links to the land


Ashdod: Picture of the Week: Ashdod

“This site was occupied by Israel’s most notorious neighbor, was a flourishing city 100 acres in size, and was once a resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. Yet this site is hardly (if ever) visited by tourists in Israel today. … the Philistine city of Ashdod.”

Benjamin Plateau & Nebi Samwil: The Benjamin Plateau

“… the most important aspect of the land of Benjamin was location. Anybody traveling to or from Jerusalem from the west, north or east must go through this land, and in particular, they must pass through the Benjamin Plateau.”

Carchemish: Excitement at Carchemish

“Excavations are right on a military zone with 55 hectares in Turkey and 35 in Syria.”

Israel trip: 7 Ways Your Holy Land Tour Will Stay with You for Years

“A Holy Land tour exposes us to the context of the Bible in a way we never imagined. We gain a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the Word of God. And God uses Scripture to change us.”

James ossuary: * The James Box Has been Freed!; * Public Will Be Able to See Limestone Box That May Have Been Casket for Jesus’ Brother

* “… the James Ossuary, after a ten year battle, has finally been returned to Oded Golan, its rightful owner.”

* “The stone burial box bearing the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” has been hidden from public view at the Israel Antiquities Authority since 2003.”

Rome: Tour Ancient Rome

[5 min. video]

Swine: Who’d Import Pigs to Israel? Ancient Europeans, Researchers Say

“… Israeli researchers involved in a lengthy project whose goal is to reconstruct ancient Israel have now established that the pigs here are of European stock, unlike their Middle Eastern counterparts elsewhere in the region, and that they probably arrived with the non-kosher Philistines about 3,000 years ago.”

Caesarea Maritima: the amphitheatre/hippodrome (6)



The finish line for the chariot races conducted in the amphitheatre/hippodrome in Caesarea Maritima was on the east side, near its southern end. To be precise, it was located directly in front of the dignitaries’ tribune (the VIP seating area). That area is pictured in the photograph above. Not visible here, but quite close to this seating (toward the right side of this photograph) is where a shrine stood with images of various gods and/or goddesses. And it is quite likely that it was on this very spot that Herod Agrippa I, a grandson of Herod the Great and king over all Palestine from 37-44 A.D., met his end.

We have both a secular record (Josephus) and a Scriptural account (Acts 12.21-23) of the death of Herod Agrippa I. The two accounts go well with each other. Josephus tells us:

“After his seventh year of rule, Agrippa came to Caesarea to celebrate games in honor of Caesar. At daybreak he entered the theater, dressed in a garment of woven silver which gleamed in the rays of the rising sun. His flatterers started addressing him as a god, but then he looked up and saw an owl perched on a rope overhead was struck with intense pain. ‘I, whom you called a god,’ he cried, ‘am now under sentence of death!’ Five days later he died, at age 54.”

Luke’s account in Acts 12.21-23 reads:

“On the scheduled day Herod dressed himself in royal attire, seated himself on the throne, and gave a speech to the people. Those assembled kept shouting, over and over, ‘This is a god’s voice, not the voice of a mere human!’ Immediately an angel from the Lord struck Herod down, because he didn’t give the honor to God. He was eaten by worms and died.”

It was this Herod, Herod Agrippa I, who executed the apostle James and who had the apostle Peter arrested.

journey through James: what really stuck with me this time through (20)


As our three-month Journey Through James comes to a close today, let me share three of the things that were reinforced in my head this time through his letter.

1. You can hear Jesus everywhere in Scripture. It’s hard to read a single paragraph in James and not be reminded of some statement made by Jesus or some experience involving him. Perhaps that’s not surprising since the James who wrote this letter is most likely the Lord’s half-brother. But then again, the more familiar you are with the Christ of the Gospels, the more you’ll recall his life and hear his voice wherever you find yourself reading in Scripture. I need to see and hear my Lord at work wherever I am and it’s been so very good to see and hear him so easily and often in James.

2. Everything is to be handled with prayer. While there are several direct references to prayer scattered throughout James’ letter, it’s hard to read a section and not see prayer indirectly involved in some fashion or form. To me, it’s as if prayer is the subtle watermark that shadows the vocabulary and subjects of the whole document. And with James’ letter being about boldly living out Christian faith in the midst of any and all circumstances, particularly in those settings that are anything but comfortable, wouldn’t we expect prayer to take such a prominent place? My whole life needs to saturated with prayer and I appreciate James subtly, and not so subtly, reminding me so.

3. Our relationships reveal our real religion. There’s little room in James’ mind for Christian faith lived all to itself. No, if James is about anything it’s about our life together as a community of faith. How we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ is how treat the Christ. If we complain against, deceive, dishonor, neglect, or break faith with others, James would have us see that we’re doing these things to God. God dearly loves the people against whom we are guilty of doing these things and he surely doesn’t take kindly to our mistreatment of them. My respect and care for my kin in Christ are crucial to the health of my faith and the health of the community of faith and I thank God for using James to hold me accountable for such.

I do hope you’ve found our time together in James profitable. A masterful, mature teacher of Christ he is and diligent, dedicated disciples of Christ he would have us be. To that end, may God give us grace for the journey until the end of our days. Amen.

Question: what was impressed on your heart as you “journeyed through James?”

the CEB blog tour begins!

Would you like a shot at receiving a free Bible? Keep reading!

Most of you know the Common English Bible (CEB) has been my go-to Bible for personal use as well as ministry for the past year. The CEB is the most recent committee-based translation of the Scriptures. It’s the product of serious scholarship and marvelously achieves its goals of being both accurate and accessible. It’s a translation children and adults alike can truly share. It’s freshness in rendering makes it a true pleasure to read for both newbies to Scripture and those of us who are quite familiar with the Bible. The more you read it, the more you’ll like it. More importantly, the more you read it the more you’ll understand Scripture. You owe it to yourself to learn more about this translation and to become very familiar with it. It would make a fine gift to give, or receive, this Christmas! Hint, hint.

And that’s one reason, starting today, you’ll see me participating in the CEB’s Thank You-Come Again-I Promise blog tour. That means you’ll see daily posts here from now until the end of January dealing with a variety of texts and topics, all of which will spotlight the Common English Bible.

So how do I get my free Bible?,” you ask. Simple. The publishers of the CEB are enabling me, and all of the participant writers for this blog tour, to give away a free CEB every week. You’ll have a shot at receiving a copy by being the first to leave an encouraging or helpful comment on any of my daily posts from today through the tour’s conclusion at the end of January. Be the first to end your comment with the statement “I’d like one CEB to go, please” and you’ll receive your free Bible, no strings attached. Sorry, no repeat winners. If you’re the winner one week, all you’ll need to do to receive your Bible is to send me your name, postal address, and e-mail address so I can pass it along to the CEB publishers. They’ll be the ones who mail your free Bible to you.

Finally, a few brief notes regarding upcoming postings here.

Since this is National Bible Week, this week’s CEB blog tour posts will deal specifically with the Common English Bible, its creation, content, and more. You’ll find this interesting.

Our daily devotional posts in our Journey Thru James will conclude this coming Sunday (Nov. 27). What a blessing this reflective walk with James has been for me and I pray it has been the same for you!

MoSt Church‘s winter Bible class quarter study in the Psalms – Prayers of the Heart – will begin on Sun., Dec. 4 and will run through the end of February. Watch for weekly posts here in connection with this study as we seek the answer to this question: “How can I truly grow in my understanding and practice of prayer?

MoSt Church’s church-wide Bible reading project for 2012Uncommon Truth for Common People (UTCP) – will start up on Mon., Jan. 2. You’ll find posts here supplementing the UTCP reading project most weekdays throughout 2012. I’ll make note here on my site as soon as I learn that the companion Bible for this project has come off the press, the Common English Daily Companion Bible.

Remember, be the first to comment with “I’d like one CEB to go, please” and you’ll receive a free Bible.