Month: May 2018

Raising of the cross by Peter Paul Ruben (1577-1640) Credit: Wikipedia

A 2,000 year old skeleton discovered showing evidence of crucifixion

Though the Bible and several other ancient historical documents talk about crucifixion as a brutal form of Roman execution, there has been very little archaeological evidence found of this ancient practice. However, a group of Italian researchers discovered that a skeleton of man uncovered in Northern Italy in 2007 was probably crucified. If this proves correct, it will be only the second example found revealing the brutal form of punishment used by the Romans to execute criminals. The first one was found in 1968 while excavating a Jerusalem cemetery connected  with the second Jewish temple (2 BC t0 70 Ad). In an ossuary used to store the bones of the deceased, they discovered a man with a nail in his heel. There was also a fragment from the olive tree used for the cross attached to the nail. Because the metal nails were so valuable, the Roman typically pulled them out after the person had died. This is part of the reason, it is difficult to determine if a person was crucified. In this case, …

Flags flying at half mast after the killings in Santa Fe, Texas on May 18, 2018. Credit: Terry Hammonds/Flickr/Creative Commons

Sometimes Christian heroes die: The story of Christian ‘Riley’ Garcia and the Santa Fe shooting

“Be still and know I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV) This powerful verse talks about the sovereignty of God in the midst of utter chaos and destruction. This was the verse that high school student Christian “Riley” Garcia, 15, wrote on a two by four of the house his family was constructing just days before he died. He took a selfie of himself beside the verse. A few days later on May 18, 2018, fellow-student Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, allegedly armed with a shotgun and hand gun walked into Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, 30 miles Southwest of Houston, and began shooting. By the time it was over 10 people were dead and 10 others injured. Riley Garcia was one of those brutally murdered. But according to students at the school, Riley died a hero. When the shooting started several students ran into a nearby closet that connected to the arts classroom. When the killer came to the door, …

The 12 Apostles is a collection of 12 limestone stacks jutting out of the ocean on the southern coast of Australia Credit: Pablo Fernandez/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Ministry of an Apostle — Part 2

[by David Wells] In the first section of this teaching on the ministry of the Apostle, I taught on the need for church structure to return to the pattern described in the New Testament, including the restoration and full functioning of the apostolic ministry. I examined the purposes, foundational nature and vital necessity of apostolic ministry in church life, as well as the different realms of apostleship and the qualifications of apostles. In this section, we will explore the role and function of apostles more fully, as well as address questions concerning the nature of apostolic authority, with an understanding of the interdependent cooperation between apostles and churches. Function of an Apostle An apostle is one who takes the gospel to unreached areas: “And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build upon another man’s foundation”. (Romans 15:20) A true apostle is a traveler not a settler. In Scripture, we see that apostles traveled and planted churches. A sense of timing is important, and we …

Credit: Timo Luege/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is the Spirit of Jezebel rearing its painted face again?

Evan Vickers, a Republican senator from Utah, was staying at a hotel in Washington, DC, when there was a knock on his door. When he opened it, he found a young woman standing in front of him. In an interview with KSTU-TV, Vickers told what happened next: “I opened the door and there was a young lady standing there and she said ‘Hi,’ and I said, ‘Hi,’ who are you?” And she said, ‘I’m your date.’ I said, ‘No, you’re not.’ She said, ‘Yes, I’m your date.’” The woman would not leave and insisted several times she was his date. When Vickers refused to go along with it, the young woman eventually walked to the elevator still claiming she was his date. Vickers returned to his room, locked the door, and called for an associate to accompany him.  It is uncertain what was going on but there is speculation that the woman was trying to entrap the senator. He warned other politicians to be careful. Several years ago a prominent pastor of a very large …

Canada and US Friendship Center in Havre, Montana Credit: James. G. Howes/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

The Truth and Havre, Montana

Recently, an US border patrol agent stopped two women at a convenience store in Havre, Montana and asked for their IDs. The women were not happy about this and made a video of their conversation with a cell phone. The officer was polite and explained that he stopped the women because they were speaking Spanish, and the Spanish language was almost never spoken in the region. This story went viral for a few days, and the women are still angry and they are talking about legal action. RELATED: They Spoke Spanish in a Montana Store. Then a Border Agent Asked for Their IDs: New York Times In the articles by journalists, there have been many comments about the lack of ethnic diversity in Montana and that everyone speaks English, as if that is offensive. There are also hints that Havre is a small backwater where police stop people, in an offensive way, because they are “different” from the natives. The word “redneck” fits that narrative. The story is popular because it fits a popular narrative …

Peter healing the lame man by Raphael (1483-1520) Credit: Wikipedia/Creative Commons/{{PD-US}}

Stepping into Christ’s authority

I remember standing with my sister-in-law around the counter in my niece’s kitchen. My niece who was fighting a rare form of cancer was worn out from the many rounds of chemotherapy and treatments to help battle this disease. These were desperate times, and her life was literally hanging in the balance. She had made a commitment to God when she was fourteen at a Bible Camp. And now, with the diagnoses of cancer she had renewed her commitment once again. I asked if I could pray for her adding that I wanted put my hands on her shoulders and her head as I did so.   There was no argument from her and I could see that her heart was prepared to receive from God. I was nervous about it and had sensed a few days earlier that I would pray for her. It was what God was asking of me and I knew it. But still there were questions. Who was I to lay my hands on her and pray boldly for her healing …

St Bartholomew's Church in Berchtesgadener Land, in Bavaria, Germany. As one of the 12 Apostles, Bartholomew is considered the Apostle to Germany as it is believed he was the first to bring the gospel to that country. Credit: Nuno Vilela/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Ministry of the Apostle — Part 1

[by Dave Wells] The days in which we are living are not normal times. We are beginning to move into a season of the greatest outpouring of the power of the Holy Spirit and the greatest harvest of souls in all of Christian history. The beginning of the last century was characterized by great moves of God. This century will be the same. In light of this, the church of Jesus Christ cannot just continue with “business as usual”. If our church structure does not conform to a New Testament model, we will be blown out of the water by what is coming. “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” (Acts 3:19-21) We have experienced times of refreshing that have …

Palestine Credit: rainwiz/Flickr/Creative Commons

Who belongs in Palestine — Jews or Muslims?

When we talk of Palestine, we immediately think of the Palestinians, a group of Muslims, who are fighting to be recognized as a separate nation. Israel has basically opposed this initiative for one simple reason — one of the leading political groups in Palestine, Hamas, stated in its 1988 covenant that one of its goals is the annihilation of Israel: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).” Israel is unwilling to accept Palestine as nation until they are willing to accept Israel as a nation. But what does the word Palestine refer to? Most believe it was a word the Roman developed to describe the ancient Philistines who have have since disappeared. Based on this belief, modern Palestinians have claimed this area as their homeland. However, modern scholarship is challenging this notion. There is strong evidence that the word Palestine was originally used to refer to Israel, not the Philistines. In an article published …

Credit: Tamara Leaver/Flickr/Creative Commons

Unlocking your future

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote: 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:19 NIV) It is a powerful verse when we understand that we are God’s handiwork, literally God’s work of art. But the kicker here is that there are things, good works, that God has prepared and called you to do. The tense of the Greek word prepared (proetoimasen) means that the decision about what God wants you to do was made long before (well in advance of)  your salvation. God has a long-term plan for your life. When you look in the Old Testament, you see examples of this. The prophet Isaiah understood that God had called him to a prophetic ministry while Isaiah was still in the womb: Listen to me, you islands;     hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me;     from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. 2 He made my mouth like a …

Credit: Joe Bustillos/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is God beginning to move in the music industry?

A couple of different stories caught my attention this past week, though unrelated, they both have a God connection. The first involved an article on Christian Post (CP) about this year’s American Idol where the final five performers in the singing competition are all Christians. And they are anointed as well and this is not just my opinion, but that of the American Idol judges. Though Michael Woodward did not move on to the final three, his song “Still I Arise” very much affected the judges. Pop superstar Katy Perry who was in tears before Woodward’s song was finished said, “I mean, you’re anointed. I thought I had my emotions removed. It’s so beautiful what I just saw between you and your mother.” Fellow judge Lionel Ritchie echoed the comments added, “You are anointed, my friend.” Woodward comes from a Christian home where his grandmother and mother both impacted him spiritually. According to CP, his mother, Wanda, has a Christian program that she broadcasts weekly live on Facebook.  And his grandmother raised Michael on Gospel …

Credit: EBCanon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 3

Here is one of the best secrets for managing your generosity and giving of money: Don’t. If you spend any time among religious people, you will be asked for money. When I go to church on Sunday, there is always an offering, a time when all other business stops and the ushers collect money from us. I have lived with this all my life and I have an acquired immunity, but some people who come with me are offended and disoriented. What will God think about them if they don’t give enough? So, don’t give. The exercise will be good for you. Yesterday I was walking in the mall. It’s not really my place but I had a meeting with someone. At an intersection in the walkways, I saw a display booth with two young women looking hopeful. They represented one of those Christian charities that sponsor children and they were looking for sponsors. I won’t name the organization, but there are several and they do very good work. What bothered me was all the …

Youth Park, Bucharest, Romania Credit: Sorin Mutu/Flickr/Creative Commons

Seeing our reflection in others

Just before we shut the TV off a few nights ago, we watched a few minutes of Les Miserables, the story of Jean Valjean. In the last scene as he enters heaven, Jean, reminded of the mercy shown him by an old priest, sings: “to love another person is to see the face of God.” Those words challenged me to look further into what this means and in my mind I have tied this to judging.  God commands us to not judge others or we will be judged. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said: 7 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2 NASV) The message Jesus was delivering is that we are all the same.  We are all created in the image of God, but after the fall of man we all have that same ugly, sinful nature. We are no different from the person we are …

Freshwind Band at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in March 2008 where the Toronto Revival broke out. Source: andrewgazaneo artwork by Sarah M Gazeno/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Justin Bieber’s mom Pattie Mallette ‘Travailing in the Spirit’?

Pattie Mallette may not be a familiar name to most of us, but her pop star son, Justin Bieber, is a household name in many parts of the world. In earlier articles, I have written about the remarkable spiritual transformation taking place in Justin’s life. Dale Hurd writing for Christ for All Nations tells the story about Pattie’s spiritual journey. Incredibly, it started at the Toronto revival, also called the Toronto Blessing, that broke out in a Vineyard Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in January 1994. The church originally called Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship has since been renamed Catch the Fire Toronto and is pastored by John and Carol Arnott. Pattie shared her journey to faith at the 2018 Light the Fire Again conference held at the same building, the Attwell Center, where the Toronto revival broke out. In the early 1990s, Pattie became a Christian in a hospital room shortly after a failed suicide attempt. She was led to the Lord and mentored by a couple who attended the Vineyard church where the revival …

Volcanic column of smoke on Hawaii's Big Island taken May 7, 2018 Credit: macprohawaii/US Geological Survey/Flickr/Public Domain

A near asteroid hit and volcanic eruption on Hawaii: Apocalyptic shots across the bow?

During the 18th century, if a naval ship was unable to recognize an oncoming vessel it would fire a warning shot in the general direction of the ship. Under the law of the sea, the ship receiving the shot was expected to hoist its flag so it could be recognized and respond with a shot of its own. It was form of rudimentary communication between ships. With modern communications equipment, the shot across the bow has taken on a more ominous tone. When naval vessels, such as the coast guard, are pursuing another vessel, they will perform a shot across the bow typically in front of the ship telling it to stop. The shot demonstrates that the fleeing ship is within range, sighted and more importantly the pursuing ship is willing to go the next step if it does not come to heel. One has to ask if the world just received a shot across the bow. According to the Bible’s apocalyptic literature, the end times will be marked by massive asteroids slamming into the …

Credit: Andrei Niemimäki/Flickr/Creative Commons

Don’t fear your mistakes

Several years back I was working on a small newspaper. We had just sent our most recent issue to the printer and the finished product had just arrived and someone brought a copy to my office. The typo on the front page was the first thing I saw when it landed on my desk. I don’t know how many times we had proofed that issue, but a mistake had somehow slipped through. And there it was glaring at me. Though it was years back I still remember the distinctive purple color that accentuated this particular cover. The last place you want to see a mistake is on the cover. After looking at it for several minutes, those feelings that had haunted me for years started welling up inside me. I needed to punish myself and say how stupid I was for allowing this mistake to happen. I didn’t think these thoughts, I said them out loud. Typically I yelled at myself how stupid I was when these type of things happened. I wanted to take …

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) Credit: Wikipedia

Are Apostles for today?

We have leaders today who refer to themselves as Apostles. Some even add the term as part of their title. It was part of the five key ministries that Paul listed as necessary for building the church: 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; (Ephesians 4:11-12 NASV) Traditionally non charismatic churches or cessationists have opposed the usage of ministries such as apostles and prophets and even spiritual gifts. Also called dispensationalism, those holding this view believed these ministries and spiritual gifts were for another dispensation, and not for today. It has always been a bit puzzling why ministries such as prophets and apostles were rejected while pastors, teachers and evangelists were embraced even though the five are listed together. However, that all changed with the Revival that took place in North Battleford, Saskatchewan Canada in 1948 where they rejected dispensationalism and restored …

Credit: Bernard Forand/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 2

Did you know that you are lazy? And me too, I can be included in that number. The basic nature of the human race is to always look for the easy way out, the softest cushion. We all have that affliction from childhood, and if you have learned to work hard, congratulations for resisting. Have you noticed how words like ‘luxury’ go with words like ‘ease’ and ‘relax?’ We don’t earn, we don’t learn, and we don’t manage, if we can find the couch first. That monster lives in all of us somewhere. The popular picture of success is doing nothing like some ancient European aristocrat supported by an army of serfs, and not a brave person climbing mount Everest with a gritty expression on their face. Did you also know that your life is a project, your family is a business and your church is a consortium? Everything requires diligent management. According to the Bible: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6) If ants could speak to …

Credit: Camilla Carlstrom/Flickr/Creative Commons

The judging stone

I recently attended a funeral for a friend of ours and I found out something about Bill I had never known before. About 40 years ago his wife first accepted Christ and her transformation brought Bill to a place of decision in his own life. But after becoming a Christian, he became very judgemental of family and friends. But, that all changed when one day he read a story from the Gospels. In the account, the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery. They asked Christ if she should be stoned for her sin according to the law of Moses. Christ responded: “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” – John 8:7 (NIV) After reading this, Bill went into their backyard, picked up a stone and put it in his pocket. He carried that stone with him for 38 years as a reminder that he had a sinful nature and could not cast the first stone of judgement.  I can picture him grabbing that stone whenever …

Despite living on a planet with 7.6 billion people, many still feel alone. Credit: Xynn Tii/Flickr/Creative Commons

Survey reveals the Gen Z generation is the loneliest group of people on earth

Earlier this month, Cigna, a global health company, released data it received based on a poll it conducted in February and March this year. Cigna wanted to find out how lonely people were and asked 20,000 Americans over the age of 18 a series of questions based on a 20-question loneliness scale developed by UCLA. This included questions asking if they had anyone to turn to or if the respondents felt like they were part of a group of friends. Based on their response, they were ranked between 20 (least lonely) to 80 (most lonely). When analyzing by age groups, Cigna discovered that the loneliest people on the planet were those referred to a Generation Z (between the ages of 18 to 22) who ranked 48. The least lonely were those over the age of 72 who scored 39. As an age-group, Generation Z was on par with another group, single parents, who despite having children similarly scored 48 in terms of loneliness. The average score for all Americans surveyed was 44 and revealed as …

An Israeli sunset Credit: Israel Nature Photographers/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does an ancient archaeological discovery tell us something about ‘spiritual warfare’?

There is a strange story in the Old Testament talking about a battle that took place between Israel and Moab. Found in 2 Kings 3, we are told that Israel had the kingdom of Moab in subjection. As a vassal, the Moabites paid an annual tax to Israel of 100,000 lambs and the wool from 100,000 sheep. The reason was obvious, we are told that Mesha, the King of Moab, was a breeder of sheep (verse 3) and had obviously developed a unique breed that was in demand. By this time, Israel had split apart into two nations, Samaria (Israel) and Judah. King Ahab of Israel had just died and King Mesha decided this was an opportune time to break free from Israel’s domination. Undoubtedly, Israel became aware of the problem when Mesha refused to pay the tribute. So Jehoram, the new King of Israel contacted King Jehoshaphat of Judah and an unnamed King of Edom to help Jehoram bring Moab back into submission. Obviously, it was in everyone’s best interest to keep Moab under …

Credit: Ajith Kumar/Flickr/Creative Commons

Did being caught up to Paul’s ‘Third Heaven’ lead to a miraculous recovery for brain dead teen?

The media describes him as the “Miracle Boy” from Mobile, Alabama. Two months ago, Trenton McKinley, 13, was in a trailer being pulled by a dune buggy when the person driving slammed on the brakes forcing the trailer to flip. They were driving on cement and Trenton was thrown out and the trailer landed on his head. Unconscious, he was rushed to hospital. By the time his mother, Jennifer Reindl, arrived, her son had been dead for 15 minutes. His heart kept stopping and they were rebooting it using adrenaline. According to Fox News, the doctors gave Trenton little hope adding that even if he came out of the coma he would be a vegetable because of oxidation. The only thing keeping him alive was life support. After going several days of registering no brain activity, the doctors finally told Jennifer there was nothing more that could be done. If his heart stopped again, they would not use adrenaline to restart it. One Saturday a few weeks back, the doctors told Jennifer they would keep …

Church in rural England Credit: Peter Smithson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 1

No one likes their first job, or at least we can complain about it later, when we learn how the world really works. I have my own horror story. Just when I turned 18, almost on my birthday, I started my first real job. I left high school early and started working in January, in a cold winter, with short days and not much sunlight. I was hired to drive a small truck for a parts department in a shop that repaired construction equipment. Every morning I got up early, ate something in a bowl, and hurried to a bus stop. The bus took me to a remote suburb, and then I walked several blocks and crossed a busy road into an industrial area, and after more walking, I hurried into my workplace to punch the time clock. Then I did janitorial work and drove the truck when ordered, and I hardly knew how to drive. Travel to and from work, on the bus, was in darkness for weeks, and the weather was severely cold. …

Blind burrowing mole rats find evidence of King David’s reign

With the help of burrowing mole rats, archaeologists have found more evidence of King David’s reign. When the moles dig into the ground, they deposit the unearthed dirt around their hole and archaeologists will sift through this dirt to see what lies deeper down. It was just such mounds that led to the discovery of the ancient city of Eglon, 30 miles south of Jerusalem, by Dr. Faust Yair Sapir of Bar-Ilan University. Mentioned in Joshua, it was one of five Amorite cities that formed a league to resist Israel. The cities were defeated and Eglon was incorporated into the Tribe of Judah. As they began their archaeological dig of the 15 acre site, they discovered evidence of its original Canaanite roots including a pottery bowl the Canaanites offered to their gods to protect their buildings. This along with radio carbon dating of coal and olive pits dated the original building to the 12th century BC. Then they noticed the building was later rebuilt into a design unique to ancient Jews consisting of a courtyard …

Credit: iacovibus/Flickr/Creative Commons

More than Trust

‘Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8 NIRV) I was reading this scripture one morning and found it interesting the words ‘trust’ and ‘entrust’ were both in this verse. This sent me on a little word study. The following definitions are from Collins English Dictionary: Trust – reliance on and confidence in the truth,worth,reliability of a person or thing; faith Entrust – to put into the care or protection of someone. I am familiar with learning to trust, but to entrust some situations or people completely into God’s care, is a bit more of a challenge for me. Entrust is an active verb. For example, I will entrust (put) you into God’s total care. It no longer belongs to me but to God. I release myself, the situation, or the person completely. However, I found there is a key to doing this. I must know God’s character; that …

The Black Church of Buoakirkja in Iceland Credit: David Soldano/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to argue with a “New Atheist”

A few years ago, a man I knew was diagnosed with cancer. He was older than me, and I think his health was not good. The cancer doctors used very aggressive treatments and his tumour began to shrink. His friends, including me, were happy about this because it seemed like he was going to beat the cancer. Then the bad news came. The treatment for cancer was so severe, it was killing him. The doctors were forced to stop the treatment to save his life, and the tumor started growing again. He knew he would die from the cancer, and he went to a hospice for palliative care, which means he went to a specialized hospital, and waited to die. And the end of his story is; he did die, after a few weeks. The palliative care unit was close to where I worked and I made a few lunch-time visits. He had visits from family members in the evenings. On my lunchtime work schedule, I had to walk several blocks and I could only …

Christian NBA star Jeremy Lin Credit: Christian/Flickr/Creative Commons

If God was willing to use Samson, the Lord will use you despite your imperfections

I have thought of writing this story for a while, and when I saw an article on a Christian NBA basketball star Jeremy Lin, I was inspired to write it. For those who don’t know, Jeremy Lin, 29, plays for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA. He has been an all-star basket ball player throughout much of his career and is the first NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. He has always floated under the radar. He was undrafted and came out of nowhere during New York Knicks’s 2012 season. The Knicks were having a terrible year and the coach was contemplating cutting Lin who had not seen any significant playing time. But after repeated losses and injuries to players, the coach decided to play Lin who stormed off the bench and many argue single handily turned the Knicks’s 2012 season around. When Jeremy scored 38 points in a game in February 2012, in an interview with ESPN NBA star Kobe Bryant said: “Players playing that well don’t usually come out of nowhere. It …