• Impact

    Ezekiel, a visionary prophet

    Title:Ezekiel, a visionary prophet Aim:To comprehend that God’s holy presence and infinite power encourage us to heed His Word. Scripture:Ezekiel 1:1–28   Ezekiel, the prophet, Ezekiel 1:1–3   Ezekiel name means “God strengthens.” He was the son of Buzi, a priest of the family of Zadok (Ezek 1:3).    What is known about Ezekiel’s life comes from the information he gives in his book. Also, his prophecies contain dates more specific than almost any others in the Old Testament. This makes it possible to correlate Ezekiel’s declarations with Babylonian records and date many of the prophet’s oracles (e.g. 1:1–3; 8:1; 20:1; 24:1; 26:1; 29:1, 17; 30:20; 31:1; 32:1, 17; 33:21;…

  • Impact

    Isaiah, a willing prophet

    Title:Isaiah, a willing prophet Aim:To answer God’s call to serve. Scripture:Isaiah 6:1–12   Isaiah’s vision of God’s throne room, Isaiah 6:1–4   Isaiah 6 is the prophet’s record of how he heard and responded to God’s call to serve. At first, it may seem odd that Isaiah’s commission to prophesy does not come until after five chapters of oracles.    These chapters deal with such themes as judgment, discipline, exile, restoration, and blessing. Yet, Isaiah placed his commissioning account here to prove he had the credentials to deliver the opening series of oracles against Judah.    God dramatically called Isaiah to his prophetic ministry “in the year that King Uzziah died”…

  • Heartprints

    Christian Cliques – A Problem to Overcome

      What we want and what we get are often two very different things! You would think that inthe church of all places we would easily find community. However, our churches often consist of a large group ofpeople coming together for worship but leaving in cliques. New comers may be welcomed in word while excluded from our conversations and activities.   Even Jesus had close friends with whom He spent more time than He did with the large crowds that came to Him for healing or to hear Him preach. Was that a clique?  By definition a clique is “a narrow exclusive circle or group of persons; especially:one held together…

  • Engage

    Jeffrey Dahmer–Our Brother in Christ?

    Jeffrey Dahmer was arguably one of the most heinous serial killers of our time; he mercilessly drugged, strangled and raped, dismembered and cannibalized at least 17 men. When convicted in 1991, no punishment seemed befitting regarding the magnitude of his deplorable crimes.  Nevertheless, he was sentenced to 16 terms of life imprisonment. However, yesterday, I found out that this vile creature was dipped in the cleansing water of God's Grace as he was believed to have put his faith in Jesus Christ. He was baptized by Roy Ratcliff in 1994 and upon hearing this news, my knee-jerk reaction was stomach turning.  A beast of a man, such as Jeffrey Dahmer,…

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    Heartprints

    Teaching Children to Live Love

    Obedience is one of the universal things that both parents and teachers seek to produce in children. As Christians obedience done with a wrong motive may look like obedience to us but it falls short. When it comes to obeying God, the heart attitude is as important as the action. A simple observation of their actions will not be enough to prove Biblical obedience. Sometimes a child gets it right by accident. They didn’t intentionally decide to obey but circumstances were such that without thinking about it they chose the right action. There are children who obey for fear of the punishment and with resentment in their heart. Other children…

  • Engage

    God’s Big Story

    I cannot start watching a movie, reading a book, or hearing a news story from the middle or end. I’m confused about who the people are and what’s going on. It’s impossible to grasp the meaning of the climax with zero information about the beginning and middle.  The Bible is the same way. Knowing the story of Jesus doesn’t make nearly as much sense without understanding the bigger story. I have been taught to begin sharing the gospel with the fact that all are sinners—but how did that happen? And how does Jesus’s life and death help us understand the horrendous evil and darkness in the world?  In Joshua Chatraw's article…

  • Heartprints

    A Deeper Look at Suffering

    No one escapes suffering. NO ONE! Suffering entered our world with the first sin.  Choosing a sinful desire over God’s will resulted in suffering.   With sin came death. Death, by definition, is separation, ultimately the separation of God and man. We often focus on the separation of soul and body. Because of sin we suffer all kinds of separation. Daily we face the ugliness of disease, divorce, dysfunctional families, and of course the possibilities of tragic accidents.  There is just no way to truly prepare our hearts for the depth of suffering we may encounter. The journey from birth to death can be a long suffering. There are countless ways…

  • Skull Carving
    Impact

    Rebellion and Exponential Evil

    “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but threw them into hell and locked them up in chains in utter darkness, to be kept until the judgment, and if he did not spare the ancient world, but did protect Noah, a herald of righteousness, along with seven others, when God brought a flood on an ungodly world, and if he turned to ashes the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah when he condemned them to destruction, having appointed them to serve as an example to future generations of the ungodly, and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man in anguish over the debauched lifestyle of lawless men, (for while…

  • Heartprints

    Am I Who You Think I Am?

    Have you ever read any statistics on how social media is affecting our sense of identity? In a world where we can post who we want others to perceive we are, we can end up with an online-induced case of plural identities. Not only does this create confusion, it also is exhausting to maintain. My daughter, Kari Ciliberti, recently in a paper on this very subject, cited “Mary Aiken’s, an expert in cyberpsychology, comments on the feedback loop of one’s cyber self, saying,  “… The cyber self is always under construction, physiologically and digitally. Even when …sleeping, the cyber self continues to exist. It is always on- evolving, updating, making…

  • Impact

    From Zenith to Zero

    I appreciate Bill Lawrence’s recent blog post here at Bible.org titled, ‘The Giants Are Going and the Pygmies Must Take Over’. I especially welcomed his grounded, theologically astute observation that, “No leader, man or woman, makes himself or herself a giant.”   Lawrence’s piece brought to mind a 2010 journal article I wrote for Conspectus titled, “From zenith to zero: a historical-theological analysis of the demise of the kingdom of David and Solomon.” In that essay, I made modified use of Jim Collins’ study titled, How the Mighty Have Fallen. My intent was to leverage the conceptual framework Collins put forward to assess the collapse of the Davidic-Solomonic kingdom.  …