Hi Five Oakers, The weekend is coming and I have a few things I want to share with you.
I'm in Israel right now, and one of my highlights from our first day here was standing on a hill in Nazareth. Our guide gave us an overview of what we would be seeing in the next couple of days--the places we would visit. You could see across a vast valley filled with history, and way off in the distance he pointed to was the area where Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. I thought of all the events God arranged to make that moment happen and transform their evil intentions and actions into God's redemptive plan: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:20).
Don't miss it this weekend as we conclude our Joseph series.
Tony Kriz on "That Mysterious Gospel: Studying Acts changed my view of sharing the good news"
"Isn't it interesting that when asked about the gospel-proclaimed, we automatically go primarily to the letters of Paul? There is only one problem. Those letters are Christians talking to Christians." That observation landed with a thud in the middle of the room.
Michael J. Lewis on "Children Who Never Play"
When I began teaching twenty-five years ago, almost all students would answer the imaginative question but year in, year out, their numbers dwindled, until almost all now take the dry and dutiful one. Baffled, I tried varying the questions but still the pattern held: Given the choice, each successive cohort preferred to recite tangible facts rather than to arrange them in a speculative and potentially risky structure. In other respects, today’s students are stronger than their predecessors; they are conspicuously more socialized, more personally obliging, and considerably more self-disciplined. To teach them is a joy, but they will risk nothing, not even for one facetious question on a minor exam.
One More Thing
Today we worked our way down the Mount of Olives and traced many of Jesus' steps from the night of his betrayal to the resurrection. It's a crazy mixture of sites where we know Jesus was to places where we think Jesus was. Added to that, so many things have been built on top of where Jesus was, that it's hard to make sense of where you actually are at any given time. It's a thrill, though, when you see part of the actual Roman street in front of the excavation of the Antonia Fortress where we know Jesus was and where Jesus walked after his arrest, or when you see steps from one of the entrances to the Herodian Temple and you know Jesus walked those steps.
The picture above is of the East Gate looking across from the Mount of Olives. The gate we see today was built on top of the original gate in the 520's. As you can see, it is sealed. The story of why it was sealed reminds me of the Joseph story, where an evil intent is used by God for his purposes.
Our guide pointed out that the Jews believed the Messiah would enter through that gate. It is the gate mentioned in Ezekiel 44:1-3. So a Muslim leader from the 1500's had the gate sealed and a cemetery put in front of it so that the Messiah would not be able to enter without defiling himself. As our guide told us, "It not only is an admission of belief that the Messiah would indeed enter through that gate, it also fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel 44!"