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.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wordless: Verse 20

For several days following 9/11 this particular poem was one of most forwarded e-mails around. The poem mentions five thousand plus and we now know the 9/11 victims numbered less than that, however today if we include all of our brave men and women who have died as a result on the War on Terror the number isn't far off. Sadly we aren't as united in one cause as we seemed to be in those very shocking, sad days following 9/11.

Just imagine what we could be doing if we truly united against our enemy....

Two thousand one, nine eleven

Five thousand plus arrive in heaven.

As they pass through the gate,

Thousands more appear in wait.

A bearded man with stovepipe hatSteps forward saying, "Lets sit, lets chat."

They settle down in seats of clouds,

A man named Martin shouts out proud,"I have a dream!" and once he did

The Newcomer said, "Your dream still lives."

Groups of soldiers in blue and gray

Others in khaki, and green then say"We're from Bull Run, Yorktown, the Maine"

The Newcomer said, "You died not in vain."

From a man on sticks one could hear"The only thing we have to fear.

The Newcomer said, "We know the rest,trust us sir,

we've passed that test."

"Courage doesn't hide in caves

You can't bury freedom, in a grave,

"The Newcomers had heard this voice before

A distinct Yankees twang from Hyannisport shores.

A silence fell within the mist

Somehow the Newcomer knew that this

Meant time had come for her to say

What was in the hearts of the five thousand plus that day.

"Back on Earth, we wrote reports,

Watched our children play in sports

Worked our gardens, sang our songs

Went to church and clipped coupons

We smiled, we laughed, we cried, we fought

Unlike you, great we're not"

The tall man in the stovepipe hat

Stood and said, "Don't talk like that!

Look at your country, look and see

You died for freedom, just like me"

Then, before them all appeared a scene

Of rubbled streets and twisted beams

Death, destruction, smoke and dust

And people working just 'cause they must

Hauling ash, lifting stones,

Knee deep in hell, but not alone"

Look! Blackman, Whiteman, Brownman, Yellowman

Side by side helping their fellow man!"

So said Martin, as he watched the scene"

Even from nightmares, can be born a dream."

Down below three firemen raised

The colors high into ashen haze

The soldiers above had seen it before

On Iwo Jima back in '44

The man on sticks studied everything closely

Then shared his perceptions on what he saw mostly"

I see pain, I see 20 tears,I see sorrow - but I don't see fear."

"You left behind husbands and wives

Daughters and sons and so many livesare suffering now because of this wrong

But look very closely.

You're not really gone.

All of those people, even those who've never met you

All of their lives, they'll never forget you

Don't you see what has happened?

Don't you see what you've done?

You've brought them together as one.”

With that the man in the stovepipe hat said

"Take my hand," and from there he led

five thousand plus heroes, Newcomers to heaven

On this day, two thousand one, nine eleven.
See other wordless images here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Grandmother's Hands

Last night at church one of our associate pastors read the following poem. Even though it is about a grandmother’s hands I couldn’t help but think about my own mother and her hands. She passed away in July, 2006, and I think I miss her hands most of all…..They did so much for me. The pastor had to stop a couple of times as he read the poem, and I simply lost it.

At first I thought, “Durn, why did you go and read that? I certainly didn’t need to cry.” However, after some reflection time I realized I should be greatful that the pastor did read the poem because anytime something can trigger a memory of mother it is indeed time well spent....even it is also a tearful time. The only copy I could find has been altered a bit from the one the pastor read but the majority of it is intact.

Grandmother’s Hands

I saw my grandmother sitting alone staring at her hands. I thought something was wrong and asked her about it. Grandmother asked, “Have you ever really looked at your hands?”

Grandmother continued, “Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout the years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled, and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.”

“They embraced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war.”

“They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world I was married and loved someone special. They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse.”

“They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn’t understand. They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.

“These hands are the mark of where I’ve been and the ruggedness of my life. But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when He leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.”

I don’t think any Christian after reading coul ever look at their hands the same way again.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sunday Seven: One Trumps All Others

This week I’m not listing seven things because one thing trumps everything else and deserves to be mentioned alone.

Yesterday my daughter related to me that during literature class a discussion regarding divorce came up. A student mentioned the Bible and what it might say regarding divorce. The teacher lamented she didn’t have a copy of the Bible with her.

Out came my daughter’s very worn Bible she carries along with her in her handbag. The verses were looked up and class continued.

I’m so very thankful my daughter feels that comfortable with her peers to talk the talk as well as walk the walk.

Happy Weekend!

Sunday Seven is a weekly meme for giving thanks and/or for noting important events in our lives. If you want to join Click Here

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

13 Things Concerning 1st Samuel: The First Book of Kingdoms

The image seen here is Michelangelo's David.

The book of 1st Samuel is the first time we are introduced to David and his interesting story from being a boy shepherd to King of Israel.
Here are some other facts concerning the book of the Bible that details the kings of Israel.

1. The book is named for Samuel. He was a judge who annointed Saul and David, the first two kings of Israel.

2. In the Hebrew Bible 1st and 2nd Samuel were originally one book and must be considered together.

3. The people of Israel desired a king and asked God for one. Saul, the first king was a failure while the second king, David, though a flawed character did succeed.

4. This history of Saul and David answers questions for Israelites possibly living in Solomon’s day such as: 1. Were they wrong to ask for a king? 2. Since God rejected Saul as king, why should the Israelites suppose that David’s line will continue?

5. As you read both books you can compare the dangers of having a king (1 Sm 8) with the hope for an enduring dynasty (2 Sm 7).

6. The lesson learned is God’s plan will continue despite human evil (2 Sm 7:16).

7. Three heroes are found in 1st Samuel that teaches about mankind. They are Samuel, Saul, and David. Samuel failed as a parent even though he was dedicated to God. Saul had many things going for him. He was handsome and a talented leader, however, he failed miserably in his task of remaining glad when confronted with God’s will. In 1st Samuel, David’s life indicates we don’t always know when and why God will choose us. God doesn’t always choose those we would think would be chosen. Once chosen we may face great difficulties, but should serve whole heartedly.

8. The two kings presented in 1st Samuel represent foreshadowing of Christ, Israel’s true king, Jesus Christ.

9. Jesus is connected to the family line of David and is called the Son of David.

10. Samuel’s role as priest, prophet, and political leader foreshadows Jesus’ role as prophet, priest, and king.

11. Within 1st Samuel is the first time we see “annointed of Yahweh” mentioned which is significant since Messiah means “annointed one”.

12. The events in this book occur sometime between 1105-1010 B.C., and this is the first book of the Bible where scholars begin to agree concerning the time period.

13. The author is relatively unknown and is someone who used sources since none of the characters within 1st Samuel could have witnessed all of the events found within the account.

You can see other 13s HERE.

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

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Wordless: Verse 19

This painting is The Conversion of Saul by Michelangelo Buonarroti and was completed sometime between 1542-45. The original can be found at Cappella Paolina, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican.

From the Web Gallery of Art:

On the road to Damascus, where he was going to obtain authorization from the synagogue to arrest Christians, Paul was struck to the ground, blinded by a sudden light from heaven. The voice of God, heard also by Paul's attendants, as artists make clear, said, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' They led him to the city where, the voice had said, he would told what he had to do. According to a tradition, connected with the medieval Custom of representing pride as a falling horseman, Paul made the journey on horseback. He lies on the ground as if just thrown from his horse, prostrate with awe, or unconcious. He may be wearing Roman armour. Christ appeares in the heavens, perhaps with three angels. Paul's attendants run to help him or try to control the rearing horses.

Check out Wordless Wednesday HERE!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Are You Happy In Your Job?

Ecclesiastes 3:9-22 tells us:

9 What does the worker gain from his toil?

10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men.

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.

13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

15 Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account

16 And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

17 I thought in my heart,"God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed."

18 I also thought, "As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.

19 Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath ; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.

20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.

21 Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"

22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?

So what does all this mean? The passage tells us the here and now does not matter. Our eyes should be on our true job which is preparing for our place in Heaven. The evils of life may be so sanctified to you as to work for your good. God can make all grace abound towards you. If you are not happy in your job seek God’s guidance as in all things to guide you.
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