Sunday, March 27, 2011
Since it was the passover the moment and the temple the place to sacrifice animals, it was probably expected that they would have some animals for sale in there... in the same way, since during that week people from many regions were coming to pay their tribute, it was obvious too that people would exchange the currency in there too; then why Jesus got upset?
It was when people would sell animals with defects as ‘holy animals’ for sacrifice, that Jesus got upset. It was when people would take advantage of the foreigner that comes to worship, that Jesus got angry. It was when Jesus notice that the spirituality of His father house was exchange for spiritual rituals that he rebuke them... when he saw that the remembrance of God’s love, power and grace, was now cheapen by tricks, humans re-interpretation of the law, that it is used to take advantage of others that He didn’t hesitate to kick people out of the temple.
The point is not judge the people from this story, but to be aware if by any chance in our churches we are doing the same thing.
My five questions about the church practices of today:
1.- When did we change the definition of being Christian as the witness of the guidance of the Holy Spirit within people, to just a merely membership.
2.- How did we distortion ‘worship’ from being an encounter with the living God, to just a merely religious activity that by any means cannot last more than 59 minutes.
3.- Why does discipleship do not implies anymore to deny ourselves and follow Jesus, but now is a matter to watch a dvd study course.
4.- Who wants to be part of the leadership that would reflect the empowering of the holy Spirit to serve others, and not a position to shape a church in the way we like it.
5.- Where is the church that would stop consuming ministry, but doing ministry.
We often wonder in church when Jesus is coming back; and how is going to look like his return; and who is going to take part of it...but the real question that we need to ask in our churches today is...when Jesus comes back, what is he going to find in his church...hopefully he can have a better experience than the first time.
Monday, February 21, 2011
On Bethany, May and Martha Worship and Serve Jesus (see Luke 10:38-42)
Here is also where Lazarus death took place, but also where he was raised form the Dead (see John 11:1-44)
Here is also where Mary anointed Jesus with very costly oil (see John 12:1-8)
According to tradition, this was Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ home.
Most scholars believe that the Qumran scrolls were left by a Jewish religious community, apparently Essenes, who occupied the site from some time in the second century B.C. into the first century A.D.
The Scrolls include various books of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament.
Jericho is located in the Judean Wilderness, near the Jordan River and is the oldest city in the world with around 10,000 years old.
Here is where Joshua guided the people of Israel to the promise land. (see Joshua 1-6)
Outside of Jericho is possibly when the Temptations of Satan to Jesus took place. (see Luke 4:1-14)
This is Sycamore that Zacchaeus climbed to encounter Jesus. (see Luke 19:1-10)
It’s called a sea (because of the hebrew word of sea) although it is a big lake; it is bordering to Jordan to the east, and Israel and the West Bank to the west.
Its surface and shores are over 400 meters below sea level, therefore is the lowest elevation on earth.
It is so salty that there is no life on it, and people can float.
God’s redemptive plan is amazing....share it!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Bethlehem has played an important part in religious history for three interrelated reasons: 1) It was King David’s ancestral home (read the book of Ruth); 2) It was the place of Jesus birth, his parents having returned there for a census because Joseph was “of the house and lineage of David” (read Matthew 2); 3) In A.D. 330, Constantine founded the Church of the Nativity above the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
Church of the Nativity.....
Luke 2:6-7 “So it was, that while they where there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
This church is over 1400 years old, and currently is occupied by Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Armenians.
Luke 2:8-9 “Now there were in the same country shepherds living our in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them; Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great h=joy which will be to all people”.
This is the place where according to tradition the angel appeared to the shepherds.
Go and tell in on the mountains, over the hills and everywhere...
Matthew 26:17-18 “Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bred the disciples came t Jesus saying to Him, Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover. And He said, Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him,. The teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”
This is where the last supper took place.
Luke 22:59-60 “The after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean. But Peter said; Man, I do not know what ou are saying! Inmediatly while he was still speaking the rooster crowed”.
This is the patio where Peter denied Jesus three times.
Luke 22:54 “Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance.
This is where Jesus was kept over night before he was crucified.
Matthew 27:33 “And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull.”
You can see the form of the Skull on the rocks!
Luke 24:1-3 “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus”.
According to Protestant tradition, this is the tomb where Jesus was buried and rose.
He wasn’t there..Thanks be to God!
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Jesus spent the night on the Mount of Olives, during his last week in Jerusalem (see Luke 21:37)
It was also in the same Mountain when he ascended to Heaven after empowering the disciples. (see Acts 1:4-11)
This is the church of the Ascension.
Garden of Gethsemane.....
All four gospels record the incident of Jesus’ agonizing prayer and betrayal by Judas. (see Matthew 26:36; Mark 14:32; Luke 22:39-40; John 18:1-11)
Some of this olive trees are possibly back to the first century (Jesus’ time)
John 5:2-9 describes the Pool of Bethzatha (also called Bethesda) as a pool with five porticoes located near the Sheep Gate.
This is also the place of Mary's birth.
The way through the narrow streets from the Anonia to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher came to be known as the Via Dolorosa (Latin for “Way of Sorrow”)
This Via represent the approximate route that Jesus carried the cross from condemnation to crucifixion.
He carried the cross for you and for me!
Friday, February 18, 2011
The word for “mountain” in Hebrew is “har”. Thus Megiddo could be spoken of as “har-megiddo” or Mount Megiddo. The Greek form of “har-megiddo” is “Armageddon”.
People were living at the site of Megiddo as early as the fourth millennium B.C. and the site continued to be occupied, off and on, until the fourth century B.C.
Megiddo was fortified city during the Bronze and Iron Ages, and great battles took place in there leaded by King Josiah, King Salomon and Alexander the Great.
According to Scripture, (see Revelation 16:15-16) the last battle on earth would take place in here.
Caesarea Maritima....The Mediterranean Sea
Herod the Great had a dream (and accomplished) to build the major Roman-style city which include: a water seaport, city wall, aqueduct, royal palace, administrative center, theater, race track and a temple dedicated to Caesar Augustus.
Paul was imprisoned at Caesarea before being sent to Rome (see Acts 23:23-26; also 9:30; 10:1,24; 11:11; 12:19-23; 21:8)
Caesarea in a glimpse:
*Built by Herod in 31B.C.
*Witness of the Jewish Revolt in A.D. 66
*Expand at its maximum during the Byzantine Period (4th to 7th century)
*It surrender to the Arabs in A.D. 640.
*Was conquered by the Crusaders in 1101.
*Fell to the Muslims in 1265.
Now....on the journey to Jerusalem....
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Matthew 17:1-9 “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Mount Tabor is strategically located in lower Galilee and for most Christians it is a Holy mountain - "the mount of Transfiguration". This mountain has been a witness of battles from time of Joshua, second temple, byzantine period, and the crusades. Today there is a Franciscan church on the top
Western tradition locate this place as the mountain where Jesus’ transfiguration and encounter with Elijah and Moses took place. It was overwhelming to stand in the top of the mountain; in one hand by looking down the mountain and see all the valleys and towns, but in the other hand by looking into the sky and feel close the clouds and God’s presence.
After reading the scripture with four other clergy, we decided to set 5 rocks on the altar table as a reminder that is not about building churches or altars (as the disciples intended), but simply about recognizing the Lord and listening to Him.
Since the Son of Man has been raised, it is time for you to tell what you know!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
When Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. his kingdom was divided between three surviving sons: Archaelus, Philip and Antipas.
The territory that Herod Philip received for his territory was called Caesarea Philippi.
Most of Jesus’ early ministry took place in Galilee, which was part of Herod Antipas’ terrarchy.
But at least in one occasion Jesus and his Disciples went into Herod Philip’s territory.
Matthew 16:13-16... “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Remember your Baptism at the Jordan..............(See Mark 1:1-11)
Baptism, as understood through the baptism of Jesus, represents the deep covenant of life that has been extended to us through God. Each time we witness the sacramental act of a baptism, we do well to remember that we too live by this same beautiful covenantal relationship of God’s love. Today I had the blessing to experience this remembrance at the Jordan River.
I invite you to remember your baptism and live!
At the border with Syria...........not everything is peace around here....
......let’s keep this country in our prayers.
Monday, February 14, 2011
According to scripture and western tradition, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary at her house. Therefore, the cave that represents her house is known also as the Grotto of the Annunciation.
Nazareth in the New Testament times was a small farming village, probably with between two and four hundred habitants.
Today there is a huge city on top, with thousands of habitants.
Currently there is a church on top of Mary’s cave, it’s call the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation.
In a time frame of 2000 years, there has been over 5 different churches builded in top of each other in the same place (from Christian to Byzantine to Crusader to Franciscan to Roman Catholic).
For me is not really important the ‘place’ as much as the ‘business’ of the One that was raised in that home; it is my prayer that as we continue to be part of our churches, we can see beyond the walls and take part in what the heart of the matter is.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Jesus’ Galilean ministry was situated along the shore of the Sea of Galilee (which is more like a lake)
In 1986 archeologist found a boat that is around 2000 years old. The question is then, to whom did this boat belong?
- Jesus and his disciples
- The fighters of the Migdal battle
- A fisherman of the Sea of Galilee
This is a view of Tabgha, the place where Jesus feed over 5000 men + women and children. Note that the population in that place was of around 10,000-15,000. Therefore most of the people in town where participate of the miracle of the multiplication. (How cool is that)
During the boat ride we got to read the passage of Matthew 14:22-33 and share communion. It was a powerful experience to be mindful that God is with us, and therefore ‘To Not Be Afraid’.
Chilling at the Sea is overwhelming....
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Today I had the privilege to read the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5 - 7) to the group of clergy that I'm traveling with, in the same place that according to tradition Jesus gathered the crowds and taught the same words.
As I was reading the last words of chapter 6, suddenly an overwhelming peace came to my mind and heart. Jesus was encouraging the crowds not to worry for what they would eat, drink and wear according to what God does with the birds and lilies; and then He said... “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (v.33-34).
I have to admit that often I tend to worry about what the ‘tomorrow’ has for me, my family and my church. I have known for years that Jesus’ words are not a ‘free pass’ to the responsibilities, obligations and opportunities that God has given me to honor Him. I strongly believe that I’m accountable to Him and others in every aspect of my life, and I should live a life that strive for excellence. But today these words challenged me in a different way.
The conviction is not to live a life without worries...but to live a life that seeks for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Therefore, my thoughts should be around...
Does every aspect of my life (body, mind and soul) seeks for God’s will?
Does the way I treat my family, friends and strangers reflects God’s love and righteousness?
Does my role within the Church advances the Kingdom of God?
God’s peace came to me when I understood that is not about ‘what I shouldn’t do, but what I should do’. Since where my thoughts and actions are, there is also my heart. Where are yours?
Heavenly Father, please enable us to keep the main thing as the main thing, and to live the life that you want us to do. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Capernaum played a central role in Jesus’ Galilean ministry (see Matthew 4:13, 11:23; Mark 1:21; Luke 7:1, 10:15 and John 6:59)
"Simon Peter's House"
- Jesus came to Galilee preaching the gospel soon after John the Baptist was arrested.
- Capernaum was the home town from Peter; and where him, Andrew, James and John were called to follow Jesus.
- Some of the most common healing miracles from Jesus in Capernaum were: ‘the man with an unclean spirit on the synagogue’; ‘Simon’s mother in law of a fever’; ‘the paralytic that was let down through the roof to be healed’.
Tabgha, is the arabic name which means “Seven Springs” (see Mathew 14:13; Mark 6:30; John 20:15)
- Tabgha is at the foot of the traditional Mount of Beautides, and on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
- There is a church build upon the stone in which according to tradition, Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes to fed thousands.
- Tabgha is also the place where Jesus met with his disciples after His resurrection, and after asking Peter if he loves him for three times, he encourage him to ‘Feed His Sheep”.
After walking today in some of the places where Jesus’ walked, preached and performed miracles.....I found myself asking me the question raised in ‘The Summons Hymn”.....Will you use the faith you’ve found, to re-shape the world around?
Thursday, February 10, 2011
And the journey begins....
We left the Atlanta Airport at 6:00 pm on Wednesday 02/09....after 10 hours of flying + 6 hours of time difference, we arrived to Frankfurt at 10:00 am on Thursday 02/10.... with only 1 hour of connection + 4 hours of flying + 1 hour of time difference, we arrived to Tel Aviv at 4:00 pm...... and after 3 hours on a bus ride, we finally arrived to Tiberias at 7:00 pm.
The place were we are staying is called “The Scotts Hotel, St. Andrew’s Galilee”. This place used to be a hospital sponsored by Presbyterians from Scotland, and know they use the facilities as a hotel. Therefore, the architecture and style are amazing, you can also sense a very spiritual environment, although all the male employees are wearing those funny skirts (respectfully).
During the 16 + hours that I was in the airplane and bus, I ‘got’ to spend all my time with John’s Wesley biography and theology, and I was able to read the 374 pages of the book ‘The Burning Heart, John Wesley:Evangelist” by Skevington Wood. (Note that it wasn’t because I love to read, but a requirement for a class; although it was very enriching).
So I’m exhausted, but before I crash in my bed, I want to share with you my five favorite quotes from John Wesley that I read today:
1.- “Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.”
2.- “You have nothing to do but to save souls.”
3.- “This is the great work; not only to bring souls to believe in Christ but to build them up in our most holy faith”.
4.- “ Your profession of faith must be evidenced in sanctity of living.”
5.- “Oh why is it that so great, so wise, so holy a God will use such an instrument as me.”
I hope these phrases can challenge you as they are challenging me.