Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wordless: Verse 35

This is an image of the Church of the Beatitudes in Israel. The location, of course, is where Jesus made his Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6.

You can find lots of interesting details and links about the church here.

Locate other WWs here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

While I still love the classic version I like Chris Tomlin’s updated version as well:

Here are the words:

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see'
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine

Information on the song’s release can be found here.

Over at Ben Witherington you’ll find a post that is not exactly a review of the movie Amazing Grace…it’s more of a historical view of the movie regarding William Wilburforce and the abolition of slavery in Britain.

…and of course we can’t enjoy the song without known a little more about John Newton who wrote the original version we all recognize and love.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'm E for Excellent!

Many thanks to E-Mom over at Chrysalis for including me in her list of 10 bloggers who have blessed, inspired, and encouraged her. Got Bible? is so much more low key than my primary site, History Is Elementary, so I appreciate each and every visitor, regular reader, and comments that are left behind.

Thanks E-Mom.

Make sure you visit her site to see the other nine sites E-Mom advises are excellent. I’m sure you will find nine “keepers” plus E-Mom’s site as well for a well rounded group of ten.

In the E for Excellent tradition I am now supposed to bestow the E For Excellent award on 10 blogs I find meet those requirements. As some of you may now I visit a wide range of sites across my three main blogs including history blogs, religious blogs, education blogs, and blogs authored by folks from Georgia. I have several to look through.

Perhaps my list of ten would make a good 13 post…..10 plus three bonuses. Hmmmmmm....

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Mystery Where YOU Choose the Ending

Growing up I was addicted to the Bobbsey Twin books. Later, I graduated into Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and even later I enjoyed Agatha Christie’s exploits of Mrs. Marple and Hercule Poirot.

As an educator I’ve often used mystery as a way to build curiosity and motivation within students. Weave a set of dry facts into a story filled with twists and turns, add a character that begs for empathy, build the action to a death defying crescendo and then conveniently leave out the conclusion. Instant curiosity!

Lay out some primary and secondary sources, provide a little time for examination, and students become detectives as they analyze possible outcomes in a historical event, or as they make predictions regarding scenarios where there are no right or wrong answers.

The word mystery is used at least 25 times in the Bible with Paul using it the most….a whopping 21 times. However, the word mystery as Paul uses it in Ephesians 3: 4 (By reading this you are able to understand my insight about the mystery of the Messiah) does not refer to a puzzle that needs to be solved or some unanswered question we may never have enough data to answer.

Going back to the Greek used in the original text the word mystery is musterion and it refers to a hidden secret…hidden to those who did not have the secret knowledge to understand the mystery. Musterion referred to a secret which was hidden that is made known.

Knowledge regarding Jesus Christ was not known to men in past generations. The knowledge was a secret….a musterion….kept hidden by God until He was ready to reveal it.

The mystery was revealed not only to Paul by revelation but also to Peter (Acts 11:1-18, mentioned in the prophecy given in Isaiah 49:6, and Jesus speaks of it specifically (Acts 1:8). In my own Bible text (Holman Christian Standard, 2003) a sidebar note states, “The mystery is received spiritually and manifested in the proclamation of the gospel.”

Part of the mystery is that Jews and Gentiles are both able to partake in the promise in Jesus Christ and join together in a new entity….the body of Christ…a New Covenant… the Church. There are no second place citizens in the Church. All believers including Gentiles inherit the wealth of Jesus Christ, and they receive power that never runs out.

Paul reminds the reader that God revealed the mystery to His holy apostles and prophets and even entrusted Paul to spread the word about the mystery. In fact, all Christians are comissioned to spread the word about the mystery, and they have been equipped to do so through the wealth and power of Jesus Christ that is inherited upon profession of belief.

Per Paul God’s multi-faceted wisdom isn’t just for those on Earth. Ephesians 3: 10 states “This is so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens.” Heaven? That seems strange. Wouldn’t they already be aware of God’s wisdom?

In his book, Ephesians, W.A. Criswell explains that since angels are heavenly beings they cannot experience redemption, however, by witnessing how God saves man and how His redemptive grace builds his Church they can be made aware. I find that truly facinating!

All of the mysteries I enjoyed as a child and as a young adult had something in common. There was always that point in the story when loose ends were tied up and the mystery was solved. Ephesians 3: 1-13 reveals the mystery, but as my title suggests man chooses his own endng. It’s not enough to acknowledge Christ and to acknowledge the purpose of the Church in this world and in Heaven. It takes commitment to to “shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

13 Super Superlatives Found in the Bible

My last year of high school was great. I had a car and drove myself to school, I began writing seriously, and I was looking forward to college.

Our group of 200 plus seniors seemed to become more than just an odd assortment of alliances and cliques. We all had something in common….something major….WE WERE SENIORS!

During the last two or three months of school we had the regular senior events and milestones including Senior Superlatives. Remember those? Certain people were given titles such the cutest, the most athletic, the brainiest, the most likely to…..

Here’s a list of superlatives found in the Bible:

1. Earliest: Adam, world's first human being Genesis 2:7

2. Oldest: Methuselah, son of Enoch, who lived to be 969 Genesis 5:27

3. Strongest: Samson, carnal Nazarite whom God used to deliver Israel from the Philistines Judges 14:6; Judges 15:5

4. Wisest: Solomon, king of Israel and son of David 1 Kings 3:12

5. Richest: Solomon 1 Kings 10:23

6. Tallest: Goliath, over nine feet tall, killed in battle by David 1 Samuel 17:4

7. Shortest: Zacchaeus, who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus Luke 19: 3-4

8. Fattest: Eglon, Moabite king killed by the judge Ehud Judges 3:17

9. Meekest: Moses, Israel's great lawgiver and author of the first five books of the bible Numbers 12:3

10. Cruelest: Manasseh, who shed blood from one end of Judah to the other but later repented 2 Chronicles 33: 1-13

11. Fastest: Asahel, described in Scripture as "light of foot as a wild roe" 2 Samuel 2:18

12. Greatest of the Prophets: John the Baptist, forerunner of Christ Matthew 11:11

13. Guiltiest: Judas, who betrayed the Savior for 30 pieces of silver Matthew 27: 3-5
Find other 13s here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wordless: Verse 34

Paul had quite a journey to Rome where he was eventually executed. I began to think about where he spent his final days and did a little research to see if I could find out more about it. The images here are copyrighted by & found at the Italy and Rome Picture Gallery.

Notice the cross is upside down. Paul's prison is also the site of Peter's prison per tradition, but there is no scholarly evidence supporting this. Peter was crucified upside down.

Click through to the first comment to find more information and links to more images.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Amazing Love

If it's Monday it must be music!

Here are the wonderful lyrics to Chris Tomlin's song:

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.(Repeat x2)

Amazing love,
How can it be
That You, my King, would die for me?
Amazing love,I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.
(Repeat chorus x2)

You are my King
Jesus You are my King
(Repeat x4)

(Repeat chorus x2)You are my King(Repeat x8)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

13 Unusual Incidents in the Bible

1. A baby had a scarlet thread tied around its hand before it was born...Genesis 38: 28-29

2. A man was spoken to by a donkey…. Numbers 22: 28-30

.3. A man used a stone for a pillow… Genesis 28:11

4. A man lived to be 969 years old…Genesis 5:27

5. Sons of God married daughters of men…Genesis 6:2

6. A man had 12 fingers and 12 toes…2 Samuel 21:20

7. The Sun traveled backwards…Isaiah 38:8

8. There was an army with 700 left-handed men…Judges 20:16

9. The Sun stood still for an entire day…Joshua 10:13

10. Women who had to shave their heads before they could marry…Deut. 21: 11-13

11. Someone had a bed 131/2 feet long and 6 feet wide…Deut. 3:11

12. A battle was won because a man stretched out his hand…Exodus 17:11

13. A father had eighty-eight children….2 Chronicles 11:21

Don’t forget to visit my 13 at History Is Elementary as well!

Wordless: Verse 33

An identification is given as the first comment.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Greatest Thing Is Love

February….the month when all thoughts turn to love.


The meaning of love is varied. Ask a group of children to illustrate the word love and you get a different picture from each student. They love their parents. They love their pets. They love history (they do that for my benefit). They love to read (again, for my benefit). They love spaghetti and pizza. Little girls love Hannah Montana and little boys love their dirt bikes. A few even draw an illustration of their love for Jesus.

Love is interpersonal between humans and it can also be impersonal with objects, animals, and principles, goals, and even your country.

It is no surprise that when Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest….the most important for man to follow… love was included in the answer Jesus gave. Mark 12: 28-31 provides the answer where Jesus explains the first and most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength while the second most important commandment is love your neighbor as you love yourself. Both commandments harken back to Old Testament directives at Deuteronomy 6: 4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.

So, what it does it mean to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength?

First you have to approach God. You have to have a relationship. You cannot love Him from afar. A daily, ongoing conversation with God must take place through prayer. James 4:8 tells us that if we draw near to God, He will reciprocate.

Prayer isn’t the only way to know what God wants for us. He communicates with us through the Bible, so a study of his word is imperative. Just like a professor of literature pours over novels, short stories, and poetry to hone their craft, Christians should pour over the Bible to sharpen their knowledge of God. You cannot profess to believe in something if you don’t know what you believe and why you believe it.

Think about how you spend your day and what you do. What television shows or movies do you watch? What sort of things do you talk about with others? Do you focus on negative things such as gossip, materialism, and carnal activities? God never leaves our side. He knows our thoughts. He sees our actions. How you do you think God wants you to spend your day? Romans 8:6 states….for the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. I think I like the choice of life and peace.

I John 2:15-16 reminds us not to love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. Because everything that belongs to the world---the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle---is not from the Father, but is from the world.

II Timothy 3:1-5 describes our world today in uncanny detail…..but know this: difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of religion but denying its power. Avoid these people!

Finally, there is one capstone verse that can help when improving a relationship with God…..Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Building a relationship of love with God is key.

Believing that Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead, and is the Son of God is important to being a Christian, but it is not the final step.

It is just the beginning of the journey.

The image with this post is from Gaping Void.

Related Post: Dead or Alive...We're in the Drivers Seat

Monday, February 11, 2008

How Deep the Father's Love For Us

What better way to begin your day with a little music reflection? Here's a video of How Deep the Father's Love for Us:

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Finally, here's link to the song's writer, Stuart Townend where he discusses writing the song.
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