5 Reasons Why It Matters How Christians Talk About Jews

Jews and ChristiansThe Bible (both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament) is primarily about Jews.[1] You may think “duh,” but to some, this is a genuine revelation, especially when it comes to the New Testament. All the major players in the Bible are Jews (except a few foreign kings). Jesus was a Jew too. So it comes as no surprise that Christians spend a lot of time talking about Jews and their religion, Judaism. But what does surprise many Christians is when I tell them that it matters how we talk about Jews. Why does it matter? Here’s five good reasons:
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Islam, Jesus, and People Who Don’t Act Like Him

This past week at ACU was Summit, the event formally known as Lectureship.  It was an exciting time where scholars from around the nation (and world) gathered for a forum on issues that are pressing hard against the Christian church (as a whole) in today’s world.  Topics covered were in a wide range from worship, to biblical study, to social work, to recycling, and more.  The following is a write-up on one particular Summit class that I went to, called “Jesus and Muhammad”.

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The Call of the Prophets

If you were writing a letter to a friend, trying to convince him or her that some very supernatural events were real, what would you do?  I think that a probable course of action is to link it to something in reality to make it more believable and understandable.  You might also link it to the religion of your friend so that it fits into their worldview.  When Luke tells about Paul’s (the text still refers to him as Saul at that point) vision of Jesus (Acts 9) this is precisely what he does.

The Apostle Paul seemed to constantly be fighting an uphill battle in regard to his apostolic authority.  He writes in multiple letters about this topic because some doubted his authority, teaching, and even his motives.  One way for him to link his authority to Jesus, to the prophets, and to God was the retelling of his commission.  How did Paul use this true story to speak to the faithful?  Let’s dig in.

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Paul’s Journey to Rome

Every time you read a Bible story, ask yourself: where else in the text can this story be found?  And also ask: how does knowing where this text is coming from help in my understanding of it?  The Bible frequently plays upon and expands upon itself.  Why is this relevant?  A substantial portion of the entire New Testament is written in this manner.  Time after time, Jesus uses the Tanakh (Old Testament) as a foundation for what he teaches and the stories he tells.

Join me today as we look at an interesting story in the New Testament which expands upon at least three other stories in the Bible!  Is this a story about Paul having a hard time getting from one place to another?  Or is there something deeper going on?

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This is My Story

On Monday, June 7, 2010, I took the biggest step yet in a journey that many of you know very little about – I turned in my two weeks notice.  My family and my church family have known about this for quite some time, but I have had to keep it shielded from the rest of the world before I was ready.  Now I’m ready to share.  In short, I’ve discovered what it is I’m truly passionate about and I feel called to go into ministry.  I’ve been accepted to the ACU Master of Divinity program and I’m moving out there to go to school full time.  For the full story as to what caused this to happen, I’ve reproduced a slightly redacted version of the admissions essay which I wrote in September of 2009.  My redactions have been for the sake of transitioning the piece from a “timely” admissions essay to a “timeless” blog post.  The admissions essay should give you some idea of why I’m doing this and what’s driving it.  After the essay I’ve added in the saga of my life over the last 9 months and how God has worked in amazing ways, teaching me a many things in the process.

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Ray VanderLaan Seminar This Weekend!

Gull Lake Retreat Center

This weekend I will be heading out on a road trip to Gull Lake, Michigan where I will spend Friday evening through Monday afternoon sitting at the feet of Ray VanderLaan.  According to the schedule there are 18 hours of class time!  I am pumped up and ready to meet the man that set me on fire for God like never before.  It was Ray’s teachings that turned my heart back to God in late 2005 when I heard a recording of him from the now widely circulated Focus on the Family all-day teaching event he did.

One thing I am greatly excited about is finally seeing his pictures.  It’s so hard to listen to an audio recording and imagine what he’s pointing at when he says “look at this”.  I’ve been told by others that go to these conferences that the pictures are truly amazing.

I am ready to soak it all up and come back to Dallas reinvigorated and loaded with new teaching material.  Please pray for our safe travels.  Dallas to Gull Lake is a 17 hour drive.

Peace to you,

James

Does God Care About Me?

I found this quote in the Mishnah last year while I was doing my class The Jewish Context of the Bible while preparing for my lesson on Akiva. After my class that week I wrote a post about two of his sayings, and then filed this third one away for another day.  After my recent post, In the Image of God, it reminded me of Akiva’s saying here so I decided at last to write it out.

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Jesus and his Jewish Parables

I have started a new series at Prestoncrest titled “Jesus and his Jewish Parables”.  Podcasts of the lessons are on my Audio Lessons page.  As of the date of this post there are 2 lessons up already: “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector” and “The Good Samaritan”.

If anyone has any questions over what I’ve taught, feel free to use this post as a place to ask.

Peace to you,

James