All posts filed under: Teaching

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Will you complete the transformation?

In Romans 12:1,2, the Apostle Paul makes a life-changing statement that believers are “transformed by the renewing of our mind.”  Though we are saved by faith, the transformation for the Christian takes place as we change the way we think. That word transformed is the Greek word ‘metamorphou’ from which we get the English word metamorphosis that describes the transformation that takes place when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. This transformation is a gradual process for a caterpillar. First it spins a cocoon and then in the safety of this container, the insect dissolves and the mixture of enzymes reform into a new creature – a butterfly. The two insects are so different they can no longer eat the same thing because its digestive system has completely changed — one chews on leaves and the other sucks nectar. Paul says the Christian must undergo a similar transformation. Unfortunately, we can’t spend a few days in a cocoon to complete this change. We are forced to learn on the job. Further, Paul tells us that …

A woman prays near the Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Credit: Jelle Drok/Flickr/Creative Commons

About Jerusalem

In recent years, I have been blessed to spend several weeks in the eternal city of Jerusalem. This is the only city on the earth which the LORD God of Israel declared, “In Jerusalem, I will put my name forever” (2 Kings 21:4-7). During my time in Israel, Psalm 122:6 was constantly before my eyes;  “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you.” Jerusalem is the most prayed for city in the universe.  At every meal, Jews pray the blessing, “Blessed are you, O LORD, who will build up Jerusalem in mercy.” Every Monday the Jews recite Psalm 48 from their Prayer Book; “Walk about Zion and go all around her” (verse 12). Jerusalem is a spiritual city (not sinless), set apart for a Holy God. Many days I spent just walking around Jerusalem and was constantly reminded of the  blessings connected with Israel that can only come from the true LORD God.  Indeed the peace of Jesus Christ is evident in the streets and there are places where one can …

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Has the church lost its message?

I was on a Christian website reading an article on Disney’s recent release of Beauty and the Beast that portrayed overtly homosexual scenes in a movie intended for children.  One person commented deriding and mocking the church’s failure to boycott the movie that was a box office success. Baited, several Christians responded some with vulgar comments condemning the person. One used the term “bum holer,” a comment that was later removed. To be honest, I felt a similar resentment towards this pro-gay commenter. I have been a Christians for years but a verse from the Gospel of John cited in a devotional I received recently caught my attention. I wondered if someone had just added this verse to the Bible in the last couple of years, because it seems so contrary to current Christian practice. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn (Greek krino) the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17 NIV) The Greek word ‘krino’ means to judge as the NASV translated it or to …

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Being centered: A personal struggle to belong

Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters. After studying his life for the past year, I have developed a love/hate relationship with this Old Testament hero, both for the same reasons. He stood faithful in God, no matter what happened. No matter who lied or betrayed him, no matter how far down in the pit life pushed him, he kept serving and looking to God. He stayed centered on God when most of us would have given up on God and our dreams. But I want to look at one aspect of Joseph’s life that is often not discussed but is both encouraging and challenging. Most people agree that Joseph came from a very dysfunctional home: 9 older jealous brothers, 3 step-moms, and a doting father who was clued-out as to the effect that his favoritism was having on his family. After studying Joseph’s life, what I see is a loner. He was a loner but never alone. He was too Egyptian for his family and too Jewish for the Egyptians. At the end …

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Healing our rejection

Using a MRI scan university researchers discovered that emotional pain associated with rejection is as real as physical pain. In 2011, the group led by University of Michigan associate professor Ethan Kross studied 40 people who had recently gone through a romantic break-up within the previous six months. All the participants chosen mentioned having felt intense feelings of rejection due to the ending of the relationship. The 40 people were then put through two tests one related to the emotional pain they felt over the rejection and the other actual physical pain. In the first test, the study subjects viewed an image of their ex and were asked to think about the break up.  In the second stage, thermal devices were attached to their arms that created heat the equivalent of hot coffee. As the 40 people went through these and other comparative tests, the researchers monitored their brain activity using MRIs. The researchers found that feelings of rejection sparked neural activity in the same area of the brain where people felt physical pain. In …

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Centered Like Clay

One of the best definitions of intercession I have heard goes something like this: “Intercession is not about defeating the devil in a particular battle; it is about getting into the face of God, with the defeat of the devil as the by-product.” Reading the many accounts of Jesus’ ministry to desperate people reveals something wonderful about God’s character. It seems that the more irreverent and noisy, and the more into Jesus’ face and space someone was, the more Jesus liked it. He even went so far as to touch a leper before He had healed him. Yuck! (Mark 1:40-45) What a wonderful Lord we serve, who beckons society’s “lepers” to come to Him, and get into God’s face and be redeemed! My question is, how centered on God can you get? Centered Like Clay The term “centered” means different things to people of different backgrounds. From doctors setting bones to machinists working on a lathe, being centered and focused is critical to the success of any endeavor. I want to look at two Old …

Pray for those who mistreat you. Credit: MissTessmacher/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study: prayer calms the angry heart

A 2011 study conducted by researchers from universities in America and Europe concluded that prayer helps a person calm their anger. The study conducted by Brad Bushman a psychology and communications professor from Ohio State University, Sander Koole of Holland’s VU University of Amsterdam and University of Michigan’s Ryan Bremner found that prayer quelled a person’s anger even if they were not particularly religious. There were various stages to this study. In one session, the researchers asked the participants in the study to to write a paper that was then evaluated by a partner who purposely and aggressively criticized the paper. They were extremely negative about what the participant had wrote. They then had some participants of the study group think about what their partner had said and others spend five minutes praying for them. Once they had gone through this process, the participants then played a game with their partner. If the participant won, they were allowed to blast their partner with loud music. The participant also determined how loud the music was and …

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When did Satan take over the world?

During the temptation in the wilderness, the devil showed Jesus all the “kingdoms of the world” (Luke 4:5) and offered the Lord a deal no man could refuse: “I will give you all this domain and its glory, for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” (Luke 4:6 NASV) As we study this passage, we noticed that Jesus never challenged Satan’s claim the world had been handed over to him and several times the Lord acknowledged Satan was the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30). The apostle Paul pushed the theological barrier to the edge when he described Satan as the god of the world (2 Corinthians 4:4). In no way, did the apostle believe Satan was divine, as Paul clearly states there is only one God, but as far as humanity was concerned, the evil one functioned as a god. The title-deed for planet earth was firmly in Satan’s grip. So when did Satan take over the world? Most instinctively think it took place when …

Painting by Adolf Northern (1828-1876)

Have you been raided?

Greg Gordon has operated sermonindex.net for 14 years. He also has a YouTube channel with over 5,000 sermons that people have viewed over 35 million times. Thousands of these sermons are embedded in websites around the world. He was shocked to find out that YouTube had recently shutdown his channel for violating community standards and specifically cited “deceptive practices.” Gordon had no idea what they were talking about, but obviously someone had complained. Though YouTube eventually restored the service, Gordon believes the shutdown was an attack of the enemy. In an article on Charisma News Gordon said: “I started to consider this a direct attack from the enemy. That same night, I fainted and fell and ended up at the ER. This has never happened to me with a flu or sickness. We have curried the prayer support of thousands of prayer (warriors.)” There is an interesting verse in the Gospels where Jesus talks about violent people raiding the Kingdom of God. The problem started when King Herod was visiting his brother Philip and became …

Ho Chi Minh city (formerly Saigon) Viet Nam. Credit: Colin Key/Flickr/Creative Commons

Original sin

Studies show that the average person lies about 100 times a day. As one writer tactfully noted, this was not talking about you specifically, but the average person. In the study, published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology, University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman recruited 121 pairs of men and women attending classes at the university to take part in the study. They had no idea what it involved at this point. They were then brought together and asked to have conversations with the other participants. Most of them did not know each other. They were unaware that the conversations were being recorded and researchers received the required permission after, before moving to the next stage. The students were then asked to view the video and to pick out the lies — from the most innocent to the most blatant. They found that over 60% of the participants lied within the first ten minutes of their conversation and told an average of 2.92 lies. They found men and women lied the same amount, …

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Baby Sinners?

A study by Dr. Vasudevi Reddy, of the Psychology Department at the University of Portsmouth, showed babies learn to lie before they learn to speak.  Her conclusions were reported in the April 2007 edition of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Dr. Reddy stated that lying started as early as six months. She says through trial and error, babies gain a better understanding in what situations lies work best and by seven months many infants are skilled in the art of deceit. Reddy’s conclusion flies in the face of many behavioral psychologists who — convinced of man’s eternal goodness — don’t believe children start lying until they are four years of age or older, when their brains are more developed. (By this age some argue lying is a learned behavior not an innate one.) But others, mostly parents, have had nagging suspicions that their sweet, innocent child had a dark side. In the course of her research, Reddy studied 50 children and did extensive interviews with their parents. Through this process, Reddy identified a …

El gran y oscuro secreto del Rey David

English version: King David’s big, dark secret Había un gran y oscuro secreto en la vida de David que pocas personas son conscientes. No es que David trató de mantenerlo en secreto, pero muchos de nosotros simplemente no podemos conectar los puntos. Cuando estudiamos la vida de David, hay una serie de pasajes bíblicos que al principio le parecen bastante desconcertantes. Uno de estos pasajes es 1 Samuel 16: 1-13. Dios acababa de rechazar a Saúl como rey de Israel y comisionó al profeta Samuel a ungir a uno de los hijos de Jessee de Belén como el siguiente rey (v 1). Samuel se acercó a los ancianos de Belén y organizó la reunión. Una vez que Jessee y sus hijos se habían reunido, Samuel rápidamente se dio cuenta de que ninguno de los muchachos que estaban delante de él era el que Dios había elegido. Perplejo, Samuel preguntó si había otros hijos y se le dijo que el más joven, David, estaba asistiendo al rebaño. Samuel ordenó que trajeran a David delante de él …

Anger, bitterness and unforgiveness are linked

Now in their 80s and 90s, many survivors of the Nazi Holocaust were upset when a photo of Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, 81, surfaced earlier this year. It was a photo of Eva embracing Oskar Groening, 94, in a German courtroom in the city of Lunenburg. Groening had been a SS sergeant and chief accountant at Auschwitz concentration camp, the same camp the Nazis sent Eva and her Hungarian Jewish family to die. The courts found Groening guilty and complicit in the slaughter of 300,000 Jews in the Auschwitz gas chambers. Eva and her identical twin sister Miriam were ten when their family arrived at the concentration camp. As the cattle cars emptied, Eva recalls the Nazis scouring the hundred of Jews standing on the train platform. The guards were looking for identical twins. When a guard saw Eva and Miriam, he yanked them out of their mothers arms and took them away. They were of keen interest to Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi surgeon at the camp who used Jews for his brutal experiments. He …

What do you feel about the death penalty? Credit: Carlos Y./Flickr/Creative Commons

Should Christians support the death penalty? — A response

The death penalty is a controversial subject for Christians. Believers fall on both sides of the issue. Some believe the death penalty should be part of the criminal code and others do not. In this article, I want to respond to Katherin Dwyer’s article entitled Should Christians support the death penalty? posted on the Gospel Herald website. In her article, she explains why as a Christian and conservative she opposes the death penalty. Katherine is a Charles Koch Institute Communications Fellow with Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty. Her article was in part sparked by the recent US presidential election, where three states also held referendum votes on the death penalty. Katherine takes a reasoned approach on her opposition to the death penalty and I believe she made some valid points. But I don’t agree with all her conclusions and simply want to discuss why I believe the death penalty is still a legitimate form of justice, even today. Eye for an eye The first thing Katherine delves in to is the “eye for eye” …

This is how snowblowers are supposed to work. Credit: Jon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Complain, complain, complain — it affects the brain

Social researchers tell us when having a conversation most people utter one complaint about every minute. I easily fill that quota. If I am not complaining about the weather, I am complaining about something the government did or our city’s losing pro-football team. However, my favorite whipping boy recently has been my snowblower. For the past three weeks it has gone AWOL — refusing to start. I had a friend come over who is very familiar with these type of mechanical devices, but even he couldn’t get it going. So we threw it in the back of a half tone, and took it in for service, and as my luck had it, the warranty ran out a month earlier, so it wouldn’t be covered. They got it going and the serviceman even started it to show it was now working. Of course, as soon as I got it home and we had our first snowfall, the snowblower refused to start again and I had to shovel by hand. I was not a happy camper. I had …

Temple of Bel (Baa)l at Palymira, Syria prior to its destruction by ISIS in 2015 Credit: Egisto Sani/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Spirit of Baal in the end times

A strange thing happened in 2016, a company manufactured full-scale 3-d replicas of the gates of a Temple of Baal that once stood in Palmyra, Syria. ISIS destroyed the 2,000 year old temple in 2015. They installed arches this past spring in Trafalgar Square in London, England and later on September 19, 2016 at Times Square in New York City. The 48′ foot arch from the Baal temple has certainly proved controversial. Some wonder if it provided an opening or portal for the spirit of Baal in these two countries, much in the same way the building of temples for Baal and Asherah would have done in ancient Israel when Queen Jezebel set them up. In his article proposing this on Charisma News, author Michael Snyder suggests the setting up of the arch may have contributed to the rise in violence in America that we are recently seeing. Or maybe it is all just one big coincidence. Or, perhaps it is just a sign of the times — an indication of what is already happening …

People walking the streets of Shanghai, China Credit: Richard Schneider/Flickr/Creative Commons

Respected scientist believes in the existence of the soul

Sir Roger Penrose, 85, is a respected and award-winning mathematical physicist in England. He serves as the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at University of Oxford’s Mathematical Institute. His awards include the Wolf Prize won in 1988 that he shared with Stephen Hawkings. His most recent awards include the De Morgan medal (2004) that is handed out every three years by the London Mathematics Society and the Copley Medal (2006) awarded by London’s Royal Society for outstanding research achievements in any branch of science. It is considered the world’s oldest scientific award. Penrose ranks among the greats — Einstein and Hawkings. He has also developed many theories during his lifetime, but perhaps his most intriguing is his belief in a human soul that continues to exist after a person dies. According to an article in The Sun, he describes the soul as a “packet of information stored at a quantum – or sub-atomic level.” When a person dies this information is released intact into the universe but will return to the human body if …

Harvest time is hard work Credit: ed_needs_a_bicycle/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to Kill a Church – Part 3

The U.S.A. just had an election and the whole world is talking about it. I live in Canada, so I don’t want to add to the discussion; Americans know how to manage their own country. Before we forget though, Donald Trump surprised the world by winning, and Hillary Clinton shocked her loyal followers by losing. Before the vote, he labored to convince the doubters to vote for him, and she convinced her friends to love her more. We had the same pattern where I live in 1992; Nancy Betkowski was an educated, sophisticated woman who was going to be our provincial leader. Her rival was Ralph Klein, a journalist who drank too much. At the leadership convention Nancy went to bed knowing she had the majority vote the next day. Ralph stayed up all night working the crowd and trying to convince his enemies to vote for him. Nancy appeared for her coronation the next morning, and we were all stunned when Ralph won the vote. He missed some sleep and worked very hard, and …

Breaking the yoke of insecurity off your neck. Credit: flintlocker/Flickr/Creative Commons

Dealing with Insecurity: The workaholic

If you are insecure, you do things that can break your heart. In 2 Kings 4:8-22, we read the story of an older couple who were prominent in the community (v 8). Undoubtedly, they were wealthy. The man was a farmer and had a number of servants working for him (v 18, 22). They were the rich and famous of Israel. The man’s success defined who he was and he had an image to uphold. They had everything except a child. When the prophet Elijah showed up in the community, the wife cordially invited him to stay at their large home. When Elijah was ready to leave he asked Gehazi — his servant — what type of gift he could give the woman for her generosity. Gehazi said she was without a child. Elijah went to the wife and prophesied she would have a child by this time next year which occurred exactly as Elijah predicted (v 17). Between verses 17 and 18, someone hit the fast forward button. We are not told how much …

Working in God's vineyard. Credit: Shawn Harquail/Flickr/Creative Commons

We are all at different stages in our journey

There is a story in the Gospels that portrays how God views our faith journey. Some of us may feel like we are not keeping up with the spiritual Jones. I see men and women pushing ahead in God, accomplishing great things and wonder if I could have done better. In Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus tells the story of the owner of a vineyard who needed to hire workers for the day. It was a parable describing the principles that govern the Kingdom of God and work in God’s vineyard. It seems there was a spot in the market place where men gathered who were looking for work. The owner showed up early in the morning (probably around 6 am) and found some men who were interested. He offered them a denarius to which they agreed as it represented a typical day’s wage. But the owner still needed more help. He checked again at 9am and hired a few more. Other workers were picked up at noon and 3pm. By the end of the day, some …

You are significant in God's eyes.

The power of Significance

Over a decade ago a woman spoke at our church and prophesied about God’s call on my life to preach the gospel. Up until then, I was fairly mediocre in my pursuit of God and my passion to serve Him. But that night, this woman spoke into areas and dreams of my life that I had never told anyone. I dreamed of preaching the gospel in fields and stadiums to thousands of people. At that time I don’t think I had even preached a sermon. Yet, I would find myself imagining that I was an evangelist like Rinehard Bonnke. I never told a soul about these dreams and I thought they were just foolish imaginations. I didn’t even know if preaching was something I even wanted to do. So when this woman prophesied that I had dreamed of hundreds and thousands and stadiums and that God was going to give this too me, I was stunned and overwhelmed. These ideas were not my crazy imagination, but had originated in the heart of God and were …

Is divorce a violent act? Credit: --christophe--/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does divorce impact a child’s spirituality?

One of God’s clearest denunciations of divorce is found in the book of Malachi. Speaking on behalf of God, the Prophet thunders: “For, I hate divorce.” (Malachi 2:16 NASV) Then God declares divorce an act of violence. “and him who covers his garment with wrong, (literally violence)” When the Lord says that I don’t believe He is describing the acrimony that often occurs between a man and woman when they divorce. The couple divorcing could still be friends, but the act of divorce itself is inherently violent. In the previous verses we discover the reason: 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. 15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. (Malachi 2:14-15 NIV) In …

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Dealing with Insecurity: The desperate need for bigger and better

Years ago I attended a church that had a family camp. Every summer the congregation would  pack up their bags, and live in a tent, trailer or rent a cabin for a week. It was along the shores of an algae-filled lake. The fellowship was the best part. But the push was on for God to move at the camp. And invariably at the end of every camp, the pastor would declare in the closing meeting that this was the best camp ever. There were some good camps. But there were others that were just alright. In fact, if the truth be told the first camp they held was the absolute best one. The Holy Spirit moved powerfully and people were still talking about those meetings ten years later. It is so easy to fall into the mindset that meetings have to be better, miracles more profound and the moving of the Holy Spirit greater. I do it with this website. I regularly check the readership stats to see how many people are visiting and …

Off to prophetic school Credit: Michael Fawcett/Flickr/Creative Commons

My Prophetic Journey Part 3: School Starts

[This is the third in a series of articles on the ministry of the prophet and gift of prophecy.] Having wrestled with God’s call, and worked through some things involving God’s grace and work in my life as discussed in my last article, I was finally on board with God’s call into the prophetic. I read all the books and study notes that I could, and attended seminars on the prophetic. One day, either in a stroke of rare brilliance, or naivety, I came up with a plan. I bought myself a large hardcover blank notebook and said to God, Why don’t You teach me some prophetic lessons? A by-product of that would be learning to hear from God more, so that sounded great to me. God answered that prayer, and I began to fill the book with some tough lessons – be careful what you ask for! For a period of time God would deal with one thing (usually involving character and attitudes), and then would let that lesson become part of me. After …

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Does Tim Tebow ‘expect’ to heal the sick?

ABC News has a fascinating article on a recent incident involving Tim Tebow. A former Heisman Trophy winner (2007), NFL quarterback and TV announcer, Tim Tebow, 29, is a born-again Christian. He is very vocal about his faith and has come under attack because of this. With no NFL prospects, Tim recently tried professional baseball and ended up in the New York Mets organization playing with the Scottsdale Scorpions. Remarkably on the first pitch on his first time at bat, Tim hit a home run. The feat was widely reported in the media. But recently Tim gained more press while playing a game in the Arizona Fall League. He was signing autographs after the game when a person in the crowd had a seizure. ABC News wrote: Brandon Berry, who was in the front row, dropped to the ground as his mouth began to foam and his body convulsed in what was later determined to be a seizure. The violent shaking stopped, and Berry went limp. Tebow seeing what had happened approached the group who …

The struggle to choose the right path. Credit: James Wheeler/Flickr/Creative Commons

Dealing with insecurity: the chronic second guesser

It is not so much I hate making decisions, it is that I hate the chronic second-guessing phase I invariably go through after I make one. My wife hates it as I wallow about the house griping and wondering if I made the right decision. I go through these incredible mind-games, analyzing and re-analyzing my decision. It is an endless barrage of what ifs. Often it is easier not to make a decision and sometimes it takes days, even weeks for me to make the simplest one. Over the years, I have gotten better at it. But still it is a work in progress. So what causes this indecisiveness and second guessing? In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells of a man going on a journey. While he was gone, he didn’t want his money sitting idle and asked his slaves to invest it. The owner expected a return on this money when he got back. All three were obviously trusted servants. With such money they could easily have walked away with the cash and never been …

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Dealing with insecurity: Are you controlled by what other people think?

A few years back I worked on a newspaper, and I remember somebody had the gall to criticize it. I was so depressed over the next few days, I wanted to quit! This was during a time when God was dealing with a root of insecurity that controlled my life. He was speaking to me how my self image was wrapped up in what I did and what other people thought and not by who I was in Christ. Two days later, someone gave the paper a big compliment. I was elated. At that moment I was ready to work night and day on the publication. That’s when I got a tap on the shoulder. It was God. I felt the Lord say being euphoric when someone complimented me was no different than feeling depressed when they criticized. It is caused by a root of insecurity where you are dependent on what other people think to function. Insecurity is devastating for Christians. You suffer emotional trauma. Your life is a roller coaster– one moment you …

King David moving the Ark of the Covenant from Gibeon to the Tabernacle of David in Jerusalem. Painter unknown

Why did King David set up the Tabernacle of David?

Perhaps one of the most controversial articles I have written so far is “King David’s deep dark secret.” I have had more comments on that article than any others I have written and I have easily had more people disagreeing with me. In the article I contend that King David was illegitimate. When he said in the Psalms that he was conceived in sin — he meant it quite literally. His mother conceived him in an act of sin. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5 NASV) This explains what happened when God told Samuel to go to Bethlehem to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as the next king of Israel, replacing Saul (1 Samuel 16:1-13). The Bible tells us the elders were trembling when the prophet showed up (v 4). Samuel terrified the elders, so when he asked for all the sons, the elders would make sure they were there. But they excluded David. Some suggest this happened because he was the youngest, …

Shekel overlaid on a model of the Temple: Source Wikipedia/Juan R. Cuadra

Why did Jesus pay the Temple tax?

There is an interesting story in the Gospels involving Peter and the Temple tax collectors.  They had cornered the apostle and asked him if he and His Master — Jesus — paid the temple tax. Under pressure and in typical Peter fashion, he blurted out “yes” without thinking (Matthew 17:24-27). “Does your teacher not pay the [b]two-drachma tax?”25 He [Peter] said, “Yes.” (Matthew 17:24b-25 NASV) The priests had instituted a yearly tax for the temple of two drachma (half shekel). It was patterned after similar taxes paid in the Old Testament. Moses instituted a half shekel sanctuary tax to help fund the tabernacle (Exodus 30:12-13). However this tax was only collected when Israel performed a national census. There was also a one third shekel tax instituted annually for the temple in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:32; Ezra 6:8). But this was a voluntary contribution from the people while the Exodus tax had the authority of Moses behind it. So priests merged these two ideas together — taking the half Shekel tax from Exodus …

Use whatever faith you have for your miracle

I think the Charismatic brand of faith preachers have probably done more to destroy faith in Christians than actually increase it. They have convinced many of us that all we need is “more” faith and we can do the miracles of Jesus and drive around in Aston Martins. But is that what the Bible really teaches? Luke tells the story about a day the disciples asked Christ to “increase their faith” (Luke 17:5). They watched Christ perform great miracles and they wanted more faith so they could do the same miracles. But the answer Jesus gave them was shocking. 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. (Luke 17:6) Instead of telling the disciples what great miracles they could do with great gobs of faith, Jesus said they only needed an ounce of faith — mustard-seed sized faith — and they could cast a mulberry tree into the ocean. Mulberry trees run from 32′ …

The Temple Mount Photo: Jordan Pickett/Flickr/Creative Commons

Shocking news: Jewish Sanhedrin appoints a High Priest

Breaking Israel News reports that Israel’s “Nascent Sanhedrin” has just appointed a high priest. His name is Rabbi Baruch Kahane, a prominent Jewish scholar knowledgeable in Jewish sacrifices. The announcement was a bit surprising considering there is no Jewish Temple. But a spokesperson for the ‘Nascent Sanhedrin’ explained that they wanted to have a High Priest in place in case there is a sudden change in policy on the Temple Mount. The ‘Nascent Sanhedrin‘ also called the developing Sanhedrin was set up in Israel in 2004. It is considered a national court of Jewish Law. Over the last 500 years, there have been six failed attempts to establish a Sanhedrin. This is the most successful so far. The major obstacle to constructing a Temple is that the Temple Mount with its Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock is controlled by the Muslims. Because of this, the Israeli government limits Jewish access to the site and forbids prayer on the Temple Mount. When Jews visit they are not allowed to pray including bowing their heads …

Model of Herod's Temple at the Israel Museum. Photo: Berthold Werner/Wikipedia

What will Israel’s third temple look like?

An interesting article on Breaking Israel News (BIN) recently caught my attention. I have reported previous how some Orthodox Jews in Israel are preparing for the construction of a third Temple – the first one being Solomon’s temple and the second built by King Herod that was in place during Jesus’s day and destroyed in 70 AD. A group of Orthodox based in Israel found the The Temple Institute (TTI) in 1987 to prepare for the construction of a third temple. TTI has already made a number of temple utensils (including a massive altar), ordered architectural drawings for a new temple and even started a school to train priests in how to make sacrifices. Their desire to build a third temple is based in part on an Old Testament prophecy found in Ezekiel. In a vision, God carries the Prophet Ezekiel to a future temple that is not remotely similar to either of the two temples previously constructed (Ezekiel 40). This leads some to conclude that God intends to have a third temple built. However, …

Mormons, Toyota, and God

Mormons: Mormons, in the heartland in Utah have an interesting problem. Young men are leaving the church in large numbers, but many young women are staying. Traditionally, Mormons marry young, and have large families. They have a belief that childbirth brings a soul from the realm of the unborn into salvation; so being born is like being born again. You can see how young and unmarried men cause a problem when they leave. Why is this happening? My best guess is the leavers follow the reasoning of all young men; they do it because they can. When I was young, Christians in my church were often called fundamentalists, and they liked the name. I once passed a line outside a movie theater, and I’m sure I saw my aunt. We did not make eye contact and I have kept her secret all these years. Christians were not supposed to go to movies, in those days. Another time, in a church library, I found a book with a chapter “Should Christians go Bowling?” I forget the …

Left: A model of the Traditional perception of the Tabernacle of Moses (Bibleplaces.com); Right: Andrew Hoy's depiction of a six story Tabernacle (Diagram Andrew Hoy)

Will the real Tabernacle of Moses please stand up

You are probably familiar with drawings and even full-scale models (seen above on the left) displaying the Tabernacle of Moses. When Moses was given the instructions for the Tabernacle, most envisioned it as a small rectangular tent constructed to house the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 36:8 – 39:43). This tent building served Israel for nearly 400 years, sitting for 300 years at Shiloh, until Solomon constructed the Temple. There was just a brief interlude when David constructed a tabernacle for the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chronicles 15:1). But recently Andrew Hoy, a mechanical engineer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has challenged this traditional notion of what the Tabernacle looked like by suggesting it was instead a larger tent, nearly six stories high. According to Breaking Israel News, Hoy’s journey started when he left the Lutheran church he was attending in America to study Hebrew at a Jewish seminary in Israel. He wanted to learn the original language to better understand the Old Testament. As he looked at the passages describing the Tabernacle, he began to envision something much different from long-held …

A church worship service. Photo: Joachim S. Muller/Flickr/Creative Commons

Did God create you to dance?

Should we be dancing in church? Well, if a 2006 study is correct, it appears when God created humans, He hard-wired each of us to dance — more on that in a moment. I still remember a service at a church I was attending in the 70s. The Jesus people movement was in full swing and the congregation was made up of people 30 years and younger. Back then everybody had long hair, including the girls. One particular Sunday evening service we kicked back the chairs and began dancing before the Lord. We broke up into groups, joined hands and whirled around in circles dancing and singing. The thing that struck me the most was the utter joy and excitement on people’s faces as they danced and worshiped the Lord. I was attending seminary at the time, in a denomination that frowned on this type of activity. But they faithfully preached the Bible and people were saved through this ministry. I had a professor by the name of Dr. Dahns. He was a former United Church Minister …