Posts Tagged Christian

Tragedy Transformed into Triumph – Randy’s Writings

Randy and Sarah Moody have every right to be angry. Their bright, handsome, athletic 21 year old only son died while scuba diving on a camping trip. Randall was a committed Christian and had already decided to become a missionary .He was president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the College of Charleston. He gave his testimony at the group’s annual banquet in 1997.

These grieving parents transformed their tremendous grief into a crusade to memorialize their son and to further his mission. Sarah and Randy used Randall’s writings, diary entries and the hundreds of letters and phone calls they received about him to compile a book, “Randy’s Writings, which they hope will inspire others to follow in his footsteps. It is not a sad book. There is something here for everyone. Sarah and Randy have gone even further. They have developed an oral presentation and a video from the tragedy. Their talk and/or video would make a wonderful program for any Christian organization.

Randy’s Writings, is available at www.amazon.com.

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How Praying the Lord’s Prayer at St Paul’s Cathedral Changed My Life – Christian Today

Mitch Carnell 18 May 2016

It was the last day of our honeymoon and we were headed for St Paul’s Cathedral.

As Rev Tom Guerry said at our wedding, “Carol and Mitch have loved before.” Carol had survived a terrible divorce after 20 years of marriage and my Liz had died suddenly of a brain aneurism after 32 years of marriage. Neither of us had expected to find love again.

Although St Paul’s was crowded, we managed to get inside. What a breathtaking, soul-stretching, holy place! We were simply overwhelmed by its beauty.

Neither of us had ever experienced anything that came remotely close to this. Every nerve in my body tingled with the sheer grandeur of it all. All of the guidebooks put together could not prepare you for this. How could one possibly digest it all?

As magnificent as the cathedral is, and as elated as I was to be there, my real epiphany was yet to come.

At 11 am, the public address system came on. The priest introduced himself and then said, “At this time each day we pause and say together the ‘Our Father’ prayer.”

Then the most unbelievable thing happened. Voices belonging to people from around the world, of every language, of every colour and hue, every nationality, disabled and whole, male and female, child and adult, gay and straight, prayed aloud together, “Our Father”.

For the first time in my 65 years the full meaning of the opening words caressed my soul in a way I had never experienced before. Here in this ancient house of worship, in this ancient city with my new bride, the true meaning of “Our Father” coursed through my veins. I was awestruck. There was no turning back. It was the beginning of a new understanding of my journey of faith.

I could hardly contain the sensation of oneness in God that engulfed my entire being. I knew that my understanding of God had taken a quantum leap. “Our” took on a meaning far greater, far more profound than its three characters would signify. This must be what St Paul had felt on the road to Damascus.

As I struggled to comprehend this unexpected revelation and gain some perspective, my thoughts drifted back to my childhood. Incidents and experiences that had remained separate and unexplored for their meanings for all of these years began to come together and a pattern began to emerge.

Two years later I discovered a prayer by Pam Kidd in Daily Guideposts 2001 that expresses the same phenomenon: “Dear God, in my scariest moments, you point me to the place where, in your time, You fit the pieces of my life together into a perfect whole. Thank You.”

The pieces of my life were slowly coming together. I understood that my revelation at St Paul’s was not the result of an isolated incident but had been a lifetime in the making.

I have been in church all of my life and had become a Christian at 11 years old. I have prayed the Lord’s Prayer hundreds of times, but never had I been so captivated by that little word, “our”.

St Paul’s Cathedral is light years away from the small textile mill village church in South Carolina, USA, where I grew up during the days of racial segregation, but that church too played a major role in my understanding of who God is and who is in his family. Our Father: Discovering Family, is an unfolding of my spiritual journey. The process of reflection and writing it led me to a far richer discovery than I had imagined at the outset. 

Our Father: Discovering Family is available from the publisher www.wipfandstock.com, Barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com in either paperback or ebook

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When religion turns hateful, it loses its moral voice – Dr. Molly Marshall – Baptist News Global

MOLLY T. MARSHALL  |  MARCH 14, 2016

In this craziest of presidential primary seasons, I have not mentioned the Republican candidate with the “best plumage,” the colorful description offered by Marilynne Robinson. I have found his words so offensive, his narcissism so egregious, and his attitude toward “others” so despicable. I have not wanted to draw further attention to this headline-grabbing vortex, so he shall remain nameless. (It is unlikely that he could fire a seminary president, anyway.) Nonetheless, I cannot keep silent about his uncontrolled depiction of the world’s fastest growing religion or about his mocking use of Christianity for political gain.

The statement “Islam hates us” during CNN’s recent debate is one more example of his pattern of reckless speech; it only serves to foment alienation for American Muslims and recruitment opportunity for radical Islamic groups. We must see this statement for what it is: a dangerous pandering to the most exclusivist understandings of Christianity. It also stokes fear in the U.S. Jewish community, given the close ties with Israel.

As a Baptist, I get very nervous when the political realm speaks too much about religion. It is the role of the state to create a context where religious pluralism can flourish; it is not the role of the state to impose or favor one religion over another. As Rowan Williams contends in Faith in the Public Square, the state serves as “mediator and broker whose job is to balance and manage real differences.” Nor it is the role of religion to commandeer the state for its own purposes, and the cynical use of Christianity (a.k.a civil religion?) to further candidates’ prospects demeans responsible faith.

Respect for the religion of others is more than simply tolerating religious difference; rather, it draws from the common affirmation of the dignity of humans and their right to religious liberty. It is a critical task of our time to learn from adherents of other ways of faith. The last thing a politician needs to do is denigrate another religion en masse. Every faith tradition has its radical fringe, and we ought to know better than to measure the whole by those who distort its essential teaching.

I had a conversation recently with a treasured friend in Thailand about whether there is a state religion in his country. He noted that there were stringent efforts to inscribe Buddhism as the state religion in the constitution, but the royal family would not allow it. It seems that the family’s positive acquaintance with Christian missionaries over the years would not allow this legislation to go forward. As a committed Christian leader, he observed that this approach allowed the kind of healthy competition between religions that offered real choice.

While traveling to Southeast Asia, I have been working my way through Miroslav Volf’s new book, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World. Dense and carefully argued, the thesis is that the great world religions are a force for good as they prompt human reach for and response to the transcendent. For these religious pursuits to remain a constructive social force, adherents will have to embrace a distinction between religion and rule; i.e., religion and politics are two “distinct, though intersecting, cultural territories.”

As I head to Myanmar during this time of unprecedented political transition, I am eager to learn how the new government will deal with the ongoing contraction of religious liberty for Muslims and Christians. Outsiders and cautious insiders have criticized Aung San Suu Kyi for her tepid reaction to the brutal treatment of Muslims by radicalized Buddhist leaders. And Christians are always on the margin, too, as they are not members of the “favored religion.” Baptist churches in the United States have witnessed and welcomed the tidal wave of refugees, our spiritual kin. Observers on the ground are hopeful that this courageous leader was wisely biding her time until the election was completed and the new leadership comes to power, which will occur in early April.

A Christian friend in Myanmar gives this perspective:

It is an exciting moment in our history. For many of us, all these things are new in life. … We do hope and pray that things would turn toward the common good of our people in Myanmar and finally peace and justice would prevail.

March 13th was Global Day of Prayer for Burma, and Christians here welcome spiritual support. I encourage you to sustain this praying, especially in this delicate time.

When a religion is an instrument of hate, it has abdicated its moral voice. At the heart of faith traditions is love of God and love of neighbor. We can offer this as a common word, even as we seek to preserve the religious liberty of those who do not share our Christian faith. This will be the best witness of all, demonstrating the remarkable dignity Jesus accords all people.

Molly Marshall is president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. She spoke twice at the Hamrick Lectures at First Baptist Church of Charleston.

 

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Our Father; Discovering Family – Review by Dr. Robert M. Knight

DR.MONTY KnightIf you prefer feeling sorry for yourself, don’t read Dr. Carnell’s book. You won’t like it. Mitch’s T-shirt is meant to read: “Job was a wuss!” If you’re a privileged, totalitarian liberal, you won’t appreciate the book. Mitch’s open mind comes from growing up in the most humble and provincial of circumstances. Go figure. If you can’t find a fight you don’t want to go to, Dr. Carnell is no help in that regard either. He figured out long before most of the rest of us what a trap that is. If you prefer your side of whatever the truth wherever, Mitch Carnell’s book will provoke you by seeing another side of that same truth–there or somewhere else. It’s harder for Mitch, than for his friends, to not love his enemies, even when he doesn’t necessarily like ’em. If the guy just weren’t a Christian, his book might be more useful, at least in the real world. Dr. Carnell doesn’t even confuse institutional church life with the integrity of authentic Christian faith and service . So if you’re looking for an easy excuse to spend your Sundays at Starbucks or the beach, you won’t find “Our Father” particularly supportive.

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