-telling, sibling rivalry, generosity, and making faithful decisions. Perfect for small groups, each session includes Scripture, plus stories, and questions for meditation and discussion. Parents learn new tools to respond to their children in positive, Christ-like ways, and gives them the courage to face one of the most blessed jobs of all -- raising Christian children.
When it first appeared in 1986, James McClendon's Ethics laid claim to two compelling theological ideas: first, that a highly distinctive theological perspective characterizes the inheritors of the sixteenth century's radical reformation. At the heart of this perspective is what McClendon calls the baptist vision, a way of understanding the gospel that emphasizes the church's distinction from the world, and its continuity with the church of the New Testament. Second, that because of its emphasis on the centrality of discipleship, this radical reformation outlook insists that theology's first task is to discover and explore the shape of the church's common life as the body of Christ; hence McClendon's novel decision to begin the task of writing a systematic theology with a volume on ethics. Since its first publication, Ethics has been followed by Doctrine (1994), and Witness (2000). The completion of the overall work has brought into sharper focus many of the theological and ethical issues and concerns central to the baptist tradition. In this revised edition of Ethics, McClendon infuses his claim for the priority of ethics within the theological task with a new urgency, born of the fuller, more complete definition of the baptist vision that Doctrine and Witness have made possible. Ethics is central, he reminds us, because biblical faith rests on a set of distinctive practices that arise from our placement within a larger Christian story. In his revisions McClendon offers a more complete explanation of how the interaction of faithful practices and gospel story give rise to a way of life that is distinctively Christian.
A few years ago, the first distinction that ethicists drew was the line between Christian ethics and philosophical ethics. However, in our global context, Christian ethicists must now, in addition, compare and contrast various ethics. Christian ethics has become increasingly multivocal not only because of a plurality of faiths but also because of a plurality of Christianities. In light of these new realities, this book will introduce Christian ethics. It will lay out history, methods, and basic principles every student must know. The author also will include case studies for further explanation and application.
Church in Translation shows today's leaders how to reframe and revitalize ten essential practices of our faith to speak more effectively to the people of our time, in our current culture. The context of Christianity is ever-changing, but the durability and relevance of the message of Jesus has been proven over time. Imagine life and the very different practice of Christianity in the days of the Early Church... the Dark Ages...the Industrial Revolution...the Great Depression ...and the Digital Age. The relevant, vibrant, and effective church of today will always ask, "Where has God placed us? In what time and what cultural context?" Cultural changes can seem to diminish the gospel's value as outdated styles and forms create barriers between contemporary people and a timeless God. Dan Collison provides insights into ministry that will help shrink the cultural walls that people must scale to experience Jesus. Jesus' Church is a living entity that beautifully fits every context in every century. But it does take work. This "fitting in" is not pandering or caving in to culture; it is a recognition that we exist not in 1950, 1492, 1060, or 33 A.D. We exist now, today, at a time and place that God designed. The effective church in any age must be: * Biblically inspired * Prayer designed * Communally formed * Intellectually informed * Socially aware * Collaboratively led * Artistically Infused * Culturally Engaged * Missionally Minded * Grace filled The question is, how will you translate these essentials into your ministry context?
Long, long ago, in a land far away, lived a perfect little tree named Small Pine. Small Pine hoped to maintain its perfect form and be selected by the Queen as her Christmas tree. But as the warm-hearted little tree gave shelter to birds, rabbits, and deer in the forest, its branches became damaged. Fortunately, the Queen had a different idea of perfection... Young readers will want to read and reread the story of how Small Pine's love and charity for its friends helps make it the most "perfect" Christmas Tree of all. This magnificently illustrated story of a warm-hearted Christmas tree will surely become one of the most beloved classics of future generations. Schneider's storytelling will enthrall children and adults alike.
Sharing the Easter Faith with Children is theologically sound, biblically focused, educationally on target, and developmentally appropriate. Carolyn Brown writes clearly and helpfully, with conviction and passion for what to share and how to share one's faith with children. It should be required reading for every parent, educator, and pastor who wants to communicate and celebrate the Easter faith with children. Brown packs a lot of practical suggestions, insights, and activities into this very readable resource. I am confident children will mature in their understanding and affirmation of the Easter faith when they have been nurtured in families and congregations that take seriously what Brown offers. --Donald Griggs, author of Teaching Today's Teachers to Teach It is easy to share the Christmas story and faith with children. The story is beautiful and lends itself well to pageants and other celebratory events for children. It is not so easy to share the Easter story and faith with children because the message and images are complex. Many parents have trouble articulating what Easter means to them personally much less answering their children's questions. In many congregations children are featured in palm parades on Palm Sunday, but they are not specifically planned for at other Holy Week services. When schools schedule an Easter break, many families go away and thus unintentionally bypass the whole Easter message for years. This book explores what the Easter message can mean to children as they grow up. The author helps congregations and families share the Easter message with their children and include the children meaningfully in Lent, Holy Week and Easter observances. Included are materials for children from birth (in the church nursery) to age 12, and reproducible pages to create a booklet for parents. The first section of the book describes the particular parts of the Easter faith that are important to children at different ages and comments on the biblical Easter texts from a child's point of view. The second part of the book works through the Lenten season, describing ways congregations can include children and providing program and worship plans, including: Lenten disciplines for children and their families Ash Wednesday Celebrating Palm Sunday or looking ahead on Passion Sunday Maundy Thursday: Recalling the Last Supper Keeping Good Friday The church-sponsored Easter Egg Hunt Easter Sunday Morning Another part of the book offers help to leaders who want to share the content with teachers, parents, or committees. Also included is a comprehensive list of related resources. This carefully researched and well-grounded, practical resource from a highly regarded Christian educator will strengthen your educational ministry with children and support parents as they shape the faith of their children.
A Concise History of Christian Doctrine -ePub
Are you still suffering over the sight of empty pews? Have your efforts been more than exhaustive in expanding your congregation? Have you maximized your brainstorming potential for bringing in new members? If you have reached what appears to be your limit, then no longer fret, 44 Ways To Increase Church Attendance can open the doors of both your church and mind. With proven techniques for building a body for Christ, church leaders can increase their membership and then free themselves to focus on other important missions for God. Schaller's suggestions will energize leaders and put their churches on the road of abundance.
This book is a history of Christianity from its earliest beginnings to the end of the twentieth century. The book provides students with an introduction to the many persons, places, movements, and events necessary for the telling of our story, the story of the Church. This history of Christianity is told in its essentials, simply and straightforwardly for students with little or no experience in the academic study of religion. It is a story told within the complex contexts of larger world events and world cultures, but defined and simplified by attention to those developments which have proven most influential for the past and present shaping of Church thought and practice. The book is a comprehensive and definitive introduction to the history of Christianity. It provides students with the necessary outline and description of the broad sweep of movements and periods in this history, but it also pauses at important points to provide details about the lives of Christians as lived at various times and in various locations. This story is told in easy-to-understand prose and with illustrative photographs, maps and charts.
In What to Expect in Seminary, Virginia Samuel Cetuk looks at the various facets of theological education -- the call to ministry, classroom learning, community life, field education, financial realities, time-management challenges -- through the lens of spiritual formation. In each chapter she challenges readers to view the particular topic as an avenue to spiritual growth instead of as an obstacle to the same. Offering readers the conceptual tool of reframing, she draws upon psychology, Scripture, and her many years' experiences in theological education to help readers see both the challenges and the rich opportunities of theological education related to ministry and spiritual formation.
Biblical texts create worlds of meaning and invite readers to enter them. When readers enter such textual worlds, which are often strange and complex, they are confronted with theological claims. With this in mind, the purpose of the Interpreting Biblical Texts series is to help serious readers in their experience of reading and interpreting, by providing guides for their journeys into textual worlds. The controlling perspective is expressed in the operative word of the title--interpreting. The primary focus of the series is not so much on the world behind the texts or out of which the texts have arisen as on the worlds created by the texts in their engagement with readers. The focus of the volume moves from the smallest to the largest of scales, from an examination of poetic segments to considerations of God and the world through the psalmists' eyes. The author will present new slants and questions that equip the reader with various tools of interpretation while leaving issues open for the reader's further exploration. Included are discussions of Psalms as Hebrew poetry, species, performance, corpus, anthropology, and theology.
A leading Christian educator offers a practical guide for revisioning a church's educational program. After identifying the weaknesses in current education programs, Charles Foster offers an alternative vision that is more cooperative, more attentive to the whole of the congregation's life, and that helps people critically correlate the Bible and Christian tradition to their own experience.
The Promise of Easter shows children how God's love for humanity is fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of God's only Son. This retelling of the Bible story helps children ages 4 to 8 share in the joy the disciples felt as they witnessed the greatest event of all time. Preview a copy of The Promise of Easter.
This book is excellent for individual reading or can be used as the small group study book for the Christianity's Family Tree DVD based study. Adam Hamilton is, in my opinion, a national treasure. He embodies the kind of generous orthodoxy so many of us have been dreaming of and praying for. This book provides something truly unique--a kind of orientation to Christianity in its wide array of forms that not only educates but inspires. It's one of the few books I wish every single Christian would read and share with their friends. - Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian In this wise and practical book, Adam Hamilton serves as a trusted guide to some of the rich diversity of Christian belief and practice. It is a rare feat to acknowledge differences and distinctiveness appreciatively, and Hamilton does it with exceptional grace and insight. - L. Gregory Jones, Dean and Professor of Theology, Duke Divinity School I love this book. Adam Hamilton teaches us that we are far richer than we know, because the beauty and the fullness of the whole church is ours. Read, learn, and be happy. - John Ortberg, author of God Is Closer Than You Think In this book, Adam Hamilton presents a welcoming, inspiring vision of eight Christian denominations and faith traditions. Comparing the Christian family to our own extended families, he contends that each denomination has a unique, valuable perspective to offer on the Christian faith. The traditions he examines are Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, Anglicanism, Baptists, Pentecostalism, and Methodism. For each group, Hamilton gives a brief history, outlines major beliefs, and describes some things we can learn from that tradition to strengthen our own Christian faith. Also available is the planning kit for this video-based small-group study Christianity's Family Tree: What Other Christians Believe and Why. Adam Hamilton is pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, one of the fastest growing, most highly visible churches in the country. Named by PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly as one of the top "Ten People to Watch," Hamilton is the author of numerous video based small group studies and books from Abingdon Press.
More and more young adults have opted out of Christianity and the church. The reason? Christians. When young adults talk about the problems they have with Christianity and the church, they often name certain attitudes and behaviors they believe are practiced too often by Christians: judging others, condemning people of other faiths, rejecting science, injecting politics into faith, and being anti-homosexual. With his familiar style, Adam Hamilton tackles these issues and addresses the how's and why's of Christians getting it right when it comes to being Christ in the world. Those who read When Christians Get It Wrong will gain a different way of understanding the issues that keep people away from Christianity and keep Christians from living a more compelling faith. Because, honestly, if we don't start getting it right, we may lose an entire generation.
Deidre Clark-Morris is a faithful Christian who has everything she could dream of, except the children her heart longs for. Kenisha Smalls has lived in poverty all her life. She has three children by three different men and has just been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. While the meeting between these two women appears accidental, it becomes their catalyst of hope. Neither woman expects the blessing that God has in store for her. While Deidre guides Kenisha on the path to eternal life with Jesus Christ, Kenisha teaches Deidre how to stand strong against the storms of life.
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