More Rocks from Israel


More Rocks from Israel

4.  The Rocks of Megiddo  (Micah 6:8)

Rocks truly speak. History records the desperate effort of human kind trying to please God with burnt offering when God has always been quite clear.  Micah 6:8, “…And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

29a-canaanite-altar-megiddo.jpg

 

Advertisements

Throw Out the Top and the Bottom


My daughter and I were talking about the reviews written about restaurants, hotels, movies, etc. We seldom find several reviews totally in agreement about any place or activity. Moreover, reviews usually range from awesome to horrible. So we have learned to throw out the top review and the bottom and concentrate on the majority opinion. It seems impossible to win the hearts of all or to disgust the feelings of everyone.

DSC01985.jpg

This can be applied to what people think or say about us. I don’t get too “puffed up” by the comments that describe me as nearly perfect. They are usually more flattery than reality. Nor do I get too bent out of shape when someone reacts negatively to one of my behaviors. But, when many people speak about or appear turned off by one of my actions, I try to sit up and pay attention. The majority opinion will be right more than wrong.

If a lot of people criticize my actions or conversation, I have to ask–“Do I need to amend my behavior or way of communicating in order to be a better person?”

Yep, I think that is a pretty valid point of view that a few will love and others will abhor and ignore.

I can add that if I find my opinion of a person is almost radically different from the majority of others, I might want to re-evaluate your thinking. The problem might reside inside my mind.

Stand with Me Where Paul Stood


Stand with Me Where Paul Stood

 

IMG_2118

Mar’s Hill

 

You are invited to stand with me on Mar’s Hill (also called the Areapagus) in Athens in July, 2019, and hear Paul’s famous sermon preached at the very same site 2000 years ago. Filled with the Holy Spirit Paul poured out his heart in an effort to convince the Atheneans that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. You can e-mail (watkr@mac.com) me if you want more information about my 15 day tour of Greece and the Aegean Isles.

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[b] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[c]

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

More about Rocks in Israel


More about Rocks in Israel

2.  The Rocks of Rephidim  (Ex. 17:1-4)

Maybe Rephidim is a word with which you are unfamiliar, but you will remember the story of the battle between the Israelites and the Amelekites.  Moses, Aaron and Hur watched that battle from a hill.  As it was, the victory depended on Moses raising his arms. When Moses tired and lowered his arms, the Amelekites were able to gain control and vice versa.  Finally Aaron and Hur sat Moses on a rock and sustained his arms until the Israelites achieved a victory.   We were privileged to hike to the top of a rocky hill where we could see a valley that could easily have been the very place of the battle. Much of the time one feels as if places were assigned without any definite certainty of the actual location. But, this location felt so genuine I felt it likely we stood precisely where Moses sat.

Rephidim–The Battle between Israelites and Amelkites

IMG_2950.JPG

The Perspective of the Farmer (Pastor)


The Perspective of a Farmer (Pastor)

I like to look at the following passage through the eyes of a pastor and his concern about the spiritual production of his congregation.

IMG_0820.jpg

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9

Suppose I have a church member that is faithful in church attendance, but has chosen to be an observer and not responded to call of the church or the Lord asking him/her to use their God-given talents and spiritual gifts. Suppose God says to the pastor, “I have waited patiently and this person is so unwilling to use their spiritual gifts.” Suppose God says “I am going to remove them from your farm.”

The loving pastor will say, “Please, Lord, give them another chance and I will try to do a better job of challenging them and giving him/her encouragement. Please give him/her a chance to become productive.”

Take care about your response to being given a “second chance.”

Historic Rocks Continue to Speak in the Middle East


Historic Rocks Continue to Speak in the Middle East

Luke 19:40  “And he said in answer, I say to you, if these men keep quiet, the very stones will be crying out.”

IMG_3759.JPG

I Peter 2:4-5 “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.”

Israel and Egypt are awesome countries to visit.  It’s hard to walk anywhere a prophet, a biblical hero, or our Savior, Jesus Christ hasn’t walked before.  There are stones a plenty in most parts of the world.  But in Israel, they say “every stone tells a story.” My next few posts take the reader on a photo scan of the rocks at several important sites in the Middle East.

1.  The Rocks of the Pyramids

Did Moses, Joseph, or Jesus see the pyramids?  I really care about that question.  I wanted to see what Joseph admired as he served the Pharaoh of Egypt.  I wanted to find a way to understand some of the early experiences of Moses and Jesus.  All three of these historical figures most likely saw one or more of the pyramids.  Of course, they have changed over the course of three thousand years, but the basic view remains the same.

The Everlasting Refuge of God


“The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27)

 

IMG_1945.jpg

One Ceiling La Sagrada Familia

 

Most of us have days when we feel unstable and weak in the light of our own strength, particularly when we are sick or begin to feel the inevitable effects of aging. I woke up on June 21 with a lot of shaking (strong tremors in my hands). This is unusual for me since I have been blessed with such good health. It frightened me. The writer of Deuteronomy, along with many other Bible authors, like to focus on the REFUGE of God.

This term no longer finds a place in our daily conversations. It is good to remember why it is of value in the life of a Christian. I can’t describe it better than David Roach has:

“Refuge” calls our attention first of all to sin and the wreckage it causes. When the Old Testament speaks of refuge, it is always in the context of a threat, something wrong or dangerous in the world. Sometimes the threat is physical, as in seeking refuge from a rainstorm (Job 24:8; Isaiah 4:6), shade from hot sun (Judges 9:15), or protection from adversaries (Psalm 61:3). In other instances, the threat is spiritual or emotional, as in a refuge from shame (Psalm 31:1; 71:1) or loneliness (Psalm 142:4). But in all these cases, the Bible’s use of “refuge” reminds us that we live in a world wrecked by sin—a world of dangers around us and brokenness inside us. We cannot avoid these realities, only seek shelter from them.

Yet the word “refuge” also calls our attention to God’s power to save us from sin and its consequences. Many times, it references His ability to protect us from the dangers just described. He provides shelter in a storm, vindication in the face of shame, and friendship in times of loneliness. Even more significantly, the Lord is our refuge in the Day of Judgment. Though He will bring a day of reckoning for sin, He grants His people forgiveness and gives them refuge from His wrath (Nahum 1:7; Deuteronomy 32:37). Indeed, the greatest need of all men and women is shelter from the horrible consequences of sin, and this word in Scripture reminds us that God offers such shelter.”  (Bible Mesh Blog)

So, today, I praise God for his everlasting refuge.