Tim Sensing's Archive

GST Faculty Update 2017

0 Commentsby   |  10.11.17  |  ACU, Church, Ministry

I am continually amazed how our GST faculty engage in local church ministry. Of course, there are the obvious activities that everyone sees including church consultations and seminars, interim ministries, Elderlink, writing curriculum, and publishing articles and books that serve the life of the church. Yet, there are also those week-to-week engagements with local churches working as elders, Bible class teachers, and ministry leaders. For example, Fred Aquino can be found most Sunday mornings preaching at the Avenue B Church of Christ in Ballinger. Chris Flanders is often found these days preaching at the Maryneal Church of Christ. Mindi Thompson is a frequent Bible adult class teacher at the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene. And the list continues.

For the past four years, Jeff and Linda Childers were High School Huddle leaders for the Highland Church of Christ. Jeff recently told me, “Having the same batch of teenagers into our home every week during their high school years has been a highlight. From the silly to the sublime and the very serious, my wife Linda and I have been privileged to walk alongside an extraordinary group of youngsters on their journey into young adulthood.”

Mark Hamilton talked with me about his work as an elder at University Church of Christ. While being an elder at a church has many demands, he shared with me one part of the work he found especially joyful.  “Samjung and I have served with the campus ministry at UCC, spending a lot of time with students, mentoring some, teaching as needed, and trying to encourage our various campus ministers. We met with those students every Sunday evening for over five years. Last year was a transitional year for us as we stepped back from campus ministry (though we ran a small group chapel on campus on Thursdays for about a dozen UCC students and their friends).  We transitioned to the 20-somethings group, which Bradley Steele [GST alum] is leading.”

I appreciate working with world-class scholars. Spending time with them on a weekly basis for twenty years has shaped my thinking about God and the church in profound ways. More importantly, I am blessed to watch how they integrate the life of the mind with their daily walk with God and the church. I hear them pray and watch them pastor others. I am a witness to how my fellow GST faculty commit themselves to academic pursuits and the vocation of scholarship as a service to the church. How much more so is that service blessed as they also serve the church with their hearts and hands.

Peace,

Tim Sensing

Student Spotlight- Morgan DeBoer

0 Commentsby   |  10.09.17  |  ACU, College of Biblical Studies, Students

Morgan DeBoer is beginning her first semester studies at ACU’s Graduate School of Theology, pursuing master degrees in both Christian Ministry (MACM) and in Social Work (MSSW). She is originally from Council Bluffs, Iowa and graduated from York College, where she earned an undergrad degree in English.

Where you have seen God working recently?

I had not considered a formal degree in theology or ministry until recently, so the decision to begin this program was in several ways an uncertain one. But now that I am here, and immersed in my classes, I know that there is no place I would rather be, and nothing in the world I would rather be learning about. So I can’t help but wonder how God may have been at work this past year in ways I didn’t understand.

What made you decide to do a MACM & MSSW? 

There are some fairly broken contexts that I wanted to serve in, but I felt that I wouldn’t be truly equipped to do so without deeper training in discipleship, and a deeper understanding of God. So when I saw that ACU offered both a MACM and a MSSW degree, I was interested in how that might allow God to mold both my heart, and my skillset.

What would you like to do in the future/what do you feel is your calling?

I am somewhat of a vocational disaster, and wouldn’t say that I have ever sensed a clear calling. But that is one reason (among many) that I am grateful to be part of the GST, where it looks like I’ll have the opportunity to flesh out vocational direction with great teachers, mentors, and fellow students by my side.

Is grad school like what you had originally expected? If not, how is it different?  

I think before coming, I equated graduate school theology professor with untouchable magic wizard, so the accessibility of GST faculty caught me a little off-guard at first. The professors here are not only ten times cooler than any wizard but are clearly committed to GST students, challenging us in the classroom and engaging with us outside the classroom. Within my first two weeks I met several through church, GST hosted events, and my Mentor Group, and on all occasions they were so encouraging, asking about my move to Abilene, and reminding me they were glad I was here. So I am not exactly sure what I expected, but I am so grateful for what I have found. 

GST Author Highlight

0 Commentsby   |  10.09.17  |  ACU, Alumni, Bible, Church, College of Biblical Studies, Ministry, Professors, Theology

The Graduate School of Theology has many gifted authors who are using their talents to minister to the church & the world. Below are four books that have recently been published by either GST faculty or alumni. We hope they will be an inspiration to you.

 

Meditations for the Lone Traveler written by Mark Hamilton

“In writing this book, I wanted to speak to those who feel alone in their faith. Doubt is not the opposite of faith. Faith is not purely intellectual, but comprehensive in its impact on life. In the pursuit of faith, we are not alone.”

These twenty-two meditations on the songs, prayers, and stories of the Bible invite readers to imagine themselves as part of a world in which human beings may fully live into their sufferings and joys as part of a vibrant while still critically searching faith in God. Here we see prophets and  poets, as well as ordinary men and women, embrace the realities of life without apology or fear. For more information, click here.

 

The Oxford Handbook of the Epistemology of Theology edited by Fred Aquino

This volume brings together leading scholars in the fields of theology and epistemology to examine and articulate what can be categorized as appropriate epistemic evaluation in theology. Part one focuses on some of the epistemic concepts that have been traditionally employed in theology, such as  knowledge of God, revelation and scripture, reason and faith,

experience, and tradition. Part two concentrates on concepts that have received significant attention in contemporary epistemology and can be related to theology, such as understanding, wisdom, testimony, virtue, evidence, foundationalism, realism/antirealism, scepticism, and disagreement. Part three offers examples from key figures in the Christian tradition and investigates the relevant epistemological issues and insights in these writers, as well as recognizing the challenges of connecting insights from contemporary epistemology with the subject of theology proper, namely, God. Part four centers on five emerging areas that warrant further epistemological consideration: Liberation Theology, Continental Philosophy, modern Orthodox writers, Feminism, and Pentecostalism. Learn more here.

 

Among the Early Evangelicals written by James Gorman 

Among the Early Evangelicals charts a new path showing convincingly that the earliest leaders of this Movement cannot be understood apart from a robust evangelical and missionary culture that traces its roots back to the eighteenth century. Leaders, including such luminaries as Thomas and Alexander Campbell, borrowed freely from the outlook, strategies, and methodologies of this transatlantic culture. More than simple Christians with a unique message shaped by frontier democratization, the adherents in the Stone-Campbell Movement were active participants in a broadly networked, uniquely evangelical enterprise. Find more information here.

 

Pray Like You Breathe: Exploring the Practice of Breath Prayer written by Houston Heflin

Pray Like You Breathe: Exploring the Practice of Breath Prayer chronicles the history and practice of this unique spiritual discipline focusing primarily on the Psalms as a reservoir of language for prayer. The book can be used as a 28-day experience of prayer for individuals or it can also be used as curriculum for small groups and Bible classes. Purchase your own copy on Amazon here

The Carmichael-Walling Lectures-2017

0 Commentsby   |  10.09.17  |  Announcements, Church, Theology

 

 

 

 

The 2017 Carmichael-Walling Lectures will take place on Thursday, November 9. Our lecturer will be Dr. Mark Goodacre, Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Duke University.“How Well Do They Know Each Other?”

Dr. Goodacre will speak on the relationship between John and the other New Testament Gospels. The first lecture, entitled John’s Dramatic Transformation of the Synoptics, deals with John’s knowledge of the Synoptic Gospels as revealed in the way he dramatizes their narratives. In John’s Christological Transformation of the Synoptics, Dr. Goodacre addresses the understated similarities in the Christology of the Synoptic Gospels and that of the Gospel of John. In short, they know one another better than some interpreters of the New Testament have allowed.

The Lectures will occur at 4:00 and 7:00 in room 114 of the Biblical Studies Building on the ACU campus. They are free and open to the public.

 

 

 

Summit Review 2017

by   |  10.06.17  |  ACU, Bible, Church, Ministry, Theology

ACU Summit 2017, “Ancient Scripture, Future Church: The Choices We Make and the God We Serve,”  focused on Deuteronomy, the ways this ancient text informs the future of the church and the choices we make as we strive to serve God. Approximately twenty eight GST faculty, staff, current students, and alumni spoke at this year’s Summit lecture series! People traveled from all over the world to attend the lectures and to a partake in many valuable conversations. Below are four all day tracks where GST faculty, staff, students or alumni spoke about throughout the week.

 

Ancient- Future Bible:

The Word of God is living and active, and it has been so for millennia. The rich heritage we have from our predecessors in the faith, from manuscripts to art and from reflection to action, can be a profound source of spiritual strength today. This track, hosted by Curt Niccum, empowers Christians to engage God and his creation in new ways by going back to the future. Those who spoke on this topic were Wendell Willis, Jeff Childers, Glenn Pemberton, David Kneip and Curt Niccum. Our speakers shed light on topic such as recovering the Words of Jesus, interpreting the text about Jonah and the war over women in the Word.

Congregational Leadership:

With today’s complexities of congregational leadership, church leaders must seek wisdom as they navigate the winds of change. This track, hosted by Eric Gentry, will explore healthy leadership practices, pastoral ministry, spiritual discernment, and future

imagination for congregational leaders. Speakers included Colin & Barry Packer, Kasey McCollum, Jovan Barrington and Chess Cavitt. Topics explored included congregational grief and loss, what the church’s purpose is in this new era and leadership models for God’s Mission.

Ministering in the Small Church:

Although there is no official number that makes a congregation “small” or “large,” there are definite and noticeable differences between the two.  Most books, lectures, conversations, etc. are geared toward larger congregations. This track, hosted by Shawn D. Johnson, is intended to provide encouragement, guidance, and lessons specifically for small (but equally important) churches and those who minister to them. Tim Sensing, Shawn D. Johnson, Wes Horn and Trent Tanaro spoke wisdom about this topic throughout the week. These speakers explored conversations about size and location in relations to Churches of Christ, ministry in small towns and finding treasure in the big but also small things.

Business and Mission:

Sometimes, the mission field looks like a foreign country. Other times, it looks like the world of business. Tuesday of Summit, Dodd Roberts will host an all-day track examining “Business and Mission,” a track that will hopefully provide inspiration for potential Christian business-owners and employees as well as encouragement for those already operating as Christians in the world of business. A variety of speakers came to speak about Business and Mission in our world, which included Walter Cunningham, Chi-Ming Chien, Jarrod Brown, Gary Ginter, Lauren McAfree, Jan Martinez, Julie Sullivan, Don Simmons, Jason Fisher, Bill Job, Courtney MIlls, Matthew Rohrs and Mats Tunehag. Topics these guests spoke on included things such as “Business and Missions Abroad”, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the Marketplace” and “From Non-Profit to For Profit.”

Download MP3 files of all the lectures for free on itunes! www.acu.edu/itunessummit

Doctor of Ministry Graduates Present at National Conference

by   |  04.26.17  |  ACU, Alumni

The Academy of Religious Leadership is an international academic guild of professors, scholars, and practitioners who gather for an annual conference each spring to read papers, interact about what is new in the field of leadership, and deepen theological reflection and innovative theory for the sake of healthy churches and religious organizations. This spring’s conference, held April 20-22 in a downtown hotel in Chicago, also witnessed a rather significant gathering of alumni from Abilene Christian University’s Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program.

Dr. Carson Reed (’95), the director of ACU’s D.Min. program is also on the board of the Academy for Religious Leadership. Some months ago, when a new initiative was announced to reach out to various Doctor of Ministry programs and Doctor of Philosophy programs in leadership with a call for papers from recent graduates, Dr. Reed submitted about a dozen recent graduates from ACU’s program. The call for papers went out and out of the submissions received, a committee accepted five papers from ACU graduates—along with past students from places like Duke University, Fuller Seminary, Luther Seminary, Trinity Evangelical, Seattle University, and TCU. No other program had as many representatives among the 20 papers presented.

Pictured left to right are Dr. Carson Reed, Dr. Jimmy Hensley (’16), Dr. Stephen Shaffer (’12), Dr. Ben Pickett (’13), Dr. Randall Carr (’15), and Dr. Jason Locke (’11).

Each of them had a presentation that came out of their doctoral project/thesis. Of particular import is that every presentation demonstrated thoughtful theological and theoretical reflection that led to specific ministerial intervention and action.

In additional news, Reed was elected to serve as a co-editor for the Academy’s peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Religious Leadership. Serving with Dr. Stephen Sprinkle of TCU’s Brite Divinity School, Reed and Sprinkle begin their work with the fall edition of the journal.

Errett Award

by   |  03.20.17  |  Announcements

Abilene Christian University Student Wins Isaac Errett Award

Bradley Steele of Abilene Christian University provided the winning paper for the 2017 competition titled: “The Lord’s Supper in the Thought of Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell.” Bradley will present his paper at a parallel session during the 2017 SCJ Conference at Johnson University Tennessee. The $250 prize, provided by the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, will be presented to Bradley at the conference by the directors of the competition, Newell Williams of Brite Divinity School and Doug Foster of Abilene Christian University.

Eucharist and Ecclesiology: Essays in Honor of Dr. Everett Ferguson

by   |  02.23.17  |  Announcements

You’re invited to the special release of the new book Eucharist and Ecclesiology: Essays in Honor of Dr. Everett Ferguson at 7 p.m. TuesdayMarch 7, presented by ACU’s Center for the Study of Ancient Texts.

This robust collection of essays was gathered from a 2013 event on ACU’s campus in which eminent scholars from different religious traditions gathered to honor world-renowned specialist in Early Christianity and retired ACU professor, Dr. Everett Ferguson.

CSART is proud to celebrate the publication of this book in a special event, featuring responses by Ferguson and the book’s editor, Dr. Wendell Willis, professor of Bible, missions and ministry.

Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase the book and have it signed by both Willis and Ferguson at a reception afterward.

We hope to see you there!

Dr. Jeff Childers
Director, Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts

Book Release Event
Eucharist and Ecclesiology: Essays in Honor of Dr. Everett Ferguson

7 p.m. Tuesday, March 7
College of Biblical Studies Room 130
Abilene Christian University
Free and open to public; reception and book signing afterward

Aquinas Colloquium

by   |  02.20.17  |  Announcements

Aquino invited to give a keynote lecture at Oxford University

Dr. Frederick Aquino of the Graduate School of Theology at ACU has been invited to give a keynote lecture at the Aquinas Colloquium, “Aquinas and Newman on Conscience” (see resource here).

The colloquium will take place on March 4, 2017 at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. It will launch the joint research project of the Aquinas and the Las Casas institutes: Human Nature & Dignity: Resources for the 21st Century. In this colloquium, the speakers will compare and contrast the thought of Thomas Aquinas and John Henry Newman on the nature of conscience and some of its key facets (e.g., rights; responsibilities) that the church and state must foster.

Aquino’s keynote lecture will focus on Newman’s account of conscience while exploring the relevance of his thought for the joint research project on human nature and dignity.

The Association of Theological School Reaffirms GST’s Accreditation

by   |  02.20.17  |  Announcements

On February 15, 2017, ATS reaffirmed the accreditation of Abilene Christian University Graduate School of Theology for a period of ten years (fall 2026). The reaffirmation also includes the GST’s residency programs in Croatia, Ghana, Swaziland, and Addison. ATS additionally granted approval to offer comprehensive distance education through ACU-Dallas.

The GST faculty were affirmed to maintain the exemplary level of faculty scholarship that was evident in their extensive research and writing. ATS noted the generous scholarships that enhanced the student’s experience at ACU resulting in a graduate theological education that is very affordable for an increasing number of students.

Finding a Voice for Chrysostom

by   |  02.13.17  |  Announcements

Dr. Jeff Childers of the Graduate School of Theology has been invited to present research at Università Tre in Rome at the conference, “Tradurre Tradire Tramandare—Translate Mislead Transmit: The Greek Fathers Between Latin Western and Syriac Eastern Worlds” (20-21 February 2017). As a guest of the university, Professor Childers will present research on the topic, “Finding a Voice for Chrysostom: the Syriac Versions of a Greek Preacher.” Childers explains, “Chrysostom was the most popular preacher in the ancient church. He wrote in Greek, but his interpretations of scripture were translated into Syriac very early. My research shows how Syriac translators naturalized the Greek orator into a ‘native’ semitic speaker through the art of translation.”

Interfaith Retreat

by   |  01.24.17  |  Interfaith Dialog

Every January the Multi-Cultural Alliance (www.mcatexas.com) sponsors an interfaith retreat that invites Jewish, Christian, and Muslim students into conversations. This year’s retreat met at the Prothro Center, Lake Texoma, Texas. Two GST students and one faculty person attended the retreat. Below is a reflection from MA student, Joshua Gorenflo.

Interfaith Retreat Reflection

There is a verse in the Quran which reads, ‘Whichever way you turn, there is the Face of God.’ (2:115) Beautiful words by any sacred standard. But there is an added weight to them as I look around this room at the 45 seminary students of varying Jewish, Muslim, and Christian stripes, intermingled in laughter and conversation and respect. The skirt has been lifted on my innocuous practice of segregating those who are categorically ‘other’ and I’ve been found wanting.

I want to expose all the areas of my heart that insist on de-humanizing those whom my God calls his children. That they believe differently than I is no longer a compelling reason to perpetuate hatred under the guise of being obedient to the God who created us diverse and called it very good.

I want to be formed by the words ‘love thy neighbor,’ not conform them to my own weak standard. Distancing myself from injustice to keep my hands clean, to not rock the boat, is not love. Love is investment. Love is when tears are shed and hearts pound with audible anxiety and mercy bleeds from open wounds while voices crackle out insistently that there is no ‘them,’ only ‘us’ and the Divine tenderly holding us together.

I want more safe spaces to have these conversations with one another not simply about one another. I can’t imagine what the practice of coming together and sharing ourselves with any sort of regularity would do to form us into a people who listen, really listen, to one another. It might just allow for the possibility of hearing our own hurts and hopes in voices of a different accent.

Mostly, I want this to have been more than just a nice four-day retreat where I did the bare minimum of showing kindness to a few people outside my normal circle. I’d prefer it to be a catalyst for a more aware, engaged, and courageous version of myself as I align with God’s reign in this world given us to share. In the meantime, I’m finding it difficult to shake God’s face from my sight, no matter where I choose to turn. Right now, it is the truest prayer I know to pray.

CSART Presents

by   |  01.20.17  |  Announcements, Bible, CSART

Jonah: Interpreted, Reinterpreted, and Interred

How a small biblical story became prominent in early Christian art

You are invited to join us on the campus of Abilene Christian University for the presentation: “Jonah—Interpreted, Reinterpreted, and Interred.” This lecture will explore how a small biblical story became prominent in the early Christian art of the ancient Catacombs and elsewhere.

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, in ACU’s Chapel on the Hill, at the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building. Dr. Wendell Willis, longtime New Testament professor in ACU’s Department of Bible, Missions, and Ministry, will be the speaker.

Sponsored by ACU’s Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts, this lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact csart@acu.edu.

CSART

by   |  11.06.16  |  Announcements, Bible, St. Catherine's

Local news highlighted the Carmichael-Walling Lectures saying,

Abilene Christian University celebrated the inauguration of the Center for the Study of Ancient Religions Texts, or CSART on Thursday. The center strives to inspire students and help them conduct research alongside established scholars. On Thursday, manuscripts that were written as long as 1700 years ago were featured.

Read more here.

Student Spotlight

by   |  10.17.16  |  Students

Zane Witcher is a first year GST residential student, was recently highlighted in myACU News. The article begins,

“Zane Witcher delivered his first sermon when he was 14 years old. His grandparents attended a small church of 20 people, and they needed a preacher for a Sunday service. He said that first sermon was “rough,” but soon not only his grandparents but other churches were asking him to preach.”  Read the full story here.

Carmichael-Walling Lectures

by   |  10.07.16  |  ACU, Announcements

You are invited to join us for the inauguration of ACU’s Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts and the 30th annual Carmichael-Walling Lectures at Abilene Christian University on Thursday, Nov. 3.

Father Justin of Sinai will give the Carmichael-Walling Lectures –Encounters in the Desert: Holy Books and Sacred Texts – as part of an inaugural celebration featuring special events, distinguished speakers, and an opportunity to see rare book and manuscript treasures.

Schedule: 

  • 10 a.m.: Father Justin (St. Catharine’s Monastery) — “Illustrating the Ladder of Divine Ascent: An Illuminated Manuscript of a Spiritual Classic (Sinai Greek 418)”
  • 1 p.m.: Dr. Mark Hamilton (Abilene Christian University) — “Who’s Afraid of Ancient Texts? Rediscovering Old Words for a New Era”
  • 2 p.m.: “Texts as Teachers: Reports on Current Scholarship at ACU” (CSART researchers)
  • 4 p.m.: Father Justin, “Newly Recovered Manuscripts of the Scriptures from Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai”
  • 7 p.m.: Father Justin, “‘For Moses Wrote of Me’: Reflections From Mount Sinai”
  • 8 p.m.: CSART reception

In collaboration with the Museum of the Bible and the Special Collections and Archives of ACU’s Brown Library, a select number of rare books and ancient manuscripts will be on display.

Father Justin (pictured at left, top) is librarian in the Monastery of St. Catharine at Mount Sinai, Egypt, one of the oldest Christian institutions in the world. He studies and cares for some of the most important manuscripts and artifacts in existence anywhere.

Mark Hamilton (pictured at left, bottom) serves as the Onstead Professor of Biblical Studies at Abilene Christian University. He is the author or editor of numerous books and articles focusing on Israelite conceptions of society within their ancient Near Eastern context, as well as on biblical theology.

Lectures are free, open to the public and will take place in the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building on ACU’s campus. For more information, contact Jeff Childers at childersj@acu.edu.

We hope you are able to join us for this historic event.

Dr. Jeff Childers
Director, Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts

Our Spiritual Worship

by   |  10.05.16  |  Chapel

Our Spiritual Worship

ACU Graduate Chapel – 9/14/16

Judy Siburt

In 1967 my husband, Charles Siburt, and I came to ACU for graduate school to prepare for ministry to the church. I earned a Masters in Education/ School Counseling and Charlie an M.Div. While here I taught school, and Charlie preached in Lingleville over by Stephenville. We were rich students….we had no idea how rich our time at ACU truly was and how it would change our lives forever. We had the experience of studying under the likes of: Lemoine Lewis, Abraham Malherbe, Everett Ferguson, Carl Spain, Tom Olbricht, John Willis and others.

New worlds opened to us. We were taught how to think, how to learn, and how to develop the life of the mind. It allowed us to make lifelong relationships with people who shared our calling, our values, and our commitment to ministry. We began to form a “good” theology that included knowing and enjoying God and training ourselves so the communities where we would contribute would flourish.

You students are answering the same call to ministry we responded to almost 50 years ago. You are learning what it means to truly live out spiritual worship. You get to talk about God. You are challenged to learn from others who have thought about God, read about God, and spoken about God over the centuries. You get to dialogue daily with contemporaries who also have committed to live out God’s good and pleasing will for their lives.

As one who has experienced this process as the wife and ministry partner of the late Charles Siburt, as one who has raised two sons who both sat where you are today as M.Div. students, I can assure you the process of “renewing your minds,”

learning more of God, is worthwhile. It will bear fruit throughout your life IF the renewal of your minds leads you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice. For the Apostle Paul, knowledge cannot be isolated to one’s brain. It is how you behave especially when in secret, when no one is watching. How you live out your worship is to love God and love your neighbors, and to remember that loving others shows our love to God.

In Philippians 4, Paul gives us tips on how to live out true worship; how to be distinct and different from the world.

In verse 4 – Rejoice, be full of Joy. Not like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, “It’s too cold, it’s too hot, it’s too dry, it’s too rainy.” He is never satisfied. Be grateful! So others, by your joy, know that Christ is in you.

Be considerate of others and think of others before yourselves. Be gentle, not harsh and impatient.

Do not worry and fret. As Christ said over and over again, “Do not fear.”

Then the God of Peace will be with you. We cannot be at peace with God if we are not at peace with our brothers and sisters on this earth.

In Verse 9 – Keep practicing all the good that you have learned. I like that word “practice.” I had a friend who was a very good tennis player all of his life, even up into his eighties. He quoted Billie Jean King, “I like tennis because there is no such thing as a perfect game. But I kept playing and working on my game.” My friend Wiley was a tanned handsome athletic guy with a head full of beautiful white hair and a sense of fun that blessed all who knew him. He said, “I decided to be good at tennis. Along the way I would keep finding good teachers and coaches to help me. Every time I took a lesson something clicked in my head and I got better and I would remember things that I had learned before.”

In Amos 8, the prophet lets the people “have it.” It is not their worship in question, but their behavior after leaving their place of worship. They would sing, “Come, Let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our, our maker.” Then would leave and go about their “busy religion” forgetting what they had just learned. What they wanted was praise for themselves and they used the poor in order to be recognized as generous. They would crush the needy and they lived greedy, and self-centered lives. The prophet makes clear that the problem was their attitudes and behaviors. It was the problem of their minds and hearts.

Someone said, “We have a far greater need to be reminded than to be informed.” If the process of transformation you are engaged in does not lead to new action and new behavior then there is a chance you could be like those Amos left in a “sea of mud.” Your time spent here at ACU will be in vain.

Let’s let Paul remind us of true worship from Romans 12. Pastor Eddie Sharp calls this passage “Christian Kindergarten.” You may not remember the poster going around years ago, “All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten.” Saying “Please” and “Thank you.” “Play nice with others” and “Wash your hands after using the restroom.” Stuff like that.

Christian Kindergarten from Paul:

  • Don’t pretend to love others….really love them.
  • Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
  • Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
  • Rejoice in our confident hope.
  • Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
  • When God’s people are in need be ready to help them.
  • Always be eager to practice hospitality, and hospitality is not just having some one over for a meal. It means taking them on as a project, to be of genuine service in their time of need.
  • “Keep putting into practice all you have learned and received from me…then the God of Peace will be with you.”

The good news is that the process of “renewing our minds” and “preparing our minds for action” is not solely left up to you and me. This is not a self-help process. It is the work of the Spirit of God.

May God renew your minds and prepare you for action. May this season of formation prepare you all to present your body as a living sacrifice. May you submit to the work of God’s Spirit and may you be equipped to lead lives worthy of the gospel.

In the book of John, Jesus says: “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything…I will send Him to you and he will lead you in all truth.” John 14:26; 16:13

And we can live out our spiritual worship everyday.

Benediction:

For our benediction today I ask you to view this 15th century Russian icon, “The descent of the Holy Spirit”

Here we see the Miracle of Pentecost and as we observe this lovely rendering may we be reminded of the gift of God’s Spirit given to ALL

Let’s Pray:

Dear God hear our prayer as we remember that you are:

God for us, we call you “Father.”
God alongside us, we call you “Jesus.”
God within us, we call you “Holy Spirit.”
Together, you are the Eternal Mystery
That enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things,
Even us and even me.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Amen

(Richard Rohr)

 

 

 

A Word of Exhortation

by   |  08.24.16  |  Chapel

A Word of Exhortation

Hebrews 13

Call to Worship

Welcome to Grad Chapel. Our text today, for those of you who grew up like I did, always brings a smile to my face. I grew up at church. My grandfather was an elder, my father was an elder, my mother was a Bible school teacher four quarters out of four both Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I grew up in a home where babysitters came to my house so that my parents could go to Cottage Meetings to watch filmstrips. I started preaching when I was 13. Anytime I had a sermon and the preacher okayed the message, I could preach on Sunday nights at Elmwood Avenue Church of Christ in Lafayette Indiana. So if you grew up like I did, and I know some of you didn’t, there emerges insider language. I’ve used quite a bit of insider language already. Our text today makes us insiders smile for it is the text about entertaining angels in their underwear. And for a little kid, an angel wearing boxers or briefs is funny.

  • I didn’t grow up where the insider language, “our text for today,” referred to a lectionary, a set of Sunday readings laid out not only for your church but also for all the churches that embraced the Christian Year as its liturgical calendar.
  • Continuing for the fourth year, Grad Chapel is going to follow the lectionary in order to provide us a rhythm that for all of you who come regularly to this place through the academic year can worship our God and in the words of last Sunday’s lectionary text you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.
  • The Lectionary does not follow the academic year. The academic year begins towards the end of the Christian Year, during the season of Pentecost, Ordinary Time of Year C, Proper 17. And our text for this coming Sunday is Hebrews 13.
  • Our text exhorts us with “a word of exhortation” to welcome you here in mutual love, for who knows, there might be angels among us… And they might be wearing their underwear.

Message

22 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.

  1. “A Word of Exhortation” – it would not be Hebrews if we did not go back to the OT for some examples. The Deuteronomist places Moses with his GPS saying, “You are Here.” The little blinking dots says, “You are on the border between here and there and before you go forward, let’s look back to where and why you’ve been.” And Moses offers words of exhortation to the camp of Israel, words of memory and hope. Throughout the Deuteronomic history, words of exhortations, preaching, carries the story forward. Words that not only remind God’s people of God’s promises and mighty acts, but also words of warning, words of hope, and words of possibilities. Hebrews 13 reminds me of Moses and the Children of Israel who lived in the safety of a camp, protected by community and family, and who were exhorted to embrace the challenges and opportunities before them.
  2. And the preacher in Hebrews replicates that tradition with his word of exhortation saying, “Hold on to your faith in Jesus, the author, pioneer, and perfecter of our faith.” And the preacher here makes an allusion, 10 We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. 13 Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. And those who know the insider language know that “going outside the camp” is an exhortation that calls them to a different kind of ministry, a cruciformed ministry, a ministry of challenge and possibility. Words that call them, in his words, “torture.”
  3. And, as all good preachers do, this preacher gives us a list of concrete expressions of those challenges and possibilities. Listen again to his list…

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels unaware. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

This preacher chooses this list because these challenges and possibilities connect to the audience’s immediate context. As you begin this academic year, may this old list of challenges and opportunities guide you. Let this word be a word of exhortation.

  • Who among does not need to hear about … Mutual love in a divisive world so full of “we” versus “them” rhetoric, discriminatory and hateful words that only build walls.
  • Who among does not need to hear about … Hospitality in a wall building society where the strangers are cast in the role of enemy and fear of others is highly prized.
  • Who among does not need to hear about … Remembering those in prison especially those who are systemically profiled as undesirable and disproportionately removed from our neighborhoods.
  • Who among does not need to hear about … keeping our marriages and other covenant relationships pure and undefiled. In the midst of so much temporary and mobile connections, where “hooking up” is glorified.
  • Who among does not need to hear about … contentment, especially when all we hear about security is only in terms of social, national, or financial.
  • Who among does not need to hear about … leaders who are worthy of imitation because of their faith.

So as we begin this academic year together, with two final exhortations …

15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Benediction

20 Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Reconciliation Reconsidered

by   |  08.12.16  |  Announcements, Society

Dr. Jerry Taylor and Dr. Doug Foster recently contributed to Reconciliation Reconsidered, a new book from ACU Press addressing the conversation of race in Churches of Christ. Read an excerpt from Taylor’s chapter, “Well Water,” on the ACU Press blog.

Reconciliation Takes Time.

A broad racial divide mars Churches of Christ, and courageous leaders from across the United States have joined together to listen to one another. Rather than adopt a posture of resignation, they have met for honest, God-honoring conversation.

In Reconciliation Reconsidered, Tanya Brice pulls together the early fruit she has gleaned from this ongoing conversation about racial reconciliation. Learn about yourself in the context of community as you explore these key ideas:

  • Exercise truth-telling: it’s what is needed before any reconciliation can happen
  • Discover how race relations are not as simple as you think
  • Challenge your stereotypes
  • Understand the meaning of current events like the Ferguson shooting in fresh ways
  • Revisit Christ’s teachings with a careful eye toward discipleship and love of your neighbor

Each chapter concludes with discussion questions that can help you and others navigate this perplexing and difficult topic.

New Publication

by   |  07.31.16  |  Announcements

This summer Dr. Jeff Childers of the Graduate School of Theology published a translation and study of Jacob of Sarug’s Homilies on Praise at Table (Texts from Christian Late Antiquity 46; Gorgias Press, 2016).

Jacob of Sarug was a church leader who worked in the easternmost parts of the Roman Empire during the turbulent years of the late fourth and early fifth centuries. He preached in the dialect of Aramaic known as Syriac. Evoking a communal meal setting in the tradition of the ancient Agape, in these eight brief homilies Jacob summons his listeners to praise God for his provision of their food and to celebrate their table fellowship. Through the power of his vivid imagery, the flavors and aromas of the food and wine—indeed the dining experience itself—are transformed into an extraordinary opportunity for the diners to glimpse powerful unseen realities and to be shaped spiritually as a result, under Jacob’s insightful and capable pastoral direction. These homilies offer a glimpse into the efforts of one late antique author and pastor to construct distinctly Christian meaning from the experience of communal meal-sharing. The book includes an Introduction and brief study, the Syriac text, and an English translation.

ACU Today

by   |  04.02.16  |  Uncategorized

Recently, ACU Today highlighted the wonderful work of Dr. Mark Hamilton. You can read more here.

In the attached article you will find a direct link to the complete article in ACU Today that includes beautiful photos. Later in that same issue you can read about the good work of the Siburt Institute in an article entitled Flock Management (it begins on page 48).

For a direct link to ACU Today go here. (back to page 10 or forward to page 48 respectively).

Evans Ngoge

by   |  03.29.16  |  Students

The Graduate School of Theology has a long history of service to churches and ministries in Africa. Recently, Abilene’s local news highlighted the work of Evans Ngoge in their Know Your Neighbor section. Read the online post here.

Student Spotlight

by   |  02.23.16  |  Uncategorized

Recently, ACU highlighted the good work of Justin Whiteley. Read more about Justin here.

New Publication by James Thompson

by   |  02.22.16  |  Announcements

Following his excellent commentary on Hebrews in the Paidea series, James Thompson’s forthcoming commentary on Philippians in the same series is now available for pre-order. Philippians and Philemon by James Thompson and Bruce Longenecker, Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament, is scheduled for and August 2016 release by Baker Academic.

From the publisher: “Two respected senior New Testament scholars examine cultural context and theological meaning in Philippians and Philemon in this addition to the well-received Paideia series. Paideia commentaries explore how New Testament texts form Christian readers by attending to the ancient narrative and rhetorical strategies the text employs, showing how the text shapes theological convictions and moral habits, and making judicious use of maps, photos, and sidebars in a reader-friendly format. Students, pastors, and other readers will appreciate the historical, literary, and theological insights offered in this practical commentary.”

Philippians and Philemon is a welcome addition to Thompson’s other contributions to Pauline scholarship. His other books include the trilogy Pastoral Ministry according to Paul, Moral Formation according to Paul, and The Church according to Paul. 

Thompson is scholar in residence at the Graduate School of Theology and is currently working on a Pauline theology.

Aquino on the Move

by   |  02.17.16  |  Theology

Aquino Gives a Lecture and Leads a Seminar at the University of St. Thomas (MN)

Dr. Frederick Aquino (Graduate School of Theology) gave a public lecture at the University of St. Thomas (MN; www.stthomas.edu/theology/events/eventarchive/interdisciplinary-conversations-dr-aquino.html). The lecture drew from his book, An Integrative Habit of Mind (Northern Illinois University Press), and focused on the relevance of John Henry Newman for tackling the question of what it means to pursue wisdom in an information age. It was co-sponsored by the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Aquinas Chair.

He also led a faculty seminar on spiritual perception. Dr. Mark Spencer and Dr. Paul Gavrilyuk (University of St. Thomas) co-organized an interdisciplinary faculty seminar funded by an external cluster grant from the Templeton Foundation via the University of Notre Dame. One outcome of the seminar will be a research project in which Dr. Aquino will co-direct (with Paul Gavrilyuk) an international Spiritual Senses Symposium and co-edit a related volume of essays under the working title, Sensing Things Divine: Toward a Constructive Account of Spiritual Perception.

 

Aquino Co-edits a book on Newman with Oxford University Press

 Dr. Frederick Aquino (Graduate School of Theology) published (with Dr. Benjamin King, The School of Theology, University of the South) Receptions of Newman (Oxford University Press, 2015; http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199687589.do ). In this collection of essays, scholars from across the disciplines of theology, philosophy, education, and history examine the different ways in which John Henry Newman has been interpreted. Some of the essays attempt to rescue Newman from his opponents then and now. Others seek to save him from his rescuers, clearing away misinterpretations so that Newman’s works may be encountered afresh. All the essays show why Newman’s ideas about religion were so important in the past and continue to inform the present.

Dr. Michael Baur (Fordham University) organized a session on the book at the American Catholic Philosophical Association (http://www.acpaweb.org/meetings/77/2015). Dr. Aquino, along with two other contributors to the book (Dr. Benjamin King, University of the South, Dr. Mark McInroy, University of St. Thomas) made presentations, followed by a response (Brandon Dahm; Baylor University) and a time for answering questions. The session was a wonderful opportunity to put ACU (and the GST) in conversation with other schools, perspectives, and disciplines.

 

Aquino Co-directs an International Symposium

Dr. Frederick Aquino (Graduate School of Theology) and Dr. Paul Gavrilyuk (University of St. Thomas, MN) are currently co-directing the Spiritual Perception Project. The project builds on the historical groundwork provided in the collection of essays, The Spiritual Senses: Perceiving God in Western Christianity, ed. Paul Gavrilyuk and Sarah Coakley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). The second phase of the project will focus on contemporary (as well as some historical) models of spiritual perception, using the methods of analytic philosophy, philosophy of religion, philosophy of perception, phenomenology, and cognitive science.

As a part of the second phase, Aquino and Gavrilyuk recently convened a one-day international symposium on the Spiritual Perception in Atlanta, Georgia, a day before the official beginning of the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. The Symposium participants hailed from four countries (Canada, Germany, UK, and the US) and fourteen universities (ACU, Boston College, Cambridge University, Concordia University of Edmonton, Fordham University, Fuller Theological Seminary, Saint Louis University, St. Olaf College, Southern Methodist University, University of California (Santa Barbara), University of Missouri–Columbia, University of Notre Dame, University of St. Thomas (MN), Universität Konstanz. The interdisciplinary breadth of the proposed project requires cooperation among scholars with competencies in different areas of philosophy, religion, and theology.

One outcome of the symposium will be a volume tentatively entitled, Sensing Things Divine: Towards a Constructive Account of Spiritual Perception

The following scholars have agreed to contribute to the volume: William Abraham (Southern Methodist University), Frederick Aquino (ACU), Sarah Coakley (Cambridge University), Boyd Taylor Coolman (Boston College), Paul Gavrilyuk (University of St. Thomas, MN), John Greco (Saint Louis University), Mark McInroy (University of St. Thomas, MN), Michael J. McClymond (Saint Louis University), Paul Moser (Loyola University, Chicago), Catherine Pickstock (Cambridge University), Michael Rea (University of Notre Dame), Mark Spencer (University of St. Thomas), Mark Wynn (University of Leeds), and Sameer Yadav (Indiana Wesleyan University).

Carmichael-Walling Lectures

by   |  10.15.15  |  Announcements, Bible, Church History, GST Events

Please join us fCW2015or the 29th annual Carmichael-Walling Lectures at Abilene Christian University. Lectures are free and open to the public, and will take place in Room 114 of the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building on Thursday, November 12, 2015. For more information, contact Jeff Childers at ACU’s Graduate School of Theology: childersj@acu.edu.

Scripture & Women in the Apocalypse: Revelation’s Allusive Text

Dr. Adela Yarbro Collins
4:00 p.m. Intertextuality in the Book of Revelation
7:30 p.m. Women as Symbols in the Book of Revelation

The book of Revelation is rich in both Scriptural allusion and symbolic imagery.  The first lecture will provide an overview and critical assessment of scholarship on intertextuality in Revelation, highlighting the book’s use of Scripture.  The second lecture will consider female symbols in Revelation, particularly focusing on the symbolic woman of Revelation 17 often referred to as “The Whore of Babylon.”

About the Speaker:

Zurich photoDr. Adela Yarbro Collins is Buckingham Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation Emerita, Yale Divinity School. She previously taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, and McCormick Theological Seminary. She has served as President of the Society of New Testament Studies, regional President of the Society of Biblical Literature, and on a number of editorial boards. Her recent publications include King and Messiah as Son of God. Eerdmans, 2008 (co-authored with John J. Collins); Mark: A Commentary. Fortress, 2007; “Rewritten Prophets: The Use of Older Scripture in Revelation,” in Poetik und Intertexualität, ed. Stefan Alkier et al., 2015; and “The Transformation of Paul’s Apocalyptic Ideas in the First Two Centuries,” in Revealed Wisdom, ed. John Ashton, Brill, 2014.

 

Tim Sensing's Comment Archive

  1. Ron,
    It was good to see you at CSC in Nashville. Thank you for the kind words about the book.

  2. Thank you for the greeting. May God bless your work in Sweden.
    Tim

  3. Thanks for the comment. We all have gaps in our lives. Some of those gaps are more significant than others. Minor gaps leave some people with gapping holes in their lives while for others, major tragedies are mediated with grace. How one views God and God’s activity in their lives makes a difference. Beholding God as the author of resurrection enables us to activate the gospel in our lives.

  4. Tim Sensing on Contextual Theology
    9:07 am, 09.07.13

    Thanks. The book is now out. ACU Press released it June 6, 2013. Blessings on your work. Tim

  5. Thanks Brian. Dr. Siburt’s influence will continue to affect us all in so many wonderful ways.