All-Natural Ways of Coping with Grief & Loss

by Stephanie James | It is very important to get plenty of rest while grieving, but don’t allow your body to become stagnant. Exercising even for just thirty minutes a day will energize you and help you maintain emotional balance. This is also something that you can designate for your alone time or make it a social activity by finding an exercise buddy or going to a class at a local gym.

Whether you’re experiencing grief yourself or you are a loved one of someone who is; going through the bereavement process is a difficult experience. Coping with grief can often be a very personal challenge, and each person deals with it in their own way. Below we’ve compiled some natural approaches that may help you or a loved one move through the grieving process in a healthy way.

Seek Support
Other than practicing basic self-care, reaching out for support is the best thing you can do for yourself when grieving. Feelings of sadness are common symptoms when you experience grief and loss, however, if you find yourself unable to perform everyday tasks, having trouble staying awake, or experiencing dark moods after a few weeks, you may need to seek the help of a counselor or a therapist to help you work through some of your emotions. However, if you already have a solid support system, such as your church, friends and/or family, do not hesitate to reach out to those that can make sure you don’t have to deal with your grief alone.

Herbal Remedies
Many herbs have shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and depression. If you are struggling with feelings of sadness, depression, or having trouble sleeping at night, try turning to herbal remedies to help calm your body and mind. Essential oils, or calming tea like chamomile, are great for relaxation — which your body may crave. Herbal supplements such as Valerian Root or St. John’s wort may also help lowers symptoms of depression, and boost your mood.

Eat Nourishing Food
Individuals grieving may have a lot on their plates (not literally). From making decisions, to coping with their emotions, your own health may be the last thing on your mind. However, this will prolong your recovery, make you weak, and even lower your immune system and consequently making you sick. To avoid adding more stress to your daily routine, it may be helpful to outline a healthy eating schedule and have daily, nutritious meal plans, that way you can hold yourself accountable to having proper meals throughout the day. Pre-made meals with low sugar and sodium that you can throw in the freezer, and disposable plates/utensils will be helpful to avoid meal prep and clean up at this time. Don’t be shy to let your support group at church know any meals they can bring/provide will be very much appreciated.

Schedule Time for Your Hobby
If you have a hobby, remember to take time to enjoy it. Don’t forget that live goes on. If you don’t have one, now is a good time to find activities that you enjoy in your leisure time. Nurturing activities, such as gardening, writing, or needlepoint, can put you in a meditative state and elevate your mood. You can engage in these activities in your alone time, as well as find groups with the same interests to give you some needed social time.

Make Quality Sleep A Priority
It’s often difficult to fall asleep when grieving as your mind wonders and days run into nights. However, getting quality sleep during the grieving process is very important for several reasons. Sleep affects your mental health, as well as your energy level. It is during sleep that your brain processes emotions, so you’ll not only feel invigorated physically, but good sleep will help you move through the stages of grief more smoothly. To help you relax at night, try creating a bedtime routine with a warm bath, essential oils, or reading a book. This might prompt your body to unwind a little bit and relax, allowing you to rest.

Keep Moving
It is very important to get plenty of rest while grieving, but don’t allow your body to become stagnant. Exercising even for just thirty minutes a day will energize you and help you maintain emotional balance. This is also something that you can designate for your alone time or make it a social activity by finding an exercise buddy or going to a class at a local gym.

Remember that your lost loved one would not want you to stop enjoying life in their absence. Prioritize taking care of yourself and engaging in things that you truly enjoy. Sometimes, you’ll just have to lean into negative emotions for a bit to get through them, but don’t sit in them for too long. Be good to yourself by being proactive about moving through the grieving process and remember getting back to work or your normal daily routing when you’re ready and seeking additional help as needed should help!



How to Develop the 3 Types of Empathy

by Justin Bariso | Understanding the 3 types of empathy can help you build stronger, healthier relationships. The following article is an adapted excerpt from my new book, EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence.

We often hear about the need for more empathy in the world. No doubt you’ve witnessed this in one form or another: The manager who can’t relate to the struggles of his team, and vice versa. Husbands and wives who no longer understand each other. The parent who has forgotten what teenage life is like…and the teen who can’t see how much his parents care.

But if we yearn for others to consider our perspective and feelings, why do we often fail to do the same for them?

For one thing, it takes time & effort to understand how and why others feel the way they do. Frankly, we aren’t willing to invest those resources for too many people. And even when we’re motivated to show empathy, doing so isn’t easy.

But learn we must; otherwise, our relationships deteriorate. As one person remains fixated on the other’s failings, the result is a mental and emotional standoff where everyone sticks to their guns, no problems get solved, and situations appear irreconcilable. But taking the initiative to show empathy can break the cycle–because when a person feels understood, they are more likely to reciprocate the effort and try harder, too.

The result? A trusting relationship where both parties are motivated to give the other person the benefit of the doubt and forgive minor failings.

So, what is empathy exactly? And how can you develop yours?

What empathy is (and what it’s not)
Today, you’ll get different definitions for empathy, depending on who you ask. But most would agree to some variation of the following: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the thoughts or feelings of another.

To feel and display empathy, it’s not necessary to share the same experiences or circumstances as others. Rather, empathy is an attempt to better understand the other person by getting to know their perspective.

Psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman break down the concept of empathy into the following three categories.

  1. Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand how a person feels and what they might be thinking. Cognitive empathy makes us better communicators, because it helps us relay information in a way that best reaches the other person.
  2. Emotional empathy (also known as affective empathy) is the ability to share the feelings of another person. Some have described it as “your pain in my heart.” This type of empathy helps you build emotional connections with others.
  3. Compassionate empathy (also known as empathic concern) goes beyond simply understanding others and sharing their feelings: it actually moves us to take action, to help however we can.

To illustrate how these three branches of empathy work together, imagine that a friend has recently lost a close family member. Your natural reaction may be sympathy, a feeling of pity, or sorrow. Sympathy may move you to express condolences or to send a card–and your friend may appreciate these actions.

But showing empathy takes more time and effort. It begins with cognitive empathy: imagining what the person is going through. Who did they lose? How close were they to this person? Besides feelings of pain and loss, how will their life now change?

Emotional empathy will help you not only understand your friend’s feelings, but share them somehow. You try to connect with something in yourself that knows the feeling of deep sorrow and emotional pain. You might remember how it felt when you lost someone close, or imagine how you would feel if you haven’t had that experience.

Finally, compassionate empathy moves you to take action. You might provide a meal, so your friend doesn’t need to worry about cooking. You could offer to help make necessary phone calls or do some chores around the house. Maybe you could go over to help keep them company; or, if they need to be alone, you could pick up the children and watch them for a while.

This is just one example of how empathy works, but every day will bring new opportunities to develop this trait. In fact, every interaction you share with another person is a chance to see things from a different perspective, to share their feelings, and to help.

Building cognitive empathy
Building cognitive empathy is about making educated guesses. We often misinterpret physical movements and facial expressions; a smile can mean joy or exuberance, but it can also signal sadness.

So, before you engage with another person, consider what you know about them, and be willing to learn more. But keep in mind that your interpretation of another person’s mood, behavior, or thinking will be influenced by your prior experience and unconscious bias. Your instincts may be wrong. Don’t be quick to assume or rush to judgment.

After you engage with others, take time to consider any feedback they provide (written, verbal, body language). Doing so will help you better understand not only others and their personalities, but also how they perceive your thoughts and communication style.

Building emotional empathy
To achieve emotional empathy requires going further. The goal is to actually share the feelings of the other person, leading to a deeper connection.

When a person tells you about a personal struggle, listen carefully. Resist the urge to judge the person or situation, to interrupt and share your personal experience, or to propose a solution. Instead, focus on understanding the how and why: how the person feels, and why they feel that way.

Next, it’s important to take time to reflect. Once you have a better understanding of how the person feels, you must find a way to relate.

Ask yourself:When have I felt similar to what this person has described?

Friend and colleague Dr. Hendrie Weisinger, bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence at Work, illustrates it perfectly:

“If a person says, ‘I screwed up a presentation,’ I don’t think of a time I screwed up a presentation–which I have [done] and thought, no big deal. Rather, I think of a time I did feel I screwed up, maybe on a test or something else important to me. It is the feeling of when you failed that you want to recall, not the event.”

Of course, you’ll never be able to imagine exactly how another person feels. But trying will get you a lot closer than you would be otherwise.

Once you find a way to connect with the other person’s feelings, and have a more complete picture of the situation, you’re ready to show compassionate empathy. In this step, you take action to help however you can.

Exercising compassionate empathy
Begin by asking the other person directly what you can do to help. If they are unable (or unwilling) to share, ask yourself: What helped me when I felt similarly? Or: What would have helped me?

It’s fine to share your experience or make suggestions, but avoid conveying the impression that you’ve seen it all or have all the answers. Instead, relate it as something that has helped you in the past. Present it as an option that can be adapted to their circumstances, instead of an all-inclusive solution.

Remember that what worked for you, or even others, may not work for this person. But don’t let that hold you back from helping. Simply do what you can.

Putting it into practice
The next time you struggle to see something from another person’s point of view, strive to remember the following:

  • You don’t have the whole picture. At any given time, a person is dealing with many factors of which you’re unaware.
  • The way you think and feel about a situation may be very different from one day to the next, influenced by various elements, including your current mood.
  • Under emotional stress, you may behave very differently than you think you would.

Keeping these points in mind will affect how you view the other person and influence how you deal with them. And since each of us goes through our own struggle at one point or another, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll need that same level of understanding.

Justin Bariso is an author and a consultant who helps organizations think differently and communicate with impact. In 2016, LinkedIn named him the “Top Voice” in “Management and Culture.” His new book, EQ Applied, shares fascinating research, modern examples, and personal stories that illustrate how emotional intelligence works in the real world. Connect with Justin Bariso Founder, Insight@JustinJBariso



10 Ways You Can Make a Difference in Your Community

Whole Family Happiness Project | Become a mentor to someone who would benefit from your skills, knowledge, and experience. Maybe there’s someone in your social circles or profession you would like to help along the way.

In 2012, Michelle Obama said, “Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” As humans we yearn to make a difference, to leave our mark. And most of us know helping better others’ lives has positive impacts on our own — making us happier, more balanced, and instilling a greater sense of purpose in the everyday. But, it can be easy to get bogged down in the daily grind and miss the benefits, to ourselves and our communities, that getting involved can provide.

And most of us don’t know where to start. So, have a look below at 10 suggestions for how to begin, and start making a difference today!

1. Volunteer
Volunteering energy and skills to a local organization is a great way to give back to your community. Whether a hospital, food bank, youth group, senior’s home, or animal shelter there are tonnes of local organizations that would benefit from your time. A quick search online will help find local opportunities. Or, contact organizations you’re interested in helping out to be put in touch with their local team.

2. Donate Blood
With one donation you can save many lives, yet just one patient could require multiple donors. For heart surgery it’s up to five. Leukemia treatments, as many as eight donors a week. Emergency care for a car accident can use up to 50. Every donation makes a difference in someone’s life, and what greater gift could you give? Plus, they’ll give you a juice and a cookie. Everyone wins, so schedule your next donation today.

3. Become a Mentor
Become a mentor to someone who would benefit from your skills, knowledge, and experience. Maybe there’s someone in your social circles or profession you would like to help along the way. If not organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters, futurpreneur, or Trudeau Foundation are there to help you connect you with folks in your area who could use a helping hand.

4. Organize a Charitable Event
Find a cause you’re passionate about and organize on its behalf. Maybe you raise money for a senior’s program, or collect food donations for a community pantry. If you want to help but you’re stuck for ideas reach out to the organization you‘d like to help — they likely have suggestions on hand to pick from, or inspire your own.

5. Shop Local
Shopping local invests in your community. Spending money locally supports the local economy and your neighbours — by keeping money in your neighbourhood, where it can be reinvested again through other shops and services. It’s a cycle that keeps on giving.

6. Adopt a Neighbor
You don’t have to go far or orchestrate grand gestures to make an impact on someones life. Whether the older man from down the street who lives alone, or the young mother (of toddlers) on the corner, there are folks in your neighborhood who could use a hand. Maybe you help shovel after a big storm, take them to the grocery store, or mow the lawn. It might not even matter what you do as long as you show you care.

7. Attend Community Meetings
Community meetings are a great place to meet people from your neighbourhood while developing a deeper familiarity with that community. And it’s a great way to build feelings of belonging and ownership of the place you call home. And you never know, maybe you’ll discover a passion for local politics or activism along the way!

8. Organize a Clean Up
All you need to hold a successful clean up is a big box of garbage bags, a bigger box of recycling bags, a substantial supply of rubber gloves, a group of friends or volunteers, and a location that needs some love. And these days most public parks, beaches, and neighbourhood streets are in need of a little TLC, and sometimes folks just need a little inspiration to encourage them to help out. Lead the way, and see what follows!

9. Join a Community Garden
Not only do community gardens beautify the community, they often provide produce and other goods to local neighbourhoods — often underserved areas. And whether a green thumb or just beginning a relationship with the land there’s always lots of work to be done to get to harvest. You won’t just be growing fruit and vegetables, but friendships and community along the way!

10. Help Build an Affordable Home
Habitat for Humanity is an organization that, with the help of volunteers, builds of safe and affordable housing in more than 70 countries around the world. Houses are built, or renovated, over a number of weeks. And not only can you choose the kind of project you work on but you work alongside the family who will live in the house at the end of the build.

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based freelance writer, bartender, and assistant editor of the Whole Family Happiness Project. She lives in Halifax, with her son and a penchant for really strong tea, yoga, hammocks, and hoppy beer.

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The Whole Family Happiness Project is a group of moms exploring our connection to our individual purpose, our family happiness, and the happiness of the world around us. Come join us on Facebook.



How Now Shall We Live?

by Regis Nicoll | Despite the fashionable heroism of embracing the absurdity of our existence, we have an irrepressible sense that there are objective standards of right and wrong, that justice should prevail, and that our choices matter for something supremely significant. (image: James Chan from Pixabay)

From days of old, mankind has wrestled with the question of ethics. In ancient Israel, after fifty years of Babylonian captivity had all but erased God’s providence and law from memory, the Jewish community wondered aloud: “How now shall we live?”

The very question presupposes a standard and a purpose. Even the early Greeks, influenced by Plato and Aristotle, believed in a purpose-driven ethic—a universal ideal of “goodness” that could be known and toward which all men should strive.

But that all changed in the seventeenth century when René Descartes became the father of modern philosophy. Descartes introduced a method of systematic doubt that became the springboard to the radical skepticism of later thinkers. Pivotal was the influence of David Hume. Hume constructed a wrecking ball of skepticism that, among other things, reduced to rubble the notion of a universal moral standard.

Although it took a while to finish the job, once complete all that remained after the demolition was the dust cloud of relativism. During the last century, no one darkened that cloud more than the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre.

A Paralyzing Gospel
In post-WWII France, Sartre spoke to the anguish of his countrymen who were reeling in despair in the aftermath of the German occupation. Promoting the gospel of personal responsibility and choice, Sartre helped turn the mood of the nation from fatalism to optimism. But while autonomy and free choice can be liberating, it can also be paralyzing—as one young man realized after seeking Sartre’s advice.

During the war, a French student, agonizing over whether to join the resistance movement or stay home with his mother who was totally dependent on him, asked Sartre what he should do. Sartre’s answer: “You’re free, choose!”

I can imagine a choked “Huh?” from the young man as those pearls of wisdom rolled off the tongue of the famed philosopher—and a head-down, hands-in-pockets amble back home, as he strained for some moral scale with which to weigh his choices.

Thanks to Sartre and his sophistic forbears, classifications of “right” and “wrong” have been blurred if not obliterated, leaving us, like that French student, to wonder what it means to be moral.

Engaging a “Bright”
A while back, I discussed this very issue with a fellow named Bob. Bob is a rising star in the Brights Movement—a network of free thinkers who embrace a worldview “free of supernatural and mystical elements.” Notable luminaries in the movement include the likes of Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett.

Our dialog began after Bob read an article I wrote critical of the moral “wholesomeness”—a term the Brights fondly use to describe their worldview—of philosophical naturalism.

In response, Bob denied the need for God to determine what is “good” or “bad,” asserting that ethics are based on common human concepts. He characterized Christian morality as “easy”—a “follow-these-rules-to-be-good” excuse to avoid thinking deeply about real-world ethical questions. He went on to ask whether I thought that biblical morality was moral only because God deemed it so.

My response went something like this:
Bob, you said that the moral capital of law is based on human concepts of justice, peace, and harmony. But that really doesn’t help, does it? If law derives from nothing higher than what has evolved in our collective psyche, then law is law, not because it’s right, but because it’s law—a contrivance of the ruling class. Some cultures care for widows, while others place them on the husband’s funeral pyre. Without a standard that transcends such “human concepts,” who’s to say which should be legal or illegal, not to mention moral or immoral?

While you dismiss Christians for their “cookie-cutter” approach to morality, you admit to struggling with “being a good, ethical person” because, for you, the real answers are difficult to find. You ask, “Is the only reason that it is wrong to steal, murder, or rape because God said it was wrong?

Sadly, I suspect that if you took a poll of professed Christians, some would answer, “Yes.” Yet, Christian morality does not originate from God’s commands; it derives from his ontology (i.e., his nature, who he is). In accordance with his ontology, God created a world of order, intelligibility, and beauty governed by laws that include physical and moral dimensions. Simply stated, morality is aligning ourselves with those principles so that we can experience all the goodness for which we were created. In essence, morality is a purpose-driven set of operating instructions necessary for human flourishing.

It is the same for any engineering product, like a car. Cars are precision-made to provide owners the benefits of efficient and reliable transportation. But to enjoy those benefits, an owner must operate his vehicle within the bounds of its design, and maintain it according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Failure to do so guarantees poor performance and shortened life. It is no less true for us.

Take sexual morality. While God has said that sex outside of marriage is wrong, it is not wrong because he said so; it is wrong because it conflicts with our design. Fifty years after the Sexual Revolution, witness the burgeoning rates of divorce, out-of-wedlock births, single parent homes, abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases with all of the concomitant problems of abuse, poverty, and emotional trauma. By disregarding our design, Freudianism defaulted on its promissory note of self-fulfillment through free sexual expression, despite more social acceptance and education than at any time in history.

Still, the Christian must ask himself, “Why be good?” If all he cares about is avoiding negative consequences, he might just as well adopt the hedonistic aim of “maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain” or the utilitarian “greatest good for the greatest number.” However, neither conforms to the Christian ethic.

You suggest that Christian morality is “an excuse not to think more deeply about ethics”—an easy way out, as it were. No one who has actually read and grasped Jesus’s hard sayings could seriously think that.

A cursory read of his Sermon on the Mount will dispel any misgivings that Christianity is easy. In a series of “You have heard it said … but I tell you,” Jesus raises the bar of morality to breathtaking heights. Even the Golden Rule of “love neighbor as self” fades to a penumbra with the dizzying directive: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He concludes his discourse with the Herculean challenge: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”—a standard that even Mother Theresa would not have claimed. All of this is bad news for those who take Jesus at his word. It forces us to ask what that “looks like” and whether there’s any good news in his message.

Jesus answers the first part of that question in the Gospel of John: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

To a non-Christian, this may sound like nothing more than doing good things for each other. But for the Christian who believes that Jesus answered the second part of that question with the Cross, our duty is nothing short of staggering. Out of gratitude for what Christ did for us, we should be willing to do likewise for all, including the “least and the last.”

Little wonder that G.K. Chesterton once quipped, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.

We do good not because the Bible says so, or out of fear of consequence, or for a utilitarian end—though, sadly, some Christians are motivated by those very reasons. We do good out of love for God who not only created all persons in his image, but humbled himself so that all could have community with him. For Christians, the Word made Flesh is the standard of ethics and morality that informs our Western concepts of right action, justice, equality, and human dignity.

I went on to explain that deep inside we all know this. Despite the fashionable heroism of embracing the absurdity of our existence, we have an irrepressible sense that there are objective standards of right and wrong, that justice should prevail, and that our choices matter for something supremely significant. It’s a truth that even Jean Paul Sartre, who shaped the thought of a generation with his God-denying philosophy, could not extinguish.

Shortly before his death, in the spring of 1980, Sartre made a startling disclosure: “I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured. In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here: and this idea of a creating hand refers to God.”

It appears that the dying philosopher had an illuminating encounter with a real Bright—“the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9).

Regis Nicoll is a retired nuclear engineer and a fellow of the Colson Center who writes commentary on faith and culture. His new book is titled Why There Is a God: And Why It Matters.



Genocide in Nigeria!

by Joanna Bogunjoko | Despite his re-election, Buhari has not begun to change or do things better. Alas, he has not even acknowledged anything is going on. The All Progressives Congress (APC), South African Chapter, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the lives of Nigerians are safe in South Africa.

A university professor was gruesomely axed and murdered recently. He was 40 years old, married and a father of three young children. This is one in a thousand stories, and each murder was deliberate, planned and done without remorse or consequences. Is this how the story of Nigeria will continue? Will the world keep being quiet and turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the GENOCIDE going on in Nigeria?

Despite his re-election, Buhari has not begun to change or do things better. Alas, he has not even acknowledged anything is going on.

Please click the links in the references below and read about the massacres. And, please ask your government to put pressure on Buhari to stop these barbaric killings and bring the man-slaughterers to justice.
I can’t help but cry out the words of Psalm 10 that I have shared below.

PSALM 10
Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?….

He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.

His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
He says to himself, “God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.”
Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.

Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.

Thank you for your prayers and support for my country!

Refrences

Nigerian Christians Under Siege: Attacks Claim 120 Lives Since February
CBNNews.com
http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2019/march/nigerian-christians-under-siege-attacks-claim-120-lives-since-february-nbsp

A Dozen Christian Villages in Nigeria Wiped Out in Four-Day Killing Spree:
https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/a-dozen-christian-villages-in-nigeria-wiped-out-in-four-day-killing-spree/?fbclid=IwAR36UxyUGFRE7ayqOxr2BEGQpTeSS-eG3YQP3Q2XmatIGYiyO8K5OJaWCBQ

New Zealand: Fani-Kayode queries international community over silence on Kaduna killings
http://dailypost.ng/2019/03/18/new-zealand-fani-kayode-queries-international-community-silence-kaduna-killings/
CBNNews.com

2 Islamic Groups Target Nigerian Christians – 300 Killed While 72 Others Supernaturally Saved from Firing Squad
http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2019/march/2-islamic-groups-target-nigerian-christians-300-killed-while-72-others-supernaturally-saved-from-firing-squad

Media IGNORING Mass Slaughter of Christians in Nigeria
https://activistmommy.com/media-ignoring-mass-slaughter-of-christians-in-nigeria/?mc_cid=d1ce8599e9&mc_eid=ebeffe5ddd

Muslim Terrorists’ Merciless Killing of Nigerian Christians Continues as Mainstream Media Remains Silenthttp://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2019/march/muslim-terrorists-merciless-killing-of-nigerian-christians-continues-as-mainstream-media-remains-silent

Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Joshua & Joanna Bogunjoko

Joanna Bogunjoko is the SIM’s Special Assistant to the International Director and Archives Assistant under the umbrella of SIM International Leadership and Services. She have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001.

 



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.”

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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 .