Saturday, November 23, 2013

5 Ways to Keep Your Alumni Base Lively

I love these Infographics......I belong to a few alumni groups and this is all valid advice.

Via: iContact

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Misidentified Mary

Mary Magdelene is one of the most misinterpreted individuals in Scripture. She’s been called a prostitute, and she’s been confused with the woman who shed tears on Jesus’ feet.   I can understand the confusion…..there were several Marys and through the ages women took a backseat role where the church was concerned, however, the importance of Mary of Magdalene in the ministry of Jesus….especially during those last days cannot be discounted or swept away, but folks sure do get confused regarding who she was.

Here are some facts to ponder.

Mary’s entire name denotes her hometown.  She was Mary from Magdelene, and who could blame Jesus for calling her this.   There WERE several Mary’s milling about at the time, right?

Magdalene was a town many historians term as wealthy.  People living there mainly worked in agriculture, fishing, in shipbuilding or in trade.   The town was located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.   The Talmud states that Magdalene was a short distance of three miles from Tiberias, and the name in Greek means tower and fortress in Aramaic.

Mary Magdalene by Bernardio Luini...notice the alabaster jar that shouldn't be there.

The Bible relates how Jesus drove seven demons from Mary Magdalene. 

Seven!   Can you imagine?

Of course when you and I think of demons we think of lizard like creatures erupting from someone’s torso as in the Alien movies, but actually the New Testament presents demon-possession as someone diseased or victim to an alien and evil power.  The person was not an accomplice of it. 

As to the number of demons there are those that interpret the number seven to mean completeness…and those that say the number indicates the severity of Mary’s problem, but the cause is never disclosed.

Whatever Mary’s ailment she became healed and was not a social derelict.  There is no evidence to refute that her malady was a phyisical illness of which she was healed. 

In some circles Mary has a bad reputation.   Some people hold her on the same level as Mary the Sinner and she has been identified as the penitent woman who anointed Jesus. 

But there were two anointing were there not?   Two anointing performed by two different women.  Matthew and Mark both tell the story that occurred at Bethany where Jesus’ head was anointed at the home of Simon the Leper by the unidentified woman……Matthew 26: 6-13 and Mark 14: 3-9.

John discusses Bethany as well stating that Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume….John 12: 1-3.

Luke, however, told of Jesus dining at the home of the Pharisee when an unidentified woman who had lived a sinful life wet his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.  She then poured expensive perfume on them….Luke 7: 37-38.

There are theories connecting Mary of Magdalene to these anointing, but they are just that…..theories.

Going all the way back to the first Christian century, folks have been falsely identifying the unknown woman in Luke’s account with Mary Magdalene.   Luke only identified her in a list of women who helped support Jesus and the disciples out of their own money…..Luke 8:2-3.

Mary of Magdalene by Frederick Sandys 1858-60

There is nothing in the Biblical text to connect Mary Magdalene with the woman in the preceding story involving the unknown woman who anointed Jesus’ feet.   Luke actually provides a formal introduction of Mary in 8:2, and it shows no indication she had already been introduced in 7:36-50.     

I believe firmly that the unknown woman referred to as “a sinner” in Luke 7:37 and Mary with “seven demons” in Luke 8:2 are two entirely different women.

What we do know for sure John describes Mary of Magdalene as a woman of means who used her money to support the ministry of Jesus.  After the Galilean ministry she and other women  went along with Jesus to Jerusalem during that last week of His earthly ministry and was there for His crucifixion and His resurrection.

Mary of Magdalene never turned away from Jesus as other did in those last hours.  She bravely stood at the cross and witnessed everything.   This was a dangerous thing to do, but she did it.  It needs to be remembered that most of the male followers turned away and deserted Jesus…..but many of the women were self-appointed watchers and were faithful to the end.  

When Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus made the request for the body of Jesus and buried him in the tomb it was Mary of Magdalene who watched and observed the location.   After the Sabbath had passed it was Mary of Magdalene who planned to return to the tomb to properly prepare Jesus’ body for permanent burial with spices.

It is not by chance that all of the Synoptic gospels mention that Mary along with some other women went early to the tomb that Sunday morning.  Only John stated that it was still dark and made no mention of the other women.   When Mary of Magdalene saw the stone had been rolled away she ran to tell Peter and John. 

After the men visited the tomb and found it empty they were confused, but returned home.  It was then that the two angels appeared to Mary.   Jesus approached and made His first resurrection appearance to Mary but she mistook Him for the gardener until He spoke her name.

Mary then gave the very first confession of faith in the risen Lord when she said “Rabboni” in Aramaic.

I sincerely don’t believe it just happened that a woman was the first to do so.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Jewelry Find at Megiddo

Hot off the presses…..or screen since this is a digital world…..pieces of gold and silver jewelry have been found at Tel Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel.   The find actually occurred back in March, but it has taken this long for folks in the know to take a closer look.

They’ve determined the jewelry dates back to 1100 B.C.E.   It was found wrapped in fabric and hidden in ceramic vessels in what is described as a private home dating from the Iron Age.   Researchers believe the jewelry belonged to a Canaanite woman.

Did the owner die?   Was she forced to flee suddenly?   Why did they hide it?

One of the most exciting pieces is a gold earring decorated with molded ibexes, or wild goats.   

Usually, in a find like this researchers already have something similar they can compare objects with to place them in the proper cultural and chronological settings.   In the case of the “goat” earrings there is NO comparison item.

The most amazing thing is the container where the jewelry was found has been in the hands of archaeologists since 2010 and has been sitting around waiting for a molecular analysis of its content.

It is believed some of the collection could have originated in Egypt due to beads made from the carnelian stone.  The style of the jewelry is consistent with Egyptian designs from the same period.   Another hint regarding an Egyptian origin has to do with the large number of gold items.  If the items didn’t originate in Egypt then the designer was at least influenced by Egyptian styles of the time.  There were instances of trade between the Egyptians and Megiddo during the Bronze and Iron Age.

Tel Megiddo was an important Canaanite city-state until the early 10th century B.C.E. 

During the Northern Kingdom of Israel around the 9th and 8th centuries B.C.E. Tel Megiddo continued to be an important center.   

It was easy for the researchers to date the jewelry since layers of archaeological matter exist at the site and are very easily dated. 
The jewelry in question was found in a layer that researchers have identified as 11th century about the time of an Egyptian withdrawal or when the people who owned the jewelry would have been influenced by Egyptian culture.

Visit the Tel Megiddo expedition website here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Peniel Pillows

See this pillow……it’s one of my most prized possessions

.No one bought for me….I found it and purchased it. 
Sometimes those little discoveries are the most precious, aren’t they?

I bought it mainly for the colors…..and then I got it because of the pineapples.

Another reason why I purchased it had to do with the story that surrounds the pillow’s creator.

Rushan Smyth began Peniel Pillows when she needed a gift for a friend.  Rushan states at her website, “My dream was to create pillows that would tell a story from the Bible, thereby becoming a source of encouragement.  I couldn’t even sew, but through that one simple gesture, the company now known as Peniel Pillows was born, and I learned something very important.   This is not about ‘sewing’…it is about ‘Sowing’!”

The name Peniel comes from Genesis 32:30…..Jacob named the place Peniel (The Face of God), for he said, “I have seen God face to face and yet my life is spared.  The website continues….Like Jacob we all wrestle with the care of this world.  Our hope at Peniel Pillows is that these keepsakes will be constant reminder of God’s promises as you read the scripture passage individually selected for each unique pillow.   Know God’s word is the key to life…..We pray that you too will see His face and live.”

Each pillow follows a theme….mine follows the word hospitality and is based on the words from Hebrews 13:2….Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it, and Luke 12:35-40….Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.   It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.   Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.  But understand this:  If the owner, of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

The description of my pillow at the website states:  The pineapple, a universal symbol of “Welcome!”  Whether a cup of tea, cold water, or just a listening ear for a hurting friend, “Be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamp burning”.   Open your heart to make someone feel comfortable in your presence.  “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without even knowing it.”  You may never know until eternity, what a difference your gift of hospitality has made.   Another gift is waiting.

All of the pillows come with a descriptive hangtag referencing the name, scripture passage, and symbolism of each individual design.   A small New Testament is placed inside every Peniel Pillow which serves as an ideal place for a person inscription.

…and of course each pillow comes with the little key emblem as well

I’m beginning to think the Lord wanted to share with me some lessons regarding hospitality, and that was His reason for putting the pillow in my path that day.  Over the last couple of years I’ve learned a little more about hospitality… more on the downside than the up…..but that will come later...there's time.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Damaris and the Cartoons

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say the word “cartoon”?

Depending on your age you might say…..Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo, or Sponge Bob, right?

However, my subject matter doesn’t refer to those types of cartoons today.

Look at this Raphael painting below:

Raphael's depiction of Paul teaching at the Areopagus
THIS painting is referred to as a cartoon.  

Seriously…..a cartoon.

The dictionary advises a cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art.  While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or the artistic style of such works.   The term actually originated in the Middle Ages and was used to refer to a preparatory drawing for a piece of art, such as a painting, fresco tapestry, or stained glass window.

The above painting is part of a series referred to as The Raphael Cartoons he prepared for the Sistine Chapel, and shows Paul giving his sermon at the Areopagus or “Rock of Ares” which served as the High Court of Appeals for criminal and civil cases in the city of Athens.

Paul’s sermon is related in Acts 17: 16-34.  He drew inspiration for his sermon from the alter to the unknown god…..”The God who made the World and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.”
Upon entering Athens Paul had been upset by seeing the city full of idols.   He was taken to the Areopagus or High Court to explain himself.   What we have in Acts is one of the most full and most dramatic speeches Paul ever uttered.  He must have been very convincing because many in the crowd were converted.

Now look back at Raphel’s painting again. Notice the couple in the lower right corner.   Yes, a couple….as in husband and WIFE.    Art historians are certain this couple was added later by Raphael’s pupil, Giulio Romano because the man and woman don’t seem to fit in with relation to position or scale.

The couple is mentioned in Acts 17:34……Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed.  Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Demaris, and a number of others.

The woman's name is important.   She's listed with men in a place where men congregated in Athens.   

Why  was she mentioned?

It's very evident that she was a woman of high status or she wouldn't have been at the Areopagus.  In fact, John Chrysostom, the Archbishop of Constantinople, made the connection that Demaris was actually the wife of Dionysius thought Luke doesn't tell us.

Historians today aren't so sure.  Authors such as Robert Paul Seesengood, a biographer of Paul, agree there are no hard details to link the two......though in the whole scheme of things it doesn't really matter. 

What matters is Paul spoke...and people listened and were saved.

The cartoon detail is kind of interesting, too!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Using Technology to Piece the Past Together

This is an interesting article detailing how thousands of fragments of ancient scrolls are spread out across the globe, and how a computer program can virtually "glue" the pieces back together  even though the pieces belong to different museums and storage facilities and never physically meet up again.

Too cool.
The researchers are now applying the … technology to fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of hundreds of text found along the Dead Sea in the 1950s, as well as other scrolls.

"It's a more complicated challenge," Wolf said, referring to the Dead Sea Scrolls. "The fragments are for the most part much smaller, and many of the texts are very unique. These texts shed light on the beginnings of Christianity."
Technology…..a curse at times, but such a blessing , too!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Paul's Secretary

My mom was a marathon letter and journal writer.  I can still see her seated at our kitchen table each morning writing, writing, writing.  Even after Dear Sister gave her a computer, Mother continued to scribble away in her spiral notebooks she always seemed to have on hand.  I have to agree with her.  There is something about moving a pen across a clean page of paper and making it all your own.

Mother created the most interesting letters regarding what was going on in our lives, pondering current events of the day, or relating some little anecdote from her past. 

When I meet up with one of her dear friends they all tell me the same thing - I miss her letters so much.  I know how they feel.  I LONG for one myself. 

Mother didn't just love to write letters.  She loved to read them as well.  Paul was her favorite letter writer with his letter to the Romans as a particular favorite.

While Mother did all of her letter writing at a kitchen table Paul would have followed the custom of the day and would have sat with his writing perched in his lap or on his knees.   Yes, I know there are very famous paintings of Paul sitting at a desk with an oil light, but it just isn't an accurate picture regarding most of the letters.

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