links to the land

 

Aramaic: The Last of the Aramaic Speakers

“The most fluent speakers are all beyond retirement age, and the language is expected to die within a generation. … What makes the effort so difficult is that modern Aramaic is not one language but more like a family of languages, with up to 150 different dialects. None of them sound like the language of the Babylonian Talmud or of Jesus. According to Professor Otto Jastrow, professor of Arabic in the department of Middle East and Asian studies at the Estonian Institute of Humanities of the Tallinn University, ‘a speaker from biblical times wouldn’t understand a single word, or even recognize it’s Aramaic.'”

Beersheba: The Reforms of Hezekiah

“The reforms of King Hezekiah of Judah (716/15–687/86 B.C.; Thiele) are described in 2 Kings 18.”

Google: Google Street View of 7 Biblical Sites

“… until your first (or next) trip, you might enjoy a virtual walk through a few biblical sites via Google Street View. I have chosen 7 biblical sites that allow you to do a little exploring. … Ceasarea … Mount Tabor … Mount Arbel … Sea of Galilee … The Western Wall in Jerusalem … The Temple Mount … [and a] Panorama from the Mount of Olives.”

Military service & ultra-Orthodox Jews: Israel’s Internal Battle Over Ultra-Orthodox Soldiers

“… they are excused from military service in Israel. This exemption to the otherwise universal draft for Israeli Jews has been in existence for as long as Israel has been a country — part of.”

Mount Carmel: Mount Carmel—Three Passes Along the International Highway

“…  geography played a critical role in ancient Israel. God placed the land of Israel in a position as the only intercontinental land bridge between the superpowers of the ancient world. The strategic International Highway, sometimes called the Great Trunk Road or the Via Maris (“Way of the Sea”), ran from the Fertile Crescent all the way to Egypt—the full length of the land of Israel.”

Nabi Samwil (Har Shmuel; Naby Samuel): Nabi Samwil: Just Beneath the Surface, a Thick Layer of Injustice

“The traditional connection, dating to at least the medieval period (but almost surely incorrect), is to the Prophet Samuel — it has been held to be biblical Mizpah and/or Samuel’s burial place. In any event, it has long been important to Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. The Crusaders had a major presence here and called it “Mount Joy”, where pilgrims coming up from the coast gained their first glimpse of Jerusalem. There are remains from many periods, going back to the Iron Age, but the top-most, best preserved level represents an Israeli destruction carried out mere decades ago.”

Nahal Peratzim: Photo of the Week – Nahal Peratzim

“A popular day trip from Jerusalem is to do Masada and Ein Gedi and then end the day with a float in the Dead Sea. I guided a family on this route last week. In thinking about it I want to suggest a different Judean desert trip. Visit the pools and waterfalls at Ein Gedi but instead of doing the crowded Nahal David (a nahal is a dry stream bed) hike to the hidden waterfall in Nahal Arugot, do Masada in the afternoon and end the day with a walk through Nahal Peratzim as the sun sets and the moon rises, a great family hike.”

Pergamon: City of Science … and Satan?

“…  the commanding panoramic view from Pergamon’s 1,000-foot-high perch makes it easy to understand how this city once dominated the entire region.”

Synagogue: One of the Best Preserved Ancient Synagogues in Israel

“Umm el–Q/Kanatir (The Mother of the Arch) is a site located on the upper reaches of the Wadi Samekh, 5 mi. [8.5 km.] east of the Sea of Galilee on the Golan Heights.  It boasts one of the best-preserved ancient synagogues in the land—90% of the remains (collapsed) were still in place after the earthquake of AD 749.  It is in the process of being reconstructed …”

this went thru my mind

 

Christian radio, church, ministry & creativity: * Killing Becky (On Creating in A ‘Safe’ Church) by Sean Palmer [essential reading]; * John Cleese on Creativity [essential viewing; 36 min. video]

* “… it’s foolish to believe Becky and the Christian music aimed at her is anywhere near the neighborhood of a holistic Christian experience. And that’s the problem! Problems arise when the ‘Becky experience’ becomes synonymous with the ‘Christian experience.’ Very little of life with God is safe.”

* “… creativity is not possible in the closed mode.”

Church, discipleship & evangelism: Francis Chan Challenges People to Experience God Through Making Disciples

“Chan’s desire to cultivate boldness in discipleship led him and his wife, Lisa, to start a church planting movement in the inner city of San Francisco. ‘We have church on Sunday afternoons, which consists of me speaking for 5-10 minutes, us singing for 5-10 minutes, then everyone going out for two hours and witnessing in lower income neighborhoods. After that we come back and share with each other what happened and how the experience was,’ Chan described, adding that he is also working to launch a nationwide discipleship movement.”

Exploitation & the poor: Targeting the Dove Sellers by Richard Beck [required reading]

“… going after the dove sellers we see Jesus directly attacking the group who were having economic dealings with the poor. When the poor would go to the temple they would head for the dove sellers. The point being, while we know that Jesus was upset about economic exploitation going on in the temple, his focus on the dove sellers sharpens the message and priorities. Jesus doesn’t, for instance, go after the sellers of lambs. Jesus’s anger is stirred at the way the poor are being treated and economically exploited.”

College, David Lipscomb, learning & understanding: My Top Nine List of What They Will Not Tell You in New Faculty Orientation Meetings by Lee C. Camp

“If you don’t know it, you will, unfortunately, not find it in our current publications: David Lipscomb was a socio-political radical, a pacifist who refused to fight for either the Confederacy or the Union; said that trying to prop up human governments was akin to whoring with the Beast and, quoting the book of Revelation, admonished those thus whoring that they should “come ye out of her”; insisted that a sectarian refusal to listen to the arguments of people who fundamentally disagreed with you was ignorant; and thought that too much affiliation with wealth ruined young people, because it made them incapable of being at ease in the homes of the poor that were filled with unpleasant odors and foul disease. And he believed all of this because he, first and foremost, sought first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. Whether we agree with all his conclusions or not, let us not forget his witness, and let us talk more about what brother Lipscomb had to say.”

Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, privacy, Twitter & social media: * The Ultimate Complete Final Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet [infographic]; * Facebook Privacy Fail [infographic]

* “… an infographic listing all of the sizing information for images on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.”

* “Here are some of the biggest issues with Facebook and their privacy issues.”

First impressions & guests: First Impressions by Your Church by Philip Nation

“People never get a second-chance at a first impression. Neither do churches. My family recently visited a church (no, it wasn’t your church) and were able to get in and out undetected. Had it not been for our toddler’s need for childcare, we could have avoided human contact altogether. Needless to say, we didn’t feel very welcome. Nearly everything about a Sunday morning worship service communicates something to first-time visitors. From the church bulletins to the parking lot layout, churches demonstrate how much – or how little – they care about people. Here are some things I learned from my last church visit.”

Near death experiences (NDE): Can We Chemically Induce Near Death Experiences? by Caleb Wilde

“… what happens if these NDEs are simply concoctions of end-of-life chemical reactions?”

Prayer: 13 Thoughts About Pastoral Prayers by Brandon Cox

“Be sure you don’t pray the same phrases every time. Change it up. If you don’t prepare and think about the prayer, you will automatically resort to old familiar cliches — which wear out quickly in public usage.”

Red Letter Christians: Authors Ask: ‘What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?’

“Best-selling Christian authors Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo say discussions about Christian doctrine are important, but believers today have gotten away from living out the simple, practical life-teachings of Jesus Christ. In their newest book, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? they tackle a number of controversial issues – the Middle East, abortion, national debt, immigration and more – in an attempt to show how Jesus’ words could transform modern Christianity and the world.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church growth: Let it Grow – Advice on Church Growth by Tim Spivey

“Each church’s journey is different, and it’s hard to get down to the level this can be talked about. However, someone needs to put on the table: The reason some of us aren’t growing is because our soil is sick.”

Google: Get More Out of Google [infographic]

“Here are some crucial tips for refining your Googling …”

Discipleship, gospel, salvation & the sinner’s prayer: The Gospel of Sin Management and the Loss of Discipleship by Jeff Clarke

“When we reduce the gospel story to salvation and salvation to personal forgiveness and forgiveness to a plan of salvation that focuses exclusively on getting people to make a decision (what Dallas Willard referred to in The Divine Conspiracy as the gospel of sin management), we essentially de-storify the gospel of Jesus and offer people what proves to be a serious mutation. We move from the birth of Christ to the death of Christ and forget the in-between life of Jesus. As a result, we end up living as though the middle section (i.e., his teachings, miracles, healings, and other kingdom-of-God-has-come indicators) has no inherent significance and salvific import …

“When we couple this with our North American preoccupation and unhealthy interest in numbers, we end up trying to compel as many people as possible to make a decision (whatever it takes), but only end up presenting a powerless, lopsided, half-story. However, our methods of persuasion ask people to make a decision, not for Christ alone, as the goal of the gospel, but to avoid hell (fire insurance), make us happy, help us find a mate, heal our marriage, etc, setting people up for failure. Then we add up the ‘salvations’ as though numbers indicate success. …

“However, by reducing the story of Jesus, a story that calls people to a life of devoted discipleship, to a system of salvation that only asks people to make a decision, we effectively short-circuit the power of the gospel.”

Manuscripts & preservation: Papyrus Conservation Videos

“… two videos on papyrus preservation. The first describes the work of Leyla Lau-Lamb, the principle papyrus curator at the University of Michigan Papyrus Collection. he second video from the British Museum records the restoration of a Book of the Dead scroll which was pasted to a sheet of paper.”

Miscarriage: Letters to My Unborn Children: the Silent Grief of Miscarriage by Shawn Collins

“Our first pregnancy in 2004 ended in a miscarriage right after Easter. Through my wife Kristine’s five subsequent pregnancies—another miscarriage in 2004, healthy girls born in 2005 and 2008, a third miscarriage in 2010, and a healthy girl born in 2011—I wrote letters to my children to reflect on these experiences. These letters extended my lifelong habit of journaling about both formative and mundane events in my life.”

this went thru my mind

 

Anti-intellectualism: The Role of Education and Authority In the Church by Paul Smith

“… every time we tear down someone because they have a greater education than we do we tear down that part of the body of Christ. Not only that, but we tear down our future. We guarantee that our sons and daughters will choose fields of expertise other than Bible and theology, because everyone knows you can’t be a good Christian and be smart at the same time. Can somebody help me here? What is it about ignorance that is so appealing?”

Archaeology: A Sumerian Temple at Ur by Claude Mariottini

“… archaeologists have found a Sumerian temple in the ancient city of Ur, the traditional place of Abraham’s birth. According to the archaeologists, the temple is dated to 2500 B.C.”

Bible: Wishing the Bible was a Self-Help Book by John Acuff

“The Bible makes a pretty horrible self help book. Sometimes, that’s what I want it to be. … Perfection is my secret goal, not a deeper relationship with God. But unfortunately, the Bible is refusing to cooperate.”

Church: Church, Jesus, Faith, and the Institution by Patrick Mead

“… we are only institutionalized as much as we want to be. When men grab too much power, the bunnies and snowflakes move along. But faith doesn’t cease and neither does kingdom work. If you are in a church that is in conflict or is over controlled, you have options. You can leave or you can stay quietly or you can stay and work on changing things. But you don’t have the option of leaving the larger fellowship of believers and you don’t have the option to be a “loner Christian” when Christ called us to community. So whichever decision you make – stay with the group, snowflake.”

Communication: 5 Strategies for Becoming a Better Conversationalist by Michael Hyatt

“… conversations should be like a game of ping pong. You wait for the ball to come over the net, then you hit it back to the person on the other side. Then you do it all over again—and on it goes. In a good conversation, there is both give and take. This is something we have intentionally tried to pass on to our own children.”

Community: The Wisdom of Stability by J.R. Daniel Kirk

“Stability in Christ is always stability in community.”

Forgiveness: Broken Trust in God’s Country

“‘A hundred years from now, what will be the difference about how much money we had here?’ asked Emery E. Miller, a village resident and a proponent of the alternative plan, at the first creditors meeting. ‘But a hundred years from now, there will be a difference in how we responded to this from our moral being, from a moral level — the choices we made to forgive or not to forgive.'”

Google & your privacyHow to Opt Out of Google’s New Privacy Policy (Sort Of)

“Google’s new privacy policy will take effect on March 1. It consolidates Google’s 70 or so privacy policies across its products – from Gmail to YouTube to Blogger – down to one, and will pull data from users logged in to Google.”

Kind words: Don’t Wait for a Funeral to Give a Eulogy by Michael Hyatt

“We should start eulogizing those who mean the most to us before they leave us.”

Lies, damned lies & statistics: Santorum, Stats, and Dropout Rates of Religious College Students by Ed Stetzer

“This past Thursday (February 23), Rick Santorum told talk show host Glenn Beck that ’62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.’ … Long story short: There are dropouts (and returns), but there is no statistical difference that the dropout rate among those who attended college than those that did not attend college.”

Ministry: 10 Things About Pastors You Need to Know by Joe McKeever

“He is a flawed, fallible human like the rest of us, and not some saintly somebody unacquainted with temptation and failings.”

Singles: An Unmarried Boomer

“As Baby Boomers age, their propensity for divorce—even in later age—is creating a generation of middle-aged unmarrieds. Now, as the first Boomers are turning 65, this ‘singlehood’ trend could have implications for the quality of life of these older Americans.”

Tradition & traditionalism: Pelikan on Tradition & Traditionalism

“Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church: 17 Signs Your Church Might Be Dying by Trey Morgan

“Just a few days ago I visited with a man that was very concerned about the church where he was attending. … He and I got to talking about some of the signs they were seeing that pointed to their church dying out. We made quite a list, and of course a few were tongue-in-cheek. I thought I might share a few with you today.”

Criticism: Handling the Unknown Critic by Patrick Mead

“Elders are not doing their job when they just listen or when they just disregard. They weren’t called to take it – they were called to lead, and that means you might need to have a stern, firm talk with someone who was convinced they were the only one right… and that they were right because their fathers and forefathers were right. Do not allow those who claim to defend the faith cause it to shipwreck. And, while you’re thinking of it, write your minister and elders a love letter. Pray for them daily and tell them you are doing so. Lift up their hands so that they do not become weary and the battle swing against us.”

Doubt: Real Christians Don’t Have Doubts … Do They? by Tim Keller

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.”

Drugs: My Life With Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Addiction by Gary Stromberg

“My office, on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, was set up like a huge living room with couches, overstuffed pillows on the floor, rock star posters lining the walls and a coffee table, the centerpiece of which was a large crystal bowl, filled at all times with a generous supply of cocaine. The house rules were ‘help yourself if you’re here on business — but no take-outs!’ We were regularly visited by our clients, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Doors and Steppenwolf. As you could imagine, my office was a very popular place.”

Gambling: A Christian Understanding of Gambling by Albert Mohler

“The nationwide explosion of legal gambling may well be the most underrated dimension of America’s moral crisis. … According to some estimates, as much as one-third of the nation’s money supply now moves through the gambling industry each year … The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview revealed in God’s Word.”

Google: How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect

“On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google’s other products.”

Humor: HTTP 404 Error: Wall Not Found

Leadership: 4 Ways to Become a Leader Want to Follow by Michael Hyatt

“… what separates the leaders we want to follow from the leaders we have to follow?”

Marriage: Keep Your Marriage Out of the Ditch by Jim Martin

“As I write this particular post, I am thinking about couples in their 20s. Perhaps you’ve been married for a few years. You may even have a small child or two (but not necessarily).”

Parenting: Why Take Your Children to Church? by Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp

“Nothing matters as much as the souls of our children. If we can help them know God, have faith and live a selfless life to help them to heaven is there truly anything that should hold us back from that goal?”

Photography: The Praying Otter

“This ‘once in a lifetime’ photograph taken by photographer Marac Andrev Kolodzinski, waited patently in freezing cold weather at the Whipsnade Zoo in England.”

Saturday night services: Should We Start a Saturday Night Service? by Brian Jones

“I surveyed pastors for one full year about Sat. night services and decided to launch one … We killed it … four months later.”

Shepherding: 2 Things to Avoid in Shepherding by Bev Hislop

“Active listening is not a physiological ability, it is a learned skill.”

Sleep deprivation: What Lack of Sleep Does to Your Spirit by Lynn Casteel Harper

“I am talking to the segment of society with a measure of privilege (which includes me) that has a choice — whether we admit it — between adequate and inadequate sleep.”

Solomon’s temple: What Did Solomon’s Temple Look Like? Answers from Ain Dara

“The exact design of the Solomonic Temple as described in 1 Kings 6 and 2 Chronicles 3 has been illuminated by an important excavation at Ain Dara in northwestern Syria.”

Syria: Syrian Christians Ask for Prayer

“Syrian Christians say their greatest need right now is prayer, according to Open Doors, an international ministry supporting persecuted Christians and religious freedom around the world.”

Thankfulness: I Begin Every Day Telling God About Him by Terry Rush

“Each day begins the same. As soon as I awaken, I begin telling Him thank you. There is so much for which I am naturally thankful. We are instructed to tell Him so. We are to live so.”

Thinking: Don’t Attempt Serious Thinking On the Run: How to Think Seriously by Dave Jacobs

“Certain things are necessary for serious thinking to occur, they are …”

Worship, leading: Multiple Intelligences in Worship by Anne Perry

“Many personalities and levels of spiritual experience comprise a worshiping audience. What inspires some may be dullsville for others. The fact is that multiple intelligences make up each congregation.”