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Jesus Christ wants his body to become one—every church, every person. He wants his body to experience the unity with him and with each other that he experiences with his Father. But this unity is hindered by barriers of many kinds. Read more
The Bible is rich with metaphor. For instance, through the biblical imagery of husband and wife, bride and bridegroom, we come to understand the intimacy, fidelity and love our relationship with God demands. The language is symbolic. It is not intended to be taken literally, but rather to convey a spiritual truth in a way that we can understand. Read more
While fulfilling recent Bible teaching responsibilities in Australia (for the Anglicans), in Canada (for the Armenians) and in Latvia (for the Lutherans), I found the same topic under intense discussion—the place of women in the ministry of the church. As American Presbyterians we have crossed bridges that the Australians, the Armenians and the Latvians are currently approaching. This text speaks to churches at both ends of those particular bridges. It is perhaps especially significant for us to look anew at this story as we remember our Reformation heritage. Read more
When was the last time you went into a bookstore to buy a new Bible for yourself? I mean, really buy a new Bible; not just one with a new cover and intact pages—a new version of the Bible. Were you amazed and confused at the plethora of versions, formats, sizes, bindings, colors, and sizes of print available? Did you struggle to understand some of the versions? Or did you delight in the clarity and readability of others? Did you notice the changes in gender language? Or did you wonder if you can trust this different way the Bible speaks to you? For evangelicals these are important questions. Read more
She had bound her hair into a tight, black knot. But now the dark curling tresses are loose, cascading onto Jesus’ wet feet, and all around Simon’s dining room the meal turns to stone. The trouble is, she is a sinner. Not a private sinner with sins of the heart, suitable for repentance in silence during Sunday morning confession. Nor a sinner in the general sense that we are all sinners saved by grace. She is a known sinner, one singled out by her sin, one publicly shamed by sinfulness. Read more
When Yahweh appears, he appears not to “the male head” but to me woman (v. 3)! If Manoah is the spiritual head, why doesn’t God work through him? Instead, God deals directly with her. God gives her a theology lesson about the boy—as though she is the primary raiser of this child, not the “head,” Manoah. Read more
Few women of history show the strength of character and “spunk” of this Hebrew wife and mother from the twelfth century B.C. She was called like Sarah, Hannah and the Virgin Mary, to give birth to one of the great men of ancient times. But she models fir modern women more than just the courage of motherhood: Her spiritual qualities are a challenge to all who read the sacred Scriptures, men as well as women. Read more
It is interesting to see how many times the word “all” occurs in the opening verses of the book of Acts. After identifying those who were included in the early followers of Jesus in the first chapter of Acts, we read in verse 14, “They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Worship was no longer something only for the older men; now it is for all. They all gathered together in that prayer time. Chapter 2:1 tells us that, “When the day of Pentecost came they were all together in one place.” The fellowship included all who would let themselves be a part of it. Chapter 2:4 announces, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Savior enabled them.” Ministry included all of them: men and women, young and old, rich or poor. All were filled with the Holy Spirit. Read more
As I read the gospels, I feel as if I am slowly turning the pages of a photo album of the life of Jesus. The opening pages contain snapshots of the events surrounding his birth: a picture of the angel appearing to Elizabeth, one of Simeon holding the newborn Savior in the temple. I can also see his baptism and his lonely sojourn in the wilderness. The album fills with pictures of the Lord and those who knew him—people who followed him, challenged him, served him, abandoned him. Read more
When we read the letters that make up the greater part of our New Testament, we are reading someone else’s mail. Suppose that you found a box of letters dating from the 1890’s in the attic of the old family home. These letters might mention the names of many people well-known to both the writer and the recipient but unknown to you. Perhaps your 90-year-old aunt could tell you about some of them, but you never would be able to identify some of the people mentioned in those old letters. Read more

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