Happy Mother’s Day! How to Raise Children that Love and Follow Jesus

Since Mother’s Day is Sunday, I wanted to dedicate this special treat to all the wonderful mothers out there. Being a mother is an important, beautiful, 24/7 job, and I commend all of the ladies who do it with grace and humility! My mother played a huge role in my relationship with Jesus Christ, and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be so invested in my faith. This is something I will always be eternally grateful for so I wanted to highlight three other mothers who I see raising beautiful children who also have great relationships with Christ. Mothers like this are so encouraging and inspirational to me and I hope if you are a mom or even if you aren’t, you will pick up some great tips for raising kids who love Jesus. I know I did!


Jenni Hufford – Mother to Jonah, 10 and Jordan, 8

Hufford Family-5.jpg

Ten years ago, I gave birth to my first child. I vividly remember those early days of being a new mom to my newborn son, Jonah. My heart was full of so many dreams and hopes for him, but my utmost desire was that he would grow to love and follow Jesus.  My husband and I knew that as his parents we would play a major role in nurturing his love for the Lord. And as his mother, I recognized I had a very specific role in his upbringing.

Even as I was up for the challenge, I remember feeling somewhat overwhelmed with the responsibility ahead of me. I immediately began to think of my many faults (isn’t that so much like the Enemy to do this?). But God has been so faithful in leading my husband and I as parents to Jonah and our 8-year-old daughter Jordan. I want to share with you a few things we have learned along the way in our journey as parents who desire for their children to follow Jesus.

Expose the Word to your children.   This is something so basic that every Christian parent “knows” they should do with their children. However, the days become long, and really, how often do families open the Bible together? One thing we do as a family sometimes is “home church”.   This is where we pretty much have a church service, just the four of us.  Full with a time of worship to music and then both of the kids read from their children’s Bible. We started doing this right around the time both of the kids learned to read, and it was very exciting for them to read the Bible on their own.They have now progressed to reading their Student Bibles – it’s teaching them to be familiar with the Word and being familiar with their own Bibles.  We also love to expose our children to the Word through music.  We have been long time fans of Slugs and Bugs music. Slugs and Bugs have several CDs that puts verses to song (and it’s NOT annoying for the parents to listen to!  Praise God!). There is something about putting a verse to music that allows us to memorize it quickly!

Explain the World to your Children.   Just as I want to expose my children to the Word, I need to explain the world to my children. When Jonah and Jordan were very little, it was easy for me to shelter them from the world and the terrible things you see on the news.  But now they are in 3rd and 2nd grade.  They have come home from their (very wonderful Christian) school asking me questions about things they have heard from other kids that made me want to fall out of my chair. Even in the best environments you can’t protect them from being exposed to sin and “things of the world”. They have seen things on the news, and have asked me why is this happening. While I strive to protect them from anything harmful or scary, I MUST be willing to answer their questions (in an age appropriate manner) and offer a solution that points back to Jesus and His promises.   We have so many examples all around us that will prove to our children that our world is fallen and we are in need of a Savior!

Pray.  Just as being in the Word is integral for building a foundation in a child that loves Jesus, our children need to see us pray. As any typical Christian family, we pray before every meal, and at bedtime, however we also have a daily prayer time on the way to school. I have a very short drive to school each morning so as soon as we get in the car I ask the kids what their prayer requests are for the day. We pray together and give our day to Jesus.  If I ever forget to ask them about their requests they ALWAYS remind me!  I love that it is an established routine for us!

Admit your mistakes.  I find it so important as a parent to admit when we have made a mistake to our children.  Whether we talk in an angry voice, get frustrated, or respond to situations in a way we regret, it is important to say we are sorry to our children. When they see us admitting our mistakes, they have the opportunity to realize our humanity (and that yes, we still sin!) and experience life-giving forgiveness.  I remember as a child my parents would ask for forgiveness from time to time and it was shocking to me to watch my heroes admit mistakes. It left a lasting impressing and it still encourages me today now that I am a parent, that yes, we will make mistakes. And it won’t ruin my children.

I hope the few things I shared today will encourage new parents or other Christian parents along in their parenting journey!


Allison Sukurs – mother to Charlotte, 13 Jack, 10 and Natalie, 8

11112481_968268373235936_3531185128308646845_o

I have a dear friend who writes a blog on this very topic, called God Centered Mom. Although her kids are a little bit younger than mine, she gives such an honest picture of what it looks like in the trenches of motherhood. Here are a few thoughts of things I’ve learned along the way… I’m in no way an expert!

1. Start everyday in the Word in quiet time. If I don’t get renewed daily by the Lord I have nothing to give to my children or husband, which amounts to a pretty cranky, selfish day. Filling up with the Lord allows me to pour into those around me with grace and love.
2. Intentionally loving my husband. Our marriage comes 2nd to our relationships with Christ. If I don’t communicate and love my husband well our family doesn’t function well. Chad and I are truly a team. We have regular date nights. (We have several babysitters and pay them well ). We’ve always had a model that our kids are joining our team, but Chad and I are definitely the captains of team Sukurs!
3. We have family dinner almost every night and talk about our highs & lows of the day. 
4. We pray as a family and talk about our faith. 

Lindsey Myers – mother to Hunter, 5 Shaleigh, 3 and Jacob, 1

13130993_10102120705835574_1852075956939623352_o

Being a parent of three young children has proven to be more of a challenge than I ever could have imagined. Many days I feel like I’m just in survival mode trying to make it to the end of the day with everyone still breathing and most body parts still intact!

But it has also given me some of the sweetest moments in my life. At the end of the day, I know that the most important thing is that my children know they are loved and that they know who God is and what Christ has done for them. As soon as my oldest two children could sit through a short story we began reading The Jesus Storybook Bible to them. It was such a delight to see them process through each story and start to ask questions about God and Jesus and other people in the Bible. My oldest son is very inquisitive so it’s amazing to hear some of the questions he comes up with and the resulting opportunities we have had to share the gospel with him.

My mom and my sister passed away when my oldest two children were only two and one years old. God has worked through that hardship to provide many occasions to talk to the kids about heaven and hell and what happens when a person dies. Something that I’ve tried to do my best with is not shying away from their difficult questions but instead using it as an opportunity to speak truth to them. As parents, God has given us the task of guiding our children and shaping their worldview with the truth of His Word. I want to tackle the tough things of life with my children and teach them the way of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 11: 18-19 tell us to know God’s Word well and teach it to our children at all times. By seeing opportunities to talk about God in the every day things of life, we can teach our kids to love God and make him the most important person of our life.

Why God loves Trump, Hillary and other people we love to hate

…And Why We Should Love Them Too.

Donald-Trump-vs-Hillary-Clinton-5

John 13: 34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Love one another…

It’s one of the most popular commands in the Bible, appearing 11 times. That’s right, it’s a command, not a request. Whether someone is male, female, black, white, gay, straight, Democrat, Republican, Christian, atheist, Muslim, conservative or liberal, God commands us to love them. Doesn’t that just give you the warmest, fuzziest feeling? No matter who you are, what you look like, or how you act, God commands you to love one another.

But guess who else you’re supposed to love?

That person who cut you off in traffic. The classroom bully that made your kid cry. The in-law that makes you feel like you can’t do anything right. The father that abandoned you. The nursing home resident’s son that never visits his mom, but steals her social security check and prescription drugs. The teacher that said you would never amount to anything. The guy who bought the rights to the AIDS medication and raised the price exponentially. Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump.

“No. No. No. WHAT?!?!?!?” You say. “But, but, but, they’re despicable people! NO ONE likes them! So why should I LOVE them?” The Bible gives us a few reasons.

1. Because Jesus loved you first.

Jesus was perfect. We are imperfect. The jump from our imperfection to Jesus’ perfection is a wide, gaping abyss. In other words, we have more in common in our imperfections with Donald Trump than we ever will with Jesus. Even if we were Billy Graham or Mother Theresa saintly, we are still a long way away from being on Jesus’ level. Yet despite how hideous our sin is to Jesus, he still loves us so much that he died for our sins. If God can look past our flaws to make this ultimate sacrifice, we need to look past others’ imperfections and love them despite their sins, too.

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2. Because Jesus commanded us to love our enemies.

Jesus explains in Matthew 5: 43-45
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil AND the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

If we do this impossible task, we will be lavishly rewarded in Heaven for our efforts. God knows how hard it is for our sin-filled hearts to accept people when they have wronged us, but he wants us to overcome this struggle to prove we love him. It’s easy to love our friends and family and people who are wonderful to us. It proves our devotion to God and our overall character if we can get over the annoyances, the frustrations, and the hurts we feel from people that aggravate us and love them despite those challenges.

Matthew 5:46

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”

Luke 6: 27-28, 31, 35-36

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…Treat others the same way you want them to treat you… But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for HE himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

3. Because if we love others, the rest of God’s commandments will be easy peasy.

In Matthew 22, Jesus said:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole law and the Prophets.”

If we live our lives according to these two principles – loving the Lord with our whole heart and loving others like we love ourselves, the rest of the Bible’s commandments will be smooth sailing. Think about every negative thing you did in the past month. The consequences we face from snapping at an irritating co-worker, being impatient with an unruly child, or fighting with an argumentative spouse would all disappear if we truly practiced loving God with our whole heart and loving our neighbors like we love ourselves.

4. Because we need to work on ourselves before we judge others.

It’s an ongoing, never ending battle to better oneself. Since we will never be perfect, this should keep us too busy for the rest of our lives to worry about what anyone else is doing.

God commanded us NOT to judge. Rest assured, he will take care of that. When someone commits a crime, thinks a mean spirited thought, or fools a nation into following their evil and destructive plan, God takes note, and that person will be judged. We don’t have to worry about the person getting his punishment, because God WILL give it to them, guaranteed. And he will judge us for our actions, guaranteed. No bad deed can escape him. He sees everything that we do, think, and say. In fact, he said that if we judge others, WE will be judged for judging.

Luke 6:37-38, 41-42
Do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

So How Do We Love?

So are we supposed to adore, praise, and worship the ground that our enemies walk on? What does love mean exactly? Luckily for us, God gave us a crystal clear passage in the Bible that describes what real love should look like in its purest form.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love does NOT mean that:

You approve of their actions.

Have you ever heard the phrase – Love the sinner, hate the sin? I can’t speak for Jesus Christ, but I guarantee he does not approve of what many of our politicians say and do, for example. We don’t need to agree with everyone, or even respect what those people are doing. In fact, you can be adamantly against what someone stands for, and love him or her regardless.

Proverbs 8:13
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.

So it’s actually encouraged to hate evil. But hating the person who commits the evil is not the answer.

You should associate with them on a regular basis.

The Bible encourages us to surround ourselves with wise, moral people and to avoid being close with foolish, corrupt people. Otherwise, their bad behavior might rub off on us.

Psalm 26:4-5
I did not sit with liars, and I will not be found among hypocrites. I have hated the mob of evildoers and will not sit with wicked people.

Proverbs 13:20
Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.

1 Corinthians 15:33
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

You should silently allow someone to continually do wrong or you should be neutral about someone’s wrongdoings.

Proverbs 27:5
Open criticism is better than hidden love.

Proverbs 11:14
Without wise leadership, a nation is in trouble; but with good counselors there is safety.

Criticize from a place of love, instead of anger, bitterness or hate. If someone disagreed with you, how would you want the person to approach you? Would you want him to insult you and yell at you or would you prefer to be disagreed with in a more levelheaded and kind way? We all make mistakes, and we all harbor sin. God forgave us and accepted us, so we all need to be more forgiving and accepting of others, including those that society encourages us to despise.

Ephesians 4:31-32
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

ilovedogs

Sometimes I very much relate to this ^^^

Admittedly, loving my enemies is a huge struggle for me. I can read these passages all day long, but it is still SO hard sometimes to obey God’s command to love my neighbor as myself. There are some people that seem designed for the sole purpose to infuriate me and commit repulsive acts against nature, and those people are hard to think fondly about. So how do we get past those hateful feelings? Instead of thinking specifically about our anger towards these people, we should refocus on our love for God.

1 John 5: 3, 12
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

The more we work on our relationship with Jesus Christ, the more it will show in our actions, including loving unlovable people. We all know legalistic, judgmental Christians who are actually miserable, hateful souls. They can sputter out a million Bible verses and pray publicly night and day, but do they really love God? The Bible says that people will be able to see that we are Christ’s disciples through our actions and our love for each other. And the Bible is right; Jesus’ commands aren’t burdensome. Our lives are more fruitful and blissful when we are patient, kind, grateful, humble, respectful, slow to anger, when we don’t judge, and when we delight in goodness and truth. When we follow the textbook definition of love in the Bible.

Should Christians be mad about TBS announcer’s ‘back from the dead’ comment?

NBA: New York Knicks at Los Angeles Lakers

Broadcaster Kevin Harlan                                          Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Last night, in an unlikely turn of events, 10 seed Syracuse knocked out 1 seed Virginia for a place in NCAA’s Final Four. It was the first time a 10 seed had ever made it to the Final Four AND they had to overcome a 15-point deficit to do so. Very impressive.

TBS announcer Kevin Harlan agreed, comparing the historical win to another miracle that was also celebrated yesterday, Easter. As the clock ran out at the end of the game, the announcer excitedly proclaimed, “Jim Boeheim and Syracuse have done it! Back from the dead on Easter Sunday! They’re going to the Final Four!”

Okay… well, yeah, it was a historical win in terms of basketball, but perhaps not as amazing as the son of God’s resurrection. I chalked it up to nothing more than a basketball aficionado’s overzealous excitement, but didn’t give it much thought after that. This morning, it seems to have drummed up quite a bit of controversy.

Others argued that it was all in good fun.

My take? I think we all need to stop getting offended over everything. Maybe a comparison made in poor taste, but nothing to get upset about! What do you think? Happy Belated Easter!

Don’t Cancel Your Trip: You’re More Likely to Die Cleaning the Gutters than in an Act of Terrorism

d0b2d04a74dd41465ade00da8381be41

By Rachel Hoffman

Dictionary.com defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”

As a travel agent, I witness this emotion played out by my clients quite often, especially due to recent tragedies like the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris as well as the spread of the Zika virus. I have had a handful of clients either change their desired destinations or ask about the cost of re-routing their already booked trips because of alarming “What ifs”.

But I have also seen fear culminate on a much smaller scale. Some less experienced travelers worry about things such as language barriers, food options, long-distance flights, or currency exchange. Being an experienced traveler myself, I have learned that flexibility and peace of mind are the keys to keeping your worries at bay when heading overseas. Allowing our fears to dictate our lives based on the highly unlikely chance that something bad will happen to us could ultimately cost us our most priceless, life-altering experiences.

According to the National Safety Council, more than 6,000 Americans die annually from falling. Most of these accidents involve run of the mill incidences like falling off a roof while cleaning gutters or slipping off a ladder while hanging Christmas lights. This means that you’re about 350 times more likely to fall to your death doing meaningless household chores than you are to die in a terrorist attack. Let us not forget that terrorists have also attacked us on our own soil. So, staying at home does not guarantee our safety.

All throughout the Bible, God instructs us not to be anxious about anything but to trust in His plan for us. God is the omniscient creator of the universe. He knows exactly how each of our lives will play out, while we do not. He knows exactly where the next terrorist attack will take place, while we have not the slightest idea.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” When we worry about how our lives will play out, we are basically telling our creator that we don’t trust Him to take care of us.

Christians believe that Christ is the Son of God and died on the cross to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our past, present and future sins. He then defeated death by resurrection. By having complete faith that this is the absolute truth, we are able to spend our eternity in heaven with Christ after our time here on earth has run up. The full story of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection can be found in Matthew 27-28. If you want to dive deeper into the details and get the full story, I highly recommend you read these chapters.

In my pastor’s most recent sermon he said something that really resonated with me, especially in relation to the tragic terrorist attacks in Brussels and the terrifying effects of the Zika virus. “Life can stink. Life can be scary at times. But as a follower of Christ I know that I can rejoice because I know how life ends.” Ultimately, Christians have nothing to fear in this life because they can rest assured that life doesn’t end after our physical bodies have died. Such a soothing thought!

But we are still humans who get entrenched in the minutest details of each day, so this is so much easier said than done. Like anything in life, battling our anxieties isn’t something that just happens overnight. It takes time and discipline. The most effective way to fight off our fears is to pour over God’s reassuring words in the Bible and commit them to memory. This valuable practice will allow God’s words to become so familiar that they will replace negative thoughts as we feel them flooding our minds.

Dunheger_Travel_quotes_Augustine-of-hippo-1

Here are just a few Bible verses that can remind us that God is in control:

Philippians 4:6-7 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 43:1 – But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

Luke 12:22-26 – Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

Psalm 118:6-7 – The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper.

Romans 8:38-39 – And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus knows everything that concerns us and He is here to help us through all of life’s worries. He is greater than anything we could possibly fear. But it is our choice to focus our minds on God’s truth in the midst of all of our uncertainty. Terrorism and the Zika virus are two very relevant and justifiable concerns, and I do not blame anyone for being afraid of them. But we cannot let fear take over our lives and prevent us from experiencing all the wonderful things God has created for us to experience.

When we travel abroad, we just need to be as prepared as we can be. Be aware of your surroundings, report suspicious behavior, know where the U.S. Embassy is located, check in frequently with family back home so they always know your whereabouts, flee an area if it feels unsafe, and by all means, follow your instincts. Fear doesn’t cripple terrorism or diminish viruses – it only prevents us from living the full, purposeful lives that God intended for us.

Rachel Hoffman is a travel agent specializing in international travel for the Indianapolis-based agency, Experience Travel. If you would like to contact her regarding travel or her post, email her at RLHoffman0814@gmail.com

 

Monty Williams on Forgiving the Driver that Killed his Wife

I think we display our true character in the face of tragedy. It never ceases to amaze me when people go against human nature and instead of reacting in anger or hatred choose to forgive during unspeakable pain. Oklahoma City Thunder coach Monty Williams did just that when he forgave the driver who killed his wife in an auto accident. He spoke about his faith at her funeral service.  “God causes it all to work out. Doesn’t mean it’s not hard or painful. What we need is the Lord and that’s what my wife tried to exhibit each and every day.” “We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness.”

Wow. Bravo Monty Williams. Your faith and forgiveness are incredibly inspiring.

3 Archaeological Discoveries that Proved Scholars Wrong About the Bible

It makes no difference how many Biblical notices, rejected as unhistorical by 19th century pundits, have been confirmed by later archaeological evidence (such as the historicity of Belshazzar, the Hittites, and the Horites), the same attitude of skeptical prejudice toward the Bible has persisted, without any justification.    Gleason Archer

Never has there been such a hotly contested and voraciously debated book as the Bible. For hundreds of years, the historical accuracy of the Bible was undisputed until 17th century European intellectuals instigated claims that only through human reason, could knowledge be obtained. One by one, scientists came out of the woodwork to criticize the authenticity of the Bible.

Instead of the historical authority it once was, the Bible gradually slipped into folkloric territory – written off as a big book of fairy tales that only religious fanatics believed literally. But archaeologists have since made critical discoveries that back up the stories in the Bible and refute allegations that it’s merely mythological fiction.

  1. The Hittites

hattusa

Aerial view of Hattusa

The Hittites are well documented in the Bible (see Gen. 15:20; Ex. 3:8, 17; Num. 13:29; Josh. 1:4; Jud. 1:26), but scholars refuted their existence because they were otherwise historically unaccounted for. That changed when archaeologists excavated the site of Hattusa, capital of the Hittite empire in the late 19th century in modern-day Bogazkale, Turkey. By 1912, archaeologist Hugo Winckler had recovered 10,000 clay tablets that the Hittites had used to record their history, which corroborate the Bible’s accounts. Now no one disputes the existence of this heavily documented people.

  1. King David

King David is one of the most significant individuals in the Bible. Not only did he write the book of Psalms, he is also the ancestor of Jesus Christ. But many scholars believe that David was not the great ruler that the Bible says he was, and others say he never existed at all. Philip R. Davies, Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield in England said, “I am not the only scholar who suspects that the figure of King David is about as historical as King Arthur” (Biblical Archaeology Review, July-August, 1994, p. 55).

Not only have archaeologists unearthed new evidence that confirms David’s existence, the places that are mentioned in David’s story in the Bible have been verified.

 house-of-david-stele1The Tel Dan Stele

In 1993, an archaeological dig at the ancient Israeli city Dan produced The Tel Dan stele, a piece of an inscribed monument that had been reused as building material for a later wall. The fragment contained 13 lines of a preserved ancient Aramaic inscription dating to 800 BC, about 150 years after David’s lifetime.

The original translators read all fragments together as follows (the portions within brackets are reconstructed and are not actually on the inscription):

1 [… …] and cut […]

  1. […] my father went up [against him when] he fought at […]
  2. And my father lay down, he went to his [ancestors] (viz. became sick and died). And the king of I[s-]
  3. rael entered previously in my father’s land. [And] Hadad made me king.
  4. And Hadad went in front of me, [and] I departed from [the] seven […-]
  5. s of my kingdom, and I slew [seve]nty kin[gs], who harnessed thou[sands of cha-]
  6. riots and thousands of horsemen (or: horses). [I killed Jeho]ram son of [Ahab]
  7. king of Israel, and [I] killed [Ahaz]iahu son of [Jehoram kin-]
  8. g of the House of David. And I set [their towns into ruins and turned]
  9. their land into [desolation …]
  10. other [… and Jehu ru-]
  11. led over Is[rael … and I laid]
  12. siege upon [… ]

Most attribute the inscription’s authorship to Hazael, king of Aram-Damascus. In the inscription he boasts that he killed 70 kings, including one from “the House of David,” or “dynasty of David.” Considering the date that is attributed to the inscription, King David would be more than just a tall tale to Hazael. Another point worth noting is that Hazael claims he killed Jehoram, king of Israel and Ahaziah, king of Judah, which contradicts the Bible. In 2 Kings 9-10, the Israelite general Jehu is credited with both assassinations. If the Tele Dan stele were a fake, the forger would not have contradicted the Bible, but would have repeated exactly what the Bible stated.

mesha-stele

The Mesha Stele

In 1868, the Mesha stele was excavated in modern day Palestine among the ruins of Dibon, the ancient capital of Moab. Mesha, a Moabite king and referenced in the Bible as an enemy of Israel, commissioned the inscription on the stone around 840 BC, less than 200 years after David and close to the same time period as the Tel Dan stele. It is the first found reference to David outside the Bible. In a tragic series of events, this spectacular discovery started a bitter feud between several European countries that wanted to acquire the impressive artifact. The Bedouin tribe that had possession of the Mesha stele at the time decided to solve the problem by breaking it in pieces. The resulting fragments were painstakingly reconstructed, but the inscription would never again be fully intact. The reconstruction currently resides in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Part of the inscription reads: And the house [of D]avid dwelt in Horonen [……….] and Kamosh said to me, “Go down! Fight against Horonen.” And I went down, and I fought against the town, and I took it; and] Kamosh [resto]red it in my days.

6a0120a610bec4970c0191048d3d33970c-500wi

The view from the Fortress (Khirbet Qeiyafa) overlooking the valley of Elah, where David killed Goliath

Besides these two major archaeological finds, important places mentioned in David’s stories in the Bible have been unearthed. The valley of Elah was the setting for his most infamous story, the battle against the Philistine giant Goliath. Nearby are ruins of Gath, Goliath’s birthplace. In 2007, Yosef Garfinkel discovered the perfectly preserved remains of the Israelite Fortress of Elah, which carbon dating placed at exactly the same time David lived. Excavators have since found an abundant supply of weapons, which supports Biblical accounts of the numerous wars between the Israelites and the Philistines.

The scarcity of remains pointing to David’s kingship is not surprising for a few reasons. First, the “City of David,” i.e. Jerusalem, is occupied today and has been occupied since David’s reign and before, making it impossible for any excavations on the site to proceed. Jerusalem has an incredibly hostile history peppered with an onslaught of wars and has consequently been rebuilt multiple times with the recycled building materials from previous occupations.

Secondly, documents from David’s time period are scarce in general, due to Egypt and Iraq’s rebuilding stage, also known as Mesopotamia’s “dark age” due to its limited contact with other countries during this time frame (McKenzie, Stephen L. King David, A Biography, pg.10)

  1. Moses

baruch_spinoza_2

Baruch Spinoza (1632 – 1677)

Many scholars today accept the Documentary Hypothesis, the theory that a compilation of authors wrote the Pentateuch and not Moses. The theory originated in 1670, when philosopher Baruch Spinoza suggested that the prophet Ezra wrote the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) with the help of a variety of records he had acquired.

04-232x300

Jean Astruc (1684 – 1766)

In 1753, French physician Jean Astruc took Spinoza’s theory and ran with it. He mentioned the different names for God (Yahweh, Jehovah, Elohim) used in the Pentateuch as proof that these books could not have had just one author.

Other critics refer to the fact that Moses could not have recorded his own death in Deuteronomy 34.

But the most regularly cited argument that scholars have used against the Pentateuch’s Mosaic authorship is that writing was not yet invented in Moses’ time (circa 1393 – 1273 BC).

In regards to the different names for God, this is a common practice in religious writing, and is hardly exclusive to Jewish authors. Look at the hundreds of names used for God in the remainder of the Bible. New Testament Christian authors referred to Jesus with several different names. The Quran uses multiple names for God as well, but no one questions that Muhammad was its sole author.

Moses was educated as an Egyptian prince, and would have been exposed to the many writing styles and languages that were available throughout his royal upbringing. His privileged schooling and noble birth would have made him the worthiest candidate to write this important Biblical composition.

That Moses could not have written about his death is true, but the objection that he could not have written the Pentateuch because of that is irrelevant and inconsequential. His death comprises the last few sentences of Deuteronomy and could have easily been written by his successor, Joshua. Many books include an obituary at the end, and Deuteronomy is no exception. Since the Pentateuch was such a crucial work at the time, Moses undoubtedly had plans set in place for its completion after his death.

Since Joshua wrote the next book of the Bible, named after him, he very likely wrote the end of the Books of Moses. There is a similar obituary for Joshua at the end of his book.

The most obvious argument for the Pentateuch’s Mosaic authorship is the sheer amount of direct references in the Bible that state he wrote them. For example, Exodus 34:27 says, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.’”

Not only is Moses referenced as the author several times in those books, he is referenced throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. In John 7:19 Jesus says, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”

Several clues in the Pentateuch confirm that the writer must have been present at the events and had a well-educated Egyptian background. No one but Moses fits this particular description. Biblical scholar Gleason Archer noted that the writer used many idioms, terms of speech, and cultural references, which are characteristically Egyptian in origin, yet translated into Hebrew. Moses’ circumstances and background were unique and the qualifications to write these books are attributed exclusively to him. The writer of Exodus gives eyewitness details of the events that only a participant would know about. The author of Genesis and Exodus also demonstrates remarkable knowledge of Egyptian names and places.

While scholars like Hermann Schultz and Julius Wellhausen, a founding father of the Documentary Hypothesis, believe that Moses lived in a time period prior to the invention of writing, much evidence has been found to prove otherwise.

the-code-of-hammurabi-1792-1750-bce

The Code of Hammurabi

In 1901, the Code of Hammurabi was discovered at the ancient site of Susa, in modern day Iran. The code was written between 2000 and 1700 BC, several hundred years before Moses, and contains advanced laws similar to that of the Mosaic laws.

In 1933, J.L. Starkey excavated the city of Lachish, which was one of Joshua’s prominent conquests. An inscription on a water pitcher was found among the ruins dating back to 1600 BC, the earliest Hebrew inscription ever known at the time.

In 1949, a tablet was discovered at Ras Shamra containing the Ugaritic alphabet in its proper order. The sequence of the Ugaritic alphabet is the same as modern day Hebrew, which reveals that the Hebrew alphabet goes back at least 3500 years.

At least five forms of languages are known to be in use by Moses’ time: Egyptian hieroglyphs, Akkadian Cuneiform, the Phoenician alphabet, the Linear A alphabet found in Greece, and the cuneiform Ugaritic alphabet.

Respected, valuable archaeological evidence has shattered the Documentary Hypothesis, proven the Hittites’ existence, and backed up the Bible’s claims that David was a prominent king of Israel. The authenticity of the Bible remains unblemished despite scholarly claims that it’s nothing more than a book of fairy tales.

 

 

#GratitudeGoals

6 Steps to kick your social media discontent and gain gratitude for 2016

If ignorance is bliss, than our generation of perpetual oversharing must be dooming us to a lifetime of misery. While technology certainly comes with its perks, the discontentedness it causes its users is a very real peril. We are relentlessly bombarded with a glimpse into lives that seem shinier, more fabulous, and infinitely more snapchatable than our own. From the mother of three’s impossibly chiseled abs on Instagram, to the Martha Stewartesque interiors on Pinterest, to the Barbie and Ken-perfect relationships on Facebook flaunting proposals in Paris, six figure weddings and surprise birthday BMWs, most of us follow people who make our lives seem lackluster in comparison.

The purpose of social media is to keep up with our friends, yet it has slowly evolved into a breeding ground for the green-eyed monster, and it’s wreaking havoc on our lives. Instafamous teens have been calling social media quits, citing the exhausting process to create the faux reality they’re hawking. Celebrities are handing over the reigns to their social media accounts blaming the toxic environment that gives any troll the opportunity to take them down without repercussion.

So how can we find balance in our increasingly overexposed lives? How can we stay centered despite the quest for more likes, more followers, or the perfect retouched selfie? How do we stop comparing our lives to the carefully edited accounts that we follow?

Here’s How to Kick your social media bad habits in 6 fulfilling steps:

gratitude-1

  1. Cultivate Gratitude.

It’s all about your perspective. Focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have and give thanks every day. The more you count your blessings, the less time you will have to be envious of others on social media. The reality is that everyone has issues, problems, and tragedies in life, even the immaculately edited Instafamous models/bloggers/supermoms you follow. Realize that fame, acquired objects and image are meaningless unless we have a higher purpose. There will always be someone richer, prettier, and smarter than you. Those qualities won’t satisfy you forever, but inner value through gratitude will bring lifelong peace and joy. The Bible outlines the problem of measuring our success through material gain:

For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish. Psalm 49:10-12

Instead of constantly comparing your life to others, be grateful for the unique life you have with all its challenges, blessings, and experiences. Your life is yours and yours alone, so enjoy every single minute of it. In Ecclesiastes 8:15, King Solomon sums it up for us beautifully.

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

When we envy and covet, we are resenting God’s goodness in other people’s lives while ignoring our own bountiful blessings. Whether you choose to accept it or not, you are blessed.

All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15

India-poverty-Skees-2014

  1. Recognize how little most of the world has.

There are 7.3 billion people in the world. While a few of those people may be richer than you, most of those people are a lot poorer. A family of five living just above the poverty line in the US is actually “the one percent” compared to the rest of the world. Many of those people are struggling with the same issues that you are. Going through a divorce? So is 53% of the country. Frustrated about living life with a disability? Welcome to the world’s largest minority group. 10 percent of the world struggles with a disability, or 730 million people. My point is not to make light of your troubles, but to show that everyone has issues, everyone has struggles, and everyone has problems. You can look at your life as a series of trials before you inevitably die or you can look at it as a precious and brief opportunity to make a wonderful impact on others. Even while rotting away in a Roman prison waiting to be executed, the apostle Paul saw the glass half full and thanked God for his situation in Phillippians 4:12-13:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.

gratitude

  1. Give back

If step one and two haven’t helped combat your discontent, shift your attention to serving those less fortunate than you. Whenever someone complains about their first world problems, my sister and I like to joke that they “need to go on a missions trip.” When we help others, we take the focus off ourselves and forget our selfish ambitions and desires. We see problems that are real and we shake off the pity party. You will cultivate a deeper sense of fulfillment and appreciate how much you have when you help those with nothing. In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul (still in prison) says:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Before-and-After-Photoshop-12

  1. Realize that it’s not real

You know the chick that captions luminous, poreless, flawless selfies #iwokeuplikethis? Yea, she uses filters too. And probably did NOT wake up like that. She took 45 photos before settling on the perfect shot. And her boyfriend is either rolling his eyes in the background or happens to be just as vain as she is. The dude who is eternally on vacay is postponing his return to work because he hates his job. The well-manicured wife who constantly posts about her Chanel bags and Louboutin shoes knows her husband buys them for her because she caught him cheating. Most people post the abridged versions of the lives they wish they had – carefully curated highlight reels showcasing their peak performances. Notably missing from their newsfeed is the family drama, professional failures, and bad hair days. Next time you start to feel envious of the It-girl with the perfect wardrobe on Instagram, remember she is probably hiding a mess of skeletons in her closet.

thelist-selfies-duckface-selfie-100584118-large

  1. Unfollow people that make you envy or feel discontented

Be happy for others when they succeed at life. Celebrate other people even when their blessings from God seem to exceed our own. The positive attitude you have toward others will radiate back to you. Gratitude relieves stress, but envy is toxic.

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30

Sometimes it can be hard to be happy for someone when they receive good things that “they don’t deserve.” Discontentment is deceptive. It comes naturally to us and is often disguised in other ways. Do the mommy blogs that “inspire” you to be a better mother make you feel insignificant? Does the #fitspo that challenges you to work out generate self-loathing because your body is different than the models you follow? Inspiration that turns into obsession that turns into disappointment isn’t a good thing. While there’s nothing wrong with working on yourself, don’t let your jealousy disguise itself as something positive. If you see something on social media and it makes you feel bad about yourself, and you wish you could trade places with someone else, it’s called coveting. It’s unhealthy, pointless, and will poison your mind if you let it.

If you can’t help but feel pangs of jealousy when checking someone’s feed, stop looking. Do a social media audit. If someone or something is causing you to feel bad about yourself or be jealous of someone else’s success, unfollow, defriend, or unsubscribe.

Thumbs_Down-01

  1. Take a break from social media, or quit it altogether.

If your social media addiction is causing your discontent, do something drastic. The Bible tells us that envy is not something to blithely disregard, but that it comes from an evil place.

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:14-16

If social media is causing your anxiety, bitterness or jealousy, you should remove it from your life. Fast from social media for a month or two, or deactivate your account. It may seem extreme, but it’s better to cut off the problem at the source.

If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. Matthew 18:9

Does the Bible say Women Should Be Silent?

1 Timothy 2:11-15 New Living Translation (NLT)

11 Women should learn quietly and submissively. 12 I do not let women teach men or have authority over them.[a] Let them listen quietly. 13 For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing,[b] assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.

Woah, woah, woah. Women have to be quiet? You’re blaming the fall of mankind on women? Women will be saved by having lots of babies? And saved from what? Fire and brimstone? A lightning strike? Boils and plagues? The ire of misogynist pigs?

On first glance, this passage seems to go against every fiber of a modern woman’s being. But don’t get lost in translation; context here is key.

In Greco-Roman time, women played active leadership roles in mystery religions (1), which were gaining in popularity at the same time Christianity was getting started. Considering sex orgies and drunken debauchery were the main events of these cults, Paul knows that if women speak publicly for any religion they might be judged improperly. That Paul actually encourages Christian women to learn at all is a drastic departure from his scholarly religious contemporaries, who generally would not permit teaching women.

We also need to realize that Paul speaks to the Ephesians much differently than other churches he was instructing at the time. For instance, in the epistle Philippians, he lovingly praises the church of Philippi and encourages them to continue in their obedience. The Ephesians were a rowdier bunch, and sometimes needed a good scolding. His letter to Timothy is addressing this specific group of women and men. The atmosphere was not a tranquil one in the Ephesian church. These women had a history of being led astray by false teaching.

Paul allowed women in Corinth to pray and prophesy in church, with certain restrictions (See 1 Corinthians 11:2-16), which indicates that the prohibition in 1 Tim. 2:12 should not be taken as a universally permanent rule. Some Bible verses are specific instructions to specific people and are temporary cultural policies (i.e. 1 Tim. 2:9), not meant to be blanket prohibitions for everyone. God used women in important roles throughout the Bible, including leadership positions. Take for example Deborah, who was appointed as a judge and prophet over Israel (Judges 4-5).

Also worth noting, the women were not the first rebuked for their actions. The Ephesian men were warned in 1 Tim. 2:8 to abstain from praying while quarreling and angry. Church meetings for the Ephesians were chaotic and the opposite of a calm learning environment. After instructing the men on how they can contribute to a more peaceful church atmosphere, he moves on to instruct the women to do the same in 1 Tim. 2:11.

The Greek word Paul used here, hēsychia is sometimes translated as “silence”, like in the King James Version, but Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines the word as “peacefulness” “tranquil” or “quietness.” The word does not carry the meaning speechlessness, but of an atmosphere of God-produced calm. When Paul means speechlessness or silence, he uses the wordsigaó” (See Acts 12:17, Acts 15:12-13, 1 Cor. 14:30). The reason he wanted them to listen quietly during church rather than lead is because there were more educated leaders of the Ephesian church. Imagine what church would be like if every Tom, Dick and Mary interjected throughout the church service, “Well, Pastor, I think that…” It would be extremely disruptive, would it not? Paul is instructing the women to learn quietly and submissively, because that is the reason why they are at church.

Paul goes on and gives Eve as a specific example to illustrate the dangers posed when uninformed women take the lead. My eighth grade Bible teacher used to say that man actually made the first mistake. Since Adam was created first, he should have known that animals could not talk. When Eve came to him with a story about a serpent telling her what to do, Adam should have been skeptical and led Eve to do the right thing instead of agreeing to sin against God. Eve was created later, so she should have listened to Adam because she was less educated on God’s rules. When she took the lead without knowing all the facts, she sinned and led Adam to sin. Paul explains that since Eve was deceived first, she brought sin into the world.

Now every time a woman gives birth she gives birth to a sinner. However, Mary brought Jesus, the Savior into the world, and that is how we are literally saved by childbirth. As individuals, we are saved by faith, just like men, but a woman was responsible for bringing Christ into the world. Paul is making an important distinction between women and men here. He is indicating that a woman doesn’t need to assume a man’s role to be saved. We are different, and it is a wonderful thing! But he doesn’t stop there. Sure children are great, but ultimately Paul punctuates the sentence with his call for women to “continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” At the end of the day, our character is what matters most.

(1) Flower, Harriet. The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic

My Top 5 Faith Based Songs for 2015

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Psalm 100:2

 

I’ve always been a music junkie. Alternative, 70s rock, EDM, hip-hop, pop, opera, classical, I don’t discriminate. I love it all! But for whatever reason, I haven’t listened to very much Christian music. Before middle school, I rocked out to Jars of Clay and Amy Grant, but not since my tweens have I touched on that genre. God deserves our praise, and I’ve decided I need to give Christian music another try. I love the worship music at my church, itown, and through its Spotify playlist discovered some newer songs I like. Here are my five favorites that I belt out in the car on the way to work. I need to add to my playlist, so let me hear your own recommendations in the comments!

      1. Hillsong United – Scandal of Grace

  2.  Hillsong United – Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

3. Johnny Cash – Why Me Lord

4. Aretha Franklin – What a Friend we Have in Jesus

5. Jordan Smith – Great is Thy Faithfulness (from The Voice)

Jesus was a Feminist

Several months ago, a friend of mine sent me an article, “Why Women Need Freedom From Religion,” accompanied with his own comment, “the Bible belittles women.”

He is not alone in that opinion. In pop culture and the media, Christianity is vilified as an enemy of women’s rights. Celebrity Christian women are often portrayed as doormats: withdrawn, cowering women who turn the other cheek and are uneducated and trampled upon. I’m looking at you, Anna Duggar. The Bible is often falsely depicted as misogynist.

The Bible can be tricky for those who have not studied it, and easily misconstrued. Like most historical texts, context is essential for understanding the Bible. I’ll dig into some specifically controversial verses in a later post, but right now, I want to examine Jesus Christ’s own interactions with women.

Yes, Jesus Christ was a feminist!

First, let’s define that term. Webster’s defines feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Note, it doesn’t say advocacy of women and men playing the exact same roles in society or in the Christian church. Equality does not mean sameness.

Jesus Christ was the best thing that happened to women in Biblical times. He treated women with great regard and dedicated just as much time to teaching them as he did men. Many of his closest friends were women, which was extremely unusual and actually frowned upon at the time for a Rabbi of his religious stature.

His contemporaries vehemently disagreed with his stance on teaching women. In ancient Rome and Greece, women essentially had the social status of slaves. Women were not allowed to leave the home unless escorted by a trustworthy male escort, which was usually a relative. A woman was not permitted to eat with men in her own home. Women were unable to go to school and could not speak in public. A Roman husband owned his wife and all her possessions. Jewish women were segregated from men in the synagogue and women were not allowed to speak at the synagogue. In Jesus’ time, Rabbis were not supposed to speak to women in public, but Jesus disregarded these misogynistic cultural norms, which caused much controversy.

Mary Magdalene

mary-magdalene

Mary of Magdala, from Galilee, was Jesus’ most faithful friend and an important “apostle” who contributed greatly to the explosion of Christianity after his Resurrection. All four gospels mention Mary Magdalene’s presence at the crucifixion, proving that she stood by Jesus no matter the consequence. For contrast’s sake, when a young girl identified the apostle Peter as Jesus’ cohort during Jesus’ trial, he denied that he even knew him, cussed out bystanders and ran away crying like a scared puppy with a tail between his legs. (Matthew 26: 69-75)

Side note: Peter made up for this instance of cowardliness in a big way 30-ish years later when he was martyred. He was crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die the same way that Jesus did.

Mary Magdalene was the first to witness the Resurrection. (Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-11, Matthew 28:1-10, John 20:1-18). Since she was present when his body was sealed in the tomb (Luke 23:55-56, Matthew 27:61), she was the perfect person to confirm that he died and rose again. When Jesus appeared to her after rising from the dead, he told her to tell everyone she knew that he was alive. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first apostle was a woman. I believe Jesus intentionally chose to appear to her first to prove that women can be just as effective witnesses as men, and in some cases, even more!

The Adulteress (John 8: 1-11)

images

While Jesus is usually considered humble and meek, he was no shrinking violet. The Pharisees and Jewish leaders were constantly trying to trap him with difficult questions to smear his reputation. But Jesus didn’t play along with their games and never backed down when they tried to discredit him. The story about the adulteress is one of those examples.

The Pharisees hated Jesus. They considered themselves better than their peers who didn’t have access to the religious knowledge that they did. Jesus’ all-inclusive way of life enraged them, so they constantly tried to trick him, hoping to prove him to be a fool. These games often backfired, and this was one of those times.

In Jerusalem, not long before Jesus’ own death, the Pharisees and Jewish scribes brought a woman who was caught cheating on her husband to the temple where Jesus was teaching. They knew that the Law of Moses said that adulteresses should be stoned. However, Roman law stated that Jewish leaders did not have the power to execute criminals. Only a Roman-appointed governor was allowed this power. Knowing it was a lose-lose situation, they asked Jesus what they should do, stone her or let her go? Break the Roman law, or break the Mosaic law?

So what was Jesus’ response to this tricky question?

“But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.”

Basically, Jesus knew exactly what they were doing, and I believe he thought the Pharisees were like pesky mosquitoes who wouldn’t leave him alone. No one really knows what he was writing. Maybe he was just doodling because their obnoxious questions bored him. Anyhow, the Pharisees wouldn’t go away. They wanted “grounds for accusing him.”

So “He straightened up, and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ “

Mic drop.

One by one, they all dropped their stones and left, leaving Jesus alone with the adulteress woman. Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on, sin no more.”

Jesus didn’t condone what she did, but he forgave her anyway. He knew that no one is without sin, and that his upcoming sacrifice would excuse us all if we believed in him.

The Samaritan Woman (John 4:7-41)

map

Perhaps Jesus’ most powerful argument for female (and racial) equality is that his longest one-on-one conversation recorded in the Bible was with a Samaritan woman.

This is significant for several reasons. In Biblical times, Samaritans were a despised religious group, especially to Jews like Jesus. Several centuries before, after King Solomon died, the twelve tribes of Israel were split into two kingdoms. The ten northern tribes formed the Kingdom of Israel and the two southern tribes formed the Kingdom of Judah. Samaria became the capital of Israel while Jerusalem became the capital of Judah. The northern tribes began worshipping pagan gods, so God punished them and Assyria conquered Israel in 721 BC (this is talked about in 2 Kings if you would like to read more). Assyria’s five pagan tribes intermarried with the Kingdom of Israel’s ten tribes. Because these Samaritan descendants weren’t full-blooded Jews, the Jewish people from the southern tribes considered them pagans and traitors. The Samaritans were so hated, that most Jews took a long route from Judea in the south to Galilee in the north around Samaria in order to avoid contact with them.

Jesus traveled directly through Samaria since he didn’t harbor any negative resentment toward the Samaritan people. John 4:4 states “And He had to pass through Samaria.” He had to because the ensuing conversation with the Samaritan woman is so significant and important! During this journey with his disciples, they came to a town called Sychar in Samaria, which was near Jacob’s ancient well. While his disciples went into town to get food (which also discloses to us that Jesus didn’t support the Jewish prejudice that considered Samaritan food unclean), Jesus stayed behind to rest and met a Samaritan woman at the well. He was thirsty and asked her for a drink.

Instead of submissively complying, the Samaritan woman unapologetically asked Jesus a question.

“How is it that you, a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?”

She probably identified Jesus’ Jewish heritage by his accent or his clothing, and she immediately commented that it was not normal for someone like Jesus to associate with someone like her. Regardless, she was not shy about confronting Jesus, despite his status above her. Her unexpected boldness is not punished, but rewarded with a long and fruitful conversation with Jesus, the longest recorded in the Bible. When the disciples came back, and found Jesus talking to her, they were shocked, mainly because she was a woman.

When Jesus told her he was the Savior, she dropped her jug and ran to tell her entire city about the conversation she had with him. Because of her witness, many of them believed Jesus was the Messiah as a result. Jesus then stayed with the Samaritans for two days to confirm her story. It did not matter to him where they were from or what gender they were. Everyone was welcome to the Christian community.

If Christian principles supported the belittlement and inequality of women, these passages wouldn’t exist. Jesus Christ’s actions prove to us that he valued women just as much as men, and used women in tremendous ways to further his name and mission throughout the ends of the earth.