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…..

Thanks for visiting…..enjoy more current posts here

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.
Thanks for visiting. My most current articles can be seen here.

You find other wordless images here.

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 floor....you 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....
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