The Dead Sea Scrolls

In 1947 Bedouin shepherds discovered the caves where thousands of Old Testament manuscripts were stored. There is no price you could put on the value of this archaeological find. It is, without comparison, the most important discovery in biblical studies. At first, the Bedouins kept a couple of texts in their tents, unaware of their potential value. When news got out of their existence, the curator of the Jerusalem University, Mar Samuel, purchased four of them. He bought the Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule, the Habakkuk Peshar (Commentary on Habakkuk), and the Genesis Apocryphon. He checked them for their veracity, and found them genuine.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are now located in the “Shrine of the Book” in Jerusalem. They originally belonged to the Essenes, an aesthetic Jewish movement that believed mainstream Judaism had sold out to secular interests. Continue reading “The Dead Sea Scrolls”

Like the top of a rock

An arrangement of three large boulders is huddled among my Rudbeckias and Helianthus, their tops shining white in the morning sun. At summer’s end, gathering seeds from the flowers for next year, I found the middle stone to be a nice place to spread them out to dry.

It’s a cozy place to do some garden tasks, or just sit and reflect. I can’t imagine the east garden without them.

What if your home or city was spoken against, and you were warned that it would become a bare rock? A place where fishermen spread their nets to dry? Continue reading “Like the top of a rock”

Judgement is coming

A question which often perplexes Christians is that there are people who will be lost, who will not spend eternity with Jesus. We spend time with people who are religious and do so many good things but have never put on Jesus by being immersed into him. Sometimes we may even begin to question whether baptism is even important.

Jesus addressed this in what we call “the Sermon on the Mount.” “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many powerful deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’” (Matthew 6:21-23 NET). Continue reading “Judgement is coming”

By the power of …

A documentary style TV series recently reminded me about the cartoon He-Man. As you may remember, prince Adam would proclaim the words, “By the power of grayskull” while holding his sword aloft. Lightning would energize him, transforming him into He-man as he cried out, “I have the power.”

Apparently the creators of He-man were trying to appeal to the typical 10 year old boy whose sociological position had left him powerless longing for more. The He-man fantasy invited youths to fill this void by imagining their own powerfulness in shaping their world.

For me, the clash between He-man’s mantra versus Peter’s and John’s answer to the question, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” (Acts 4:7) could not be more stark. Jesus’ way is so counter-intuitive to our world. Continue reading “By the power of …”

Neither hot nor cold

Revelation 3:14-16 is the classic Bible passage on half-hearted Christianity. Any preacher who is concerned his congregation lacks zeal for the Lord might choose this passage as his text for a sermon. Here the Lord memorably condemns the church at Laodicea for being “neither hot nor cold,” they were instead, “lukewarm.” He further warns them that this distasteful condition will cause him to “spit” them out of his mouth.

Interestingly it seems the Lord was reflecting an urban reality in that location. Several of the seven churches he addresses in Revelation chapters 2-3 indicate this. Archaeologists have discovered that the nearby town of Hieropolis, six miles distant, was blessed with extensive hot springs. Continue reading “Neither hot nor cold”

A new-year start with sundry thoughts

Thoughts fly at the beginning of a new year, almost as fast as the time that brought it. Here are a few items on my personal radar that might encourage you or provide you with an idea or two.

¶ I mentioned January 1st that for 2018 I’d be reading Ed Mathews’s daily devotional work, “Plow New Ground.” It’s meaty in dealing with the text and brings powerful application to our walk with God. I hope to post a daily comment and focus question on my microblog. Come follow that or pop in on occasion to exchange some ideas.

¶ Ye olde mission statement is getting tweaked, and a new Bible verse for the year is in the process of being chosen. All that ought to get nailed down this week. In the meantime, read this short piece to be pondered frequently, “Daily Attitudes.” Continue reading “A new-year start with sundry thoughts”

Want to see love?

Brightly colored ribbons were tied around precious packages for family and friends. Wonderful holiday feasts warmed guests inside only to be matched by the love shown and shared.

Want to see real love? Let’s go straight to the cross.

Jesus had been tried by the Jews, but they knew their accusations against him would have no traction with Pilate, so they made up different ones. After a cursory examination of Jesus, Pilate could find no fault and told the Jews and sent Jesus to Herod. Herod sent him back without charge (Luke 23:15). Continue reading “Want to see love?”

A people of hope

The world around us seems to be devoid of hope. In Great Britain many are worried about leaving the European Union – after all, for most people, this is all they have known. ISIS continues to cause people around the world to worry, as well as the unstable situation in Korea. People worry about what is ahead of them in life. Perhaps the problem is that they see this life as all there is.

When Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, we find Christians who were worried about the Christians who had already died. Paul wrote, “Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NET). Continue reading “A people of hope”

The witness of Josephus

Josephus Flavius (38-100 A.D.) was a Jewish historian and wannabe general. He was given a rabbinic education and joined the sect of the Pharisees.

When the Jews revolted against Rome in 64 A.D., he was placed in charge of the Jewish garrison in Galilee. When his forces were overwhelmed by the Roman general Vespasian, he was captured and brought before the gritty general. He impressed Vespasian by predicting he would one day become Caesar. Apparently not immune to flattery, the Roman general spared the life of Josephus and made him an intelligence officer. Continue reading “The witness of Josephus”

The years of our lives

A year is a God-given division of time. He made the heavenly lights to mark days, seasons, and years. So people — recognizing God’s sovereignty or not — make plans for a year, such as traveling, doing business, and making money, James 4.13.

As people age, it seems that “the years that lie ahead are few” Job 16.22. Even though we may reach the ripe old age of 80, “the years of our lives pass quickly, like a sigh” Psalm 90.9-10. But Solomon said it doesn’t matter if you lived a thousand years twice, death is still coming for you, Ecclesiastes 6.1-9. Maybe how you live, and what you live for, is what really matters, yes?

The Bible has a recipe for adding years to one’s life: wisdom, Proverbs 4.10; 9.11, and obedience to parents, Deuteronomy 5.16; Ephesians 6.1-3. Diet and exercise are good, but God’s plan for longevity is better. Remember that Hezekiah got 15 years added to his life, but it didn’t turn out so well for him, Isaiah 38.5. Continue reading “The years of our lives”