About the beginning and the end, the first and the last!

“The first Adam yielded to temptation in a garden. The Last Adam beat temptation in a garden. The first man, Adam, sought to become like God. The Last Adam was God who became a man. The first Adam was naked and received clothes. The Last Adam had clothes but was stripped. The first Adam tasted death from a tree. The Last Adam tasted death on a tree. The first Adam hid from the face of God, while the Last Adam begged God not to hide His face.

“The first Adam blamed his bride, while the Last Adam took the blame for His bride. The first Adam earned thorns. The Last Adam wore thorns. The first Adam gained a wife when God opened man’s side, but the Last Adam gained a wife when man opened God’s side. The first Adam brought a curse. The Last Adam became a curse. While the first Adam fell by listening when the Serpent said “take and eat,” the Last Adam told His followers, ‘take and eat, this is my body.'”

Taken from http://www.breakpoint.org/2017/04/breakpoint-jesus-last-adam/

Holy Week

We are fast approaching Easter. Having been to Jerusalem I can easily visualize the events of that week and figuratively walk with Jesus through the week prior to His sacrifice as the Lamb of God. There is a video that helps visualize that week and it is worth taking the time to watch it to the end. May you be blessed as I was. Here’s the link http://www.passionweektour.com

Jerusalem: The Tomb of Jesus (short video)

After having seen the Edicule with the “cage” around it, I’m look forward to seeing the refurbished structure in a few months.

HolyLandPhotos' Blog

I have seen a number of news articles describing the newly refurbished Tomb of Jesus that is within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.  Todd Bolen has summarized what appears to be the most complete article on the topic from The Daily Mail—with 14 clear photos (the original article is worth reading/viewing)

The Refurbished Tomb — From The Daily Mail and AP

I was wondering where the “what is believed to be the original stone wall of the burial cave inside the renovated Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre” was located.  The following 0:41 second video shows that it is on the far (west) wall of the burial chamber (see 0:30 following).

To view 11 photos of this structure before the refurbishing Click Here.

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Martin Luther’s wife

Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk
Michelle DeRusha
Baker, 2017

Marriage changes things! Being from a western culture, I chose my bride. I’ve known others from other cultures who have been paired by their parents or a matchmaker. No matter the culture, marriage changes things!

DeRusha’s contention is that the marriage of Martin and Katharina was one of duty on Martin’s part, and necessity on Katharina’s part. Though they married under less than ideal circumstances, through time, they came to depend on each other in ways unlike other relationships of their time.

To quote the author, “She [Katharina] first came to him as a burden, a woman abandoned and unwelcome in the world. But what was once a burden grew into an unexpected grace that surprised and delighted Luther with the richness of its gifts.”

DeRusha details her assertion about Katherina through a recounting of the marriage and the cultural and religious mores that existed during that time. Katharina was unlike other wives of her time. She provided Luther with comfort, a family, income, and security in a world that lacked much.

Katharina has been criticized for her “arrogance and aloofness.” It is probably unjustified since she ran a household of six of her own children along with four who were adopted. She managed a “brewery, vineyard, farm, and a forty-room hotel.” In and through it all, she was a confidant of Luther’s and participated actively in his life.

The retelling of the story of Katharina von Bora makes for fascinating reading. If nothing else, it highlights the changes (advances) in cultural mores and the status of women and marriage. A careful reading of the book is well worth the short time it would take you.

Baker was kind enough to provide me a copy of the book without expectation.

The Dead Sea

When we were last in Israel in 2015 we were unable to get to Masada due to the problems with the road in the area of Ein Gedi. The problems stemmed from sink holes. Today the Times of Israel published a long article on the sink holes and the problems they’ve created.

The article talks about the reasons for the shrinking Dead Sea and the resulting sink holes.



12th Dead Sea Scrolls Cave found, but the scrolls are gone

There is always something new in amazing Israel. It would be wonderful to find a cave that had not been vandalized.

Ferrell's Travel Blog

Early this morning, February 8, 2017, I received a press release from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

— “ —

Hebrew University archaeologist Dr. Oren Gutfeld: “This is one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries, and the most important in the last 60 years, in the caves of Qumran.”

Excavations in a cave on the cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, prove that Dead Sea scrolls from the Second Temple period were hidden in the cave, and were looted by Bedouins in the middle of the last century. With the discovery of this cave, scholars now suggest that it should be numbered as Cave 12.

Fault cliff and entrance to Cave 12 (on left). Photos: Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld. Fault cliff and entrance to Cave 12 (on left). Photos: Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld.

The surprising discovery, representing a milestone in Dead Sea Scroll research, was made by Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the Hebrew University…

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Shalom in Psalms: a review

Shalom in Psalms: A Devotional from the Jewish Heart of the Christian Faith
Jeffrey Seif, Glenn Blank, and Paul Wilbur
Baker, 2017

Some books can be read from beginning to end as they follow a plot line. Others can be used as a reference, picked up and read for a specific purpose or topic. Shalom in Psalms could be read either way, but is best used as a devotional reading tool. I’ve started reading it with my daily walk through Scripture and have found it to be helpful, challenging, and enlightening. I will take my time reading and savoring this encouraging book.

From the back cover, “This devotional and the Tree of Life Version of the Bible flow from the heart of today’s Messianic Jewish movement to offer the Jewish essence of the Psalms in a way that promises shalom for the modern heart and soul.” However, in the introduction, Shalom in Psalms is called a commentary. It is probably more correctly a devotional commentary. In my reading so far, it has heavily favored the devotional.

Each Psalm is taken from the Tree of Life Version which uses the Hebrew names for God and in places, familiar Hebrew words. Following each Psalm is a short devotional commentary by either one or two of the authors. The style is varied, but does not detract from an understanding of the point or points being made.

I will continue to take my time reading this book and use it throughout this year as I read the Psalms.

Baker was kind enough to provide me a copy for evaluation without expecting a positive review.

What does the future hold?

A review of:
The Stage is Set: Israel, The End Times, and Christ’s Ultimate Victory
Bryant Wright
Baker, 2017

What is going to happen in the future? If we only knew. Science fiction is filled with stories of what the future looks like. Even the Bible contains images of the future. For this book, Wright draws his material from the Bible, to paint a picture of what he believes it says will happen.

Wright, a pastor of a large church in Georgia, writes short chapters addressing topics relating to the unfolding of the future, following largely the outline of the book of Revelation. He frequently mentions Old Testament prophecies from Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah, along with a host of other references.

His style reads like sermons (although the chapters would make for very short sermons if read), but more like radio commentaries.

The topic of the future has been addressed countless times before, from a host of different perspectives. This subject has generated a great deal of heat, but is sorely lacking in light. Words like “maybe,” “possibly,” and “probably” are found throughout this book and in general when talking about the future. That is probably why there is such heat about eschatology, or the end times. Wright addresses the various perspectives relating to the rapture of the church and the nature of the millennium, and then expresses his opinion as to which he believes is correct.

There are more comprehensive treatments of the book of Revelation available along with clearer presentations of the various views of Revelation. Wright’s style makes for easy reading and the book would be a good first read for someone interested in Biblical end times, but should not be the only or last book read.

Baker was kind enough to provide me a copy of the book but did not require me to favorably review it.

The Real God–A review

The Real God: How He Longs for You to See Him

Chip Ingram

Baker, 2004 reprint 2016

God’s attributes have been the topic of much discussion and confusion. Ingram unwinds some of the issues by telling personal stories, defining terms, expanding on the details, and ending with suggestions for further development of our understanding of those attributes.

“This book is not intended to be exhaustive, but instead to be inspirational and practical. My aim is to engage the reader in a lifelong pursuit of knowing, seeing, and experiencing the Real God.”

To start this “pursuit,” Ingram unpacks the goodness, sovereignty, holiness, wisdom, justice, love, and faithfulness of God. He begins the book with three introductory chapters and ends with a look at how the reader’s view of God may have changed through the reading of the book.

Each chapter that unpacks an attribute, follows the same basic outline. It begins with a personal story, followed by a definition of the attribute. Ingram then unpacks that quality of God before closing with a personal encounter with that specific attribute. He then recommends the reader “come before God daily,” “do life in community weekly,” and be “on mission 24/7.” He provides practical steps in each case.

Ingram frequently refers to two of his favorite authors. Quotes from Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy are used fifteen times in the book’s eleven chapters, and Packer’s Knowing God is used five times.

As is typical of Ingram’s writing, he is practical, easy to understand, and personal. Unlike some of his works, this particular book needs to be read with intention and at a slower pace to internalize the message that he seeks to communicate. A contemplative reading is well worth the effort and will reward the reader with a richer understanding of God.

If I had one beef, it was with the cover. I understand the symbolism of the color and the graphic, but found it didn’t fit the tone of the book. Really, a petty complaint for such a good book.

Baker was kind enough to provide me a copy of the book allowing me the freedom to “beef.”

What was Capernaum know for besides fishing?


Screenshot taken from the Glo Bible.

Capernaum was one of several major cities on the Sea of Galilee. It stood on the border between two jurisdictions thus making it a crossroads of commerce. It was here in Capernaum that we find Levi the tax collector who Jesus called to be his disciple. Levi would have had his tax stand on the road into the city, collecting taxes from all the commerce that traveled those roads.

Levi would have also collected taxes for the fish that were caught in the lake along with the  license fee needed for permission to fish. Not far south of Capernaum was an area called “seven springs” for the seven warm water springs that flowed out of the hill adjacent to the lake. It was in the area of these springs that fishing was usually successful due to the warm waters that the fish liked.

So, Capernaum was know for its fishing, but what else? The houses in the city were all made out of a black stone called basalt, which is hard volcanic rock. In the area of Jerusalem we find limestone that when used for building provides a very white appearance. In Capernaum the hard basaltic stone was also used to make grinding stones. These millstones were used to grind the grain produced throughout Israel and the surrounding areas. Thus, Capernaum was famous for its fishing and its millstones.

When Jesus spoke in Capernaum these words, “If anyones causes one of the little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck” (Mark 9:42), he was referring to a famous Capernaum product and he was using an illustration that everyone would understand.

Understanding geography and geology helps to unlock the stories of the Bible.