Closer - Intimacy with God Sep.-Dec. 2006
12/22/2006 - Scot McKnight is messing with Protestant views of Mary. And, as it turns out, Catholics are paying attention, too. And he’s more than just re-arranging the Nativity scene. He wants Protestants to quit running in horror from anything that smacks of honoring Mary, to not begin with polemics against Catholics and instead come to know “the real Mary.?His new book re-visits each important episode in Mary’s life recorded by Luke, Matthew, Mark, and John and details important events in the history of the church’s understanding of Mary’s life.
Special Storage: A Reading for Week 4 of Advent
12/22/2006 - This monologue illuminates the joy, the uncertainty, and the outright terror of a young mother-to-be and the birth of her first child. An older man is overjoyed at seeing the baby: "He told me he had some good news and some bad news. We had a special job and it would be successful. But there would be days of excruciating pain—it would be easier if someone stabbed me. While his words troubled me, I somehow knew they were true. How could this be?"
Movie Review: The Nativity Story
12/22/2006 - "In the past, also, I might be concerned that writers not harmonize the Gospels but stay with one writer’s perspective and so more fully understand the message. But as I watched The Nativity Story with my wife and children and two families from my church, I slipped off my scholar’s hat and lost myself in the story again."
He Gives and Takes Away
12/15/2006 - "She honestly desired to do what God wanted. It was therefore tremendously confusing when they lost their second baby, a stillbirth. This sent her into a tailspin. Why would God do that to her? Hadn’t he seen her dedication? Wasn’t he aware of the consistency of her Christian walk? How could he betray her like this?"
Marital Sexuality as a Spiritual Discipline
Jaime D. Goff
12/11/2006 - "I believe that marital sexuality was created by God not only as a way for us to experience pleasure but also as a way for us to experience profound spiritual and personal growth. Increasingly, the church is awakening to this idea, but it hasn’t always been that way: the church’s history with sexuality has been difficult and marred by misunderstanding, unrealistic sanctions, and avoidance."
Wrestling With Jesus
12/09/2006 - One can smell the anticipation hovering like a cloud. Jesus turns to the large crowd I’m in and says, “I know many of you admire me, cheer me on, root for my cause. I am honored that some of you would worship me and believe in me. However, I do not need anymore admirers, fans, worshippers, or believers. I’m going to Jerusalem to take up a cross. I need some people who are willing to follow me.?The crowd gets smaller instantly. I leave waffling in my own doubt, fear, and apathy. Wrestling with Jesus is harder than I thought it would be.
Prayer for a Warrior
11/10/2006 - When the old soldier spoke of his mother the pain was momentarily erased from his face. Calmness came. Suddenly, we stood on sacred ground. Words were well chosen. He bowed out of reverence. I leaned forward to listen because I knew this might be my last chance to hear the story. . . .
Evangelism is Too Darn Hard
11/03/2006 - In 1996 a group of Christians decided to resign from this approach and find another way to do what we felt was our most important work- connecting with the people Jesus misses most - the people formerly known as lost. . . . These evangelism activities were so unremarkable we decided to call them Ordinary Attempts.
All Saints' Day
11/01/2006 - Halloween is one of those chances for us to experience a "thin place" where God can be present unexpectedly when we pay attention to the opportunities that our culture gives us. This is the day that people open their doors, literally wait by the door, so hungry for their neighbors to care, to ring the doorbell, and while much good is done to gather Christians at churches and it's a conscience decision that individuals and church leaderships have to make, much is lost when Christians gather on dark nights, failing to be light when they otherwise could be.
Book Review: Self-Incrimination by Randy Singer
10/23/2006 - While the book's standard plot elements have all the potential of submerging to the depths of crass predictability, Mr. Singer expertly keeps the narrative afloat by evenly handing out disease and dysfunction, mixing in enough suspense and plot twists to keep the most jaded reader plunging forward....
An Excerpt from An Invitation to Live in God's Love
Gary Holloway and Earl Lavender
10/05/2006 - "In the recovery of authentic community we will find blessings that many contemporary Christians have lost. These blessings provide indispensable assistance in personal spiritual growth. They are the key to inciting authentic and dynamic growth in churches. True growth does not occur through increasing the numbers attending our services. It occurs through the personal spiritual growth of individual members within the context of genuine, loving community." . . .
Go Into Your Closet
John Alan Turner
10/01/2006 - No one ever taught me how to pray. I never asked anyone to. I just sort of picked it up as I went along. I don’t remember praying any of those children’s prayers: “Now I lay me down to sleep” or any of that. I just heard other people do it often enough, and eventually people assumed I knew what I was doing... How tragic would it be to spend your entire life thinking that one tiny part of prayer was all there was to it?
An Excerpt from Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity
09/23/2006 - Lauren Winner is one of the best Christian writers of our day, and we have invited her to our ZOE Look to the Hills Leadership Conference, October 5-6. This excerpt from Winner’s newest book continues a conversation with Lauren Winner in New Wineskins, which began two years ago. Enjoy this frank look at sexuality that is scriptural and spiritual - and make plans to come to the ZOE Look to the Hills Leadership Conference where Winner will present in three sessions on CLOSER: Intimacy with God. . . .