Read the Bible Differently

  • Does the Bible make complete sense to you?
  • When you read the Old Testament, do you grasp all the Messianic references to Jesus?
  • Do the interpretation of Hebrew and Greek words hinder your understanding of the text?

As a modern reader, there’s more that we don’t understand about ancient Middle Eastern culture than what we do understand.

And it can affect what we believe and how we believe.

Author Lois Tverberg, a Christ-believer, writes books that help us understand the Jewish background of Christianity. The first two books, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus and Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, educate us about the Jewish religious customs during the time of Jesus’s ministry on earth. I learned much from both of them.

“I don’t think a day has gone by that some insight from the biblical world hasn’t made my reading more flavorful. Studying this way takes more time, of course. Not everyone has time to learn ancient languages, historical details, and cultural ideas, but you’ll be surprised how every little bit of learning is helpful.”

Now Lois has written an excellent third book in this genre, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding. Here she takes an expansive look at the cultural issues that hinder our understanding of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.

“My goal is not to make you feel you need to adopt the lifestyle of the biblical world but to help you be willing to view life through its lens for just a little while.”

The three parts of the book are:

  1. Repacking Our Mental Bags: Tools for the Journey
  2. How the Bible Thinks: Big Picture Ideas that You Need to Understand
  3. Reading about the Messiah: Seeing Him through Hebrew Eyes

Each main section is broken down into small sections with a focus on one particular aspect, such as the broad color and brushstrokes of the Hebrew language, insights from a communal perspective, and learning to “think small.”

Hebrew words often shed new light on difficult sayings in the Bible and can even challenge our theology. They also employ delightful imagery to illustrate their meaning, because very few abstract words exist in the language. As a result, Hebrew is firmly rooted in the real world of the physical senses.”

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“Hebrew also contains a smaller set of “pigments” than English—about eight thousand words, in comparison to one hundred thousand or more in our English language.”

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“The more I study the Bible, however, the more I’m realizing the many ways that an individualistic approach misunderstands the text. . . .

When we look for the “gospel” in the Gospels we search for an individual message of salvation. Instead, Jesus was speaking in terms of redeeming a whole people.”

At the end of each chapter, Lois includes a section called, “Tools and Reflection.” Here she gives us additional Bible texts to read and questions to ponder, as well as thoughts and resources for going deeper.

Put together, this information helps us know God more clearly.

And don’t we also want more understanding of our own role in the Kingdom? How can we do this?

By seriously engaging with the Old Testament for itself and not just to mine for proof texts and predictions of Christ. By loving the family of our Lord by opening our ears to hear their epic story, and then joyfully listening to its echoes in the New Testament.”

I also enjoyed Appendix B in this book: Thirty Useful Hebrew Words for Bible Study. It includes this paragraph on Law:

“Law (torah—H8451) The “Law” to many Christians is an onerous obligation, a joyless taskmaster. But the Hebrew word actually means “instruction” or “guidance.” For instance, the noble wife of Proverbs 31 has a torah of hesed (teaching of kindness) on her tongue (Prov. 31:26; see also 13:14). Biblically, we should see God as a father lovingly teaching us how to live rather than a heartless lawmaker. This is one of the most misunderstood words in church tradition.”

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Read more from Lois at her website, Our Rabbi Jesus: His Jewish Life and Teaching.

Also, see this Q & A for a great synopsis of Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus.

Do you like to understand more context of the scriptures you read? Do you have a favorite resource you can share? Please let us know in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley
for the review copy of this book

sharing with Lyli, Maree Dee, Deb, Susan,
DawnDebbie, Brenda, Lori

 


Give This Kind of Grace Generously

I notice the cars ahead of me are swerving. There’s something in the road.

It’s a man.

Oh, it’s just him.

We all know this man. He often wears a reflective vest over his clothes. He carries a bag with his stuff. He’s frequently seen walking on the road in our small community. On the road, not the side of the road.

But no one honks.

We all just swerve.

Because we know. He’s an innocent. We know he knows no better. So we do better.

We show him everyday grace.

Everyday grace is the kind of grace we give each other without thinking much about it. It’s seemingly little things.

  • It’s quietly throwing away someone else’s trash that they left behind.
  • It’s just ignoring the driver who cuts you off in traffic.
  • It’s not making the critical comment you want to say about your partner’s dirty clothes on the floor (again).

It’s giving each other the benefit of the doubt.

Everyday grace is giving wide berth to the disheveled man walking on the road with his sack of treasures, oblivious to anyone around him.

Give everyday grace generously. That’s how God gives it to us.

“And God gives grace generously….”
James 4:6 (NLT)

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How have you seen everyday grace? How can you extend it to others this week? Please share in the comments.

Read more:

  • 4 Rules of Grace I (Try to) Live By (click on individual infographics)

Should Evangelicals Walk Away? Review of “The Great Evangelical Retreat”

The Great Evangelical Retreat-Ed Cyzewski

“We are at a point where it’s fair to ask whether stepping back would be an improvement over our negative impact. Is no influence better than negative influence.”
– Ed Cyzewski

Not everyone will think this is a necessary book. But many will. And all would do well to hear it out.

The book is The Great Evangelical Retreat: Finding Hope in Surrender by Ed Cyzewski. Ed is an avid Christ-follower and a thinker for Christianity in our culture. I’ve read most of his books and I follow his blog here.

One intended audience for this short book? Anybody disillusioned with evangelicalism, but not quite ready to give up on it.

Many of us have had moments of embarrassment over the evangelical community the past couple of years. From leaders’ actions. From political gaffes. From our own improper responses.

So should we just walk away from evangelicalism? 

Ed posits an alternate solution. Because where Christ is, there is always hope for better.

He doesn’t suggest we give up altogether, but he does suggest we walk away for a minute to regroup.

Ed suggests a retreat to the wilderness—not to get away from “the world” or to save our “Christian culture,” but to seek God anew. To be filled with the Spirit, not with our dogmas and institutions.

“By seeking God in solitude and silence, we can retreat from our failures, misconceptions, and misdirections. We can regain our footing on solid ground and seek a path that is grounded in God’s love for all.”

By journeying away for a time of reflection (and what better time than Lent?), we can let go of any opposition against perceived attacks, we can look more objectively at what has been happening, and we can better listen to what is actually being said.

“If evangelicals can step back for a moment from our defensive positions where we want to assert the goodness of our movement, perhaps we will have eyes to see and ears to hear. We need to see reality and the damage we have done. We need to listen to the pain and confusion we have caused.

We can learn ways to reconnect with the good fruit of the movement and let go of the rotten pieces.

“Each evangelical group needs to prove its value through its vitality and fruit, not simply arguing for its existence by virtue of holding onto the accomplishments of the past or maintaining external signs of influence and power.”

We can then better confess what we’ve gotten wrong. Repent of it. Find ways to restore. And redirect our efforts.

“This isn’t a public relations, political correctness, or liberal media issue. This is on us. Occasional moral failures here and there can be understood. These are deeper failures to approach the world with mercy, compassion, and love.”

By the grace of God, we can do this. We can recenter on God. Then proceed with more love for him and more love for others.

The last paragraph of The Great Evangelical Retreat includes these words of encouragement:

“The good news is that those who desire God will find God. Those who seek will find. Those who ask shall receive. . . . We may not find God in the ways that we’re expecting. We may not experience the revival we’ve been promised. We will find a God who has been restoring and leading women and men through the wilderness and in solitude for generations.”

* * *

Right now you can download The Great Evangelical Retreat here for free or buy it on Amazon for $0.99.

And it’s only 46 pages. That’s another thing I love about Ed’s writings: he doesn’t fluff out a message to fill a standard 240-page book. He says what he has to say, then is done with it.

There will eventually be 7 more books in this series, Evangelicals After the Shipwreck: Toward a Loving and Transformed Church. Book 2, Why Evangelicals Need the Wilderness, is already available here for $0.99.

For a short daily retreat, read a chapter in the gospels of Mark and John during 40 days of Lent. Get the reading plan from Do Not Depart, #40DaysWithJesus, and join the Facebook community for daily conversations.

Are you fasting or feasting on anything during Lent to retreat in Jesus? Please share in the comments.

sharing with Lyli, Susan,
Lori, Crystal, Brenda, Debbie,
Kristin, Patricia, Holley, Emily, Jaime


Let Them Help You

Given the choice, would you rather be the one who helps? Or the one who receives the help?

Receive-Blessings-from-Giving

I saw the roles flip between my mom and dad.

For years my mother was the giver. She did everything for my dad. Ironed his shirts (and often even ironed his handkerchiefs!). Cooked him eggs and biscuit every morning. Packed his lunches for work.

But bit by bit, as Alzheimer’s stripped away her abilities, the roles switched. My dad became the caregiver. He’d seen my mom do it for him for years. Now it was his turn to do it for her.

  • Without her illness, would Daddy have learned to cook?
  • Would he have gone grocery shopping?
  • Would he have loaded the dishwasher instead of just repair it?

Perhaps he would have, but likely not. Instead, Mama’s disability gave him the opportunity to develop new abilities of his own.

So it is with us. Our weak spots give others the opportunity to grow stronger.

We’re often uncomfortable accepting others’ help. We’d rather fold your clothes than have you do our laundry. We’d rather cook an extra meal for you than be the friend in need of a meal.

But we don’t always have the choice.

Whichever side of the gift we’re on, can we find contentment?

Both roles bring blessings with them, the Lord assures that, if we watch for them.

Uncomfortable or not, sometimes that’s just the way it is.

Accept the help. It might be God at work. Not just for you, but also for someone else.

* * *

Would you rather give help or receive help? What gets in your way of accepting it? Please share in the comments.

revised from the archives

sharing with Dawn, Deb,
JenniferKelly, Char,
Barbie, Anita, Terri


5 Links, Books, and Things I Love – February 2018

The first month of 2018 is already over. We’re on the roller coaster again.

Here are favorites from January (mainly, my 1st granddaughter is here!!!) and what I’m looking forward to in February. We share once a month at Leigh’s.

1 Second Everyday

[If you can’t see the 1 Second Everyday video, click here]

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5 Things Around the Web

1. There’s a reason using a period in a text message makes you sound angry
by Lauren Collister
Uh-oh. Do we appear standoffish or angry if we use periods in text messages?

2. 40 Essential Songs Turning 40 This Year
So many memories here. 1978 was a great year for music.

3. Help! My Husband Is Tuning Me Out. What Can I Do?
by Gary Thomas
“Understandably, few things irritate women more than being tuned out—and yet it is a stereotypically male action.”

4. 5 Things That People Who Are Dying Want You to Know
by Kerry Egan
I don’t know why, but I always like reading these kinds of things. A hospice chaplain tells what she’s learned from people who are dying.

5. How Global Warming Works
Not only are these informative videos, but choose the length you want to watch from 5 versions: 1 minute up to 5 minutes (I rarely watch a long video of anything).

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5 Things about Books

1. Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read
. . . and the movies and TV shows we watch
by Julie Beck

book-pile

I often remember where I was when I read a book or who gave it to me, but not always the content of the book itself.

~ * ~

2. Bill Gates Has a New Favorite Book
. . . and he says everyone should read it
by Chris Weller

bill-gates

I’ve just recently finished Gates’ last favorite book, The Better Angels of Our Nature (it was 832 pages long). And recommend it. It’s one of my favorite 10 books of 2017. But now a new favorite? I hope to read it soon.

~ * ~

3. 5 Unconventional Ways to Read More in 2018
by Sam Burt

read more

I follow suggestion #1 religiously.

~ * ~

4. 25 Must-Read Classics for Women
by Anne Bogel

classics-for-women

This list makes me smile when I see books I’ve read in years gone by.

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5. 8 Books I Recommend – January 2018
Recommended reading from books I finished in January 2018

8 Books I Recommend

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5 Things I Love

1. New Grandbaby!

baby-granddaughter

Of course our first grandbaby tops the list of things I love this month. She was born Saturday, January 27, one day after Jenna’s birthday. I’m having all kinds of fun getting to stay with her and Morgan and Fuller these first few weeks.

~ * ~

2. My Daughter as Mom

I also love watching my daughter be a mother. Another one of God’s ingenious designs.

morgan-baby

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3. One Word – Not There Yet

Tolle-Comfortable-Not-Knowing

This quote is perfect for my One Word 2018 – Mystery. I’m working to be more comfortable with not knowing.

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4. Backyard-by-Month

Just for fun, I took a picture of my backyard the first day (or thereabouts) of each month last year. Here’s the year in review.

our-Landscape-2017

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5. Back to the Past

Jeff and I returned to our previous church, along with our friend Kay, to our friends Ed and Sharon’s 50th wedding anniversary party. It was nice celebrating such a faithful commitment and seeing old friends.

jeff-lisa-kay

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5 Things on the Blog

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What was one of your highlights from January? What are you looking forward to in February? Please share in the comments.

previous Links and Books

sharing with Lyli, Dawn, Susan, Deb,
Debbie, Brenda, Crystal, Lori,
Holley, Kristin, Christy, Emily, Jaime


8 Books I Recommend – January 2018

Here are 8 books I recommend from what I read in January. Once a month we share our current reading lists at Jennifer’s.

Books I Recommend-January 2018

Books I Recommend

1. Blessed Are the Misfits
Great News for Believers Who Are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something
by Brant Hansen

Blessed-Are-the-Misfits

Are you a perfect fit for your church? I didn’t think so. Me neither. This book is for us. With humor and serious insights, Brant Hansen makes it okay. He shares why it’s a blessing to be a misfit.

My review of Blessed Are the Misfits

2. Beyond the Messy Truth
How We Came Apart, How We Come Together

by Van Jones

Beyond-the-Messy-Truth

So good. Van Jones may be called a liberal, but he writes well to both conservatives and liberals in this book. He tells multiple sides of the story and encourages unity despite division.

“We have a giant task before us. And unfortunately a great deal of the work falls, inevitably, to us. Where to begin?”

Jones shows us in this book where to begin. He also lists an invaluable set of resources in the appendix: books, twitter feeds, documentaries, organizations, etc., from both red and blue perspectives.

3. The Knowledge Illusion
Why We Never Think Alone
by Steven Sloman

Knowledge-Illusion

We know less than we think we do. Can you explain how a toilet works or can you draw an accurate picture of a bicycle? You may realize you understand less than you thought. We take for granted how much we depend on others for much of “our” knowledge. We may have a lot of information at our fingertips, but not so much in our own heads. A fascinating book on knowledge and thinking.

“Before trying to explain something, people feel they have a reasonable level of understanding; after explaining, they don’t.”

4. What Unites Us
Reflections on Patriotism
by Dan Rather

What-Unites-Us

These stories and musings about America and our love for her are both entertaining and informative. Through decades of reporting, Dan Rather has seen and heard much around our country. He shares his thoughts and stories in this book.

“It is important not to confuse ‘patriotism’ with ‘nationalism.’ . . . Patriotism is rooted in humility. Nationalism is rooted in arrogance.”

5. Obama, An Intimate Portrait
The Historic Presidency in Photographs
by Pete Souza

Obama-An-Intimate-Portrait

Whether or not you were a fan of President Obama’s politics, this book is a beautiful capture of what a Presidency should look like. Pete Souza was the official White House photographer for both terms. His photos are phenomenal both in structure and content (I now follow him on Instagram). He shows amazing highlights from 8 years of a hard job, from intimate moments with the Obama family to major milestones of government.

Among the gorgeous pictures, Souza also includes a few words about his experience behind the scenes with President Obama.

“But in the 12 years I’ve known him, the character of this man has not changed. Deep down, his core is the same. He tells his daughters, ‘Be kind and be useful.’ And that tells you a lot about him. As a man. A father. A husband. And yes, as a President of the United States.”

6. American Grace
How Religion Divides and Unites Us
by Robert D. Putnam

American-Grace

This may become the go-to book on religion in America. It is a comprehensive look at data, trends, and polls on different facets of religious life in the U.S.

“Who personifies the most religious type of American? An older African American woman who lives in a Southern small town. And the least religious? A younger Asian American man who lives in a large Northeastern city.”

It also clarifies some of our divisions. Some you’ll recognize; others may surprise you.

7. The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell
Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian
by W. Kamau Bell

Awkward-Thoughts-of-W-Kamau-Bell

I appreciate W. Kamau Bell’s comedy. But more, I appreciate the way he blends it with serious social commentary.

“This was bigger than stand-up comedy. I was trying to be a stand-up human.”

This book is both funny and thoughtful. Like his TV series, United Shades of America. I recommend both.

8. The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

The_Hate-U-Give

This novel is about 16-year-old Starr Carter, a young black girl living in a hard neighborhood but attending a private white school. When one of her childhood friends gets caught in a random police stop, the story picks up the pace and pulls us in. While not necessarily a work of literary genius, the plot is compelling and you’ll find yourself rooting for the characters. It’s labeled a YA book, but adults should read it, too.

Reading Now

  • Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus
    How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding
    by Lois Tverberg
  • Educated
    A Memoir
    by Tara Westover
  • The Path Between Us
    An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships
    by Suzanne Stabile
  • In Search of Wisdom
    A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on What Matters Most
    by Matthieu Ricard, Christophe Andre, Alexandre Jollien
  • Start with Why
    How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
    by Simon Sinek
  • The Sin of Certainty
    Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs
    by Peter Enns

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What good book have you read this month? Please share in the comments.

Whats-on-Your-Nightstand-at-_5-minut

My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists