Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Images of Prayer in the Worship of Israel

Acts 3:1:  "But Peter and John were going up into the Temple for the hour of prayer, the ninth hour." 

So often through the years, Christianity has been presented as a total break with Judaism, a completely different religion that has nothing in common with the ancient religion of the Jewish people.  Instead Christianity has been presented as a philosophical faith that has more in common with Greek philosophy than with the Bible.  But if that's true, why were Peter and John coming here, to the Temple, to pray, after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus?  (Jesus ascended to heaven in Acts chapter 1, this is chapter 3.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Scripture Garden II

Well and Watering Troughs

Last week we talked a little about the Scripture Garden where my wife and I used to work.  We covered about half of the items in the garden, and this week we’ll take a quick look at the other half.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Scripture Garden I

Biblical Resources Scripture Garden at Tantur

Today I’d like to share with you the first part of a walk through a Scripture Garden that my wife Karen and I used to work at in Israel.  This garden was located halfway between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  It's no longer there today, but has inspired many imitators that carry on the tradition. What was in the Scripture Garden?  More than two dozen full-sized models and restorations of objects from daily life in Bible times.

The purpose of the garden was to help you understand the imagery of the Bible.  Many times we read about different things like wells or threshing floors or wine presses or olive presses in the Bible, but we really don’t understand what they were or how they worked.  And since so much of the imagery of the Bible depends on this knowledge, we often don’t understand the meaning of this imagery, and so don’t understand the meaning of the verse or section it appears in. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hebrews 2

Last week, in Hebrews chapter 1, we saw how the book of Hebrews begins:  by identifying Jesus as the Son of God, who is the “character”—the impress or exact likeness—of the Father.  Because of this, he is infinitely greater than any of the angels.  And to prove it, Hebrews quotes verse after verse from the Bible, to show that Jesus is far greater than the angels.  The angels are spiritual servants, but Jesus rules and reigns at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Land of Israel

This is a quick draft of the sermon from Sunday, April 12th.  Sorry about some of the rough spots and abbreviations (N is north, S is south, E is east, W is west).  I know this is difficult to understand without the maps and photos.  I hope I’ll be able to add them some time. 

CREDIT:  This is one of the lectures developed by Dr. Jim Fleming and the staff of Biblical Resources in Jerusalem that we would give to Christian tourists when they first arrived in Israel as a general introduction to the land.  We sometimes call this the 5-4-3-2-1 lecture. 

The Bible is like the script of a play or film.  By reading it, you can get a good sense of the plot.  You can appreciate much of the dialogue.  But you have to rely on your imagination to fill in the details.  That's fine if you're reading a story of events in your own country and your own generation.  It’s easy to understand the customs and the setting of your own time and your own people. 

But what if the story takes place far away, in a distant time and culture, with a different language and people?  Your imagination will paint a picture--but that picture will be quite different than the reality.  You will miss the point of strange customs and sayings.  And you will misunderstand some of the actions.  This is the problem we have when we read the Bible:  the action is in Israel in the Middle East, thousands of years ago, in the Hebrew (or Greek) language, and among a Semitic people and society very different than our own. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hebrews 1

This is a quick draft of Sunday's sermon.  Hopefully I'll eventually replace it with a more polished version.

It’s always interesting to me that so many people talk about having a relationship with Jesus.  This is a relationship that’s often presented as the means of salvation:  that we are saved by having a relationship with Jesus.  Right?  Have you heard that?  Of course.  But what kind of relationship with Jesus is the Bible actually talking about?  I would think that would be a very important question.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Messianic Kingdom II

After the questions last week, I could see that I didn’t answer some of the most important questions that people had about the Messianic kingdom.  So I thought I’d spend a little more time on this topic to answer those questions in a better way.  Is that okay? 

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Messianic Kingdom

Resurrection is one of the central and most dramatic beliefs of the Christian faith:  that we all, good and bad alike, will be raised from the dead and judged by God; a judgment that will determine our fate for eternity.  The New Testament teaches that there will be two of these resurrections, one for the righteous—those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and lived according to his teachings—and one for the unrighteous.  The time between these two resurrections will be a glorious age of peace and blessing, a Messianic kingdom, in which the righteous will rule and reign with Jesus on this earth for a thousand years.  This coming golden age should be the hope and the desire of every true Christian. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sermon on the Mount III

View from the site of the Sermon on the Mount

It’s been a little while since we left off our discussion of the Sermon on the Mount, the most important sermon in Jesus’ ministry.  So I thought today would be a good day to get back to it and continue to talk about these teachings which are right at the core of Jesus’ instructions for our lives today.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Binding of Isaac

The High Place at Petra

One of the strangest events recorded in the Bible is when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  How can we understand this strange and shocking event?  I hope, if you ever feel that God is leading you to sacrifice your child, that you will say “No!” and will quickly identify the source of this thought as the devil and not God!  But yet this is what the Bible says God commanded Abraham to do:  to kill his son.  How do we make sense of that?  How could the God of the Bible even think of such a thing, let alone command it; and how could Abraham accept that this was from God?