Mosaix Blogs Full Mosaix Blogs Full Respective post owners and feed distributors Wed, 11 Sep 2019 10:51:13 -0500 Feed Informer A Faster Way to Setup a Nonprofit urn:uuid:98deeacb-a358-ab33-d1ee-e30fc7e59963 Thu, 02 Dec 2021 18:26:36 -0600 Would you believe there’s a way to start a nonprofit initiative and receive tax-deductible donations in less than a week? For reals! For example, you can now donate to support the Erasing Shame podcast at &#8211; what a great&#46;&#46;&#46; <p><a href="" rel="nofollow">Source</a></p> Answering The Call To Serve David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:53d2ecfa-aa7b-52fc-a7a0-8b78e369d02e Wed, 01 Dec 2021 21:21:37 -0600 (watch this message by clicking play below) ​​Can you remember the last time you experienced good service? The kind of service at a restaurant or perhaps in someone&#8217;s home, where... <p><span style="color: #000000;"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">(watch this message by clicking play below)</span></i></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">​​Can you remember the last time you experienced good service? The kind of service at a restaurant or perhaps in someone&#8217;s home, where you felt really cared for? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">The Bible is very emphatic on the role of serving. In fact, the King James Version mentions that we&#8217;ve been called and told to serve over 300 times. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">In John chapter 13, we find Jesus teaching His disciples about what it means to answer the call to serve. It was the night before Jesus was to go to the cross and die for our sins. It was actually the night that He was going to be betrayed. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">John 13:2-9  says, “The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I&#8217;m doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘No,’ said Peter, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well.’ ” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">They&#8217;d just taken a walk from Bethany to miles away, and they&#8217;ve now come to Jerusalem. Their feet are all dirty. They wore sandals. The roads didn&#8217;t have asphalt. Most of the roads did not have cobblestone, so they kicked up a lot of dust and dirt. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">It was a customary practice that when you arrive at a home, the host will ensure that the servant would come and wash each guest&#8217;s feet. But they were borrowing the use of the house for this private dinner. There was no host and no servant to wash their feet. But, by the door was a towel, a basin and a pitcher of water. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Everyone came right in and began to recline at the table, but Jesus began to wash his disciples’ feet. Why did he do that? To understand that we need to answer the question, how do you answer the call to serve? </span></p> <h3></h3> <h3><span style="color: #000000;"><b>Serving starts in the HEART.</b></span></h3> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">That&#8217;s where it begins. It begins in the heart because our actions and our attitudes stem from the heart. The soil of the heart produces it. And our heart can produce good, tasty, and admirable fruit, or it can produce rotten, nasty, and objectionable fruit.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">It all depends on what is in the heart. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">So, here they all are. They have walked two miles to Jerusalem from Bethany. They went up the steps, are all reclined around the table and they&#8217;re starting to eat. Even though it was not the custom or the norm, Jesus gets up. You can imagine all eyes are watching, and they are wondering where is he going? He walks over by the door and grabs a towel. He takes off his outer garment, puts the towel around him, grabs the pitcher of water and the basin, and begins to wash the disciples’ feet. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Jesus was moved in his heart because he saw a need. Their feet were dirty and dusty so Jesus washed their feet. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Foot washing was something that Hebrew slaves, when they were owned by other Hebrews, were banned from doing. Only gentile slaves washed feet. Wives often washed the feet of their husbands, and sometimes the children would wash the feet of their fathers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Jesus didn&#8217;t fit any of those categories. Yet here we are seeing that Jesus is washing the feet of his disciples. Jesus was modeling for us that serving starts in the heart. It&#8217;s in the attitude of how you see yourself. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Let me ask you a question. Do you look to serve? Or do you look to be served?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">The question is a critical one because it shows the role and the value you place on being humble or walking in humility. Humble means you must take and make yourself low. I love the fact that Jesus did not think himself too good, too holy, too anointed, too spiritual, to serve others. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Jesus was modeling for us what Mark 10:45 says, “the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Jesus was modeling for us that he did not think of himself as too busy, too important, too famous, too great, too powerful to serve others. Jesus recognizes that serving begins and starts in the heart.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;"><b>Serving involves DOING. </b></span></h3> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Jesus was not spewing out rhetoric. He was not reciting some theological position. He was not verbalizing some wonderful doctrinal treatise. Jesus recognized that serving was not something that simply is just a positional thing. Jesus was telling us that serving must move away from the theoretical into the practical. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Serving involves doing.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">John 13:12 says, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">“</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, ‘Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you&#8217;re right, because that&#8217;s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other&#8217;s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I&#8217;ve done to you.’ ”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Jesus was teaching them. He was showing them, if you are really going to be a follower of me, do what you&#8217;ve seen me model. In other words, answer the call to serve and recognize that serving involves doing. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Serving is critical to having a healthy local church, the same way serving is so critical to having a healthy family.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">There&#8217;s a whole host of benefits associated with serving. It&#8217;s an act of love. It&#8217;s an act of kindness. There have actually been lots of academic research to investigate the actual benefits of serving and volunteering? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Volunteering is when you give your time to a person, a group, a cause. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Nations like Canada, Germany, Israel, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States, have gone through many academic studies to understand what the benefits are. And many of these studies have focused on the health benefits associated with volunteering and serving. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">In fact, there&#8217;s a reduction in mortality and an increase in physical function. Your health improves. There&#8217;s an increase in muscular strength. There&#8217;s a reduction in depression. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Why? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Because you take your eyes and mind off your own issues and you start serving others and the depression you may have felt initially, it dissipates because serving is therapeutic. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Serving even reduces pain, and it increases life satisfaction. In other words, there&#8217;s a whole host of benefits associated with serving.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Serving is about coming alongside someone else and meeting their most precious need. Serving starts in the heart. Serving involves doing.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;"><b>Serving is a CHOICE</b></span></h3> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Matthew 20:25-28 says, “But Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.&#8217; ”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Jesus taught that it is your choice to serve. You must intentionally and willfully decide you want to serve and help people. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Something happens when your heart gets changed, where you can serve the needs of others. Foot washing modeled that. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Serving starts in the heart and involves doing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">But at the end of the day, serving is a choice that you must make.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">We can shake this generation for Christ because the Kingdom of God calls us to be servants. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Will you answer the call to serve?</span></p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> The Power of Gratitude David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:b70594c9-435b-5825-23bf-c646bdd9c447 Wed, 24 Nov 2021 05:00:59 -0600 (watch this message by clicking play below) Gratitude is a very important biblical principle. In fact, we have been charged by Scripture when we wake up, every day, to be... <p><span style="color: #000000;"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">(watch this message by clicking play below)</span></i></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Gratitude is a very important biblical principle. In fact, we have been charged by Scripture when we wake up, every day, to be able to have a heart filled with gratitude. Gratitude really is like medicine to our soul. It helps us to provide care for our mental health. </span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><b>It is a way we establish wellness. </b></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">In Psalm 103:1-5, David said, “With all my heart, I praise the Lord, and with all that I am, I praise his holy name! With all my heart I praise the Lord! I will never forget how kind he has been. The Lord forgives our sins, heals us when we are sick, and protects us from death. His kindness and love are a crown on our heads. Each day that we live, he provides for our needs and gives us the strength of a young eagle.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">David was acknowledging how kind and caring God had been to him. He has gratitude, just oozing out of his pores as he just lavished thankfulness and appreciation to God, not only for forgiving his sins but for forgiving our sins. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">In 2 Timothy 3:1-2, Paul says to Timothy, “You can be certain that in the last days there will be some very hard times. People will love only themselves and money. They will be proud, stuck-up, rude, and disobedient to their parents. They will also be ungrateful.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">If we&#8217;re not living in the last times, I don&#8217;t know when we&#8217;re living and the season that we&#8217;re living. If it was the last times in Paul&#8217;s days, 2000 years ago, how much more so today.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Paul says I want you to be mindful of what you observed to be an indicator you&#8217;re in the last days. And he tells us that people are going to be rude, proud, stuck-up and disobedient. But then he throws down this interesting perspective as an indicator of the last days, </span><b>people will be ungrateful</b><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">I have a friend who is a pastor in the Bronx. They have a soup kitchen and they were giving out hotdogs to homeless people. One homeless guy asked, “Do you guys have any sauerkraut?” And unfortunately, they didn&#8217;t. He got so angry that he got into a fistfight with the individuals giving out free food. He had no money. He had no food. He had no place to live and they&#8217;re giving him hot dogs. And what is he doing? Because he didn&#8217;t get sauerkraut, he starts a fight. Talk about ungratefulness. It&#8217;s everywhere. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">But ungratefulness is not just in those big issues like that man getting into a fistfight. Ungratefulness takes place when we find ourselves complaining, when we find ourselves envious or jealous, or hitting a place of discontentment. Those are signs that we may be ungrateful. </span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><b>Gratitude makes a huge impact on our hearts. </b></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Gratitude creates optimism.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Ingratitude creates pessimism. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Gratitude attracts people because people want to be around people that are grateful. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Ingratitude repels people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Gratitude cultivates humility.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Ingratitude cultivates pride.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Gratitude promotes happiness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Ingratitude promotes unhappiness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Happiness medicates the soul and lets you know it&#8217;s not all bad.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Ingratitude poisons the soul. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">We must fight against ingratitude because it&#8217;s poisonous, it&#8217;s infectious and it&#8217;s deadly. </span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><b>So, how do you unleash the power of gratitude in your life?</b></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">It starts with three questions.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Why show gratitude? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">How do I express gratitude?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">How do I cultivate gratitude? </span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;"><b>ONE: Why show gratitude? </b></span></h3> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">The word gratitude means the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful. Something goes on inside of you that says I am thankful, I am grateful. It is an emotion that speaks of pleasantness and then we have to act it out or follow through on it to convey what&#8217;s on the inside. </span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><b>Gratitude is internal, but we have to be thankful so the gratitude that’s experienced internally is expressed externally. </b></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">In Colossians 2:6-7, Paul says, “You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord. Now keep on following him. Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Paul is telling us there’s a command to be grateful. And he&#8217;s telling us that in essence, there are lots of benefits associated with you not only having gratitude but showing gratitude. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Researchers weighed in on the benefits of showing gratitude. UCLA and the Gallup Poll have documented powerful benefits in showing gratitude. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">There are physical health benefits associated with showing gratitude:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Faster recovery from heart problems </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Reduced risk of mortality from sickness and disease </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Improved cancer survival rate</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">There are relational health benefits associated with showing gratitude, like saying thanks:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">It improves relationships </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Cultivates goodwill in relationships</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">It allows for more positive actions, relationally</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Research also indicates that showing gratitude increases satisfaction when it comes to the idea of happiness as a mental health benefit:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Greater happiness is a result</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Greater sense of increased satisfaction </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Lowered level of stress </span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">When was the last time you said to someone that did something good for you, thank you?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">When was the last time you said to God for what He&#8217;s done for you, thank you?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">When was the last time you said to your supervisor, employer or teacher, thank you? </span></p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;"><b>TWO: How do I express gratitude? </b></span></h3> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Gratitude is a positive emotion that you express because of the kindness that has been shown to you. You&#8217;ve been a recipient of someone&#8217;s favor. Gratitude is saying, I see what you&#8217;ve done for me. I see how you&#8217;ve treated me. I see that it&#8217;s undeserved. And so let me express gratitude to you. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul gives us ways to express gratitude. He says, “Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">\Paul says to be joyous because that&#8217;s a way you express gratitude. </span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><b>Gratitude means thankfulness, appreciation and kindness. So when Paul says, display a joyous attitude, he’s saying it’s not all as bad as you&#8217;re thinking. </b></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Don&#8217;t let discontentment fill your heart and block out God&#8217;s goodness to you. Paul says to retain a prayerful attitude and not to always have this gloomy, hopeless, lackluster attitude. He says show prayerfulness which is a sign of appreciation and gratitude.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Gratitude changes everything on the inside. It changes your perspective. So it&#8217;s no longer negative and difficult, it becomes positive and opportunistic. In other words, the problem that you&#8217;re facing right now, did you ever think about thanking God for the problem?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">It doesn&#8217;t mean that you&#8217;re becoming a pessimist. When you do that, you’re thinking in a warped way. It&#8217;s simply acknowledging that maybe there&#8217;s a kernel of benefit that I will gain out of this problem. If I change my perspective to one of gratitude, then my eyes will be opened. The sight of my soul will be illuminated and I will not look at life this way. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Reframe the problem with an element of gratitude, reframe the difficult circumstances from a perspective of gratitude, rather than complaining and bellyaching and moaning about what&#8217;s going on. When you start doing that, it is amazing how light comes into your soul. Illumination comes to your mind and you&#8217;re able to see and understand things you never would&#8217;ve seen before. Why? Because you recognize the value of being able to express gratitude.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Identifying the benefits you get from the good things in your life provides a positive impact on the way you think and feel about yourself, others, and even your challenges.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">The only place the seeds of discouragement are impotent is in a heart filled with gratitude. If you fill up your heart with gratitude, give thanks to God, and show appreciation to others, Satan can&#8217;t discourage you. This is why it&#8217;s so important to release the power of gratitude in your life.</span></p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;"><b>THREE: How do I cultivate gratitude?</b></span></h3> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">How do you get a heart filled with gratitude? How do you cultivate it? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Colossians 3:15-17 gives us some answers to the question. It says, “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the word of Christ—The Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><b>Paul is saying you have to value what God&#8217;s done in your life, showing appreciation and thankfulness. </b></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Think about the kind acts that have been done for you throughout your life. You didn&#8217;t arrive at where you are right now by yourself. The success you have achieved and presently enjoy, you didn&#8217;t get here by yourself. There was a whole host of people along the way that did good things for you. There were kind words when you wanted to quit. When you wanted to walk away, do you remember those words? Do you remember the encouragement? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">You cultivate the sense of gratitude by not only remembering each person along the way, but by expressing thankfulness to them. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And what about those hard conversations? Someone that confronted you when everybody else just let you meander around when you might have been going down the wrong path. Someone confronted you strongly and firmly and told you you&#8217;re wrong. You&#8217;re dead wrong. Your perspective&#8217;s wrong. Your heart&#8217;s wrong. Your motives are wrong. Your motivations are wrong. They read you the riot act and it stung at first. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">But when you look back, you must be thankful because their counsel, although maybe not presented in the best way, saved you a lot of money, a lot of heartache, a lot of time. Have you told them thanks?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">The idea of cultivating gratitude in our hearts is something we all need to do. I want to give you a little homework assignment. Over the next 24 hours, can you connect with three people, just three, that have done something positive, favorable, trustworthy, valuable for you over the last 30 days and convey to them in your own way, THANK YOU. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And then begin to help your children and others around you to cultivate this sense of gratitude in their own lives. I guarantee you that you&#8217;ll have a more mentally healthy family. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And if you yourself would work at having prayers of thanksgiving and not just prayers of requests, but prayers that offer thanks, you will see the power of gratitude released into your life.</span></p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><span style="color: #000000;"> </span></p> Origin Story: Parable of the Three Bricklayers urn:uuid:81e87f2b-0e8a-1744-03c6-ed01adc9e614 Tue, 23 Nov 2021 14:45:48 -0600 While many versions of this story circulate over the internet and is retold in various talks and books, its original source has been traced back to a book by Bruce Barton, &#8220;What Can A Man Believe,&#8221; published in 1927. Here&#46;&#46;&#46; <p><a href="" rel="nofollow">Source</a></p> The Mentally Healthy Family David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:02653e51-7a23-dbf2-70e6-587974c35a5f Thu, 18 Nov 2021 20:44:51 -0600 (watch this message by clicking play below) Mental health is a delicate topic, but it’s one we can’t afford to ignore and not understand. The mental health collapse of people... <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">(watch this message by clicking play below)</span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mental health is a delicate topic, but it’s one we can’t afford to ignore and not understand. The mental health collapse of people makes the headlines almost every day and it’s why you need to see and hear what the Bible has to say about that. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Your mental health is of profound impact and value, not only to you and to your family, but also to the broader society. And to the kingdom of God. In Mark 6:31, Jesus had just finished a series of meetings. Amazing signs, wonders, miracles occurred. Thousands were impacted by the power of the Holy Spirit through His life.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mark 6:31 says, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ ”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The disciples were not the principal speaker or the primary leader but they were still giving out emotionally and engaged in the work of ministering to people. Though you may not be clergy or you may not even work in one of the service professions, whether a physician, a nurse, or someone in the restaurant industry, I want you to understand, you give out emotional energy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus was very concerned about the spiritual and mental health of His disciples. He was telling them you can’t just soldier on after you&#8217;ve gone through a series of work or extended time of ministry. Your mental health requires care. There must be a sense of resilience where you bounce back by renewing yourself and recharging yourself. You have to do the things that are preventative so that you can experience wellness so that your life and ministry are sustainable.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus gave His disciples three tips to help them really have a mentally healthy lifestyle. </span></p> <h3><b>TIP NUMBER ONE: SET LIMITS</b></h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In Mark 6:31 it says, they didn&#8217;t even have a chance to eat. You need to establish limits or boundaries that ensure that you&#8217;re not always in performance mode, work mode, school mode, that you&#8217;re not always in the doing mode.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It&#8217;s almost like you put a wall in place. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s like a therapeutic wall that says I can&#8217;t take another patient. I can&#8217;t see another person. I can&#8217;t respond to another email. I can&#8217;t have another meeting. Not right now. I&#8217;m not in the right place mentally. I&#8217;m setting limits. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus was saying to his disciples, I don&#8217;t want you to just soldier on. I want you to stop because if you&#8217;re not able to eat, sleep, exercise and you’re always on, it means you haven’t set limits. And that means you have a problem.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There must be limits in your life where you are able to say that your workday has come to a close and you can recharge. Jesus was telling His disciples, there&#8217;s always going to be people that are needy. There&#8217;s always going to be another miracle that must be worked. There&#8217;s always going to be another person that&#8217;s in need of prayer. There&#8217;s always going to be another person that&#8217;s in need of wisdom and insight because they&#8217;re going through a complex time in their lives. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus was not trying to simplify, reduce or devalue the needs of people. He was just simply telling His disciples, make sure you build into the structure of your life, limits that you set, as if it were a line you draw and say, that&#8217;s a line, that&#8217;s a boundary I&#8217;m drawing. And that boundary says, I don&#8217;t want to go past it, and I don&#8217;t want anyone else to pass it. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Pay attention to the interior part of your life, the fuel that you need in your soul. It&#8217;s so important. </span></p> <p><em><strong>Jesus was teaching His disciples to avoid burnout. </strong></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Don&#8217;t let your mental health be compromised to the point where you are not the best you, the real you, the one that God has called to help people. You will not be that if you don&#8217;t avoid burnout.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Burnout means physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. In other words, you&#8217;re listless. You&#8217;re not who you are supposed to be. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Pay attention because there are signs of burnout. There are things that increase inside of you while other things decrease inside of you. There are indicators that you&#8217;re on the verge of burnout. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For example, there&#8217;s an increase in cynicism. You&#8217;ll develop a sarcastic, jaded, cynical, skeptical perspective and you see it by your words. If you are becoming more and more cynical, you’re on the verge of burnout.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There’s a decrease in creativity. You&#8217;re emotionally exhausted and sapped of your creative energy. You&#8217;re not losing your touch. You just need to stop and set limits so you can recharge. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There&#8217;s an increase in exhaustion. You feel tired all the time. This can be felt in the areas of mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Sometimes it&#8217;s the anxiety level. Sometimes you&#8217;re watching too much news and overwhelmed with negativity. You wake up after a full night&#8217;s sleep and you&#8217;re still exhausted. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There&#8217;s a decrease in empathy. You stop having the same level of compassion and care like you once did. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There&#8217;s an increase of mistakes on your job and in your schoolwork, attention to detail has slipped. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There&#8217;s a decrease in motivation. You don&#8217;t have the same enthusiasm as you did before. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus tells us to set limits. Do you have these boundaries in your life that are very clear and defined? Are you able to say, I&#8217;m guarding my mental health?</span></p> <h3><b>TIP NUMBER TWO: TAKE BREAKS</b></h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus said to His disciples, come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. He was saying, take breaks. When you take breaks, you recognize the sacred rhythm of God, that there&#8217;s a work and rest cycle. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus was teaching His disciples that they must take a rest, don’t violate the sacred rhythm of God.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rest has to be a cycle. Work, rest, work, rest. That rhythm must be there. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you have a job or if you&#8217;re a student, you have schoolwork and you have to produce results, there&#8217;s a constant expectation. In other words, what did you do for me lately? Where&#8217;s the work output. Let me see your grades. Let me see your performance.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This whole idea of the work/rest cycle is very important. Your life should not be totally just about work. You may say, I enjoy my work, but you&#8217;re still violating God&#8217;s sacred rhythm. It may sound good right now, but it’s not sustainable and won’t continue for long. You may get all the people in your family angry at you because you&#8217;re always there in front of your screen and always absorbed at work. You&#8217;re sitting at the dining room table and instead of eating dinner and having family conversations, you&#8217;re checking your cellphone. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why not consider having a basket and all the cellphones go into the basket or all the cellphones go into another room and they are turned off, or on vibrate, and you can sit and just enjoy family.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus was trying to teach His disciples that there&#8217;s a sacred rhythm: work, rest, work rest. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You need to recognize the rest part of the cycle. The rest cycle allows you to take breaks and rejuvenate. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What do you do during the rest cycle? You get away. That&#8217;s what you do. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Change your physical surroundings. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That&#8217;s what Jesus was saying. Come with me, listen to your heart, and ask yourself questions. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Who am I? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Who am I becoming? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Who do I want to become? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These are penetrating questions and reflective questions that happen when you take a break. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus was telling us to get away and rest, and He was also telling us to get alone. Go to a quiet place. He said, when you&#8217;re alone, it gives you a chance to listen. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, what are you listening for? </span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>You&#8217;re listening for God&#8217;s heart. </strong></p> <p><strong>You&#8217;re listening for what God is saying. </strong></p> <p><strong>You’re listening for what God is saying to you. </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you took a break and got away to get together with others? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That&#8217;s the other critical piece when you deal with the issue of rest. Jesus said to His disciples come with me by yourselves. Part of rejuvenation, part of rest, is the social connections of people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You get away with others who are not asking you questions or trying to pick your brain. They&#8217;re not looking to be mentored by you. They&#8217;re not looking to be tutored. They are your peers, your contemporaries. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And Jesus said to His disciples, come with me by yourselves and get some rest. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In other words, the work, rest, work, rest cycle must be something that you put in place. </span></p> <h3><b>TIP NUMBER THREE: RECHARGE SPIRITUALLY</b></h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The presence of God is rejuvenating. When you&#8217;re exhausted and you go into the presence of God in worship, in prayer, in church service and in fellowship with your brothers and sisters, it rejuvenates you. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When you get into reading the Word and you&#8217;re sitting there, and you’re not in a hurry, you get recharged. Moses did that. When he came down from the mountain, being there for 40 days, he was recharged. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When you’re in the presence of God, you&#8217;re reminded why you&#8217;re doing what you&#8217;re doing. Why you’re serving your family the way you. Why you&#8217;re caring for your kids, the way you are. You are reminded why you&#8217;re so thoughtful about your job. You are reminded why you&#8217;re so concerned about your spiritual life and your church and the advancement of the kingdom of God.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When you&#8217;re in the presence of God, you&#8217;re reminded as to why you fell in love with Jesus. In the presence of God you say, God help me to fall in love with you all over again. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I&#8217;ve learned that there are different ways you access the manifest presence of God. Certainly, God is omnipresent. He&#8217;s everywhere at once. But the Bible teaches the manifest presence of God is equally real. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">God shows up at a specific place among a specific people at a specific time. And you sense His presence there. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What brings the manifest presence of God into your life? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Maybe it&#8217;s worship. That&#8217;s what it did for Elisha. In 2 Kings chapter three, Elisha was angry when certain Kings approached him and he said, bring me a minstrel, a harpist, someone anointed to cry out to God. When the harpists played, the presence of God came upon Elisha and he prophesied. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Maybe you are like Elijah. For Elijah, it was this sense of brutal honesty. In 1 Kings 19:10, Elijah was overwhelmed. He was suicidal. He was saying, God, kill me. I&#8217;m the only one left. And when he said that, the honesty of where he was, the spirit of God showed up, the manifest presence of God showed up.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You need to get into the presence of God. And I&#8217;m not just talking about your daily devotional time. You may need to have a special time on a specific day where for an hour you say, God, I just want to get with you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Everything I’ve talked about above applies to children and adults—it applies to everybody. You must set limits, take breaks and recharge spiritually. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Take a moment right now, close your eyes, block out the world around you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And I want to ask you this very pointed question. What is it that you&#8217;ve been wanting to say to the Lord, but you&#8217;ve been too busy and you have not had a chance to say it? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Let me ask you a second question. What is it that the Lord has been wanting to say to you but you&#8217;ve been too distracted to hear Him say it? </span></p> <p><strong>Talk to Him and listen to what He’s saying to you.</strong></p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Next Year’s Harvest David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:a4451e5a-e509-aeee-2770-5a88f8ed4449 Sat, 06 Nov 2021 08:01:09 -0500 (scroll to the bottom to watch the full teaching) There was a knock on the door of the hut occupied by a missionary in the Philippines. Answering, the missionary found... <p><em>(scroll to the bottom to watch the full teaching)</em></p> <p>There was a knock on the door of the hut occupied by a missionary in the Philippines. Answering, the missionary found one of the native boys holding a large fish in his hands.</p> <p>The boy said: “Pastor, you taught us what sowing and reaping is, so here—I’ve brought you a seed-faith offering.” As the missionary gratefully took the fish, he questioned the kid, “If this is your seed-faith offering, what is your family going to eat tonight?”</p> <p>At this, the boy beamed and said: “Oh, I’m going to catch them now. The harvest is back in the river.”</p> <p>This little boy was onto something. He knew that once he’s sown his seed, he had the right to expect a harvest. How do you decide the size of your financial seed? Let me share the four-step process I take when preparing to sow a financial seed.</p> <h3>Step 1: CONNECT with God.</h3> <p>Sowing a financial seed is a spiritual process. According to Paul, “And God, who supplies seed for the sower and bread to eat, will also supply you with all the seed you need and will make it grow and produce a rich harvest from your generosity” (2 Corinthians 9:10, GNT). He wasn’t talking about agricultural seeds. He was speaking about money.</p> <p>Since God is the supplier of seed and the harvest planting is a spiritual activity, connecting with Him is wise. I usually bathe the planting opportunity in prayer, sometimes adding fasting. This is done over several days. I don’t want my decision to simply be a financial one.</p> <p>Prayer helps to overcome the confusion that planting a financial seed is merely giving money away. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Although the gift will go towards a worthy cause or the work of ministry, God views my gift as seed. And it’s not just a seed. It’s my seed that He’ll make grow to produce a rich harvest. Therefore, I connect with God to ensure my giving is genuine and heartfelt versus insincere or obligatory.</p> <h3>Step 2: COMMUNICATE with family and friends.</h3> <p>Most people nowadays are far removed from the farm. By default, the principle of sowing and reaping also becomes far removed from our lives. It’s never that way with farmers. Not in Bible days, nor in our day. The farmer in a very special sense is made to see his dependence upon God each season. From the time he sows the seed to the day he sees the corn in the ear, he’s dependent upon the Lord.</p> <p>He’s dependent for sunshine and showers in every season so the grains can ripen for harvest. The farmer must look up, for where else can he look? He must leave his business in the Lord&#8217;s hands, for who else can be his helper?</p> <p>What would happen if you communicated your newfound knowledge about sowing and reaping with friends and relatives? Who knows, God may use you to help change their destiny.</p> <h3>Step 3: CONSIDER your giving potential.</h3> <p>Immediately after a pastor made an appeal in church for a great and worthy cause, a member of the church approached him with a check for $50, asking at the same time if her gift was satisfactory. The pastor instantly replied, “If it represents you.”</p> <p>There was a moment of soul-searching by the woman and she asked to have the check back. A day or two later she returned, handing the pastor a check for $5,000 and again asked the same question, “Is my gift satisfactory?” The pastor gave the same answer as before, “If it represents you?” As before, a truth seemed to be driving deeply in her heart. After a few moments of hesitation, she took back the check and left.</p> <p>Later in the week she came again with a check. This time it was for $50,000. As she placed it in the pastor’s hand, she said, “After earnest, prayerful thought, I have come to the conclusion that this gift does represent me and I am happy to give it.”</p> <p>Since sowing is a spiritual process, strive to develop your giving potential. After all, you must grow in every area of life. This includes your financial life.</p> <h3>Step 4: COMMIT to practicing generosity.</h3> <p>God encourages generosity. When Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only…” (John 3:16, italics mine), this selfless act modeled the greatest act of generosity. Generosity is not the amount of your financial gift. Generosity has to do with the value of that gift to you.</p> <p>Paul weighs in when he told the Corinthians, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7, NIV).</p> <p>Commit to practicing generosity—because this year’s seed determines next year’s harvest!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Contextual Study: Witness in Beroea perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:09bbc9fb-15d3-642b-1d68-f6cc1c2b2d15 Fri, 05 Nov 2021 14:12:18 -0500 Jan Paron, PhD &#124; November 5, 2021 During Paul’s second missionary trip from 49 AD to 52 AD, he journeyed &#8230;<p><a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD | November 5, 2021</p> <p>During Paul’s second missionary trip from 49 AD to 52 AD, he journeyed the eastern corridor of the Aegean Sea<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn1"><sup>[1]</sup></a>&nbsp;down Via&nbsp;Egnatia&nbsp;making his way through the provinces of Syria (Acts 15:36-40), Cilicia (15:41), Galatia (16:6), Macedonia (17), and Achaia (18).<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn2"><sup>[2]</sup></a>&nbsp;As he traveled,&nbsp;Paul&nbsp;delivered the Council of Jerusalem decrees to new believers (16:4). Additionally, the apostle carried the message of the Good News with him to the Jews and carved out a new mission to the Gentiles.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn3"><sup>[3]</sup></a><strong>&nbsp;</strong>From a contextualization aspect, perhaps, the center point of this journey lies in his ministry in Thessalonica (17:1-9),&nbsp;Beroea (or Berea)&nbsp;(vv. 10-15), and Athens (vv. 16-34). There, one sees the diversity of his communication strategies that he adapted to culture for the purpose of bridging the salvific message as part of his Macedonian Call.<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Keeping in mind the varied populace Paul encountered, this writing specifically focuses on the apostle’s Beroean ministry to examine elements of the city inhabitant’s historical, cultural, and social backgrounds that influenced his contextualization methodology in a cross-cultural setting. The study analyzes ethnic Jews, prominent Greek women, and Greek men who comprised his audiences (vv. 11-12). Why look back at Paul’s evangelistic adaptations in the early church’s inception?&nbsp;In its ageless truths, Scripture provides lessons for the believer with methods for contemporary mission through examination of Paul’s communicative approaches to the uniqueness of wide-ranging people groups.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" data-attachment-id="6052" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="480,360" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="9C26FCD5-4BFF-4DAE-BB3E-C759D77BA9DC_4_5005_c" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="wp-image-6052 aligncenter" src="" alt="9C26FCD5-4BFF-4DAE-BB3E-C759D77BA9DC_4_5005_c" width="335" height="251" srcset=";h=251 335w,;h=113 150w,;h=225 300w, 480w" sizes="(max-width: 335px) 100vw, 335px"></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"></p> <p>To understand Paul’s contextualization techniques in his&nbsp;Beroean&nbsp;ministry, one first needs to delve briefly into the historical aspects of the Jerusalem Council within the scope of his Macedonian Call backdropping Paul’s second missionary trip. Paul began his journey on the back of the resolved conflict from the Jerusalem Council based on contextualization issues that arose from the influx of Gentile Christians into the young church. The Council of Jerusalem holds an integral piece to understanding God’s redemptive plan for both Jews and Gentiles as it approaches a pivotal moment for the Church in terms of expanding outward from Jerusalem to the nations. Further, it addressed several cultural issues pertaining to the Gentiles. Must the Gentiles become Jews first embracing the lifestyle of the law? Or could they retain their culture taking on membership in the community of believers? Further would the Jerusalem church approve of unhindered outreach to the Gentiles?”<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn4"><sup>[4]</sup></a>&nbsp;Contention arose over Gentiles being circumcised and keeping the law of Moses to determine salvation (15:1, 5). The apostle and elders resolved it, noting God did not distinguish between the Jews and Gentiles purifying their hearts all the same (vv. 7-9). The council chose Paul, Barnabas, Judas Barsabas, and Silas to deliver the message to Gentile believers (v. 22). Later, Paul separated from Barnabas and traveled with Silas to strengthen the churches. Yet, Paul faced these same culturally-based issues that created liminal boundaries to cross with intentional strategies in mission. His methodologies involved contextualization. Strong defined contextualization as the “relationship of the Christian faith to its cultural context.”<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn5"><sup>[5]</sup></a>&nbsp;As Paul obeyed the Spirit’s Macedonian Call resulting from a vision at Troas (16:9-10), he encountered diverse people groups of which to adapt the method of delivering the good news.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center has-vivid-red-color has-text-color" id="ethnic-jews"><strong>Ethnic Jews</strong></h3> <p>Heeding the Macedonian Call posed challenges for Paul. He did not persuade many of the Jews resulting in agitators stirring up the city and his departure. His Thessalonian ministry followed suit likewise. After fleeing Thessalonica under the cover of darkness from angry Jews, Paul left for Beroea (v. 10). Locationally,&nbsp;Beroea&nbsp;lies 60 miles south of Thessalonica, also part of Macedonia (v.10).<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn6"><sup>[6]</sup></a>&nbsp;Thus, he traveled the&nbsp;Via Egnatia or the Roman Road once again<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn7"><sup>[7]</sup></a>&nbsp;<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn8"><sup>[8]</sup></a>&nbsp;Paul probably arrived around 51 AD, during his second missionary trip but before the fall of the second temple in 70 AD.&nbsp;By the time of Paul’s visit,&nbsp;Beroea had grown to a prosperous city with a large Jewish colony (v. 10)<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn9"><sup>[9]</sup></a>The Jews in Beroea either settled there from people exiled previously from the Northern or Southern Kingdoms. The Roman Empire protected the Jewish religion at this time.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn10"><sup>[10]</sup></a>&nbsp;Nonetheless,&nbsp;Paul addressed three groups with the message of salvation: Berean Jews, prominent women, and Greek men (Acts 17:12).</p> <p>While Luke did not say whether Paul stopped immediately at the synagogue, the narrator highlighted it as his first stop.&nbsp;Acts 17:10 notes that Paul and Silas went to the synagogue upon arrival.” Luke specifically qualified it as the synagogue of the Jews. The Beroeans were Judean Jews. The synagogue served as a place of Torah study or worship. Malina described a synagogue of the Jews as a gathering or assembly, meeting place, or men’s community center for Judeans.&nbsp;When ten or more Jewish male adults meet, the group can call it a synagogue, even in someone&#8217;s residence.&nbsp;As the assembly’s membership grows, they would put up a dedicated building with its size reflecting the economic side of the community.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn11"><sup>[11]</sup></a>&nbsp;The fact that Beroea had its own synagogue reflects the number of ethnic Jews in the community and their wealth. Greek Israelites had their own separate synagogue.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn12"><sup>[12]</sup></a>&nbsp;Therefore, one might surmise that Paul only witnessed to Israelite Judeans in the synagogue rather than Hellenistic. Further, while the term Judean characterized both devout Judeans and assimilated Israelite Greeks, culturally speaking, Hellenistic Israelites from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and Asia went to a separate synagogue called the &#8220;synagogue of the Freedmen.&#8221; Acts 6:9 cited one in Jerusalem.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn13"><sup>[13]</sup></a>&nbsp;The Greek Israelites were less informed about traditions, while more assimilated to the Mediterranean behaviors and values from non-Israelites. Whether Berea had a separate synagogue for Hellenistic converts, Luke did not specify.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn14"><sup>[14]</sup></a></p> <p>Perhaps, Paul intentionally stopped there because it had a sizable population of Jews.&nbsp;Ramsey supported this theory believing Paul went to Berea because of the Jewish settlers there. The synagogue provided a place for his gospel witness.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn15"><sup>[15]</sup></a>&nbsp;Nevertheless, Paul stopped in the synagogues upon visiting a town as was his custom (17:2). It additionally may have been habitual insofar as remaining true to his identity&nbsp;as a Jew educated at the feet of Gamaliel (22:3). Scripture does note&nbsp;Paul went to the synagogue of the Jews as customary to him and evangelized to them (13:5; 14:1; 17:1, 2, 10). Nonetheless, it provided him with a ready audience for testimony. Scriptural reference to Paul’s took advantage of a ready audience by going to the synagogue of the Jews in Berea.&nbsp;Berea had grown to a prosperous city in Roman times with a large Jewish community.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn16"><sup>[16]</sup></a>&nbsp;Thus, he met where they already had congregated.</p> <p>In contrast to<em>&nbsp;</em>the Thessalonians, Luke describes the Bereans as&nbsp;<em>eugenes&nbsp;</em>meaning well born.&nbsp;Luke contrasted Bereans to Thessalonians of which the former showed a character of nobleness, while the latter one of rabble rouser. Thus, Berean character influenced the setting’s culture. According to Johnson, nobleness means well born (Greek:&nbsp;<em>eugenes</em>)<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn17"><sup>[17]</sup></a>&nbsp;First Cor 1:26 and Luke 19:12 implies&nbsp;<em>eugenes</em>&nbsp;describes a person of higher standing with a social status in the world. In the context of the verse, however, it would seem to mean more gracious and open minded. Upholding this supposition, the NKJV describes&nbsp;<em>eugenes</em>&nbsp;as fair-minded and NLT as open-minded. Acts 17:11 illustrates their open-mindedness to Scripture with three verbs, received, searched, and find.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn18"><sup>[18]</sup></a>&nbsp;Thus,&nbsp;the Bereans received what Paul had to say. The group examined the Scripture daily with eagerness to confirm what he had said (Acts 17:11). The word examine in Greek can indicate a legal examination of witnesses (4:9; 12:19; 24:8; 28:18). Malina saw this as suitable since Paul’s testimony utilized Israelite traditions.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn19"><sup>[19]</sup></a>&nbsp;Acts 17:11b notes the Bereans “searched the Scriptures daily to find outwhether these things were so.” This alludes to a written form of either the Torah and/or prophetic documents. Perhaps, Paul crafted his teaching in testimony fashion, knowing the Bereans would confirm it in Scripture as their touchstone of truth.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn20"><sup>[20]</sup></a></p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center has-vivid-red-color has-text-color" id="prominent-greek-women"><strong>Prominent Greek Women&nbsp;</strong><strong></strong></h3> <p>Like Thessalonica, Paul’s audience in Beroea also had a Greek character. Aside from the ethnic Jews who received the word of God, a number of prominent Greek women (Greek:&nbsp;<em>euschémón</em>; εὐσχήμων, ον)&nbsp;also believed it (v. 12). Luke indicates their presence in reverse order than the Thessalonian account listing prominent Greek first in Beroea (v. 4). Within the cultural and social framework of Acts, the narrator highlights the role of women in the early church’s formation as all one in Christ. Ashley added that women, too, acted as recipients of God&#8217;s favor. Throughout Acts and the Pauline epistles, women became full members of Jesus’ faith community and later took on roles as leaders.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn21"><sup>[21]</sup></a></p> <p>At the time of Paul’s ministry, Beroea had been the seat of the provincial assembly of Macedonia. The high priest of the imperial cult headed it.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn22"><sup>[22]</sup></a>&nbsp;While an established city under Roman rule, Greek women had few rights as opposed to men. Jeffers stated married women had to abide by established household duties. Even upper-class women had to remain inside the home except when participating in important events. Notwithstanding, male relatives had to accompany them outside the home.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn23"><sup>[23]</sup></a>&nbsp;Working under these social regulations, prominent women either heard Paul in the company of their husbands or another male relative. Conceivably, the wife believed, but the husband did not. Lydia, a Macedonian, contrasts to general Hellenist gender limitations established during the classical period. Bruce explained that Macedonian women characteristically conducted themselves independently from men. Further, he said that the Roman law governing the colony allowed for different privileges for freeborn women with three children and freedwomen with four children. Their privileges included rights to make legal transactions on their own.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn24"><sup>[24]</sup></a>&nbsp;Thus, prominent women in Beroea may have had more freedom than women in other cities that Paul visited.&nbsp;Further, the fact that Luke mentioned prominent women first, may indicate that these same women who received the word of God may have played a major role later in the formation of the early church.&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center has-vivid-red-color has-text-color" id="greek-men"><strong>Greek Men</strong></h3> <p>Luke mentioned Greek men among the believers as well as the prominent women in Beroea. In 17:12, he did not describe the Beroean men (Greek:&nbsp;andrōn; ἀνδρῶν) who believed further. However, he referred to the Thessalonian men as devout (Greek:&nbsp;<em>sebomenōn</em>;&nbsp;σεβομένων; 17:4).&nbsp;His reference leaves the reader wondering whether Paul evangelized to God-fearers, proselytes, or pagans&nbsp;(cf. 1 Thes1:5–2:16 for Paul’s account of the church’s founding). It additionally gives rise to the location where the Greek men heard Paul teach. Luke did not specify where. Luke made it clear that Paul evangelized to both Jews and Gentiles in the synagogue during the apostle’s travels to Antioch (Acts 13:16; 43, 48), Iconium (14:1-2), Thessalonica (17:1-4); and Corinth (18:4).</p> <p>In Acts 10:2, Luke describes Cornelius as a God-fearer. He prayed to God continually and did many works of charity for the people. In essence, Cornelius had familiarity with the God of Israel and probably encountered Jewish people. Kraabel notes from&nbsp;<em>Pauly-Wissowa,&nbsp;</em>that<em>&nbsp;</em>God-fearers (Greek:&nbsp;<em>sebomenoi&nbsp;</em>or&nbsp;<em>phoboumenoi ton theon)</em>&nbsp;frequented synagogue services, held scriptural, monotheistic beliefs, and participated in some ceremonial traditions of the Law, but did not convert fully through circumcision.”<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn25"><sup><sup>[25]</sup></sup></a>&nbsp;Acts 10:2 uses the adjective&nbsp;<em>phobeō</em>&nbsp;(cf. Acts 17:4&nbsp;<em>sebō</em>). Paul did not describe the Greek men in Beroea as either&nbsp;<em>sebomenoi&nbsp;</em>or&nbsp;<em>phoboumenoi ton theon.</em>&nbsp;Having been assimilated to Mediterranean values and cultures, the Greeks in Beroea probably had shown favor toward the Jews, perhaps in offering financial support for a local synagogue.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn26"><sup>[26]</sup></a>&nbsp;In contrast, Gentile proselytes became full members of the Jewish community by full adherence to the letter of the law and its traditions, including circumcision. They also went through purity rites via baptism.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn27"><sup>[27]</sup></a>&nbsp;Few Greek men went that far. Some of the converts could have been Gentile pagans, worshippers of multiple gods. Esler believed most Gentiles mentioned in Lucan writings had converted to Christianity from idolatry; however, they previously had been associated with the Jewish synagogues.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn28"><sup>[28]</sup></a>&nbsp;From a cultural standpoint, ancient Macedonians during the Hellenistic periods had distinct ethnic characteristics from Greeks. Thus, pagan converts formerly held polytheistic views, but their gods did not include those from Greece.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn29"><sup>[29]</sup></a>&nbsp;Stefov noted Macedonians may have looked toward the philosophical and theological theories associated with a single divine being&#8211;a God in heaven.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn30"><sup>[30]</sup></a>Notwithstanding, whether a God-fearer, Jewish proselyte, or pagan, Paul had the opportunity to minister in a field ready for harvest.</p> <p>Presumably, Paul would have presented Christ to the Gentile Beroeans with different nomenclature and language. The Macedonians spoke koine Greek. The passage does not mention translators, so Paul must have had knowledge of Greek to communicate with them. God-fearers, proselytes, and pagans more than likely would not have had the same familiarity with Scripture as the ethnic Jews. With this presumption, Paul would have made adaptations to the way he presented Christ to the Gentile Beroeans so they would understand the gospel.&nbsp;</p> <p>In a larger scope of Paul’s contact with Gentiles, he may have interacted with them in multiple areas like the synagogue, marketplace, or trade guilds of tentmaking. Scripture highlights the presence of God-fearers in the synagogue (ie., 14:1; 17:1-4). For example, in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch, Paul addressed the assembly as “Men of Israel, and you who fear God,” (13:16).&nbsp;A great multitude of devout Greeks in the Thessalonica synagogue believed Jesus is the Christ (17:4).&nbsp;Another possibility of Gentile witness existed through mixed table-fellowship in which Paul spoke to Jews and Greeks who had attended synagogue. Nevertheless, Paul’s message of salvation went to the Jews first (cf. 13:46). Since Scripture does not specify it, one only can draw hypothetical conclusions through a historical reconstruction of Luke and Paul&#8217;s letters analyzing his patterns of witness. With surety, Paul preached to the Diaspora Jews and Greek men in bringing both into the community of believers.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center has-vivid-red-color has-text-color" id="paul-s-contextualization-strategies"><strong>Paul’s Contextualization Strategies&nbsp;</strong></h3> <p><strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</strong>Paul’s contextualization strategies in Acts 17:10-15 encompass location, rhetorical technique, culture, and gender. As customary for Paul, he would witness in the synagogue (13:5; 14:1; 17:1, 2, 10). Location played an important role in this passage as Paul brought the word there. In addition to the ethnic Jews, he may have interacted with prominent Greek men and Greek men there (17:12). Paul adapted his rhetorical technique to the Beroean Jews in the synagogue.&nbsp;Malina saw Paul’s manner of teaching as a testimony utilizing Israelite traditions.<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn31"><sup>[31]</sup></a>&nbsp;It worked well with the open-minded Beroeans&nbsp;who responded to Paul by receiving, searching, and finding scriptural evidence to confirm his message to them (v. 11).<a href="//C9172211-D2BB-4578-9C7A-C08B77348832#_ftn32"><sup>[32]</sup></a>&nbsp;The word examine (NIV) in Greek can indicate a legal examination of witnesses (4:9; 12:19; 24:8; 28:18).&nbsp;</p> <p>One key point to take away from Paul’s witnessing strategies comes with his ability to bring the gospel message to the cultures associated with ethnic Jews, Gentiles, and women. He reached across diverse cultures that traversed ethnicity and gender. The fact that his reach encompassed multiple people groups, ensured a greater chance that new converts would pass along what they learned to others within their own cultures of a collectivist society. Insofar as Gentiles, they would witness the gospel to the dominant culture of other Macedonians or Roman citizens in Beroea. When Paul left Berea because of Thessalonian agitators, Silas and Timothy stayed behind. They have done so to calm the grounds, but additionally to establish a church there. It would seem Redemptive Kingdom Diversity, An Interview with Jarvis Williams The Front Porch urn:uuid:ff1217f6-4d86-0d09-0237-4692cc64d366 Tue, 02 Nov 2021 12:22:46 -0500 <p>In this episode, Louis and Jarvis talk about his new book Redemptive Kingdom Diversity. A great conversation about an excellent book. </p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Redemptive Kingdom Diversity, An Interview with Jarvis Williams</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" title="Redemption Kingdom Diversity by The Front Porch Podcast" width="1080" height="400" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=";;show_artwork=true&#038;maxheight=1000&#038;maxwidth=1080"></iframe></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Redemptive Kingdom Diversity, An Interview with Jarvis Williams</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> The Law of the Harvest David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:7f2d8d6b-99ad-3389-afdf-f372d83c023e Sun, 31 Oct 2021 09:42:31 -0500 One day in July, a farmer sat in front of his shack, smoking his corncob pipe. Along came a stranger who asked, “How’s your cotton coming?” “Ain’t got none,” was... <p>One day in July, a farmer sat in front of his shack, smoking his corncob pipe. Along came a stranger who asked, “How’s your cotton coming?”</p> <p>“Ain’t got none,” was the answer. “Didn’t plant none. ‘Fraid of the boll weevil.”</p> <p>The stranger then asked, “Well, how’s your corn?”</p> <p>“Didn’t plant none. ‘Fraid o’ drouth,” the farmer replied.</p> <p>Next, the stranger asked, “How about your potatoes?”</p> <p>“Ain’t got none. Scairt o’ tater bugs,” the farmer retorted.</p> <p>The stranger finally asked, “Well, what did you plant?”</p> <p>“Nothin,” answered the farmer. “I just played it safe.”</p> <p>If you know the Law of the Harvest, you won’t play it safe. Reaping is not magical. You must first plant. Why? Like gravity, the Law of the Harvest always works irrespective of the user. Four principles, when followed, constitute the Law of the Harvest.</p> <h3>Principle #1: You reap what you sow.</h3> <p>I don’t know any farmer who plants apple seeds hoping to reap tomatoes. Apple seeds produce apple trees that bear apples. Tomato seeds produce tomatoes. You reap what you sow. The Bible was written in an agrarian society. God’s ancient people easily connected the biblical metaphors to their daily lives.</p> <p>Paul declared, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7, NIV). Although Paul was speaking to an issue broader than the farm, he was warning the Galatians not to turn up their nose in the air by scorning God. You mock God by not realizing: Your lifestyle is the harvest of the seeds of your behavior. Similarly, when you plant financially you reap financially. This includes all aspects of resources.</p> <p>A seed cannot remain a seed forever. You reap what you sow.</p> <h3>Principle #2: You prepare before you sow.</h3> <p>My opening story showed a fearful farmer. He’d convinced himself that every difficulty was lurking around the proverbial corner. So he was not prepared to plant any seeds. This paralysis can easily happen to anyone of us. Solomon cautioned, “If you worry about the weather and don’t plant seeds, you won’t harvest a crop” (Ecclesiastes 11:4, CEV).</p> <p>Preparation is a precursor to sowing. You have to engage your faith to dismantle doubt, unbelief, and fear in order to apply the principles that lead to God’s promises. By fixing your eyes on Jesus, your faith is engaged. Reviewing your past victories also activates faith.</p> <p>Preparing to sow may require you to sell some stuff on eBay, eat out less frequently, or finally establishing a budget. In other words, to prepare for sowing you must be intentional.</p> <h3>Principle #3: You reap later than you sow.</h3> <p>The next day after planting sunflower seeds I was angry. I was only 10 years old. I thought the garden center ripped me off. There were no sunflower plants much less sunflowers. My disappointment was quickly reversed in a few months. The six-foot-tall sunflowers beautifully adorned my little garden.</p> <p>A critical lesson was learned: You reap later than you sow. Paul said, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV). Once sown, there is a gestation period to your financial seeds. Everything has a gestation period. Elephants carry their offspring for 22 months while opossums typically emerge from the womb in 12 days.</p> <p>While there is no exact timeline as to how long it takes to reap after you sow, what we are aware of is this: God is keeping watch. The seed that leaves your hand never leaves your life. It goes into your future and there produces a harvest. Be patient! You reap later than you sow.</p> <h3>Principle #4: You reap more than you sow.</h3> <p>Are you familiar with corn math? One kernel (or seed) of corn typically produces two large ears on one corn plant. The number of kernels per ear is about 1,000. Using corn math, the seeds from two ears of corn (or 2,000 kernels) would yield 4,000 large ears of corn (or 4 million kernels). That’s incredible. That’s corn math. Whether you choose to sow corn, compassion, or cash, the principle is irrefutable: You reap more than you sow.</p> <p>Jesus puts it this way, “Still other seed fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted” (Mark 4:8, NLT)! If you’re expecting a harvest, remember: You reap more than you sow.</p> <p>To predict a future blessing: Remember the Law of the Harvest.</p> Should I Plant a Seed? David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:8daf45f9-021b-e115-585a-65972c81f775 Sat, 23 Oct 2021 10:19:10 -0500 (Watch the full message by scrolling to the bottom of the page) &#160; There is never a perfect time to plant a financial seed. Whether it’s an unexpected bill, the... <p class="mt-5 text-left wow fadeInUp text-extra-large alt-font text-extra-dark-gray font-weight-400 content-text"><em>(Watch the full message by scrolling to the bottom of the page)</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="mt-5 text-left wow fadeInUp text-extra-large alt-font text-extra-dark-gray font-weight-400 content-text">There is never a perfect time to plant a financial seed. Whether it’s an unexpected bill, the urge to buy the latest electronic gadget, or the economic uncertainty spawned by the global pandemic, the challenge of sowing a seed is always ill-timed.</p> <p>I get it. To a normal person the thought of planting a seed during tough times sounds preposterous. And the person daring to make this bold ask appears almost devilish. You want to get away from them. But before you do, there are three issues to ponder and pray about.</p> <p class="mt-5 text-left wow fadeInUp text-extra-large alt-font text-extra-dark-gray font-weight-400 content-text"><b>1. Planting is MY choice.</b></p> <p>Paul approached the Corinthians about giving financially towards the struggling believers in Jerusalem. His request to plant a seed appeared ill-timed because they were dealing with their own problems—sexual immorality, suing one another in public court, and even abuse of the sacred communion meal. Knowing that planting is a choice, the clever apostle knew it was not his place to issue the Corinthians’ <b>no</b> for them. Let them say “no” to the request, if they so choose.</p> <p>To help the Corinthians process the request, Paul cites the Macedonians’ response to the same request. Talking about an ill-timed ask, Paul wrote, “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:2, NIV). The Macedonians were facing a huge test. While the Bible is silent about the specifics of their difficulties, two things are certain: They were facing <i>extreme poverty and excessive persecution</i>.</p> <p>Instead of dismissing Paul’s request with a firm “no,” these poverty-stricken believers did something to show how rich they really were. They brought the matter to God in prayer (2 Corinthians 8:5).</p> <p class="mt-5 text-left wow fadeInUp text-extra-large alt-font text-extra-dark-gray font-weight-400 content-text"><b>2. Planting is MY opportunity.</b></p> <p>The Macedonians realized planting is an opportunity to access a harvest. The principle of sowing and reaping, also known as giving and receiving, is a divine law the Early Church practiced. Paul said, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6, NIV). Although planting is a choice, Paul highlighted that reaping follows sowing. Put another way: When you sow you should expect to reap.</p> <p>In essence, planting is an opportunity to reap a harvest. There are ethical and moral pitfalls to be avoided. If you are planting only with the selfish aim to reap a harvest, that’s not good. The Macedonians and Corinthians were urged to plant for the moral good of helping the destitute believers in Jerusalem. This was to be their primary aim and moral compass.</p> <p>Yet, our good is never devoid of personal benefits. This is precisely why Paul said, “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard-pressed, but that there might be equality” (2 Corinthians 8:13, NIV). Whenever you seize the opportunity to sow, God watches over the seed to ensure a harvest.</p> <p class="mt-5 text-left wow fadeInUp text-extra-large alt-font text-extra-dark-gray font-weight-400 content-text"><b>3. Planting requires MY faith.</b></p> <p>I feel a bit unspiritual after reading the Macedonians’ response to Paul’s request. Instead of rejecting the idea outright, they first prayed. In my earlier days as a Christian, I used to immediately reject the idea of planting a financial seed. As I matured, I realized the real issue driving my knee-jerk reaction was my faith—or should I say: my lack of faith. I used to disguise my faithlessness with the notion that the request was ill-timed. Or, the person making the ask is unrealistic, selfish, or needy.</p> <p>While that may be true of some leaders, in my case I was struggling with not knowing how to exercise faith. If faith is never exercised it will lay there dormant, only to lose value and potency. This is precisely why the Macedonians exercised their faith and why I urge you to read the entirety of 2 Corinthians 8. They did not let their circumstances dictate their actions. They first went to God. Next, they saw sowing as a bridge and not a barrier to their harvest. Finally, they connected sowing and reaping to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (2 Corinthians 8:9). A seed sown is akin to being dead and buried. When it germinates and grows it’s like being resurrected. It took faith on Jesus’ part to die for our sins believing God would raise Him. Planting requires faith, and His act of faith produced a harvest of countless sons and daughters!</p> <p class="mt-5 mb-5 text-left wow fadeInUp text-extra-large alt-font text-extra-dark-gray font-weight-400 content-text">Before you go, please answer this question: Should I plant a seed?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Post Exilic Theology of Hope: Ezra 10:2-11 perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:317946d5-1f02-10fc-32f3-2fc9188f87ef Fri, 22 Oct 2021 19:37:25 -0500 Jan Paron, PhD &#124; October 22, 2021 With the intermarriage dilemma in focus, this essay aims to show how regathered &#8230;<p><a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD | October 22, 2021</p> <p>With the intermarriage dilemma in focus, this essay aims to show how regathered Israel interpreted and responded to “yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this” from Ezr 10:2-11 in relation to Dt 6:4 during the rebuilding of the temple period as exhibited by the returnees’ actions in the book of Ezra. The intermarriages of the exiled golah from Babylon with those outside their community occurred during their post-exilic reformation upon resettling in the Yehud Persian province of Jerusalem and Judah. The exiled returned there without their cultural identity markers customarily associated with their independent statehood, land, temple, and king. Moffat noted this necessitated the golah reconstruct their identity.<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn1"><sup>[1]</sup></a>&nbsp;Thus, they formed new social ones as assimilation influenced their cultural practices.&nbsp;</p> <p><img loading="lazy" data-attachment-id="6029" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="734,466" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="883feb9b-6f51-4739-b5a7-384f3be8117c_1_201_a" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="wp-image-6029 aligncenter" src="" alt="883feb9b-6f51-4739-b5a7-384f3be8117c_1_201_a" width="389" height="247" srcset=";h=247 389w,;h=95 150w,;h=190 300w, 734w" sizes="(max-width: 389px) 100vw, 389px"></p> <p>The returnees did carry over the ancestral lineage of their father’s house, as noted in the genealogical listings in chapters two and eight to the new community. The lineages highlighted their maintenance of Jewish heritage in keeping to the exclusion of foreign nations. Those relocating back to Israel from the first wave of exiled returnees had to prove their descendancy from Israel (Ezr 2:59). The names listed in chapters 1-6 provided genealogical tracings reminiscent of pre-exilic history. Like the genealogical descendent tracings from the early return, Ezra listed those who returned with him from Babylonia by their father’s house (8:1). Perhaps, in their identity reformation over the subsequent generations, they lost their original sense and purpose as God’s chosen during the resettlement process by not separating themselves from the people of the land through marriage. Though, the text does not specify the reason for intermarriage, we only can ascertain from a distant reader location that economics, politics, marriage partners, or assimilation influences resulted in them compromising the holy seed through outside marriages. While modern readers may view intermarriage as a discriminatory practice of exclusion,<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn2"><sup>[2]</sup></a>&nbsp;the post-exiled perspective understood breaking covenant through intermarrying as separating the golah community from the Lord God would incur His wrath. Nonetheless, Christ followers can learn from Israel’s pagan joining about being “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (1 Cor 6:14) and its effects upon spiritual growth and relationship with God.<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn3"><sup>[3]</sup></a></p> <p>To comprehend the holy seed defilement in Ezr 10 and development of their theology of hope in this context requires a look at the golah departure from exile. Chronicling the history that led to the foreign marriage crisis among the returnees from exile in 10:2-11, events begin with their initial release. King Cyrus Persia issued a proclamation allowing the remnant of Israel, the golah captives from Babylon, to return to the Yehud to rebuild the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem (1:1-3). Cyrus’ action initiated a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy for the completion of a seventy-year exile, and the remnant’s hoped for mercy from the Lord God for their restoration to the land (Jer 25:11-12).<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn4"><sup>[4]</sup></a></p> <p>Several rulers and generations of the resettled golah later, King Artaxerxes of Persia in the seventh year of his reign, decreed Ezra should conduct an inquiry into the situation in Judah and Jerusalem based on God’s law (Ezr 7:14). Ezra also had directions to continue support for the temple as well as teach and implement the law of the God of heaven (7:21). The king described Ezra as a priest and teacher of the law (v. 14). In this capacity and under the king’s authority, Ezra left for Jerusalem with the second wave of exiled returnees (v. 13).</p> <p>&nbsp;With his authority in hand and God’s favor upon him,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Ezra traveled to Jerusalem to&nbsp;teach the golah community the statutes and rules&nbsp;under the law of Moses&nbsp;(7:10). What did Ezra learn about the state of the resettled remnant in the period subsequent to their earlier return to the Yehud?&nbsp;<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn5"><sup>[5]</sup></a>&nbsp;Leaders brought to his attention the people of Israel, including the priests and Levites, had not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands (9:2).<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn6"><sup>[6]</sup></a>&nbsp;<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn7"><sup>[7]</sup></a>&nbsp;Redditt referred to the peoples of the land as all residents of post-exilic Yehud who had not been in exile, including those who had “separated themselves from the unclean practices of their Gentile neighbors in order to seek the Lord, the God of Israel” (6:21).<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn8"><sup>[8]</sup></a>Consequently, the parameters of the new community exclusively limited itself to those who had returned from exile.<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn9"><sup>[9]</sup></a>&nbsp;A widespread problem occurred that more than likely involved generations of golah men marrying outside the holy seed community with inhabitants of the Yehud and surrounding nations (3:3; 4:4). Whether a singular or multiple abominations, it resulted in men from the first wave of returnees intermarrying with pagan women, thus mixing the holy seed with the peoples of the<em>&nbsp;</em>lands (v. 3). To compound their trespasses, the leaders and rulers led the way in their unfaithfulness to the God of Israel and the breaking of the law of Moses.<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn10"><sup>[10]</sup></a>&nbsp;Further, it added to the remnants’ prior iniquities from the days of their ancestral fathers (9:7).</p> <p>The Lord God left Israel with commandments to guide them to successful possession of the land He would give them (Dt 4:1; 5:1; 6:4).&nbsp;The completion of His preparation of the golah community as a new creation led the way for the new creation of believers in Christ. It also served an eschatological purpose for the final, new creation’s habitation in the millennial kingdom. In this reshaping of His people to holiness, He left guideposts with the law.&nbsp;As such, the Deuteronomic Code prohibits marriage with the peoples of the land, reasoning that&nbsp;the foreign wives would lead the sons away from following Yahweh to serve other gods away from the premise of faithfulness to the Shema, “the Lord our God is one!” (Dt 6:4b; e.g., Exo 34:11-12, 16).<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn11"><sup>[11]</sup></a>&nbsp;To intermarry would arouse the Lord’s anger suddenly to destroy them (Dt 7:3-4).<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn12"><sup>[12]</sup></a></p> <p>Ezra’s prayer in 9:8 on behalf of Israel prepared the way for the returnees’ conviction to rise, with Ezr 10:2-11 providing the framework for the golah theology of hope with their self-initiated actions of change towards it. The theology develops espoused through their deeds and works. Nevertheless, unless the returnees embraced Ezra’s prayers, hope would go no farther. Upon realizing their trespasses, the people of Israel expressed repentant emotions towards their guilt, providing an initial step toward living out their hope. Faced with possible judgment, the gathering of people included men, women, and children who also wept bitterly with Ezra as he confessed, wept, and bowed down prostrate (10:1).</p> <p>The marriage crisis came to a head in 10:2, opening with the golah community reaction to Ezra’s public intercession.&nbsp;Shechaniah&nbsp;responded to the foreign marriages that threatened assimilation with those other than the holy seed.&nbsp;He&nbsp;addressed Ezra from among all those&nbsp;who wept very bitterly&nbsp;around Ezra as he prayed (10:1).<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn13"><sup>[13]</sup></a>&nbsp;The large assembly felt the gravity, immensity, and widespread conviction over their actions with the hope that the Lord God would extend mercy upon them and bring them once again into covenant with Him through the upholding of the Shema (Dt. 4:1; 5:1; 6:4; v. 2). As a resolution,&nbsp;Shechaniah&nbsp;proposed&nbsp;covenant renewal with the Lord by putting away the foreign wives and children born to them according to the law (10:3). The law of the Lord transliterates to&nbsp;<em>tôrâ</em>&nbsp;in Hebrew, denoting instruction about life.<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn14"><sup>[14]</sup></a>&nbsp;Thus, the law goes beyond statutes and rules, binding Israel in a faithful covenant to the Lord their God.<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn15"><sup>[15]</sup></a>&nbsp;Further, the Shema of&nbsp;Dt 6:5 commands Israel to&nbsp;love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and strength as an obedient people with the right moral condition to possess the good land of which the LORD swore to their fathers (Dt 6:18; Ezr 9:12). We who belong to Christ also comprise Abraham’s seed as heirs to the promise (Gal 3:29).&nbsp;Thus, faithfulness to one Lord, our God in covenant by loving Him with all our heart, soul, and mind applies to us as well for righteous living (Mt 32:37; Mk 12:29-30).</p> <p>Shechaniah’s compelling plea set in motion the reformation of the community back into covenant and aligned to the Shema (Dt 6:4). In his address, he confessed to their trespasses against God in marrying foreign women (Ezr 10:2). Perhaps, the righteous Lord God of Israel of whom Ezra petitioned would hear their cries of repentance and forgive their iniquities of abominations with the peoples of the land. The hope for Israel subsequently would emanate from the community’s own corrective actions of putting away the wives from the peoples of the land in fulfilling the law of Moses (10:3). He urged them to get up and take ownership and responsibility for the matter to make things right (v. 4). Confession, reversal of the abomination, and adherence to law would lead to forgiveness from their iniquity from a righteous God who would bestow His grace upon the returned exiles.</p> <p>Once again, Ezra entered the picture, affirming Shechaniah’s covenant plea. Ezra&nbsp;demanded that the leaders, Levites, and all Israel swear an oath to put away their foreign wives and children from their marriage (v.5). All the people had to right the wrong to form a holy community. Afterwards, Ezra withdrew from the house of God and fasted mourning the guilt of the golah (v. 6). To put or send away indicates divorce. Marrying foreign women stood contrary to God’s law as illegal (Dt 7:3) by violating the endogamy of marrying within Israel and joining in exogamous marriage. The putting away of foreign wives and their children guarded the holy seed. Klingbeil called the exogamous marriages in Ezra “when not to tie the knot.” Though lighthearted, his reference helps the reader from a Western social location understand the issues from the fifth century BC Yehud through a 21st-century lens.<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn16"><sup>[16]</sup></a></p> <p>In viewing initiation of the oath through a gender-oriented, female lens, it would affect many foreign women and children. It leaves the modern reader wondering about the rights and compensation for divorced, pagan women as recipients of such a drastic measure. Who took care of the women once they divorced? Did their ancestral family care for them, or did shame leave them to fend for themselves? Why did the children have to suffer from Israel’s actions? Johnson asserts we discount race and gender involved in the socially-constructed intermarriage issue, rather understand it in the context of the Achaemenid Empire emblematic of an identity issue resulting from exile.<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn17"><sup>[17]</sup></a>&nbsp;To balance emotions involved in divorce, the interpreter has to separate loss of family and identity traumatized by exile against maintaining purity of the holy seed to allow God’s redemptive purpose for Israel to occur. As a minority population, the community had to guard their identity established by the Lord God of Israel against a land governed by polytheistic gods to avoid decimating the seed and land. Fensham supported their action bringing to the forefront the influence mothers brought to their children along with traditions of the foreign society. Thus, they presented a stumbling block to Israel.<a href="//6ADD2424-A046-4831-841D-E4069225D175#_ftn18"><sup>[18]</sup></a>&nbsp;While we may view it as harsh by modern standards, the measure had to occur to restore hope to Israel.</p> <p>Returning to the actions reflective in the golah theology of hope, the elders and leaders began fixing the wrong of their actions. They issued a proclamation&nbsp;to all descendants of captivity in the Yehud to gather in Jerusalem in three days (v. 7-8). They backed it up with harsh penalties for non-compliance with property confiscation and separation from the exilic community (v. 8). The imposition of a stringent penalty suggests opposition among the congregation of the exiles and the need to break a hardened will contrary to the one true God (Dt 6:4).&nbsp;We may look at the measures for anyone objecting to divorcing their foreign wives as too much to ask but reframing the scenario to recreate authentic covenant for a new creation with the God of Israel provides a different vantage point. Part of their theology of hope must show full obedience, not partial.</p> <p>Thus, within the fixed period, all the people gathered in the house of God’s open square in the heavy rain. They forged ahead trembling and distress despite rain and discomfort over the seriousness of the matter (Ezr 10:9). Once again, Ezra addressed the assemblage to confess their sin of intermarriage to foreign women adding to the guilt of Israel. In a stronger term, perhaps driving the point home more, the NIV states committed treason (10:10), implying a betrayal of God and all of Israel past and present. In this verse, it means having committed a terrible sin (NLT). Nevertheless, even this sin leaves room for God’s grace and forgiveness. The passage closes with those from captivity confessing to their sins in mass and agreeing to separate themselves from their pagan wives (v. 11). In addition to full obedience to God, this action suggests that the exiled must show a united confession enveloped in genuine submission and humility. Separation from the pagan wives, in their eyes, would separate them back to God. As Christians, our iniquities also separate us from God, requiring us to confess and turn from sin.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Upon reading the passage we see a people whom God had risen from dry bones in the valley and returned them once again to the land. As Covenant Maker and Keeper, the Lord God upholds His promises from Ez 37:6,13-14 as He begins the restoration process upon their return to the land. While golah begin united in the rebuilding process of the Temple in Jerusalem and they initiate worship practices, the returned exiled fall short in observing the marriage requirements of not separating themselves from the peoples of the land. Intermarriage leads to syncretic practices of idolatry, drawing them away from faithfulness to the Lord our God is one (Dt 6:4). Once again, they break covenant, and their abominations add to those of their fathers. We can see ourselves in this same position. Through new birth, Jesus makes us a new creation purified in Him. However, the redeemed often fall back to sin pulled by the influences of the world. The flesh takes over, opening the door to the return to old habits. Christ desires we live as a restored community intimately in covenant with Him. Nevertheless, the same theology of hope that the exiled realized finds itself in the New Covenant as well&#8211;one of continued grace, mercy, and forgiveness of sin to lead a reformed life. We can learn from their mistakes and apply them to our lives. Jesus as Yahweh, desires to bring us in covenant from creation to new creation in the eschaton perfected in His image.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The passage closed (Ezr 10:11) with the exiled community’s theology of hope based on decisive actions of putting their faith to work in word and deed premised upon forgiveness of sins from the God of grace. In brief, they communally confessed to iniquities admitting their trespasses and taking ownership of their abomination (10: 2). This led to the initiation of covenant renewal with the Lord taking steps to put away the foreign wives and children born to them according to the law (vv. 3-4). Then all Israel swore an oath to uphold the intermarriage divorces (v. 5). All would return in three days, backed up by strong measures for noncompliance. Right standing in covenant required full obedience (vv. 7-8). Finally, they confessed their transgressions once again in trembling and humility to the Lord God of their fathers to do His will and put away their pagan wives from the peoples of the land (vv. 9-11). Repentance must have the intent to follow through and turn from sin. In turn, from confession and ownership to right attitudes and actions in obedience, they established the hope for Israel for favor from the God of grace. They also took steps to bind themselves to observe the Lord’s command from the Shema of Dt 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” While we may look at the remedy for their abominations as harsh to the affected, the remnant had to take these measures to preserve the purity of the holy seed incurred by their rebellious syncretic practice of intermarriage. Their polluting the seed endangered the remnant and land, thus, placing themselves out of alignment to God’s redemptive purposes continuing into the <em>millennial kingdom</em>. We, too, must live our faith out in words and deeds. Our Christian walk individually and collectively must include the earnest and daily crucifying the flesh of that same sinful nature from the first Adam. However, we look to the second Adam who bore our sin on the cross, forgiving our sins. Jesus is that same God of mercy.  </p> <h3 style="text-align:center;"><span style="color:#b02727;">Bibliography</span></h3> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"></h3> <p>Ackroyd, Peter R.&nbsp;<em>Exile and Restoration: A Study of Hebrew Thought of the Sixth Century B. C.</em>&nbsp;Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986.</p> <p>Allen, Leslie C.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel, Vol. 29</em>. Word Bible Commentary. Edited by John D. W. Watts and James W. Watts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.</p> <p>Blenkinsopp, Joseph.&nbsp;<em>Ezra-Nehemiah: A Commentary</em>. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 2015.</p> <p>__________.&nbsp;<em>Judaism, the First Phase: The Place of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Origins of Judaism</em>. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2009.</p> <p>Boadt, Lawrence. “Book of Ezra.” in&nbsp;<em>The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol D-G</em>. Edited by David N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.</p> <p>__________.&nbsp;<em>Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction.</em>&nbsp;New York: Paulist Press, 2012.</p> <p>Bickerman, Elias Joseph. “The Edict of Cyrus in Ezra 1.”&nbsp;<em>Journal of Biblical Literature</em>&nbsp;65, no. 3 (1946): 249-275.&nbsp;</p> <p>Bimson, John J. “Book of Ezra.” In&nbsp;<em>Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible</em>, edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer, 223-225. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.</p> <p>Brett, Mark G. ed.&nbsp;<em>Ethnicity and the Bible</em>. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2002.</p> <p>Bryan, S. M. “The End of Exile: The Reception of Jeremiah’s Prediction of a Seventy-Year Exil 3 Ways to Build Character David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:398bd8d0-26f6-985e-1e54-926609eaa5f7 Fri, 22 Oct 2021 03:48:06 -0500 (Watch this powerful message by clicking play on the video at the bottom of this page) Character is so important, but it’s something we always struggle with. But, what exactly... <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">(Watch this powerful message by clicking play on the video at the bottom of this page)</span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Character is so important, but it’s something we always struggle with. But, what exactly does character mean? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The great American evangelist D.L Moody once said, “Character is what you are in the dark.” In other words, nobody&#8217;s watching, nobody&#8217;s looking, you are as if it were hidden from everyone&#8217;s attention. At that moment, how will you function? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You can’t “will” character into being. You can&#8217;t muscle your way through it, but you must be intentional and you must be able to focus on it because that’s your responsibility.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Every one of us has character flaws. That&#8217;s normal and to be expected. Don&#8217;t beat yourself up just because you saw an area of your character that still needs to be honed. Every one of us has areas that still need to be honed and developed and shaped so we can be like our heavenly father in terms of our character. </span></p> <h3><b>The Three Building Blocks of Character</b></h3> <h4><b>First: Value your name</b></h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Your name is akin to your signature. It&#8217;s your resume. It&#8217;s your calling card. I&#8217;m not just talking about if your name is Fred or your name is Mary or it&#8217;s Hazel or Jessica or David. That&#8217;s not what I&#8217;m referring to. I&#8217;m talking about what Solomon says in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name (earned by honorable behavior, godly wisdom, moral courage, and personal integrity) is more desirable than great riches; And favor is better than silver and gold.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Solomon is counseling us that you need to value your name, in other words, labor to have a good name and value it. And when you value that, he says, when you give it great thought, a good name, it&#8217;s worth more than great riches. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A good name is about having godly wisdom. I&#8217;m not talking about wisdom where you can just solve problems, but wisdom that empowers you to maintain godliness and integrity. That&#8217;s what it means to have a good name. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Think about the whole idea of moral courage. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Moral courage may not be a party-line word and moral courage may not be something where you just go along with the group. When you say I have a good name, you make sure that you honor that and do it in a courageous way.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you want to build your character, it starts with valuing your name.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In Philippians 2:19-23, Paul says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon. I will be happy to learn how you are. I have no one else like Timothy, who truly cares for you. Other people are interested only in their own lives, not in the work of Jesus Christ. You know the kind of person Timothy is. You know he has served with me in telling the Good News, as a son serves his father. I plan to send him to you quickly when I know what will happen to me.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Paul was writing this letter to the church at Philippi, from behind prison bars. And he says, I can&#8217;t come to you, but I&#8217;m sending Timothy to you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And then Paul pulls back the curtain as if it were to say, let me tell you about the real Timothy. You may know him from the platform, from the stage, from being a speaker, but let me tell you, I know Timothy from behind the scenes. He&#8217;s the same as what you see in front of the stage as he is behind the stage. Timothy, he&#8217;s a godly man. Timothy has served with me like a son serves his father. And Paul continues to brag about him.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Has anyone ever bragged about you? Has anybody ever said, man, do you know so-and-so? And they just started to lavish your reputation and your character. And when those individuals met you, they had not a false reading or false interpretation. They valued your name. </span></p> <p><strong><i>Do you value your name?</i> </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you do, then you need to recognize it&#8217;s a building block to godly character.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you&#8217;re going to build character, the first building block I offer you to use is value your name. </span></p> <h4><b>Second: Keep your word </b></h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Oftentimes what I admire most about others is the fact that they value and honor their word. They keep their word.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus did that. In Matthew 24:35, Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Jesus is telling us that he keeps his word. He honors His word. He places great value and importance on His word so much so that His word is like a calling card. His word is an extension of His person. When you want to know about Jesus&#8217; character, look at His words. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I want you to understand the value of what it means to keep your word. And so Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:7, “But let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these comes from the evil one.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What Jesus was saying is this, when you give your word, honor your word. And he&#8217;s saying if you say “Yes,” follow through. If you say “No,” follow through with that. Now he&#8217;s not suggesting you can&#8217;t change your mind. He&#8217;s just saying that when you do change your mind, be integrous about it, go back to the person, give a reason and be as supportive as possible to make as many adjustments as you need to.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus was saying in essence, you need to give some thought before you give an answer to a request. You need to be honest with people and don&#8217;t just quickly give a yes. And don&#8217;t just go and say no, just because you really didn&#8217;t mean it. Give some thought to what you&#8217;re going to say, because your word should be honored by you. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When your word does not align with your character, then you have to start adjusting your word. You&#8217;ll find that your character will follow suit. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Your word speaks of who you are. Now, none of us are perfect, but every one of us uses words. And what we try to do is to not only value and honor our word, but we keep our word and we make sure that our words reflect honesty. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sometimes we glibly respond to people and say it because we speak prematurely or we&#8217;re afraid of their response, or we&#8217;re afraid, to be honest. We ought to always be honest, but sometimes people are not being honest because they&#8217;re afraid. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Our heavenly Father is our example of how we should keep our word. Psalm 89:34 says, “I won&#8217;t break my agreement or go back on my word.” That&#8217;s God speaking through the Psalmist. He&#8217;s saying, here&#8217;s how I roll. When I say yes, I mean, yes. When I say no, I mean no. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So we need to try to emulate, imitate, and mirror our heavenly Father and how He carries Himself. Here&#8217;s what Jesus said on that same note in Matthew 12:36-37, our Lord says, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words, you&#8217;ll be condemned.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus was telling us to keep our word because your words create life. When you give your word, it creates expectation and a sense of promise. People can bank on it or they should be able to. And when you find that you can’t keep your word, then you need to then begin to change that. You don’t want the word on the street about you to be, “They never keep their word.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So, how does this start in a very practical way? Value your name by keeping your word. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If I asked your family and friends, do you keep your word? What would they say? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If I said, do you keep your word? If they say no, don&#8217;t be angry. Make a shift. If they say yes, be excited and continue keeping your word. </span></p> <h4><b>Third: Guard your heart!</b></h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Your heart is the birthplace of your character. It&#8217;s the soil where character grows and develops. It&#8217;s that nutritious soil where godly character should be able to get all the nutrients necessary to grow no matter what the environment is externally. You can still grow godly in a broken and corrupt world.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What Solomon was telling us is that your heart is the home of your integrity. That&#8217;s the foundation of your character. Guard your heart, your soul, the inner core of who you are, the essence of who you are as a man, the essence of who you are as a woman, as a young person, guard your heart. Because when you don&#8217;t guard your heart, it gets all filled up with junk and you can feel the duplicity and you can just sense the insincerity that comes out of people. And that&#8217;s a very dangerous thing. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Solomon is telling us because our heart is the seat of integrity.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So what does it mean to guard your heart? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Matthew 12:33 says, “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, it&#8217;s fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus made it very plain to us, a heart is the soil of godly character. If you don&#8217;t guard your heart, all kinds of things will come in. Bitterness, anger, hatred, duplicity. And when people ask you questions, you tell them what you think they want to hear and you&#8217;re not honest. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Initially, you may get away with it, but over time, what you&#8217;re doing is building a duplicitous character. When your character lacks integrity and your life is no longer integrated where your actions fit your attitudes, which fit your character, it&#8217;s out of alignment because you didn&#8217;t guard your heart. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Your heart is so precious and you must guard it. It&#8217;s the wellspring of your integrity. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And I always want to guard my heart so that it doesn&#8217;t become junked up. I don’t want to become someone that knows how to say the right thing, but doesn&#8217;t feel what I say or don&#8217;t say what I feel. I want to have alignment in the interior part of my life. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When you think about building character, it&#8217;s not some elusive thing that&#8217;ll happen in the by-and-by, or because you hope it&#8217;ll happen or you will for it to happen.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It&#8217;s going to require you to intentionally use these building blocks:</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You value your name.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You keep your word.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You guard your heart.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And when you do that, you&#8217;ll find integrity and godly character begin to blossom out of your heart. And when people look at you, they&#8217;re going to inspect and taste the fruit from your life. And when they taste it, it won&#8217;t be sour. The fruit will be sweet. Why? Because a godly character produces good fruit. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The fruit is not for you, but the fruit is for others that are in your life, on your job, in your home, in your church, in your community, in your sphere of influence, that’s who eats from your life. And they&#8217;ll say, when I get around that individual, I feel good about myself because they’re such a great example to me, of someone who has a morally upright character, and godly character.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, all is lost. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I want to encourage you. Let nothing cause you to lose your character. Guard your heart because it&#8217;s the home where character is developed. </span></p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Four Tools For Shaping Your Character David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:2273a2a8-e831-7dc3-e1b8-98446df92f3a Sat, 09 Oct 2021 08:02:33 -0500 (Watch this message by clicking play on the video at the bottom of this page) Very few things are more important than character during this time in history?  The question... <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">(Watch this message by clicking play on the video at the bottom of this page)</span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Very few things are more important than character during this time in history? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The question is, can character be shaped? If it can, how do you do it? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Well, the Apostle Paul answers that question in Philippians 1:6 where he says, “God is the one who began this good work in you. And I&#8217;m certain that he won&#8217;t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So, can character be shaped? </span><b>Absolutely</b><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And the Bible says that God is deeply committed to helping us hone, shape, and develop our character. Not only for our benefit but that the world may see and witness the fact that we&#8217;ve been changed by his love. And we not only love our father, we actually look like our father in our character. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In Hebrews 12:1, the Scripture says, “Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won&#8217;t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And the Bible tells us that God is involved in shaping our character, but it also tells us in Hebrews chapter 12 that we must be involved in shaping our character. There&#8217;s a dual effort here. It&#8217;s as if God says I&#8217;ll work with you, but I want you to work with me. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I believe that when we hone, develop and shape our character to become more Christ-like, not only will doors swing open but relationships will thrive and we will feel better about ourselves. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why? Because we will be like our heavenly father.</span></p> <h3><b>Four tools for shaping character</b></h3> <h4><b>Number One: Truth shapes character</b><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We tend to live according to what we believe to be true. In other words, if I believe that truth-telling is good, I&#8217;m going to live in that, in light of my beliefs. But we live in a world where we have become accustomed to people using this phrase, “my truth” or “your truth.” It&#8217;s as if we no longer have absolute truths, and truths can now become personalized. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Well, the Bible tells us that there are some gray areas, but by and large, most areas are very clear. There are stark and real absolutes. Absolutes don’t mean it&#8217;s constricting and it&#8217;s suffocating. Absolutes are a way for us to have a moral compass. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesus made it very easy. He tells us in John 8:31, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ ”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He erases the whole notion of your truth, my truth. And he says let&#8217;s scrap those personalized-perspective truths. Those are far lacking. He says, “I&#8217;m the truth.” He embodies truth. He&#8217;s the physical representation of truth and his teachings reflect truth. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And Jesus says, “If you want to see your character shaped, accept me as your truth.” And then your truth will indeed be the truth because it&#8217;ll hone, shape, adjust and chisel off of you things that need to be broken off.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So when I want to understand what truth is, I&#8217;m not going to look inward because that&#8217;s going to be misleading. I&#8217;m not even going to look at other people because that may be misleading. I&#8217;m going to look to the Scriptures to see what Jesus said and how he lived. And then more importantly, what he calls me to do and how he calls me to live. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And so positionally, Jesus becomes truth when I accept him as Savior and practically becomes truth when I follow him as a disciple.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Have you invited Jesus into your life to be your savior? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Because when you do, you&#8217;re going to learn what truth really is. It was many years ago, July 6, 1982, at 10:00 pm. I sat on the edge of my dormitory bed and I prayed this simple prayer.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I didn&#8217;t even know it was a prayer because I was an atheist prior to this prayer. I said, “Jesus if you are real, change me.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At that moment, I was changed. Days afterward I recognized I had a problem. See, every other word out of my mouth was an expletive. I would just drop F-bombs. And I wouldn&#8217;t even think about it. I was just graduating from school and I didn&#8217;t know how I was going to fair. When I would go on interviews, the interviewer asked me the question, “Why do you want to work here as a mechanical engineer?” And I may drop some F-bombs as to the reason. I couldn&#8217;t help myself. But somehow when I accepted Christ, I recognized he is the truth. I didn&#8217;t know the Bible but I knew enough that Jesus would not be pleased if profanity was part of my speech.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I&#8217;m so thankful that God washed me. 36 years and no expletives since I&#8217;ve been walking with Jesus. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But I want you to know it didn&#8217;t happen by my own strength. I wasn&#8217;t even aware of how I could be set free, but the truth sets me free. I want you to understand the value of this. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">1 Peter 1:22 says, “Now that you have cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Truth liberates. Truth is freeing. </span></p> <h4><b>Number Two: Relationships shape character.</b></h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Character development happens within the crucible of a community. If the community is a wicked backstabbing community, then it&#8217;s normal for me to be wicked and backstabbing. But if my friendship base, my community is honest, full of integrity and morally based, then all of a sudden, I&#8217;m like a nurse at a doctor&#8217;s convention. I just feel like, uh, I don&#8217;t have the same qualifications as everybody else. I feel odd. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">First Corinthians 15:33, the Apostle Paul says, “Do not be fooled. Bad friends will ruin good habits.” So in other words, relationships shape you. It informs your character. It will add things to your character that are bad, morally bankrupt, and it doesn&#8217;t align with the Scripture or it could shape your character and become good. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you have friends in your life that can get in your face? And what do you do when they get in your face? Do you cut off the relationship? We live in a “cancel culture” world. We cut off the relationship, sometimes even in churches, and that is a tragedy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul tells Timothy all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults and for teaching us how to live right. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the ways you know you’re in a healthy church and that your community is a safe community is when the Scriptures are being correctly taught and they get in your face and challenge you. And when that takes place, you know, you&#8217;re in a healthy church. </span></p> <h4><b>Number Three: Problems shape character.</b></h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Nobody likes problems, but there&#8217;s an upside to problems. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Romans 5:3 says, “We also have joy with our troubles because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope.” Paul is telling us that there&#8217;s an upside to trouble. That trouble essentially shapes character or produces character. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">‘Troubles’ is the Greek word that references pressure, anguish, persecution. In other words, its longstanding trouble. When facing trouble, you can either get bitter or better. You can either allow the trouble to chisel off of you, junk, sin, bad habits, bad perspectives and internal attitudes that are not like Christ. Or you can just get bitter and angry, and justify your actions by saying, “I&#8217;m going through something so I can snap and behave in a way that&#8217;s un-Godly.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The better choice is to use trouble as gasoline in your engine to move you closer to Christ. Trouble changes your perspective; trouble adjusts your philosophy. Trouble helps you to pace yourself and ask questions like, “How can I maintain my quest to become Christ-like while I&#8217;m in this longstanding trial”? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You don&#8217;t run away.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You don&#8217;t hide from the church. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You don&#8217;t hide from relationships where they can get in your face and ask you questions. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You don&#8217;t do that. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You let trouble become like jet fuel that causes you to just move forward. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When you ease people&#8217;s troubles, at times, you are hurting them. That&#8217;s why when you are a helicopter parent and you want to rescue your kids from every difficulty, you raise what we call in our culture “snowflake kids.” They just melt in any condition and they can’t function as adults. Why? Because mommy or daddy rescued them. And I&#8217;m not saying that you need to just take the totally opposite approach and never help your child. What I am saying is that you have to know at times, troubles shape character. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We must recognize the value that trouble brings to our lives. </span></p> <h4><b>Number Four: Coaching shapes character.</b></h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You don&#8217;t get where you want to go by yourself. The idea of becoming the kind of man or woman that you want to become in terms of your character and integrity requires times of specific and intentional help from a character coach. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul says to Timothy, “You should teach people whom you can trust the things you and many others have heard me say. Then they will be able to teach others.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Paul is telling Timothy, I coached you on some specific things, character, thinking, relationship with Jesus, how you deal with problems, how you deal with difficult people, and the list goes on. When you read first and second Timothy, you see a whole host of ways. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Paul was a coach to Timothy. And then Paul says, Timothy, I want you to take that play out of my playbook. And I want you to function as a multigenerational coach, to others in your life. I want you to look for people that fit certain criteria. In other words, they&#8217;ll value what you say to them and you&#8217;ll coach them and they, in turn, will coach others. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Don&#8217;t overlook the function of coaching to shape your character. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Think about this for a moment. The average NFL team has 15 coaches. They have all kinds of coaches from defensive to offensive coaches, to punting coaches, to fitness coaches. Even Tom Brady has a quarterback coach. Even when you look in the world of tennis, Serena Williams, arguably the best female tennis player in the world or in history, has a coach. When you think about acting, even the legendary actor Tom Hanks, has an acting coach. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You may find yourself thinking, I’m good. And yes, you may be good, but the purpose of a coach is not to keep you in that place where you qualify as good, but the coach is to help you get better and better to fulfill your potential. I&#8217;ve had coaches in my life, preaching coaches, diversity coaches, all kinds of coaches to help me grow in specific areas where I recognized I needed to grow. </span></p> <p><strong>Character counts. </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These are four things that you and I can practically use as tools to help develop and shape our character. Truth shapes character, relationships shape character, problems shape character, and coaching shapes character. If you don&#8217;t have a coach, find one, it could be a friend that you just appoint as your coach. Ask them to help spot things in your character, ask them to help you. They may offer you a book. They may offer you a YouTube link, whatever it is to help you become that powerful man or powerful woman of God.</span></p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Ezekiel 37: Then You Shall Know that I Am the Lord perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:93514fa7-d559-5b03-7e06-c5aaa18112d1 Mon, 04 Oct 2021 08:52:23 -0500 Jan Paron &#124; October 4, 2021 “Then you shall know that I am the Lord” (Ez 37:6 NKJV). Perhaps, the &#8230;<p><a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron | October 4, 2021</p> <p>“Then you shall know that I am the Lord” (Ez 37:6 NKJV). Perhaps, the central focus of the dry bones oracles of 37:1-14 and the book itself, rests with Israel’s knowledge of Yahweh. The identification formula occurs twice (vv. 6, 13) and ends with a similar clause in verse 14.<a href="//9A784ED4-3460-401C-B619-C1B089027802#_ftn1"><sup>[1]</sup></a> Through the three, self-naming clauses the Lord uncovers His relational identity to Israel. In turn, His self-revelation seeks to shape the very community of those whom He calls “my people&#8221; (v. 13b). In this manner, His self-identification reveals Him as omniscient Creator (v. 6); omnipotent, all-powerful God (v. 13); and Covenant Maker and Keeper.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" data-attachment-id="6000" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="854,477" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="1A31D63D-356C-439C-B032-CF19563CB28D_1_201_a" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="wp-image-6000 aligncenter" src="" alt="1A31D63D-356C-439C-B032-CF19563CB28D_1_201_a" width="553" height="309" srcset=";h=309 553w,;h=84 150w,;h=168 300w,;h=429 768w, 854w" sizes="(max-width: 553px) 100vw, 553px" /></p> <p>Examining the Lord’s self-revelation in verses one to fourteen, His nature progressively unfolds from Creator to Keeper to the one God who calls Israel to love Him with all their heart and soul (Dt 6:5). With this first, Ezekiel recognized Yahweh’s character as omniscient from Him knowing the very destiny of His people. In the prophet’s first oracle the Lord asked whether the dry bones representing the house of Israel could live to which Ezekiel replied, “O Lord God, You know” (v. 3). By His own word, God created man in His own image and likeness (Gn 1:26-27). The omniscient Yahweh in His unlimited understanding of the destiny for His chosen from His creation, once again spoke life by His word that He will breathe into them (Ez 37:5; cf. 36:27). The titles of Sovereign God&nbsp;contrasted against the son of man (v.3 NLT) displayed Yahweh’s sovereign divinity against humanity’s failed state.&nbsp;Only through His sovereign action would they live. His breath would transform them to His image of holiness purifying from their uncleanness (36:29; cf. Mt 1:21), thereby shaping His community to glorify the Name they profaned (36:21). The covenant Yahweh made with Israel in the Old Testament anticipated the better covenant in the New.<a href="//9A784ED4-3460-401C-B619-C1B089027802#_ftn2"><sup>[2]</sup></a>&nbsp;That same Yahweh incarnated in Jesus, the union of God and man, also manifests the same omniscient nature. As God, Jesus possesses all wisdom and knowledge hidden in Him (Col 2:3).<a href="//9A784ED4-3460-401C-B619-C1B089027802#_ftn3"><sup>[3]</sup></a>&nbsp;His all-knowing character (Jn 21:17) still shapes the community of those engrafted in the vine (Rom 11:31).&nbsp;</p> <p>His self-revelation as omniscient Creator (Ez 37:6) next uncovers Himself as the omnipotent, all-powerful God to Israel. In verse 12, Yahweh spoke to the exiled through Ezekiel saying, “O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (NKJV). To the captured who saw themselves as dried bones without hope in exile as a dead nation, Yahweh who calls Himself the Almighty throughout the Bible (i.e., Gn 17:1), has all power to restore them to their land. Further, He provided for them as their divine King by delivering them from bondage in Babylon. Second Chronicles 6:22-23 explains that the Lord stirred up King Cyrus to release the exiled back to Judah, also fulfilling Jeremiah’s 70-year timeline of their capture (Jer 29:10).&nbsp;</p> <p>Thus, the Lord God visibly showed Himself as their omnipotent, all-powerful God. The Shema in Dt 6:4 opens with “Hear, O Israel.” Nonetheless, hearing suggests obedience involving all the heart, soul, and strength for the whole of Israel to Yahweh. To carry out hearing, it requires doing as individuals and community in covenant with Yahweh. In time, Israel broke covenant with Him and repeated their sinful behavior. In the New Testament, Jesus repeated the greatest commandment of the law, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One (Mk 12:29), marrying it to the New Testament scriptures. The omnipotent Yahweh continues to manifest Himself in Jesus, whose Spirit tabernacles within the believer displaying His power in our lives. This requires those in Christ practice the Shema, hearing and living out our love for Him with all their heart, soul, and strength in covenant.&nbsp;<strong></strong></p> <p>In the last self-naming formula, Yahweh reveals Himself as a Covenant Maker and Covenant Keeper. People from the Ancient Near East (ANE) worshipped many gods. Israel followed suit and betrayed the marriage covenant with Yahweh practicing idolatry, abandoning Him prior to captivity. Impurity from idolatry may have been one of the most offensive to the Lord.<a href="//9A784ED4-3460-401C-B619-C1B089027802#_ftn4"><sup>[4]</sup></a>&nbsp;In Ez 6:9, He described their adulterous heart as crushing Him. Thus, Yahweh sent a divine judgment on Israel, but He kept His covenant with those He chose.&nbsp;As Covenant Maker and Keeper, He proves He is the Lord by His spoken word and accomplished deed to them. It also establishes an eschatological component to the fulfillment of Israel. Brueggemann called the regathered to Israel a generation of promise for that reason.<sup><a href="//9A784ED4-3460-401C-B619-C1B089027802#_ftn5">[5]</a></sup> Further, Yahweh also demonstrated the knowledge of His identity to surrounding nations by returning Israel to their land. Had God not kept His promise, it would have left generations to come without hope for redemption. Through the re-establishment of the house of Judah would come the Son of David, fulfilled in Jesus Christ.</p> <p>In summarizing His self-revelation, one sees His multiple natures from omniscient, omnipotent, and Covenant Keeper. In a missional capacity, the totality of His character represents the inherent purpose of grace in returning the disobedient nation to their land extended to humanity across the ages.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Footnotes</span></h3> <p><a href="//9A784ED4-3460-401C-B619-C1B089027802#_ftnref1"><sup>[1]</sup></a>“‘Then you shall&nbsp;know&nbsp;that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,’ says the Lord&#8217;” (Ez 37:14).</p> <p><a href="//9A784ED4-3460-401C-B619-C1B089027802#_ftnref2"><sup>[2]</sup></a>David S. Norris, I Am:&nbsp;<em>A Oneness Pentecostal Theology</em>&nbsp;(Hazelwood: MO, 2009), 75.</p> <p><a href="//9A784ED4-3460-401C-B619-C1B089027802#_ftnref3"><sup>[3]</sup></a>David K.&nbsp;Bernard.&nbsp;<em>Oneness of God</em>&nbsp;(Hazelwood: (Kindle Locations 734-735). Word Aflame Press), 734-735.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="//9A784ED4-3460-401C-B619-C1B089027802#_ftnref4"><sup>[4]</sup></a>&nbsp;Moshe Greenberg, Ezekiel 21-37 (New Haven: Anchor Yale Press, 1997), 7237. See Greenberg for further details on defilement.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="//9A784ED4-3460-401C-B619-C1B089027802#_ftnref5"><sup>[5]</sup></a>&nbsp;Walter Brueggemann,&nbsp;<em>The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith&nbsp;</em>(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977). 187.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Bibliography</span></strong></h3> <p>Ackroyd, Peter R.&nbsp;<em>Exile and Restoration: A Study of Hebrew Thought of the Sixth Century B. C.</em>&nbsp;Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986.</p> <p>Allen, Leslie C.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel, Vol. 29</em>. Word Bible Commentary. Edited by John D. W. Watts and James W. Watts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.</p> <p>Bender, A. P. “Beliefs, Rites, and Customs of the Jews, Connected with Death, Burial, and Mourning.”&nbsp;<em>The Jewish Quarterly Review</em>&nbsp;7, no. 2 January (Jan., 1995):&nbsp;&nbsp;259-269:</p> <p>Bimson, John J. “Book of Ezekiel.” in&nbsp;<em>The Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible</em>. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.</p> <p>Block, Daniel.&nbsp;<em>By the River Chebar: Historical, Literary, and Theological Studies in the Book of Ezekiel.</em>&nbsp;City: James Clarke &amp; Co 2014.</p> <p>Boadt, Lawrence. “Book of Ezekiel.” in&nbsp;<em>The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol D-G</em>. Edited by David N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.</p> <p>__________.&nbsp;<em>Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction.</em>&nbsp;New York: Paulist Press, 2012.</p> <p>Brett, Mark G. ed.&nbsp;<em>Ethnicity and the Bible</em>. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2002.</p> <p>Brueggemann, Walter.<em>&nbsp;The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith</em>, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977,</p> <p><em>Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers</em>. 17th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.</p> <p>Eichrodt, Walther&nbsp;<em>Theology of the Old Testament</em>. Translated by J. A. Baker. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961.</p> <p>Fox, Michael, V. “The Rhetoric of Ezekiel’s Vision of the Valley of the Bones.”<em>&nbsp;Hebrew Union College Annual</em>&nbsp;51, (1980): 1-15.</p> <p>Greenberg, Moshe.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel 21-27.&nbsp;</em>Anchor Yale Bible. New York: Yale University Press, 2010.</p> <p>__________. The Design and Themes of Ezekiel’s Program of Restoration.”&nbsp;<em>Interpretation</em>&nbsp;58, no. 4 (2007): 585-625.</p> <p>Goldingay, John A. “Ezekiel.”&nbsp;<em>Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible</em>. Edited by James D. G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003.</p> <p>Joyce, Paul M.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel: A Commentary</em>. New York: T &amp; T Clark, 2007.<strong></strong></p> <p>Kamsen, Joel and Tihitshak Biwul. “The Restoration of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14: An Exegetical and Theological Analysis.”&nbsp;<em>Scriptura&nbsp;</em>118 (2019:1), pp. 1-10.</p> <p>LaSor, William Sandord, David Allan Hubbard, Frederic William Bush, and Leslie C. Allen.&nbsp;<em>Old Testament Survey: The Message Form, and Background of the Old Testament</em>. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, Co. 1996.&nbsp;</p> <p>Lee, Lydia.&nbsp;<em>Mapping Judah’s Fate in Ezekiel’s Oracles Against the Nations.</em>&nbsp;Atlanta: SBL Press, 2016. <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>.</p> <p>Longman III, Tremper.&nbsp;<em>The Message of the Prophets: A Survey of the Prophetic and Apocalyptic Books of the Old Testament</em>. Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2010.</p> <p>Mein, Andrew.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel and the Ethics of Exile.</em>&nbsp;Oxford Theological Monographs. Oxford: OUP Oxford, 2006.</p> <p>Miller, Maxwell J. and John H. Hayes.&nbsp;<em>A History of Ancient Israel and Judah</em>. 2nd ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.</p> <p>Mendenhall, George. “Covenant.”&nbsp;<em>The Anchor Bible Dictionary</em>, Vol A-C. Edited by David Freeman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.</p> <p>Margaret S. Odell<strong>.&nbsp;</strong><em>Ezekiel (Smyth &amp; Helwys Bible Commentary).&nbsp;</em>Macon: Smyth &amp; Helwys, Inc., 2005.</p> <p>Olyan, Saul M. 1996. “Honor, Shame, and Covenant Relations in Ancient Israel and Its Environment.”&nbsp;<em>Journal of Biblical Literature</em>&nbsp;115, no. 2: 201.&nbsp;</p> <p>Pearce, Laurie E. “Identifying Judeans and Judean Identity in the Babylonian Evidence.” in&nbsp;<em>Exile and Return: The Babylonian Context,</em>&nbsp;edited by Jonathan Stökl, Caroline Waerzeggers, and Jonathan Stökl. Berlin: CPI Books, 2015.&nbsp;</p> <p>Qubt, Shadia. “Can These Bones Live? God, Only You Know.”&nbsp;<em>Review and Expositor</em>. 104, Summer, 2007.</p> <p>Schultz, Samuel J.&nbsp;<em>The Old Testament Speaks:</em>&nbsp;<em>A Complete Survey of Old Testament History and Literature.</em>&nbsp;New York: HarperOne, 2000.</p> <p>Serfontein, Johan and Wilhelm J. Wessels. “Communicating Amidst Reality: Ezekiel&#8217;s Communication as a Response to His Reality.”&nbsp;<em>Verbum Eccles&nbsp;</em>35, no. 1 (2014):&nbsp;</p> <p>Smith-Christopher, Daniel L.&nbsp;<em>A Biblical Theology of Exile</em>. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.</p> <p>Staples, Jason A.&nbsp;<em>The Idea of Israel in Second Temple Judaism: A New Theory of People, Exile, and Israelite Identity.&nbsp;</em>New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021.</p> <p>Stökl, Jonathan, and Caroline Waerzeggers.&nbsp;<em>Exile and Return : The Babylonian Context</em>. (Beihefte Zur Zeitschrift Für Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 2015): Volume 478. De Gruyter.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sweeney, Marvin.&nbsp;<em>Reading Ezekiel: A Literary and Theological Commentary</em>&nbsp;(Reading the Old Testament.) (p. 44). (Smyth &amp; Helwys Publishing, Inc.)</p> <p>Tiemeyer, L. D. “Book of Ezekiel.” in&nbsp;<em>The Dictionary of the Old Testament Prophets</em>. Edited by Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2012.</p> <p>Walton, John H.&nbsp;<em>Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible</em>. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006.</p> <p>Zimmerli, Walther.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel 2</em>. Hermeneia. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983.</p> <p>__________.&nbsp;<em>I Am Yehweh</em>. Eugene:Wipf &amp; Stock, 1982.</p> Why Character Matters David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:040c7bed-bba4-0dee-a058-28058cc3550c Thu, 30 Sep 2021 19:38:11 -0500 (Watch this powerful message by clicking play on the video at the bottom of this page) We&#8217;re living in a day and age where we hear very little about character... <p><em>(Watch this powerful message by clicking play on the video at the bottom of this page)</em></p> <p>We&#8217;re living in a day and age where we hear very little about character and the benefits of having a strong, solid, morally based character. It&#8217;s almost like a fleeting thought. In fact, it seems elusive. One person anonymously said, “Everyone tries to define this thing called character. It&#8217;s not hard. Character is doing what&#8217;s right when nobody&#8217;s looking.”</p> <p>Let me ask you this question.</p> <p>What doors would open wide for you if you spent time honing and developing your character? David, King of Israel, said this in Psalm 15:1, “God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on the guest list? Walk straight, act right, tell the truth.”</p> <p>That&#8217;s the answer. In other words, there are huge benefits to having godly character. And David just highlighted the idea that God invites us into his place and builds relationships with us because God is holy. And he looks to establish a growing relationship with people who also want to grow in holiness.</p> <h2>Practical Steps to Developing Character</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We must ask ourselves three very simple questions, which will yield godliness and good solid character.</p> <h3>Question One: Who am I?</h3> <p>You must ask yourself that question because it’s tied to your identity. Who are you on a deep cellular level? When I recognize who I am, it drives the way I behave. It drives the way I act. It drives my attitude.</p> <p>In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten and everything is new. Paul is telling us that when you accept Christ as your savior, you actually become a brand-new person. You actually change in who you are, in your identity.</p> <p>The New Testament scholar, Phillip Hughes, says, when he refers to the old things are passed, that the old represents distinctions, prejudices, misconceptions, enslavement of former unregenerate life. Paul says all have become new. New, in the technical grammar, means present tense.</p> <p>It&#8217;s that type of speech, which says that the old things became new and they continue to be new. The new life is not you having a new experience, it&#8217;s you becoming a new person and you keep on in that newness throughout your entire spiritual life.</p> <p>If you want the fruit of a godly character, it takes place in your identity. You have to identify with the one who is in charge of all characters, God himself. When you accept Christ as savior, your identity changes, the old person has gone. The new person has come. The idea is that when you look in the mirror, you&#8217;re supposed to see Jesus because we become more and more like Christ daily.</p> <p>Paul tells us in Romans 6:6, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with. That we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”</p> <p>You&#8217;re no longer what you used to be.</p> <h3>Question Two: Who am I becoming?</h3> <p>Paul speaks to this. He lets us know that we&#8217;re changing. We&#8217;re going through a process; an ongoing metamorphosis every day, we&#8217;re becoming more and more like Jesus. He helps the church at Ephesus shape and hone the character of each individual that was worshiping at the church.</p> <p>In Ephesians 4:17, Paul begins by saying, “As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid godless people. Their minds are in the dark and they&#8217;re stubborn and ignorant. And I&#8217;ve missed out on the life that comes from God. They no longer have any feelings about what is right, and they are so greedy that they do all kinds of indecent things. But this isn&#8217;t what you were taught about Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and you heard about him and learned about him.”</p> <p>Paul is telling us that there should be a stark difference between your character and those who don&#8217;t know Christ. He says when they don&#8217;t have the wellspring of life inside of them, causing them to strive to be more like Christ and to live in a way that reflects God and godliness, they will do all kinds of crazy zany things.</p> <p>God is the anchor point, inflexible and unmoving, for morality. And when you don&#8217;t have a moral compass based on something that is inflexible and unmoving, you say good is bad and bad is good. And you just waffle back and forth because nothing is there as an anchor point.</p> <p>Your life must be able to reflect your beliefs. Who am I becoming financially in terms of my values? Who am I becoming in terms of my relationships? Are they healthy? Does it matter to me? Who am I becoming in my mental health? Who am I in the way of my sexuality? What am I becoming?</p> <p>Go through some self-examination; check out what you&#8217;re doing and what you&#8217;re saying and how you&#8217;re thinking. Is what you&#8217;re doing matching up?</p> <p>I always ask myself this question, what would Jesus do?</p> <p>When we ask ourselves that question it helps us to make a quick shift, quick adjustments and align our life or our attitude with what we believe Jesus would do.</p> <p>Self-regulation is also important. Self-regulation is a step after self-examination.</p> <p>Self-examination says I&#8217;m holding up my life to the mirror of God&#8217;s Word, and the Word is not wrong. It&#8217;s when my life doesn&#8217;t align with the Word, the values of the Word, the behavior of the Word and the attitude the Word calls me to. When my life is not aligned with the Word, that&#8217;s the self-examination part.</p> <p>The self-regulation part is when I make adjustments. Now, granted, there&#8217;s some things I don&#8217;t know how to adjust. That&#8217;s why I depend on the Holy Spirit. There&#8217;s some things I don&#8217;t know how to change, even though I know I need to make that change.</p> <p>We can&#8217;t rely in our own strength, regulate every aspect of our behavior. There must be a dependence on the Holy Spirit.</p> <h3>Question Three: What do I want to be?</h3> <p>Paul says in Ephesians 4:22, “You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits. Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy.” Paul is saying that we have the capability to work on our character. It&#8217;s not magical. It&#8217;s not something that, oh, I hope I grow in my character. This is something that you intentionally, devotedly and strategically do.</p> <p>Who do you want to be?</p> <p>Paul says, here&#8217;s how you do it. You get rid of the old habits, get rid of the old lifestyle. Don&#8217;t sit there and salivate over what you used to be and how you used to do what you did. Don&#8217;t smile about it, it’s not joyous. It speaks of your broken state. Don&#8217;t gloat about it. Paul says to throw those foolish desires to the wayside and dismiss them.</p> <p>When we think about who do I want to be, we must have examples and role models. I hold up, certainly Jesus as the preeminent model. And Paul&#8217;s one of my guys. I just love the Apostle Paul.</p> <p>But then there must be earthly models and they can&#8217;t be the Hollywood people. It can&#8217;t be famous athletes. We can&#8217;t look at them and, and wealthy individuals per se, to let that be our role model. Because if that&#8217;s the case, you&#8217;re going to be watching shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or Housewives of Atlanta, or God forbid, RuPaul&#8217;s Drag Race. And then you&#8217;re popping down in front of the TV and you&#8217;re just sitting there, looking at them and being fascinated by them.</p> <p>You can&#8217;t be lured into that. Don&#8217;t let that be your role models or don&#8217;t let that be the place where you relax, because if you&#8217;re relaxed in front of that, unbeknownst to you, unconsciously, it goes in and when it sinks in, it&#8217;ll come out.</p> <p>Paul is saying you have to fuel the new life with new desires and new habits so that the new you will be evident to all. He tells us in Ephesians 4:23-24, “Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person. You are created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy.”</p> <p>Who do I want to be?</p> <p>I want to be like my heavenly father. It&#8217;s challenging, but it&#8217;s not condemning. It&#8217;s inviting but it&#8217;s not overwhelming. And the beauty is that Jesus walks with you. He doesn&#8217;t leave you isolated and he doesn&#8217;t put a gun over your head. He invites you into this journey daily, and you become more and more like Christ. And it&#8217;s an ongoing process.</p> <p>You were changed. You are changed. You will be changed. We&#8217;re constantly being changed.</p> <p>You can become like Christ.</p> <p>I love what Oswald Chambers, author, and Bible teacher, once said, “The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but God-likeness. If the spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics. God&#8217;s life in us expresses itself as God&#8217;s life, not as human life trying to be godly.”</p> <p><strong>When people see your life, they see God-likeness in you.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> How To Become a Peacemaker David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:f9f519ab-41c7-2f8a-949b-f403c553d40c Thu, 23 Sep 2021 06:19:03 -0500 (Watch this powerful message by clicking play on the video at the bottom of this page) We live in a day where it seems like we can’t escape unrest. Political,... <p><em>(Watch this powerful message by clicking play on the video at the bottom of this page)</em></p> <p>We live in a day where it seems like we can’t escape unrest. Political, racial, and economic unrest generate new headlines every day. Anxiety is consuming many people. And, maybe you yourself walk around feeling on edge because of everything swirling around you.</p> <p>Let me assure you, there is hope.</p> <p>I believe that God wants to visit you, your family, your church, and your community with peace. We serve the Prince of Peace. And, Jesus is in the business of giving His children peace and not just giving us peace, but helping us to become peacemakers.</p> <h3>Conflict Is a Normal Part of Life</h3> <p>Your family is not weird. You&#8217;re not weird. Your job&#8217;s not weird. Your school&#8217;s not weird. Your church is not weird. Our nation&#8217;s not even weird.</p> <p>Conflict is a normal part of life. The issue is not about you having a conflict-free life. None of us will ever have that. We will never live in a nation that is conflict-free. We will never have jobs that are conflict-free. As long as we walk this earth, we will encounter conflict.</p> <p>What we must learn is how we can become emotionally healthy, mentally healthy and not just be peace-loving people, but actually peace-making people.</p> <p>In Matthew 5:9 Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for, they will be called children of God.”</p> <p>Peacemakers are not people who simply want peace. Peacemakers are individuals that are working for God to help make sure that there is peace between God and humanity. Peacemakers are actively engaged in the process to ensure that there is peace.</p> <p>Peacemakers are individuals that help to bridge the gap to help create peace between humanity and God and peace between mankind with one another and also peace internally.</p> <p>Peacemakers value peace, it’s important, and a high priority to them. They think about it. They pray about it. They look for it. They live for it. They are actively engaged in peacemaking efforts.</p> <p>Peacemakers are reconcilers. They connect broken frail humanity with a loving, whole, emotionally caring God. Peacemakers are identified with God. Jesus says blessed are the poor peacemakers for, they shall be called children of God. In other words, God says to us in the person of His son, Jesus, are you involved in peacemaking?</p> <p>Peacemakers take no delight in division and strife and mayhem and chaos. They are involved in lobbying for peace so that we could be able to enjoy a much more peaceful country. Think of our nation as it is going through this real upheaval of political unrest and racial unrest. Think about the dynamics of the health unrest and the infighting around the best way to handle COVID and what&#8217;s not the best way. Our nation needs peacemakers.</p> <h3>What Peacemaking Is Not</h3> <p>In order to understand peacemaking. Let me show you what peacemaking is not.</p> <p>Peacemaking is not avoiding. When you say I don&#8217;t rock the boat. I sweep everything under the rug. That&#8217;s not peacemaking. That&#8217;s cowardice. Peacemaking is not appeasing.</p> <p>People who say I always give in, they always get their way, I believe in peace at any price. That&#8217;s not peacemaking, that’s codependency. When you find yourself saying those kinds of things, you&#8217;re running from conflict. That&#8217;s not peacemaking.</p> <p>Peacemaking is not denying. It’s not just accepting chaos and having the attitude of “It is what is.” Peacemakers understand how to give the appropriate response to conflict. Yes, they experience conflict, but they have an appropriate response to conflict and know how to settle the issue.</p> <p>Peacemakers use the appropriate response to bring their environment back to a peaceful state without avoiding conflict. They don&#8217;t appease. They don&#8217;t deny it because that&#8217;s not what peacemakers do.</p> <h3>Becoming a Peacemaker</h3> <p>First, you have to value peace. Do you value it?</p> <p>Jesus says in Luke 10:5-6, “As soon as you enter a home, say, God, bless this home with peace. If the people living there are peace-loving, your prayer for peace will bless them. But if they&#8217;re not peace-loving, your prayer will return to you.”</p> <p>What he&#8217;s saying is the peacemakers carry peace.</p> <p>The greeting in first-century Jewish communities is more than just a formality. What Jesus was pointing out was that if there are people in this home that love peace, and that are engaged in peacemaking efforts, you&#8217;re in a home where people value the presence of God.</p> <p>When you learn to carry peace, you know how to bring peace to your environment, even though others may be prone to chaos.</p> <p>In Jeremiah 29:7 the prophet said, “Also seek the peace and the prosperity of the city to which I&#8217;ve carried you into exile, pray to the Lord for it. Because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”</p> <p>Here’s the background and context for that verse. People are being brought into captivity as slaves against their judgment and desires. As this is happening, Jeremiah prophesies, the Lord says to seek the peace and the prosperity of the city, to which I carried you into exile.</p> <p>In other words, it doesn&#8217;t matter if you don&#8217;t like the job where you are. It doesn&#8217;t matter if everything in the home is not working out fine. It doesn&#8217;t matter if you don&#8217;t have enough money in the bank. It doesn&#8217;t matter if your health is not a hundred percent there. It doesn&#8217;t matter.</p> <p>There’s no denying that those things are important. But what the Bible is saying is this: If you&#8217;re going to become a carrier of peace, which peacemakers must do and must be, you must check your attitude because it&#8217;s not dependent on where you are and who you&#8217;re with and what&#8217;s going on, because the Scripture calls us to be peacemakers.</p> <p>Peacemakers value peace, peacemakers carry peace and we must recognize that.</p> <p>The early church was so mindful of the issue of peace that they used to greet one another with peace. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, said in chapter one, verse two, “grace and peace to you from God, the father and the Lord, Jesus Christ.”</p> <p>Paul said the same thing when he wrote his letter to the Corinthians when he wrote his letter to the Galatians when he wrote his letter to the Philippians when he wrote his first two letters to the Thessalonians and even one to Philemon. He says, grace and peace to you.</p> <p>Peace was a desire that the early church had. To carry it and to instill it.</p> <p>Peter even said in 1 Peter 5:14, “peace to all of you in Christ.”</p> <h3>Steps to Becoming a Peacemaker</h3> <p>Romans 14:19 says, “therefore, let us pursue the things which produce peace and the things that build up one another.”</p> <p>Peacemakers broker piece. They are involved in the work of executing, developing, lobbying, and making sure peace occurs. A peacemaker says I&#8217;m going to help navigate the murky waters of conflicts that are separating people or separating a business or a home in order to be able to broker peace.</p> <p>So, to broker peace, consider these things.</p> <h4>First, listen carefully.</h4> <p>You can&#8217;t broker peace unless you listen to both sides. As a pastoral counselor, I&#8217;ve never made decisions based on hearing one side. When I hear both sides, I&#8217;m listening carefully not to see who&#8217;s right and who&#8217;s wrong, but how I may bring reconciliation.</p> <h4>Second, validate feelings.</h4> <p>Feelings are real. And oftentimes feelings overpower logic, rationale and our analytical prowess. I know a lot of people do crazy things because of how they feel and they&#8217;re tired of feeling that way. Whether feeling abused or feeling taken advantage of, they&#8217;ll do nonsensical things, they&#8217;ll do self-destructive things or give themselves to drugs and alcohol or even to stealing or all kinds of things.</p> <p>As a peacemaker, I listen carefully to people and validate feelings. When they say, I feel hurt, I&#8217;m going to validate that to say, I&#8217;m sorry that you feel hurt. When they say, I feel lonely, I&#8217;m going to affirm that by saying, I&#8217;m sorry you feel lonely. And then I say, let&#8217;s figure out how we can change that. I don’t dismiss their feelings.</p> <h4>Third, work on a healthy compromise.</h4> <p>Compromise doesn&#8217;t mean you lose the argument.</p> <p>When I counsel married couples I might say, “Why would you sacrifice a marriage to win an argument?” Compromise gives you the opportunity to take a step toward your spouse and gives your spouse an opportunity to take a step towards you.</p> <p>There have been times when I&#8217;ve met with couples over the years, and they were at the door of divorce, and I said, let&#8217;s put a pause button on it. And I said, what I&#8217;d like for you to do is to give me a 60-day agreement. And I would draw up an agreement that shows within these 60 days, you will not contact an attorney. And I lay out the do&#8217;s and don&#8217;ts, and then there&#8217;s a point in that 60-day contract, where I ask them to give me five things that you want your spouse to do that&#8217;s going to help meet your expectations.</p> <p>Then I provide constructive ways to each of them to fulfill those five expectations. Whether it&#8217;s behavioral changes, whether it&#8217;s not doing certain things or to start doing certain things, whatever it may be, I&#8217;m looking at it as a way to try to help them meet a healthy compromise.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re going to become a peacemaker and broker peace, you must listen carefully, validate feelings, strive for healthy compromise and you must also model reconciliation. In other words, I can&#8217;t be a good peacemaker if my life has all of these broken relationships that are behind me.</p> <p>Our nation needs peacemakers.</p> <p><em>Will you be a peacemaker?</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> How God Speaks to His People Across the Ages perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:61fceb86-9325-ce73-05dc-d4c4b56ae5b3 Mon, 20 Sep 2021 09:33:57 -0500 Jan Paron, PhD &#124; 2014 Hesselgrave defined communication related to culture as &#8220;the transfer of meaning through the use of &#8230;<p><a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD | 2014</p> <p>Hesselgrave defined communication related to culture as &#8220;the transfer of meaning through the use of symbols.&#8221;<span class="has-inline-color has-black-color">[1]</span> Then, for a person to internalize communication, the received message must be processed from the listener&#8217;s understanding. Whether verbal or nonverbal symbols, Nida proposed that symbols come from culturally-prescribed artifacts, words, phrases, gestures, or behaviors.<span class="has-inline-color has-black-color">[2]</span> If one culturally determines symbols from their location, then these symbols may influence interpreting God&#8217;s Word. </p> <p>Scripture shows God communicated to His people in the Old Testament using multiple means of expression so people would understand Him and make meaning of His message. He used verbal, visual, tactile, aural, and experiential modes relevant to the cultural context of individuals across the two testaments. In doing so, God varied His message indigent to the listener&#8217;s (or receiver of the message) beliefs, values, norms, social practices, surrounding circumstances, geographic location, and historical events. </p> <p>The listener must process a sent message through culturally determined symbols to understand and then internalize the given communication. Since a people group or individual determine symbols unique to their understanding, then these symbols may influence how a person or people interpret God&#8217;s Word in the communication modes.<span class="has-inline-color has-black-color">[3]</span> Though believers in Christ cannot replicate God&#8217;s divine communication means, they can look to them for guidance when speaking to others.</p> <p>The Adamic, Edenic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Palestinian, Davidic, and New Covenants each show examples of how God communicated His purpose and promise of salvation for humanity. God always has had a passion for communion and relationship with humanity desiring to transform them into His image as holy (Rom 8:29). The Creator does so through the covenantal language of redemption emanating from love for His creation. By examining each of the covenants, one sees instances of His expressional communication modes to individuals and collective bodies.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Edenic Covenant (Genesis 1:26–31)</span></strong></h3> <p>God made the Edenic Covenant with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before sin&#8217;s entrance. God revealed His purpose in Creation with this covenant (Gn 1:1; 2:25 ). Greene explained the Genesis author wrote the Creation account in the context of the ancient Israelites&#8217; language, using cultural symbols the original audience would understand.[4] During the Edenic Covenant, communication shows God&#8217;s verbal, visual, and aural communication with Adam and Eve.</p> <p>Set to the backdrop of the mist that went up from the earth, Genesis provides metaphorical language describing the perfection of God&#8217;s work (2:6–7). One reads in 1:26–31 how God created man in His image and likeness as the centerpiece of all He created. He formed Adam from the dust of the ground (2:7a), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (v. 7b). Then, the first Adam became a living soul (v. 7c).&nbsp;</p> <p>As the Creation account continues in the Edenic Covenant, the author recorded God&#8217;s first words to humankind between the Lord and Adam. God stated His command to Adam in simple and direct terms: Freely eat of any tree in the Garden, but not from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or Adam would die (vv. 16–17). The statements, in fact, reflect the terms of the Edenic Covenant. The tree of life itself standing in the middle of the Garden represents a visual symbol of the covenantal seal.&nbsp;</p> <p>Through the unfolding covenant, one reads of close and intimate dialogue between God and Adam. God told Adam he needed a suitable “help meet” (2:18b) and then brought him all the animals and birds to search for his companion, only to find none suitable. Therefore, God created woman and fashioned a wife called Eve from Adam&#8217;s rib (v. 22). The serpent (symbolic of Satan) then comes on the scene (3:4) and successfully tempted her with fruit from the forbidden tree. She ate the fruit, and gave one to her husband (v. 6). Now disobedient, God&#8217;s next communication to His Creation was aural. The Amplified Version tells Adam and Eve heard the &#8220;sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day&#8221; (v. 8). Then God calls out to Adam, &#8220;Where are you?&#8221; (v. 9) and followed it with a series of reprimands. One might imagine God as the disappointed parent standing face-to-face with His unruly children. God&#8217;s communication ended as it began—simple and direct to make Himself clear.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Adamic Covenant (Genesis 3:14–19)</span></strong></h3> <p>While God made the Edenic Covenant with Adam and Eve before sin&#8217;s entrance, He established the Adamic after it. God revealed His purpose in redemption. Here, God communicated verbally and visually. When God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, the two moved eastward from it (3:24). Eastward represented prosperity that Adam and Eve lost from the Fall.[5] When Cain fled after murdering Abel, the nomadic son traveled further east to Nod and built the city of Enoch (4:16-17)signaling a greater loss of prosperity. If a picture portrays a thousand words, then God verbally painted a grim image of the land outside the Garden of Eden. He promised receiving judgments of cursed ground (3:17b), working land that would produce thistles and weeds (v. 18a); eating herbs of the field (v. 18b); sweating and toiling of the cursed earth until death; and returning to dust&nbsp; (v. 19a). To add to this visual imagery, after God expelled Adam from the Garden He placed &#8220;Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way&#8221; to keep and guard the tree of life (v. 24). Though Adam and Eve lost close fellowship with the Lord, God gave humankind the promise of redemption to restore them to a covenantal relationship. Along with the curse, God gave the seed promise (3:15a), bruising the serpent&#8217;s head—a messianic prophecy God would reveal progressively through the Old Covenants and fulfill with the New (cf. Mt 1:20; Lk 1:30–31; Gal 4:4; Heb 4:14–17; 1 Jn 3:8). God communicated a vivid picture of life to come for Adam and Eve because of their disobedience.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Noahic Covenant (Genesis 8:20–9:6)</span></strong></h3> <p>God&#8217;s covenant with Noah after the flood involved all future generations of humankind and every creature on earth. Through it, He confirmed His purpose in redemption with a new beginning by replenishing all flesh by a covenant of grace. He spoke to Noah with instructions to follow in preparation for the Flood (Gn 6:13; 7:1; 8:15-17) and again to elaborate His covenant afterward (9:8-17). The Lord also displayed a rainbow to communicate the seal between Him and humankind in remembrance of His everlasting covenant (9:15; cf. v. 17).&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbs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<p>The Lord communicated to Noah in different forms such as visuals with the water and dove. Could one have been experiential, too? How did Noah know to build an ark that would save future generations from the Flood? Lee proposed God communicated non-audibly since the Garden of Eden, meaning not all conversations between God and His people in biblical accounts were in out loud vocal mode.He based this on the meaning of <em>&#8216;amar </em>(Hebrew: אָמַר) translated to English as the word said. Lee felt <em>&#8216;amar </em>can take on a range of meanings including &#8220;say in the heart.&#8221;<strong>[</strong>6] Further, he theorized Noah sensed or heard God&#8217;s voice in his heart and followed through by the condition of faith. His theory could be true since God chose Noah because he found grace in the Lord&#8217;s eyes (6:8). Further, the Scripture described him as perfect in his generations and one who walked with God (v. 9). Noah stood on faith when he carried out God&#8217;s command to build an ark to save him and his family along with specified species from a flood that would destroy every living thing of all flesh (7:4).&nbsp;</p> <p>God&#8217;s command to build an ark further showed social and geographical factors connected to His directives and Noah&#8217;s obedience. Within a social structure, Noah ranked as a patriarch.[7] The early patriarchs headed single-family units, having a special relationship with God.As a patriarch, Noah retained the responsibility of heeding the voice of God for direction. Geographically, the waterways from the Near East and Mesopotamian region where the early patriarchs resided more than likely could not have held a boat the proportion of the ark.[8] The ark size measured well beyond the size of a normal shipping transport. Taking into consideration the scope of the command, God&#8217;s possible inaudible voice, and social and geographical circumstances, this communication mode shows that faith plays a role in how God speaks to His beloved. Despite adaptations that give meaning to the promises of God, humankind must stand on God&#8217;s Word by faith. &#8220;For we live by believing and not by seeing&#8221; (2 Cor 5:7 NLT).&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-4)</span></strong></h3> <p>The Abrahamic Covenant concerned the nation of Israel, the seed Messiah, and believers of all nations. The people having been scattered across the earth and experiencing their language confounded as a result of disobedience at Babel (Gn 11:7-8), had developed families into nations at the time of Abraham (11:10–28). Abraham, much like Noah, had to walk in faith because of the words God spoke to him (Heb 11:8). How did God communicate with Abraham? God gave him direct verbal commands, such as departing from Haran to an unknown land with the promise of a great nation (11:31; 12:1), promise of the entire land of Canaan (13), promise of an heir (15:2; 18:10), and sacrifice of his son (22:2). Also, God appeared to Abraham in some type of divine manifestation when He said, &#8220;I will give this land to your posterity&#8221; (12:7 AMP), and a vision regarding the Lord as Abraham&#8217;s shield and great reward (15:1). He also spoke to Abraham through other people. A pharaoh asked Abraham, then Abram, to leave the country when God brought down plagues on the Egyptian and his household after he took in Sarai to his harem misled she was Abram’s sister (12:15). God additionally used imagery to make His message meaningful, comparing Abraham&#8217;s seed to the dust of the earth (13:16). In one last form of communication, God spoke to Abraham experientially through tests by living through famine (12:10), being asked to sacrifice his son (22:2) and surviving war (14:16). God did not limit the use of communication symbols to convey a message that Abraham would understand, all revolving around the Promised Land.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter"><img data-attachment-id="5958" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="309,412" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="50489166-BC17-4A21-8B7D-478B3990714F_4_5005_c" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" src="" alt="50489166-BC17-4A21-8B7D-478B3990714F_4_5005_c" class="wp-image-5958" /></figure></div> <p class="has-text-align-center">Burning Bush: ShareFaith</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 19–31)</span></strong></h3> <p>The Lord made the Mosaic covenant with the children of Israel after God delivered them from Egypt. This schoolmaster covenant was a shadow of better things to come for Israel in Jesus Christ. God spoke to Moses as well as Israelites in this covenant. People in this covenant experienced all forms of communication including verbal, visual, tactile, aural, and experiential. To bring back the wayward Israelites into relationship with Him from sin, God caught their attention. He came down in a cloud, which He announced with lightning, trumpet&#8217;s noise and a smoking mountain (Ex 19:16-19). This covenant records multiple conversations between God and Moses. It also shows God revealing Himself in the burning bush in a theophany (3:2). The Lord spoke to Moses &#8220;face to face, as one speaks to a friend&#8221; (33:11; Dt 5:4 NIV).&nbsp;</p> <p>In contrast to God&#8217;s arresting communication with lightning, trumpet&#8217;s noise, and a smoking mountain (Ex 19:16-19) that made the Israelites fearful of the Lord, Moses&#8217; conversation with the Lord demonstrated the intimacy that comes with friendship. Moses&#8217; encounter with God differed from everyone else&#8217;s. Only Moses had this direct access to God. The Lord’s communication during this covenant characterized wide-ranging symbols from the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night that signified His presence to the children of Israel in the departure from Egypt (13:21–22) &nbsp;to the intricacies of the Tabernacle of Moses. Even the ten plagues on the Egyptians and the starkness of the desert reflected God&#8217;s communication. Perhaps, God communicated in a demonstrative fashion to Moses and these first-generation children of Israel who provoked Him ten times and wandered in the desert to their death because of their disobedience (Nm 13–14:22).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Palestinian Covenant (Deuteronomy 28–30)</span></strong></h3> <p>Whereas the Mosaic Covenant was between first-generation children of Israel, the Palestinian dealt with the second generation. It amplified the Mosaic Covenant with moral and civil codes as conditions for living in the Promised Land. This covenant pertains to the land. Much of the language relates to the land, mentioned about 180 times in the book of Deuteronomy<strong>.[</strong>9]<strong> </strong>The land showed a much different future. Rather than stark desert conditions, it promised milk and honey. These were visual symbols to the children of Israel of forthcoming prosperity. During this covenant, Moses spoke for God to the children of Israel. Moses himself conveyed the covenant (Dt 29:1; 29). God continued to dialogue with Moses. While He showed Moses the whole land, He would not allow him to cross over into it (34:1-4).&nbsp;</p> <p>Moreover, as the children of Israel went into Canaan to conquer the land under Joshua&#8217;s leadership, the Ark of the Covenant went before them (Josh. 1-3). It symbolized new beginnings. Howeve Ezekiel 37:1-14: Receptive Reading perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:28680df4-3991-1624-0f36-318878120306 Tue, 14 Sep 2021 08:49:55 -0500 Jan Paron, PhD &#124; September 14, 2021 The oracle of the dry bones represents the restoration of a future, united &#8230;<p><a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD | September 14, 2021</p> <p>The oracle of the dry bones represents the restoration of a future, united Israel (Ez 37:1-14). Set in the context of the Babylonian exile (1:1-3), Ezekiel prophesied the oracles to the captured Judahites between approximately 585 BC and 573 BC.<a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftn1"><sup>[1]</sup></a>&nbsp;Through the word of the Lord, Ezekiel announced multiple prophecies for the exiled about their future (37:1-14) amid what appears as three main: “you shall live” (v. 6); “brought you up from your graves” (v. 13); and “place you in your own land” (v.14).<a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftn2"><sup>[2]</sup></a>&nbsp;The Lord made promises to the exiled that would change their captured state to one delivered from the Persians and then restored as a nation in their land. The clauses denote purpose that results in Israel knowing that “I am the Lord” (vv. 6, 13, 14).</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong>&nbsp;<span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">You Shall Live (Ez 37:6)</span></strong></h3> <p>Listening to Ezekiel’s initial recounting of the valley from Ez 37:6, the exiled may have envisioned a scene marked by death and impurity rather than one of restored life. The area contained a great many dried, scattered, and disjointed bones that had laid there awhile (v. 2).&nbsp;The Jews had specific purification customs for a corpse before its burial. Further, the corpse rendered anything touching it unclean.<a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftn3"><sup>[3]</sup></a>&nbsp;Therefore, the exiled possibly viewed the bones and land as desecrated.&nbsp;The unclean, dry bones might further represent a larger defilement between the Judahites and their failed relationship with the Lord (Ez 43:7).<a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftn4"><sup>[4]</sup></a></p> <p>Babylonia’s second deportation of Israel&nbsp;resulted in Jerusalem’s destruction and its temple’s razing&nbsp;(2 Kgs 24:10-16).<a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftn5"><sup>[5]</sup></a>&nbsp;If Ezekiel spoke the dry bones prophecy between 585 BC&nbsp;and 573 BC, then the first-wave deportees lived in exile for twelve years and the latter second wave two years at the time of the oracle.<a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftn6"><sup>[6]</sup></a>&nbsp;For the first-generation Judean exiles,&nbsp;no doubt bitterness and trauma existed.&nbsp;Indeed, they voiced the dried-out state that produced feelings of being&nbsp;cut off (Heb:&nbsp;<em>gāzar</em>)&nbsp;from their parts (Ez 37:11).&nbsp;The NLT indicates&nbsp;<em>gāzar&nbsp;</em>as a finished nation.<a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftn7"><sup>[7]</sup></a>&nbsp;The feelings of despair and desperation from hopelessness in a desecrated and dead condition (37:11) could have left them questioning God’s promise of&nbsp;“you shall live” (v. 6e).&nbsp;</p> <p><img loading="lazy" data-attachment-id="5921" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="488,608" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="773A8B9D-E2B4-4553-B379-8BCA27F6DA87_1_201_a" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class=" wp-image-5921 aligncenter" src="" alt="773A8B9D-E2B4-4553-B379-8BCA27F6DA87_1_201_a" width="386" height="481" srcset=";h=481 386w,;h=150 120w,;h=300 241w, 488w" sizes="(max-width: 386px) 100vw, 386px"></p> <p class="has-text-align-center">The Vision of The Valley of The Dry Bones Engraving: Gustave Doré</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Brought You Up from Your Graves (Ez 37:13)</span></strong></h3> <p>The latter part of Ezekiel 37:13 refers to the Lord’s action of “brought you up from your graves.”&nbsp;His promise may speak to a physical and/or eschatological restoration for the house of Israel. Ezekiel 37:1-14 portrays the exiles&#8217; cultural state with the stripping of their identity reflected in a very (ESV) or great many (NIV) bones now scattered from their homeland in a severely deteriorated, dry state (37:2). The exiled experienced economic, political, and spiritual losses that left them feeling shame during capture.&nbsp;</p> <p>Since Israel broke covenant with God by continuing in sin, the Lord&nbsp;allowed two deportations to Babylon.<a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftn8"><sup>[8]</sup></a>&nbsp;The second-wave capture exiled most of the Judahites 1000 miles away to Mesopotamia.<a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftn9"><sup>[9]</sup></a>&nbsp;This dislocation deprived them economically. Loss of&nbsp;property left&nbsp;them without their possessions, and more importantly, the temple and land so closely connected to their social and religious identities.&nbsp;Consequently, political fallout ensued from a lesser standing among the surrounding nations,<a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftn10"><sup>[10]</sup></a>&nbsp;which&nbsp;laughed (Ez 25:3) and mocked (25: 8) the exiled Israel. In tandem, they further experienced a broken relationship with Yahweh. The Judahites expressed covenant through obedience, worship, rites, and sacrifice to God. Covenant loss more than likely additionally contributed to a sense of shame.</p> <p>Nonetheless, the Lord extended His assurance of hope to them. Despite Israel’s disobedience, the Lord addresses them as “O, my people” (v. 12).&nbsp;Quite possibly, their despair may have overridden the Lord’s promise to bring them up from their graves (37:14). However, Ez 37:13 could provide a clue suggesting cause and effect.&nbsp;When the Lord brings them out of their graves, then they will know He is the Lord.<a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftn11"><sup>[11]</sup></a></p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Place in Your Own Land (Ez 37:14)</span></strong></h3> <p>In the last verse in the passage (v. 14), the Lord mentions “place in your own land<strong>”&nbsp;</strong>(v. 14). The last verse also culminates the process of restoration to Israel encompassing sinews→flesh→skin→breath→live→land.&nbsp;As in the previous verse (v. 13), the last verse of the dry bones segment utilizes a cause and effect again as if to highlight knowing that He is the Lord (v. 14). However, in this instance, it predicates Him having spoken and performed his promises</p> <p>Well into captivity, the exiled more than likely saw the realities of their changed existence. Upon hearing Ezekiel’s oracles, they may have Dry even asked themselves, can these bones live? However, the Lord leaves them with reaffirmation as His people and promises of restoration and revival. From prior practices over concern for Israel’s own self-interests, it’s difficult from the dry bones narrative to ascertain whether they grasped the fullness of His promises. He desired to sanctify His name’s sake, which Israel profaned among the nations (cf. Ez 36:22-24).</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Footnotes</span></h3> <p><sup><a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftnref1">[1]</a></sup> Lawrence Boadt in&nbsp;<em>Anchor Bible Dictionary,&nbsp;</em>Volume 2, D-G, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York, Doubleday, 1992).713.</p> <p><sup><a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftnref2">[2]</a></sup> Unless otherwise specified, this writing will quote scripture from the New King James Version.</p> <p><sup><a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftnref3">[3]</a></sup> A.P. Bender. “<em>Beliefs, Rites, and Customs of the Jews, Connected with Death, Burial, and Mourning</em>,&nbsp;<em>Connected with Death, Burial, and Mourning.</em>” The Jewish Quarterly Review 7, no. 2 (January 1995), 259-269. The Jews had specific customs for purification of a corpse prior to burial such as cleansing, dressing, and posturing it,&nbsp;&nbsp;which left anything touching it unclean as well.</p> <p><a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftnref4"><sup>[4]</sup></a>&nbsp;Marvin Sweeney,&nbsp;<em>Reading Ezekiel: A Literary and Theological Commentary</em>&nbsp;(Smyth &amp; Helwys, Publishing, Inc., 2012), 44.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftnref5"><sup>[5]</sup></a>&nbsp;L. D. Tiemeyer, L. D, “Book of Ezekiel.” in&nbsp;<em>The Dictionary of the Old Testament Prophets</em>, ed. Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2012) 214.&nbsp;Ezekiel delivered the oracles in chronological order with Ez 37 following 35:1 to 36:15. While experiences from&nbsp;deportation remained more recent for the second-wave Judahites than the first, nevertheless, t.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftnref6"><sup>[6]</sup></a>&nbsp;Walther Zimmerli,&nbsp;<em>A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, Chapters 25-48</em>&nbsp;(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), 234.</p> <p><a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftnref7"><sup>[7]</sup></a>&nbsp;Cut off may&nbsp;suggest multiple levels of separation: God, the nation, Jerusalem, and their temple. Possibly, it builds upon another word for cut off (Heb:&nbsp;<em>kāraṯ</em>) associated with punishment by death (Nm 9:13)</p> <p><a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftnref8"><sup>[8]</sup></a>&nbsp;When King Jehoiakim continued in the footsteps of Manasseh, the Lord sent other nations to destroy Judah for the sins of Manasseh (2 Kgs 24:3). Then, the Lord chastised Israel in the 12th year in exile (Ez 33:21) after Jerusalem’s fall for their continued sins.</p> <p><a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftnref9"><sup>[9]</sup></a>&nbsp;Paul M. Joyce,&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel: A Commentary</em>&nbsp;(New York: T &amp; T Clark, 2007), 7.</p> <p><a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftnref10"><sup>[10]</sup></a>&nbsp;Nebuchadnezzar reigned over Syria and Palestine from the Euphrates to the Egyptian frontier (2 Kgs 24:7), and Judah became a Babylonian province, weakening the standing of Israel in the eyes of surrounding nations.</p> <p><a href="//28B03CF9-2A95-4934-9717-D31E993FF6AA#_ftnref11"><sup>[11]</sup></a>&nbsp;Saul M. Olyan, “<em>Honor, Shame, and Covenant Relations in Ancient Israel and Its Environment.</em>” Journal of Biblical Literature 115, no. 2 (1996): 201.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Bibliography</span></strong></h3> <p>Ackroyd, Peter R.&nbsp;<em>Exile and Restoration: A Study of Hebrew Thought of the Sixth Century B. C.</em>&nbsp;Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986.</p> <p>Allen, Leslie C.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel, Vol. 29</em>. Word Bible Commentary. Edited by John D. W. Watts and James W. Watts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.</p> <p>Bender, A. P. “Beliefs, Rites, and Customs of the Jews, Connected with Death, Burial, and Mourning.”&nbsp;<em>The Jewish Quarterly Review</em>&nbsp;7, no. 2 January (Jan., 1995):&nbsp;&nbsp;259-269:</p> <p>Bimson, John J. “Book of Ezekiel.” in&nbsp;<em>The Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible</em>. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.</p> <p>Boadt, Lawrence. “Book of Ezekiel.” in&nbsp;<em>The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol D-G</em>. Edited by David N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.</p> <p>__________.&nbsp;<em>Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction.</em>&nbsp;New York: Paulist Press, 2012.</p> <p>Brett, Mark G. ed.&nbsp;<em>Ethnicity and the Bible</em>. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2002.</p> <p><em>Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers</em>. 17th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.</p> <p>Eichrodt, Walther&nbsp;<em>Theology of the Old Testament</em>. Translated by J. A. Baker. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961.</p> <p>Fox, Michael, V. “The Rhetoric of Ezekiel’s Vision of the Valley of the Bones.”<em>&nbsp;Hebrew Union College Annual</em>&nbsp;51, (1980): 1-15.</p> <p>Greenberg, Moshe.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel 21-27.&nbsp;</em>Anchor Yale Bible. New York: Yale University Press, 2010.</p> <p>__________. The Design and Themes of Ezekiel’s Program of Restoration.”&nbsp;<em>Interpretation</em>&nbsp;58, no. 4 (2007): 585-625.</p> <p>Goldingay, John A. “Ezekiel.”&nbsp;<em>Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible</em>. Edited by James D. G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003.</p> <p>Joyce, Paul M.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel: A Commentary</em>. New York: T &amp; T Clark, 2007.</p> <p>Kamsen, Joel and Tihitshak Biwul. “The Restoration of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14: An Exegetical and Theological Analysis.”&nbsp;<em>Scriptura&nbsp;</em>118 (2019:1), pp. 1-10.</p> <p>LaSor, William Sandord, David Allan Hubbard, Frederic William Bush, and Leslie C. Allen.&nbsp;<em>Old Testament Survey: The Message Form, and Background of the Old Testament</em>. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, Co. 1996.&nbsp;</p> <p>Lee, Lydia.&nbsp;<em>Mapping Judah’s Fate in Ezekiel’s Oracles Against the Nations.</em>&nbsp;Atlanta: SBL Press, 2016. <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>.</p> <p>Longman III, Tremper.&nbsp;<em>The Message of the Prophets: A Survey of the Prophetic and Apocalyptic Books of the Old Testament</em>. Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2010.</p> <p>Mein, Andrew.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel and the Ethics of Exile.</em>&nbsp;Oxford Theological Monographs. Oxford: OUP Oxford, 2006.</p> <p>Miller, Maxwell J. and John H. Hayes.&nbsp;<em>A History of Ancient Israel and Judah</em>. 2nd ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.</p> <p>Mendenhall, George. “Covenant.”&nbsp;<em>The Anchor Bible Dictionary</em>, Vol A-C. Edited by David Freeman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.</p> <p>Margaret S. Odell<strong>.&nbsp;</strong><em>Ezekiel (Smyth &amp; Helwys Bible Commentary).</em></p> <p>Olyan, Saul M. 1996. “Honor, Shame, and Covenant Relations in Ancient Israel and Its Environment.”&nbsp;<em>Journal of Biblical Literature</em>&nbsp;115, no. 2: 201.&nbsp;</p> <p>Pearce, Laurie E. “Identifying Judeans and Judean Identity in the Babylonian Evidence.” in&nbsp;<em>Exile and Return: The Babylonian Context,</em>&nbsp;edited by Jonathan Stökl, Caroline Waerzeggers, and Jonathan Stökl. Berlin: CPI Books, 2015.&nbsp;</p> <p>Qubt, Shadia. “Can These Bones Live? God, Only You Know.”&nbsp;<em>Review and Expositor</em>. 104, Summer, 2007.</p> <p>Schultz, Samuel J.&nbsp;<em>The Old Testament Speaks:</em>&nbsp;<em>A Complete Survey of Old Testament History and Literature.</em>&nbsp;New York: HarperOne, 2000.</p> <p>Serfontein, Johan and Wilhelm J. Wessels. “Communicating Amidst Reality: Ezekiel&#8217;s Communication as a Response to His Reality.”&nbsp;<em>Verbum Eccles&nbsp;</em>35, no. 1 (2014):&nbsp;</p> <p>Smith-Christopher, Daniel L.&nbsp;<em>A Biblical Theology of Exile</em>. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.</p> <p>Staples, Jason A.&nbsp;<em>The Idea of Israel in Second Temple Judaism: A New Theory of People, Exile, and Israelite Identity.&nbsp;</em>New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021.</p> <p>Stökl, Jonathan, and Caroline Waerzeggers.&nbsp;<em>Exile and Return : The Babylonian Context</em>. (Beihefte Zur Zeitschrift Für Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 2015): Volume 478. De Gruyter.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sweeney, Marvin.&nbsp;<em>Reading Ezekiel: A Literary and Theological Commentary</em>&nbsp;(Reading the Old Testament.) (p. 44). (Smyth &amp; Helwys Publishing, Inc.)</p> <p>Tiemeyer, L. D. “Book of Ezekiel.” in&nbsp;<em>The Dictionary of the Old Testament Prophets</em>. Edited by Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2012.</p> <p>Walton, John H.&nbsp;<em>Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible</em>. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006.</p> <p>Zimmerli, Walther.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel 2</em>. Hermeneia. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983.</p> <p></p> The Road to Significance Blog - Bryan Loritts urn:uuid:a83ad5dc-753d-858c-c71b-56e3f9920b98 Fri, 10 Sep 2021 14:33:13 -0500 <blockquote><p class="">Matthew 20:20-28<br>“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’<strong> </strong>He said to them, ‘You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’ And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,<strong> </strong>and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,<strong> </strong>even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”</p></blockquote><p class="">Some years ago when our family was living in NYC, a really close friend of mine called me up and offered me tickets to a new musical his wife was in. I turned him down and gently reminded him that I don’t do musicals. Like, I do concerts. And I do plays, but I don’t mix them together. Like, I’ll listen to a preacher, and I’ll listen to a worship leader, but I’m not into worship leaders who talk too much, or preachers who sing. Just me, but I digress. Well, thankfully, I remembered my wife loves musicals, and so I decided to die to self and take the tickets after all. I was glad I did, because it turned out to be <em>Hamilton</em>. I remember sitting there and being stunned by Hamilton, and not just the music, but by the sheer force of his life. Later on I would go and buy the biography that inspired the musical. Here’s a guy who was one of the founding fathers, served in the revolutionary war, became the architect of our financial system and served as our first Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton also was a prolific writer, writing over 50 of the Federalist Papers. Where did his drive come from? His biographer said it came from the shame of his past and how he hated his immigrant status. So Hamilton decided to forge a new identity based on achievement. I guess we could say that Hamilton was determined that he was not going to lose his shot. He was going to make a mark.</p><p class="">Believe it or not, that’s all of us right now. You and I have a drive to matter. We all want to leave our mark for our moment in time and beyond. While this isn’t wrong, what does become problematic is when our desire to leave our mark turns into our desire for status and fame- a desire Jesus takes on and corrects in our passage.</p><p class="">Our story opens up with a woman named Salome, who is the mother of James and John, aka, the sons of Zebedee, and also the sister of Jesus’ mother, Mary, coming up to Jesus with an urgent request. We know that it’s urgent because the text tells us that she came to Jesus kneeling. The word for <em>kneeling</em> means to worship. So she comes to Jesus in the right way, but asking the wrong thing- she wants her boys to be given the seats of prominence in the kingdom. No doubt, because she is Jesus’ aunt, she is trying to leverage her familial relations to curry favor with Him. Jesus tells her no.</p><p class="">Let me stop right here and send you a quick text message. We can come to Jesus the right way, and make the wrong request and hear him say no. This is important, because some of us think that because we are serving in ministry, giving generously of our money and sharing our faith, that God is somehow in our debt, so that when we ask him for things he has to give it to us. This text tells us that’s not true. In fact, this text teaches us that God will tell us no to things we really want, and it has nothing to do with our behavior, the fact that we’ve been a good boy or girl. God can say no.</p><p class=""><em>Connecting to our Culture<br></em>Notice with me Jesus never critiques their desire for significance, but he does take on their desire for status. This is important, because in verses 26-27 he talks about the idea of being great and being first, the idea of significance. He doesn’t say we should shy away from this desire, instead he offers us a whole new paradigm for how to achieve it. Jesus offers us the road to significance. Significance, wanting to leave our mark is not the problem, the desire for worldly status is. And what is status? <span>The dictionary defines status as the position of an individual in relationship to others. It’s the idea of fame</span>.</p><p class="">We live in a culture obsessed with worldly status and fame. In 1976 a survey was done which asked people to list their life goals and fame ranked 15th out of 16; but by the early 2000s, 51% of young people said fame was one of their top goals. In 2007, middle school girls were asked who they would most like to have dinner with. Jennifer Lopez ranked first, then Jesus Christ and Paris Hilton was third. Then these girls were asked what their dream job was? Nearly twice as many said being a celebrity’s assistant more than being the president of Harvard. David Brooks concludes, “As I looked around the popular culture I kept finding the same messages everywhere. You are special. Trust yourself. Be true to yourself. Movies from Pixar and Disney are constantly telling children how wonderful they are. Commencement speeches are larded with the same cliches: Follow your passion. Don’t accept limits. Chart your own course. You have a responsibility to do great things because you are great. This is the gospel of self-trust”- <em>David Brooks, The Road to Character</em>.</p><p class="">Listen, our text teaches us that this is not just a problem out in the culture, but it is also a problem in the church. The fact that you have the future leaders of the church jockeying for position and status, and the fact that the other ten get angry over their request, which reveals their hearts for status, shows us that this spirit of status runs rampant in the church of Jesus Christ. The natural gravitational pull of our hearts is not into servanthood, but into status. Jesus is going to show us the world’s paradigm for significance begins with: 1. Me; 2. Worldly Use of Power/Authority; 3. Status. The Kingdom paradigm for significance begins with: 1. Savior; 2. Suffering; 3. Servanthood. This is the true road to significance. Let’s jump in.</p><p class="">The Road to Significance: Suffering, Matthew 20:21-23<br>So here is Jesus’ aunt thinking she can leverage her DNA to get her boys in the VIP section of the kingdom. Jesus cuts in and says in so many words, “are you crazy,” and then he starts going on and on about whether they are able to drink the cup he has to drink. Now what does this mean? In the OT, the cup is oftentimes used to depict the wrath of God as a means of judgment on rebellious nations. So the cup is the idea of suffering. This is why in the garden of Gethsemane, right before Jesus dies, he asks God to remove the cup from him. What does this mean? The manner in which he was to suffer and die. So the cup is the idea of suffering. Jesus is saying, you don’t get status or significance in the kingdom without suffering. Then he goes onto say that James and John will drink from the cup, meaning they will suffer. James will be the first apostle to be martyred, killed by Herod. John will live to be 100 years of age, but much of that time was spent suffering in exile on the Island of Patmos.</p><p class="">What James and John teach us is that suffering looks different. Some of you will suffer like James- immediate and like catching on fire. Some of you may literally die for the cause of Christ. Yep. Some of you may have some debilitating disease, or lose a close loved one, or have a long fight with cancer. Others of you, your suffering will look different. Your suffering will be more like turning up the heat very slowly. You’ll suffer more like John, having to endure a life that is nowhere near the script you imagined. You’ll suffer with infertility. You’ll suffer economically. You’ll have to be like John and show up faithfully to a life (to a place you do not want to live) that’s nowhere near what you had hoped. But why? Because brokenness is a prerequisite for usefulness.</p><p class="">When I was a boy I used to love going to amusement parks, and my favorite thing to do was just as the sun was setting I’d buy one of those glowsticks. Now the way glowsticks work is there is a capsule inside of them that has chemicals which cause the light. But those chemicals won’t be released unless you bend the glowstick and break the capsule. In other words, that glowstick cannot live up to its purpose as light without first being broken!</p><p class="">Oh friends, the Bible abounds in examples of this. I would argue that every redemptive leader God has used has gone through suffering and brokenness. I call Joseph to the witness stand. At the start of the story Joseph is this arrogant, pompous kid who is bragging about how his brothers will bow down and serve him. No one wants to be around him. But at the end of the story we see a completely different man. He’s tender. He cries. He’s humble. His brothers end up moving from their country to his and enjoy his company. What changed him? I tell you, years of suffering and brokenness. Being lied on in Potiphar’s house. Sold into slavery. Forgotten about in jail. Suffering and brokenness made the difference.</p><p class="">Oh friends, I tell you, God is up to something in the pain. God is up to something in the disease. God is up to something in the termination. God is up to something in betrayal. We do not get to significance without suffering.</p><p class=""><em>Brokenness vs. Woundedness<br></em>Now let me say this and I’ll move on. Suffering knocks on all of our doors, and just because you’ve suffered doesn’t mean you’re ready for significance and usefulness. We all know of people who have suffered and didn’t come out better, but worse. So the issue is not suffering, it’s our response to suffering. And when suffering comes our way, we have one of two responses, either we will be wounded or we will be broken. Woundedness happens when we refuse to respond God’s way. There’s no forgiveness. There’s no faith or trusting in God. We hold onto our idols rather than releasing them. We’re bitter and not better. Broken people respond by leaning into God in suffering. We know that God is trying to break that thing in us that’s keeping us from being like him. And as painful as it may be, we choose to trust him. Wounded People: 1. Aloof; 2. Controlling (fear based); 3. Bitter. Broken People: 1. Empathetic; 2. Empowering (faith based); 3. Better. Are you broken or wounded?</p><p class="">The Road to Significance: Servant Leadership, Matthew 20:24-27<br>Now what happens when a person has status, a position, without suffering and brokenness? Their leadership is primed to be like the Gentiles. Look at how he describes their leadership. He describes it as being domineering (“lord it over them”) and manipulating (“exercising authority over them”). Now, power and authority is not wrong, how could they be? Jesus exercised power over demons and in the Great Commission said that all authority had been given to him. Furthermore, we’ve been called to use power and authority. But there’s a huge difference. Worldly leadership is marked by <em>unfettered</em> power and authority. This is the idea in the Greek.</p><p class="">It’s sort of like when you’re sick and the doctor gives you a prescription for some pretty strong medication. The first thing we will do is to look at the bottle and see what the dosage is. Why? Because we know in the right amount this powerful medicine can heal, but in the wrong amount it can harm. That’s power and authority. We need it, and we have to use it, just in the right dosage.</p><p class="">See, power means the ability to force or coerce someone to do your will, even if they would choose not to, because of your position and might. So, when Jaden was a little boy and he didn’t want to hold my hand crossing a busy street, I had to exercise power to coerce him to hold my hand for his own safety and good. But if my relationship is always marked by coercing him, by unfettered power, it harms and kills the relationship. Authority is the skill of getting people to willingly do your will because of your personal influence. This is a good thing. Power is positional, and authority is relational. I do this with my kids. Hey, knock it out in the classroom, you got a bonus coming. Get a job and save so much money you have a car coming. This is good in the right amount, but if I’m always cutting deals that’s not a relationship, that’s me raising Pavlov’s Dog, and setting them on a performance ethic where I become their Santa Claus. That’s manipulation.</p><p class="">So how do we make sure we are using power and authority in the right amount? Jesus tells us- servanthood. Servanthood is an others directed orientation to life, that desires to do what it takes to make them flourish. If you’ve ever watched NASCAR you’re watching power in check. These cars are powerful, but they don’t go as fast as they could, why? Because they have something called a restrictor plate, which puts a leash on their power. Why do they do this? For the good of the driver, the car and the other drivers. In the same way, servanthood is our restrictor plate, because servanthood says I want to do what is best not for myself, but for others.</p><p class="">We should see the restrictor plate of servanthood in marriage. Men, did you know that Ephesians 5 says that our wives should be able to look through the rearview mirror of their relationship with us and say they are better women because of our servanthood in their lives? We’ve stewarded the power and authority God has given us in marriage not to ingratiate ourselves but to better them. We see this in parenting. I can tell you that if your parenting is marked by unfettered power and authority, by control and manipulation that is a recipe for rebellious children. The older your kids get the less they need you to be a prophet and the more they need you to be a pastor. We also see this at play in the church. There are people in churches who like to flex and overwhelm people with power and authority. They see something they don’t like, they fire off the email, criticize and walk out the door with their money. This is the way of the world. The way of Jesus is the restrictor plate of servanthood where one says there’s a problem and instead of critiquing, how can I jump in and offer a solution?</p><p class="">The Road to Significance: The Savior, Matthew 20:28<br>So here is Jesus’ aunt, making this crazy request, and the other ten disciples are listening in and they are hot as fish grease! The nerve of these people, they think! Jesus says calm down, and explains to them the road to significance demands servanthood which is fed by suffering the right way, and at the foundation, the primary driver of it all is Jesus, the Savior. Now how do we know this? Jesus ends by saying that he, the Son of Man, came to give his life as a <em>ransom</em> for many. The Greek word for <em>ransom</em> is the same as redemption- it means to set free.</p><p class="">&nbsp;Now listen carefully, because in that one word, Jesus is saying two profound things. The first thing he is saying is that we are in bondage. You only free people who are in bondage. Prior to Jesus we all worked for bad leadership; it’s called Satan, sin and idolatry. Satan has an agenda for your life and it is to kill, steal and destroy. Peter says he goes about as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. How does Satan do this? He wants to get us in bondage to sin, and enslaved to our idols. He wants us to believe that life is all about status, success, money, pleasure, having women, having men. Satan is not looking out for your interest. He’s not looking to be life-giving, but life-taking. But what does Jesus do? Philippians 2 says that Jesus comes as a servant, with our best interest in mind, and as the servant he comes to set us free. How does Jesus free us? He frees us through his suffering, his cup on the cross. Don’t you see? Jesus models for us this exact paradigm of kingdom service and significance.</p><p class="">Now here’s the second thing this word <em>ransom</em> implies. For a person to go to this kind of lengths to save and free and serve us, naturally inspires us to serve others. Imagine we go out for lunch and the bill comes and I say, “I got it”. How will you respond? You’ll probably say thanks and go on about how I didn’t have to do that and that’s the end of it. Now, imagine I come up to you and say, “My wife and I feel lead to pay your credit card bill,” how will you respond? I’ll probably get free babysitting out of you. But now imagine I knock on your door and say I want to pay your mortgage off, what’s your response? I’m guessing for the rest of your life you’ll find ways to thank me. Why? Servanthood begets servanthood. The greater the act of service, the greater the response.</p><p class="">Jesus paid all of our sins on the cross as the suffering servant. Show me a Christian who doesn’t serve and I’ll show you a Christian who doesn’t get the gospel.<br></p> Valley of the Dry Bones: Contextual Background perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:385f9bba-3128-8a66-bbf9-b3add8b0be59 Sat, 04 Sep 2021 05:13:17 -0500 Jan Paron, PhD &#124; September 4, 2021 The vision of the valley of the dry bones (Ez 37:1-14) stands amid &#8230;<p><a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD | September 4, 2021</p> <p>The vision of the valley of the dry bones (Ez 37:1-14) stands amid a collection of oracles from Ezekiel addressed to the exiled during the Babylonian captivity. Ezekiel transmitted the words of the Lord to the exiled as their watchman and prophet.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn1"><sup>[1]</sup></a> In 37:1-14, he oracled renewal and restoration that included a united Israel (vv. 15-21) as part of the book’s primary purpose of judgment and salvation for Israel and the nations. What occurred in the background that tells the behind-the-scenes story of the exiled in Babylonia? An overview of the historical, cultural, geographic, and economic contexts provide an initial glimpse into their captivity.</p> <p>A historical overview of exile for the divided kingdoms reveals deportation for both but at different points. In 721 BC, before the Babylonian captivity, the Assyrians took the Northern Kingdom captive (2 Kgs 14-20). Babylonian captivity followed about 100 years later in two waves. The first wave in 597 BC resulted in the capture of King Jehoiachin and leading citizens of Judah including Ezekiel.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn2"><sup>[2]</sup></a>&nbsp;The second occurred in 587 BC when Babylon razed Jerusalem and its temple after Jerusalem’s second rebellion. It forced Jerusalem’s surrender and deported its king and Judean notables to Babylon (2 Kgs 24:10-16).<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn3"><sup>[3]</sup></a></p> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter"><img data-attachment-id="5894" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="900,542" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="09BAB718-1AFA-4788-B40C-1CDAA406199D_1_201_a" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" src="" alt="09BAB718-1AFA-4788-B40C-1CDAA406199D_1_201_a" class="wp-image-5894" /><figcaption>Image:</figcaption></figure></div> <p>To grasp the fullness of the dry bones prophecy, a glimpse at the circumstances before exile places the word of the Lord in perspective. Several events led up to the Babylonian exile. While King Josiah pleased the Lord during his 30-year reign by walking in the ways of David,<sup><a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn4">[4]</a></sup> Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim marked a return to acts of evil in the Lord’s sight (23:37). After Jehoiakim rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Lord sent bands of Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites, and children of Ammonites to destroy Judah for the sins of Manasseh (24:3). Nebuchadnezzar then reigned over Syria and Palestine from the Euphrates to the Egyptian frontier (2 Kgs 24:7), and Judah became a Babylonian province. Finally, the Lord chastised the people in the twelfth year of Babylonian exile (Ez 33:21) after Jerusalem’s fall for their continued sins.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn5"><sup>[5]</sup></a></p> <p>The Lord did not leave the exiled without His guidance. While in captivity, God called Ezekiel to the office of prophet.&nbsp;Among the deportees, Ezekiel recorded a series of visions from the Lord while exiled in Babylon during King Jehoiachin&#8217;s captivity in the diaspora community by the River Chebar (Ez 1:2). His oracles conveyed God’s redemptive plan for Israel and the nations about judgment and restoration.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn6"><sup>[6]</sup></a>&nbsp;He specifically spoke to the Judeans and first-generation exiles after the fall of Jerusalem as a voice from the exiled.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn7"><sup>[7]</sup></a></p> <p>He prophesied his first vision about the throne room in chapter one (1:4). The writer did not say whether it took place during its actual delivery versus writing at a later date.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn8"><sup>[8]</sup></a>&nbsp;If he prophesied the first vision at the start of his captivity, then, as Boadt noted, it occurred in 623-622 BC when 30 years old (1:1).<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn9"><sup>[9]</sup></a>&nbsp;Tiemeyer concurred with a sixth-century BC dating since it supports Neo-Babylonian sources.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn10"><sup>[10]</sup></a>Allen dated his prophetic call to 593 BC.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn11"><sup>[11]</sup></a></p> <p>In terms of dating the Ez 37 prophecy, the preceding may give a clue as to the timeline. Zimmerli dated passages 35:1-36:15 to after 587 BC since it recalls the dispute between the Judahites who remained in Jerusalem with neighboring peoples over Jewish claims to the land.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn12"><sup>[12]</sup></a>&nbsp;As Ezekiel ordered the oracles chronologically, this may imply that chapter 37 occurs later in the 70-year exilic period. Further, if Ezekiel delivered the dry bones prophecy around 585 BC, then the lesser first wave lived in exile for twelve years and the greater second wave two years.</p> <p>Ezekiel 37:1-14 portrays the cultural state of the exiled through symbolism reflected in the very many or very great many dry bones in the valley or open valley (37:2). In essence, Babylonian captivity stripped them of their identity and left a collective society now scattered from their homeland in a severely deteriorated, dry state.&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the Babylonians captured Ezekiel during the first wave, the prophet did not directly experience Jerusalem’s fall.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn13"><sup>[13]</sup></a>&nbsp;Nevertheless, God chose him as His spokesperson to the exilic community living among the refugees in their trauma culture. The book of Lamentations records the very depth of their sorrow, suffering, and abandonment. They also experienced shame from exile. Ezekiel 25 records the surrounding nations laughing (25:3) and mocking (v. 8) the exiled house of Israel. In the wake of the exiled feeling of grief, the Lord’s message sought to give them hope in their captivity.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Exile geographically impacted the exiled as well. The Babylonians transported most of the Judahites 1000 miles to Mesopotamia during the second wave of capture.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn14"><sup>[14]</sup></a>&nbsp;The exiled came from an urban environment in Jerusalem and relocated to what Joyce described as “ghetto-like settlements” such as Tel-abib described in Ez 3:15. The elders could gather with each other, though. (8:1; 14:1; 20:1).<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn15"><sup>[15]</sup></a>&nbsp;Ezekiel himself lived among the exiled in a community by the river Chebar in Tel-abib 100 miles south of Babylon (Ez 1:1; 3:15).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Pearce&nbsp;noted that the term exile suggested movement away from a native land.<a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftn16"><sup>[16]</sup></a>&nbsp;Economically, that movement away from the homeland took a toll on the diaspora. Taking a closer look at the exile reveals the extent of the destruction by the captors on the captives. The Babylonians physically dislocated Judeans from their homeland, deprived them economically of their possessions, and left them spiritually depleted without their temple. To the Jews, the losses affected their identity closely tied to the promised land, the Davidic throne, Jerusalem, and Lord’s temple. Second Kings 25:1-21 describes in vivid detail the fall, capture, and destruction of Jerusalem: forced famine; murdered military officials, king’s associates, townspeople, and priests; burnt structures, and pillaged house of the Lord. The captors left only a small remnant of the very poor behind. The resettlement in Babylonia resulted in a starting over so to speak of the exiled.&nbsp;</p> <p>In all, perhaps at the very heart of God’s mission to His people lies the events that preceded exile and the losses they experienced. He would allow them to experience death in the valley, only to bring them life out of the valley. “Then you shall know that I&nbsp;<em>am</em>&nbsp;the LORD,” (Ez 37:6, 13, 14).</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Bibliography</span></strong></h3> <p>Ackroyd, Peter R.&nbsp;<em>Exile and Restoration: A Study of Hebrew Thought of the Sixth Century B. C.</em>&nbsp;Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986.</p> <p>Allen, Leslie C.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel, Vol. 29</em>. Word Bible Commentary. Edited by John D. W. Watts and James W. Watts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.</p> <p>Bimson, John J. “Book of Ezekiel.” in&nbsp;<em>The Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible</em>. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.</p> <p>Boadt, Lawrence. “Book of Ezekiel.” in&nbsp;<em>The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol D-G</em>. Edited by David N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.</p> <p>__________.&nbsp;<em>Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction.</em>&nbsp;New York: Paulist Press, 2012.</p> <p>Brett, Mark G. ed.&nbsp;<em>Ethnicity and the Bible</em>. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2002.</p> <p><em>Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers</em>. 17th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.</p> <p>Eichrodt, Walther&nbsp;<em>Theology of the Old Testament</em>. Translated by J. A. Baker. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961.</p> <p>Fox, Michael, V. “The Rhetoric of Ezekiel’s Vision of the Valley of the Bones.”<em>&nbsp;Hebrew Union College Annual</em>&nbsp;51, (1980): 1-15.</p> <p>Greenberg, Moshe.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel 21-27.&nbsp;</em>Anchor Yale Bible. New York: Yale University Press, 2010.</p> <p>__________. The Design and Themes of Ezekiel’s Program of Restoration.”&nbsp;<em>Interpretation</em>&nbsp;58, no. 4 (2007): 585-625.</p> <p>Kamsen, Joel and Tihitshak Biwul. “The Restoration of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14: An Exegetical and Theological Analysis.”&nbsp;<em>Scriptura&nbsp;</em>118 (2019:1), pp. 1-10.</p> <p>LaSor, William Sandord, David Allan Hubbard, Frederic William Bush, and Leslie C. Allen.&nbsp;<em>Old Testament Survey: The Message Form, and Background of the Old Testament</em>. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, Co. 1996.&nbsp;</p> <p>Lee, Lydia.&nbsp;<em>Mapping Judah’s Fate in Ezekiel’s Oracles Against the Nations.</em>&nbsp;Atlanta: SBL Press, 2016. <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>.</p> <p>Mein, Andrew.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel and the Ethics of Exile.</em>&nbsp;Oxford Theological Monographs. Oxford: OUP Oxford, 2006.</p> <p>Miller, Maxwell J. and John H. Hayes.&nbsp;<em>A History of Ancient Israel and Judah</em>. 2nd ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.</p> <p>Pearce, Laurie E. “Identifying Judeans and Judean Identity in the Babylonian Evidence.” in&nbsp;<em>Exile and Return: The Babylonian Context,</em>&nbsp;edited by Jonathan Stökl, Caroline Waerzeggers, and Jonathan Stökl. Berlin: CPI Books, 2015.&nbsp;</p> <p>Qubt, Shadia. “Can These Bones Live? God, Only You Know.”&nbsp;<em>Review and Expositor</em>. 104, Summer, 2007.</p> <p>Serfontein, Johan and Wilhelm J. Wessels. “Communicating Amidst Reality: Ezekiel&#8217;s Communication as a Response to His Reality.”&nbsp;<em>Verbum Eccles&nbsp;</em>35, no. 1 (2014): <a href=";pid=S2074-77052014000100033" rel="nofollow">;pid=S2074-77052014000100033</a>.</p> <p>Smith-Christopher, Daniel L.&nbsp;<em>A Biblical Theology of Exile</em>. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.</p> <p>Staples, Jason A.&nbsp;<em>The Idea of Israel in Second Temple Judaism: A New Theory of People, Exile, and Israelite Identity.&nbsp;</em>New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021.</p> <p>Stökl, Jonathan, and Caroline Waerzeggers.&nbsp;<em>Exile and Return : The Babylonian Context</em>. (Beihefte Zur Zeitschrift Für Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 2015): Volume 478. De Gruyter. <a href=";AuthType=sso&#038;db=cat06729a&#038;AN=ebc.EBC2189973&#038;site=eds-live" rel="nofollow">;AuthType=sso&#038;db=cat06729a&#038;AN=ebc.EBC2189973&#038;site=eds-live</a>.</p> <p>Tiemeyer, L. D. “Book of Ezekiel.” in&nbsp;<em>The Dictionary of the Old Testament Prophets</em>. Edited by Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2012.</p> <p>Walton, John H.&nbsp;<em>Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible</em>. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006.</p> <p>Zimmerli, Walther.&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel 2</em>. Hermeneia. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftnref1"><sup>[1]</sup></a>&nbsp;Michael V.&nbsp;Fox, 1980. “The Rhetoric of Ezekiel’s Vision of the Valley of the Bones,”&nbsp;<em>Hebrew Union College Annual</em>&nbsp;51(1980):1.&nbsp;Fox described the prophet’s audience in 37:1-14 as first-wave deportees from his immediate location and generation.</p> <p><a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftnref2"><sup>[2]</sup></a>&nbsp;Daniel L Smith-Christopher,&nbsp;<em>A Biblical Theology of Exile</em>&nbsp;(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002).&nbsp;Historians differ in the Babylonian captivity dates. Daniel Smith-Christopher supports 597 BC for the first capture and 587 BC for the second. Paul M. Joyce,&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel: A Commentary</em>, 3 (New York: T &amp; T Clark, 2007), 5. .Joyce recorded Ez 1:2 as 593 BC and then onwards.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftnref3"><sup>[3]</sup></a>&nbsp;L. D. Tiemeyer, L. D, “Book of Ezekiel.” in&nbsp;<em>The Dictionary of the Old Testament Prophets</em>, ed. Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2012) 214.</p> <p><a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftnref4"><sup>[4]</sup></a>&nbsp;King Josiah died in battle at Megiddo at the hand of the Egyptian Pharoahnechoh (2 Kgs 23:29). Jehoahaz then took his father’s place as king. His tenure marked a return to evil in the sight of the Lord. After a short reign, Pharoahnechoh put Jehoahaz in bonds at Riblah and replaced him with Jehoiakim (Josiah’s son Eliakim).&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftnref5"><sup>[5]</sup></a>&nbsp;“The Sovereign Lord commanded the prophet to tell the people “You eat meat with blood in it, you worship idols, and your murder the innocent. Do you really think the land should be yours?&nbsp;<sup>26&nbsp;</sup>Murderers! Idolaters! Should the land belong to you!” (33:25-26 NLT). Further,&nbsp;<sup>28 “</sup>I will completely destroy the land and demolish her pride.&nbsp;&nbsp;Her arrogant power will come to an end. The mountains of Israel will be so desolate that no one will even travel through them.&nbsp;<sup>29&nbsp;</sup>When I have completely destroyed the land because of their detestable sins, then they will know that I am the Lord” (vv.28-29).&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftnref6"><sup>[6]</sup></a>&nbsp;Lawrence Boadt in&nbsp;<em>Anchor Bible Dictionary,&nbsp;</em>Volume 2, D-G, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York, Doubleday, 1992).713.</p> <p><a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftnref7"><sup>[7]</sup></a>&nbsp;Leslie C. Allen,&nbsp;<em>Ezekiel 20-48</em>, vol. 29 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic), xx.</p> <p><a href="//2B39184E-E0D3-4487-9F03-E15B5C548BF4#_ftnref8"><sup>[8]</sup></a>&nbsp;The New International Version (NIV) prefaces the dating with “my” indicating the prophet’s age (v. 1a). Reading on, the next verse adds clarification as to the time in captivity as the fifth year of&nbsp;King Jehoiachin’s exile (v.2). If that the thirtieth year holds true, then it places the timeline at about 598 BC when King Nebuchadnezzar took Kainos Podcast (Coming Soon) Blog - Bryan Loritts urn:uuid:f32335f3-9da1-be01-03f4-9ca0bdde2370 Thu, 02 Sep 2021 09:23:58 -0500 <p class="">If you’re looking for a pastoral podcast that offers practical solutions infused with hope for how to build a multiethnic church then this is for you. Almost done recording season one. Stay tuned.</p> Finding a Christian Mental Health Coach urn:uuid:bcd6e3fa-2d47-1925-887c-0896fc2b20a1 Sat, 07 Aug 2021 17:09:09 -0500 <p>Talk with a Christian mental health coach to get support and resources for your recovery process with your mental health</p> <p>This article <a rel="nofollow" href="">Finding a Christian Mental Health Coach</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">@djchuang</a>.</p> Shema perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:2ec4deb5-0002-845d-13f4-88480e01aad6 Tue, 03 Aug 2021 07:38:36 -0500 Daryl M. Cox &#124; August 3, 2021 &#8220;Hear O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD&#8221; (Dt 6:4 KJV). &#8230;<p><a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Daryl M. Cox | August 3, 2021</p> <p>&#8220;Hear O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD&#8221; (Dt 6:4 KJV). Taken from the Torah, Jews called this verse the Shema.<a href="//0FE11A86-EF9A-4F07-8F08-EB8FD84B36CE#_ftn1"><sup>[1]</sup></a>&nbsp;A prayer and Judaism&#8217;s confession of faith, it proclaims belief in the one true God of Israel. Historically, Jewish rabbis based the Shema exclusively on verse four, but later rabbis came to include several other verses in this prayer which observant Jews cite twice daily, early morning and late evening (Dt 6:4-6; 11:13-21; Nm 15:37-41). In Jesus&#8217; day, Israel called the Shema the first commandment (v. 4). A young scribe asked Jesus to identify the first commandment. Jesus responded by quoting Dt 6:4. However, Jesus recognized a second commandment, a verse not found in the Shema, saying to love thy neighbor as thyself (Lv 19:18; Mk 12:31). The commands to love God and our neighbor reflect the whole of the inspired law, for they define humanity’s relationship to God and one another. In a corporate setting, observant Jews cite them as prayer during liturgical services.<sup>2</sup>&nbsp;All four passages encompassing the Shema address three areas of life: God, His word, and human relationships. By daily recitation, this act fulfills Moses’ command to teach and integrate its central truth into Jewish society (Dt 6:6-9). Jesus acknowledged in His day the Pharisees adorned themselves with phylacteries (small cases enclosing Scripture) on their arm. These cases contained scripts of Dt 6:4 as a reminder of Israel’s commitment to God (Mt 23:5).&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-gallery columns-1 is-cropped"><ul data-carousel-extra='{"blog_id":12269709,"permalink":"https:\/\/\/2021\/08\/03\/shema\/"}' class="blocks-gallery-grid"><li class="blocks-gallery-item"><figure><a href=""><img data-attachment-id="5747" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="1113,473" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="00DE4536-804A-4D38-9183-2B0DDB16F4C0" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" src="" alt="" data-id="5747" class="wp-image-5747" srcset=" 1024w, 150w, 300w, 768w, 1113w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></a></figure></li></ul></figure> <p>The word <em>shema</em>&nbsp;means to hear or listen with the intent to embrace and do. Observant Jews pray the Shema’s words daily as a reminder of their commitment to God and His truth. This prayer embodies the officially inspired statement of truth about God. When embraced, it leads one from false worship to recognition of the true God and obedience to His required truths. According to Jewish Targum, verse four recognizes the kingship of God.<sup>3</sup>&nbsp;He alone reigns as absolute sovereign over Israel and creation. If one embraces the Shema, they submit to God’s kingship over their life. Deuteronomy 6 presents a covenant confession: it declares one God exists whom an individual embraces as their God, the God of Abraham. This statement gives rise to another truth, the messianic kingship promised in Scripture, for this verse also looks forward to God’s coming kingdom on earth. Deuteronomy lists other shemas throughout, but this paper will focus on the one central to Judaism’s confession of faith.</p> <p>The Shema uses the Lord in place of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) just as all passages of the Old Testament do. The Tetragrammaton comprises four consonants, YHWH, which forms the Old Testament name of God but without an exact pronunciation. Israel lost the exact pronunciation centuries ago believing the name too sacred to speak except by the high priest during Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). To regain its pronunciation, scholars combined vowels from the Hebrew <em>Adonai</em> (lord) with the four consonants. By combining the vowels of Adonai with the consonants of YHWH, the closest pronunciation becomes Yahweh. The Jewish world continues to reserve speaking the name of God out of reverence.</p> <p>Finally, in preparation for the Messiah’s coming, Dt 6:4-6 places emphasis on a monotheistic devotion to Yahweh, which excludes worship to all other gods laying the foundation for a life filled with spiritual growth and moral development. The Shema teaches the importance of love to God and man making these points the first two great commandments in Scripture (Mk 12:28-31). Moses commanded the Israelites to teach these words to their succeeding generations safeguarding them from idolatry and immorality.&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">A Fresh Perspective on Deut 6:4-6</span></strong></h3> <p>The Shema declares a monotheistic faith in the one God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and gives prophetic enlightenment concerning God’s incarnation in Christ, the son of King David. This provides the basis for the New Testament confession of Jesus as Lord. The Shema’s unique wording identifies the New Testament doctrine of the Incarnation of God in Christ, looking forward to His plan to come, redeem His creation from sin and death, and later establish His Kingdom on earth. Detailed considerations about the Shema led to a monotheistic incarnational view of Jesus Christ: First, Jesus’ own interpretation of Old Testament Scripture sets forth this perspective. Second, the meaning and use of the Hebrew&nbsp;<em>echad&nbsp;</em>identifies the incarnation in the Shema. Finally, the prophets, represented in Zechariah, reveal a prophetic kingship fulfillment of the Shema prior to the coming kingdom of God on Earth. These considerations establish conclusively that in addition to proclaiming Judaism’s historic monotheism, the Shema reveals the incarnational union of Yahweh the God of Israel in Jesus Christ.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Jesus’ Interpretation of Old Testament Scripture</span></strong></h3> <p>Jesus&#8217; own words present an inspired perspective on how to view the Old Testament writings, which include the Shema. He gave an understanding concerning the Old Testament saying its Scriptures testify of Himself (Jn 5:39). Concerning Moses, who authored Deuteronomy, Jesus said He Himself is the chief subject of his writings (vv. 46-47). On the morning of His resurrection, Jesus expounded on the Law (the Shema), the Prophets, and the Psalms to His disciples saying they concerned Himself, (Lk 24:27,44). The whole of Old Testament theology defines Jesus and the Gospel.</p> <p>In Mark’s gospel, Jesus gave evidence of a greater truth in the Shema by His response to a young scribe leading to a greater understanding of God’s Oneness. After the young scribe summarizes the verses, Jesus responded saying, “thou art not far from the kingdom of God” (Mk 12:28-34).&nbsp;The scribe correctly stated his response, but Jesus’ implication says these verses give a greater understanding that leads to entrance into God’s kingdom: Yahweh stood before this young scribe as Jesus of Nazareth without recognition! Believing in Jesus as Lord and Christ enables a person to repent, experience remission of sins through baptism in Jesus’ name and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Jn 3:5; Acts 2:38). In essence, the Shema laid the foundation for the Israelites to recognize and receive Jesus as Messiah.</p> <p>More than just inspired stories and teachings, the Old Testament Scriptures give witness to Jesus Christ (Segraves, 1984). They testify of His identity and mission meaning the reader must view scriptural testimony from an incarnational perspective, which identifies both His deity and human life. This perspective states the incarnation as the union of God the Father and man in the person of Jesus Christ (Jn 10:30). The apostle John calls this union the Son of God (v. 36). Scripture also presents this union as both revelatory and redemptive in God’s purpose providing a complete picture of the Messiah (Col 1:12-16). In providing a foundational witness, Scripture gives students a principle to guide their study when reading both testaments. Readers will receive a clear understanding of the incarnation and its related teachings recorded by the apostles. This perspective comes from a spirit of wisdom and revelation revealing God and His purpose in the Messiah (Paron, 2020). The testimony of Jesus becomes the guiding principle for understanding the Shema.</p> <p>Peter said believers are currently established in the present truth of the New Covenant implying the themes of the Old Covenant stood prophetic as truth awaiting fulfillment (2 Pt 1:12). Without the Messiah, the Law remained an incomplete truth having an inferior confession and experience with God and not the fullness of grace Jesus provided for the New Covenant. Jesus also said He came to complete its revelation and establish a new relationship and experience between God and man (Mt 5:17). Although the Shema gives a great confession of the oneness of God, Jesus’ coming established the incarnation of God in Christ as its fulfilled truth (Jn 1:1,14; 14:6).&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Echad</span></strong></h3> <p>The Shema uses&nbsp;<em>echad</em>&nbsp;translated as one to declare faith in the one personal God revealed from a composed unity. Jesus’ teaching on the Old Testament gives further understanding on&nbsp;<em>echad</em>&nbsp;to reveal the incarnational unity of God in Christ.&nbsp;Echad&nbsp;translates as one in the following expressions one Yahweh or Yahweh is One<em>.&nbsp;</em>These expressions<em>&nbsp;</em>read from the Torah and King James Versions of Scripture.&nbsp;<em>Echad</em>&nbsp;means one in the numeral sense as well as to unite properly as one. The Shema’s official pronouncement declares God as one being.&nbsp;<em>Echad’s&nbsp;</em>former use exclusively rejects recognition of all other gods in favor of Yahweh while recognizing His distinct names stated in Scripture (Ex 6:3). He has a singular identity composing the sum of His revelation. Deuteronomy’s use of&nbsp;<em>echad</em>&nbsp;shows one God who gave a progressive revelation of Himself culminating in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.</p> <p>Moreover, the word recognizes a divine-human union in Yahweh pointing to the incarnation. Although Christ’s birth occurred centuries later, God foreordained His revelation and redemptive work in Him before creation (1 Pet 1:18-20). This union composes the image of God consisting of the Creator and the Seed of the woman who suffered death but bruises the serpent’s head by resurrection (Gn 1:26; 3:15). Paul, in the New Testament, calls the image of God Christ recognizing and establishing the unity of God defined by&nbsp;<em>echad</em>&nbsp;(2 Cor 4:4-6). The Shema calls the union of God and man Yahweh, an identity to be fulfilled in the coming Messiah-King (Ps 118:26-28; John 1:14). The Lord Jesus Christ stands as the fulfillment of the Shema for all New Testament believers.</p> <p>In making a monotheistic confession, the Shema combines God’s diverse revelation under one name. Moses recorded distinct names and titles for God throughout the Torah (first five books of Scripture) to reveal progressively God’s character in relationship to His people and creation (Ex 6:3). David also recognized this truth when he wrote that he will praise God for His truth and kindness “for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name (singular; Ps 132:2b). God’s singular identity unifies His distinct names recorded in Scripture. Genesis 1:26 unifies the subject-plural pronouns us and our with the image of God (Christ). Similarly,&nbsp;<em>echad</em>&nbsp;unifies God’s complete revelation as one. To insist&nbsp;<em>echad</em> defines God as a unity of distinct persons misleads the understanding. The term three distinct conscious persons gives room for a perspective suggesting God is a council of divine beings, a diversion from&nbsp;<em>echad’s</em>&nbsp;actual meaning and use in the Shema. Moses used&nbsp;<em>echad</em>&nbsp;to unify the Lord’s distinctive revelation as one, leading to His ultimate revelation in His Son Jesus who died for all.</p> <p>The Shema identifies the fullness of God’s revelation in the Messiah who was yet to come. Jesus identified Himself with <em>echad </em>using<em> </em>the Greek word <em>heis</em> for one saying “I and my Father are one” (Jn 10:30). Heis translates into the number one. The incarnational union of the Father and Son compose the one person of Jesus. <em>Echad</em> presents both an exclusive and composed meaning while <em>heis</em> focuses on the singular exclusive. Jesus draws priority focus to Himself as a man revealing an unprecedented unity with His Father, an Incarnational union. His use of I declares a singular identity of the Father and Son leading to recognition of God in Christ. For this reason, the Jews wanted to kill Him for in their minds, Jesus being a man made Himself God (v. 33). The Apostle John’s account of Jesus’ encounter with the Jews shows the Shema identifies the incarnational union of the Father and Son in the person of Jesus Christ. </p> <p>A study of the Shema and the incarnation requires an explanation of the biblical expressions Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in relation to&nbsp;<em>echad</em>. In addition to an exclusive one being,&nbsp;<em>Echad</em>’s meaning reveals a unified one. The use of these terms originates from Mt 28:19. However, other New Testament passages use them to show God’s activity towards humanity. The Apostle Paul described the Godhead as belonging to a singular being when he used the pronoun His in relation to God. He describes the Godhead as God the Father, eternal and powerful in His fullness, fully expressed in the person of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:20; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 2:9). It goes against Scripture to say the Godhead consists of three eternally distinct persons, for its fullness describes the Father as the Word and Holy Spirit. The expression Son of God involves a God-human union for divine visitation and redemption purposes. The terms do not speak of distinct persons in God’s nature, but they reveal three designations of the one God in relationship to humanity; furthermore, these expressions reveal the means by which God established salvation in the Earth (1 Pt 1:2).&nbsp;</p> <p>Matthew 28:19 reveals a singular name for the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In verse 18, Jesus declares Himself Sovereign of heaven and Earth saying, “all power is given unto me in heaven and Earth.” This statement led to a Christo-centric understanding of the name in verse 19, for the apostles, beginning on the Day of Pentecost, baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:6). These designations describe Jesus as the singular name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, viewed scripturally from this perspective in light of the Incarnation. Scripture calls God the Father of the human nature of Christ (not His divine nature), the Father of creation, and the Father of New Covenant believers. Furthermore, it also calls God the Word who was made flesh as the Son of God, and finally, God actively exists as the Holy Ghost who continues to work throughout human history and now dwells and continues to work in His people (Eph 1:3; Jn 1:1, 14; 14:16).&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, 1 Pt 1:2 presents the whole act of salvation, election and sanctification, as the exclusive work of God, the Father. God chose His elect before creation in Christ, then sanctified them through the outpouring of His Holy Spirit and the sprinkled blood of Jesus, God&#8211;the Father incarnate. God used the Incarnation and the subsequent shedding of Jesus’ blood followed by the outpouring of His Spirit to sanctify His elect. Three separate divine persons did not act on distinct occasions to establish deliverance for everyone. However, in each step of redemption, the same God Peter calls the Father acted to bring salvation to humanity. God has more designations than these three titles in Scripture, but they describe Him in relationship to humanity and their redemption. This passage and its interpretation stand consistent with the Shema’s confession concerning one God.</p> <p>When the Shema says one Lord, it sets a monotheistic incarnational focus upon Christ by calling Him Yahweh. God’s fullness of being has an ultimate expression, the person of Jesus Christ (Jn 1:14; Gal 3:20). On the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed to his Jewish audience Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). Immediately afterwards, he defined Christ’s Lordship in terms of the Shema saying “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (v. 39). The Lordship of Jesus, raised from the dead, identifies Him as the God of Israel the Lord our God in flesh. Peter’s anointed statement, which should have incited a violent response for seemingly violating Israel’s confession of faith, instead brought conviction and a radical conversion of about three thousand souls to Jesus Christ. This account shows the Acts 2 experience, the baptism of the Holy Ghost speaking in tongues, confirms the Lordship confession of Jesus Christ. It gives a divinely personal and public witness to a new confession. The new confession gives a renewed understanding of the Deuteronomy passage without denying its inspired truth. Using Scripture from Psalms, Peter called Jesus of Nazareth Lord and Christ. His identification of the incarnation shows how essential its acceptance is to reconciling&nbsp;<em>echad&#8217;s</em>&nbsp;use in the Shema.</p> <p>Peter gave further witness to Jesus’ Lordship confession fulfilling the Shema by calling Him “our God and Savior” (2 Pt 1:1-4 NKJV). He declared it to persecuted Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire. He exhorted they have in possession a precious faith that makes them partakers Christ’s divine nature through “exceedingly great and precious promises&#8221; (v. 4). In declaring their faith in the deity of Christ, Peter acknowledges a wisdom and “knowledge of God, and Jesus our Lord” leading to this profound confession (v. 2). Originating from the Holy Spirit, this knowledge reconciles the uniting of God and Jesus from an incarnational perspective without denying the inspired confession of the Mosaic Law. More than identifying Jesus as the God of Israel, Peter calls Him Lord, God, and Savior for believers of all nations. This confession moves biblical Christianity beyond the boundary of a Jewish faith to a universal monotheistic faith for all races. These statements further show New Testament Christianity continued to embrace the Shema’s core belief but in light of Jesus of Nazareth’s resurrection, ascension, and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.&nbsp;<em>Echad</em>’s compound unity declares the God of the Old Covenant revealed in flesh as Jesus Christ and not as three distinct persons.&nbsp;</p> <p>The four gospels present the narrative of Jesus’ life from His birth throughout His ascension into heaven. They also identify His messiah ship and deity. The last gospel, written by John, not only presents a strong showing of Jesus’ as Son of God but the establishment of a new confession that includes the incarnation and recognizes the oneness of God declared by the Shema. Eight days following His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples with Thomas being present. The unbelieving apostle sees and experiences the resurrected Messiah and makes a profound confession that stands as the bedrock of Jesus being the Son of God. Thomas calls Jesus “My Lord and My God” (Jn 20:28 KJV). His confession, recorded by John concludes the presentation of Jesus in the gospels, leaving humanity with a decision to make.&nbsp;</p> <p>Thomas’ recognition of Jesus becomes the definitive hallmark of the New Covenant confession, Jesus is Lord. Jesus’ response to Thomas’ shows the superiority of the New Covenant to the Old. First, Thomas makes His confession in light of Christ’s resurrection and conquest over death. Second, Jesus&#8217; resurrection reveals He is not only human but the one Lord and God spoken of in the Shema. Third, in light of Thomas’ confession, Jesus pronounces a blessing to those who believe and e Exegeting the Salt Covenant perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:6d722c33-14b1-4b5b-bb6e-902e89044fc0 Mon, 26 Jul 2021 08:54:12 -0500 Jan Paron, PhD &#124; July 26, 2021 Though Scripture cites the word salt 31 times in the Old Testament, it &#8230;<p><a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD | July 26, 2021</p> <p>Though Scripture cites the word salt 31 times in the Old Testament, it mentions salt covenant three (Lv 2:13; Nm 18:19; 2 Chr 13:5). The ancients considered salt a precious commodity because of its scarcity. (1) In terms of an agreement initiated by God, salt symbolized preservation of covenant with Him against corruption. The Bible links salt with the making of agreements or contracts. This essay exegetes the textual meaning of the salt covenant under the microscope of person, event, symbols, places, and prophecy looking at three occurrences in the Old Testament. It seeks to uncover its meaning and application </p> <figure class="wp-block-gallery columns-1 is-cropped"><ul data-carousel-extra='{"blog_id":12269709,"permalink":"https:\/\/\/2021\/07\/26\/exegeting-the-salt-covenant\/"}' class="blocks-gallery-grid"><li class="blocks-gallery-item"><figure><a href=""><img data-attachment-id="5724" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="1880,1253" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="macro photography of crystal salt" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo by Castorly Stock on &lt;a href=&quot;; rel=&quot;nofollow&quot;&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" src="" alt="" data-id="5724" class="wp-image-5724" /></a></figure></li></ul></figure> <p class="has-text-align-center">Photo by Castorly Stock on <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p> <p>The notion of a salt covenant appears in Nm 18:19-32 as one of the three covenant methods for confirmation (cf. blood covenant, Gn 15:7-17; shoe covenant, Ru 4:7-9). This instance of the salt covenant contextually relates to the Aaronic call to the priesthood of the tabernacle (Nm 17). Aaron’s rod had budded, blossomed, and brought forth almonds signaling the Lord’s approval for him and his descendants’ rights to the tabernacle priesthood. In chapter 18, the Lord recounts to Aaron alone, the priesthood service rewards providing him and his descendant Aaronides a continual allotment from the Israelite offerings and sealing the provisions with “an everlasting covenant of salt”(18:19a KJV). Ancient Israelites always added salt to sacrificial offerings to the Lord as a preserving agent. </p> <p>“You shall season every grain offering with salt so that the salt (preservation) of the covenant of your God will not be missing from your grain offering. You shall offer salt with all your offerings (Lv 2:13 AMP). Salt in in Lv 2:13, stands for that which preserves against corruption, an essential ingredient in offerings made to God. It conveys the image of permanence and God’s eternal covenant with Israel. On the other hand, leaven symbolized the spread of sin and honey likewise fermentation of it. The mineral&#8217;s ability not only to ward off decay but also to preserve made it an excellent symbol to represent the perpetual agreement between God and his people.</p> <p>In 2 Chr 13:5, Scripture shows a second instance of the salt covenant: “Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?” Similar to Lv 2:13, a covenant of salt conveys a descriptive image of a permanency because salt preserves. Since the Bible links salt to the making of agreements or contracts, it showed itself an ancient symbol of unbreakable friendships and enduring alliances.</p> <p>In like manner, the salt covenant in Nm 18:19 has characteristics of indissolubility indicating permanency and irreversibility. The allotment consisted of the holy gifts to the Lord, which He in turn gave to Aaron and His descendants as a God-commanded portion—His gift to them. Since the Aaronides had no property, they depended on God alone for their portion through His provisions. </p> <p>“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Mt 5:13). Refrigeration as a means of preserving large quantities of food did not begin to grow until the latter part of the 19th century. One of the most common ways of preserving food before this time (including the period of the Old Testament) was to use salt. This property of physical preservation led to this mineral being used in terms to symbolically represent preservation in general. </p> <p>Taken together, a &#8216;covenant of salt&#8217; means an agreement or contract between parties that endures regardless of the circumstances. Such agreements form a solid, unbreakable and everlasting bond.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Endnotes</span></h3> <p>(1) Bullinger, 1999, p 207.</p> Some Helpful (and Quick) Thoughts on Travel Blog - Bryan Loritts urn:uuid:3ebdd0d2-db72-66db-e26d-a6871b7dab65 Sat, 24 Jul 2021 21:27:17 -0500 <p class="">I started preaching when I was seventeen, and when I was twenty-two, Dr. Maurice Watson was the first person to put me on a plane to come preach for him. Since that time, almost thirty years ago, I’ve learned some things from my travels, and I thought I’d share them with you:</p><ol data-rte-list="default"><li><p class="">Get the TripIt app. You’re welcome.</p></li><li><p class="">Boredom is not the friend of holiness (ask David). So keep a full schedule.</p></li><li><p class="">When it makes sense, take family with you.</p></li><li><p class="">Be mindful of your spouse’s capacity for your travel.</p></li><li><p class="">Don’t be a diva...or a jerk.</p></li><li><p class="">It’s a calling, not a gig.</p></li><li><p class="">At least once a year give the honorarium check back. You won’t miss it.</p></li><li><p class="">Rent your cars from National. You’re welcome.</p></li><li><p class="">Minister, don’t perform.</p></li><li><p class="">Once you say yes, don’t trade a “lesser” opportunity for a “greater” one. Be a person of integrity.</p></li><li><p class="">Call your spouse from the road often.</p></li><li><p class="">Minimize television. Maximize worship.</p></li><li><p class="">Maximize travel benefits. As much as you can, fly with one airline and enroll in their mileage program.</p></li><li><p class="">Never take the opportunity for granted. Show gratitude to your host publicly.</p></li><li><p class="">Whether to a handful or the masses, preach your heart out.</p></li><li><p class="">Workout.</p></li><li><p class="">Eat right.</p></li><li><p class="">No alone time with the opposite gender.</p></li><li><p class="">Don’t counsel the pastor's members. They’re not your sheep.</p></li><li><p class="">Preach shorter than the host pastor does.&nbsp;</p></li><li><p class="">Keep track of what you preach and where. It will save you embarrassment. Believe me, I know!</p></li><li><p class="">Be understated in your dress. The people are there to see God, not you.</p></li><li><p class="">Ministry begins with the intern, not the stage. You never know how a kind word of wisdom could change the life of the one assigned to assist you.</p></li><li><p class="">Wash your hands often. You’ll shake a lot of them.</p></li><li><p class="">As soon as you get back, take the trash out. The last few days you’ve been catered to, so you need to remind yourself you are a servant.</p></li></ol>