Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God – by Keith and Kristyn Getty

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV)

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Understanding Jesus: Cultural Insights into the Words and Deeds of Christ – by Joe Amaral

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My family in Christ,

I have just read this book, and I found it to be such an eye-opener into what lay behind a number of the Gospel events that I felt I should recommend it to you.

Even though at times I fall victim to this myself, I still find it amusing when people are struck by the realization of Jesus’ earthly nationality. As Amaral says in the Introduction, whilst in Israel he was suddenly struck by reality and felt pretty foolish for having ever thought otherwise:

“I said to [my travel companion], ‘Jesus was a Jew!’ As soon as I said it I grabbed my mouth and covered it. Icouldn’t believe what I had just said. He gave me a look of mock bewilderment and said, ‘You mean He wasn’t from Montana?'” [1]

This book is the result of the author’s subsequent investigation into first-century Jewish culture (and also that which preceded it). It offers many answers to questions raised by obscure references in the Gospels and the other New Testament writings. It also offers background information for things that we might simply ignore because of the assumption that, if the biblical writers felt that it was not necessary to elaborate on them, why should it be important for us to know now? Examples of such instances are:

  • if John the Baptist and Jesus were born 6 months apart, at which points did their respective births occur on the Jewish calander;
  • why did Jesus say that mountains could be moved with faith as small as a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20);
  • why did Jesus write in the sand when asked about an adulterous woman (John 8:6);
  • why did Jesus wait 4 days before raising Lazarus (John 11);
  • why are the exact times of Jesus’ crucifixion and death recorded, and
  • why was the curtain dividing the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies torn in two?

Amaral also makes a number of enlightening comparisons between a number of Jewish feasts and the events in Jesus’ and the Church’s life. For example,

  • the Fest of Unleavened Bread and Jesus’ death and burial;
  • the Feast of Firstfruits and Jesus’ Resurrection, and
  • Acts 2 and the first Feast of Pentecost. [2]

In all, I strongly recommend that you read this book alongside the the Bible. No, the biblical account cannot be equalled; but we can be helped to have a greater understanding of its parts, and I would say that this book assists one in a way that not other book about the Bible has. I hope it greatly assists you, too.

God bless you.

Endnotes

[1] p. 2.

[2] It is in the section on Pentecost that I feel that Amaral’s case is particularly strengthened by extra-Biblical Rabbinic literature.

The Day of Saints and Souls

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The Day of the Dead is a festive day in the country

Family gathering anywhere like a Sunday

Getting together mostly at the park or cemetery

Starting from dusk til dawn halloween party.

~

All Saints’ Day is a day of obligation

It is so-called the Feast of All Saints in our nation

To attend mass as part of the tradition

To pray for all of them as our day’s mission.

~

All Souls’ Day is also a big celebration

Cleaned tomb ready for the occasion

Others are home to where they belong

Spend time with families and get along.

~

Praying for the poor souls in purgatory

And all forgotten souls who are lonely

That they may all rest in peace

In God’s loving mercy.

~

Visiting the grave of our departed ones

Making their spirit happy to see everyone

Offering food and lighting candles must be done

Remembering…

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Wise Sayings of William Tiptaft (1803-1864) — KNOWING THE TIME, because what’s coming matters

Originally posted on Revival & Reformation: Many who died last year are in Hell, who never committed half the sins some of you have! It is of God’s grace, if we differ from the mirthful and foolish multitude around us. The world, in its various shapes–is Christ’s great enemy! “God knows best!” and “May Your will be done!” are…

via Wise Sayings of William Tiptaft (1803-1864) — KNOWING THE TIME, because what’s coming matters

It May Be Difficult, But the Straight and Narrow Path is the Quickest Way to the Kingdom of God

My family in Christ,

When the teacher of the law asked Jesus which is the most important commandment, Jesus replied that it is to love God wholeheartedly and also to love our neighbour as ourselves. The teacher agrees and replies:

“…’Well said…And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices'” (Mark 12:32-33 NKJV).

Great, an earthly teacher who understands what they teach!!! However, I think that the significant thing about this conversation is what happens next:

“Now when Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God'” (v. 34).

Many decades have passed since I first learned about the straight and narrow path. I know that it is difficult to traverse (e.g. it doesn’t stick out as well as the yellow brick road does in The Wizard of Oz). Consequently I have veered off of it a number of times, but on returning our merciful Lord has always accepted me back with open arms. It is the same for all returning pilgrims! If we don’t keep going astray, and remain walking along Christ across this uneven, dusty, and uncertain path of love it will seem as if we reach our destination quicker because we shall be filled with joyous laughter along the way!

MAY CHRIST ALWAYS BE BESIDE US AND NOT SEEM FAR BEHIND US.