Thursday, December 27, 2007

Live Nativity Pictures

Early in December my daughter along with a few other members of her youth group participated in a live nativity at another church. Here are a few of the pictures:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Take a Break From Holiday To-Dos With Blog Carnivals

I’ve been in and out all day today helping Santa to complete his list and when I stopped by the house long enough to drop off packages I was pleased to discover the 25th Georgia Blog Carnival has arrived for your reading pleasure over at Marketing Through the Clutter. Head on over and discover what the Georgia Blogosphere has to offer.

The latest edition of the Education Carnival is up over at The Education Wonks

The Carnival of Political Punditry can be found here and The Carnival of Family Life is over at Adventures in Juggling.

and finally Bounded Irrationality is hosting the Christian Carnival.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas to Those in Heaven

Ok, I’ll admit it. Last Christmas was hard. It was very hard. My mother had passed away in July, my father had a hip replaced in October, my sister had lost her mother-in-law in November, and my mother-in-law continued to have complications from months of chemo.

Spiritually by December I was spent…..running on fumes….barely hanging on. It was much easier to stay home on Sunday mornings than it was to sit in the service at church and wipe tears away. I would have fallen apart had it not been for my Bible, kind friends, and my understanding family.

By December I was really beginning to realize what life would be like without Mother. I had identified thousands of questions I wish I had asked and was still avoiding weeding through any of her things storied in my basement. Over at History Is Elementary I posted a 13 list regarding what I wanted for Christmas and the last thing I asked for was one more conversation with my mother.

We have been undergoing renovations at my home for over a year. Last year we were painting the great room so furniture was out of place and ladders were standing against the walls. I used the disarray in my home as an excuse for the disarray in my heart and decided to forego Christmas decorations including a tree.

In my post I'm Not Trying to be a Grinch, Really I wrote:

My family has been very supportive of my decision to not unpack Christmas and drag it about the house. It’s just not in me. The sheer thought of having to make Christmas is simply too overwhelming this year. I think I’ve finally reached the apex of my grieving and folks simply need to let me be. No more fending and fighting it off…..I need to wallow and flop about in it. I need to be messy with it and let it ooze from my pores.

Now, a year later, I still don’t think I’m done, but I am at a different place.

Time. Time. Time. That is the magic ingredient.

One of the little things that did help me last year was a poem an online friend sent me out of the blue….totally unexpected. I was touched by her effort to reach out to me in some way, and her efforts did make a difference.

Perhaps you have stumbled across this post and you are grieving over the loss of someone. I hope it helps to know that you are not alone. Others are grieving too, but while we grieve we should also be celebrating that our loved ones are in Heaven whether it is their tenth year there, their second, or even their first……..

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular please wipe away the tears

For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many songs that people hold so dear
But the sound can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring,

For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me; I see your tortured heart

But I am not so far away, we really aren’t apart.
So rejoice for me my loved ones, you know I hold you dear
And be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift from my heavenly home above.
I sent you each a memory of my all undying love.
After all, love is a gift more precious than ingots made of gold,

For I can’t count the blessings or love He has for you.
So have a merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.
Remember I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

Merry Christmas to you and those in Heaven!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

White House Christmas Greeting

Every year since the administration of President Coolidge there has been some sort of official White House Christmas greeting that has been sent out to particular folks.

I was pleased to discover the inside of the official White House Christmas Card fror 2007 contains a Bible verse from Nehemiah.

It states: You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. (Nehemiah 6:9 NIV)

Click through to History Is Elementary to find out more and see images.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

13 Things About the Movie "The Nativity"

I watched the movie “The Nativity” last Sunday night. I had never seen it before and was very impressed regarding the movie's realism in costume, surroundings, and story overall.

Here are 13 things I’ve discovered about the movie:

1. Screenwriter Mike Rich began writing the screenplay of the movie on December 1, 2005, exactly a year before its release.

2. By the time New Line agreed to finance the film, several other studios had similar nativity scripts under review, so the film was rushed to production for a Christmas 2006 release date, thereby eliminating competition.

3. The cast were taught how to use certain tools used 2000 years ago as well as how to build homes, how to press olives and grapes, how to make bread, how to make cheese, and how to milk goats.

4. This was the first feature film to ever premiere at the Vatican.

5. The movie shows a field of maize-corn in a Nazareth farming scene. Maize-corn is native to Mesoamerica. It was grown in the Americas until the late 15th century.

6. King Herod steps out on a rampart in Jersusalem during one scene and a large expanse of the city can be seen (as matte painting) in background. During another scene, he steps out in the same location and the city background is missing (sky background instead).

7. In the beginning when the King’s son is saying the prophecy will end that night the son is on the right. A year later in the movie when that scene was being played again he was on the King’s left.

8. In the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem the columns are Corinthian, which was first used in Ancient Greece in 429 B.C. while the second Temple of Solomon (the one in the film) was completed in 515 B.C.

9. When Baby Jesus is born, he doesn’t have an umbilical cord.

10. Many times the Roman soldiers were shown with beards or shabby facial hair, the Romans at this time considered body hair to be barbaric, and therefore it was forbidden.

11. Although Nativity Scenes often include the Three Wise Men at the birth of Christ, they in fact did not find Jesus until he was closer to two years old. We are so used to it by now most don't even realize this.

12. During the movie when a man tries to steal Mary and Joseph’s money Joseph says, “What comes with us, stays with us.”

13. At one point Mary asks Joseph, “How do we raise such a child?” Joseph replies, “ I wonder if I will even be able to teach Him anything.”

Hmmn....I think I'd have the same feelings if I was in Joseph's shoes.

You can view other 13s here.

Wordless 28

This is a painting by James Tissot titled Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Luke 1:5-7 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest of Abijah’s division named Zechariah. His wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in God’s sight, living without blame according to all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no children because Elizabeth could not conceive, and both of them were well along in years.

See other Wordless offerings here

Thursday, December 6, 2007

When Doors Slam in Our Face

While I’m one of those that believe every moment of history is important---even some of the most mundane everyday moments---there are those events that can be placed in the monumental category. Moments like the landing of the first Europeans in America during the late 1400s and early 1500s, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, or the events of September 11th. Other monumental events include Moses being given the Ten Commandments, David’s little altercation with Goliath, and the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The other morning at church our focus text was Acts 16: 6-10 which states: [Paul and his companions] went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, bypassing Mysia, they came down to Troas. During the night a vision appeared to Paul: a Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia and help us!” After he had seen the vision, we immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to evangelize them.

At first glance it would appear this passage is merely transition from one location to another….a simple list of places Paul and his companions went on their way to Macedonia during his second missionary journey.

It is much more than that. These simple verses signify the first time the gospel will enter Europe, and I’m sure you would agree it is a very monumental event. These verses also provide insight into Paul’s character, his relationship to the Lord, and a lesson for us to apply to our own lives.

First of all the geography begs for explanation. Take a look at the map I’ve placed with this post. Note that the Bible states Paul was prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in the province of Asia. Think of Asia today and thoughts of India, Vietnam, Korea, and China come to mind, however, during the time of the Roman Empire the province of Asia was not the Asian continent we know of today. The Roman province of Asia is present day Turkey. The map I present here is Turkey as it would have appeared during Paul’s life.

Notice the Bible text states the group traveled across Galatia and Phrygia and then north to Bithynia along the Black Sea. Having tried several directions Paul and his companions finally go another way. They traveled west to the seaport town of Troas. During Paul’s time Troas was a major seaport along the Aegean Sea and was the crossing point for those who wanted to travel across to Macedonia and then follow the land route into Rome.

Paul tried several different locations to spread the Gospel, and according to the text he was not allowed to share his message in the province of Asia. He was stopped by the Holy Spirit, the part of the Godhead that reveals the mind of God to mankind (I Peter 1: 10-12). The Holy Spirit lives within followers of Christ. It is God’s of way of revealing his heart to us. The text at I Corinthians 2: 7-13 explains God’s revelations are given without error and inspire us.

The Bible text does not explain why the doors were closed to Paul in Asia, but they were. I find it interesting that Paul kept trying. He traveled to several places in the province of Asia before reaching Troas. Knowing what I already do about Paul it would make sense that he prayed to and worshipped the Lord along the way. He might have been agitated, exasperated, and at times he might have even felt like he should just go home, but he didn’t.

Isn’t that the way we feel sometimes when we are attempting something new? Route after route to our goal is blocked, doors are closed, equipment breaks down, co-workers don’t do their share…..the list is endless. Today we live in a society where we are constantly told nothing is impossible. We are making huge strides in technology that will have tremendous impact on society in the coming years.As an educator I am to constantly tell students they are the best, they can succeed, and there is nothing that can keep them from their goals.

The thing is no matter how many self-help podcasts you view, blogs you read, or books you buy doors will be closed in your face. Like Paul, the Holy Spirit will prevent you from taking a particular route. What must be remembered is in the overall scheme of things it isn’t about me or you…’s about God and his plan. Sometimes our purpose and intent is not in alignment with the will of God, and we will be told no just like Paul.

The trick is to keep going….keep knocking on those doors as Jesus teaches in Luke 11:9---“So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. Paul traveled in several different directions and finally the only choice that was left for him was west. Paul didn’t stop….he kept moving. Once at Troas he received his vision---a supernatural image or picture given by a revelation of God that can come when you are awake or sleeping. Because of this close relationship with the Lord Paul trusted his vision and it made all the difference in the world because entering Europe was the will of God.

Closed doors are not moments to succumb to moments of self- loathing and “can’t help its”. They are prompts for you keep the Lord close to you as a partner in whatever goal you are trying to reach. Through prayer and worship He will provide the key to unlock that all elusive door.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Biblical Grocery List

If you lived during Biblical times what would your grocery list look like?

Here are 13 food items that are mentioned in the Bible:

1. Coriander
*The house of Israel named the substance manna. It resembled coriander seed, was white, and tasted like wafers [made] with honey (Exodus 16:31)
*The manna resembled coriander seed, and its appearance was like that of bdellium. (Numbers 11:7)

2. Pomegrantates
*Why have you led us up from Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It’s not a place of grain, figs, vines, and pomegranates, and there is no water to drink! (Number 20:5)
*A land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; (Deuteronomy 8:8)

3. Gourds
*One went out to the field to gather herbs and found a wild vine from which he gathered as many wild gourds as his garment would hold. Then he came back and cut them up into the pot of stew, but they were unaware [of what they were]. (2 Kings 4:39)

4. Barley
*A land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; (Deuteronomy 8:8)
*Also take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt. Put them in a single container and make them into bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the number of days you lie on your side, 390 days. (Ezekiel 4:9)

5. Fish
*So Simon Peter got up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish---153 of them. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. “Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them. None of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish.

6. Partridge
*So don’t let my blood fall to the ground far from the LORD’s presence, for the king of Israel has come out to search for a flea, like one who pursues a partridge in the mountains. (1 Samuel 26:20)
*He who makes a fortune unjustly is [like] a partridge that hatches eggs it didn’t lay. In the middle of his days [his riches] will abandon him, so in the end he will be a fool. (Jeremiah 17:11)

7. Oxen
*So he turned back from following him, took the team of oxen, and slaughtered them. With the oxen’s wooden yoke and plow, he cooked the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he left, followed Elijah, and served him. (1 Kings 19:21)

8. Curds
*By the time he learns to reject what is bad and choose what is good, he will be eating butter and honey. (Isaiah 7:15)

9. Locusts
*John wore a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:6)

10. Wine
*Whatever is needed---young bulls, rams, and lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, or wheat, salt, wine, and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem---let it be given to them every day without fail (Ezra 6:9)
*”Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then He said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the chief servant.” And they did. When the chief servant tasted the water (after it had become wine), he did not know where it came from---though the servants who had drawn the water knew. He called the groom and told him, “Everybody sets out the fine wine first, then, after people have drunk freely, the inferior. But you have kept the fine until now.” (John 2: 7-10)

11. Apples
*Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples for I am lovesick (Song of Solomon 2:5)

12. Anise
*Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the most important matters of the law---justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)

13. Cucumbers
*We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. (Numbers 11:5)

Join in on the fun at Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Wordless: Verse 27

Look for an explanation in the comments.
Join in on the Wordless Wednesday fun

A Song for Tuesday

This song was sung Sunday morning at church….I find the lyrics inspiring.

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you
Every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true
Every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is trueThat God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

13 Events in the Bible That Are Confirmed Elsewhere

1. 1 Kings 14:25-26 advises in the fifth year of King Rehobaom, Shishak king of Egypt went to war against Jerusalem. He seized the treasures of the Lord’s temple and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything. He took all the gold shields that Solomon had made. This campaign of Pharoh Shishak is also recorded on the walls of the Temple of Amun in Thebes, Egypt seen in the picture to the left.

2. During the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign a king of Assyria named Sennacherib attacked cities of Judah and captured them. When the King Hezekiah said, “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me. Whatever you demand from me, I will pay” the Assyrian king demanded 11 tons of silver and one ton of gold. King Hezekiah had no choice but to strip the gold from the doors of the Lord’s sanctuary (see 2 Kings 18: 13-16). This entire episode is recorded on the Taylor Prism.

3. The Moab Revolt against Israel is found in 2 Kings 1:1 and 2 Kings 3:4-27. It is also recorded on the Mesha Stele.
4. The Fall of Samaria to Sargon II, King of Assyria is recorded on his palace walls, but it can also be found in 2 Kings 17: 3-6 and 2 Kings 18: 9-11.

5. Also on Sargon’s walls is the account of his defeat of Ashdod. It’s also found in Isaiah 20:1….In the year that the commander-in-chief, sent by Sargon, king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and attacked and captured it.
6. The Lachish Reliefs records the Siege of Lachish by Sennacherib just as 2 Kings 18: 14, 17……See number 2 above.

7. One day, while he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword and escaped to the land of Ararat. Then his son Esar-haddon become king in his place…..states 2 Kings 19: 37. This account refers to the assassination of Sennacherib and is also recorded in the court records of his son Esarhaddon.

8. The prophets Nahum and Zephaniah (Zephaniah 2:13-15) predicted the Fall of Ninevah. The prediction was also recorded on the Tablet of Nabopolasar.

9. 2 Kings 24: 10-14 tells of the Fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Bablyon. Of course it is also listed in the Babylonian Chronicles.

10. Ever hear of the Bablyonian Ration Records? They confirm the captivity of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, in Babylon. It is also mentioned in 2 Kings 24; 15-16.

11. The Fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians was mentioned in Daniel 5: 30-31 (That very night Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans was killed and Darius the Mede received the kingdom at the age of 62). the Cyrus Cylinder also provides the account.

12. Ezra 1:1-4 and Ezra 6:3-4 recounts how the captives in Babylon were freed by Cyrus the Great. Once again the Cyrus Cylinder provides an accounting as well.

13. The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give us the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The writings of Josephus, Seutonius, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, the Talmud, and Lucian mention Jesus as well.

And as a Thursday bonus……

During the reign of Claudius during A.D. 41-54 the Jews were forced to leave Rome. Acts 18:2 states …where he found a Jewish man named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Suetonius also provides a second source for the removal of Jews.
Discover more 13’s here.

Wordless: Verse 26

I can't remember where I snagged this, but it really says it all.

Join in on the Wordless Wednesday fun and find links to other wordless images here

The latest Christian Carnival can be found over at Beyond the Rim. They were nice enough to include a post of mine regarding being dead or alive.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Who Were the Ammonites?

Take a turn around the Internet and you quickly discover Ammonites are mentioned as a long extinct type of animal found in the fossil records

In the Bible, though, the Ammonites are a group of people stemming from the family of Abraham and during Old Testament times caused the Israelites many problems.

So who were they?

*They were a distinct group of people living northeast of the Dead Sea

*In Biblical times the government of the Ammonites was known as the Kingdom of the Ammonites. The kingdom basically centered on the city-state of Rabbah located at the headwaters of the Jabbok River. Today the site of Rabbah is the city of Amman, Jordan.

*The Bible explains the origins of the Ammonite people from the incestuous event between Lot and his daughters following the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Both daughters had children and the Moabites and Ammonites were decendents of the unions. Their admitted kinship through the centuries and close ties in language development attest to kinship. Genesis 19: 36-38 states So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by by their father. The firstborn gave birth to a son and named him Moab. He is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger also gave birth to a son, and she named him Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites of today.

*There was definitely bad blood between the Ammonites and the Israelites as far back as the Exodus. The Ammonites did not allow the Israelites passage through their lands and for this reason they were excluded from the family of God for ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3)

*King Saul defeated the Ammonite King, Nahash. In fact, several attacks by the Ammonites were the triggers which eventually united the various Israelite tribes under King Saul.

*King David had some good dealings with King Nahash, but did not get along so well with his successor, King Hanun.

*King David’s armies defeated King Hanun. When King David was courting Bathsheba he sent her husband, Uriah, on an impossible mission. In fact, Uriah was killed while storming the walls of Rabbah, the main city of the Ammonite Kingdom.

*King Solomon’s chief wife was Naamah, an Ammonitess. She was the mother of Rehoboam.

*In New Testament times the Ammonites were still a thorn in the side of Israel. The Pharisees were very concerned with the large number of mixed marriages between Hebrews, Moabites, and Ammonites according to the Justin Martyr. At one point a law in the Mishnah states Ammonite men are excluded, but the women can be admitted to the Jewish community.

*In fact, many scholars over the years have expressed concern regarding the Messianic line through King David because he came from Ruth, a Moabite.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A New Georgia Carnival

Happy Friday!

The 23rd Georgia Carnival has been posted and can be found here..

My gold star award goes out to Facing the Sharks, this edition’s host, for the wonderful job of presenting all of the submissions.

Go on over visit for a spell!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m on a self-imposed posting holiday until Friday. I will be spending time with family and friends.

The painting I’ve presented here is by Norman Rockwell and was inspired along with three other paintings by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedom’s speech.

The four paintings (you can see them here) were published in the Saturday Evening Post on February 20th, February 27th, March 6th, and March 13th in 1943.

The paintings raised over $130,000,000 in war bond sales when they toured around the country by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

If you are looking for Thanksgiving reading here are the titles of some of my former postings that appeared at History Is Elementary last year:

13 Thanksgiving Myths

What's All the Hubbub, Bub? All I Want Is Turkey, Family, and a Little Football

Squanto: A Coincidental Life, Part 1

Squanto: A Coincidental Life, Part 2

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Ten Men With Leprosy...Which One Are You?

The following story is taken from Luke 17:11-19 and was written as a sermon by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild. It has been used numerous times by various pastors since it was published on the Internet.

We were heading with Jesus to Jerusalem. We had taken the old border road that ran between Samaria and Galilee, and it was a hot day.

It was the kind of day when the dust of the road lies thick on the bushes and puffs up around your feet with every step you take. [It was] the kind of day when the sweat runs down into your eyes and turns the grime on your face into streaks of mud.

For a while - the only sound that any of us heard, was the low drone and buzz of the insects as we walked, but then through the still of that day, at first in the distance, then closer and closer - we heard them "Unclean, unclean, unclean".

We began to look around, and finally, as we rounded the crest of a hill to begin the long walk down to the village in the valley below, we saw them. They were standing off the road a bit, and as we walked towards them the cry "Unclean, unclean, unclean" stopped.

There were ten of them, and even if we had not heard their cry we would have had no problem knowing what they were. Some of them had rags wrapped around their hands, others had their feet bundled up in strips of old cloth, all of them were dressed in the tattered and torn clothing that people in their condition were required to wear, and all of them had, as they were supposed to, long unkempt hair.

There was no mistaking what they were - they were lepers and at the sight of them standing just off the path staring at us like hungry and wounded animals we stopped.

None of us wanted to get any closer to those wretched creatures - and who could blame us for that. I mean everyone knows about leprosy don't they? It is simply awful. No one can recover from it. It slowly rots and destroys the body, and worse yet, it is so easy to catch.

That's why the priests insist that everyone who has a skin blemish report to them for an examination. The priest looks at them, and if they have raw patches of flesh or white bumps or red marks on their skin, or if their hair is discoloured, he pronounces them unclean, and the person must go into isolation for seven days so no one else is put in danger.

It must be very difficult for those people, wondering for all those days if they have leprosy, wondering if they are ever going to be able to live with their families again, but it is fair, fair for the rest of us,and fair for their families, because leprosy is not good, not good at all. Most times the person does not have leprosy. They go back to the priest after seven days, their blemish is healed over, and they are pronounced clean and allowed to return to their homes.

But for others, for those like the ten we saw that day, their blemish has worsened, the colour of their sores is brighter, or more of their flesh is infected, and they are banished. They are declared forever unclean. They are forever unable to have normal human contact, unable to bounce their children on their knees, unable to hug their wives or husbands, unable to do anything that might cause someone else to catch what they have.

Imagine, if you can, living out the rest of your life in a hovel, having to live in a camp and spend all your time with those who are suffering and diseased like you. It just so hard to think about -of not being able to see anyone you love except at a distance, of only being able to talk to them by yelling from far off.

After a while everyone you know would stop coming to see you. No one would want to look at you, or have anything to do with you, and no one, despite the fact they claim to love you, will ever hug you or kiss you or touch you again, no one, that is, except those who are like you, those whose bodies are twisted, shortened, and rotting.

Imagine too, waiting to see what will happen to you, waiting to see if your disease will spread as it has in others, taking from you your fingers, your toes, destroying your mouth and nose, till at last you starve to death, or die from some infection...but not until you have lingered for several years.

Imagine it - waiting - and hoping - trying to hope, trying to hope for that one in a million chance - hoping that your sores will clear up and that you will be able to go to the priest and hear him say the word CLEAN over you.

Imagine what it means to have to go around in rags and wear clothing that is torn and tattered. Imagine how hard it must be to let your hair grow long, and never be allowed to comb it. Imagine how it must feel to have to cry out "unclean, unclean" whenever you come near a normal person.

That is what leprosy is all about. No one in their right mind would want to come near it.

That is why we stopped on the road when we saw the lepers that day. We were being cautious, as cautious as any right thinking person would be in the presence of danger. We stopped and we wondered what Jesus would do, because Jesus, in defiance of all common sense, did not seem afraid of lepers.We had seen him once touch a leper who had come to him and begged to be healed. And Jesus reached out and touched him, and said to him "be clean" and the man had been healed.

It was quite the event, and I figure that the ten lepers we met that day must have heard about it because as we started again to work our way down to the village, they spotted the teacher and began to call out to him, JESUS, MASTER, HAVE PITY ON US.

When Jesus heard this he stopped, and as the sun beat down on our heads he turned towards them and holding out his hands he said, GO, SHOW YOURSELVES TO THE PRIESTS.

The ten lepers must have wondered what Jesus meant they must have wondered, because the chance of being healed of leprosy is so rare. They must have wondered, but they must have hoped as well, they must have believed that Jesus had done something for them, that their one in a million chance for a normal life had come to pass because all of them turned and started down the road ahead of us into the village.

As we watched them go, the dust rising from their tracks as they hurried ahead of us, we began to realize that Jesus had healed them. Why else would he have said to them, go show yourselves to the priests? We knew that anyone who is healed of a skin disease is required to be pronounced clean by a priest, and we marvelled that Jesus, with just a word, could heal those ten men.

And, as we found out just a few minutes later, it was so.

We were told that as they went down the hill towards the village that their sores began to dry up, and their blemishes disappear. With every step they took towards their old home, they felt stronger, younger, more energetic, till, when they had rounded the final turn on the way to the village, they were completely healed.

It must have been an incredible walk for them, think of it - after all their suffering and then, all of sudden, at the word of a stranger, their loneliness, their pain, their banishment began to evaporate. With every step it must have become more and more apparent that they could once again play with their children and make love to their wives and work with their brothers and relatives in the fields and stables of their old homes.

We saw one of the lepers again, it must have been about fifteen minutes after he and the others had disappeared down the road to the village that he came back up the road to us. We could tell something had happened to him while he was still fairly far off.

The shuffling cautious walk of the leper was gone, he was striding rapidly up the hill towards us, and he was singing and laughing and saying over and over again, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. As he got closer we could see that he was completely cured, his skin, what could be seen of it thru his tattered rags, was pink and glowing with health.

When he got close to us he singled out Jesus, and still singing and saying Alleluia, Alleluia, he ran over to Jesus and threw himself down at his feet and thanked him over and over again till finally Jesus touched him on his head and looking at us said,

"Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise toGod except this foreigner?"

At first we did not understand what Jesus was talking about,but then we noticed that the man at Jesus' feet had the accent of a Samaritan, that race who despises us, and refuses to worship in the right way, and sacrifice to God at the temple.

And as we wondered what Jesus meant by his words, he looked down at the Samaritan and said to him, "Rise and go, your faith has made you well."And the man got up and went his way, still singing and praising God. We stood there a minute and thought about what Jesus had said.

We wondered if Jesus was angry at the other lepers for not coming back and thanking him and God for giving them their lives back. We wondered if Jesus was trying to tell us something about himself, or about Samaritans.

It was a strange saying - but one thing was certain, all ten men had been cured of leprosy, Jesus had said so, but also it seemed to me that the one man, the one who came back to us and thanked Jesus, had something even more special happen to him. He was not only cured. He was made whole.

The others with me that day also thought the same thing, and as we talked about it among ourselves we asked each other if Jesus was trying to tell us that there is something special about giving thanks. And we all got to wondering about how we might have behaved if we had been given what the ten lepers received that day?

Would we have been like the one who came back to thank Jesus? Or would we have been so happy about what we had received that we, like the nine, would rush through the formalities with the priests, and hurry back to our homes and our normal lives.

We asked ourselves and each other if we had ever really thanked God for what we have. or if we had done all our lives what so many do,if we had simply gone to the priests and the temple at the times prescribed by the law, and made the offerings and said the prayers that our religion asks us to say, and then returned to our homes to carry on as before.

We wondered -- were we like the nine lepers who were cleansed? Or were we like the one who was not only cleansed, but, because of his faith, because of his giving thanks,
was made whole.

The image I posted above is called "Ten Lepers Healed" by Brian Kershisnik.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Honk If You Love Jesus...a post including 13 attributes

This is a picture of my daughter as she and some of her friends were working a recent pumpkin sale we had at church. The kids spent some time on the highway waving to folks to get them to notice the hundreds of pumpkins we had for sale.

Okay….I’ll admit it. The kids really didn’t need to wave to get people to notice the pumpkins. They were noticable….very noticable, but the kids had fun making a sign or two and receiving responses as people honked their horns and waved. It made the slow times in the pumpkin patch a little brighter.

Who knows? Maybe it made the day a little brighter for the mom hurrying to take her kids to an afternoon lesson, practice, or other appointment. Perhaps it made the truck driver, sleepy in the afternoon sun, a little more alert to the road and even more alert to his current position with God. They might have even changed the outlook for a husband frustrated with the demands of his job and his young family.

Actions that help Christians and near Christians recognize each other whether it is a t-shirt with a Christian message, a WWJD bracelet, a fish magnet on the back of car, and even with a honk of a car horn are great. It’s nice to belong to a club. It’s nice to share commonalities with folks. It’s nice just to recognize each other because it validates who we are….I’m ok because they are like me.

Being a Christian, however, is so much more than just recognizing others who share the same ideas. Being a Christian is a never ending quest to become more Christlike. True, it is a goal that will never be reached became of our humanity, but it is a worthy goal and as Christians we are charged with undertaking the quest. Colossians 3:9-10 states You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator.

1. Christ had humility. In his Letter to the Philippians Paul reminds us to be like Christ in that we need to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

2. Christ was all about love. John 13:1 states Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.

3. Christ was into service to others. Jesus said, No one who puts his hand on the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:61-62) and Romans 15:17 explains Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.

4. Christ was obedient. When tempted in the desert Jesus told Satan, Away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only. (Matthew 4:10)

5. Christ was an optimist. Look to the future. Keep your eye on the prize. He told us, Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34).

6. Christ forgave. He did not hold a grudge and taught others to forgive as He forgave. Luke 3:3 states He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

7. Christ was kind-hearted. There are really too many examples to list here, however, Matthew 19:14 is my most favorite example where he said Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

8. Christ was empathetic. When Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees regarding an adultress He did not join in on the condemnation. He did not shame the woman. He didn’t have to. He felt for her even though He knew she had done wrong. He said “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? No one, sir, she said. Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin. (John 8:10-11)

9. Christ was dogmatic. Christ never speculated.

10. Christ was authoritative. “Not in a dictatorial manner, not because He held office since he held non on a human level, but because the thing He said was so. It grips the heart of the hearer, and men know that the thing He said was so.”

11. Christ had intelligibility. “He spoke to be understood. Evidently the passion of His heart as a Teacher was that the listening man should grasp the thing He was trying to say.”

12. Christ was rational. “He alsways appealed to the rational, always appealed to reason, constantly called the human mind to sit in judgement upon the thing , Himself content to abide by the true and unbiased judgement of the human mind.”

13. Christ was illustrative. His illustrations were remembered and always taken from everyday life.

Christ was also patient. “He was never content with their attainment; but gradually and progressively He imparted knowledge to them all the way through, waiting for them with infinite patience.” His actions were purposeful in that “He never taught men anything merely to satisfy intellectual curiosity.”

The information given from number 9 through the end of the list comes from an address given by Winona Echoes from 1925 to the 31st Annual Bible Conference.

Find other 13s here.

Dead or Alive....We're in the Driver's Seat

Jon Bon Jovi’s song Dead or Alive has been one of my favorites for years. A couple of the verses and chorus go like this:

Its all the same,
only the names will change
Everyday it seems were wasting away
Another place where the faces are so cold
I'd drive all night just to get back home

I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride
I'm wanted dead or alive
Wanted dead or alive
Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it's not for days
And the people I meet always go their separate ways
Sometimes you tell the day
By the bottle that you drink
And times when youre all alone all you do is think

You can find a live version at YouTube.

I’ve always loved the music that goes along these lyrics, but the lyrics themselves speak volumes. How sad that at some low point Bon Jovi realized he had no real relationship with his fans. All that mattered was whether or not he completed the show and gave the crowd what they paid for. He speaks of wasting away and wanting to go home. He compares himself to a cowboy of sorts riding the trail all alone even though he travels the country with a large number of people, and every night he is in an arena with tens of thousands. In the end all he has is his thoughts because even though he’s wanted it doesn’t really matter to those around whether or not he’s dead or alive.

In the Letter to Ephesians Paul writes about making a choice between being dead or alive. Paul states, and you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2: 1-3, NKJV).

Those without Christ are dead.


Paul used a very strong word. If you are dead you’re dead. Following the ways of the world and depending on self and other men is a dead existence controlled by evil. To be dead in trespasses refers to missing the mark or target. Our life has a clear purpose and goal from the beginning determined by God. If we choose to get off the main road and sightsee through the worldly countryside, and if we choose to conform to our sinful world, we are following our own desires and serving Satan.

Sometimes I observe students who know right from wrong, and they have the skills to succeed in the classroom, yet they continue day after day to make poor choices. Often when I counsel them because of their youth and immaturity they cannon fathom what I’m trying to tell them. At some point they will run out of time, and they will realize they have missed their target. They will not have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in high school and be able to enter the college or career path they choose. I have to admit I get angry and frustrated because I have provided the correct path in my classroom, and they choose another. However, when students come to visit a few years later and admit to me they quit school at some point, got in trouble with juvenile court, or lazed their way through class after class I still give them a hug and encouragement. They can still make a choice. They have more time.

Paul tells us in this passage that God will release his wrath or anger upon those who do not choose life over death. Even through the anger, however, God still cares. Making the choice between life and death is simple…you submit and ask for forgiveness. You commit to follow Christ. In a flash the worldly sins we have comitted are forgiven and the Lord immediately provides grace through his mercy.

Why does He do this? It’s simple. God forgives and gives us the gift of grace simply because He loves us. Ephesians 2: 4-7 (NKJV) states but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raise us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Notice the importance of the gift of grace…..Paul uses the word not once, but twice. There is a major pronoun switch between versus 1-3 and versus 4-7….the pronoun Paul uses in the first set of verses is “you” and the in verses 4-7 the pronoun switches to “us”. You are no longer wandering aimlessly through the world alone. By choosing Christ you enjoy fellowship of like believers.

Paul then reminds us in verses 8 and 9 the condition of receiving God’s grace in that for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. We live in Christ by accepting God’s gift of grace through faith. We cannot work our way to Heaven. Just as Bon Jovi realized in his song lyrics he had no real relationship with those around him. He was dead. When we choose life we end up with the best relationship of all…one with God.

Finally, Paul explains in verse 10 for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Our purpose in life is to become more Christ-like and to follow the path that God has for us. While it is true many of us stray from that path we always have choice to return and open the gift of grace.

However, at some point your time will run out…..

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wordless: Verse 25

On a lonely stretch of highway just outside of Groom, Texas (near Pampa) stands a 19 story tall cross that can be seen for miles from any direction. The arm spans are 110 feet across. The cross belongs to Steve Thomas and family of Pampa, Texas. It took 250 welders eight months to complete and weighs 1,250 tons. It stands alone unsupported by guide wires, and can withstand winds of 140 miles per hour. Steve Thomas’ son, Zack Thomas, is an All-Pro middle linebacker for the Miami Dolphins.
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Shhhhh.....This Blog Is In Prayer

I’m in prayer today, and I hope if you have a notion you are too. However, it didn’t take my Governor to prompt me to prayer. I’ve been praying since early in the summer for a change in our weather pattern and so have many others.

I guess there are those who would be shocked to discover I have prayed in my classroom (gasp!), prayed in the hallways, and even placed my hands over that all important state test before it’s sent in for scoring. I have been known to stand beside a student while he or she is working and place my hand on their shoulder while I say a prayer. Prayer should be a constant activity…..a daily conversation with God.

My daily conversation with God, however, is a silent one. Most students never know I say prayers in the classroom and I certainly wouldn’t gather students and direct them to pray. However, I have given them the opportunity at their suggestion….one such occasion was 9/11 when a student wanted to say a prayer for the people in the towers. The student organized it, made sure everyone knew they didn’t have to join in, he led it, and I silently prayed with them. Sometimes public prayer has its place.

Gov. Sonny Perdue’s call for prayer has once again placed our state in the forefront for those who like to write off Southerners as simple country bumpkins. You know….those “There they go again…..” types.

Religion is a part of the South and deeply embedded into our culture no matter how many critics want to ridicule it or even deny it. If your family has been in the South for over five generations and have more or less followed the Baptist, Methodist, or just the Christian faith in general there’s a good chance you have a long line of pastors in your family like I do.

It’s hard to shake that kind of dust from your shoes.

I guess some high-falutin’ educated folks manage to educate themselves right out religion even if they have deep Southern roots. I too have been faced to separate fact and faith. It’s a choice they make and I support their choice, however, I hold three pieces of paper that tell me I’m highly educated as well…. yet for me and my house I choose prayer and all that goes along with it.

News stories regarding the Governor’s request can be found here, here, and here.

This post also appears at Georgia on My Mind and History Is Elementary

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Cathedral Wore Stripes

The craftsmanship and majesty of the world’s cathedrals astound me. The Duomo di Siena or Siena Cathedral can be found in Siena, Italy about 30 miles south of Florence. It was completed between 1215 and 1263 A.D. There are many unproven stories regarding what was housed on the site before the construction of the cathedral. It is believed in the 800s a church and bishop’s palace was located on the land and records indicate a synod, which is a council convened to settle a matter of doctrine, administration, or application, was held in Sienna in 1058.

A large expansion project was begin in 1339, but was halted in 1348 due to an outbreak of Plague.Construction was never resumed once the Plague had passed mainly due to weaknesses found in the structure. A parking lot is now houses on some of the construction site. You can see an image of the wall that was constructed here.

Between 1993 and 2003 the choir section of the cathedral was excavated and many 13th century frescoes were found. Archeologists believe the excavated portion was once the entrance to an earlier church….perhaps the one from the synod discussed above.

On the exterior of the building there is column with a she-wolf breastfeeding Romulus and Remus. Roman myth explains the twins founded Rome and the sons of Remus, Senius and Aschius, founded Siena.

Siena Cathedral has interesting decorative stripes in the interior. The stripes are found on the columns and walls. Black and white is the color scheme because these are the same colors found on the civic coat of arms for the city of Siena. The article How Siena Came by Its Cathedral takes a minute to load, but it is very interesting and has a magnificient photo of the stripes.

The floors are probably the most striking decoration in the cathedral. They are inlaid and are the most ornate in Italy. The designs represent the sybils, Old Testament scenes, allergories, and virtues. The best time to see the marble panels is September because for most of the year they are covered in order to protect them. Click on the picture to the left in order to enlarge it. You can see the detailing of the floor. This image is looking down towards the can see the base of the striped columns.

The cathedral also houses many other priceless words of art. There are pieces of art by Michelangelo such as a statue of Saint Peter and Donatello’s The Feast of Herod. The main ceiling of the cathedral depicts 172 popes. In fact, Rick Steves pronounces the popes are looking down as if entralled by the abundance of art the cathedral contains.

The Piccolomini Library adjoins the cathedral. It contains illuminated choir books and frescoes. The colors of the frescoes are very vibrant. The library is named for Cardinal Enea Silvio Piccolomini. You might recognize him better as Pope Pius III.

You can view more pictures of Siena Cathedral here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Grace For Faith: The Perfect Trade

Jimbo always came late to my room every morning. He’d lay in wait in the hallway until we began the recitation of the pledge, and then he would slide into his seat hoping I would be busy and not notice. His excuse….”Aw, gee, Mrs. Elementaryhistoryteacher those cafeteria ladies are S-L-O-W.”

I knew better. God didn’t make me a momma first and a teacher second for nothing. Mommy vibes are very useful in the classroom. You see, I knew Jimbo was a player…a real heavy hitter in the underground trading culture that flourishes on most school campuses, and I was already aware through my large network of spies and informants that Jimbo was stopping off in the boy’s restroom everyday to conduct a little business.

I had begun to notice that Jimbo’s trading tactics were on a slippery slope sliding precariously close to out and out bullying. In other words, Jimbo wasn’t making fair trades. He was pressuring kids to bring their prized items from home and then trading them for some piddling item of lesser value.

The whole thing was more than just bullying. Jimbo was violating an economic principal that most sane people appreciate---the concept of strict exchange or value for value. Think of various trades you have made in the past. When Jimbo convinced another student to give up his cherry cobbler for carrot salad the victimized student was agreeing that the cobbler and the salad had the same value---an even trade. When the student complained to me a few minutes later I had to remind him about the rule regarding no trading. The lunch line had closed and Jimbo unfortunately had already licked the cobbler’s golden brown crust, so it was clear there was going to be no untrading that day, so the victimized student relearned a valuable lesson that day. Once again he was shown that trades should be value for value.

Throughout our lives we a receive reinforcement over and over regarding strict exchange, so it shouldn’t be surprising that humans have great difficulty grasping the concept of grace. The Lord gives us grace so that we may have eternal life and a promise of Heaven. The Lord’s grace is a “must have” ingredient in our daily walk with the Lord.

He gives us grace freely; however, we are so entrenched with the notion of strict exchange we look for ways to earn grace even though there is nothing we can trade or do to equal the value of the Lord’s grace. The only thing we must do in order to receive God’s grace is exhibit faith. Ephesians 2: 8-9 states for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith---and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God---not by works, so that no one can boast.

God brings grace to the trading table. Mankind is responsible for faith. Out of all of the trades I can think of it is the only one where it does not matter that it is not a strict exchange or value for value situation. I truly do not deserve God’s grace, but I’m awfully glad he provides it.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Committee of Buzzards?

So my daughter’s youth group has been selling pumpkins, and I did the mom thing and volunteered my time. In between customers the other day the three members that were there along with me began to discuss church committees. They have been a main topic of discussion around our parts for the last few weeks. The fact that committee training had been officially set for this weekend was one of the prompting factors for our conversation.

I have no problem with church committees per se. However, like the writer of this document states, communication is the key. Listening is even better. We have to listen to each other in order to communicate in the best possible manner, and in order to move forward. It's also important to remember that a committee is just an arm of a larger body, and they have a responsibility to keep the larger body informed and involved.

There we are… four church members with more or less the same viewpoint towards church committees and committee work in general... when suddenly above us we notice these very large and soaring birds. They flew over us, over the church property and then began to make a large sweeping turn in order to circle back our way. We finally decided the birds in question were buzzards. Around and around they circled, and as they held their pattern more and more birds joined in. It was really amazing and my camera phone does not do the actual event justice. All told there was probably somewhere between 25 and 30 birds.

Having taught Language Arts and vocabulary for awhile I know that groupings of animals have specific names, but had forgotten the exact word for a group of buzzards. One member of our party knew, however, and it just goes to prove God does listen and sometimes wants to give you visual proof He’s in on your conversation.

Later when I got home I located Erwin McManus’s book The Barbarian Way. It is an interesting look at becoming an original, powerful, and untamed Christian. He addresses the words we use for animal groupings:

With insects most of us know that bees are called swarms, and ants are called colonies. Among ocean life, I was aware that whales are pods, and fish are schools. A group of cattle is a herd, birds are flocks, and if you watch Lion King, you know a tribe of lions is a pride. If you grew up in the country, you might know that crows are murders. Maybe the most unnerving one is an ambush of tigers…[and a group of buzzards? Those birds that like to hang around and eat dead flesh….they are called a committee.]

Apparently the committee of buzzards that flew over our church had their act together. They were communicating or else they would not have been able to attract more and more birds, and they would not have been able to maintain their pattern for several minutes.

It would seem that communication is the key....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Goodbye Elisheva

You know….blogging isn’t for everyone, and my good friend Elisheva has found it necessary to abandon her blog.

Rather than totally leave her content to wander the blogosphere aimlessly I asked her if I could take over Got Bible?

Luckily, she consented. I’ve always loved studying the Bible and the study of the ancient world has always intrigued me along with the architecture of cathedrals and Biblical art through the ages.

I’ll be continuing many of the same features as before and will begin some new ones as well including reaching out to other bloggers writing about religion. There are many great sites out there.

I’ve already begun the rebuilding of this site by creating three columns, and will soon be adding more links and images.

At this point I’m not sure who might be a regular reader of this site, but I didn’t want to begin posting without first identifying myself and why I was suddenly posting at this site.

I’m an educator and my main focus is American History. I post daily at my main site, History Is Elementary. I also run the Georgia Blog Carnival and post regarding Georgia History at Georgia On My Mind. I write about U.S. presidents at American Presidents.

Stay tuned…….

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wordless: Verse 24

This painting is by William Blake and is called Elohim Creating Adam. It was painted in 1794. I thought it was a great go along with this quote someone sent me....Sure God created man before woman. But then you always make a rough draft before the final masterpiece.
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Monday, October 15, 2007

What Is God Really Like?

Quick, open another window and zip on over to Google/images. Enter the word God in the search box and look at the images that come up, or just look at both of the images I have embedded in this post.

Do you see how they are all different? One of the ministers at my church the other day preached on this very thing…how we all have a different image of God. He quoted The Knowlege of the Holy by A.W. Tozier when he said the image that comes to our minds when we attempt to see God reveals the most important thing about us.

Tozier goes on to say:

Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.

Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question,”What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow.

Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God. Thought and speech are God’s gifts to creatures made in His image; these are intimately associated with Him and impossible apart from Him. It is highly significant that the first word was the Word: ”And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” [John 1:1] We may speak because God spoke. In Him word and idea are indivisible.

God’s nature is most certainly revealed in scripture. We are told in James 1:17…Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. The God that guided Moses, the God that gave wisdom to Solomon, and the God that gave His son is the same God leading and guiding me today.

God is omnipresent which means He is everywhere at all times. God can be seen throughout the universe, in all living things, and in all humans all in the same instant. No matter where go go God is already there. Psalm 139:7 and 8 tells us… Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

God is omnipotent meaning He has unlimited power and authority including conquering sin and death. Matthew 19:26 tells us…Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

God is omnicient in that He is all knowing. His knowledge, awareness, and perception is unlimited. Psalm 147:5 explains…Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.

There are those that argue any attempt to understand the power of God can actually take away some of his power. However, this argument is flawed. Understanding how a lightening bolt travels to the Earth or what circumstances must be present to feel an Earthquake does not diminish the power of those occurances. While we may discover basic natural principals such as the DNA code or the possible causes for genetic defects many also have many unknowns.

Getting to know God should be the highest priority of our life. Proverbs 1:7 states…The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise widsom and discipline. Proverbs 1:9 goes further…They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

That being said, however, God wants us to known him. He does not want us to merely create an image that is appealing to us. He wants us to be in His word and really understand Him.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

13 Facts Concerning First Chronicles

1. Like 1st and 2nd Kings 1st and 2nd Chronicles was also at one time one text. It was first divided by Greek translators in the second century B.C.

2. The english title comes from Chronicon, the name given by the Latin translator Jerome. The original Greek name of the text was “Events of the Days”.

3. The text answers important questions for the Israelites once they returned to Israel from their captivity.

4. In order to answer many questions such as….Did they still fit into God’s plan? Were the promises of God still applicable to them? What religious and political institutions were important? and What lessons from the past could they learn from to keep from making the same mistakes?.....a concise history was needed. Chronicles was that history.

5. The long genealogies at the beginning of Chronicles show that God cares for persons as individuals.

6. Salvation is taught in Chronicles in David’s psalm of Thankgiving when the ark of the covenant was finally moved into a tent in chapter 16. The painting with this post is King David. It was painted by Domenico Zampier in the 1500s.

7. Family lines are given in the text to show the Messianic promise of a son of David to rule over Israel.

8. The events in Chronicles occurred during David’s reign (about 1010-970 B.C.)

9. The author is unknown, however, many scholars think Ezra wrote it about 450 B.C.

10. Some of the themes of Chronicles are Davidic Dynasty, temple, blessing of obedience, and punishment of disobedience.

11. The phrase “all Israel” is repeated througout the text because the author was attempting to emphasize to his initial audience that they were God’s people.

12. One of the most striking characteristics of Chronicles is the variety of name lists. Some lists are geneologies, some are lists of warriors, the devisions of the Levites, the divisions of the Priests, musicians, gatekeepers, and secular officials.

13. There are two major divisions in the text. Chapters 1-9 are the genealogies and chapters 10-29 discuss David’s reign.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wordless 23

This image is taken from a Florentine Bible dating back to the 1470s

Other wordless images can be seen here

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Found in the Bible: The Water Cycle

1. Evaporation-Psalm 135:7---the text states He causes the clouds to rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain and brings the wind from the storehouses.

2. Precipitation-Job 36: 27-28---the text states For He makes waterdrops evaporate they distill the rain into its mist, which the clouds pour out and shower abundantly on mankind.

3. Condensation-This process of the water cycle is referenced in two places
Job 26:8---the text states He enfolds the waters in His clouds, yet the clouds do not burst beneath their weight. The other reference is Job 37:11---the text states He saturates clouds with moisture; He scatters His lightning through them.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

13 Things Concerning 2nd Kings

1. We need to remember that 1st Kings and 2nd Kings once existed as a single text.

2. The author is known but many believe it may have been Jeremiah around 560 B.C.

3. The text reminds us that the Northern Kingdom never had a righteous king. Idol worship contined even though prophets such as Elisha taught otherwise. As punishment God sends the people into permanent dispersion.

4. The Southern Kingdom was a bit better with rightous events during the reign of Hezekiah and Josiah, however, God also sent the Southern Kingdom into exile.

5. God’s Kingdom plan was never in jeopardy simply because the Israelites were sent into exile. The promise of a kingdom existed in the Davidic line. A temporal kingdom and temple was never the goal.

6. The book centers on the ministry of Elisha in chapters 2-8.

7. Two major sieges of Jerusalem are discussed-----the first by Sennacherib of Assyria (701 B.C.) where God intervened (chapter 19). The second seige was by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon around 586 B.C. (chapter 25) which tells the story about the destruction of the city and Solomon’s temple.

8. There are three main sections of the text…..Elisha’s ministry (chapters 1-8); the later period of the divided monarchy (chapters 9-17); and the period of Judah alone (chapters 18-25).

9. The text can be confusing because details alternative between the Northern and Southern kingdoms.

10. Chapter 17 provides a theological reason for the fall of Israel, but does not tell us any military, political, or economic reasons.

11. The book evaluates people by just one criterion: did they do “right in the Lord’s eyes” or not?

12. Nearly three centuries are covered within 2nd Kings, so it confirms the worldview category of time and place….as history moves forward God’s plan moves forward as well.

13. The story of 2nd Kings is largely one of disloyalty, and God’s “educational program” meant teaching His people that He values faithfulness to Him above all else, even if that means exiling them.

Find other 13s here

Monday, October 1, 2007

Is Everything Really Mentioned in the Bible?

A preacher was telling his congregation that anything they could think of, old or new, was discussed somewhere in the Bible and that the entirety of the human experience could be found there. After the service, he was approached by a woman who said, “Preacher, I don’t believe the Bible mentions PMS.”

The preacher replied that he was sure it must be in there somewhere, and that he would look for it.

The following week after service, the preacher called the woman aside and showed her a passage which read, “And Mary rode Joseph’s ass all the way to Bethlehem.”

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Should the Bible Be Taught as Literature in Public Schools?

I attended church as a child and well into my youth, but I was not raised in an overtly religious family. I never saw my father pray. He never attended church with my mother, my sister, and I unless it was for our baptisms or our weddings. When I was in church I ate up the wonderful stories such as Ruth and Boaz, the Christmas story, and King David. I loved to sing songs such as Deep and Wide and Bringing in the Sheaves.

However, I learned more about the Bible and its effects on society through a high school course that was mandated for graduation. I did attend a private school, but it was not a Christian school. The high school campus I attended each day housed students from every Atlanta suburb and from all over the world. This means there were students in my Bible class that were very familiar with the Bible and others that had never picked one up in their lives.

The class was taught by the school’s chaplain, however, there was no preaching going on in the class. We learned the history behind the stories, we learned the significance of the symbolism the writers used such as the numbers that repeat in the Bible, we learned about the culture of the people that lived in the Holy Land during the times the bible was written , and we learned how the Bible was put together.

As an eleventh grader being introduced to British and American Literature I was amazed how many of the phrases and stories told in literature have a direct root in the language and stories of the Bible. The course is key to assist students in discovering the where and the why behind many of our familiar sayings that pepper literature.

Perhaps your own school system has had or will have a debate soon on adding a Bible Literature course to your child’s curriculum. I strongly advise that such a move be supported.

A Time Magazine article from April, 2007 presents a great case.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

First Kings or The Third Book of Kingdoms

1. The Hebrew title of this book is Melkim or Kings.

2. First Kings recounts how Israel was divided into two kingdoms.

3. The Northern Kingdom---Israel became idolatrous while the Southern Kingdom---Judah waivered between good and evil.

4. First Kings helped the Israelite community while they were in captivity. It helped them to understand the why behind the exile if Solomon’s reign had been so great.

5. First Kings explains how the Assyrians captured the Northern Kingdom and how the Babylonians captured the Southern Kingdom.

6. First Kings also gives us a rundown regarding various kings in each kingdom. Did they do well or did they fail?

7. The main theme of First Kings is to prove history moves forwarding according to God’s plan over the span of 120 years the narrative covers.

8. The message is clear…..God’s people should have one God and one temple.

9. When you read First Kings notice how the author was interested in chronological data and notice how the information is cross-referenced between the North and South Kingdoms. Though God’s people were divided they were still both God’s children.

10. Most of the information is given in the following format: “in the year of ____ son of ______, ______ became king over Judah (or Israel); he reigned ____years”.

11. Events in First Kings cover the time period from 970-848 B.C.

12. Everything that occurs in First Kings happened in either Judah or Israel with the exception of Elijah’s travels outside the land.

13. The book has three sections: Solomon and his reign (chapters 1-11); the early period of the divided monarchy (chapters 12-16); and Elijah and the events surrounding his ministry (chapters 17-22).

You can see other 13s HERE.

You can see more fact lists about the various books of the Bible HERE.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Land of Milk and Honey: The Honey Rings True

An Associated Press article which published a few days ago on the web stated:

Archaeologists digging in northern Israel have discovered evidence of a 3,000-year-old beekeeping industry, including remnants of ancient honeycombs, beeswax and what they believe are the oldest intact beehives ever found.
The findings in the ruins of the city of Rehov this summer include 30 intact hives dating to around 900 B.C., archaeologist Amihai Mazar of Jerusalem's Hebrew University told The Associated Press. He said it offers unique evidence that an advanced honey industry existed in the Holy Land at the time of the Bible.

Beekeeping was widely practiced in the ancient world, where honey used for medicinal and religious purposes as well as for food, and beeswax was used to make molds for metal and to create surfaces to write on. While bees and beekeeping are depicted in ancient artwork, nothing similar to the Rehov hives has ever been found before, Mazar said.

The beehives, made of straw and unbaked clay, have a hole at one end to allow the bees in and out and a lid on the other end to allow beekeepers access to the honeycombs inside. They were found in orderly rows, three high, in a room that could have accommodated around 100 hives, Mazar said.

The rest of the article can be found here.

More information from the Free Republic can be found here.

And an article from from the Jewish Post is here.

(Photo Credit: MSNBC)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

13 Things Concerning 2nd Samuel--The Second Book of Kingdoms

The painting I've included here is titled David and Bathsheba. It was completed in 1640 by Artemisia Gentileschi. If you look very closely you see David across the way on the balcony watching Bathsheba.

1. The entire focus of this book is David’s reign. His name is used over 200 times.

2. David’s story relates times of elation such as his conquest of Jerusalem and the Lord’s promise of an everlasting dynasty.

3. David’s story also shares times of great failure with David’s adultry with Bathsheba and the treason of his son Absalom.

4. One enduring point concerning man’s relationship to God is seen through David. While his heart was passionately turned to pleasing God he was able to accomplish great tasks.

5. Another lesson learned from David’s life helps us to understand we can be redeemed but we must still deal with the effects of our sins and failures.

6. Salvation is taught in 2nd Samuel through the story of David’s adultry, Nathan’s confrontation, and David’s repentance and restoration after he confesses. The Lord has take away your sin, you will not die. David reflects on this experience in Psalm 51.

7. The time period presented in 2nd Samuel is between 1110 to 970 B.C. It was during this time that the Israelite culture rose to great heights.

8. 2nd Samuel is written honestly and David’s faults are not hidden.

9. We expect to see David’s poetry in Psalm but we also see it in 2nd Samuel: The Song of the Bow (1:19-27) and Psalm of Praise (22:1-51) which is also recorded as Psalm 18, and David’s Last Words (23:1-7).

10. The themes of 2nd Samuel are kingship and convenant, the Ark of the Covenant, and of course, David’s adventures.

11. The story of David is an extension of the covenant between God and Abraham. Jesus Christ fulfills the promise God made to David regarding his family and how they would be an unending dynasty of kings.

12. The book can be divided into three sections: David secured his kingdom in chapters 1-4, chapters 5-10 discuss David’s capital, covenant, and conquest, and finally David’s faults are shown in chapters 11-20.

13. Chapters 21-24 are considered to be the epilogue for 2nd Samuel and may have been compiled from many sources.

You can see other 13s HERE.

You can see more fact lists about the various books of the Bible HERE.
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