Thursday, December 25, 2008

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Urgent prayer requests

- Helene's husband has been admitted to hospital with an urgently serious heart problem. Helene's family is already distressed with her daughter, who may have grave health problems because of someone else's mistake; and Helene has been very stressy / busy and this comes at a very bad time. Please pray for Helene and her family.

- Joycelyn is in very urgent need of God's help. There is a major argument and misunderstanding underway which could mean for her a major life change and the loss of all stability and comfort she now has. Please pray that God will provide and that he will also give Joycelyn peace.

- Wilfried's friend is faced with the possibility that he may be the father of an unborn baby, whose mother has been exceedingly abusive in the past to him; it seems like there is very little hope for this child if his friend does not take on this responsibility. However, the mother in that case may be inclined to use the baby's well-being as a bargaining chip, as she seems to be doing now in threatening to abort if certain demands are not met, and has used her own well-being as a bargaining chip in the past. It may be best for him to agree to help raise the child with the mother; it may be best for him to relinquish all right and responsibility so the mother has a better chance at raising the baby without using the baby's well-being to make him comply with what she wishes. Both options seem to be fraught with grave danger to the unborn baby.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

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Anti-religious book stirs up my church members

Pastor Timothy Fountain has a rather provocative posting about some of the material we have been reading over here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

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Prayer requests, 22 November

Wilfried: Thanksgiving for all God has done for me; and for Him keeping me in the next difficult weeks
Helene: I would llike have support to get through the next few weeks and my commitments
Irene: Please pray that our family make the right group decision for our living arrangements.
Saskia: God is askin to do certain things which im gonna find hard to do so really i need to be able to step out in faith and know that God will be there with me
Allie: Please pray that I continue to move forward at work and get things done.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

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Prayer requests, 16 November

Wilf: thanksgiving for good friends and their support; for all God has done in the last weeks; also for guidance, and perseverance in the coming week
Joyous: for the young people of the Diocese of Michigan and the Diocese of Eastern Michigan at this weeKend's Happening event, that they will experience the Spirit of the Lord and build their lives around God's love
Allie: For Evelyn from work that she won't be lonely without ther daughters at home.
Helene: pray for Jacky who is not expected to live, and for her daughters Chrissy and Gemma and husband Kevin
Able: a prayer of heartfelt thanks, God has been healing some aspects of my life in quite an incredible way
Irene: Prayer for those in California whose homes and very lives are in jeopardy from the wildfires. Some of these folks are probably from SL - and one of my Tiny friends has fire on three sides of her right now.
Loo: Wisdom, discernment and encouragement

Sunday, November 2, 2008

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Prayer requests for week of Nov. 1, All Saints Day

Plant: prayer for ones in fellowship that prayer would be come more a two way street and hearing would be more vital than speaking

Irene: I would like prayers for my grandson and his situation in school. He has a brain injury - and because he LOOKS ok, his school won't make accomodations for him to help him acquire the skills necessary to accomplish his studies - his intelligence isn't interfered with - but his ability to deliver homework, etc. is. And I am pretty frustrated by their unwillingness to deal compassionately with the child or his family.

Joyous: for wisdom & discernment for her coming work on the selection committee for ordinations: and for fair elections, and peace afterwards

Able: strength wisdom and faith

Wilfried: wisdom, obedience, and strength for an exceedingly difficult time ahead

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Mark 5

This week we read about Jesus casting out the legion of demons, the healing of the woman who was bleeding, and the healing of the daughter of the synagogue leader.

Feel free to add comments if you have more thoughts on these passages throughout the week.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

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Prayer requests week of October 26

Wilfried: work and strength
Joyous: prayers for committe on ordained ministry
Irene: for Marian, for a peaceful passing
Saskia: for providing what she needs for serving God
Allie: Alie's parents finding commong ground, friends with babies, and her ill grandmother
Vita: loneliness, for friends, for Christian friends, and for a work situation
Ashutosh: for those who have lost jobs

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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Other interesting stuff

Here's a post containing some things good for inspiration / education I've found, not necessarily about what we're currently reading, that I'd like to recommend; feel free to post more things in the comments if you'd like to add.
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Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry has an excellent video of some of its professors lecturing on various topics from its "Seminarian for a Day" event. The first two are on Christian ethics, and Biblical interpretation - both well worth seeing. The video is very long - nearly four hours. Link to video
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Loads of N.T. Wright stuff: N.T. Wright Page
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Tim Keller stuff
Tim Keller is an amazing guy (wikipedia article) - brilliant mind, but nonetheless very un-stuffy, and also passionate about urban ministry - planted the Redeemer Church in New York, largely by talking to young professionals - and has since helped plant 100+ other churches of different denominations. It's interesting just to watch the guy move intellectually when he takes questions from people in the apologetics videos - forthright and honest, but still humble and loving. An excellent example for Christians in answering difficult spiritual questions about faith from unbelievers.
- check out especially his sermon "Gospel Centered Ministry" (an exposition of I Peter 1, which he turns back to in many of his other sermons & other writings - seems a foundational passage for him - he describes it as a "doxology" containing a number of important points for ministry)
- check out, also especially, his two videos on apologetics - one presented at the Googleplex for google employees at "Google Books," the other at the Veritas Seminar at Berkeley. He's done a lot of thought and reading on apologetics - which is an increasingly important field in Christian ministry - and has obviously done his reading in philosophy as well. Jump directly to this stuff if you're "more intellectually minded." Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Veritas Seminar) and the Google Books session.
- Tim Keller has a discussion with Piper and Carson inside of what looks like a tent made out of hefty bags. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6. Note: on facebook, the "previous" & "next" links aren't in the right order.
- a page with lots of other Tim Keller stuff
- the youtube page of the Gospel Coalition (he's one of the GC guys)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

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Comments / suggestions on the Bible study itself

This is a post to allow for comments on the Bible study itself. The idea is simply to leave comments here under this post. Wilfried and Able will check this post from time to time for new comments; you may want to remind us to do so as well if you've posted a comment here.

Please take care in posting comments - I mention this since internet postings are rather famous for including ventings and messages which end up going far beyond the intent of the original poster. If you're very unhappy, or even angry, take a moment to pray or ask yourself if it's a good time to post. In that case, it might even be more appropriate for you to bring up your concern personally rather than in a comment which is publicly visible to anyone who happens along this site.

However, do keep in mind that we do want to know what you think about this study, its format, and what we could do better. So please don't be too reluctant to post here, or to talk to Wilfried or Able about how things are going.

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How a reader in Mark's time would have read his Gospel

This is a quote within a quote, found in The Gospel of Mark by R.T. France, p.6 -

Lucas Grollenberg interestingly draws our attention to the account given by the German classical scholar G├╝ther Zuntz of his first encounter with Mark's gospel. Thoroughly at home in the literature of the Roman Empire, Zuntz,, we are told, was nonetheless quite unfamiliar with Christianity and its literature, and thus came to Mark with a freshness of perception impossible to most modern Christian readers. His response thus represents, says, Grollenberg, 'what this book must have looked like to an educated reader of the first century of our era'. Zuntz speaks of his 'strong impression' that 'something very important was being put forward here with a superior purpose and concentration throughout the book ... The style and content of the story arouse a feeling of otherness, a feeling that this is not a history like other histories, not a biography like other biographies, but a development of the actions, sayings, and sufferings of a higher being on his way through this anxious world of human beings and demons.'

Should you have your own reflections during the week on what we're reading, or already have read, feel free to post them here in comments and I'll try to find time to cut / paste them into a new posting for all to read.

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Resources for studying Mark

If you find good resources for studying Mark, feel free to post them in comments.

I've found a commentary on Mark over at Google Books - The Gospel of Mark, by R. T. France - here. I've only begun to look at it, but the introduction I already find fascinating.

For a shorter commentary, done in the style of footnotes which appear at the bottom of the webpage, try C.W. Conrad's Brief Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. This might even be useful during the study since it's so easy to use.

Friday, October 17, 2008

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Prayer requests for week of Oct. 19

Wilf - strength for doing something difficult
Kay - divine efficiency in getting organized
Irene - wisdom for her physicians, and wisdom for herself about her decision regarding surgery
Able - Development of prophetic gifting within him and visionary leadership
Joyous - wisdom for today and also for what she will be doing after retirement; also blessings for a newly ordained priest
Loo - wisdom and provision for her ministry and future ministry
Arundel - wisdom and strength in dealing with the situation she's in now

Feel free to leave prayer requests in comments under this thread.

When you have time this week, please keep these prayer requests in mind ;)

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Mark 4

Feel free to leave your comments on Mark 4 during the week, if you have something for us to think about during next week's study.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

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Mark 3

Christ heals a man with a shriveled hand in the synagogue
Christ appoints the twelve disciples
Christ is accused of being possessed by Beelzebub
Mary and Jesus's brothers come to take charge of Him

My questions:
Whole chapter:
You'll find some rather pointed statements in this chapter. Keep this in mind when you read it - "brace yourself." But try to also get a feeling for the whole chapter as well, not dwelling on these pointed statements - what do you observe about the general motion of this chapter as narrative?

Man with the shriveled hand, 3:1-6
How does this relate to tensions we've already seen?

Crowds and appointment of the disciples, 3:7-19
Describe the importance of this moment.

Accusation of possession by Beelzebub, 3:20-30
(will surely bring up its own quesions)
Note the description of various types of unity - "kingdom," "house," individual (Satan)

Jesus's Mother and Brothers come, 3:31-34
a. What does this tell us about these crowds?
b. What can we conclude from this about the language used in this gospel describing the crowds?
c. What else did Christ have to say about "family"?

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Mark 2

Christ heals a paralytic who is lowered through a roof.
Christ calls Matthew. He's asked why his disciples aren't fasting.
He's also challenged about his disciples picking grain on the Sabbath.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

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Mark 1:1-20

We began the study discussing the gospel of Mark as a whole. This is the first gospel written, and its writer was particularly linked to the apostle Peter, whose own memories of Christ are most likely very prominent in this gospel. The gospel moves at an incredibly fast pace, and compared to other gospels, Mark is relatively more concerned with events than with the teaching of Christ. The gospel is short on words, and big on action - in a way, also much like what we know of the character of Peter.

This part of Mark contains the introduction, the ministry of John the Baptist, the baptism of Christ, the temptation, and the calling of the first disciples.

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Welcome to the Ecumenical Bible Study with an Anglican Flavour

This is a Bible Study in Second Life. It's ecumenical - with contributions from people from a variety of church and theological backgrounds. But it's conducted in a way that is somewhat typically Anglican: we aim not only to study and understand the Bible, but also to praise and respect God as the Spirit guides us and inspires us in opening God's word together.

These aren't separate goals - the study itself, when conducted joyfully and in full awareness of God's presence, is also an act of worship.

Our Bible Study is a bit more intense than you will typically find in Second Life Bible Studies. We're selective in who takes part - trying to maintain a group that functions well together - we ask people to read the passages we're studying beforehand - and we encourage people to make of the study a serious commitment, and come regularly. We also aim to be a small community of faith, getting to know one another, and upholding one another in prayer.

At the moment, we are studying the book of James.

The leaders, Wilfried Ansome and Able Shepherd, are strongly committed to scriptural authority. In the study, we emphasize a sympathetic reading of scripture. However, you don't necessarily have to have the same views of scriptural authority, or even a faith in Christ or the Bible, in order to participate.

We welcome skeptical, even very pointed questions, about the text we are studying, and its underlying assumptions, as long as we feel these questions will keep us "on track."

Staying "on track" is very important to us. Though the study is very open, it is indeed moderated, and we do indeed try to redirect things when we believe things aren't staying on-track or are leading in unfruitful directions. If you participate, please expect this kind of moderation, and please don't be offended if we suggest that we move on in a different direction.

Those interested in joining can contact Wilfried Ansome or Able Shepherd.

Thanks for you interest in the Anglican Ecumenical Bible Study.