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Advent, Week 3: Rejoice

Posted by on December 16, 2014

As we enter into the Advent season of the liturgical year, we invite you to participate with us in an intentional time of worship, celebrating Christ’s coming into the world through the following verse, reflection, prayer, and practice.

Candle flame

Psalm 30:4-12
Sing the praises of the Lord,
you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Reflection
- Henri Nouwen

A friend once wrote: “Learning to weep, learning to keep vigil, learning to wait for the dawn. Perhaps this is what it means to be human.” It is heard to really believe this because we constantly find ourselves clinging to people, books, events, experiences, projects and plans, secretly hoping that this time it will be different…The few times, however, that we don’t obey our severe masters and, instead, listen carefully to our restless hearts, we may start to sense that in the midst of our sadness there is joy, that in the midst of our fears there is peace, that in the midst of our greediness there is the possibility of compassion.


Prayer
Lord, give us the preference and the positive outlook that encourages rejoicing over your coming arrival among us.
Let us surrender all signs of our “sackcloth and weeping” so that we may joyously praise you with song and dancing.
Amen.

Advent Practice
Today resolve to practice joy.

 

Adapted from Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen.

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Advent, Week 2: Claiming True Peace

Posted by on December 8, 2014

As we enter into the Advent season of the liturgical year, we invite you to participate with us in an intentional time of worship, celebrating Christ’s coming into the world through the following verse, reflection, prayer, and practice.

 Candle flameColossians 3:12-15
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, meekness, and patience.
Bear with one another and,
if anyone has a complaint against another,
forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you,
so you also must forgive.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.


Reflection
- Henri Nouwen
Keep your eyes on the prince of peace, the one who doesn’t cling to his divine power; the one who refuses to turn stones into bread, jump from great heights, and rule with great power…’ the one who touches the lame, the crippled, and the blind, the one who speaks words of forgiveness and encouragement…Keep your eyes on him who becomes poor with the poor, weak with the weak. He is the source of all peace.

Prayer
Lord, help us to make our way to Bethlehem,
to the peace of the Christ Child
that withstood even the humility of his birth in a stable.
Let us seek harmony in our lives
as the angels did
when they announced the Christ Child’s birth
in perfect praise.
Amen.

Advent Practice
Set up a personal reminder of the coming of our Lord. This might be a framed Scripture passage, a work of art, and an artifact from nature. Incorporate this symbol into your daily meditation environment.

 

Adapted from Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen.

 

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Prayer Letter, December 2014

Posted by on December 4, 2014

… the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you–so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift…
-1 Corinthians 1: 6-7

Dear Friends,

Your prayers have been generously answered this year, as we’ve seen God at work, transforming conflict and division into profound gifts for his body. Christ’s testimony has been strengthened in so many ways, and I’m grateful for the role you’ve played in this by interceding for us.

Thanks to your prayers, the work of The Colossian Forum continues to multiply, even during this busy holiday season. Two friends of TCF, Rebecca and Noelle, have captured our vision of a church that testifies to Christ’s power amidst conflict, and they are working to make that a reality within a community of young adult leaders. This month, they will gather on two separate occasions to discuss difficult topics, and to pray and work together for a better way of facing into controversy. While so many of us rush to keep up with the demands of this hectic season, these young adults are choosing to set aside time specifically to engage conflict as a faithful response to Christ, who holds all things together (Col. 1:17). Their hope-filled energy is a great gift to me, and I trust to you as well. God is answering your prayers in the lives of these youthful leaders.

Please know that as you pray for us at TCF, we also pray for you. We share these stories to “strengthen Christ’s testimony” in your own life, and we trust God to grant you the gifts you need to walk faithfully as his child. May the gift of Christ’s birth bring hope and joy to your life this season!

Peace of Christ,

Michael

 

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Advent, Week 1: Hidden Hope

Posted by on December 2, 2014

As we enter into the Advent season of the liturgical year, we invite you to participate with us in an intentional time of worship, celebrating Christ’s coming into the world through the following verse, reflection, prayer, and practice.

Candle flame
Isaiah 11:1-3

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the lord.


Reflection
 – Henri Nouwen
I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God’s saving power…Our temptation is to be distracted by them…When I have no eyes for the small signs of God’s presence – the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends – I will always remain tempted to despair.
The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, he asks for my full attention. The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises.

Prayer
We welcome you, small child of Bethlehem, whose coming we await with quiet attention.
Shield us from the shouts, the screams, the empty promises of the season,
and encourage us to turn our hopes to your coming.
We know that the promise is hidden in the stable in Bethlehem
and rooted in the offspring of Jesse;
let us look for our salvation there.
Amen.

Advent Practice
Today, look for one small sign that God is present in your daily life. Give thanks for his presence, and if he is absent, resolve to find out why.

 

Adapted from Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen.

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Reconsidering the Criteria for Scientific Success: Love over Truth?

Posted by on November 20, 2014

Rob Barrett, Director of Forums & Scholarship, was recently invited to present at the Christian Perspectives in Science Seminar Series at Calvin College. Drawing on The Colossian Forum’s experience with scholars and laypersons, this lecture describes our work to advance both truth and love.

If, like us, you’re intrigued by the challenging interplay of these two Christian virtues, you’ll certainly appreciate the insights Rob shared in his abstract (below), and his lecture, available to stream here.

 

Abstract
The Colossian Forum engages divisive topics of faith, science, and culture as opportunities for Christian formation. As we have led forums that engage questions such as origins and human sexuality within the context of the Great Commandment, forum participants and observers have regularly voiced concerns that subordinating the pursuit of truth to the pursuit of love means we never make progress toward the truth. But Christian love, unlike liberal tolerance or celebration of diversity for its own sake, does not impede the pursuit of truth but rather motivates and sustains it. In this talk, I describe The Colossian Forum’s approach to engaging divisive issues among Christians with examples drawn from conflicts over origins and sexuality. I examine our reasons for subordinating truth to love and argue that, perhaps surprisingly, positioning truth within a context of love holds a potential for acquiring both, while hoping for love to emerge from the pursuit of truth sometimes fails to produce either. I will argue this at three levels. First, Christians should be careful when naming the kinds of truth we pursue to avoid limiting the category of truth to solutions to technical problems. Second, experts working on contentious topics easily fall into defensive postures that both replace self-giving love with fear and anger and obscure the truth they pursue. Third, popular appropriation of any scientific expertise that has relevance for culture requires more than assenting to expert information, for formation of individual and social life requires a range of capacities that Christians traditionally label virtues, with love being the virtue that inspires and animates all of the others.

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Asking Hard Questions – Face to Face

Posted by on November 12, 2014

TCF_ECF_web-banner_croppedIn an earlier blog post, you may have read about TCF’s “Evolution and Christian Faith” project, designed to support the church in finding ways to grow in both truth and love. We’ve brought together a group of scholars to explore some of the promises and challenges faced by the church in light of evolutionary theory, and in March of 2015 they will gather to present their work. Please consider joining us for “Re-Imagining the Intersection of Evolution and the Fall,” a conference hosted by TCF and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. You’re also invited to visit our “Short Essays” page, where we collect a growing number of shorter-form reviews and reflections contributed by the scholar team.

It is our hope and prayer that this project will challenge scholars and laypersons alike to wrestle together with difficult questions, and in the midst of these conversations to grow more like Christ.

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Prayer Letter, November 2014

Posted by on November 5, 2014

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
– Psalm 34:3

Dear Friends,

As I write today, I am thanking God for you. Your prayers on behalf of TCF are being answered in remarkable ways, and I am humbled and grateful for your ongoing support and encouragement.

During this month, three separate Colossian Forums will run in Grand Rapids area churches and communities, and in each of them our staff will play only a supporting role. I’m thrilled to see TCF’s mission expand under the care of friends who have taken it as their own, and I’d like to share a little more about one of these forums. Two participants from our spring Colossian Forum Leader Training class will lead their church community in exploring some of the controversies surrounding immigration reform. As you may know, West Michigan’s economy has a rich agricultural sector that depends heavily on migrant labor. So this forum courageously addresses not only a heated topic, but one that’s highly relevant to the life of this community. We are excited to see the fruit that grows out of this Colossian Forum as our friends work to foster a conversation that promotes discipleship in the very midst of disagreement.

Many of you have also participated in a Colossian Forum, or helped your own community engage conflict as an opportunity to grow in Christlikeness. You realize that this work is not always easy, and yet you’ve joined us in pursuing this vision of a church transformed. As you engage conflict with courage and hope, please know that your efforts are profoundly encouraging to me, and to the TCF team. I am grateful for friends like you, whose work and worship honors the Christ we serve together.

Peace of Christ,

Michael

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Stewarding Conflict

Posted by on October 29, 2014

As churches across America wrestle with difficult conversations – sometimes poorly and sometimes well – there is a great deal we can learn from one another. TCF is grateful for the many Christians we encounter who are willing to share their experience and wisdom in transforming conflict into an opportunity for spiritual growth. From time to time, you’ll find those resources posted here to encourage your pursuit of faithful discipleship in the midst of conflict.

At the recent Annual Session of the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference, Pastor Mark Schloneger introduced the Unity and Variance Discernment Task Force, a small team charged with exploring ways to engage difference in a constructive and transformative way. His talk inspires listeners to develop the capacity to “steward conflict” well, as a way forward in the midst of painful issues that threaten to divide. Mark then introduces Michael Gulker, President of TCF, who reflects on the nature of Christ’s sacrificial love for us – and how this love gives shape and meaning to our own work to love one another, even in the midst of difference.

The IN-MI Mennonite Conference has generously offered to share the audio of these messages with you, in hopes that it will encourage you to work in your own context to transform conflict and division into an opportunity for faithful discipleship.

 

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Practice Gratitude – Thank your pastor!

Posted by on October 23, 2014

At The Colossian Forum, we create space to practice Christian disciplines, so that the rhythm of worship can transform our heart, mind, and soul — in order to better love God and others (Matthew 22:37), as we face into difficult or divisive conversations. In my last post, Practice Gratitude, we practiced the discipline of gratitude by reading and resting in Psalm 119:57-64. I encourage you to re-read this passage again now, and if you’re able, to spend time meditating on this passage everyday this week. As Richard Foster points out in Celebration of Discipline, repetition is key: “New habits are rarely, if ever, formed by a single encounter with the truth.”

We’d also like to encourage you to extend your practice of gratitude to God outwards, by taking some time today to recognize and appreciate a very special person in your life: your pastor. October is Pastor & Clergy Appreciation Month; so let’s together consider ways to encourage and offer gratitude for our spiritual leaders. Perhaps you could write a personal thank you letter or set aside some time to pray for their specific needs. Whatever you choose to do, lift it up to God as worship and be filled with gratitude and delight.

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
1 Timothy 5:17

TCF would like to say “Thank You” to all of the pastors who have participated in and contributed to the hard work of reconciliation. We are praying for you, and we are with you.

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Practice Gratitude

Posted by on October 14, 2014

fall-leaves-falling-5The season of fall in Michigan is one of my favorite times of year. I love the colorful leaves, the smell of hot cider, the taste of apples dipped in caramel, and the traditions of pumpkin carving and football…just to list a few. Although these are all wonderful gifts I’ve enjoyed with friends and family, I’m noticing that the novelty of the new school year has faded and I’m more tired than usual. The house isn’t quite as clean as it was five weeks ago, the motivation to exercise as much as I had planned is dwindling, and the practices of prayer, scripture reading, and gratitude are taking a back seat.

I see September 1 and New Year’s Day as one and the same in that they are both beginnings – times to start fresh and try again. However, along with the hope that accompanies this month is the frustration of defeat as I recognize my insufficiencies and humbly crawl back to Jesus with open hands. My efforts quickly exhaust me without the practice of daily receiving the Lord’s grace – “give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).

As a community of Christians seeking to be transformed by the Gospel, let’s together turn away from our to-do lists, schedules, and striving as if they were the source of life; instead, let’s turn towards the Creator who made us and sustains us. Let’s enjoy the beauty of nature and the gifts of friends and food as a way to grow spiritually, to worship Jesus, and enjoy the gift of the Gospel.

Join me in taking some time today to practice gratitude with this prayer from Psalm 119:57-64:

You are my portion, Lord;
I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, Lord;
teach me your decrees.

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Prayer Letter, October 2014

Posted by on October 9, 2014

But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.
Psalm 19:12

Our work at TCF is continually framed by prayer and Scripture, and as we worship we frequently find ourselves drawn to the Psalms. We rejoice to participate in praise with the Psalmist, and we gratefully find our own sorrows taken up in the laments so eloquently expressed. And as we wrestle with difficult conversations, we find ourselves challenged by verses like this one, which remind us that we each contribute, in our own ways, to divisions in the church.

The Psalmist was no stranger to sin, and has proven a faithful guide as we work with Christians to recognize and honestly acknowledge our own failures to love God and one another. So often our shortcomings are buried under layers of justification and fear, and it takes the guidance of the Holy Spirit to uncover them – to shed light on the darkness we each hide. And yet, as the Psalmist testifies, this work is never one of condemnation, but of redemption! God helps us to see and repent of our sin, for sure, but then redeems our failure, transforming it into an opportunity for growth in His love. Further, this astonishing grace changes us, not only as individuals, but as a community: when together we invite God to “clear our hidden faults,” we find ourselves newly equipped to love God and each other, even in the midst of our disagreements.

As you pray for TCF this month, please pray with me for our staff and friends – that like the Psalmist we’d have the courage to invite God’s convicting presence, and open hearts to respond in love to what He reveals. Please pray that in the midst of sometimes difficult work, we’d be transformed more deeply into the image of His Son.

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How to suffer well

Posted by on October 7, 2014

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.  – 1 Peter 4:7–11

There was a time when churches spread out across what is now modern Turkey. The apostle Paul was from this region. We were first called Christians in the city of Antioch. The “seven churches of Asia” described in John’s Revelation are there. Several of Paul’s letters were written to churches there.

But it wasn’t long before the churches came under persecution and suffering. The first letter of Peter is written to the “wandering exiles of the Diaspora” in several provinces of Asia Minor. In this short letter, a variant of the word “suffer” is used some twenty times. Their troubles are even described as a “fiery ordeal.” Although we don’t know exactly what the ordeal was, we know Peter wrote to encourage them in the midst of their troubles.

Peter doesn’t attempt to tell them why they are suffering, except to say that their suffering shouldn’t come as a surprise. Jesus suffered. In following him, these early brothers and sisters naturally share in Jesus’s suffering. Peter instead tells them how they should suffer; that is, how should they act as they undergo their trials?

The time is short, says Peter, and too much time has already been wasted in their former “excesses of dissipation.” Their intention now should be to do the will of God. Peter tells them to be serious and discipline themselves “for the sake of their prayers.” They are to exercise their spiritual gifts for one another, to be hospitable to one another, and above all to maintain constant love for one another.

Like those early Christians, we experience suffering, difficulties, and conflict. How are we to respond? From Peter’s letter, we know that we are called to an intentional life of prayer and worship. And we are called to an intentional life together, showing one another hospitality, and using our gifts for one another. We are in this together. We are not called to suffer alone, but within the community of believers and under the care of God.

There is a kind of suffering we experience that comes unbidden. But there is a kind of suffering that we choose to undergo. Those engaged in the work of The Colossian Forum find themselves moving toward conflict and difficult divisions in the church. Not with unhealthy curiosity, and not as heroes. But the divisions and brokenness are the sufferings of Christ, and we are called to share in those sufferings. What can sustain us? Peter’s answer to this is to pray and worship together, to exercise and receive the gifts of one another, to welcome one another (without complaint), and to love another. Even in the midst of ugly disagreements we see opportunity for the body of Christ to become more perfectly formed in Christ’s image.

In this age of quick news, we are very aware of the sufferings of our fellow believers and other coreligionists in places like Syria and Iraq, in sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere. We know of many people who suffer just because they lack food, shelter, and health care. It is good to remember them as we face crises and difficulties in our situations, for most of us “have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” The sufferings of the churches in Asia Minor were eventually so great that, in this birthplace of the Christian church, only remnants and ruins remain. But Peter reminds us that, in Christ, even our difficulties provide opportunities to be finished with sin and to glorify God in our life together. Participation in Christ’s suffering can even be a source of joy as we await his return.

Rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.  – 1 Peter 4:13

 

Will Fitzgerald serves as the lay pastor of Kalamazoo Mennonite Fellowship, a home-based church that is part of Mennonite Church USA.

 

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Job and God – a good conversation

Posted by on September 30, 2014

“I am angry with you…because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”

-God, quoted in Job 42:7

If you’ve ever read through the entire book of Job, you may have found this verse a bit puzzling. It follows a conversation between Job and his friends, in which they wrestle with the meaning of Job’s sufferings. His friends are trying to help free him from his misery by pointing out what he’s getting wrong, and admonishing him to make things right with God. Generally speaking, the friends’ comments are spot on. In sharp contrast, Job complains and rages, blaming God for his suffering and misfortune. On the page, at least, the friends seem much closer to getting it right. Why, then, would God come out in Job’s defense? What is He holding against Job’s friends?

Drew Lewis, friend of TCF, recently shared his reflections on this striking passage, pointing out that the Hebrew preposition translated in most English texts as “of” might also be correctly translated “to.” This leads him to suggest that God’s concern may have been less with what was said than with the way that this conversation was carried out. While Job’s friends spent their time talking with Job about God, Job’s angry outbursts were continually directed towards God. In other words, Job’s friends described a coherent (and largely correct) theological vision, but in such a way that more or less left the presence of the living God out of the picture. And though Job may have been taking some doctrinal missteps as he responded to his friends, all the while he was calling out to God in the midst of his suffering and confusion. To be sure, God wasted no time in setting Job straight on several counts (see chapter 38), but he also affirmed Job’s desire for relationship in the midst of deeply troubling questions. Furthermore, God went so far as to have Job intercede on behalf of his friends, and forgave their mistakes in response to Job’s sacrifice. Clearly, the relationships between Job and God, and between Job and his friends, emerged from this extended upheaval not only intact, but even strengthened!

This passage affirms what we’re after at TCF: engaging difficult conversations – and even suffering – in direct relationship with God. While we do certainly encourage talking about conflict and controversy with our sisters and brothers, we structure our conversations with the goal of relating to God throughout. We are confident that our mistakes can be redeemed, and even in the midst of our own failings God invites us ever deeper into relationship with him – and through him, with each other. This is why we begin and end our forums in prayer, and why we often take midpoint breaks for silence and reflection. We build in time for confession and worship, and we frame our conversations with Scripture. Our goal is that at the end of each forum, in one way or another, together we might hear the astonishing words: “…you have spoken to me what is right.

 

Drew Lewis is the author of Read Him Again and Again! Repetitions of Job in Kierkegaard, Vischer, and Barth, and the forthcoming Approaching Job. He blogs at azlewis.wordpress.com.

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Another welcome!

Posted by on September 19, 2014

I am pleased to announce the addition of Craig Schrotenboer to The Colossian Forum team. Craig joins us as Director of Operations, bringing with him extensive operational experience with Herman Miller, Davenport University, Youth For Christ, and KIDS HOPE USA. Craig’s skills and gifts are already helping TCF to become more efficient and effective as we continue to develop our capacity to serve the church.

 

 

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Prayer Letter, September 2014

Posted by on September 4, 2014

leaves-burn5892-mediumThen he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 
Exodus 3:5

In this week’s lectionary reading, Moses steps off the path to investigate a perplexing sight: a bush that burns but is not consumed. As he approaches, he hears a warning, and realizes that this odd and perhaps frightening vision veils the voice of the God!

In some ways, a TCF forum isn’t all that unlike Moses’ odd desert experience. We invite our participants to step “off the path” of the usual and customary ways of disagreeing. We venture onto uncharted ground, hopeful that amidst the dry sands and crumbling rock of conflict, we might encounter the transformative presence of God. And like Moses, we often hear the voice of God calling out to us in surprising—and sometimes disconcerting—ways.

During this last month, we hosted a gathering to explore Christian faithfulness in the midst of significant tensions about human sexuality. Not surprisingly, this conversation took us well off the worn path of the experience of many in the church today. The pain and confusion on all sides of this topic sometimes threaten to overwhelm. During our time together, however, it became increasingly clear that God is calling the church onto holy ground: into deep trust that we will not be consumed or destroyed by this, but instead transformed into deeper holiness. As a wise friend of TCF recently observed, “A safe space is not the same thing as a holy space.” We are grateful for this group of remarkable Christians who together took courageous steps onto difficult but holy ground.

Thank you for praying with us as we venture into holy spaces.

 

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Welcome!

Posted by on August 22, 2014

Andy 1- croppedI am pleased to welcome Andy Saur to the staff of TCF. He brings a strong professional background and deep personal interest to his role of Executive Assistant. Andy holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Wheaton College, and a diploma in Entertainment Business Management from Vancouver Film School. In the short time he’s been with us, he’s proven himself to be a tireless worker with an unparalleled eye for detail and a strong commitment to our mission of encouraging Christian faithfulness in the midst of difficult conversations. We’re grateful to have him on the team!

 

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Resources to Explore: Christian Faithfulness & Human Sexuality

Posted by on August 16, 2014

The Colossian Forum has spent the last week with a variety of scholars, pastors, teachers, and leaders, engaging hard questions about human sexuality. For many, engagement with these issues is fraught with difficulty, confusion, frustration, and disagreement. As Christians continue to engage with these issues, however, it will be very important to understand and converse with a variety of perspectives and people, so that we can know better how to reach out together to our world with the Gospel. To this end, we have asked the contributors to this gathering to recommend for us some of their personal books, websites, and resources in engaging with faith, science, and culture on these hard questions. As you will see, these resources represent a broad variety of Christian perspectives. We share them with you as an encouragement that the church can enter into this conversation without fear, testifying to the truth that somehow, this too “holds together in Christ.” 

Ron Belgau
cityofgod.net
spiritualfriendship.org
 
Alan Chambers
alanchambers.org
 
Christopher Damian
spiritualfriendship.org
universityideas.wordpress.com

Wendy Gritter
newdirection.ca
 
Harold Heie
respectfulconversation.net
Evangelicals on Public Policy Issues

Wesley Hill
spiritualfriendship.org
Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality
 
Justin Lee
justinlee.co
gaychristian.net
Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-Vs.-Christians Debate

Tim Otto
orientedtofaith.com
Oriented to Faith: Transforming the Conflict over Gay Relationships
 
Mark Yarhouse
sexualidentityinstitute.org
facebook.com/issi.site
Understanding Sexual Identity
Homosexuality and the Christian
 

This guest post was contributed by friend of TCF Christopher Damian, who graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2013 with a B.A. in philosophy. He currently serves as a Terrence J. Murphy Fellow at the University of St. Thomas, where he is pursuing a J.D. and an M.A. in Catholic Studies. He has broad and varied interests, including the history and philosophy of education, Christian philosophy, political theory, sex and sexuality, virtue ethics, professional development, and the new legal economy. He has written for Spiritual Friendship, Ethika Politika, The Intercollegiate Review, The Observer, The Irish Rover, Millennial Journal, and Crisis Magazine. In his free time, he enjoys playing piano and writing reviews of coffee shops in the Twin Cities area.

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A sad farewell

Posted by on July 31, 2014

It is with sadness that I announce the upcoming departure of Brian Cole, Director of Operations. When Brian joined The Colossian Forum in July of 2012, TCF was a simple two-person organization ready to grow in complexity, scope and professionalism. Due to his professionalism, hard work and personal integrity, Brian helped TCF mature from a fledgling non-profit startup into a widely recognized and respected non-profit organization known for its high standard of excellence, solid support base and bright future.

Brian has helped shape TCF in remarkable ways, and his excellent and diligent work will be missed. As we part ways, I wish him all the best.

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Asking Hard Questions

Posted by on July 21, 2014

As I’m sure you know, TCF was founded out of a desire to help Christians respond faithfully to conflict. We’ve invested quite a lot of time and resources with friends who have devoted their lives to working on controversial issues, particularly in the arena of faith and science. And we’re deeply grateful for the trust and collaboration of Christians on all sides of these issues.

One set of difficult questions to which we frequently return have to do with Christian perspectives on creation and evolution. Our creationist friends, in particular, have pressed us to ask and address some of the significant theological problems raised by an evolutionary model of human origins. Our friends who accept evolution also recognize that the church needs to do more work on these questions (though perhaps they hold out greater hope for good answers).

In response to these questions from all sides, we’ve been grateful to participate in a grants program administered by the BioLogos Foundation. Our project brings together a group of scholars to explore very specific themes regarding human origins, sin, and the fall. This team represents a broad variety of disciplines and perspectives, so by its very nature couldn’t possibly advocate for one specific perspective on the topics. We don’t expect to find a “final answer” to the many important questions stirred up by these issues, and in fact we anticipate a fair amount of disagreement about some of the answers that might be proposed.

Importantly, however, we hope to see this group disagree well. Controversy can divide the church, to be sure. But at TCF, we believe that it can also be fertile ground for the work of God’s Spirit, sanctifying us as we submit ourselves and our conflicts to Christ’s Lordship. We intentionally structure our gatherings around worship, and trust that as we pray together, God will grow in us a deeper love for himself and for each other. Our goal is to engage not just the issues, but also one another, in a way that is faithful to our shared calling in Christ.

 As we worship together, holding each other accountable to the needs and pressures felt by the church we seek to serve, we trust that this will lead us to unearth deeper insight into some of the problems we’re facing together. Over time, we anticipate that this group’s work will serve as a resource for our friends, young earth creationist and evolutionary creationist alike. It may answer particular questions on all sides, and we hope that it will help lay out the contours of a difficult conversation. But above all, in the midst of a deeply divisive issue, we trust that this project will model what it looks like to participate in the unity that we share in Christ. 

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Writers: don’t miss this!

Posted by on May 30, 2014

TCF is pleased to share the following remarkable opportunity with our partners and friends. Consider a writing retreat in our neighborhood!

Issachar Fund Writing Retreat
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Open application beginning August 1, 2014

The Issachar Fund will be accepting applications from August 1-September 19 for individuals seeking to write. Any individual–a pastor, scholar, author, or graduate student–may apply to support research and writing in one of their Areas of Inquiry.  The Writing Retreat includes travel reimbursement, a monthly stipend, and a furnished apartment in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Please visit their website to learn more and submit your application. 

 

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