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A few weeks ago I visited Ohio on family business and attended a Sunday worship. I quickly realized that Heather Kimura's message would head toward an invitation to follow Jesus. So I took notes, and am glad I did!
A few weeks later, I decided to polish up the notes, add some personal content, and publish these in the Christian Teachings section of my site.
Maybe you're a follower of Jesus and, like me, always looking for another fresh way of packaging an invitation to follow Jesus. Or maybe God has already prepared you to receive his invite. Either way, I hope you'll check out The Invitation.
I meet individually with a few men who are working their way through Timothy Keller's book: Prayer - Experiencing Awe and Intimacy of God.
Recently, two of us met for morning coffee at Panera Bread and talked about Keller's advice for meditative, or pondering, prayer. Keller unpacked a meditation framework from Martin Luther, which was intriguing enough that we decided to give it a try.
Later that morning I was preparing for a troublesome meeting on my agenda for two days later. I anticipated a "train wreck," and saw no way to stop it. In the process, I expected more criticism than I deserved and the perceived unfairness of that bothered me - too much. So I searched for an avoidance strategy but fell short.
As the day progressed, I experienced an unexpected intersection of pondering prayer and the troublesome meeting. By the end of the week, I had experienced the value of pondering prayer and decided to add it to my website. For the rest of the story and an explanation of the four parts of Luther's meditation framework, click on Pondering Prayer.
Dr. Dean Flemming is a long-term friend, professor, and author. I serve as one of his editor/reviewers, so he recently sent me a complimentary copy of his new book. Re-reading it in finished form was so insightful that I'm sending gift copies to nine friends. So if you don't find a copy in your mailbox next week, I hope you'll order a copy from Amazon and start reading!
Dean wrote Why Mission? for followers of Jesus. It provides solid biblical and theological perspective for Christian living in secular western cultures. This book describes how followers of Jesus fit into the broad mission of God, the "misseo dei." He does this through the lenses of Matthew, Luke (his gospel and the Acts), John (his gospel and the Revelation), Saint Paul (Philippians), and Peter (1 Peter).
I particularly found that his chapters on Philippians, 1 Peter, and the Revelation offer valuable perspectives on my context in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm sure Dean picked these two epistles because they speak profoundly to places where the culture views Christians with skepticism. This includes North America, where people increasingly see Christians, along with other religions, as part of the world's problem rather than carriers of its solution. Beyond the epistles, Dean's treatment of Revelation provides perspective and guidance on living a life of true worship of God, while the dominant culture busily worships an array of other gods.
Here are three excerpts to give you a flavor of the book:
From Dean's chapter on Philippians: Paul reminds the church that, although they conduct their public, common life - their citizenship - in a setting where Caesar seems to hold all the cards, they must do so according to a higher loyalty and a different lifestyle... they must visibly live out the values of the kingdom of Christ, not the empire of Caesar.
From his chapter on 1 Peter: Christian holiness is not a retreat from the world into a safe house of individual spirituality. Nor is it a crusade against the world, treating it as a foe to be defeated. Instead, Peter envisions a church that is radically different, yet fully engaged, for the sake of others.
From his chapter on the Revelation: The chief problem facing the churches to which John writes is not systematic persecution from Rome... For most of these churches, it was the temptation to accommodate to the dominant Roman ideology and culture.
The witness of God's people in Revelation is intertwined with worship. Worship is not only a liturgical practice. It is also a political act. Worshipers declare allegiances. Throughout Revelation, worship of the one true God in heaven is set over against the worship of the beast on earth, embodied for John's audience in the imperial cult.
Why Mission? (Reframing New Testament Theology) is available on Amazon.
Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down to Two Basic Traits (An Atlantic article, published in BusinessInsider).
For more relationship resources, check out Advice for Couples. Or, if you're a pastor or professional who counsels people before marriage, click on Resources for Premarriage Counseling.
To learn how to compare your actual results with a meaningful benchmark, check out Portfolio Evaluation.
We prepared the Worship Center with prayer stations and played quiet instrumental Christmas music. Each station had a poster and a few scriptures to guide peoples' prayers. Finally, we regathered in one group and closed with prayer.
In case you want to do something similar, or just want the material for personal use, click on Let's Pray to End Terror.
I have a separate Math Coaching website to support this work. Recently I posted four web pages to help our students - especially those in Algebra 2. If you know an Algebra 2 student right now, they're probably studying for first semester finals and they might benefit from the four links below. Or, if you're just curious about what Common Core high school math looks like these days, check out the links below:
So why post this on IsbellOnline?
Partly just because some of you might also like math and teenagers and will consider giving something like this a try near where you live - whether it's math, or focused on some other subject area. While the Math Coaching website is primarily for our students and coaches in west San Jose, California, I also designed to help anybody get started in something like it. So check out the whole site by just typing mc.isbellonline.org into any browser.
Or, Contact Tim.
After the Paris terrorist attacks, Robin and I decided to gather people for an hour of Christian prayer. When we brought it up with our Pastor Chris Hoch, he quickly decided to join us. Then came San Bernardino. So, we're designing a time of scripture-directed Christian prayer for Paris and Brussels, Syria and Iraq, refugees and their destination countries, San Bernardino, political and law enforcement leaders, terrorists, and other dimensions of the current chaos. After a short opening, we will spend most of the hour so each person can circulate through their choices of small "prayer stations." Then we'll close with prayer.
The gathering will occur on Sunday evening, December 13, from 6-7pm in the New Life Nazarene Church worship center (20900 McClellan Road, Cupertino, CA 95014).
Now we're getting the word out to our networks of people - just like you. If you are within reach of Cupertino, CA and are interested in joining us, please come! No previous prayer experience necessary. We're designing the hour so that everyone is comfortable.
If you're a pastor or Christian leader interested in hosting something similar and want more details, contact me after December 13 and I'll give you what we have (we're working on the now!).
Tim & Robin Isbell and Pastor Chris Hoch
Advent Readings! I just posted "Symbols of Faith" a few minutes ago. It offers a way to include a child with a non-reading part each week. It's another original by Sharon Rauenzahn from Cupertino New Life Nazarene Church in northern California.
Tim (and Sharon)
But what is the Christian perspective? For some perspective, please check out this link on Immigrants & Refugees.