Thursday, February 25, 2010


Gethsemane, or the Mount of Olives, is generally associated with Jesus – the place where he prayed, his his agony took place, and here his arrest took place – Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32.

The Mount of Olives is along the main mountain range that happens to run north to south through central and southern Palestine.

With a name like Mount of Olives you would think olive trees would fill the hillside and you would be right. In fact, the word used for Gethsemane in Aramaic and Hebrew means “oil press” as in olive oil. Some of the trees that currently fill the area are over 900 years old, but it might be a little hard to locate an olive tree that would have been around when Jesus walked through Gethsemane.

Josephus, the ancient historian, advises in his work titled Wars the Roman general Titus performed some major tree cutting in the area around Jerusalem around 66-70 A.D. Therefore any trees that existed in the garden were taken down at that time.

The specific location Jesus visited in the area is not know exactly, but many scholars believe the garden was on the western slope between Jerusalem and Bethany.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The School of Tyrannus

Acts 19: 9 tells us…So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

The lecture of of Tyrannus. Hmmmm…..

Where was that?

What was that?

Who was Tyrannus?

Unfortunately, we aren’t very sure. There are no remains of the lecture hall, and we only have little hints from Scripture regarding Paul’s discussions there. The picture I’ve posted here shows some of the ruins that remain at Ephesus, but not the lecture hall.

Paul was in Ephesus around 52 AD during his third missionary journey. It made sense for Paul to journey there…..Ephesus was the capital of an Asian province and was a major population and trade center. He could reach many people there with his Good News. Acts 20:31 reminds us that Paul spent three years in Ephesus…..Remember for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears, and for two of the three years he lectured and debated in the school of Tyrannus per Acts 19:10….This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Prior to having his discussions in the leture hall of Tyrannus, Paul had begun his ministry in a synagogue, but was soon forced out due to obstinate people, but why a school? The word used for school in the original Greek….schole….meant “leisure”. Not exactly my definition of school being an educator, but in Paul’s day discussions and debates were done during leisure time, and the word finally came to refer to a group of persons meeting for the purpose of having discussions or the place where the meeting was held. Schools during Paul’s time can be thought of as modern day literary or philosophy clubs.

The Greek manuscript of Acts, the Codex Beza, advises discussions were held between 11am and 4 pm…..the part of the day when men were expected to be conducting leisure activities….not work. During those hours men pursued their hobbies, they rested, or they took part in great discussions in a lecture hall or school, as it were.

During these discussions we know that Paul “reasoned” with others. Acts 17:17-18 states….So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this blabber trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

So….during his hours of leisure Paul was preaching or discussing the Good News. Perhaps Tyrannus allowed Paul the use of his building during the afternoon hours which was very advantageous in that the hours of 11 am to 4 pm would give him the largest audience possible, and it would afford Paul the morning hours to actually work at his trade which was tent-making.

We also know that due to his lectures at the school of Tyrannus Paul gained many contacts with officials in Ephesus that proved to be helpful to him. Acts 19:31 states….Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

Acts also clues us in to the fact that Paul didn’t only share the good news in the lecture hall of Tyrannus, but he also went “from house to house” and “with tears” per Acts 20:20, 31….You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house…So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I have never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

But of Tyrannus….who WAS he?

Some scholars believe he was a teacher or at least the owner of the school/lecture hall. Others have suggested he could have been the donor or the patron of the school…much like our tradition of naming buildings after the people who donate the money to pay for them.

The name “Tyrannus” brings a question to mind as well. The word means “tyrant”.

What mother in her right mind would name her little baby “Tyrant”?

It was certainly not a popular name during the first century, and this very fact has led scholars to believe Tyrannus was NOT his real name. Perhaps a group of students had nicknamed this particular teacher Tyrannus.

Hmmm….I’ve been called lots of things by students. I wonder if any of them ever thought I was a tyrant?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

13 Things the Bible Says About Work

Though we all have varying forms due to our situation we all have some sort of work we must deal with on a daily basis.

We have been focusing on what the Bible says about setting goals and life's big questions over the New Year at church....this is taken from my pastor's wonderful sermon series.....

1. Ecclesiastes 2:22….What does a man get for all of his hard work?

2. One type of worker is the lazy worker….The fool won’t work and almost starves, but feels it’s better to be lazy and barely get by than work hard….Ecclesiastes 4:5

3. The other type of worker is a workaholic….Here’s a man who is always working, never satisfied with the wealth he has. For whom is he working so hard and denying himself any pleasure? This is useless…and a miserable way to live…Ecclesiastes 4:8

4. Workaholics must readjust their values….I’ve learned why people work so hard to succeed: it is better they envy the things their neighbors have…Ecclesiastes 4:4 So often we work to beat out the competition....our society actually rewards bad behavior....bad habits.

5. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? What can a man give in exchange for his soul?....Mark 8: 36

6. In spite of all our hard work, there’s nothing we can take with us?....Ecclesiastes 5:15 We should ask ourselves: Why am I working so hard? Is the pay off worth it? and Why do I think it will satisfy me?

7. All of us should enjoy our rewards. All of us should eat and drink and enjoy what we have worked for. It is God’s gift….Ecclesiastes 3:13

8. It’s better to have only a little, with peace of mind, than be busy all the time with both hands….Ecclesiastes 4:6

9. We have to limit our labor….Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself our with work…..Ecclesiastes 10:15 Work should follow an intention schedule, and we should stick to it.

10. You have six days in which to do your work, but the 7th day is to be a day of rest dedicated to Me….Exodus20: 9-10

11. It’s senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night….for God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest….Psalm 127:2

12. Anticipate God’s care…Trust God….Don’t worry, saying, “What shall we eat…or drink….or wear? For pagans, run after these things, and your Heavenly Father knows you need them….Matthew 6:31-32

13. Exchange your pressure for God’s peace….”Come to me, you who are tired from carrying your heavy loads and I will give you rest….The yoke I’ll give you is easy and the load I’ll put on you is light…..Matthew 11:28,30


Other bloggers participate in Thursday 13….you can find them here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wordless: Verse 60

This is the place where Saul camped before the battle of Gilboa mentioned at 1 Samuel 29:1…..The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. The Philistines at this point were being led by Saul’s enemy…..the future King David.

This could also be the fountain mentioned in Judges 7:1 as the Well of Harod

Other bloggers are participating in Wordless Wednesday. You can find them here

Monday, February 1, 2010

What's YOUR Jordan River?

The Jordan River is the longest and most important river in Palestine.

With Joshua as their leader the Israelites had to cross the Jordan River to achieve their goal of reaching the promised land.

Of course, my title does not really refer to the actual geographical Jordan River, but does refer to all of those little obstacles that get in our way as we attempt to live out the plan God's has for us.

Obstacles such as worrying about the future, paralyzing fear, hypothetical what if situations, procrastination, and so many other things tend to be our "River Jordans"?

Even reading the news can stimulate our fears concerning the future. Reading through the news this morning I saw that hundred of quakes have rattled Yellowstone and there is unrest in Iran. While these things concern me regarding the future I’m not going to allow them paralyze my actions. I have things to do…..I have a life to lead regardless of what might be going on in the world.

Joshua 1 explains that after Moses died the Lord instructed Joshua to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River. They had to cross the river to reach the Promised Land. As long as they remained along the banks the Israelites could never experience the life that God wanted them to have.

The people had all sorts of fears and hypothetical situations they worried about, but God doesn’t want us to worry about the future. Matthew 6:34 tells us…Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own. Just simply looking about us at the marvels of nature we have to realize we are NOT in control. If we waste our time worrying about the future then we are attempting to control things. We are attempting to take overpower the Lord. That cannot be done.....

Worry paralyzes our actions. It keeps us from doing what we should be doing.
Worry produces procrastination, yet Ecclesiastes 11:4 states….Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

Procrastination comes in many forms but at it’s root is perfectionism. That’s it for me, anyway. I often keep from beginning something, completing something, even trying something new because I want it to be perfect the first time. Even this piece of writing is giving me fits because I want it to be perfect. I want to make my thoughts clear.

I want things to be done the right way at the right time, but that mindset is so flawed. Sometimes the perfect time just isn’t going to happen…..Sometimes I'm just not going to find the exact words I want.

We have to remember to plan our future….to plan our actions. Planning for the future is imperative. It IS where we are going to spend our time….in the future. God never did anything on a whim…..there is no spontaneity with God. He teaches us over and over that we should plan our work and work our plan. Joshua 1: 11…Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your supplies read. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for you own. God had a plan for getting the Israelites across the Jordan River.

Sometimes we need to remember to let certain things go that hold us back. Joshua 1: 2-3 explains how God reminds Joshua that Moses is gone. They can’t sit by the river and worry. They have to move on. God tells Joshua….Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give them – to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.

We can learn more about that God wants us to do if we stay in the word. Joshua was reminded of this. Joshua 1:8 states….Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Scripture will give us the guidance we need…..Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance…Proverbs 20:18 and Proverbs 16:9….In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

And of course, we have to build upon faith and remember that faith is an action. We have to be moving through our plans. We cannot allow fear to paralyze us. Joshua 1: 6-7, 9 explains….Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or left. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

We have to have courage…..courage that enables us to move even when we face fear.

Of course Joshua 3 explains how the priests at the direction of Joshua stepped out into the Jordan River on faith, and faith alone enabled them to cross the river on dry land. The text goes on to state that God had caused a dam to form up the river approximately seventeen miles…. and the Israelites were unaware.

Go ahead…..step out on faith. Stay in the Word…..make a plan with God…..step out into the waters of your own personal River Jordan and move on to your reward.
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