Northeastern Seminary

Herod as Pharaoh?

On Thursday, May 21, I’ll be speaking at a conference called “From Interpretation to Preaching.”

My presentation addresses Matthew’s use of Old Testament quotations/ citations in the infancy narratives (Matthew 1-2). There are four, five, or six ciations, depending how you count them.

In chapter 1 Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 (the Immanuel prophecy), while chapter 2 contains quotes from Micah 5:2 (with an addition from 2 Samuel 5:2), Hosea 11:1, and Jeremiah 31:15 (plus a closing citation of “the prophets,” but there is no agreement what the OT reference is).

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Five Keys to Success

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As the newest member of the staff at Northeastern Seminary, I have completed my first month and continue to praise the Lord for giving me the honor and privilege of working with such wonderful people in such an incredible work environment.

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A Time for Hope

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As you prepare your heart for the New Year let this poem reawaken the hope that comes to us as a grace filled gift in the birth, sacrifice, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Season of Anticipation in a Time of Joy

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For many of us, “waiting” has negative connotations. Waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting on hold as we call for a needed service or medical appointment, or waiting for a test result … the list goes on and on. Often, such waiting is accompanied by frustration, irritation, or impatience.

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The Season of Anticipation in a Time of Retreat

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Space to ask questions.
Space to listen to God’s Spirit.
Space to let insights, impressions, and reflections
bump into each other and converge for discovery.
Space for your own spirit to be still, restore, integrate,
and seek elements of faith in the certainty of God’s presence.

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The Season of Anticipation in a Time of Gentleness

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In 2014, Esther Gillie first shared this poem with the Northeastern Seminary community. Since then, Esther has successfully completed both her Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees at the Seminary. The second entry of our Advent blog series invites us to reflect, along with Esther, on the gentleness experienced throughout our lives.

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The Season of Anticipation

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 The poem “ADVENT” was first shared with us in 2014 by Jae Newman, a Northeastern Seminary alumnus and adjunct professor. This poem is the first entry in our advent blog series of poetry and reflections surrounding this the season of anticipation in the Christian liturgical year. Here in the first few days of advent let us collectively still our souls to hear the quiet whispers of our Lord.

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?  My Outset on El Camino, and Wrestling with Uncertainty

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Sometime I make snap decisions, and then later go back and question my own intent. Was that prompting truly from God, or just some kind of ego-driven idea? I wasn’t really sure. That’s how it was with El Camino Del Inmigrante. Noel Castellanos threw out this big idea last November at the end of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) conference in 2016. He had participated in the El Camino De Santiago in Spain over his sabbatical, and he proposed that CCDA create a pilgrimage of it’s own from the Tijuana border of Mexico to downtown Los Angeles Calif. to highlight the plight of immigrants to the United States, and advocate for immigration reform. I immediately thought, “I want to do that.”

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The Entreatment of Christ

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Northeastern Seminary Chapel Homily - January 19, 2016
(John 20:19-31 & Luke 24: 30-31)

Thomas is a figure of intrigue and mystery. Only one Gospel, that of John, really relates anything particular concerning Thomas, the rest is left to our intimation.

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Northeastern Seminary Women’s Retreat Reflection: Part 2

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I’ve had the privilege of attending ten of the eleven Northeastern Seminary women’s retreats at the Abbey of the Genesee. Each year, I experience the deep peace of the Abbey grounds, nestled in the wide-open beauty of the Genesee River Valley, and the rich fellowship with a group of fun, wise, kind, godly women who gather together there for a day to step out of our normal routines and enter the rhythms of rest that make retreats so nurturing. Each year, the experience is wonderful, but different from all the others. This year was no different.

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Northeastern Seminary Women’s Retreat Reflection: Part 1

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“Do you tell the truth?” That was the theme the Northeastern Seminary Women’s Retreat with Marlena Graves this April at the Bethany House at the Abbey of the Genesee. The sun was shining, the air was brisk, and all the women who gathered came humbly open to discern together what God might be wanting to say to us in our various seasons of ministry and life.

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Shalom Challenged—A Path Forward

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Part Three

We live in a society where a disproportionate number of African Americans are impacted by high unemployment, poor health, violence, and low graduation rates.[1]  Their interest in, and knowledge of, Christian theology can sometimes take a low priority simply because of the need to survive day-to-day.

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Shalom Challenged—A Head-on View

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Part Two

The struggles for economic opportunity of black congregations were once led by the black church through marches, voter registration drives to elect public officials who are sensitive to the needs of the black community, and embracing of urban black entrepreneurship. The voices of protest are still there when there are clear and blatant signs of racism and discrimination, police brutality, and horrific crimes, yet most voices are confined to the four walls of the congregation. Thus, "without public expression beyond the confines of the sacred space round the altar, religion can lose its savor and become irrelevant."[1] Our messages and interaction must be constant going forth; not just when evil shocks our community. We must also be willing to be rejected by the very ones that we reach out to help—because it is a fact of nature that you cannot help someone who doesn’t want to be helped!

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Shalom Challenged—What Happened to the Redemptive Struggle?

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Part One

We live in a society where a disproportionate number of African Americans are impacted by high unemployment, poor health, violence, and low graduation rates.[1]  Their interest in, and knowledge of, Christian theology can sometimes take a low priority simply because of the need to survive day-to-day. Over the past 10-20 years, an acceleration of heinous crimes, immoral, unethical and shameful behavior, a disdain for common decency, and a rejection of God has weighed heavily on everyone’s faith.

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It’s Time for a Messiah

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In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.  And all people will see God’s salvation.’ ”

Luke 3:1-6 NIV

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Altering Expectations

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As you know, Advent is a time of expectation of Christmas and all that it means to us. I know I expect a certain feeling—a sense of joy and peace to be the result of my celebrations and reflections. When I reflect on the thousands of years leading up to Christ’s birth, I am grateful to have been born after the Incarnation, rather than before it. I think of how difficult and painful it must have been for the people of God to wait day in, day out, generation after generation to be rescued from the oppression they faced. I contemplate what a beautiful and powerful thing it is that God himself would break into our broken history and redeem the world through his great sacrifice.

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Welcome to Wonder

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Every Advent season, I carefully reflect on the nature of God’s coming among us. It’s a time of remembering, of reviewing the surprising ways that God has broken into our world and into our individual lives. Advent is about God getting involved against all human odds.      

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Emmanuel ... Again

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And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectations of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.  Luke 21:25-28.

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For Righteousness in Our Neighborhoods

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People and organizations seem to be particularly generous this time of year. Donations of coats, toys, and food roll in intended to spread holiday cheer. People seem to think that the plight of the poor is the lack of resources when the reality of the matter is that joy and contentment have little to do with material possessions or the lack thereof. While most recipients are grateful for the seasonal relief, the rest of the year they are left to make ends meet on much less. Once the new year rolls around, the merriment of the season is replaced with the reality that little is changed by a few gifts or a free turkey. No one wants to rely on handouts. What people really need are jobs that pay decent wages, affordable childcare, and the opportunity to give their families a happy, healthy life. More than a few trifles that will be forgotten after a few days, what is truly needed is change in our economic, educational, and legal systems that remove barriers to living flourishing lives.

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God’s Expressions of Hope

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During this time of the year, humanity is reminded of the masterful artistry of God as we observe the variety of distinct colors displayed within the fall foliage. Each year, as senior pastor and pastor of Higher Heights Fellowship in the heart of the city, my wife and I enjoy seeing the masterful artistry of God being displayed specifically throughout the congregation and the community.

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Prayerful Reading

ASR_Icons.jpgI arrived Friday night. It was the perfect opportunity to relax, meet the retreat presenter, and mingle with seminary friends. Between the fellowship and worship time together the tone was set for the rich sense of community that permeated our retreat.

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Surrendering My Brokenness at the Table

Two icons were projected on the wall. The first depicted the Father, Son and Holy Spirit sitting at a table. When asked where I was in the icon as the viewer I discovered I was sitting at the edge of the table in the foreground—not only welcome at the table with the Trinity, but already sitting there. The second icon was “The Harrowing of Hell.” It showed Jesus Christ after he was crucified and descended into hell. I was told that “harrowing” was taking a long tool and plunging it into the soil to bring the nutrients to the top, a powerful metaphor for Jesus’ message to the lost souls: “this is not what you were made to be, come with me.”

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God’s Transformative Gift

I cannot tell you exactly what happened within me during the spiritual retreat at Northeastern Seminary, but it did. More proof, I suppose, that transformation comes as a pure gift. Sometimes it comes at unsuspecting moments, sometimes after years of waiting and hoping. Perhaps it was the silent space made available for honest admission to God; an invitation to realize, in blunt honesty, my buried desires. Perhaps it was the community which, once again, welcomed me back with open arms. Maybe it was the content of the retreat itself given by a presenter whom I admire. I suspect each of these were facilitative, preparing a space within me to receive the gift of God for which I have been postured. While it is true I no longer live local, this occasion was worth the nearly five-hour long journey. It felt akin to pilgrimage. Indeed, I was a pilgrim in a mobile prayer-space hoping if I showed up, God would, too.

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Being Military Friendly is Just the Order of the Day

This article military-chaplain-prayer-178747-edited.jpgwas originally published in the November 2013 issue of Northeastern Seminary’s ResOund Newsletter.

It is affirming to be named to the list of the 2013 Military Friendly Schools®, a list that honors the top 15 percent of colleges and universities in the country that “deliver the best experience for military students.” It is great to be recognized for “leading practices in recruitment and retention of students with military experience” and for “programs and policies for student support on campus, academic accreditation, credit policies, flexibility, and other services to those who served.” But we have to admit it. We have not singled out military students and provided them with special services. This is just how we treat all our students.

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A Glitch in God’s Intentions?

It was three years ago that my sister delivered her first child. The birth produced many tears, dreams for the future, and much excitement as the family came together to provide this child an atmosphere through which he would be able to learn, grow, and develop into his own person. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years as we patiently watched him learn how to crawl, walk, and graduate to baby food. Books were read, games were played, and inaudible responses of love and thankfulness were received with joy. It wasn’t until recently that we realized that he wasn’t speaking real words. At three years he was still making noises and crying in order to communicate his needs.

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Vulnerability Re-Imagined

The truth is, we are all deeply vulnerable down to the core of our beings. We may be strong, yet not as strong as someone else. We may be intelligent, but awkward with our hands. We may be lonely, anxious, over weight, or not as good looking as some others. We must all come to a place of acknowledging our vulnerability, and the awkwardness we feel in the presence of others and of God. But the challenge of ubiquitous human vulnerability can be turned to hope for the future of our society if we as Christians are willing to live into this particular truth of our shared humanity. Our very differences and imperfections have potential to bind us together, through hospitality, in God’s kingdom as agents of God’s loving grace.

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In Context, In Israel: Explore, Learn, Grow

Holy_Land_Trip_20162Imagine standing on the Mount of Olives or walking around the ruins of Jericho. Envision yourself sitting on the ancient steps to the Temple, wading through the dark waters of Hezekiah’s tunnel, standing atop Mt. Nebo (Jordan), and surveying the land of Israel as Moses did in ancient days. Consider what it would be like to swim in the Dead Sea and get refreshed in the streams of En Gedi where David fled from (and encountered) Saul; or to view the wilderness of Maktesh Ramon and walk the Judean wilderness. That is only a fraction of what I experienced in the Holy Land and what has been built into the Northeastern Seminary study tour in Israel coming up in July 2016. My Bible study and devotions have never been the same and messages from the pulpit have come alive whether preaching or listening to others.   

Ever since my first trip to Israel in 1997 I found ways to return again and again—now four times. In a recent trip I studied at Jerusalem University College (JUC), the premiere location to study in Israel. Early in the morning I would wake up and sit on the Old City walls for personal devotions or walk through the Old City before the shops opened and the tourists invaded. With every trip, I found blessing and further confidence and understanding in my study of God’s word. 

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Holy Land 2016: Musing on a Theology of Place

Holy_Land_Trip_2016There are many advantages of making a journey to the Holy Land. An on-location-immersion in the history and geography of the biblical narrative makes the Bible come alive in a fresh way. The stories are no longer distant, flat, or abstract. The stories of the Bible become multi-dimensional and packed with new insight. Having the opportunity to see the sights Jesus saw, walk the streets he walked, and breathe the air he breathed can transform the way we think about the extraordinary measures God took to invest in humanity.

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Violence Against Women: Theological Reflection and Response

Gerhardt-bookcoverDr. Elizabeth Gerhardt addresses the historical, cultural, religious, and political context of global violence against women in her recently published book “The Cross and Gendercide.” Through the lens of theology she proposes how the Church can work together in raising awareness and aid in ending crimes towards women and girls. This passage was taken from Chapter 6, “Creative Theological Reflection and Activism.”

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Violence Against Women: There is Much Work to be Done, Beginning with the Church

July 28, 2015 the body of an 8-year-old girl who had been raped and strangled was found in a dumpster in Santa Cruz, CA. The suspect in custody is only 15-years-old.[1]

The truth about violence against women is disturbing. The details of this one incident make us uncomfortable, but the reality of the problem is so immense that it impacts each and every one of our lives. Even if you are not a woman, you have a mother, sister, wife, or daughter, someone you love, who is at risk of gender-based violence.

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The politics of addressing domestic violence in our churches

violence_against_women_response-566768-editedI was attending a church where I felt I really took ownership of my faith and became acclimated to church culture. At the time, there were several couples who were living together, but not yet married. Upon the arrival of a new pastor, his solution was to encourage the couples to get married sooner rather than later. Consequently, he married a few of them in his office and then the couples later held wedding ceremonies with invited guests.

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Failing to address sexual abuse of teens in our churches

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Early in ministry, I spent a few years leading children’s church and then Sunday School.

One Sunday, a young lady in the youth group sat by me on the pew during opening worship. As was my habit, I put my arm around her for a hug. She pulled her knees to her chest, leaned into me with her head on my shoulder and began sobbing. I just held her not knowing what was wrong. I was unaware of what caused such an open display of pain. Another young lady in the youth group came and got her hand and led her out of the sanctuary. There the second young lady embraced and comforted her crying peer.

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Embracing my Genuine Spiritual Identity

Unfiltered_Spiritual_IdentityWhile I played host for a series of youth leader seminars at this year’s Kingdom Bound festival I also found myself being personally engaged and challenged. In the first seminar Joyce Wagner, owner and primary therapist of Restoration Counseling, spoke about how to avert suicide by properly assessing the warning signs and intervening on behalf of suicidal individuals. Then, Denis Johnson, Jr., pastor of creative arts, music and teaching at The Father’s House, led a conversation around the “selfie” phenomenon and what this obsessive trend tells us about ourselves and our view of God. And finally, Jay Trainer, founder of Infuzion, unpacked the three I’s of youth ministry—image, intimacy, identity—and challenged us to consider how our ministry goals can be shaped by these three cultural influences and keep us from pursuing life-giving relationships with God and one another.

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Sabbath-Keeping: Practicing Openness

“You don’t have to try so hard. You don’t have to bend until you break.” I hear these words through my car radio and they fill my soul. Colbie Caillat’s song “Try” is not a theological treatise by any means, but it sure is insightful!

Trying describes today’s teens. As I work in a youth group setting I see first-hand how they try. They are trying to: get good grades, earn money, make friends, beat records, get scholarships, help their family, get a car, and even to escape pain. They’re busy. They’re following the adult model. We all want the best. We all want to be the best. We will pay great prices to get and be the best.

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Sabbath-Keeping: So We Can Look For God

Last year I traveled to Peru to talk with some Free Methodist pastors about the importance of self-care in ministry. One of the highlights of that trip for me was a small group time where we talked about taking a Sabbath rest each week. Most of the pastors in the group were bi-vocational, and poured themselves into their ministry whenever they had the opportunity. The idea of taking a rest each week, while acknowledged as imSlide1portant, was also experienced as a real challenge.

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Second Thursday of Advent: Faith and politics in Advent

Middleton_The_Justice_of_Advent_ThursdayThe background to the events of Isaiah 7-12 is an important political crisis, described concisely in Isaiah 7.1 see also 2 Kings 6.5-9). While Judah had for many years pursued a policy of non-resistance as a vassal state to the encroaching Assyrian empire, many anti-Assyrian alliances sprang up throughout the region. One such was led by Rezin, king of Syria (Aram), who was joined by Pekah, newly ascended to the throne in Ephraim, the northern kingdom. Together these kings and their armies marched against Judah in 734 B.C., seeking to lay siege to Jerusalem and replace King Ahaz with a puppet who would willingly join the anti-Assyrian coalition (v.6). Ahaz was understandably shaken (v.2).

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Second Wednesday of Advent: God's cleansing fire

Middleton_The_Justice_of_Advent_Wednesday-1Having described Judah as tinder-dry and ready to go up in flames of judgment (5.24), Isaiah recounts, in vivid first-person narrative, a vision of Yahweh dominated by the image of burning. In the year of King Uzziah’s death, a year that saw the Assyrian empire grow stronger and extend its imperial reach over the ancient Near East, the prophet glimpses another king, enthroned over the entire earth (vv.2-3), to whom even Assyria is subject. The Temple, where this vision takes place, functions as a window on God’s throne room, but itself can contain only the hem of his robe (v.1)! The immensity of scale alone is staggering. But add to that the encircling seraphim, Yahweh’s six-winged blazing heavenly attendants (saraph means “to burn”), whose praise of the Lord of Hosts rocks the Temple to its foundations and fills it with smoke (v.4), and Isaiah is reduced to holy and abject terror.

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Second Tuesday of Advent: God’s alien deed

Isaiah 5.18-25

Luke 21.29-38

Therefore the anger of the Lord

was kindled against his people,

and he stretched out his hand

against them and struck them.

Isaiah 5.24                                   

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The woes Isaiah began describing in yesterday’s reading here become broader and more sweeping, and quickly pile up in an intensifying series of abrupt accusations (vv.18,20,21,22). Alas! he cries again and again in pained acknowledgement of the people’s sins. Isaiah pictures his hearers slowed down by the heavy burden of their justice, which they drag along like a treasure they can’t part with (v.18). Yet they demand immediate action from God, goading the Lord to provide a sign and so prove himself (v.19). We, of course, don’t ask mockingly, but pray earnestly for God to act decisively in our historical situation to set things right (which usually means to set our immediate situation to rights). The irony, of course, is that this is precisely our calling, our task, to set things right (to do righteousness), if only we would cast off the ropes of injustice with which we have bound ourselves.

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Second Monday of Advent: Discerning the times

Isaiah 5.8-17

Luke 21.20-28

 

Ah, you…who do not

regard the deeds of the Lord,

or see the work of his hands!        

Isaiah 5.11-12

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Isaiah vividly describes the “wild grapes” or spoiled fruit of Israel’s social life in a series of accusations framed as “woes” (vv.8,11-12) that continue into tomorrow’s reading (vv.18,20-22). The Hebrew hoy! can be simply an attention-getter (hey!), a pronouncement of doom (woe!) or a cry of lament (ah! or alas!), as at a funeral or other sorrowful event. In our text these are all combined.

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Second Sunday of Advent: A harvest of disappointment

Isaiah 5.1-7

Luke 7.28-35

 

The Lord expected justice,    

but saw bloodshed;

righteousness,

but heard a cry.

Isaiah 5.7

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Today’s Old Testament reading is a carefully crafted literary piece, at once a love-song, a lawsuit and an extended parable with a climactic punch line. Isaiah introduces the piece as a song for his dodi, a term of endearment meaning friend or beloved (v.1). Casting himself in the role of best man, he sings about his friend the bridegroom and his vineyard. In the ancient Near East vineyard, field and garden, were common metaphors for a bride (see Song of Solomon 8.12).

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Sabbath-Keeping: An Intentional Endeavor

At a recent lecture Dr. Matthew Sleeth discussed the necessity of Sabbath rest and why this command often gets overlooked or goes underappreciated even within the Body of Christ. In his attempt to remind us of Sabbaths past he asked that we remember some of the special things that happened on Sunday’s when we were children which, for most, meant recalling a time where Blue Laws were still observed which made it almost as impossible to break the Sabbath as today’s culture does to keep it.

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Doing Something About Violence Against Women and Girls

The_Cross_and_Gendercide_Gerhardt_BlogToward the end of my first semester as graduate assistant for Dr. Elizabeth Gerhardt, professor of theology and social ethics at Northeastern Seminary, she asked me to help her edit the book she was working on. This included things like checking sources, making sure things were cited properly (I almost memorized the Turabian style guide throughout this process), and checking grammar. I had already gotten to know her fairly well having had the privilege of serving at an orphanage in Fushun, China, with a team that included Beth and her daughter. So when she told me that the subject matter of the book centered on issues of gendercide and violence toward women and how the church needs to respond, I was on board. It was a topic that I had wanted to learn more about.

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Youth Ministry: Rollercoasters and Practicing Theology

Recently, I took our church’s teens on our annual amusement park trip—a cornersdescribe the imagetone event in all of my youth ministries. I have to admit it though, I do not like amusement parks. Now, I do like aspects of the park, but the reason most people are there is what I do not like. Nothing about roller coasters excites me. I do not like rides that offer a slow incline only to drop participants almost straight down with the encouragement to lift hands in the air while screaming. I do not enjoy corkscrew turns, riding upside down, or rides that take a person to the highest heights just to drop them from those heights in a matter of seconds. How was this ever dubbed as amusement?

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No Longer Jew or Gentile: Does Paul Reject Cultural Identity?

Scripture When I was a young Christian, I was led to believe that “worldly” identity and attachments were sinful and all that mattered was worshipping Jesus Christ “in spirit.” Taken to an extreme, the idea meant to me that cultural aspects of this earthly life were temporary and, therefore, obstacles in the way of our eternal and spiritual identity. Perhaps the most memorable example of this came with the push in our youth group to destroy all of our “secular” music and the expectation we would only listen to Christian music. Perhaps another tacit assumption was that the “strong” believers would limit their participation in “secular” clubs and sports, and would devote more time to church activities (student leader board, church choir, youth group, etc.).

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Multi-cultural Ministry: Unity in Diversity

The Native American sits next to the Congolese man to discuss the Pan-African/Swahili group. The Nigerian man greets the Anglo woman while the Myanmar-Burmese man speaks with the  African American woman. The Rwandan and Eritean men take their seats and prepare to meet. This is not the opening of a United Nations session. This is the leadership team at my church in Buffalo N.Y. sitting down together to ask the questions that will guide and shape their ministries.

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Preaching God's Grace

I often say as I listen to preaching that I can tell where the theological thrust of focus of the preacher is. We preach what we believe. My core belief, the one thought that I hope and try to convey to persons in every sermon that I preach is this: God’s grace is real and available, without qualification or precondition or any stipulation. It is “good to go.”

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Looking for the Resurrection from the Dead, Life of the World to Come

I entered into lent this year captivated by the idea of anticipating the resurrection. It has been 10 years since I began to observe Lent. During those years I have fasted from habits and I have fasted from food. I have contemplated dying to self, wrestling with sin, and receiving forgiveness. But this year as I entered Lent I was captivated by the anticipation of the Resurrection.

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Growth in the Night Times of Life

bud sproutIn the Deep South, although the first day of spring is still officially a few weeks away, the plants and trees around my neighborhood are beginning to show signs of re-birth. Winter is slipping away. Shoots and blossoms, while mostly dormant at present, will soon burst forth with glorious expression.

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The Doctor of Ministry Program Was Like a Rocket Boost

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After I had completed my Master of Divinity degree I engaged in many seminars, professional development events, spiritual life refreshments, and other ongoing educational opportunities. But I was "chomping at the bit" for something much more rigorous, a kind of personal and professional development that had real accountability and required authentic advancement.

The doctoral program at Northeastern Seminary provided all of that, and more, for me. I figured I was about three quarters of the way through my career as a pastor (making many assumptions, of course) and I did not want to just coast my way toward retirement. The entire experience was like having the third stage rocket boost me higher than I imagined possible.

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Two Ways to Make Time for a D.Min. Degree

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I was in my late 50s when I made the decision to start the D. Min. program. At that point, my time was divided between two challenging occupations. For half of each week, I was engaged in the practice of law at a large law firm. For the other half of each week, I was employed as the assistant director of U. S. ministries for an association of churches. 

As I look back on my D.Min. years, I realize that the journey was actually a very smooth one. The studies proved to be a relaxation for me—especially the residency week of class. As it worked out, the program fit nicely with my two jobs and was not a source or pressure or stress. It was a joy.

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He Comes Down from Heaven

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Thomas Worth.

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Christmas Response

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Tami Thurber.

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The Longing of the Wait

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Matthew French.

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Holy Intervention

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Joanne Green-Colon.

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The Gift of the Word

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Desjamebra Julian Robinson.

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Free, Inordinate Gift

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Pedro Rios.

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Immanuel, God With Us

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Marlena Graves.

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Preparing for the Baby

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by James LaBarr.

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God Is With Us

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Michele Miner.

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Anticipation

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Will Barham.

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Contented Godliness

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Edward Jenkins.

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Ordered Steps

This month we will be sharing a collection of short readings by Northeastern Seminary alumni as they reflect on and rejoice in the gifts of God's grace and the signs of Christ present during this Advent Season. Today's guest post was written by Yulanda McKinney.

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Going Deeper in Youth Ministry

empty churchThere’s a thought among some church leaders that a majority of teens leave the church after they go off to college. Some believe this decline in attendance stems from a desire to go deeper and be real about life and faith, a desire that is not being met in church. Rachel Held Evans recently addressed this topic, expressing that “what millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance” (CNN Belief Blog). Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at different ways youth leaders can go deeper in their youth ministry.

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Church Renewal - What, Where, When and How

iStock church interiorMany churches experience anxiety in these days as attendance declines, budgets tighten, and the younger generation heads for the exits. The church has faced anxious days before, and then, as now, responses among its people have varied, ranging from respiration and preservation to innovation and expansion. However, Jason E. Vickers, Ph.D., featured speaker at the Church Renewal Conference hosted by Northeastern Seminary in March, recommends that before we respond we must be theologically rooted in the holiness of God.

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Bringing Comfort and Peace Through Hospice

The connection is made, often in the absence of words, through a gentle touch, a long and loving exchange of truly seeing each other, holding a frail hand, reading a Psalm, or simply sitting and meditating by the sound of the laboring breath of the dying. It is a deep connection that I highly value and am honored to experience.” This is fulfillment for Stergios Skatharoudis, (C25, MA/MSW) who is called to hospice care.

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Rooted in Faith, Wrapped in Fun - Reforming Children's Ministry

After working in children’s ministries, both Troy Bassett (M.Div. ‘08), pastor of FreeChurch.net in Rochester, N.Y., and author Tami Thurber (M.A., ‘09) noted that children had an alarmingly low retention rate of the Bible stories they learned in church. And possibly even more alarming, most do not know what they actually believe. In addition, Rebecca Chaffee (C30, M.Div.), program director for children, youth, and family at Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church in DeWitt, N.Y., found it problematic that children are too often excluded from worship services. In response Bassett, Thurber, and Chaffee, among other Northeastern Seminary students and alumni, are effectively reforming ministry to children—rooted in biblical truths to give children a firm foundation to build upon.

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Recovery Ministries: A Place of Trust and Safety

It happens everywhere. Drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse exist in every social class, ethnic group, and age. The incidents are often silenced, hidden under a veil of guilt and shame. Recovery ministries seek to provide a sanctuary for victims to find safety, counsel and healing. For those called to this ministry, there are several issues Northeastern Seminary students and graduates have found essential as they are equipped to help others.

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Start the New Year, Start Seminary: 7 Reasons to Start in January

Perhaps you are like me that when August comes around, you naturally think about starting school. This is the case for many of us. However, through the history of Northeastern Seminary, we have found that some people really value the opportunity to start in January (spring semester), rather than in the fall. Below are seven reasons why people start in January. 
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What's It Like to Be a Chaplain?


Chaplain Lida with womanWith only 44 percent of Americans regularly attending some form of religious service, and only 61 percent of that total identifying themselves as Christian, students and alumni of Northeastern Seminary respond by bringing God’s love to people’s everyday lives—as chaplains.

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Baby Boomers Going to Seminary

man pensiveWhen the British Broadcasting Company was investigating a recent trend among older Americans’ desire for seminary education sparked by a Time magazine article, correspondent Johnny Dymon selected Northeastern Seminary as the focus for a short radio documentary. Interviews with Academic Vice President and Dean Doug Cullum, current student Mary Van Houten, graduate Bill Rabjohn, and prospective student Shawn Carey provided a window into the dynamic pull second-career people feel toward seminaries and on the decision process that incurs. Listen to the audio clip that recently aired in the United Kingdom on BBC radio.

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