ECWA Weekly Spiritual Digest: The Church is Full of Hypocrites, So Why Should I Go to Church?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | We are saved by grace through faith and not because we earned it through our own righteous efforts.

We need to define what the Church is before we can answer this question correctly. The Church is not a building, not a place and not a program or liturgy. The Church is called Ecclesiathe called-out ones. This means that the believer is the Church and not the stained glass building with a cross at the corner of the street. Jesus Christ was accused of associating with sinners and His classic answer is an all-time response to questions like the one we are addressing. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mk 2:17. All those who come to Christ the Great Physician are sick people – sinners: hypocrites, adulterers, liars, murderers, thieves, etc. (1Co. 6:9-11) They are forgiven on account of Christ’s death on the cross for their sins and are legally in right standing with God.

ECWA Weekly Spiritual Digest: The Church is Full of Hypocrites, So Why Should I Go to Church

The Church is Full of Hypocrites, So Why Should I Go to Church

We are saved by grace through faith and not because we earned it through our own righteous efforts. Isaiah 64:6 says that ‘all our righteousness is like filthy rags.’ Christians are a work in progress for if we “claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” 1 John 1:8. So, if someone does not want to go to church because there are hypocrites, then that “righteous” person ought to go and help the sinners as Jesus did.

There is no perfect church on earth until Christ returns. For now, the Church is a hospital where sick people are being treated and prepared for heaven. Welcome in!

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.



7 Tips For Keeping the Spark Alive in Your Marriage

by David Peach | That word communicate is a fancy word for talk. Remember when you used to do that without having to raise your voice? Pay attention to your spouse. Intentionally put your book down when they are speaking. Listen to what they have to say.

Thinking about when you were dating should bring a smile to your face. You were young (at least younger than you are now). You had fewer pressures in your life and you could focus more time on the one you loved. If there were other important things going on, they only seemed to get in the way of your dating relationship.

Now, a few (or several) years later, it seems that everything is turned around. You have more pressures with work, hobbies, social activities and less time to spend with your spouse. Your marriage seems like it gets in the way of everything else you have to, or want to do.

Ignite a flame in your relationship again. If a flame seems a little too ambitious to you, start with just a spark. After implementing these tips I hope you remember what attracted you to one another back those many years ago.

Respect

When you first got married did you ever think that you would treat your spouse as poorly as you treat your own brothers or sisters—those people you were forced to live with and knew every fault they had? Yet here you are a few years down the road and find that you treat your own siblings with more respect than you have for your spouse.

Your siblings come to visit and you offer to get them something to drink. You hold in your bodily noises when they are around. You call just to chat. What about your relationship with your spouse? Do you still show them the respect you did when you were dating? If not, get back to those days when you valued your spouse more than your own family.

Dress nicely when you go out. Let other people know it is an honor for you to be with the one you love. Speak kindly. Listen to one another again.

Spontaneity

Do things just for fun. Be random. Play. You don’t always have to act your age. When was the last time you invited your spouse to the back seat of your car to kiss in the mall parking lot? As a complete surprise you can arrange with your friends to take the kids for a night and you sweep your spouse off to a hotel across town.

Communication

That word communicate is a fancy word for talk. Remember when you used to do that without having to raise your voice? Pay attention to your spouse. Intentionally put your book down when they are speaking. Listen to what they have to say.

Compliment one another. Find something nice to say to your spouse. Then find nice things to say about them to other people. This honors them and communicates to others your affection for the one you love.

Public Display of Affection

It is perfectly acceptable to hold hands in most cultures. But have you held hands lately? When my wife and I were dating we were in an environment that did not allow dating couples to hold hands. How thrilling it was each time we did get a chance to sneak in a little squeeze. Sometimes we recreate that feeling by acting like it is taboo as we hold hands underneath our Bible during church.

Why do we think it is cute for teenagers to act like a married couple out in public, but somehow think it is disgusting for a married couple to act like teenagers? There should certainly be limits to what is done in public as a sign of respect to other people, but maybe a little bit of public affection would do your marriage good.

Dating Again

Plan some time alone with your spouse. A date doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be intentional. If you just go out to eat at the same place you go every Thursday evening, that wouldn’t necessarily be a date. But if you would ramp up your wardrobe, show obvious respect to your spouse and throw in a little PDA (public display of affection) you could be surprised as to how exciting the local fast food joint can be once again.

Gift Giving

Gifts don’t have to be elaborate. It could even be as simple as a random card with a nice note about how you are thinking about them. My wife was cleaning out some files yesterday when she found some cards that we had given each other years ago. Though these gifts didn’t have monetary value, they still brought a smile to our faces as she told about some of the things we wrote to one another.

A gift can be something simple, but it should be well thought out and given with purpose.

Studying One Another

I was around an older couple recently and witnessed a hilarious conversation. The wife said something about her husband liking a certain food. He said to me that he really didn’t like it, but he tolerated it for her sake because he thought she liked it so much. She was shocked and was genuinely surprised by this revelation. She hated the food but only made it because she thought he liked it.

What things are you doing because you think your spouse likes it, but you never took the time to find out the truth? Of course you can’t know until you ask them and start studying them like you did when you first met. In fact, it can be a fun game to go to an event and pretend you don’t know one another. Ask each other questions like you are meeting for the first time. You might be surprised that what you thought was true, or what may have been true 20 years ago, isn’t the case any more.

I hope these 7 tips for keeping the spark alive in your marriage will inspire you to spend some quality time with the one you love this week and for many years to come.

David PeachDavid Peach has been in full time missions work with the Deaf since 1994. He has started several deaf ministries in various countries and established a deaf church in Mexico. David now works as Director of Deaf Ministries for his mission board. David has written numerous articles on What Christians Want To Know! Read some of them in RSS feed here.



Improving Our Ability to See Risk Using Visual Literacy

by Doug Pontsler | Visual literacy is all about what you see, what it means, and what you do about it. Visual literacy has been taught in art education for years and provides a methodology for close looking. By recognizing that we are often influenced by our expectations of what we will see, our history in seeing things in the past, and a natural bias to pay attention to some things and not others we often look, but don’t see. (Image by geralt on Pixabay)

Every day, we ask our people to perform various tasks as part of our safety processes that require “seeing.” These tasks may be conducting a hazard hunt, completing a risk assessment, or performing an observation. Every day, we train our people to be proficient in the things that they do. It may be classroom training, on-line training, or on-the-job training. So, when was the last time any of us received training on how to see? If you are like most, never.

Sighted people are accustomed to seeing because they have been doing so their entire lives. We have confidence that when we look at something, we see what is there. However, what if that isn’t as true as we believe it to be? Is it possible that while we may look at something, we might not actually be seeing everything that we could be seeing? And what if there was a way to improve our ability to see the things that are right in front of us?

Visual literacy is all about what you see, what it means, and what you do about it. Visual literacy has been taught in art education for years and provides a methodology for close looking. By recognizing that we are often influenced by our expectations of what we will see, our history in seeing things in the past, and a natural bias to pay attention to some things and not others we often look, but don’t see. It’s why we often fail to see a potential problem even though we have walked by it a hundred times until it’s too late. Or that we are so familiar with our surroundings that we can no longer see the forest for the trees. The result is that incidents themselves begin to inform us of the things we should be seeing and fixing.

Think about the number of hazard hunts that have been conducted in work areas only to miss the hazard that results in the next incident. Think about the design for safety review that was just completed on a new piece of equipment, but still an incident occurs. Think about the pre-job risk assessment that was completed ahead of the task, but still missed an important hazard that wasn’t identified. It is one thing to know about the hazards to look for, but another to see them.

Created by the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA), COVE: Center of Visual Expertise (COVE) is focused on leveraging the lessons taught in art education to improve our safety processes by improving our ability to see what is in front of us. Methodologies exist in visual literacy and processes developed by TMA and COVE to teach individuals how to move past “looking” to “seeing,” and leading to a more complete interpretation of the environment we are dealing with. We can then control, if not eliminate, the hazards that are in front us, and not wait to let an incident inform us that they exist.

Companies are now learning how visual literacy can improve their ability to execute critical safety processes, and are integrating visual literacy into their training agendas. As one recent participant in a visual literacy workshop commented, “You will never see things the same anymore.”

Doug Pontsler is the chairman and managing director at CO VE: Center of Visual Expertise. www.covectr.com. He is vice president of operations sustainability and environmental, health and safety for Owens Corning before joining COVE. In this leadership role, his role was expanded in 2011 to include responsibility for foundational compliance and sustainability operations performance. Pontsler serves as a member of the National Safety Council Board of Directors and is chairman of the National Safety Council Campbell Institute.



Why Do We Celebrate Transfiguration Sunday?

by Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum | The transfiguration of Jesus is when Jesus is transfigured and becomes radiant in glory upon a mountain, (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36, 2 Peter 1:16–18). Jesus and three of his apostles, Peter, James, John, go to a mountain (the Mount of Transfiguration) to pray. On the mountain, Jesus begins to shine with bright rays of light (Image by CCXpistiavos on Pixabay).

Many denominations in North America schedule the observance of the Transfiguration on the Sunday before Lent. Celebration of the Transfiguration began in the eastern church in the late fourth century. The feast is celebrated on Aug. 6. This was the date of the dedication of the first church built on Mount Tabor, which is traditionally considered to be the “high mountain” of the Transfiguration. Others locate the Transfiguration on Mount Hermon or the Mount of Olives. Celebration of the feast was not common in the western church until the ninth century. It was declared a universal feast of the western church by Pope Callistus III in 1457. The feast was first included in the English Prayer Book as a black letter day in the 1561 revision of the calendar of the church year. It was included as a red letter day with proper collect and readings in the American Prayer Book of 1892. Its inclusion reflects the efforts of William Reed Huntington, who wrote the BCP collect for the Transfiguration.

This collect prays, “O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the king in his beauty. . . .” (BCP, p. 243). The Transfiguration is listed among the holy days of the church year as a Feast of our Lord. Other provinces of the Anglican Communion followed the lead of the Episcopal Church in celebrating the Transfiguration as a major feast. The Transfiguration gospel is used on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany in all three years of the BCP eucharistic lectionary. As an Epiphany story, the Transfiguration provides one of the most distinctive and dramatic showings of Jesus’ divinity.

We celebrate the revelation of Christ’s glory “before the passion” so that we may “be strengthened to bear our cross and be changed into his likeness.” The focus of the Lenten season is renewed discipline in walking in the way of the cross and rediscovery of the baptismal renunciation of evil and sin and our daily adherence to Christ. At Easter, which reveals the fullness of Christ’s glory (foreshadowed in the Transfiguration), Christians give themselves anew to the gospel at the Easter Vigil where they share the dying and rising of Christ.

In the biblical context, the synoptic gospels narrate the Transfiguration as a bridge between Jesus’ public ministry and his passion. From the time of the Transfiguration, Jesus sets his face to go to Jerusalem and the cross.

Feast that celebrates Jesus’ radical change of appearance while in the presence of Peter, James, and John, on a high mountain (Mt 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-8; Lk 9:28-36). The Gospel of Matthew records that “he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.” At this moment Moses and Elijah appeared, and they were talking with Jesus. Peter, misunderstanding the meaning of this manifestation, offered to “make three booths” for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. A bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice from the cloud stated, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The disciples fell on their faces in awe, but Jesus encouraged them to arise and “have no fear.” They saw only Jesus. This event is alluded to in 2 Pt 1:16-18, which records that “we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” and “we were with him on the holy mountain.” The Transfiguration revealed Christ’s glory prior to the crucifixion, and it anticipated his resurrection and ascension. It may have given strength and comfort to his disciples in the difficult times that followed. It also prefigures the glorification of human nature in Christ.

Donald Armentrout is a professor emeritus of church history and historical theology, the Charles Quintard Professor of Dogmatic Theology, and director of the Advanced Degrees Program at the University of the South School of Theology. Robert Slocum is the rector of Trinity Church in Danville, KY and the author of many books, including The Theology of William Porcher Dubose and Prophet of Justice, Prophet of Life: Essays on William Stringfellow.

Robert Boak Slocum is distinguished lecturer in the department of philosophy and religious studies at St. Catharine College in Kentucky. He has served as president of the Society of Anglican and Lutheran Theologians and is on the editorial board of the Anglican Theological Review. He also co-wrote An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church with Donald S. Armentrout for Morehouse Publishing.



The Conversion of Russia to Byzantine Christianity (988)

Jesus Christ Savior | The Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity to Moravia, and Cyril created the Cyrillic alphabet for their liturgy, which became the basis of the Slavic languages, including Russian. (Image, St. Sophia Cathedral – Kiev, Ukraine).

The Byzantine Empire of the East, with its capital in Constantinople, flourished for a thousand years. The Emperor Theodosius the Great proclaimed Christianity as the official state religion of the Roman Empire in 380. The Empire reached its zenith under Emperor Justinian, the author of the Justinian Code of Law, who ruled from 527 to 565. Justinian built the beautiful Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in 539, which became a center of religious thought.

The writings of the Greek Fathers of the Church such as Saints Basil, John Chrysostom, and Maximus the Confessor influenced the spiritual formation of early Christianity. The Byzantine or Greek liturgy is based on the tradition of St. Basil and the subsequent reform of St. John Chrysostom. The Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity to Moravia, and Cyril created the Cyrillic alphabet for their liturgy, which became the basis of the Slavic languages, including Russian.

Kiev was once the capital of the country of Kievan Rus, which comprised the modern nations of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Influenced by his grandmother Olga, Prince Vladimir of Kiev adopted Byzantine Christianity in 988, converting Russia to the Byzantine Orthodox faith. In the sixteenth century, a Russian mystic Philotheus of Pskof noted that Rome and Constantinople, the second Rome, had fallen, but “Moscow, the third Rome,” stands. The Russian Orthodox Church today is the largest Eastern Orthodox faith with over 110 million members.

Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.



Christianity Thrives Under The Carolingian Empire (732-814)

Jesus Christ Savior | The Carolingian Empire was among the most significant early medieval empires in Europe. It came into being on the turn of the 9th century and came to end by the first quarter of the 10th century. The Empire was very significant for the later history of Europe, being the precursor to the later Holy Roman Empire and to the different monarchies which later ruled different regions of Europe. (image, The Age of Charlemagne – Refers to an important period in the History of the powerful Carolingian empire who’s expansion into other territories had a lasting impact on medieval Europe.)

The Carolingian Empire effectively began with Charles Martel, the Mayor of the Palace under the Merovingian Franks. He stopped the Muslim invasion of Europe at the Battle of Tours near Poitiers in 732, and supported St. Boniface in his conversion of Germany.

His son Pepin and the Papacy formed an historic alliance. Pepin needed the blessing of the Pope in his seizure of leadership of Gaul from the Merovingians. Pope Stephen II, besieged by the Lombards in Italy, was the first Pope to leave Italy and cross the Alps in 754. He named King Pepin Patrician of the Romans,and in turn Pepin swept into Italy and conquered the Lombards, securing the Papal states. Pepin died in 768 and divided his realm between his two sons, Carloman and Charles.

Charles, known as Charlemagne (742-814), took over all of Gaul upon the death of his brother in 771, and soon conquered most of mainland Europe. He was a vigorous leader and ruled until 814. Charlemagne was a strong supporter of Christianity. During his reign, Christianity became the guiding principle of the Carolingian Empire, as the Church established a powerful presence throughout Europe. He instituted a school of learning in his palace at Aachen. In the Middle Ages there was in theory a division between temporal power and spiritual authority, but in practice one saw a strong Emperor take control of some spiritual affairs and a strong Pope take control of some affairs of state. Charlemagne, as Constantine, considered himself the leader of Christendom as political head of state and protector of the Church. Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the Romans on Christmas Day 800, and this marked the formal alliance of the Carolingian Empire and the Papacy. The historian Christopher Dawson called this the beginning of medieval Christendom.

Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.



10 Questions to Ask Your Teens

by Jason Matthews | When it comes to your relationship with God, what’s more important to you—how you feel about Him or what you know about Him and Why? We need to ask our teens questions about God and religion to find out what’s really going on in their heads…and what they ultimately believe in their hearts.

It’s spring time, which means that another school year of youth ministry is about to wrap up. For some of us that just means a shift to summer program, and we’re already starting to think about things like camps and mission trips. For others, it may mean a total shut down of our programmed events and we’re already starting to think about slower days and just hanging out with students. Either way, now is a good time to look back and evaluate the “success” of your ministry this school year.

Youth ministry “success” can be measured in different ways. Numbers certainly matter, so we track and measure things like attendance and professions of faith and how many students are signed up to go on the mission trip. But, numbers don’t always tell us the whole story…and without the whole story, it’s hard to truly evaluate if your ministry year was a “success” or not. If we really want to know how we’re doing (and how our ministries are doing with raising the next generation of Jesus followers), we need to ask bigger questions, ones that can’t be measured on a spreadsheet. We need to ask them questions about God and religion to find out what’s really going on in their heads…and what they ultimately believe in their hearts.

So, recently, I asked my students to anonymously respond to ten questions. And, I’m finding that their answers are all over the map. From the typical “Sunday School” answer to answers full of “Christianese.” From answers that reflect a solid, Biblical understanding of what it means to be a Christian to ones that reflect the moral therapeutic deism that is so prevalent among students today. But, at least I know what my students actually believe…and that helps me in two ways. It helps me look back on the school year and evaluate the “success” of our ministry in making disciples. And, it helps me look ahead to the next school year and start thinking about what our students need the most to grow in their faith.

If you want to dig a little deeper into how “successful” your ministry is in raising up the next generation of Jesus followers, you might consider asking them these ten questions:

  1. What does it mean to be a Christian?
  2. What do you see as “Christianity” today? How would you describe it?
  3. What turns unchurched people off from Christianity?
  4. What turns churched people off from Christianity?
  5. What is the role of the Christian in the world today? Why are we here?
  6. What is the role of the Bible in today’s world? What’s its purpose?
  7. Why do you go to church? What’s the purpose of the church today?
  8. What do you value the most about your relationship with God? Why?
  9. Do you believe people are born mostly good or mostly bad? Why?
  10. When it comes to your relationship with God, what’s more important to you—how you feel about Him or what you know about Him? Why?

Those are my ten. What other questions are you asking your students right now to find out what they believe?

Jason Matthews is a youth pastor in Washington State, where he’s been serving students for over 20 years.  When he doesn’t have to be in the office, he loves to be outside with his family, hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest.  He also loves to network with other youth workers.  You can connect with Jason on Facebook, Twitter @PJMATTHEWS77, and Instagram (@wearethebreak) where he’ll often post on life and youth ministry.



7 Tips for Living Together Happily 

by Kat Kennedy | Treat each other to little simple things you know will be loved. Living together has shined a light on each of our strengths and weaknesses, bad habits and destructive behaviors but also allowed us to gain a new kind of closeness that we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.

I’m no relationship guru by any stretch of the imagination but rather a regular girl who’s compiled a list of seven savvy tips for keeping cohabitation with my significant other light-hearted and fun.

Generally speaking, we find a positive correlation between length of relationship and the more serious it becomes. Somehow time makes us prioritise other things over fun, laughter, and dreams, and we wind up bitter, resentful, and neglected before we know it. This isn’t necessarily across the board – it hasn’t been in my relationship, for example – but it is possible that as the two of you sink into routines, you will edge further and further away from those spontaneous little moments that you had when you initially kindled your romance.

Living together has been a whimsical journey, but it has also been eye-opening and challenging. It has shined a light on each of our strengths and weaknesses, bad habits and destructive behaviours but also allowed us to gain a new kind of closeness that we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Every couple is unique, but I’ve got seven solid tips for you today that can give you a strong foundation upon which to build a dream life together. Just like a pizza: if the base is good, you don’t have to worry about much else.

1. Spend quality time together 1 or 2 nights a week. When we first decided to share our space, we were worried we might get bored with seeing each other so much, but in fact the opposite occurred. We fell into the trap of co-existing without spending any quality time together. We’d return from work, eat dinner at the same time and then part ways, us each working or studying solo for the duration of the evening. By the time we’d climb into bed, all energy had been sapped, and we realized we were never getting the best of each other. Now, we make it a point to put work aside a couple nights a week and linger at the table after dinner, prioritising catching up on life.

2. Monthly dining indulgence. Before we lived under the same roof, our date nights would often revolve around cooking for one another or going out for a bite to eat. While it’s great to have our own kitchen now, we still make a point to indulge once a month by planning an evening out at a favourite or new restaurant and treating ourselves to some delicious food and ambience.

3. Alternate cooking for each other throughout the work week. After a long day, coming home to dinner ready and waiting is like a warm embrace. Cooking for your partner infuses your meal with love and care, and there’s no simpler way to spark a smile or appreciation than to help each other out.

4. Keep communal areas clean. It is inevitable that you will get, ahem, closer when living together; It’s a lot less difficult to hide bad habits! But while you should, of course, be able to feel at home, we make it paramount in our house to keep joint areas like the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living room clean. The dining room is pretty much mine, stacked with notes and books for working, and Jonny has his music room filled with his medley of instruments. In these spaces, we know we can delve into our own realms and be free to live how we want. But in the joint areas, we maintain strict no-clutter and no-dirt policies. If you live dirty, you feel dirty, and for us, we are both in the best head space when we are keeping on top of the chores. This translates into our relationship. I mean, think about it; it’s not particularly alluring cooking up a romantic meal together in a crusty kitchen, is it? Or climbing into a bed piled up with clothes, food wrappers and whatever else!

5. Treat each other to little simple things you know will be loved. Once you live under the same roof, you’re both involved with the bills, the necessities, and the chores. Treating each other to little surprises reminds one another that you care. This can be a funny note, a baked good, a plant, or whatever brings an instant smile on your partner’s face. It doesn’t have to cost a penny, and it can still be heartfelt.

6. Have a joint pot of money for shared resources and share the job of doing them. While talking money is anything but sexy, being respectful of each other’s resources is. There is nothing worse than feeling that you’ve been taken for a ride, so it’s important from the get-go that you’re on the same page. Split your bills in a way that both parties are happy with, and have a shared pot for food money. Set a budget and stick to it, saving the need for any disagreements or hard feelings. We’ve also found that it works best when we both split the food shopping; this way it feels as though both of you are getting to make choices about what to eat. It’s a simple thing that makes a big difference.

7. Have monthly reviews. We joked about having a monthly review around about 30 days after we moved in but actually found it to be really useful. It gave us a chance to reflect on what we had enjoyed for the previous month, as well as any concerns that had been brought up and were worrying either of us. We now find it really easy to express how we’re feeling about things, remembering the importance of affirming positive experiences to the other party as well as being honest about what isn’t making us so happy. Practicing this each month makes it easier to be comfortable with being open and honest without sparking conflict.

Kat Kennedy is an explorative writer and advocate for sustainable living. She’s a proud ‘third culture kid’ who is passionate about houseplants, vegan baking and outdoor adventures. You can read more of her articles on her blog, Sphynx Kennedy, or keep up with her on Instagram @sphynxkennedy.


Experience Modern Day Life-size Noah’s Ark

Experience Bible history at the life-size Noah’s Ark! Meet Noah, his family, and the animals on the Ark. The family-friendly Ark Encounter theme park near Cincinnati also features a zoo, zip lines, and timber-frame restaurant.

About The Ark
Ark Encounter features a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. Spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, this modern engineering marvel amazes visitors young and old. To put it in perspective, the wood structure stands seven stories high and is the length of 1 1/2 football fields. Ark Encounter is situated in beautiful Grant County in Williamstown, Kentucky, halfway between Cincinnati and Lexington and right off I-75. Ark Encounter cost $100 million to build and it’s drawing up to 2 million visitors a year along with millions in tourism to Williamstown, Kentucky.

Ark Tickets

Plan Your Visit to the Ark Encounter

Choose from a variety of ticket options as you plan your visit to the life-size Noah’s Ark.
Go with a combo ticket or annual pass to also experience the Ark’s sister attraction, the high-tech Creation Museum (only 45 minutes from the Ark).

Places to Stay

The Ark Encounter is located in the beautiful Northern Kentucky area, right off I-75, halfway between the large metropolitan cities of Cincinnati and Lexington. Dozens of hotels and restful places to stay are only a brief drive away from the life-size Noah’s Ark. You might want to consider staying closer to Cincinnati so that you can conveniently visit the Ark’s sister attraction the Creation Museum during your trip.

Hotels Near Ark Encounter

Work with our exclusive travel provider, DAT Travel, to find the best hotels in the tri-state area, suggested itineraries, deals and discounts, and more.

FIND HOTELS

Other Lodging Options

From campgrounds to vacation rentals to bed and breakfasts, a number of other lodging options are available near Ark Encounter. We recommend searching the following popular travel sites:

Things To Do

Ark Encounter is a world-class theme park featuring the most authentic full-size replica of Noah’s Ark in the world. Travel back in time on a mile-long scenic bus ride and ascend in view of the massive Ark. Next, take a wild adventure and soar across gorgeous valleys on a zip line tour. Then spot some exotic animals at Ararat Ridge Zoo, or relax with your friends and family at our casual two-story restaurant.



Archaeologists Dig Up Authentic Biblical Artifacts at Ancient City of Shiloh

by Chris Mitchell/CBS News – JERUSALEM, Israel – Archaeology doesn’t set out to prove or disprove the Bible. What we want to do is to illuminate the biblical text, the background of the text, so to set it in a real world culture to what we call verisimilitude, Dr. Scott Stripling

Driving along the route known as the Way of the Patriarchs in Samaria, the heart of biblical Israel, you’ll come to ancient Shiloh.

The Bible says this is the place where Joshua parceled out the Promised Land to the 12 tribes of Israel. It’s also where the Tabernacle of the Lord stood for more than 300 years.

Excavation Director Dr. Scott Stripling, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Excavation Director Dr. Scott Stripling, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Dr. Scott Stripling directs the excavations at Shiloh. Along with dozens of volunteers, he and his crew are digging into history.

“Welcome to ancient Shiloh,” Stripling greeted us. “This is the first capital of ancient Israel and it’s a sacred spot because the Mishkan was here, the Tabernacle, where people came to connect with God.”

“We’re dealing with real people, real places, real events,” he continued. “This is not mythology. The coins that we excavated today – we’re talking about coins of Herod the Great, Pontius Pilate, Thestos, Felix, Agrippa the First, Agrippa the Second. The Bible talks about these people. We’ve got the image right here.”

Aerial view of ancient Shiloh, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Aerial view of ancient Shiloh, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

That ‘image’ includes a fortified wall built by the Canaanites. The team finds a treasure trove of artifacts there, which includes ancient coins and some 2,000 pieces of pottery a day.

“Now, this one was from yesterday,” he said. “It’s been washed already so you see the same form right out of the ground in yesterday and those are those handles from the stone vessels. Remember, Jesus’ first miracle in Cana? There were stone jars full of water. That’s that ritual purity culture of the first century.”

Unearthing ancient pottery, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Unearthing ancient pottery, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

An archaeologist like Dr. Stripling looks at these shards as a fine time piece.

“Just like your great grandmother’s pottery is different from your pottery that you’re using today…once we learn the pottery, then we can use it as our primary means of dating.”

Stripling says literally digging into the Bible can change your life.”

“You can read the Bible, you can walk the Bible, but the ultimate is to dig the Bible,” he said. “You know, when we actually get into the swill, like these students from Lea University. They’re literally – it’s under their fingernails and in their nose and in their mouth and their ears and they’re exposing this ancient culture. It becomes one with you. It’s sort of like we came out of the soil and as we dig into the soil, we connect with God and with each other, I think, in a very important way,” he said.

Abigail Leavitt, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Abigail Leavitt, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Abigail Leavitt, a student at the University of Pikesville, serves as object registrar.
“I love getting my hands dirty. I love digging in the dirt. It’s my favorite thing,” she told CBN News.

While people of all age volunteer at the dig, the main drivers are students like Abigail.

“It’s tiring and exhausting, but it’s really rewarding,” she said. “It’s exciting to find ancient things – things that have been just waiting for us for thousands of years.”

Leavitt says the Bible comes alive in the dirt.

“I read the Bible totally differently than I did before I came here, and I can see when I read the Bible I know the places, I know what’s going on. I understand it more deeply, especially where previous archaeologists have claimed the archaeology disproves the Bible. But when we dig here, we find that everything matches. You read it in the Bible. You dig in the dirt and there it is,” she said.

Stripling said, “Archaeology doesn’t set out to prove or disprove the Bible. What we want to do is to illuminate the biblical text, the background of the text, so to set it in a real world culture to what we call verisimilitude,” he explained.

Cross-section of the Archaeological dig - Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Cross-section of the Archaeological dig – Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

“So, we get an ancient literary description. Now, we have a material culture that matches that,” he continued. “Chris, you’re sitting where Samuel and Eli and Hannah and these people that we have read about, they came just like us, needing answers, needing to connect with God, needing forgiveness.”

Stripling says they dig into the past and find lessons for the present.

One of the faith lessons for us is that God is the potter and we are the clay

One of the faith lessons for us is that God is the potter and we are the clay

“One of the faith lessons for us is that God is the potter and we are the clay. And even if our lives are broken like these vessels are, God told Jeremiah after He had told him to go to Shiloh and see what He had done, He told him to go to the potter’s house and look at a flawed vessel and see how the potter puts it back on the wheel and works out the imperfections. So my faith lesson is this: Yes we’re imperfect, but if we will allow God, He wants to put us [on] His potter’s wheel and make us a vessel of honor.”

Stripling often cites Psalm 102.

O Zion, your servants take delight in its stones and favor its dust.” (Ps. 102:14)

“For me this is sacred soil. This is where the Mishkan was that answers the most basic of all human questions: ‘How do I connect with God?’ And I think that’s their most basic question,” he said.

“I know I messed up. I know that God is holy. How do I bridge that gap when I sin against other people, when I sin against God. Ultimately, Chris, if the Bible is true, then the God of the Bible has a moral claim on our lives. And as we establish the veracity of the biblical text, I hope that everyone watching would just think about that – that God loves us and He has a moral claim on our lives.”

Please check out the original article on the CBN News website. Please don’t forget to support their work on their website.

Chris Mitchell covers CBN News and events in Israel and the Middle East. He brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world. Chris first began reporting on the Middle East in the mid-1990s. He repeatedly traveled there to report on the religious and political issues facing Israel and the surrounding Arab states. One of his more significant reports focused on the emigration of persecuted Christians from the Middle East.

In addition to his reports for The 700 Club, Chris is also a regular contributor to Christian World News, a weekly 30-minute newscast that airs nationally in multiple markets. After almost a decade with CBN News, Chris’s goal is to provide in his stories the Biblical “understanding of the times” described in I Chronicles 12:32. Connect with Chris via @JlemDateline and .



The Life and Music of Florence B. Price (1887–1953)

This is the inspiring story of a gifted woman’s triumph over prejudice and preconceptions | (Photo courtesy of U of Arkansas Libraries – Special Collections Department).

Born in 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas to extraordinary parents, Florence Beatrice Smith Price became the first African-American woman whose music was performed by major symphony orchestras. In 1933 the famous Chicago Symphony performed her ‘Symphony in E minor‘ at the World’s Fair. There are over 200 Price’s compositions, photos and a commentary that are recently discovered which are now part of the Florence Price collection at the University of Arkansas. She composed songs for the great singer Marian Anderson who sang Price’s music at the Lincoln Memorial performance in 1939 – a watershed moment in civil rights history.


The poet Paul Laurence Dunbar used the metaphor of a “caged bird” for the oppression of black Americans [excerpt] by Er-Gene Kahng.

Her father, James H. Smith, was the first black dentist in Chicago – but after the great Chicago fire he relocated to Arkansas. He was more than a great dentist, he also held many patents, had a painting exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and was the author of two novels. After an appalling lynching in Little Rock near her home, the Price family moved to Chicago and here she met and collaborated with important figures in the ‘Black Renaissance‘ including Langston Hughes and Katherine Dunham.



Amy Grant: The Journey Continues…..

Amy Lee Grant is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and author in the Christian music industry who became a crossover pop success in the 1980s and 1990s.

Amy Grant was born on November 25, 1960 in Augusta, Georgia. Her first album was released in 1977 on Christian label, Word Music and Grant left college to pursue her career. Her second album won a Grammy for its blend of gospel and pop. Her crossover was complete with the 1991 album Heart in Motion which reached number one on the Billboard pop chart. Grant is married to country star Vince Gill.

Upcoming concerts

Purchase Ticket via Songclick.com

Sunday 10 February 2019
Cincinnati Music Hall, Cincinnati, OH, US

Friday 22 February 2019
Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, AZ, US

Saturday 23 February 2019
Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino, Mescalero, NM, US

Thursday 28 February 2019
Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis, MD, US

Friday 01 March 2019
Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park Hard Rock Live, Northfield, OH, US

Tuesday 30 April 2019
Amy Grant with Jordin Sparks, MercyMe, and 27 others
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN, US

Thursday 02 May 2019
Victory Theatre, Evansville, IN, US

Wednesday 19 June 2019
Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis, MD, US

Thursday 20 June 2019
Birchmere, Alexandria, VA, US

Background information

Birth name Amy Lee Grant
Born November 25, 1960
Augusta, Georgia, U.S.
Origin Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Genres Contemporary Christian, pop rock, soft rock
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, musician, author, media personality
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1976–present
Labels Myrrh, A&M, Word, Sparrow
Associated acts Vince Gill, Gary Chapman, Michael W. Smith
Website amygrant.com

Early Life

Singer, songwriter. Born on November 25, 1960, in Augusta, Georgia. Grant helped revolutionize contemporary Christian music. She grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, in a close-knit, religious family. It was in church that Grant was exposed to the hymns and Christian stories that would influence her work.

As a teenager, Grant taught herself how to play guitar and worked part-time at a recording studio. She made a tape of her music for her parents, which had been discovered by a producer with Word Records, a Christian music label. This led to a recording contract, and her first album was released in 1977. The self-titled album was a big success in the world of Christian music. With her unique style, Grant charted new territory. She fused elements of existing genres of gospel, hymns, and Jesus music—which used rock music to convey Christian teachings—to create a fresh, new sound, not heard before. Her songs are often deeply personal as well as reflecting her spiritual faith.

Grant continued recording and performing throughout high school and college. After a couple of years at Furman University, she transferred but eventually dropped out of Vanderbilt University to pursue her career full-time. Grant met songwriter Gary Chapman while making My Father’s Eyes (1979) and he joined her on tour as her opening act for the album Never Alone (1980). The couple married in 1982. That same year, she released Age to Age, which received numerous critical accolades. It won a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance—Grant’s first. She also earned several Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association (GMA), including for Performer of the Year.

Crossover Stardom

With the 1985 album Unguarded, Grant’s sound began changing. Much of her music had a soft rock element to it, but this release sounded even more like a mainstream pop record. In fact, Grant had her first crossover success on the pop charts with the track “Find a Way.” She even had a music video for the song playing on MTV. But not everyone appreciated her new success. The lyrics on the album had few directly religious references, which upset some in the Christian music community.

Grant found more mainstream success with the album Heart in Motion (1991), which featured the song “Baby, Baby.” It reached number one on the Billboard’s pop chart. Grant found inspiration for the song in the birth of her first daughter, but the video for the song portrayed it as a romantic tune. The video and the album created a stir with some of Grant’s gospel fans and critics. They claimed that she was again abandoning her gospel roots for pop stardom.On her next release, House of Love (1994), Grant sang some love songs as well as songs reflecting her devotion to God. The album featured a duet with Vince Gill, a top country music performer, on the title track, which scored on the pop and adult contemporary charts. A cover of the Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” and her composition “Lucky One” also found chart success.

Discography

  • Amy Grant (1977)
  • My Father’s Eyes (1979)
  • Never Alone (1980)
  • Age to Age (1982)
  • A Christmas Album (1983)
  • Straight Ahead (1984)
  • Unguarded (1985)
  • The Animals’ Christmas with Art Garfunkel (1986)
  • Lead Me On (1988)
  • Heart in Motion (1991)
  • Home for Christmas (1992)
  • House of Love (1994)
  • Behind the Eyes (1997)
  • A Christmas to Remember (1999)
  • Christmas Moments with Amy Grant & Friends (1999)
  • Legacy… Hymns and Faith (2002)
  • Simple Things (2003)
  • Rock of Ages… Hymns and Faith (2005)
  • Somewhere Down the Road (2010)
  • How Mercy Looks from Here (2013)
  • Tennessee Christmas (2016)

Personal life

On June 19, 1982, Grant married fellow Christian musician Gary Chapman. Their marriage produced three children. In March 1999, she filed for divorce from Chapman, citing “irreconcilable differences”, and the divorce was finalized three months later.

On March 10, 2000, Grant married country singer-songwriter Vince Gill, who had been previously married to country singer Janis Oliver of Sweethearts of the Rodeo. Grant and Gill have one daughter together, Corrina Grant Gill, born March 12, 2001.

In the November 1999 CCM Magazine, Grant explained why she left Chapman and married Gill:

I didn’t get a divorce because ‘I had a great marriage and then along came Vince Gill.’ Gary and I had a rocky road from day one. I think what was so hard—and this is (what) one of our counselors said—sometimes an innocent party can come into a situation, and they’re like a big spotlight. What they do is reveal, by comparison, the painful dynamics that are already in existence.

Later Career

Grant went through a time of personal upheaval in the late 1990s. Her pain was apparent on 1997’s Behind the Eyes. The usually upbeat Grant seemed more maudlin this time around on such tracks as “Cry a River,” “Missing You,” and “The Feeling I Had.” Not long after this album, news of Grant’s impending divorce from her husband of 16 years broke.

Grant ended the 1990s by branching out professionally, acting in the 1999 television, A Song from the Heart, in which she played a blind music teacher. She also made other changes in her life around this time. She married Vince Gill in 2000, and a year later, the couple had a daughter together named Corrina Grant Gill. Corrina is Grant’s fourth child; she has three children from her first marriage: Matthew Garrison, Gloria Mills “Millie,” and Sarah Cannon. Since marrying, Grant and Gill have continued to work together on a number of projects. Gill acted as a producer on her 2002 Legacy . . . Hymns & Faith album and the couple sang a duet entitled “Beautiful” on 2003’s Simple Things.

During her long career, Grant has won numerous awards, including 6 Grammy Awards and more than 20 Dove Awards. Her most recent Grammy win was for Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album for Rock of Ages . . . Hymns & Faith (2005). This same recording won the Dove Award for Inspirational Album of the Year in 2006.

In a February 2007 web chat on her web site, Grant discussed a book she was working on titled Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far, saying, “It’s not an autobiography, but more a collection of memories, song lyrics, poetry and a few pictures.” The book was released on October 16, 2007. In November, it debuted at No. 35 on the New York Times Best Seller list.[20] In the same web chat, Grant noted that she is “anxious to get back in the studio after the book is finished, and reinvent myself as an almost-50 performing woman”.

2007 was Grant’s 30th year in music. She left Word/Warner, and contracted with EMI CMG who re-released her regular studio albums as remastered versions on August 14, 2007. Marking the start of Grant’s new contract is a career-spanning greatest hits album, with all the songs digitally remastered. The album was released as both a single-disc CD edition, and a two-disc CD/DVD Special Edition, the DVD featuring music videos and interviews.

Grant appeared with Gill on The Oprah Winfrey Show for a holiday special in December 2007. Grant has plans to appear on CMT, a Food Network special, the Gospel Music Channel, and The Hour of Power.

In February 2008, Grant joined the writing team from Compassionart as a guest vocalist at the Abbey Road studios, London, to record a song called “Highly Favoured”, which was included on the album CompassionArt.

On June 24, 2008, Grant re-released her 1988 album, Lead Me On, in honor of its 20th anniversary. The two-disc release includes the original album and a second disc with new acoustic recordings, live performances from 1989, and interviews with Amy. Grant recreated the Lead Me On tour in the fall of 2008.

On June 27, 2008, at Creation Festival Northeast she performed “Lead Me On” and a few other songs backed by Hawk Nelson. At the end of the concert, Grant returned to the stage and sang “Thy Word”. She appeared on the 2008 album Anne Murray Duets: Friends & Legends singing “Could I Have This Dance”.

Amy Grant Transformation From 1988 To 2017 Then And Now

Awards and achievement

Grammy Award

Grammy Nominations

  • 1979: Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational – My Father’s Eyes
  • 1980: Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational – Never Alone
  • 1981: Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational – Amy Grant in Concert
  • 1990: Best Gospel Vocal Performance, Female – “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”
  • 1992: Album of the Year – Heart in Motion
  • 1992: Song of the Year – “Baby Baby”
  • 1992: Record of the Year – “Baby Baby”
  • 1992: Pop Performance Female – “Baby Baby”
  • 1994: Children Spoken Word – Lion & the Lamb
  • 2008: Album of the Year (as featured artist) – These Days
  • 2011: Best Gospel Song – “Better Than a Hallelujah”
  • 2012: Best Country Song – “Threaten Me with Heaven”

GMA Dove Awards

  • 1983: Artist of the Year
  • 1983: Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year – Age to Age
  • 1983: Recorded Music Packaging – Age to Age
  • 1984: Recorded Music Packaging – A Christmas Album
  • 1985: Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year – Straight Ahead
  • 1986: Artist of the Year
  • 1986: Recorded Music Packaging – Unguarded
  • 1988: Short Form Music Video of the Year – “Stay For a While”
  • 1989: Artist of the Year
  • 1989: Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year – Lead Me On
  • 1989: Short Form Music Video of the Year – “Lead Me On”
  • 1990: Country Song of the Year – “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”
  • 1992: Song of the Year – “Place in This World”
  • 1992: Artist of the Year
  • 1994: Praise and Worship Album of the YearSongs from the Loft
  • 1996: Special Event Album of the Year – My Utmost for His Highest
  • 1998: Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year – Behind the Eyes
  • 2000: Special Event Album of the Year – Streams
  • 2003: Inspirational Album of the Year – Legacy…Hymns & Faith
  • 2003: Song of the Year – “The River’s Gonna Keep on Rolling”
  • 2006: Inspirational Album of the Year – Rock of Ages…Hymns & Faith
  • 2007: Long Form Music Video of the Year – Time Again… Amy Grant Live

Special awards and recognitions

  • 1992: Junior Chamber of Commerce Young Tennessean of the Year
  • 1994: St. John University Pax Christi Award
  • 1994: Nashville Symphony Harmony Award
  • 1996: Sarah Cannon Humanitarian Award – TNN Awards
  • 1996: Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award – Columbia Hospital
  • 1996: Voice of America Award – ASCAP
  • 1996: Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award
  • 1999: “An Evening with the Arts” Honor – The Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Symphony, and Tennessee Performing Arts Center
  • 1999: The Amy Grant Room for Music and Entertainment – The Target House at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital
  • 2001: Easter Seals Nashvillian of the Year Award
  • 2003: Inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame
  • 2003: Summit Award – Seminar in the Rockies
  • 2006: Amy Grant Performance Platform – Nashville Schermerhorn Symphony Center
  • 2006: Hollywood Walk of Fame star unveiled
  • 2007: Charter member of Tiffany Circle – Red Cross
  • 2007: Inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame
  • 2008: Class of 1966 Friend of West Point award with Vince Gill
  • 2012: Honorary Doctorate Degree of Music and Performance – Grand Canyon University
  • 2015: No. 52 in The Top 100 Female Artists of the Rock Era (1955–2015

Bibliography

References

  1. Official website
  2. Amy Grant on IMDb
  3. Amy Grant at AllMusic
  4. Amy Grant Biography – Songwriter, Singer (1960–)
  5. Brounstein, Laura (November 2006). “In Perfect Harmony: Vince Gill & Amy Grant”. Ladies’ Home Journal. Archived from the original on July 29, 2013.
  6. Ruhlmann, William. “Amy Grant – Music Biography, Credits and Discography”. AllMusicMarch 7,2013
  7.  Jump up to: “Amy Grant Receives a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame”. Getty Images. September 19, 2006.
  8. Michael Goldberg (June 6, 1985). “Amy Grant wants to put God on the charts”(PDF). Rolling Stone. Archived from the original(PDF) on November 20, 2008.
  9. Stephen Thomas Erlewine. “Rock of Ages…Hymns & Faith – Amy Grant – Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards – AllMusic”. AllMusic.
  10. “30 Songs / 30 Days for Half the Sky”. Half the Sky Movement. August 30, 2012. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012.
  11. “Amy Grant”February 12, 2016.
  12. “Amy Grant Chart History”November 29,2017.
  13. “Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith Announce 2017 Christmas Tour Featuring Jordan Smith, Winner Of ‘The Voice,’ Full Symphony Orchestra”. August 8, 2017.
  14. “Past Winners Search”. grammy.com. The Recording Academy. Retrieved April 19, 2017.


The Eastern Christian Churches

Jesus Christ Savior | Eastern Christians share many cultural traditions but not the same religious traditions, Christianity divided itself in the East during its early centuries both within and outside of the Roman Empire in disputes about Christology and fundamental theology, as well as national divisions (Roman, Persian, etc.). (Images of the Holy Sepulchre, detail of the dome over the Katholikon, Jerusalem by Berthold Werner).

Christianity spread throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa. The Eastern Christian Churches are characterized by a rich heritage with Apostolic origin, and are treasured by the universal Church, for the East was the home of Jesus Christ our Redeemer!

Jerusalem is the birthplace to all of Christianity throughout the world. The Levant, the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, served as the cradle of Christianity. Antioch, Syria became an early center for Christianity, especially following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Indeed, followers of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). They also became known as Nazarenes (Acts 24:5), particularly in the East. St. Mark the Evangelist founded the Church of Alexandria, Egypt. Philip the Deacon introduced Christianity to a minister of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza in Acts 8:27.

Detailed Jerusalem Holy Sepulchre

Detailed Jerusalem Holy Sepulchre

One of the earliest centers of Christianity was Edessa in the Kingdom of Osroene, located in Northern Syria and Mesopotamia across the Euphrates River. Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History reported that King Abgar of Edessa was afflicted with illness and contacted Jesus in the hope of a cure. Upon his healing by St. Jude Thaddeus, King Abgar converted to Christianity.

Edessa became home to such writers as St. Ephrem of Syria (306-373 AD), a Father and Doctor of the Church. St. Ephrem wrote his beautiful hymns and religious poetry in Syriac, a dialect of the Semitic language of Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Syriac became the biblical and liturgical language of early Christian Churches in the East. The theology of Eastern Churches often developed independently, outside the sway of Roman and Byzantine thought. Syriac Christianity would expand throughout Asia, extending to Chaldea and Persia along the Silk Road all the way to India and the Far East, reaching China, Tibet, and Mongolia. The first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion was Armenia under King Tiridates III in 301.

Eastern Christian Churches allow clerical marriage, for they accept the gift of human sexuality given by God, who said, “It is not good for the man to be alone”(Genesis 2:18). Those Eastern Churches that are in communion with Rome are known as the Eastern Catholic Churches. 8-16

Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.



Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

by Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko | What a privilege it is to serve together with you in God’s mission through SIM. Thank you for your sacrificial gifts and support for us as a family and for SIM ministries around the world.

This year, untold numbers of new believers will spend their first Christmas worshiping Jesus. Not one of them had a star or an angel to summon them to Christ. They had a missionary, a local Christian worker, a friend, a family member or a neighbor. You all have been part of the team that has supported us to make Christ known where He is least known. As a result of your participation in the gospel through your partnership with SIM, there are many who this year have come to faith in Jesus and will join in celebrating the greatest gift on earth for the first time.

What a privilege it is to serve together with you in God’s mission through SIM. Thank you for your sacrificial gifts and support for us as a family and for SIM ministries around the world.  We praise God for you and your role in making disciples for Christ in communities where he is least known.
May your hearts be lifted in praise this Christmas for the wonderful gift of Jesus and the joy He brings to our lives, for He is Emmanuel, God with us.

Thank God with us that Joel’s semester ended well and he did amazingly well academically. Praise God for answered prayers for him and give thanks that Jochebed could be home for Christmas. We are glad that we could all be together for Christmas. Thank you for your love and prayers.

 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

May you experience the fullness of all the joy that Christ brought to our world this season. And, wishing you a Happy New Year!

Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Joshua & Joanna Bogunjoko

Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko has been the SIM’s International Director since June 1, 2013. Joshua and his wife, Joanna, began their mission careers as members of the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS), the mission arm of the ECWA church, which today sends more than 2400 Nigerians cross-culturally. They were commissioned by the national ECWA church in 1993 and their home church in Lagos in 1995, where they were sent out as seconded associates of SIM. They have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001. Joshua served on the SIM International Leadership Team since 2006, dealing with global issues related to mission.



Please pray for our leaders!

by Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko | But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.” —  Exodus 18:21.
Happy Thanksgiving to  those in the United States! Three of us in our family (Joanna, Joel and Joshua) joined friends at the home of our dear friends the Ogunros to celebrate the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness over the past year. It is always good to get together with friends and family to give thanks to the Lord. Jochebed celebrated her Thanksgiving by volunteering to serve the homeless in San Francisco. It is a very special way to give thanks to the Lord for all He has given to us by giving to others.

This is a special request for prayers as we (Joshua and Joanna) leave on Monday morning for Kenya. We will be getting together with the new SIM International Leadership Team for a week of fellowship, training and also meetings. This is a very important meeting for Joshua and his team especially because this is the first time that the new teams, his six Executive Team (ET) members and his larger International Leadership Team (ILT), will be getting together since the new structure came into effect in October. We invite you to join us in prayer through this time together. Members of the team started arriving in Nairobi on Saturday, the meetings start this Tuesday night and will finish next week Tuesday.

Please pray for safe travel for all those who will be traveling to this meeting.
Pray for a good fellowship and a spirit of unity in all that we would share, learn and discuss.
Pray for the Holy Spirit’s work in our midst and in each of us, that our hearts will be in tune with the Lord’s. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” — Proverbs 4:23
Pray for David Sherbino who will be teaching on “the spiritual formation of a leader”. Pray that the Lord will speak through him and that our hearts will be open to what the Lord wants to teach us. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” — Psalm 32:8
Pray for good health for everyone throughout the meeting.
Pray for the families that each of us will be leaving behind in our various homes that the Lord will watch over them.
Pray that we will be able to focus on our time together and we will not be distracted by any emergencies in our personal lives or in our mission as a whole.
Pray that this meeting will give us a good foundation to serve as a team, to serve SIM well and to serve our Lord with commitment, grace and love for Him and for one another.
Please pray for a leadership rooted in righteousness, integrity, capability and hearts seeking to delight in the Lord!

Thank you for joining us in prayer. Please remember us each day through this week and the next.

“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” — Psalm 78:72

Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Joshua & Joanna Bogunjoko

Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko has been the SIM’s International Director since June 1, 2013. Joshua and his wife, Joanna, began their mission careers as members of the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS), the mission arm of the ECWA church, which today sends more than 2400 Nigerians cross-culturally. They were commissioned by the national ECWA church in 1993 and their home church in Lagos in 1995, where they were sent out as seconded associates of SIM. They have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001. Joshua served on the SIM International Leadership Team since 2006, dealing with global issues related to mission.