Monday, November 23, 2009

More Pictures

The Wall

As we approached The Temple in Jerusalem, I had many thoughts running through my head. I was told that each one of the original stones that Herod the Great used to build the Temple weighed between five and six tons. Each Stone was placed on the wall with such precision that you couldn’t even slide a piece of paper in between the stone next to it. There had to be thousands of these stones used to build the Temple. Here was the amazing thing: Engineers today don’t have the technology to do what Herod did in building this wall. Crazy!

While inside the Temple we visited the Western Wall. This too was an amazing sight. It was here that once again I saw the reverence that people have for the one true God of the universe. I met a man who told me he spent two hours praying at the wall, two more hours studying scripture then three working for a non-profit organization all before heading to work. He did this every day except for Shabbat (Sabbath). Seven hours of his daily life was wrapped around loving God and loving people, all before his work. I wonder, is this a cultural issue or is this a heart issue? Does our culture, or maybe a better question, could our culture even contemplate such a lifestyle?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Wedding

Sunday, we discovered "The Wedding". If you need to be clued in, will have a link to the sermon for you from 11/15.

Exodus 19-The Wedding, a courtship. What? I can honestly say I never thought of that one before. But the language speaks for itself if we truly see what is coming to light. God is making a contract with us, a wedding contract. The contract being the Ten Commandments. And Israel has a chance to respond, and they do, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient"-Exodus 24:7. Israel says, "I do".

God has been pursuing us for years, whether we believe in Him or not. Look at your life, I'm sure you'll find moments big and small that you can't explain and that just make no sense. He's been pursuing us and asks the question, waiting anxiously (well I think so anyway) for our answer. He's waiting for us to say, "I do and I will".

For those who have said it, have told God, "I do", has it been hard? Would you say it again if you knew what it was going to require? I'm guessing it would be a resounding "yes", though our thoughts travel back to those times when we just didn't think we were going to make it through. "I do" comes with a deep, lasting commitment where each day we have to get up and say it again. The morning will come and we'll hit the snooze and say "God, I don't want to do this again. Just give me a day off". But how did the story end? God REDEEMS his people so that He can REVEAL Himself so that He can rule when we take RESPONSIBILITY. That part is ours. We take on our responsibility so that we can become light for Him.

So the question is. . .Are you willing to say "I do"?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

· New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus: David Bivin
· Restoration: Todd Bennett
· The Law and Grace: Todd Bennett
· Our Father Abraham: Marvin Wilson
· Listening to the Language of the Bible: Tverberg/ Okkema
· Boundary Stones: Aaron Eby


On the Sea of Galilee

As we pushed out onto the sea of Galilee, I was able to see the landscape and countryside where Jesus spent most of His time and ministry. I could see Capernaum where Jesus considered His home for a time. I could see the place where Jesus gave “the sermon on the mount”. I could see the other side of the lake where Jesus traveled and healed a man full of demons in the area of the Decapolis. This area full of rich history and culture waiting to be explored by our group. It was a day of anticipation and excitement. We looked in awe, we laughed, we danced, we were enjoying the beginning of our adventure.


It was very interesting visiting the place where Jesus was raised as a boy- not necessarily the town of Nazareth itself, but what it has become. One of the most striking things to me was the church we visited that was near the home where Jesus grew up. There was an outer courtyard with many mosaic tile paintings from around the world. Apparently it was requested from the church that many countries should submit artwork to display Mary and Jesus in a mosaic. What I saw at first was beautiful, then perplexing, then sickening. As I went from each country’s mosaic I started noticing that each one was different. Not just because of artistic style, but because I noticed that Jesus was different. Each mosaic representing Jesus took on the form and look of that culture. There was a Korean Jesus, an African Jesus, a French Jesus, etc., all looking like the people from those different countries. Some would probably think that it was art, but in fact that depicts our human nature. We forget that WE were created in God’s image. We didn’t create God in our image. We forget that Jesus was not from our culture, He did not look like us, talk like us, and in many cases think like us. He was Jewish, He spoke Hebrew, He thought like a Hebrew, He lived and acted in the customs of Judaism. His message was preached from the Torah and the prophets and even the Oral Torah and traditions. Continuing in our Greek worldview, from our roots, our ancestors have always wanted to make the gods in their image. It seems as though times haven’t changed much.


“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed. Mark 1:35
My second day in Israel I stayed on the shores of the sea of Galilee. After a long flight and jet lag catching up to me, I awoke early in the morning around 4:30. It was still dark out and not a sound to be heard. While sitting in the silence I peered out my window in prayer and contemplation. It wasn’t long until I witnessed the cracks of sunlight hitting the sky and the sun breaking over the mountain ridge directly across the lake in front of me. As I enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation before me, I couldn’t help but remember this was the place Jesus, went out early to pray, and this is what He too would have seen.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Sabbath

What does your Sabbath look like? What do you think the Sabbath is? Is it any day we choose to be our day of rest? Is it the one day set aside by God at the beginning that He rested on? Interestingly enough, the Sabbath, was the only day that was actually named. The other names came later-check out who/what they are named after for some interesting reading.

But back in the "day", the days were different. A day started at sundown and ended at the next sundown. So. . .the Sabbath starts on Friday at sundown and ends on Saturday at sundown. But what, exactly, do we do with that whole day? What is a day of rest? Is it a day to do what I deem restful? Is it a day that is devoted to spending time with God? Is it both? There are hundreds of rules that tell us what not to do. But let's get back to the basics again-isn't it about our hearts? God wants our hearts. The practices mean nothing if our hearts are not right. And. . .as stated in "The Law and Grace" by Todd Bennett, "The Torah was never considered to be a burden by the Yisra'elites; rather it was thought to be a special gift, a treasure, to a people who were chosen to live set apart lives."

When did we deem all rules bad? We forget that sometimes they are put in place to protect us, to help us focus on what's important, and to prevent us from making mistakes. Is that how we feel about the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible)? I think we've all thought that at one time or another. But this week I've wondered. . .what would it look like if I looked at the Torah as a treasure? I think my outlook and attitude might begin to change.