Friday, November 27, 2009

Magdala found?

In the recent Ray Vander Laan seminar that I attended, Ray mentioned some very recent excavations in Galilee that were interesting to Christians. One was a synagogue discovered at the traditional site of Magdala. Magdala will ring a bell with Christians as the home city of Mary Magdalene, who is mentioned 12 times in the New Testament.

According to Matthew 9:35, "Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness." Magdala's proximity to Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida would almost certainly would have hosted Jesus himself in the synagogue. Only once have I found a time where Jesus specifically came to Magdala (Matthew 15:39) but no synagogue visit is mentioned. It's my opinion that it may have been the place where Jesus drove the seven "devils" from Mary (Luke 8:2).

The Israeli Antiquities Authority has released a press statement here:

This is an aeriel view of the excavation:

This is the stone that has archaeologists excited. It is the first time a menorah decoration has been found from the Second Temple period (think Herod the Great and Jesus times, 30 BC to 70 AD). The significance is that the artist who carved this relief must have seen the actual menorah in the Temple with his own eyes. Until now, we've based our knowledge of the menorah from Roman artwork.

It just amazes me how the land of Israel testifies over and over again to the accuracy of the Bible!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


A congregation of the Church of Christ recently coordinated a ladies brunch that was designed to celebrate the harvest time of the year and Christian sisterhood among the ladies in the surrounding areas. Ladies were encouraged to bring their daughters and even had a girls' chorus from a local school to perform.

Invitations to attend this brunch were sent out to neighboring Churches of Christ so that announcements would be made to the ladies of other congregations, and they could participate as well.

At least one congregation received this invitation and specifically told their ladies not to attend.

The reason given was that the inviting church was not to be fellowshipped with in any activity.

The grounds for disfellowship was that the host congregation did not have an “orthodox” view of marriage, divorce and remarriage. That disagreement, in the eyes of the invited congregations, should cause the secession of fellowship among the peoples of those congregations.

I don’t want this to be a discussion of marriage, divorce and remarriage. I have opinions about that, but they are my opinions. Could I be wrong in my opinions? Yes. Am I orthodox about everything? Certainly not. And neither are you. Good thing that our orthodoxy is not a requirement for heaven, eh?

My question is, "How do we handle ourselves when we disagree about a certain religious doctrine?"

When we disagree, must we stop eating together? If you look at a few texts in the Bible, you can come to that conclusion and get pretty cruel with it quickly.

I think we can learn a lot from how Priscilla and Aquila treated Apollos in Acts 18. Luke says in verse 24 that Apollos was an eloquent man, he was mighty in the scriptures, he was fervent in the spirit, and he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord. There was only one problem with him, his knowledge wasn’t perfect. He knew only the baptism of John.

Priscilla and Aquila did not walk out of the synagogue in protest. They did not go back to Rome and lambast Apollos publicly. They did not write him up in the next month’s issue of “The Way” newsletter. They did not let Apollos know that his errant view would keep them from fellowshipping one another.

They pulled him aside privately; humbly, sweetly, and honestly. Their rebuke was sweetened with patience and grace and by that Apollos both learned “a better way” and remained on fire for Jesus. Apollos would continue to preach so fervently that Paul would credit him in 1st Corinthians 3:16 for “watering” what Paul had planted.

How much would the gospel be advanced if we would follow that example when we disagree? How much would Jesus be honored if we humbly shared our opinions without making agreement on them the basis for fellowship? You might say “I can’t convince them that I’m right” or “They just will not listen!” It’s not your job to convince them or to make them listen. It is your job to love them, serve them, respect them, and if needed, humbly teach them.

What should be our basis for unity? The only one there really is: Do they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? That’s enough for unity.

Ephesians 4:2-3 from the NIV, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Some of our greatest fights come from texts that are nowhere near as clear as the plea from God that we be united in Christ.

God’s plan to evangelize the world depends on our unity with one another.

Jesus prayed in John 17, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Jesus says that the world will believe that He is who He says He is when they see our unity. I ask you, how can you have unity unless there are differences of opinion? Sameness of thought is not unity, it is uniformity and I don’t think Jesus was praying for that.

As for those sweet sisters who had their invitation rejected, keep on inviting. God did not give you the power to control others, but did give you a command to love them.

As for those who reject the fellowship of erring brothers and sisters, I suggest that you have no other kind. That invitation might have been a good time to show your love for fellow believers and might have been a convenient moment to discuss your theological differences in the bond of peace.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why I love Tebow

Nothing to do with the performance on the field? Nah. Just a good kid. Example:

This was passed around from Gene Peek, a die-hard Gator fan, whose son, Colin Peek, is a star player this year at Alabama (he injured his knee last week)...Colin is a senior, as is Tebow, and it's very possible they will be playing against each other for the SEC Championship this year.

As some of you know, Colin played on one of the Bolles state championship teams when Riley Skinner (now Wake Forest 's QB) was Bolles' quarterback and Max Higgs (Teri & Ken Higgs' son) was fullback. Amazing what talent and quality came out of northeast Florida back then (Tebow was Nease's QB).

Subject: A Tebow story from a Miss. State fan

Hello, I am a lifelong Mississippi State fan and have no strong feelings negative or otherwise towards Florida. However, a dear friend of my wife had an encounter with your quarterback Saturday morning.

She has what could very easily be a terminal brain tumor. She is leaning on her faith in the Lord to get her through this and no matter the outcome, she is being extremely positive. She is only 26 and is having to deal with her own mortality. I can't imagine it is easy.

Anyway, she has a live journal documenting her treatment and everything involved. She has a list of famous people she would like to meet or talk to before she dies. These include Oprah, Rick and Bubba, and of course TimTebow.

She is from nearby Columbus , MS and noticed a bunch of charter buses outside the hotel in town. She thought she would go in and just see if that was the Gator team. Turns out it was, and she ran into their strength and conditioning coach in the lobby. She explained her situation to the coach and even took off her hat to prove it. She said all she wanted to do was meet Tim. The coach said 'give me five minutes.'

Five minutes later, she was ushered to a small conference room. When she opened the door, there was college football's golden boy Tim Tebow. Tim was very glad to meet her. He spent a good fifteen minutes talking to her about her treatment and her faith in God. I believe he even took a picture with her. I say all of this because in this day and age, it is amazing that a Heisman Trophy winner, with two national titles and another possible one on the way, took time on game day to share a moment with a dear friend of ours who is dealing with a terrible illness.

That is amazing. You guys have a great team. A great coach and great players everywhere. Your job is phenomenal and if at all possible this goes to further provethat he is an even better person.

Gators, you have a good one and I just wanted to share that with you and let you know how much it meant to our dear friend. Take care and God bless, love all, worship one.

Eugene G. Peek III