Saturday, July 14, 2018

Tip of the Hat to Ferrell Jenkins

I follow numerous blogs in my desire to remain current on what is happening in the land.  One of my favorite writers is Ferrell Jenkins.  I would like to recommend him to you and congratulate him on his 2000th post which is quite an accomplishment.  For example, this post is only my 317th.  Ferrell was kind enough to reference my blog in late 2013.

Oh, you want to check out his most recent blog on seismic activity in the Galilee!

See for yourself - and 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Land and Preaching on Sunday's Gospel Text - Mark 6:14-29

The gospel writer records the arrest of John the Baptist in Mark 1:14.  Given this news, Jesus relocates to Capernaum and begins His ministries of amazing proclamation and mighty acts.  At this time, Jesus' actions attract the scrutiny of Herod Antipas, the ruler of the Galilee and John's judge and executioner.

Later in his gospel, Mark (6:14-29) looks back on the details of John's arrest and death:

  • Herod Antipas superstitiously saw "John in Jesus."  Like other rulers of Israel, Herod maintained a certain respect for the role of the prophets.  He feared a risen John.
  • Herodias, the wife of Antipas and previously of Philip, only wanted John's head  "served up on a platter."  John would not let her or anyone forget her adultery with Antipas.
  • Blinded by desire and passion for Herodias' daughter, Antipas lost all perspective and promised the world for one last dance.
  • Instead, the price to be paid was the death of John who was being held at Machaerus, one of the eleven fortresses surrounding the kingdom and John's Golgotha.
  • Antipas' weakness disallowed not fulfilling his oath to Herodias.  In Israel, you could disrespect a prophet in his hometown and ultimately in the court of the king.
During Jesus' last week in Jerusalem, Antipas and Jesus would finally meet.  What Antipas feared from John, he realized in the risen Jesus!

Machaerus in Jordan

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Roll Jordan, Roll! Roll Justice, Roll!

The Dan River
The Dan River is one of three streams that converge to give us the Jordan River.  The other two are the Senir and Hermon Springs.  

I wonder if the prophet Amos drew upon this image on one of his mission trips to the Northern Kingdom for his message: "but let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream" (Amos 5:24).

Just wondering!.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sunday's Text - Mark 6:1-13 - in Light of the Fifth Gospel

Having based His ministry in Capernaum, Jesus returned home to Nazareth for a final time.  According to Mark, the return was not what one might expect given His mighty acts around the Sea of Galilee.  In point of fact, the gospel account is still known as "the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth."

The following points from the Fifth Gospel shed further light on Mark 6:1-6 for preaching or teaching this Sunday:

  • Despite the relatively small size of Nazareth (300 - 500 people), the village had its own synagogue.
  • On this particular Sabbath, "many" came for study and worship, referring less to the numbers but more the faithful characteristic of its residents.  "Many" was a term associated with the Essenes, describing the nature of community.
  • All began well that day when Jesus was called upon to read from Torah and the Prophets; Jesus interpreted the Scriptures with wisdom and power.
  • The immediate response of the congregation was one of astonishment and even the reference to Jesus as "the carpenter" was affirming.  In a village, the local carpenter was often the "go-to man" especially when there was no rabbi available.
  • Mark's leap from the initial positive response to Jesus' teaching to the sudden offense taken can only be understood by a comparative study of Luke 4:16-30.
  • According to Luke, the locals turned on their own prophet when He included Gentiles (a widow and a leper) as beneficiaries of God's mighty acts.
  • The unbelief of the village did not seem to surprise Jesus.  His choice of Capernaum and its more inclusive Judaism was indeed confirmed by their arrogance and bad behavior.
There was no turning back for Jesus!  He was and is a "light to the nations."
Nazareth's Synagogue

Thursday, June 28, 2018

FAQs About Travel-Study in the Holy Land

I have come to count on certain questions as to travel-study in the land.  Is it safe to travel in the region?  What does it cost?  Is it worth the investment?  Will it impact my ministry and the local church?

The answer is a resounding "yes" to all questions.  Over twenty-four years of travel in the land, I have never felt "unsafe."  The cost is relative, and the investment is life's and ministry's best value.  You will be a more effective preacher and teacher and a more faithful disciple.  Laity and clergy who travel together form special bonds.

Yes, by all means, make the decision and take the steps necessary!  Call me when you do (601-497-5860).  I am ready to assist you.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Insights from the Fifth Gospel for Preaching This Sunday's Lectionary Text

The lectionary text for July 1st is Mark 5:21-43.  Upon returning to the Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus was presented with two desperate situations, the impending death of a twelve year-old girl and a woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years.  In detailing Jesus' response to these in need, Mark proclaimed that Jesus has power over disease and death.

Obviously, the preacher has a choice to make as to which of the two circumstances to address.  I am choosing to draw lessons from the land regarding the plight of the older woman:
  • Upon landing near Magadan on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus was met by a waiting crowd.  In the crowd was Jairus, the leader of Capernaum's synagogue.  His daughter was near death.
  • On the way to assist Jairus' daughter, Jesus sensed power "leaving him."  Upon questioning as to who touched him, the crowd was bemused given the jostling taking place.
  • The practice of medicine in the 1st century left much to be desired and had rendered a woman in the crowd desperate and "broke" enough to side-step well-defined boundaries.  Women and men could not have physical contact in public.  She cared not; she had suffered for twelve years.  She was determined to touch the hem of His garment (prayer shawl).
  • If some in the early church were correct, another boundary she crossed was that separating Jew and Gentile.  This ancient source identified the woman as a Gentile from Caesarea Philippi.  She even dared to touch a Jewish male in hopes for a cure.
  • No doubt, this female "outsider" had heard and recognized something quite different about this Jesus.  He not only had power to heal, but He dared to confirm God's power as sufficient for all persons, especially this new "daughter."
  • Jesus then continued on to the home of Jairus where He interrupted a funeral dirge, evoking laughter by announcing that the young girl was not dead.  He raised her.
The woman and her story are memorialized in the new Encounter Chapel at Magdala.  This painting is a must-see on your visit.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Come and See! Your Invitation to Join Us for Holy Land Travel-Study in 2019

 After much prayer, Brenda and I have decided to return to Israel and the territories for yet another season of travel-study in 2019.  This season will be our 25th!  Each has been its own unique blessing and moved us along in our journey of faith.  We invite you to join us, and come and see the land of Jesus.

I will serve as the instructor for three groups, each with different itineraries.  The first group is drawing pilgrims from Florida and Virginia, but the pastors (David Range and Jennifer Fenner) would welcome you to the group.  This group will depart February 11 and return February 20.

A second group is enlisting pilgrims from Pennsylvania primarily.  This group will depart February 23 and return March 4, an 11-day program.  You would be welcomed to join this group led by Chaplain Dave Hicks.

The third group is recruiting pilgrims from Mississippi.  This group will depart March 9 and return March 18.  You are more than welcomed to join Pastor Bruce Case and Pam Breland in their travel-study program.

If 2019 is your year to "come and see," please call us (601-497-5860) for more information and a brochure.  If you prefer email, you may contact us at