NORTHEASTERN
SEMINARY BLOG

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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