links to the land


Gezer: Gezer Excavations Uncover Previously Unknown Canaanite City

“The finds demonstrate that the residents of this 14th-century B.C.E. city were Canaanites with strong ties with Egypt. During the Late Bronze Age, Gezer and other cities in the southern Levant were under the reign of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty. … According to the Bible, Gezer, which had been captured by an Egyptian pharaoh, was given to the Israelite king Solomon as a wedding gift when he married the pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kings 9:15–16). In the Biblical account, Solomon was said to have built walls around Gezer as well as Jerusalem, Hazor and Megiddo.”

Magdala & mikveh: Mikveh at Magdala

“Last week I posted on the discovery of the 1st century synagogue at Magdala. Of interest there was the discovery of two mikva’ot (plural of mikveh). A mikveh was used by the Jews for ritual purification (not for bathing; they would bathe first).”

Maps: Barrington Atlas Coming to iPads

“… Princeton University Press will release an iPad app version of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World next month. Release date is scheduled for November 21. The cost: only $19.95. For some comparison, the print publication runs $250-$400 via Amazon and lists at $400 at Princeton University’s website. … Upon its print publication in 2000, the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World was hailed by the New York Times as ‘the best geography of the ancient world ever achieved.'”

Mount Nebo: The Cross-Shaped Bronze Serpent at Mount Nebo, Jordan

“To stand at Mt Nebo looking across the Jordan Valley to Jericho is a great experience. There across the river is the Promised Land that typologically symbolizes the Kingdom of God, the hope of the Christian.”

Nemea: Nemea — A Marvelous “PanHellenic” Site to be Closed — I Weep

“Nemea is located only  11.6 mi. southwest of Corinth. There, one of the four PanHellenic festivals was held every two years in the stadium of Nemea. The other locations of these festivals were Delphi, Isthmia, and Olympia. Nemea has been well-excavated and presented to the public.  Its museum is outstanding for the extraordinary finds, and their presentation, contain therein.  It is a shame that this place is slated for closing (!#$%@!)  as the Greek government tries to balance its budget.”

links to the land


1 Peter & Turkey: Sinope — a Church of 1 Peter in Northern Turkey?

“Bithynia, Paphlagonia, and Pontus were regions along the southern shore of the Black Sea that were merged into the Roman senatorial province of Bithyna et Pontus.  Jews from this region were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9) and on Paul’s Second Journey Paul, Silas, and Timothy “… attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (Acts 16:7). From 1 Peter 1:1 we learn that Peter addressed Jewish believers in this province as he wrote his epistle and it is probable the Silvanus carried the letter to churches in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 5:4). Sinope was a major city in this area …”

Bible study, Google Earth & Google Maps: * Google Maps Exercise for Biblical Geography; * Google Earth Exercise for Biblical Geography

* “Google Maps is an outstanding (and free) resource for experiencing the lands virtually. To help those who are not fully familiar with the features in Google Maps, I composed a brief exercise to help students see what is possible, especially as it pertains to biblical geography. In the exercise, step by step directions are provided …”

* “I’ve now prepared another exercise for learning how to use Google Earth. Google Maps has incorporated some features of Google Earth and vice versa, but there are features in Earth that remain unique and particularly helpful for biblical studies.”

Clay pots: Treasures in Clay Jars

“The coins were buried in clay jars for safe keeping, often in times of warfare or instability. Coins were also hoarded for ritual purposes as votive offerings.”

Copper, Ezion-geber, Solomon & Timna: * Copper Production in the Time of Solomon; * Solomon’s Seaport at Ezion-geber

* “The Bible does not say that Solomon had copper mines at Ezion-geber, but the presence of mining facilities dating to the 10th century B.C. indicates that this may have been one of the reasons why the King built a port and had a navy stationed there (1 Kings 9:26-28).”

* “The cedar from Lebanon was brought by sea to Joppa for the building of Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 2:16). But that port was not adequate to meet Israel’s needs. Scripture informs us that Solomon built a fleet of ships at Ezion-geber.”

links: this went thru my mind


Christianity: The Top 20 Countries Where Christianity is Growing the Fastest

“Are you surprised to see that 19 of the countries in the top 20 are in Asia and Africa? Did you notice 11 countries on the top 20 list are Muslim majority countries? Did you catch that not a single country from Europe, Northern America or Latin America makes the top 20 list?”

Civility, hate, Obama, President, racism & respect: Hating President Obama [required reading]

“I know many people who not only hate President Obama, but are proud of doing so.”

Corporal punishment, parenting & spanking: Random Thoughts on Spanking or not Spanking as a Parent

“To spank or not to spank…that’s probably one of the most frequent debates I have heard about parenting. Parents ask me frequently for my opinion on the issue. It is an important, but seldom talked about by those who teach on parenting.”

Culture, death, funerals, grief & mourning: * How Culture Stops Mourners From Healing; * How to Plan for Death

* “Our death denying culture continues to send the message to mourners that the healthiness of an individual’s grief is to be measured by how quickly and proficiently the mourner ‘gets over’ the loss and moves into a productive life. … The problem is that our society considers talk about death and grief as morbid and taboo. Living in an atmosphere where grief emotions and mourning are stifled we mourners sometimes feel forced to carry unexpressed grief and unresolved issues concerning a loss throughout our lives.”

* “As most people know, your death doesn’t only affect you; it affects everyone that you surround yourself with, and it’s important that you leave this world on good terms. There are many ways to make amends with your loved ones before passing, but of these things are a few that stand out above the rest.”

Demographics, Hispanics/Latinos: Mapping the Latino Population, By State, County and City

“Today, the 100 largest counties by Hispanic population contain 71% of all Hispanics. … But the share of all Hispanics who live in these same counties has fallen from 75% in 2000 and 78% in 1990 … reflecting Hispanic population growth outside of these 100 counties. … Half (52%) of those counties are in three states—California, Texas and Florida. Along with Arizona, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, these eight states contain three-quarters (74%) of the nation’s Latino population.”

Denominations: Denominational Diversity in North America: Why Are There So Many Denominations? [required reading]

“Why do denominations form? Why are there so many of them? These are complex questions with even more complex answers. Every denomination has its own unique mix of factors that influenced its origins. At the risk of over-simplifying, we can identify several of these factors that led to many denominations …”

Earth & geography: Another ‘Grand Canyon’ Discovered Beneath Greenland’s Ice

“Scientists reported Thursday that they’ve discovered a vast canyon, twice as long as the Grand Canyon. It carves a deep scar from the center of the world’s largest island out to the coast. And, oh … it’s buried beneath as much as two miles of ice. Yes, we’re talking about icy Greenland.”

God: Thinking about God Makes Me Just Want to Keep My Mouth Shut [required reading]

“I think this is what God laughing at us looks like.”

Grace: Max Lucado Goes Overboard on Grace

“The apostle Paul never seemed to exhaust the topic of grace—what makes us think we can? He just kept coming at it and coming at it from another angle. That’s the thing about grace. It’s like springtime. You can’t put it in a single sentence definition, and you can’t exhaust it. No other philosophy or religion has anything quite like this idea that God takes the initiative and comes after us—not just to save us, but also to sustain us.”

Income tax & poverty: 43% Pay No Federal Income Taxes

“The majority this year — nearly 67% — have incomes below $30,000. … A misconception about those who end up owing no federal income taxes — especially those with low incomes — is that they pay no taxes at all. In fact, most pay payroll taxes to support Medicare and Social Security as well as sales taxes and state and local taxes.”

Prayer: 6 Ways to Pray the Lord’s Prayer

“Use it as a model. … Pray the prayer word for word. … Set aside certain times to pray the prayer. … Pray it with others. … Pray it in private. … Designate a certain part of the prayer to pray each day.”

Tradition: * Tradition: Chronological Snobbery [required reading]; * Restoring The Future

* “I’m part of a movement called Churches of Christ, and if you think back on the history of Churches of Christ or the Restoration Movement, you will see we effectively married ourselves to the Spirit of the age, only we were unaware of it at the time. This is why churches that are planted in different parts of the country and the world look so very similar to a 1970′s Texas or Oklahoma Church of Christ…even if they are in California in 2013. We tied our theology to our methodology, and kept answering the questions that people were asking back in 1970, even if no one was asking those same questions today. And this is mostly because we didn’t allow any Church Tradition to guide us.”

* “Some get stuck in the past. Others get stuck in the present. Paul wants his friend in Philippi to keep looking ahead.”

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.”

this went thru my mind


ApologeticsA New Kind of Apologetics by Scot McKnight

“Perhaps it is wise to remember that apologetics tell us about the Age in which we live as much as they provide a coherent reason for the faith.”

Association: Going Outside the Camp: The Holiness of Standing With the Losers by Richard Beck

“This is the disgrace of being outside the camp. The disgrace of being a loser and standing with losers. But when we go outside the camp to stand with the losers there we find the body and blood of Jesus, the sacrifice that makes us pure, holy and clean.”

Bible archaeology & geographySeven Wonders of Israel by Todd Bolen

“Seven wonders of Israel were selected last year in an online vote sponsored by an Israeli television station.”

Death: Funeral Lessons: Things You Learn or Relearn When a Close Loved One Dies by Joe McKeever

“… lessons you learn or get reinforced in family funerals that you might otherwise miss.”

Emotions & leadership: * 5 Hidden Emotions of Many Leaders by Ron Edmonson; * How to Disarm Your Inner-Critic by Dan Rockwell

* “Wouldn’t it be easier if we dropped the game playing and revealed the true emotions we have in leadership? Call me a Snitch if you want, but I’m breaking the silence. Be honest if you can often identify with this any of these hidden emotions.”

* “I live with an inner critic who loves pointing out my faults, failures, and shortcomings. I’m never good enough … my inner fault-finder never shows me the path to success and happiness. He yells, but he never yells, ‘Go Dan! You can do it.'”

Evangelism: * Creating a Vision for Evangelism by Matt Dabbs; * Positive Evangelism, a series of posts by Paul Smith – parts one, two, threefour, and five [required reading]

* “We have been doing our Church Steps program for one month as of this week. Here is an update on what has happened so far.”

Generational differences, harmony & leadership: * Gen-Xers and Religion by Michelle Boorstein; * The Keurig Generation vs. Church Leaders by Mark Woodward

* “Generation X-ers — people born between 1965 and 1972 — are bucking previous demographic trends by becoming less religiously affiliated and less Republican even as they’ve aged, according to one of the biggest surveys of American religiosity.”

* “… people love having all those choices … [and] church leaders tend to resist lots of choices. If you have tension in your church between elders and ministers and/or leaders and members, chances are good that it has to do with those who want choices and those who don’t.”

Grace & graciousness: Wanted: Moments of Grace by Jim Martin

“Consider the people you are with today. Your family. Co-workers. The lady at the bank. If they are human, they will make -mistakes. What if I didn’t roll my eyes. What if I didn’t roll my eyes behind my eyes. … What if I simply showed grace.”

Outreach, evangelism & communityBelonging: Outreach is Not the Same as Belonging by Ed Cyzewski

“I had conversations with four neighbors the other day that I’ve yet to meet. … To think I took all of these classes in seminary and at different churches in order to learn how to “reach out to my neighbors.” What a waste of time and money. A garden and a little generosity was all I needed in order to be a normal member of my neighborhood.”

ParentingWhy Stay-at-Home Moms Are More Depressed Than Working Moms by Ellen Morgan Peltz

” A new Gallup poll found that stay-at-home moms are more likely than moms who are employed outside the home to feel negative emotions such as worry, sadness, stress and anger on a daily basis, as well as to have been diagnosed with clinical depression. … financial strain and lack of appreciation as the two leading causes for the negative emotions of stay-at-home moms. … In other words, the average stay-at-home mom is more likely to be a woman who stays home because she needs to, not because she wants to.”

Vision: * Why Vision Matters by Michael Hyatt; * Making Vision Stick by Andy Stanley

* “When times are tough, vision is the first casualty. Before conditions can improve, it is the first thing we must recover.”

* ” I found Andy Stanley’s book Making Vision Stick extremely helpful in understanding how to get an organization to catch and maintain a vision. This goes beyond forging mission statements and having meetings. This book gets to the core of leadership itself. “

this went thru my mind


Assumptions: Better to Ask than Assume by Rubel Shelly

“Lots of confusion could be eliminated and far more progress made this week by following this simple rule: When something isn’t clear, ask. Don’t assume. Don’t guess. Don’t mind-read. Trying swallowing your pride and saying, ‘I’m not sure I understand. Do you mind explaining that to me?'”

Bible geography & interpretation: Studying the Land by Wayne Stiles

“Studying historical geography, in my own experience, has permanently marked my life and changed the way I understand the Bible.”

Church & self: Church as Self-mortification? by Richard Beck

“A big part of church is learning to say No to yourself.”

Church leadership & successWhy Are So Many Church Leaders Falling? by Shawn Lovejoy

“Here’s my basic conclusion: the main reason so many of us are struggling stems from our basic definition of success. Our root problem is that we have exchanged God’s definition of success for our own. We have begun to measure success the way the world does.”

Church membership: Leaving Church … for Another Church by K. Rex Butts

“… the reasons for which we leave one church for another is a luxury that only a culture of affluence, division, and denominations can afford!”

Reading: Top 10 Most Read Books in the World [infographic; I’ve currently only read #1, #9, and #10]

“Based on number of books printed and sold over the last 50 years.”

Shopping: Skip Impulse Buys with a 30-Day List

“Take a minute to create a 30-day list, and every time you want to buy something that’s not absolutely necessary … put it on the list with the date it was added to the list. Make a rule never to buy anything (except necessities) unless they’ve been on the list for 30 days.”

Spiritual growth: How Spiritual Growth Really Happens by Brian Jones

“A Christian taking credit for growing closer to God is like a rooster taking credit for the sun coming up in the morning. Bible study, worship, prayer, etc., are all vital parts of the Christian journey and powerfully aid in creating the context in which God can draw near to us. However, in the vast majority of instances God makes himself known to us in spite of what we try to do, not because of it.”

this went through my mind

Bible translation: Ben Witherington interviews N.T. Wright regarding the upcoming publication of Wright’s translation of the New Testament in his post entitled Tom Wright’s ‘Kingdom New Testament.’

Complaining: Trey Morgan’s post entitled Ten Reasons I Don’t Like People Who Complain is good stuff.

Division: Whether or not you’re a regular reader of matters pertaining to the Civil War, you’ll learn from Bill J. Leonard’s post entitled Slavery and Denominational Schism.

Geography: David Escaped to the Cave of Adullam by Ferrell Jenkins.

Humor: The hot weather had me thinking about snow and what should appear in my Google Reader, but some of my favorites from Calvin & Hobbes. Enjoy.

PoliticsIf God Got Elected  is so true and Reconsidering the “Texas Miracle” is so sadly true.

Parenting: Brandon O’Brien’s review of Kara Powell and Chap Clark’s book Sticky Faith is entitled Can Parents Make Faith Last? Brandon says: “The bulk of the book … is dedicated to offering parents and church leaders who work with children and teens wise practical counsel for helping instill in their kids a faith that sticks (hence “sticky”).

Salvation: Dan Bouchelle’s post entitled You Can’t “Obey the Gospel” by Yourself is required reading.

Self-care: Self-care is a Gift to Another by Jim Martin.

Speech: Rhetoric Isn’t a Bad Thing – 16 Rhetorical Devices Regularly Used by Steve Jobs.