Tag Archives: Bible

Does archeology help or hinder trust in the Bible?

I’m not a big science buff but did find this article by Eric Metaxas of BreakPoint rather interesting. There is a link at the end of the article if you want to read more.
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Archaeological finds that claim to de-bunk the Bible are sure to make headlines. But what about all the other archaeological evidence?    

Recently, two researchers from Tel Aviv University made headlines when they claimed that the Bible’s historicity was undermined by, of all things, camel bones.

Eric Metaxas

Eric Metaxas

The camel bones in question were discovered in ancient copper mines south of the Dead Sea. After dating the bones to the tenth century before Christ, the researchers concluded that the stories of Abraham and other patriarchs possessing camels 1,000 years earlier could not have been true.

But why let the facts get in the way of a good headline? As Todd Bolen of the Master’s College told Christianity Today, their conclusion, based on a single finding, was definitely “an overreach.”

And Titus Kennedy of Biola pointed out that “a camel is mentioned in a list of domesticated animals from Ugarit, dating to the Old Babylonian period,” which ran from 1950-1600 BC, around the time of the biblical patriarchs.

Speaking of facts, in the latest issue of Biblical Archeology Review, Lawrence Mykytiuk of Purdue asks and answers the question “how many people in the Hebrew Bible have been confirmed archaeologically?’

The conservative answer is at least fifty.

The most famous of these is King David who, until relatively recently was believed by many scholars to either be a “shadowy, perhaps mythical ancestor” or a “literary creation of later biblical authors and editors.”

All of this changed, however, in 1993 when archaeologists found a stele dating from the ninth century B.C., commissioned by the king of Damascus with the inscription “House of David.” The issue of David’s historicity was laid to rest.

In addition to David, archeologists have been able to independently corroborate the existence of kings such as Hezekiah. The water tunnel he used during the Assyrian siege, described in both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, has been discovered in Jerusalem.

Confirmation isn’t limited to those described as doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. Eight of the northern kingdom’s kings—including the notorious Ahab and Jeroboam II, whose reign was denounced by Hosea and Amos—have been verified archaeologically.

Nor is independent corroboration limited to the kings of Judah and Israel. The existence of numerous pagan kings mentioned in the Bible has been verified by archeologists. Some of them, such as Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and Cyrus the Great of Persia, are prominent figures in world history.

Others are not. Second Kings and Isaiah both mention Adrammelech, the son and murderer of Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. The Bible tells us he then fled and never took over as king. Cuneiform inscriptions confirm the biblical tale.

Even the Iron Age equivalents of middle-level bureaucrats mentioned in Scripture have been independently verified.

Make no bones about it: The Bible is easily the most verified book of antiquity—and not just its historical figures, but the copies of the manuscripts themselves. It’s not even close. For instance, the oldest surviving copies of works we have by Herodotus, Plato and even Homer only date back to the early middle ages—some 800 and 1,300 hundred years after they were written.

In contrast, as Frederick Kenyon of the British Museum put it, “the interval … between the dates of the original composition [of the New Testament] and the earliest extant evidence [is] so small as to be in fact negligible.”

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You can find other similar resources at the bottom of the article as it appeared on the BreakPoint Web site by clicking here.

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2014. All rights reserved.

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God is the larger context

story of god“When we submit our lives to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.”
~ Eugene Peterson
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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A True Child of God

Clear Winter Nights - book cover“‘The Word’s powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword. Even the long lists of names remind you of the faithfulness of God, from generation to generation…’

‘Trusting Jesus and being a true child of God meant that whatever God said about His Son, He could say about me. He loved me…Not because I was smart or special or had great talents or gifts. It wasn’t because I was living the ‘good Christian life’ I was trying so hard to get right. He just looked at me and loved me. He delighted in me like a father delighting in his children. It suddenly all made sense…’

‘And I saw how deep my sin was. How foolish I was to try and fix myself. How silly my attempts at being a good man looked compared to King Jesus. And then I saw grace. I could look through Jesus’s righteousness and hear God say, ‘You are My beloved son…In you I am well pleased.’ And here I hadn’t even done anything.’”

~ Excerpted from Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Who Are You?

Eyes Wide OpenIf somebody asked me, “Who are you?” I could say lots of things. I could say, “I am Jud. I am married to Lori. We have two kids and a slobbery bulldog named Roxy. And I am horrible at Guitar Hero for Xbox.”

These are aspects of who I am, but my identity is not found in them. According to the Bible, my identity is found in God. He chooses me. I’m His possession. And that is who you are too.

It doesn’t matter what your employer says, what your parents say, what your ex says, or what your friends say. God says that as His follower you are chosen. You are loved just as you are, and your identity is complete in that. You can’t earn it, and you can’t undo it; there is nothing you can do to achieve it. What could be more awesome?

~ Excerpted from Eyes Wide Open by Jud Wilhite

So how would you answer the question “Who are you?”

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Why studying God matters

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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As you read your Bible… don’t lose Jesus!

CautionAre you on the “read through the Bible in a year” bandwagon? It is that time of year when we amp up new strategies with our diets, our exercise, our finances and our Bible reading. But be careful!

Now, before I go any further let me be clear that I am all for new strategies with a new year. Some bemoan that such efforts are worthless since they seldom last the whole year but one report indicated that nearly half of all resolutions are kept for six months. That same report states…

“People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.”

Better to try, and fall short than not try at all!

But before you get too gung-ho about a new Bible reading strategy – which my wife and I are doing – let me offer you this caution.

It’s not about more Bible knowledge or principles to follow as much as it’s about a closer relationship with Jesus.

“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.” ~ John 5:39-40 (The Message)

It is entirely possible – and way too prevalent – to know the Scriptures but not know Jesus.

In Deep & Wide, Andy Stanley makes this observation about the early church:

“It was led by men and women who were fueled not by what they believed, but by what they had seen. That simple fact sets the church apart from every other religious movement in the history of the world. After all, it wasn’t the teaching of Jesus that sent his followers to the streets. It was his resurrection… The men and women who made up the nucleus of the church weren’t simply believers in an abstract philosophy or even faithful followers of a great leader; they were eyewitnesses of an event.”

That “event” was Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the same Spirit that raised Jesus to life again is available to bring us alive to God in new and life-giving ways.

May our Bible reading lead us closer to Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Real Church

“I want to go to a church that reaches my heart with truth.  Of course, truth must reach my head–I need to know what the Bible says–but if it stops there, the truth I hear and perhaps believe will lack power.  It will not be living and active.  It will not set me free.  It will not provide what I need to shift my addiction from less than God to God.”     ~ Real Church, Page 82

Question for Reflection:

  • What do you think a church might look like that reaches your heart with truth?

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A Peek Behind the Curtain

They were dispersed over a large area and feeling quite alone. Experiencing great difficulty on many levels. They likely felt very discouraged. Perhaps they even questioned their faith in this carpenter from Nazareth who had come back to life.

I’m speaking of John’s intended audience, those first followers of Jesus who would have read the book or letter of Revelation and marveled at all the strange imagery.

I don’t imagine that the life of following Jesus was turning out exactly like they had expected. It seldom does.

John the Baptist saw Jesus and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

But just a short time later when he sat in jail about to lose his head, John sent disciples to ask Jesus if He was the One they had waited for or if they should wait for another. I’m guessing that John thought doing life with God would be different.

Hadn’t Jesus come to heal and comfort and restore? Why is following Him so difficult, so unpleasant at times? Is it really worth all the hardship and sacrifice?

In The Wizard of Oz Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal a man masquerading as the great and powerful Oz. They are given a different perspective on what’s really going on and who is in charge; and it’s a big disappointment.

But the peek behind the curtain given to John in the form of a vision is much different. In it we catch a glimpse of what life will be like in the very presence of God. And it’s awe-inspiring!

In John’s day, Rome appeared to be in control; but it was really God who was working behind the curtain of our reality.

In our day, Washington, D.C. appears to be in control; but it is really God who is working behind the curtain of our reality.

The center of the universe is heaven, and the center of heaven is a throne, and there is Someone, our triumphant God, sitting on the throne.

Why is following Jesus often so difficult now?

Because we are not home yet!

So hang in there and keep running the race. Keep fighting the good fight. Hold onto the faith.

One day soon God will make all things new!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Eternity, God, Heaven, Hope, Kingdom of God, Persecution, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Suffering, Trusting God

Obedience to biblical principles can be wrong?

It’s a surprising thought, and not a little disturbing, that obedience to biblical principles can be wrong. But when doing right is a strategy to get what we want, our energy is pride and our focus is self. ~ Larry Crabb in The Pressure’s Off

Think about it.

We live in a world absorbed with linear thinking. If I do A then I get B as a result. It’s simple cause and effect.

If I want to enjoy dessert then I must eat my vegetables or clear my plate.

If I want to avoid another spanking then I will pick up my toys.

If I wear the right clothes or am a standout athlete then I’ll be popular in school.

If I dress and look and talk a certain way then I’ll get the guy/girl I want to go out with me.

If I get good grades in school then I’ll have a better chance at a good career.

Linear thinking – cause and effect – has its place, but not in relationships. When we apply this principle to getting what we want from people we are manipulating them. And regardless of the outcome… it’s wrong!

This same thought process is especially dangerous in our relationship with God.

“If I read my bible regularly and pray and tithe and volunteer and ________ (fill in the blank), then God will (must) bless me with the good things of life.”

Really? Where is that written?

But I’ve been faithful to You God, why…
… did my spouse leave me?”
… is my kid rebelling?”
… are we struggling with finances?”
… are we experiencing a health crisis?”

It’s not always obvious but it’s often there just below the surface; this notion that God owes us certain blessings.

I don’t think that Jesus is opposed to such blessings in our lives, but when we seek those blessings from God more than we seek God Himself then we are committing idolatry.

And following biblical principles in order to secure blessings from God is a cheap attempt to manipulate and control God.

Jesus said that real life is being in relationship with the Father. This is what eternity in heaven is all about but it starts right here and now.

Forgives us Lord and stir our passions for wanting You more than anything or anyone else in life.

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Blinded by what we want to see

When the great astronomer Percival Lowell got a new twenty-four-inch telescope on a mountain in Flagstaff, Arizona, he “saw” a network of canals on Mars that confirmed the theories of Italian astronomers.

He mapped them on a globe, and his 1908 book Mars as the Abode of Life laid out proof that these canals were built by intelligent beings.

Obviously, he was mistaken. But he brings to light a common problem we all have a tendency towards. Sometimes, like Lowell, we see things that aren’t really there.

We approach Scripture with our mind already made up. And then, not surprisingly, we find what we’re looking for.

So when we delve into God’s Word to learn about our Creator and His dealings with mankind, let’s be sure we do so with a good measure of humility.

Then maybe, just maybe… we’ll learn something we weren’t already looking for.

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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