Friday, August 31, 2007

Seven Things Concerning a Small, Rural Church I'm Thankful For

My mother's great grandfather gave the land for her family's home church. Today the small church is located way back in the woods down a dirt road. The small group of church members meet once a month for preaching.

Although no member of my family attends the church now many of us visit occaisionally. The building is basically a sanctuary. There are no Sunday School rooms, and the outhouse behind the church serves as the men's and women's restroom.

Many members of my family are buried in the graveyard. If we visit during the week when church is not in session its a very quiet and scary place, but on a Sunday when the members meet and the circuit pastor is visiting it is like being transported back in time.

So, here are seven things I'm thankful for concerning my family's home church:

1. Small country churches with hard wooden pews especially if you find a funeral home fan with Jesus on the front to keep you cool.

2. Great old hymns like I Surrender All or How Great Thou Art.

3. Dinner on the ground following the church service.

4. The older women in the congregation who are so willing to give solicited and unsolicited advice. :)

5. Sitting outside while the service is going on and listening to the singing while the leaves whistle through the trees. You can’t help but feel the Lord’s presence.

6. Knowing that several generations of your family lie in the cemetary, and you can visit them often ;

7. The old fashion sign hanging behind the pastor that provides the Sunday School report. I’ve always wanted to be the one to change the numbers each week.

Give thanks each week...join Sunday Seven.

Have a great Labor Day weekend! Don’t forget to visit The Georgia Carnival!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

13 Things About the Book of Ruth

The painting shown here is by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld. It was painted in 1828 and the title is Ruth in Boaz’s Field.

1. Ruth is one of the shortest books in the Jewish and Christian scripture. It has only four chapters.

2. The text does not identify the author but tradition states Samuel wrote it. Scholars, of course, have other ideas. Chapter one opens by stating, “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled…”, so it might be argued that the story actually occurred during the time of Judges (prior to Samuel and David), but was written long after. Regarding Samuel and David one source states:

Samuel died before David become king, and the way in which the author writes the genealogy in Ruth 4: 8-22 supposes that the lineage is well known. In addition to the way chapter one begins, Ruth 4:7 states that the legal custom of taking off a shoe to seal the agreement is no longer in use. Only a generation exisits between Samuel and Boaz; therefore, it is unlikely that the time span would require this explanation.

Some scholars think the author might be a woman. First, the story centers on the life journey of two women. They find themselves in desperate straits in a male-dominated society, and the story to be from the viewpoint of a woman. Second, Naomi and Ruth’s ingenuity and assertiveness propels the story line. However, female authorship is conjecture, supported by only circumstantial evidence.

3. Since the story shows Iraelite acceptance of marrying converts to Judaism some believe the book was written during the Persian period around 500 B.C. However, there is no definitive piece of evidence that points to a date or time period.

4. Ruth is a narrative story with certain style elements that indicate the author had writing talent. It is not a simply list of facts. The story reads more like a drama in four acts with an epilogue and prologue.

5. The first act shows Naomi telling her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, to stay in Moab following the deaths of Naomi’s sons. She intends to return to her people. Orpah agrees, but Ruth decides to follow Naomi (1:8-22).

6. In the second act Ruth is gathering barley in the fields of Naomi’s relative, Boaz. He shows special concern for Ruth (2:1-23).

7. Naomi convinces Ruth to hide at the threshing floor in the third act. Ruth hides until Boaz falls asleep and then she goes and lies at his feet. Once Boaz is awake Ruth expresses her desire to marry Boaz. Boaz has to tell Ruth another kinsman has prior claim (3:1-18).

8. Finally, in act four, at the city gate the other kinsman renounces his claim, and Boaz marries Ruth (4:1-12).

9. The epilogue relates Naomi’s joy and then lists some of Ruth’s descendants, including David (4:13-18).

10. The mood of the book can be determined by knowing the meaning of the names used in the story. Elimelich’s name means “my God is king” and is explained in the fact that his line continues through David and eventually leads to Jesus. Naomi’s name means “my gracious one” and later she wants to change her name to Mara which means “bitter one”. Mahlon and Chilion, the names of the sons means “sick” and “weakening” respectively. The name Ruth means “friend” as she remains loyal to Naomi. Boaz means “he comes in strength” and Obed, Ruth and Boaz’s son means “servant”. Think about the names of the characters and what they mean to the story when you revisit the book of Ruth.

11. One of the theological themes of the book is redemption. The Israelites believed that people and land could be redeemed. It was important for land to stay within the family. People could be redeemed through a levirate marriage, one that occurred when a close relative married a widow of a deceased relative in order to continue the family line. This is a duty that is taught in Deuteronomy 24:5-10. Though Ruth is not Elimelich’s widow and Boaz is not Ruth’s husband’s brother scholars refer to their marriage as a levirate marriage. While many were willing to take the land they were not willing to take Ruth as well.

12. The theme of hesed is also shown in Ruth. Hesed is seen when a person goes beyond the expected…beyond the requirement of the law. Boaz went beyond what was required of him when he married Ruth.

13. The Book of Ruth also shows how God is concerned with families during the good times and the bad. He is also the God of the Gentiles as well as the Israelites. Through the acts of hesed His plan is enacted through ordinary people.

You can see other 13s HERE.

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wordless Verse 18

Stained glass images from the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.
People who WW are the best. Meet some HERE.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Are You Lost? Are You Trying to Communicate With the Lost?

Matthew 28: 19-20 quotes Jesus giving the Great Commission, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age."

So what happens when you come across a follower of Aladura, Kemetic Reconstructionism, or New Thought?

Can you truly witness to them if you don’t know their frame of reference?

Religion Facts is a resouce you can use to find out about other religions.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pop Quiz!

You know the Bible 98%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

I took it! Now I'm inviting you to take it.

It was fairly simple....42 fun questions HERE.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

13 Things About the Book of Judges

1. Some people get bogged down with the term “Judges” and think of robed men sitting in a courtroom much like what we are familiar with today. That’s not the proper image we should have when we think about this book. The title “Judges” translates into Hebrew as Shofetim which can be referred to as “ Leaders” or “Chieftains”.

2. A repeated cycle of apostasy is given in this book and because of this God delivered the Israelites to their political enemies. Only when they cried out to God, did he provide a leader who helped them. The thought to keep in mind is God is the ONLY deliverer (11:27)

3. There are two purposes for Judges. One is a historical purpose explaining what was happening to Israel during a dark period following the exciting days of Moses and Joshua, and serves as a bridge to the times of Samuel and Saul.

4. Another purpose, of course, is theological. When God’s people sin, He punishes them. When they repent He forgives and restores.

5. Judges is one of the clearest books of the Bible that show the close connection between people’s commitment to God and His dealings with them.

6. The God in Judges is a severe God (2:11-15). The God in Judges is also a merciful God (2:16-18).

7. The fickleness of humanity is portrayed in Judges. The people of Israel turn from God and begin to worship idols without a thought. Chapter 19 describes the story of the Levite’s concubine and is a prime example regarding how depraved the times were.

8. Three of the Judges mentioned in the book, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson, are all seriously flawed heros.

9. How is Christ seen in Judges? The actual Judges, or leaders, were God’s agents for delivering His people from various enemies as Christ does today.

10. The time period for Judges is 1380-1060 B.C. or basically from the death of Joshua to Samson’s death….almost three centuries.

11. Judges ultimately serves as a warning not to treat the relationship with God carelessly.

12. The book is considered to be anonymous and most think it was completed after the events actually happened….the main clue is the words “In those days there was no king in Israel….”

13. Some believe Judges was finally written down as a long prophetic sermon in order to capture for later generations the story of earlier national failure, and to perhaps served as the answer to the question posed by Gideon, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened?” (6:13)

Visit the Thursday Thirteen site to participate!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wordless: Verse 18

Judges 10: 3-5 states After Tola died, a man from Gilead named Jair judged Israel for twenty-two years. His thirty sons rode around on thirty donkeys, and they owned thirty towns in the land of Gilead, which are still called the Towns of Jair.

When Jair died, he was buried in Kamon. (this is the same time period where Boaz married Ruth)

Visit the Wordless Wednesday site to participate!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Do We Really Need God?

I received this via e-mail the other day and thought it was kind of interesting….

One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell God they were done with Him. The scientist walked up to God and said, "God, we've decided that we no longer need you. We're to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don't you just go on and get lost." God listened very patiently and kindly to the man. After the scientist was done talking, God said, "Very well, how about this? Let's say we have a man-making contest."

To which the scientist replied, "Okay, great!"

But God added, "Now, we're going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam."

The scientist said, "Sure, no problem" and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt.

God looked at him and said "No, no, no. You’ll have to get your own dirt.”

Well, I thought it was funny.....

and BTW---the Georgia Carnival is up over at Georgia On My Mind and I'M INCLUDED!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

13 Facts About the Book of Joshua

1. This is a book of victory and conquest. God’s people are progressing through Canaan, subduing their enemies and claiming the land that has been promised to them.

2. Genesis 12:7 refers to the covenant God made with Abraham along with a promise that his decendants would take possession of Canaan.

3. The book is a great example that illustrate God works in His time and way since many, many years went by from the making of the covenant.

4. A connection can be seen in Hebrews 4:8-9 where a greater Joshua is referred to and both should be thought of as the book of Joshua is read.

5. The English and Hebrew title is based on the name of the central character, Joshua. His original name was Hoshea (“Salvation”) before Moses changed it to Yehoshua (“The Lord is Salvation”). It is tranditionally spelled “Joshua” in English while in the Greek language it is “Jesus”. The “captain of the Lord’s army” (5:15) is Christ in preincarnate form.

6. Key words in Joshua are sovereignty, providence, covenant, redemption, ethics, morality, and community

7. The lessons we learn by reading Joshua regard the faithfulness of God to fulfill his promises and that he will ultimately judge evil.

8. One of the more interesting characters is Rahab the harlot (chapters 2 and 6).....a painting of her is presented here... Her story illustrates “grace through faith”. She became a biological ancestor of Jesus (6:25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrew 11:31)

9. While the military victories depicted in Joshua are important the focus should be one of salvation of all kinds only come through the hand of God.

10. Many scholars believe the author of this book is anonymous thought tradition holds that Joshua wrote it.

11. The time period is approximate-----1406-1380 B.C. during a period archeologists refer to as the Late Bronze Age. Many Canaanite ruins have been excavated. The findings reveal and advanced civilization, but an idolatrous one.

12. There is nothing in the book of Joshua that tells us the purpose for it being written. More than likely the tradition of Moses was simply continued. Some scholars suggest somone such as Samuel or some other writer wrote down the events of Joshua that might have been told orally---perhaps they finally saw the need for a written history prior to the period of the kings.

13. Many state that the most interesting feature of Joshua is the presentation of Joshua’s military strategy which follows the “divide-and-conquer” thought (Chapters 10 and 11)

Make sure you visit the Thirteen site

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wordless: Verse 17

Joshua 14: 13-15 refers to Hebron---

So Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave Hebron to him as an inheritance. Hebron still belongs to the decendants of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite because he wholeheartedly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. (Previously Hebron had been called Kiriath-arba. It had been named after Arba, a great hero of the Anakites.)
Visit the Wordless Wednesday site to participate!

Seven Carnival You Might Find Interesting

Min the Gap is the homepage for Standing in the Gap Carnival, however, the host rotates to other blogs. The tagwords for this carnival are culture, society, and of course, gap standing.

A Religious Wave recently went to a monthly posting format. Information regarding this carnival can be found at Only Three Notes.

The tag words for A Different Prayer are prayer, faith, hope, inspiration, God, Jesus, and miracle. A Different Prayer carnival information can be found at JoySoriano.Com.

The Carnival of Christian Advice is hosted at Ask Andrea. Information regarding the latest carnival can be found at this page.

I am a Christian Parent is a carnival that describes itself as featuring topics that are important to Christian parents. Teaching children the Bible and imparting Biblical principles into our children’s lives is the focus. It looks like this is a fairly new carnival. The carnival homepage is HERE.

The homepage for the Biblical Studies Carnival can be found HERE, and the homepage for the Christian Carnival can be found HERE,

Do you know of any other ongoing carnivals for Christian writers?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Evolution Theories Challenged by Fossils

The more we know, the more complex the story gets… says Bill Kimbel of Arizona State University.

I agree.

A discovery by Meave Leakey, a member of a famous family of paleontologists, shows that two species of early human ancestors lived at the same time in Kenya. That pokes holes in the chief theory of man's early evolution — that one of those species evolved from the other.

Keep reading my excerpts or read the whole thing here.

A new find further discredits that iconic illustration of human evolution that begins with a knuckle-dragging ape and ends with a briefcase-carrying man. The old theory is that the first and oldest species in our family tree, Homo habilis, evolved into Homo erectus, which then became human, Homo sapiens. But Leakey's find suggests those two earlier species lived side-by-side about 1.5 million years ago in parts of Kenya for at least half a million years. She and her research colleagues report the discovery in a paper published in Thursday's journal Nature.

Overall what it paints for human evolution is a "chaotic kind of looking evolutionary tree rather than this heroic march that you see with the cartoons of an early ancestor evolving into some intermediate and eventually unto us," Spoor said in a phone interview from a field office of the Koobi Fora Research Project in northern Kenya.

You can see my recent posts here.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

13 Facts About Deuteronomy

1. The accepted author is Moses.

2. The book contains three separate speeches Moses delivered to the Israelites while on the Moab Plain.

3. During the course of Deuteronomy the responsibility for the Israelites passes from Moses to Joshua---the next generation.

4. There are 34 chapters in the book.

5. The Hebrew title is Elleh Haddebarim which translates to “These are the words”. The English title reflects the Greek word Deuteronomion meaning “second law”.

6. The main idea of Deuteronomy regards the covenant between God and the Israelites. The instruction is to keep the commandments because you love God. This ideas is at the heart of the convenant.

7. In one of his speeches Moses repeats the Ten Commandments.

8. Forms of the noun and verb “command” are used over 100 times.

9. The themes of Deuteronomy are commandments, covenant, God’s mighty acts, and transition.

10. The book reads like a sermon which sets it apart from the other parts of The Torah.

11. There are three speeches given by Moses.

12. There are two separate songs or sections of poetry. The Song of Moses is found in chapter 32 and Moses Blessing is found in chapter 33.

13. Chapter 1-11 look backwards to where the Israelites came from and summarizes what happened to them from their founding with a dynamic leader. Chapter 12 begins a look foward to the settlement of promised land and a royal dynasty.

Visit the Thursday Thirteen site to participate!

Using an Oil Press to Try to Understand the Agony of Jesus

Not too long ago I posted a picture of an ancient olive press for Wordless Wednesday, and since then have hinted at a post regarding the significance of an olive press and the agony of Jesus in the Garden at Gethsemane. I’ve finally gotten around to it.

If you are like our family we have begun substituting olive oil for vegetable oil in most of our cooking. Of course, if we are in the mood for traditional Southern fare….fried chicken, fried okra, and fried ‘taters (potatoes)…then Wesson oil is the best bet. Luckily for the sake of our precious arteries we don’t enjoy fried food much anymore.

I love to use olive oil. It was the staple of the ancient Mediterranean world, and it still is very important today. During the time of Jesus and for hundreds of years before that, people in the ancient world used olive oil for more than just cooking. The Menorah in the Temple was lit with wicks dipped in olive oil, and even today many Jews use pure olive oil in their Chanukah Menorah. The people of Judea ate the olives, used the oil as a preservative, and as a lubricant for skin care. It was also used as oil for anointing. Jesus was described as the “Anointed One”, and later Christians were referred to as Masseheen in Arabic which means anointed with olive oil. The story of the Good Samaritan told by Jesus refers to olive oil being used for healing.

It is then not surprising that God, through the writers of the Gospel, would place olives and olive trees in the text to be used as a metaphor to explain Jesus’ suffering and ultimate redemption of mankind

Amazingly olive trees will grow where other plants will not. They thrive in rocky and unproductive soil. The Garden of Gethsemane was such a place. Olive trees were abundant on the Mount of Olives, which is a ridge that ran north and south of Jerusalem. Some sources state the ridge is two hundred feet higher than the temple mount. In fact, Gethsemane means “oil press.” Therefore when Jesus set out for the Garden he went to the very spot where he could look out over Jerusalem and where he would begin the process of his agony…where he would “pressed upon”

Today there are many methods of picking olives, however, in ancient times they beat the trees which caused the ripe olives to fall to the ground. Today the same method can be used with machines though some growers pick the olives by hand as well.

Once the olives are gathered they were placed on a circular stone basin in which a millstone sat. Perhaps you have seen animals walking in circles around a millstone pushing the stone around grinding whatever is put beneath it. This is how the olives were crushed and eventually a paste was formed that included bits of leaves, twigs, and pieces of the millstone.

Through the crushing process liquid begins to emerge from the fruit. Interestingly the liquid is reddish in hue. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that the coming events suddenly overtook Jesus. Part of the agony of Jesus was due to the knowledge that he was facing an unimaginable experience on the cross that involved an extremely painful and humiliating form of death. The general population believed that anyone who was crucified was cursed. The most horrible “pressing upon” that Jesus’ experienced, of course, was the oppressive feeling of bearing the weight of all human sin and separation from his Father.

The book of Luke (22:34) reminds us that “[Jesus’] agony became like drops of blood falling down upon the ground” much like the drops of red liqud from the crushed fruit.

Once the olives are crushed a paste forms that is smeared onto mats or burlap type fabric. Interestingly the Hebrew word for Messiah means “to smear”.

The baskets or mats are stacked under a huge stone column which was called the gethsemane or oil press. Luke 22: 42 and 44 explains that Jesus knelt and prayed several times, saying "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…."

Placed under pressure more liquid is pressed out of the olive paste much like the weight of our sins pressed out the very blood of our Savior that would result in eternal life for the world. After the oil was pressed out and collected it begins to separate leaving the pure oil. The remainder of the paste and liquid was used to make soap. The soap can be compared to the love Jesus had for mankind that washes away their sins.

Recently I purchased a container of liquid soap for my kitchen that contains olive oil. I love to use it because it doesn’t leave my hands all dried out. Normally I have to put lotion on immediately because I dislike the dry feeling.

Many of us live our lives feeling dry. We look everywhere for something, anything that will leave us feeling moisturized and feeling normal.

All we need is the love and acceptance of Jesus to take away the dry feeling. It lubricates our lives making our days work much smoother because the teachings of Jesus gives us a guidebook to live by.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

13 Things About Numbers

I don't know about you, but I'm not a math person and the title of this particular book of the Bible usually keeps me from turning to it. However, there are some interesting details in Numbers: Here are some facts concerning the book:

1. This book concerns the journey of the Israelites from Mt. Sinai to the border of Canaan.

2. The English title is based on the lists of numbers found within the book.

3. The Hebrew title, Bemidbar, translates to “In the wilderness…”

4. By reading Numbers you can discover what happened to the Israelites during their thirty-seven year journey through the wilderness.

5. The word “wilderness” is used in the book more than forty times.

6. God remained faithful to the Hebrews even though they disobeyed him again and again.

7. The journey of the Israelites can be compared to a Christian’s own journey through this world where the ultimate goal is arriving in Heaven (3:7-9, 4:8-11).

8. The stories of Balaam and the rebellion at Kadesh show how evil man is.

9. The story of Balaam shows no one can stop God’s plan.

10. At one point Balaam predicts Jesus (24:19)

11. The themes in Numbers are God’s faithfulness, human waywardness, the wilderness, and numbering the people.

12. The large numbers of Israelite adult males created an army of 600,000. Many scholars state this would mean the actual population of Israelites would have had to be in the neighborhood of 2 million people for the army to be that large (2:32, 26:51). How could the 70 people that entered Egypt with Joseph grow that large in just a few generations?

13. Many other scholars say the numbers are wrong….that they were translated incorrectly.

You can visit other Thursday Thirteeners here.
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