In this issue:
The Divine Drama ® / Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus / RCL Notes
DISCERNING THE SPIRIT / JUNE 2018
Here we are in the season of Pentecost. The feast itself has passed, but our celebration of the power of the Holy Spirit is ongoing. This is the time for us to dig deeper, to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s call and to act on that call to make Christ present in the world.

While these words might sound simple enough, this is no easy task. It requires a hard and honest look at our lives. It involves a thorough examination of the motivations for what we do and an acknowledgment of our biases or “blind spots.” Sometimes we can fool ourselves into thinking that particular actions (or inactions) are morally good and beneficial when, in actuality, we might simply be acting out our prejudices and living our lives based on feelings of self-righteousness rather than the righteousness of God.

Christians have a term for this “digging deeper.” It’s called discernment of spirits . Although different Christian traditions have different ways of talking about discernment of spirits, the model proposed by the 16 th -century Ignatius of Loyola is probably the most well-known. He understood discernment of spirits as reflecting on and coming to understand the “motions of the soul,” their source and the actions they inspire. More information here .

Ignatius of Loyola was keenly aware of the presence of evil in the world and of our human frailty when it comes to making choices that are aligned with God’s will. Therefore, he focused his self-examination on where these “motions of the soul” come from. Are the feelings or movements of my soul coming from God or from the Evil One? Do they produce in me Spiritual Consolation , that is, a sense of being fully loved by God and “on fire” to serve God by loving and caring for the needs of others? Or do they produce in me Spiritual Desolation , that is, an inner darkness, doubt, or fear that moves me away from God and alienates me from others.

The ultimate test of authentic discernment of spirits is captured in the maxim, “By their fruits you shall know them.” And what are the fruits of the Spirit? They are “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). May our lives be witnesses to the power of the Holy Spirit in the demonstration of these fruits through our thoughts, the words we say and the things we do each day.

If you wish to learn more about Ignatius of Loyola’s Discernment of Spirits , you may consult the website noted in the link above. But the best way to ready ourselves to discern and respond to the Spirit’s call—as Ignatius did—is to immerse ourselves in the salvation story through the reading of sacred Scripture and reflection on its meaning for our lives. Crossways International's year-long course, The Divine Drama ® , provides a wonderful opportunity to do just that. And it is written on a level that is accessible to adolescents and young adults, so parents and/or grandparents can study it together with the younger members of their families. It’s a good thing!

Catherine Cory, Ph.D. / Theological Council Member
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INSPIRATIONAL PASSAGES NOW AVAILABLE
Romans 8:3-4

Life in the Spirit

3   For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  4   so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

(NRSV)

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READING THE BIBLE WITH RABBI JESUS:
HOW A JEWISH PERSPECTIVE CAN TRANSFORM YOUR UNDERSTANDING / LOIS TVERBERG
In February, I had the honor of hosting author and blogger, Lois Tverberg, in my home. She was a guest speaker at my church for the annual "Immersed in the Word" event. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed a couple of her books previously, I was excited to meet her in person and see what she had to say about her new book Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus .

Tverberg writes from a lay-person’s perspective, for lay-people, but she leverages information she’s obtained from biblical scholars working in the field, primarily in the Holy Land.  Like Dr. Kenneth Bailey’s books, she writes about recent findings involving first-century culture, customs and language. And, based on the number of people attending the Immersed in the Word event, she’s definitely struck a chord with her audience.

In Tverberg’s own words from chapter one: “ Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus is all about helping you mentally transport yourself back in place and time to read the Bible afresh, as one of Jesus’ first-century disciples... I want to look at some ways we can mentally bridge the culture gap between his Middle Eastern, Jewish world and ours in order to read the Bible as natives. How can ordinary Christians be equipped to read the Bible from the Hebraic perspective of its first readers? What big picture ideas do we need to understand? These are questions I’ve been asking myself since I started studying the Bible’s cultural context.”

Tverberg has written two other books about Rabbi Jesus. In Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus , Jesus’ first-century world of rabbis, disciples, festivals, prayers and the Torah is explored, showing how His Jewish setting sheds light on the life and ministry of Christ. In Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus , she dives deeper into some of Jesus’ most important sayings in their Jewish context and considers the implications for us as 21st-century disciples. 

Cindy Beaver / Board of Directors Member
LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
June 19: 9 a.m.- noon and 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. (CST)

Seasoned Crossways International ®  leaders, Pastors Eugene Orr and Cheryl Mathison, will share best practices for introducing Crossways International ® courses to your group. They’ll provide ideas for teaching and facilitating conversation, fitting the curriculum to your context, and using it creatively both inside and outside the classroom. 

July 31: 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. (CST)

Get an overview of all 10 of our courses and get answers to any questions you may have about teaching or studying these materials.
MINNEAPOLIS TRAIN ING SEMINAR
Crossways ® Training Seminar
August 27-31, $300
Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church
Apple Valley, MN

Early Bird registration for our Fall Training Seminar is now open! This Training Seminar provides an intense overview of the grand sweep of the biblical narrative and will help you feel well-prepared to teach or facilitate discussion of Crossways ® , our most in-depth course.

  • August 27: 8am-5:30pm - Check-in & Presentation
  • August 28, 29, 30: 8:30am-5:30pm - Presentation
  • August 31: 8:30am-12:30pm - Presentation

Register today to receive Early Bird pricing. (Price increases to $350 after July 18.) 
Or  Click Here  for more information on materials, lodging, and group discounts.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Get a solid foundation for lifelong faith-formation with The Divine Drama ® .

It covers the complete biblical storyline   and the themes arising from scripture.
Learn more about Paul's letter to the Christians at Corinth with Paul's Hymn on Love DVD .

Dr. Kenneth Bailey discusses love and the spiritual gifts, love defined, and love, a hard awakening.
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Available in two sizes, it sums up the mission of the Church: to restore all people to unity with God and each other, in Christ.
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SEEKING AN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The Executive Director of Crossways International ® (CI) serves as the chief executive officer of CI, and is responsible for creating a strategy for sustaining and expanding its worldwide mission—to help people read the written Word, understand the Living Word, and demonstrate that Word in their daily lives. He/She will administer the operations, program, and advancement activities of CI.

The Executive Director will oversee the development of new/updated CI curriculum and resources, and define new teaching models for clients choosing to use CI's materials. He/She will also serve as a primary biblical teacher and trainer and be responsible for overseeing the various training events, seminars, and webinars conducted by CI. The primary responsibilities include serving as the key sales, marketing, fundraising, and public relations person. The Executive Director will be the face of CI, fostering positive relationships with prospective partners, current clients, and other friends of CI, as well as presenting our programs at various conferences and gatherings in the global community.

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SHARING GOD'S GOOD NEWS
Harry Wendt
REVISED COMMON LECTIONARY NOTES

" Does Jesus mean that the efforts of man are as nothing compared with the plan of God? Does He mean that God’s Kingdom will make its way into the world despite all opposition—but quietly and without the fanfare of a political messianic movement? Does He mean that the ages will continue to unfold in a stately manner as the Last Day draws nearer? Most likely, the passage contains elements of all three ideas. "

Read the Rev. Dr. Wendt's June 2018 Revised Common Lectionary Notes .
A PRAYER TO SHARE
Heavenly Father, we thank and praise You for preparing a heavenly home for us, and for assuring us that we will one day enter that home. We thank You for all that Jesus did to make that possible for us. Jesus died to suffer what we deserve to suffer because of our sin. Jesus rose from the dead, and promises that He will call us out of our grave. We thank You for the peace this brings to us as we journey through life, and the hope that it gives us when we depart this life. Amen. (From The Divine Drama ® student manual)
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