Category Archives: Christianity

My Story of Salvation

“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

– Matthew 28:20, NIV

I am not an academic, a Biblical scholar, or even a very good Christian. I am a Christian who recently renewed my commitment to Christ. I am new to the Bible. I am trying to grasp some fundamental truths about Jesus Christ and the salvation He gave me.

My Need for Salvation

I take the Bible as the true and inspired Word of God. I believe that I need to be saved by the redemption and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV). I know I am a sinner and will one day be judged by God. I believe that the Fall of Man (Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden) is a historical event.

The consequence of that sin is an eternal separation from God, who is perfect and holy. The Fall of Man is the root of all sin in the world. God is the source of life. Separation from God means eternal death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, NIV).

The Joy of Jesus

The Promise of Salvation

By accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was set free from sin and eternal death. Since making this decision to become a Christian, I have experienced a steadfast love and peace I have never known.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV).

It is overwhelming to me that God did this for me. But it makes me ask: How did God give His only Son?

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV).

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, paid the ultimate penalty for my sins. He died on the cross. While Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30, NIV). Jesus meant that He had truly done everything necessary for my salvation.

The Trinity

As the Son of God, Jesus is equal to God Himself, as a man God walked the earth. Theologians call this the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. However, even though Jesus was equal to God the Father, (John 1:1–3; 10:30, NIV). God chose to become a human being (Jesus) and die for us sinners, (Philippians 2:5–8, NIV).

The Gift and the Giver

So, back to the beginning- I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son. I accepted Him as my Savior because He paid the eternal penalty for my sins when He died on the cross.

Instead of death and separation from God, I now have eternal life because I believe in Jesus Christ. By trusting in Christ, three things happen:

  1. My sins are forgiven (Colossians 1:14).
  2. I become a child of God (John 1:12).
  3. I possess eternal life because of the Gift of Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

My Declaration of Dependence

On July 4, 2016, I called out to Jesus Christ on the windswept cliff tops of Pointe du Hoc. Pointe du Hoc is located between Utah and Omaha Beaches and sits atop a prominent position on the coast of Normandy, France. The overhanging cliffs up are to 100 feet in height. I claimed my total Dependence in Christ on Independence Day.

I know I was a sinner and I asked for His forgiveness. I believed Jesus had died for sins. There was no clanging of bells or flashing lights or a moment of earthshattering ecstasy. There was a warm, stable feeling of complete confidence in God. God had heard my confession of sin when I acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and master of my life.

The Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13, NIV). My simple declaration has been an anchor of my faith that saved my life.

No Easy Days

I still have bad days. I am weak, lazy, and sinful. I try not to focus on my weaknesses and faults (too many to list). Instead, I put my trust in Jesus Christ to help me.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20, NIV).

My faith in God has brought joy to my life. He has fulfilled every promise He made me. I am still learning to walk in the Christian life. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

 

The Christian Example of Mr. Steve Bruhn

More than any other person outside of my parents and my wife, Mr. Steve Bruhn has influenced my life. As I look back, I am convinced that God’s providence, that Mr. Bruhn opened his martial arts school (K.C. Chung Tae Kwon Do) around the corner from my house. He would become my teacher, mentor, and friend. Mr. Bruhn is by far the most unforgettable and most faithful Christian I have ever known.

Teacher and Friend

In the fuzzy memory of my childhood, he really had two callings: First, as a martial arts teacher. In his Dojang (Korean for “training hall”) four to five nights a week he would teach me how to punch and kick. His second calling was as my friend and mentor as a Christian. In this second calling, he would have a profound impact on my life of being my most faithful counselor and advisor.

When I first saw Mr. Bruhn, I never thought he would become a mentor and good friend to me, really more of a big brother. But by chance, I regularly visited with him before each class started. Little did I know the impact this incredible man would have on my passage into manhood.

Mr. Bruhn shared with me his experience as a Tae Kwon Do teacher and his struggle as a Christian. This was an intense time for me. I was at the awkward age of fourteen-years-old and about to start high school. Mr. Bruhn and I became fast friends. I quickly became involved with helping out around the Dojang. Mr. Bruhn would also tell me about his journey as a Christian.

With each story, Mr. Bruhn would always impart a life lesson from the Bible. He’d used the story about opening his own martial arts school and about doing whatever it takes to accomplish a goal in life. His experience in being a teacher conveyed to me the importance of the Christian example of tolerance, respect, and compassion for people who are different from you. Mr. Bruhn’s most important lesson was that a real man stands up for the oppressed and downtrodden.

Mr. Bruhn would always ask me about what was going on in my life. He’d listen intently and provide some counsel and words of encouragement or sometimes a verbal kick in the butt if I needed it. After each visit with him, I felt uplifted and edified. This is priceless for a restless young man.

Bible Lessons

Mr. Bruhn’s faith in God was the kind of heartfelt worship in which even an uneducated person like me could understand. Mr. Bruhn prayed daily. When praying, he would bow his head as a sign of respect toward God. Sometimes he would quote Bible verses in our conversations. These verses would remind me of God’s unity, God’s providence, and the promise of God’s love.

My memories of that time were about transformation and tradition, growing up and growing wise, and finding myself– even 25 years later. One day, years later, I met an old friend from high school who knew Mr. Bruhn too. He said, “I really admire Mr. Bruhn, but he wasted his life just teaching at that Tae Kwon Do school. He neglected his physical and social life. He could have been so much more.”

I stopped in my tracks, looked at him in amazement, and said, “No way, Mr. Bruhn spent twenty-five of his best years teaching and helping people with his example. He’s lead a life most people can only preach about from an air-conditioned pulpit. His love and care of his students and the community where he lives and works can testify to his Christlike example.”

Steve Bruhn is one of only two men I ever met whom the term “great” could be applied. He rises each morning to spend an hour reading the Scriptures. Until he goes to bed at night, he leads a disciplined, dedicated life. He spreads happiness and joy to everyone he talks to.

His warmth and humor, his dedication to his students, his tremendous self-discipline, and uncompromising loyalty to God show that he lives by the ageless message of the redeeming qualities of the Gospel. His heart and example have been a blessing and benediction to my life. In Steve Bruhn, I found a teacher and a friend who changed my life. Thank God for you, sir.

My New Bible Study Program

Introduction

I started my Bible Study Program a month ago. I wanted to give it 30 days before I started writing on commenting on what I’ve learned. The results have been amazing.

Background

I grew up in a very secular household. My mother’s family was German Presbyterians, my father Italian Catholics. My parents never debated about God. No one was right or wrong.

For some reason, we never discussed religion. For my dad, God seemed to be a private and personal thing with him, and I didn’t want to intrude upon it. I grew up without religion simply because no one made any effort to teach me about God or any religion.

My father wanted me to be baptized by the Roman Catholic Church. I think this was more a tradition than anything. From the time, I was three years old until I was six my mother took me to a local Presbyterian Church. I attended Sunday School, but the lessons never stuck. When I six years old I told my mom I didn’t want to go to back to the church, and we never did.

After my parents divorced when I was ten, my Dad took me to Catholic Church once or twice a year.  With my brief experience of the Catholic Church, I had no direct experience of the “Divine.”

The rituals of the Catholic Church seemed very formulaic. My memories are of sitting, standing, and kneeling. The congregation said memorized verses at designated times. The service finished with believers making the sign of the cross and saying, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.”

The Catholic Church we attended didn’t seem to have a social connection. The whole experience seemed very isolating and without emotion. That is the sum of my religious experience and training.

Becoming a Christian

I felt a stirring in my heart to commit to Christ. I made a simple declaration to bring Christ into my heart. The decision gave me a sense of purpose I have not felt since I was deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

My decision to follow Jesus Christ has changed my life forever. I am determined to get an education equal to the great task of serving the Lord. A sign of my spiritual decline would be my neglect of the Bible. When I started my Bible Study, I knew nothing of God or His word.

Getting Ready

Now I see myself as a prayer warrior, an athlete in training. I try my best to study God’s word for at least an hour a day. Exposing myself to the inspired message of God has made me a happier and better man.

Going from non-belief to belief has been a transforming experience. My identity as a believer in God has changed my life. It has been a happy, satisfying, and comforting new way of looking at the world. I could never keep quiet the still small voice in my heart that kept speaking to me. I tried to be indifferent and respond to the gentle moving of the Spirit of God.

I knew the time had come to get serious about knowing the most person in human history– Jesus Christ. I didn’t know anything about His life, His teachings, or even His impact on the world. My Biblical knowledge was starting from scratch.

I know it wasn’t just about what I knew but that I knew Him.

Thru the Bible Network

I started with Dr. J. Vernon McGee, a Bible teacher, theologian, who was also a radio minister from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. In 1967, he began broadcasting the Thru the Bible Radio Network program.  Dr. McGee’s program is a systematic study of each book of the Bible, where he takes his listeners from Genesis to Revelation in a five year “Bible bus trip,” as he called it.

Dr. McGee has an easily recognizable, heavy West Texas twang. He sounds like President Lyndon B. Johnson. His 30-minute program is designed to guide listeners through the Old and New Testaments in just five years. I learned he died in 1988.

The world has changed a lot since the death of the Dr. McGee, but the daily messages remain intact and are an excellent reference tool for any beginning Bible student. Dr. McGee uses cultural references that date the program. (Still, every once in a while, you hear mention of the Soviet Union or the Vietnam War.)

I believe Dr. McGee teaches straight out of God’s word, and I think God honors that even though he has been dead for 30 years. His mission statement is ‘The whole Word to the whole world.”

How Bible Study has helped me

I use Dr. McGee’s book and study material. His commentary is helpful and has encouraging interaction with God through His Word. His book is full of discussion starters and suggested questions to help me with my study of the Bible.

I value the time I have with God’s Word. Studying it first thing in the morning allows me to make it a priority. I start each Bible study session with prayer. I humbly ask God to help seek the truth in what I read in the Bible.

The best way for me to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to live my faith through personal and physical example. Studying the Word of God has become one of my greatest treasures and hope in a new and better life.

Bible Study has helped me in four areas of my life:

  1. Help me to grow in my love for Scripture and the Lord.
  2. Gain wisdom and knowledge that the Bible teaches.
  3. Internalize the Word of God in a way that transforms my life.
  4. Getting to know Jesus Christ as my Savior and Redeemer.

I don’t know where the Lord is leading me. I am excited about the great adventure and blessings by walking with God in faith. I know God is always faithful to His promises.

Praying- Source: thoughtco.com

Israel on the World Stage

“Israel was not created in order to disappear- Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.”

– President John F. Kennedy

Known as the Holy Land, Israel is home to many sites holy to Muslims, Christians, and Jews like the Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Al-Aqsa Mosque. These are sacred places of world’s three greatest religions. Israel is the home of modern Jews, where old and new meet in cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Blessed art thou, oh Lord– in Hebrew.

Our father, which art in heaven– in Latin.

God is great. There is no God but God– in Arabic.

To the world’s three principal monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Israel is hallowed ground. Yet, the state of Israel is equally and very much a part of the material, modern world. A world of high technology, of robust parliamentary democracy. The spiritual, the material, the physical are all a part of the modern Israel, and it accommodates them all.

The honey-colored stones of Jerusalem, Israel’s political and spiritual capital breathes the long checkered history of the Holy Land. Jerusalem is a city besieged, captured, laid to waste and rebuilt, over and over again down through the centuries.

Jerusalem was first declared Israel’s capital over 3,000 years ago by the legendary King David, but became so again only after the state of Israel was reborn in 1948. The rebirth of the nation of Israel was the crowning achievement of political Zionism. Zionism was a movement launched by a visionary Viennese journalist named Theodor Herzl (1860-1904). Herzl dreamed of a land where Jews would not be an alien and often despised minority, but a home in their own promised and ancestral land.

The dream of Israel may have remained a dream, but for two World Wars.

World War I destroyed the Turkish or Ottoman Empire, of which Palestine was apart. The end of World War I, brought a declaration from the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour, that after the Allied victory, that the Jews would be allowed to establish a homeland in Palestine.

The inter-war years saw the rise of Nazi Germany, whose leader, Adolf Hitler, had an obsessive hatred of the Jews. Hitler plunged the globe into World War II, after his invasion of Poland in 1939. World War II ended with the destruction of Hitler’s thousand-year Reich. Nazi Germany ended, but not before the slaughter six million European Jews in the Holocaust.

The Holocaust drove the survivors of Jewry, under the leadership of the charismatic David Ben Gurion (1886-1973), into the enormous effort needed in the rebirth of a Jewish State. But there were other claims on the Holy Land, both spiritual and material.

There the world’s Christians, whose Redeemer lived, taught and died there 2,000 years before. And there were Muslims who believed their founding Prophet, Mohammad, ascended from Jerusalem to heaven. Most loudly, there were the Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, whose people had lived in Palestine during the almost twenty centuries of Jewish exile from their homeland. Back by their fellow Arabs across the Middle East, the Palestinians claimed the Holy Land was theirs by right.

The issue of statehood was resolved in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. The struggling, infant Jewish state defeated the combined armies of its Arab neighbors. Later, with generous assistance from America, consolidated its place in the world in the next few years. Now, despite five more wars and decades of terrorist attacks, the Jewish state is clearly a permanent fixture on the world stage.

The Holy Land

Moses, Egypt, and the Promised Land

The ancient town of Beersheba is significant for one more reason in the Bible. Jacob after learning that his son Joseph was still alive passed through Beersheba on his way to Egypt. Jacob and all the families of his son stopped at Beersheba to make sacrifices to God. It was the closing of a chapter. God’s people would spend the next 400 years in Egypt.

Beersheba

The Hebrews would grow into a great nation in Egypt. They would await their return to a land that God had sworn to them. The relied on God’s faithfulness to stay faithful to the covenant He made. By the time, that God had chosen Moses to be the leader who would lead the Israelites out of Egypt, God’s people had grown to a vast number. No one knows for sure how many Israelites there were. Some Biblical scholars say as many as two and a half million.

The Hebrews were indeed a nation. They had endured many generations of harsh slavery, God had not forgotten them and had heard their cries for deliverance. God’s answer was Moses. Moses was God’s chosen Deliverer to lead His people through the Red Sea.

Moses was an orphan, a murderer, a shepherd and a reluctant orator. He was also a religious leader, a lawgiver, a prophet and a historian. The authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed to Moses.  Moses is the most important prophet and historical figure in Judaism.

The Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea are dated to around 1250 B.C. The Exodus is the most dramatic and pivotal event in the Old Testament. It marks the liberation of God’s people but not their entry into the Promised Land. That would come 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt.

Moses

Literally, on the doorstep of the Promised Land in Kadesh- Barnea the newly freed Israelites refused to go on. Despite the reports that the Promised Land flowed with milk and honey, Hebrew spies also reported the land was filled with giants.

For their faithlessness, God condemned the Hebrews to stay in the desert until that generation had passed away. Moses also died and did not go into the Promised Land. His death is the final event recorded in the Pentateuch or the first five books of the Bible. Moses’ death concluded the 40-year prohibition on entry into the Promised Land.

Joshua, Moses’ brother, was raised up to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. He was commissioned to conquer the Land of Canaan. Afterwards, the land was allocated to Israel’s twelve tribes. In Joshua Chapter 10, we read about a group of Canaanite armies that had joined together against Joshua, the Israelites and their allies the Gibeonites. One by one the Israelites destroyed these city-states for rallying against them.

The tel of Lachish is one of the largest and most significant mounds of the Biblical period in Israel. Lachish is the site for some fantastic and very reliable archeological discoveries. Lachish was assigned to the tribe of Judah.

As the centuries went by, God’s people became established in the land they had been promised. By the 10th century B.C., Jerusalem, or the City of David, was the capital city of Israel. Over time Jerusalem became the target of the Assyrians and Babylonians owed a debt of gratitude to the fortress of a town in the south called Lachish.

Lachish was one of the several fortified cities guarding the canyons or wadis leading up to Jerusalem in the north. To lay siege to Jerusalem or the surrounding region of Judah, an invading army would first have to take Lachish. Lachish guarded the final mountain pass to Jerusalem.

The easiest way for an attacking army to lay siege to Jerusalem was to conquer Lachish. Taking Lachish would make sure that your army was safe from a counterattack on your flank. This reason is what made Lachish built for war. Since the reign of King Solomon in the 10th century B.C., Lachish became a mighty walled fortress. There was a six-chambered gate similar to the ones built at strategic locations like Megiddo.

Under Israelite King Rehoboam (c. 930–915 B.C.), grandson of David, the kingdom of Israel became divided due to high taxes. The ten northern tribes broke away to form the Kingdom of Israel in the North. They made their capital Samaria. King Rehoboam and the remaining tribes of Benjamin and Judah became the Kingdom of Judah. Their capital remained in Jerusalem. Rehoboam reinforced Lachish even more. In time, besides Jerusalem, Lachish became the most city in the Kingdom of Judah.

Back east, in modern day Iraq, in the Kingdom of Nineveh, a king named Sennacherib rose to power. Sennacherib and his Assyrian army first attacked the Kingdom of Israel in the north. They were able to conquer Israel with Samaria being taken in 721 B.C.Next on his list was the Kingdom of Judah. In the revolt of 701 B.C. of King Hezekiah against Assyria, Sennacherib attacked the Kingdom of Judah. He laid siege to Lachish.

We know this for a fact because the event is uniquely recorded. First, you can read about it in the Bible. Second cuneiform prism chronicle the same events. The third source is the significant archeological evidence found at Tel Lachish. Fourth are incredibly detailed reliefs that were uncovered in Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh.

They are now displayed at the Israel Museum. The victorious Assyrians cover their win in the Lachish Reliefs. King Sennacherib would bask in the glory of his victory over the Israelites. At Tel Lachish, archeologists have discovered the Assyrian battle layer, which included hundreds of Assyrian arrowheads. There were approximately 1500 skulls in nearby caves.

Excavation also unveiled a stone and dirt siege ramp that the Assyrians built up to the city wall. Assyrian infantry used the ramp to charge the wall into the city. You can see the siege ramp in the Assyrian Lachish Relief. Sennacherib and the Assyrians continued to Jerusalem after sacking Lachish. Jerusalem was never taken. Over time the Assyrian empire began to disintegrate. That didn’t mean that Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah were in the clear.

In the 7th century, B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians became the dominant power in the ancient Near East. It was Nebuchadnezzar’s turn to thump on the rebellious Judeans. The Babylonians took Jerusalem in 586 B.C., but before they did, they had to defeat Lachish once again. This battle is confirmed in the Bible as written by the Prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 36:6-7-

6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem

7 when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the remaining cities of Judah, that is, Lachish and Azekah, for they alone remained as fortified cities among the cities of Judah that remained.

The mound and broken artifacts of the ancient city of Lachish reinforce the story of the Bible. Lachish also closes another chapter in Israel’s story. The nation of Israel had begun as a family.  The Patriarchs dealt directly with and were faithful to God.

Then came the Exodus where they transferred into leadership by prophets and military leaders. Then once the Hebrews were settled into the Promised Land, they were led by a King after they begged God for one.

As Israel’s leadership change so did their loyalty. They tended toward rebellion and idolatry. It wasn’t long until Israel was split in half and endured famine and constant warfare almost destroyed the nation. Later the Israelites were carried off into exile.

A nation in exile was probably was not the picture that Abraham had in mind when God promised him that his descendants would be a great nation. God never abandons His people. The Lord’s promises were pointing towards something greater. Something amazing that no one could have ever imagined- Jesus Christ.

Why did Trump move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem?

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I direct to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the new embassy will be a magnificent tribute to peace.”

–  President Donald Trump

Why did Trump move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem?

President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday of moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem marks a major change in the American policy on the Middle East.

Recognizing Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel is a seismic shift of seven decades of U.S.-led neutrality between Israelis and Palestinians. Both Israel and the Palestinian State claim Jerusalem as their capital. The move signifies that the U.S. recognizes Israel as the legitimate, sovereign and rightful heir to the ancient city.

Jerusalem is one of the holiest and ancient cities in the world. It is home to holy sites of Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Jerusalem sits in the middle of the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After the founding of Israel in 1948, the first Arab-Israeli War erupted. It resulted in the Egyptian occupation of Gaza and the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank.

For years, a brutal civil war erupted between Palestinian guerrillas and a series of reprisal attacks by Israeli commandos. The region was caught up in the Cold War. The Arab nations surrounding Israel were getting arms from the Soviets. America and France supported Israel.

For years, Jerusalem was divided between Israeli and Palestinian control with an occupying Jordanian force. In the 1967 Six-Day War Israel captured East Jerusalem. In a matter of days, the Israelis pushed the Jordanians out of Jerusalem. Even though the Israelis signed an armistice, they continued to occupy the lands they had taken while the peace process was underway. The Israelis saw the capture of East Jerusalem as a “reunification” of their ancient capital.

The international community has never recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the entirety of Jerusalem.  No countries have embassies in Jerusalem, but a few countries, including the U.S., have consulates there. All past Presidents have thought moving a U.S. embassy there would be too dangerous.

Many American conservative evangelical Christians believe a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem shows American support for Israel. Evangelical Christians make-up the biggest pro-Israel bloc in the U.S. American Christian support of Israel comes from the belief that Israel is the Holy Land promised to God’s chosen people, and God blesses those who bless the Jews.

Jerusalem

President Trump’s move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a recognition of the sovereignty of Israel. Recognition of Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel places the U.S. on the side of the democratic and Jewish state. This bold move will have repercussions for both U.S. security and diplomacy in the region.

 

The Holy Land and Covenants

“On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land…”‘

– Genesis 15:18

These posts are not an attempt to convert anyone. It is my efforts to understand my relationship with Jesus Christ. I hope that you find them entertaining, engaging and informative.

I have been trying to learn about the Bible. I have read a lot of books in my life, but I have never read the Bible until a month ago.

What is the Holy Land?

The Holy Land is at the far eastern end of the blue Mediterranean. It’s the cradle of civilization and where the Christian faith was founded. The Holy Land has been called the Fifth Gospel because like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John it’s where Christians believe events occurred that changed world history.

From Abraham to the Apostles and beyond the Holy Land has had a significant impact on history. The people of the Holy Land have been some of the most studied, pondered and argued over in all of history.

The world’s three main religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all consider the Holy Land, and especially the city of Jerusalem, to be the holiest place on earth. The Holy Land is where the Bible comes dramatically alive.

Who are the Patriarchs?

First, we have to start at the beginning. We have to go back to the Middle Bronze Age to the Era of the Patriarchs.  The Patriarchs were Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob.

We will start with “Father Abraham,” as he is referred to by Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  When we first met this semi-nomadic shepherd named Abram, later named Abraham, is in Genesis Chapter 11.

Up to this point, the Biblical narrative has been downcast and uncertainty. The tragic events of the Garden of Eden have resulted in a broken relationship between God and humankind. After the chaos of the Tower of Babel, we are introduced to Abram, the man who God has chosen to unite and bless humanity.

God tells Abram, “and through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me,” (Genesis 22:18). Abraham believed God’s promises and a covenant was established between them concerning Abraham’s offspring and the land they would inherit.

The beginning of God’s people was established, at least in theory. First Abraham’s wife Sarah, who was barren and aging, would need a son. At God’s request, Abraham lived for a while in various locations: Shechem, Bethel, Hebron and the Negev Desert to name a few.

God did give Abraham a son, several in fact. The first was his son Ishmael. Ishmael was conceived with Hagar, Sarah’s servant, and handmaiden. Later both Ishmael and Hagar were cast out by Abraham by God’s command. Ishmael would go on to become the father of Arab nations.

Abraham’s heir was Isaac. Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age by supernatural intervention by God. Abraham confirmed his devotion to God by his willingness to sacrifice Isaac.

On Mount Moriah, God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, provided a substitute. A ram was sacrificed instead to God. The second Patriarch Isaac would go on to become the son that God’s chosen people, the Hebrew nation, would come into existence through.

The third Patriarch was Isaac’s son Jacob. Jacob’s name would literally change to “Israel.” Jacob was a truly fascinating Biblical figure. He was a man worthy of a Greek play. Jacob was a man of great strengths and weaknesses. He was a man of great faith but also, at times, of great fear.

Jacob famously wrestles with God. He has a dream of a ladder where angels descend and ascend heaven. God’s promise of making Abraham’s descendants a great nation would be further fulfilled when Jacob had twelve sons. One of his son, Joseph, would rise to great power in Egypt. Eventually, the families of Jacob’s sons would become the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Hebrews would end up in Egypt because of famine. Over the next 400 years, the Hebrew nation would grow larger and larger while living in Egypt. They eventually became slaves to the rulers of Egypt. They would need God to deliver them out of bondage.

What is Biblical Archeology?

One of the stunning things about Biblical archeology is the scientific discipline didn’t exist until about a 150 years ago. In fact, archeology was even a soft science before the 19th century. Archeology started as treasure hunting for wealthy, self-seeking opportunists.

Due to these half-hearted efforts by these opportunists, many excavations were botched. Many discoveries were lost. When you remove a historical object from its context and surroundings, you lose that information forever.

Something recovered from in a modern, controlled dig has much higher value than something sold by a treasure hunter. Indiana Jones adventures are not what modern archeology is about. Rising academic interests, the invention of new technological tools and systematic approach has changed archeology in the last century. We have learned a lot about the ancient world. Now that the Israelites are back in the Holy Land after 1900 years, many new sites and discoveries have enhanced knowledge of the Bible. Especially from Tels.

What is a “Tel”?

A Tel, also spelled tell, is a mound. In Arabic “tel” means tall. Inside a raised mound are the ancient remains of a city. Ancient cities often experienced natural or cultural disasters. Some of these misfortunes were fires, earthquakes, and assaults from enemy armies.

If an ancient city was destroyed, there was no way to remove all the demolished rubble. So people just built right on top of the ruins. Therefore over the centuries debris and layer would form. For example, the Biblical city of Tel Megiddo, the prophesied site of the Battle of Armageddon, has 26 layers of ruins.

Tels present an exciting challenge for archeologists who literally get to dig through layers of history. They go back in time the deeper they go. The biggest tel in Israel is Tel Hazor. Tel Hazor is barely excavated after three decades. There are ancient layers of history waiting to be discovered.

Tel Beersheba is just a few miles north of the Negev Desert. Tel Beersheba is the ancient southern boundary of the Hebrew people. The phrase, “From Dan to Beersheba” is a Biblical phrase used nine times in the Hebrew Bible to refer to the settled areas of the Tribes of Israel between Dan in the North and Beersheba in the South. This was the boundaries of the Biblical promise land.

Beersheba is a backdrop for many Old Testaments events. Beersheba was occupied as early as 4,000 B.C. The early settlement of Tel Beersheba dates back to 12th Century B.C. during the Judges period in the Bible.

The central theme of Judges is the settlement in the land of Canaan, a period before the monarchy. Beersheba is where two of Samuel’s son judged from. During the reign of King Ahab, the prophet Elijah fled to Beersheba to escape Ahab and Jezebel.

The fortifications of Beersheba date to the 10th century B.C. They are likely the result of Solomon’s building projects. Beersheba has a casemate wall, like those found in other cities which Solomon is known to have built. The city has a chambered gate similar to that in Megiddo.

When we first encounter Beersheba in the Bible, it is the place that Hagar, where Sarah’s servant was sent after she gave birth to Ismael. Despite being banished to Beersheba, God never abandons Hagar. God spoke to and helped Hagar. Her son became quite successful and eventually was the father of the Arab nations.

Beersheba is first mentioned in Genesis 21. Here Beersheba is given its name, meaning “Well of the Oaths.” It’s also called the “Well of the Seven.” It stands for the seven lambs sacrificed for the covenant between Abraham and Abimelech. Abraham is given water rights in Beersheba. Water is a super big deal in this extremely arid part of Israel. A covenant is a formal alliance or agreement made by God with humanity. In ancient Biblical times lambs were sacrificed or cut, and the parties walked between the dead lambs. This was a promise if the covenant was broken, they will be killed and cut apart like the sacrificed lamb.

A covenant more or less defines what it means to be in a relationship with God. Without a covenant no relationship is possible. The covenant that God makes with Abraham is a solemn agreement that God initiates that contains specific promises and demands.

God makes a covenant with Abraham. God appears to Abraham in Genesis 15 as a smoking flame. God (as the flame) passes through the dead animals alone to seal the covenant. Typically both parties pass between the animals. This time only God does. This covenant would not fail because it depended on God alone. The covenant would never be broken.

Covenants are found throughout the Old Testament. God makes one with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. Then eventually the Prophet Jeremiah pointed towards a new covenant in the future.

Christians believe that the blood of Jesus, in His own words, “the blood of the new covenant.” That Jesus, with His death and resurrection, makes a better and more lasting covenant than all the other covenants made with Abraham and Moses. The new covenant is available to all people, both Jews, and Gentiles.

Grace is favor, or “unmerited favor.” Grace gives salvation. Grace is, God’s unmerited favor sealed through the covenant by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Grace is God’s goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect, divine favor. The principal manifestation of God’s grace is in the form of a gift in the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ.

Thank you for reading my post, God bless you.

 

 

The Holy Land and Covenants

These posts are not an attempt to convert anyone. These posts are my efforts to understand my relationship with Jesus Christ. I hope that you find them entertaining, engaging and informative.

I have been trying to learn about the Bible. I have read a lot of books in my life, but I have never read the Bible until two months ago.

What is the Holy Land?

The Holy Land is at the far eastern end of the blue Mediterranean. It’s the cradle of civilization and where the Christian faith was founded. The Holy Land has been called the Fifth Gospel because like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John it’s where Christians believe events occurred that changed world history.

From Abraham to the Apostles and beyond the Holy Land has had a significant impact on history. The people of the Holy Land have been some of the most studied, pondered and argued over in all of history.

The world’s three main religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all consider the Holy Land, and especially the city of Jerusalem, to be the holiest place on earth. The Holy Land is where the Bible comes dramatically alive.

Who are the Patriarchs?

First, we have to start at the beginning. We have to go back to the Middle Bronze Age to the Era of the Patriarchs.  The Patriarchs were Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob.

We will start with “Father Abraham,” as he is referred to by Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  When we first met this semi-nomadic shepherd named Abram, later named Abraham, is in Genesis Chapter 11.

Up to this point, the Biblical narrative has been downcast and uncertainty. The tragic events of the Garden of Eden have resulted in a broken relationship between God and humankind. After the chaos of the Tower of Babel, we are introduced to Abram, the man who God has chosen to unite and bless humanity.

God tells Abram, “and through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me,” (Genesis 22:18). Abraham believed God’s promises and a covenant was established between them concerning Abraham’s offspring and the land they would inherit.

The beginning of God’s people was established, at least in theory. First Abraham’s wife Sarah, who was barren and aging, would need a son. At God’s request, Abraham lived for a while in various locations: Shechem, Bethel, Hebron and the Negev Desert to name a few.

God did give Abraham a son, several in fact. The first was his son Ishmael. Ishmael was conceived with Hagar, Sarah’s servant, and handmaiden. Later both Ishmael and Hagar were cast out by Abraham by God’s command. Ishmael would go on to become the father of Arab nations.

Abraham’s heir was Isaac. Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age by supernatural intervention by God. Abraham confirmed his devotion to God by his willingness to sacrifice Isaac.

On Mount Moriah, God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, provided a substitute. A ram was sacrificed instead to God. The second Patriarch Isaac would go on to become the son that God’s chosen people, the Hebrew nation, would come into existence through.

The third Patriarch was Isaac’s son Jacob. Jacob’s name would literally change to “Israel.” Jacob was a truly fascinating Biblical figure. He was a man worthy of a Greek play. Jacob was a man of great strengths and weaknesses. He was a man of great faith but also, at times, of great fear.

Jacob famously wrestles with God. He has a dream of a ladder where angels descend and ascend heaven. God’s promise of making Abraham’s descendants a great nation would be further fulfilled when Jacob had twelve sons. One of his son, Joseph, would rise to great power in Egypt. Eventually, the families of Jacob’s sons would become the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Hebrews would end up in Egypt because of a famine. Over the next 400 years, the Hebrew nation would grow larger and larger while living in Egypt. They eventually became slaves to the rulers of Egypt. They would need God to deliver them out of bondage.

What is Biblical Archeology?

One of the stunning things about Biblical archeology is the scientific discipline didn’t exist until about a 150 years ago. In fact, archeology was even a soft science before the 19th century. Archeology started as treasure hunting for wealthy, self-seeking opportunists.

Due to these half-hearted efforts by these opportunists, many excavations were botched. Many discoveries were lost. When you remove a historical object from its context and surroundings, you lose that information forever.

Something recovered from in a modern, controlled dig has much higher value than something sold by a treasure hunter. Indiana Jones adventures are not what modern archeology is about. Rising academic interests, the invention of new technological tools and systematic approach has changed archeology in the last century. We have learned a lot about the ancient world. Now that the Israelites are back in the Holy Land after 1900 years, many new sites and discoveries have enhanced knowledge of the Bible. Especially from Tels.

What is a “Tel”?

A Tel, also spelled tell, is a mound. In Arabic “tel” means tall. Inside a raised mound are the ancient remains of a city. Ancient cities often experienced natural or cultural disasters. Some of these misfortunes were fires, earthquakes, and assaults from enemy armies.

If an ancient city was destroyed, there was no way to remove all the demolished rubble. So people just built right on top of the ruins. Therefore over the centuries debris and layer would form. For example, the Biblical city of Tel Megiddo, the prophesied site of the Battle of Armageddon, has 26 layers of ruins.

Tels present an exciting challenge for archeologists who literally get to dig through layers of history. They go back in time the deeper they go. The biggest tel in Israel is Tel Hazor. Tel Hazor is barely excavated after three decades. There are ancient layers of history waiting to be discovered.

Tel Beersheba is just a few miles north of the Negev Desert. Tel Beersheba is the ancient southern boundary of the Hebrew people. The phrase, “From Dan to Beersheba” is a Biblical phrase used nine times in the Hebrew Bible to refer to the settled areas of the Tribes of Israel between Dan in the North and Beersheba in the South. This was the boundaries of the Biblical promise land.

Beersheba is a backdrop for many Old Testaments events. Beersheba was occupied as early as 4,000 B.C. The early settlement of Tel Beersheba dates back to 12th Century B.C. during the Judges period in the Bible.

The central theme of Judges is the settlement in the land of Canaan, a period before the monarchy. Beersheba is where two of Samuel’s son judged from. During the reign of King Ahab, the prophet Elijah fled to Beersheba to escape Ahab and Jezebel.

The fortifications of Beersheba date to the 10th century B.C. They are likely the result of Solomon’s building projects. Beersheba has a casemate wall, like those found in other cities which Solomon is known to have built. The city has a chambered gate similar to that in Megiddo.

When we first encounter Beersheba in the Bible, it is the place that Hagar, where Sarah’s servant was sent after she gave birth to Ismael. Despite being banished to Beersheba, God never abandons Hagar. God spoke to and helped Hagar. Her son became quite successful and eventually was the father of the Arab nations.

Beersheba is first mentioned in Genesis 21. Here Beersheba is given its name, meaning “Well of the Oaths.” It’s also called the “Well of the Seven.” It stands for the seven lambs sacrificed for the covenant between Abraham and Abimelech. Abraham is given water rights in Beersheba. Water is a super big deal in this extremely arid part of Israel. A covenant is a formal alliance or agreement made by God with humanity. In ancient Biblical times lambs were sacrificed or cut, and the parties walked between the dead lambs. This was a promise if the covenant was broken, they will be killed and cut apart like the sacrificed lamb.

A covenant more or less defines what it means to be in a relationship with God. Without a covenant no relationship is possible. The covenant that God makes with Abraham is a solemn agreement that God initiates that contains specific promises and demands.

God makes a covenant with Abraham. God appears to Abraham in Genesis 15 as a smoking flame. God (as the flame) passes through the dead animals alone to seal the covenant. Typically both parties pass between the animals. This time only God does. This covenant would not fail because it depended on God alone. The covenant would never be broken.

Covenants are found throughout the Old Testament. God makes one with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. Then eventually the Prophet Jeremiah pointed towards a new covenant in the future.

Christians believe that the blood of Jesus, in His own words, “the blood of the new covenant.” That Jesus, with His death and resurrection, makes a better and more lasting covenant than all the other covenants made with Abraham and Moses. The new covenant is available to all people, both Jews, and Gentiles.

Grace is favor, or “unmerited favor.” Grace gives salvation. Grace is, God’s unmerited favor sealed through the covenant by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Grace is God’s goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect, divine favor. The principal manifestation of God’s grace is in the form of a gift in the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ.

Thank you for reading my post, God bless you.

The Joy In Jesus

How do you write about the most important and intimate thing ever happen to you?

To be honest, I never thought I would write this story down.

For one thing, I felt I was simply too new to being a Christian. For another, I thought it was beyond my ability to do such valuable work. I have written about many things, but how do I write about the most important and intimate thing that has ever happen to me?

I want these posts to be an honest heart-to-heart talk about the most delightful thing I had ever done. I want to share with you how I am I living an abundant life full of real joy and happiness. I want to tell you the recipe that has taken my life from good to great- The Lord Jesus Christ.

A number of friends urged me to undertake this very important task. I knew that by writing about anything that has been accomplished in my life, has solely been God’s doing, not mine, and He- not I- deserves the credit. I also wanted to record this momentous time in my life.

Simply put, because I love Jesus I am never discouraged. I feel that I have found the key to better and happier living. I feel I am constantly in the presence of the Spirit of the Lord.

I try to live what I write. I don’t want my faith to be hollow words. I want to show you the reality and revelation of my new and glorious life. I know a lot of people are hurting, feeling pain from a life that seems unfair and unfulfilled. I will tell you my story and how I came to victory with Christ. I will tell you how I was set free from my sorrow, pain and regret and became a very happy Christian.

I am a new Christian. I am only in my first few months in my commitment to serve Jesus Christ. It has been thrilling for me to watch my faith and knowledge of the Lord grow. I want to share only two messages with you. Number one is my love for and joy in my faith in Jesus Christ. Number two, I want to share the tremendous and many benefits that my life has taken on since I gave my life to Jesus Christ.

These posts are really more in praise of the Lord than anything else. My honest hope is God will use these posts to help ease the journey of others in pain, out of hope and into something more in their lives.

I make no claims to be a perfect Christian or a Bible scholar or even a good Bible student, but I do feel God wants me to share His love through these posts. I write these posts entirely for His glory. I felt his Presence as I write, and I am often overwhelmed by my total love of Jesus. My eyes fill with tears of joy and I had to stop writing. Other times I got so excited and happy I laughed out loud. A constant and consistent feeling of love of God’s presence was present in every word.

My life did not become perfect after accepting Jesus Christ. I still deal with problems, including illnesses and chronic pain, but my life does seem easier because I share it with the Lord.

As I look back on my journey through life, many events (especially Iraq and Afghanistan) tend to come together in my memory as one. Each adventure had unique characters, but time and space have made a few very memorable.

I owe an enormous debt because of the help of my family and friends. I have genuine gratitude to so many great people in my life. I have tried to be as accurate as possible in summarizing events and conversations. However, I have come to realize how memories fade with the passage of time. I did my best to record events as I recall them.

I feel above all things I am writer and storyteller. This story is the most important I will ever tell. The story is about how I came to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I felt inspired and even called to tell the story of accepting the challenge of following Christ. The hardest and best thing I ever did was to turn to Christ in repentance and faith and to follow Him in obedience to His will.

For me, the message was very clear and specific. To talk about what the Lord has done for me by His death and resurrection, and the need for me to respond by committing my life to Him. His message was my past was forgiven, and I had a new life in hope as I turned to Him. In these posts, the reader will discover how I seek (however imperfectly) to follow Jesus Christ.

Through God, I got a new vision for His plan for me and a neverending happiness that I wanted to share. I have learned much from reading about the lives of great men and women of the past. Maybe my story will inspire others, I can only hope so, then the effort has been worth it.

God bless, and thank you for taking the time to read my post.