links to 5 helpful articles

1. 1.5 degrees [required reading]

“The burden of climate change falls first and heaviest on the poorest nations, who of course have done the least to cause the crisis.”

2. Solving Microplastic Pollution Means Reducing, Recycling—and Fundamental Rethinking

“The problem is only expected to balloon as plastic production increases exponentially — from … 300 million metric tons today [to a] … projected 33 billion metric tons each year by 2050.”

3. Remembering the Forgotten War

“Although more than 320,000 Americans served in the Korean War — and more than 33,000 were killed in action — it is still our Forgotten War, a kind of also-ran in our historical consciousness.”

4. A Potter’s Village — A “Potter’s Field?” — Matthew 27 — An Aramaic Inscription from Jerusalem

“Recently it was announced that a Potter’s Inscription was found in secondary usage (= spolia) near the International Convention Center in West Jerusalem. Is it possible that the “Potters’ Field,” mentioned in Matthew 27, was located near here?”

5. Did Camels Exist in Biblical Times?

“Some Biblical texts, such as Genesis 12 and 24, claim that Abraham owned camels. Yet archaeological research shows that camels were not domesticated in the land of Canaan until the 10th century B.C.E. — about a thousand years after the time of Abraham. This seems to suggest that camels in these Biblical stories are anachronistic. … Although camel domestication had not taken place by the time of Abraham in the land of Canaan, it had in Mesopotamia.”

links to the land

 

Abraham, Turkey & Ullis: Prophet Abraham’s Lost City Found in Turkey’s Kilis

“… according to the head of the excavation team, Cumhuriyet University Archaeology Department Associate Professor Atilla Engin.”

Aqueduct, Caesarea Maritima & water: Water and Caesarea Maritima

“… how do you get water from Mount Carmel, seven miles away, to Caesarea Maritima? If you are King Herod, with basically unlimited resources and ‘free’ labor, you build an aqueduct. … And, he built it so well that it transported water almost continually for 1200 years.”

Geography & spirituality: What Biblical Geography Can Do for Your Spiritual Life

“One of God’s stated purposes in bringing the Hebrews from Egypt was to give them a land that fostered faith (Deuteronomy 11:10-15). The land’s dependency on rain for water and its location as a land bridge between world powers forced the Hebrews to trust God or starve. They would either influence the world or be influenced by it.”

Herod the Great: Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey

[A gallery tour of the special Herod the Great exhibit in the Israel Museum. Outstanding!]

Jerusalem: Jerusalem Landmarks, Montefiore to Calatravo

“… an object or feature of a landscape or place that is easily seen and recognized at a distance, especially one that enables someone to establish their location.”

Jaffa: Statue of Faith

 

Jaffa-Joppa-Yafo-Statue-of-Faith

Near the top of Tel Jaffa (Joppa; Yafo) in Abrasha Park there is a modern sculpture known as the Statue of Faith. Beautiful carvings adorn it, but it’s location and shape are meant to convey as much as the engraving.

In OT times, Jaffa was Israel’s only port of any size. Consequently, it was the way for many people and products into, and from, the rest of Israel by means of the sea. On land, ancient cities were often walled and the city gate, this statue assuming the shape of the frame for such a gate, was the entry and exit point for such.

The huge, solid pillars, each being four meters in length, speak of strength. And the carvings depict the strength of faith in the mighty, acting God of Israel. The carvings in the pillar on the right in this photo represent Abraham and his binding Isaac for sacrifice (Genesis 22; notice the ram at the base of the pillar). The engravings on the pillar on the left portrays Jacob’s dream of the ladder to heaven (Genesis 28). And the cross-piece on top, the lintel, depicts the conquering of Jericho by Joshua and the Israelites (Joshua 6). God’s promise first made to Abraham flowed through Isaac, and Jacob, and began to be realized through Joshua.

journey through James (13): twenty questions on James 2:14-26

This coming Sunday morning at MoSt Church, most of our adult classes will study James 2:14-26. We’ll use this phrase to focus our mind on the meaning of this passage: replacing the emptiness of foolishness with the fullness of faithfulness. To help you get ready for this encounter with God’s word and our discussion of it, here is the text and twenty questions with which to wrestle.

My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.

Someone might claim, “You have faith and I have action.” But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action. It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear. Are you so slow? Do you need to be shown that faith without actions has no value at all? What about Abraham, our father? Wasn’t he shown to be righteous through his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? See, his faith was at work along with his actions. In fact, his faith was made complete by his faithful actions. So the scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and God regarded him as righteous. What is more, Abraham was called God’s friend. So you see that a person is shown to be righteous through faithful actions and not through faith alone. In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute shown to be righteous when she received the messengers as her guests and then sent them on by another road? As the lifeless body is dead, so faith without actions is dead. (James 2:14-26 CEB)

1. What statement in this passage is most striking to you? Why?

2. Make a list of what this passage specifically says faith without faithful activity is good for or like.

3. “Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat.” (vs.15) What does this passage have to say about the common teaching today known as the “health and wealth gospel” (i.e. prosperity gospel, name-it-and-claim-it gospel, etc.)?

4. Who is responsible for meeting the physical needs of the Christian poor?

5. What other passages in James come to mind when you read the illustration of benevolence? (vs.15-16)

6. “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!” (vs. 16) What are some modern, roughly equivalent statements you use when you say something to, but do nothing for, someone you see in need?

7. “Faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity” (vs. 17), but is faith necessarily alive when there is activity? Suppose a very active Christian friend confides in you that while they’re doing many good things in Christ’s name, their faith in Christ has faded and at times even appears to be nonexistent. They’re deeply troubled by this. In light of this passage in James, what can you say to them?

8. How are you guilty of sometimes hoping for or expecting faith to be seen without your actions (vs.18)?

9. To what does James have reference and what does he mean by the phrase “God is one?” (vs.19a)

10. Should we, as Christians, “tremble” as the demons do (vs.19b)? Why or why not? As you answer, consider the fact that this is the occurrence in the NT of the Greek word translated here as “tremble”.

11. Aside from James’ statement here that “the demons believe …” (vs.19), what other NT texts would lead you to believe such?

12. “… faith without actions has no value at all.” (vs. 20b) Honestly, is there a part of you that disagrees with this statement? Why or why not?

13. Are you “righteous?” Are you “God’s friend?” (vs.23) Interact at heart level with these statements.

14. Recount as much as you can of the story of Abraham offering Isaac on the altar. Having done so, compare your recollection with the Biblical account in Genesis 22. What parts did you leave out, forget, or get wrong?

15. As you did with the preceding question, do the same with the account of Rahab receiving the spies (Joshua 2).

16. Compare and contrast Abraham (vs.21-24) and Rahab (vs.25).

17. Many Biblical personalities expressed obvious faith again and again. And so, of all the personalities James could have drawn from, and of all the incidents in their lives, why do you suppose he selected Abraham and Rahab to drive home his point that faith without works is dead? What personalities would you have selected and what incidents in their lives?

18. Some say what James says here about faith contradicts what Paul says about faith in Romans and Galatians. What is your impression?

19. Responding from this passage, how would you respond to someone who read this passage and said, “So then, if a person does what’s good, God owes them salvation?”

20. “What good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it?” (vs.14) In what areas of your life do you keenly sense you need to do a better job of showing your faith? How can we pray for you in these areas?