You may not be facing intense persecution now, but Christians in other parts of the world are. As you hear about Christians suffering for their faith, remember that they are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for them. Ask God what you can do to help them in their troubles. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. But when all the parts join together to ease the suffering, the whole body benefits (1Corinthians 12:26).

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matthew 24:9-13 KJV

Life Application Bible Commentary

Who Should You Fight? Jewish Commentators (Mefarshim) Edition

Onkelos: Pointless and risky… Rumour has it he was a Roman noble before becoming a rabbi, so possibly had military experience. Besides, nobody really understands him anyway. Harmless, and if you win nobody will care.

R. Shim‘on ben Laqish (Resh Lakish): Are you kidding?? Was literally a gladiator, 100% angry Roman gay, could slice you up faster than you can say “Rabbi Yohanan.” DO NOT FIGHT.

Rashi: I mean, you could fight Rashi, but why??? You’ll just make a lot of people angry with you. I promise he’s just trying to help you out, even when he gets on your nerves. You can probably win this fight but you will miss him when he’s gone. Instead, try getting on his good side by asking his opinion about a word you don’t understand.

RaMBaM (Maimonides): please please please fight Maimonides. Do us all a favour and take him down. You will have to defeat him in the fields of exegesis, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, legal theory, and Aristotelian logic. Look at him — he is taunting you to come get him. If you manage to hit his smug face he might just be so surprised that you could get away with your life, if you’re a fast runner. We’re all cheering for you.

RaMBaN (Nahmanides): he’s asking for it. Don’t be fooled by his long beard: he’s a wiry old man and hits surprisingly hard. If you want to defeat him, the key is to distract him with Rashi — just say, “This was already explained by the Frenchman” and he’ll fall right for it. Very sneaky fighter — you’ll think you’re winning until he gets a hit in from behind. Keep him occupied and keep landing punches. I would say you’ve got at least a 50/50 chance.

RaShBaM (Shmuel ben Meir): he is angry, French, grew up on a farm, and is probably drunk. Throws strong straight punches. If you start a fight with him all the other Tosafot will gang up on you. I wouldn’t risk it.

Abraham ibn ‘Ezra: an easy target. He is sad and lonely, and weak from years staring at astrolabes and writing emo poetry. He will not put up a long fight. He will try to bore you to death with grammatical observations, but with a little perseverance you can easily put him out of his misery.

Hayyim ibn Attar (Or haHayyim): approach with caution: he is an advanced Qabbalist and may not be where you expect him. It may be dangerous but it’s worth a try, and if you do win everyone will be impressed. If he starts calling down the seraphim you’ve lost for sure. I would say your best bet is just go for it with everything you got.

Sa‘adia Gaon: he will fight you without warning. He will fight the Karaites. He will fight the Exliarch. He will fight the philosophers. He will fight everyone… A dirty street fighter and very strategic. You will not win unless you are the Caliph of the Abbasid Empire.

Nechama Leibowitz: for the love of all things holy, don’t fight her! How could you even think of landing a punch on this sweet cinnamon bun of an old woman? You should be ashamed of yourself.

Yeshayahu Leibowitz: her brother, on the other hand, is ready for a fight. You might win if you’re well-prepared, but by the next day he’ll write an angry but incredibly eloquent op-ed tearing you into a thousand pieces, so there’s really no winning here.

Avivah Zornberg: I mean, before you even got close to her she’d have you wrapped up in metaphysical extemporizations about the inability of the unconscious to truly speak across the apophatic chasm that divides a person from another. Everyone is on her side, from Shakespeare to Freud and half a dozen Hassidic commentators you’ve never heard of. And she’s Scottish to boot… Don’t try it.

anonymous asked:

hello! I wondered if you or any followers had any advice or recommendations on reading material about being queer and jewish. I am a bi liberal jew, who was lucky enough to grow up in a congregation with a lesbian rabbi - but I only really came out properly after moving away and stopping attending synagogue regularly, so haven't really engaged with this intersection of identities on a critical level. any recommendations would be gratefully received!

I haven’t been reading a whole lot myself, but I’ll try to find some books about the topic.


  1. Queer Theory and the Jewish Question - Daniel Boyarin, Daniel Itzkovitz, Ann Pellegrini
  2. Mentsh: On Being Jewish and Queer - Angela Brown
  3. Queer Jews - David Shneer, Caryn Aviv
  4. Transgender and Jewish - Naomi Zeveloff
  5. Naked In The Promised Land: A Memoir - Lillian Faderman
  6. Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community - Noach Dzmura
  7. Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible - Gregg Drinkwater, Joshua Lesser, David Shneer

Those were some book titles I found just by surfing the web. You can find some good fiction books about the topic on goodreads. You can find more resources on queer Jewishness here.

creative-reblogging  asked:

Hello! I was technically raised in the Christian faith, but my parents were never great about really consistently taking me to church as a child. I want to figure out where I stand in terms of my faith, so that I can carry it with me as I go into adulthood. I'm trying to view it as if I'm new to Christianity altogether. Would you have any suggestions as to where to start? Just reading the Bible is confusing to me, and I feel like I don't get anything from it. How do I get to know God?

Hey dear friend, I want to commend you and applaud you on your newfound adventure of faith. Wherever it takes you, you have my prayers and a super big double high-five and internet fist-bump (and a hug too, why not?). I’m genuinely excited for you.

I’m honestly a bit new to Christianity myself (I was an atheist longer than I’ve been a Christian and it was a slow journey to faith throughout my seven years of college), so the memories of starting new are still quite fresh. I also understand that faith can feel intimidating, partially because the church can make it difficult, but faith itself can seem like an amorphous unfathomable maze. These are only my suggestions, as everyone’s road has different curves and obstacles, so please feel free to add or subtract or modify as you will.

- Find a church. If you have any friends who are currently attending a church, ask them about their Sunday service or any recommendations for you (you can also try websites and check out their statements of faith and their group pictures). The thing with church though is that it can feel overwhelming when you walk in: most people are uncomfortable in new situations with new people and unfamiliar surroundings. Even as a pastor and a chaplain, aka a “professional Christian,” I still feel all kinds of anxiety when I walk into a new church to visit. So it’s a really good idea to go with a friend. It’s also a good idea to try the Friday or Wednesday service, when the numbers are scaled down and it’s a more intimate setting. 

A sidenote: Finding a church is incredibly hard and requires more than once. Just think, you’re looking for a second family, a second home! That’s no small feat to approach lightly. Last year, my wife and I desperately looked for a new church-home when we got married, and we tried about a dozen different churches before landing on one (and the one we landed on, we had to go about three times before we both felt called to stay). We gave many of those churches a second or third chance, so altogether, it took us over seven months to find a place where we felt we could serve and be led.

- Download some sermon podcasts. I’m a self-professed sermon junkie; I probably listen to about ten hours of sermons per week. While podcasts shouldn’t be the “main diet,” they’re sort of like supplements, or protein shakes, for a growing faith. I often listen to them on headphones at the gym or on car rides to work (I live about an hour from my workplace). Some preachers I listen to are: Timothy Keller, Andy Stanley, Francis Chan, Louie Giglio, Ravi Zacharias, and Matt Chandler. I also really love Brené Brown.

A sidenote: Please consider heavy discernment when listening to podcasts. In other words, you don’t have to believe every single opinion or statement, and sometimes a preacher’s theology might be a little fuzzy in some areas. Not every preacher or author is perfect, and public speaking has a way of blurting out certain things that are not always carefully worded. So listen with both a critical ear and a soft heart, or as Jesus says, “be as wise as snakes and as pure as doves.”

- Get with mature Christians and elders. We all, and I mean all, need some kind of leadership and mentoring and authority, speaking into our lives, in every season. We need both encouragers and challengers in our lives: people who can speak a grand vision over us while stretching our views and habits and beliefs. That means, get with your pastor and married couples and elderly Christians and successful business leaders and anyone who will spare a lunch — yes, your parents too! — and consistently ask annoying questions to grab their wisdom. Every person is a fountain of experience who is waiting to pour out to love on someone else. Ask about how their faith has gotten them through hard times; ask about how their faith informs their marriage, career, raising kids, and keeping focus. You’ll grow by leaps and bounds.

A sidenote: Soon enough, or perhaps already, you’ll be in a position where you can pour out to others. This entire cycle of pouring out is called discipleship in the Christian language. It’s a deep life-on-life pouring out of who you are for another; it’s the best of you for the best of them. We’re each called to disciple others just as we’re called to be discipled. This is the number one way I’ve found that Christians grow and one of the highest honors to give and receive.

- Consider a Bible plan. There are study Bibles, reading plans, and reflection calendars all over the place. It all depends on how you learn best. Here are a few posts that might get you started:

- Five Tips on How to Study the Bible

- Which Books of the Bible Do I Start First?

- Bible Reading Plans (to Print and Save)

For me, I like to camp out in a book of the Bible for a few weeks to get the feel of it, like Proverbs or Ephesians or John. I’ve also read the whole thing from front to back a few times. I also recommend getting the best Bible commentary of all time, What The Bible Is All About by Henrietta Mears, which breaks down every book of the Bible with history, character profiles, and of course, pictures.

-Try some Christian music. This won’t work for everyone, but I’ve found that listening to Christian music, especially during stress or on a drive, brings me right back to Him. Some of my favorite artists include: David Crowder Band, Switchfoot, Lecrae, Jesus Culture, Bethel, Hillsong, Phil Wickham, Gungor, Tree63, Brooke Fraser, Lincoln Brewster, and Israel Houghton. Some of these might be too “pop,” but very often that’s exactly the point: they’re easy to sing to and very accessible.

- Journal & pray. I like to write, between me and God, a lot. This isn’t everyone’s favorite thing, so if it stresses you out, there are a lot of other ways to reflect and meditate and pray.

- Serve. Find a need, serve the need. Your local church is most likely involved in the community somehow (if they’re not, it’s probably not a church worth attending), so find out and get plugged in. If not, you can still serve on your own. There are countless homeless shelters, babysitting opportunities, home-building like Habitat for Humanity, hospital volunteering, and assisted living facilities that need you. I volunteered at a homeless shelter for over four years and those were some of my favorite memories.

- Practice gratitude. This is something you can do everyday, all the time, as an exercise of faith and trust that will turn your whole heart upside-down. Simply thank God, for little things, as much as you possibly can. Thank God for the gifts and talents and resources He has given you. Thank God for His Son, for the cross and resurrection, for the sacrifice that has set us right. I don’t mean that you can never get mad or grieve or vent; I just mean that our first reflex is often to grumble and complain and compare and judge. Joy is the very first thing to leave in any situation, and we have to fight to keep the joy in ministry, in friendships, in our every endeavor. God is always after your joy — not happiness, which is good but fleeting — and one of the avenues to joy is thanksgiving. Make that a daily practice and I can almost guarantee your perspective will widen and deepen; you will feel compassion swell; you will grow more intimate with Him.

— J.S.

Where Lazarus’s soul was these four days wherein it was separated from the body? The Scripture hath not told us this, and it speaks too great curiosity to inquire too strictly. Though we are taught from the parable of Dives and Lazarus, that the souls of departed saints do ordinarily and immediately pass into heaven, or Abraham’s bosom; yet what should hinder, but that in these cases, where it appears to have been the Divine will that the souls of persons departed should again be returned into their bodies in a short time, they might by a Divine power be kept under the custody of angels, until the time of such restoration of them.

Matthew Poole’s Annotations

By Jen Weaver

How To Read The Bible

I grew up in a home without a dishwasher. To be more accurate, I grew up in a home of four children. We were the dishwashers.

Then, one summer in high school I landed a nannying job watching two little boys. And it all went well until I broke their kitchen.

Being a helpful young woman, I loaded the dishwasher after lunch one day and decided to run the wash cycle. I fished around under the sink and found a solo container of soap. Dish soap.

Did I mention that my family didn’t have a dishwasher?

I loaded that little dispenser area with the blue gel and ushered the boys into the playroom. 20 minutes later I returned to find child-size mountains of bubbles building on the hardwood floors, overflowing from the dishwasher like lava from an industrial volcano.

I thought back to that mortifying experience as I started writing this post. And this is the first time I’ve been grateful for such an embarrassing mistake.

Sometimes we approach the Bible like an unfamiliar machine. Afraid that we’ll somehow get something wrong and ruin the whole experience. Well, I have good news.

You can’t break the Bible.

There are however, some helpful things to keep in mind *and heart* as you get started reading God’s Word.

How to Read the BibleHow to Read the Bible:

Ask. Talk with God. Let Him know that you want to hear from Him. Quiet your heart. Put away your to-do list and don’t give space for random thoughts of squirrels and shiny things. I keep a notebook nearby to write down things that may distract me from my time with the Lord—once I get them down on paper I don’t have to give them any further thought.

Seek love not knowledge.

“Knowledge puffs up while love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1b, NIV).

It’s easy to read scripture for the sake of knowledge. To know things. To check it off the list. That’s the lesser option.

Look for the love in what you read because God is love. We don’t want to settle for knowing about Him. We want to know Him, and that level of knowing comes when He talks with us through what we read. I spent so many years learning facts and trivia about God. Knowing Him is WAY better.

What version to read? We are blessed with access to many translations of the Bible. Many new believers like to read the New International Version (NIV). The most accurate translations for in-depth study are considered to be the King James (KJ), the New King James (NKJ), or English Standard Version (ESV). There’s no harm reading other versions, in fact, I like to read the same passage in multiple versions to see what wording God may use to speak to me. I especially enjoy the modern and creative wording of The Message (MSG) version, although these same creative liberties make it difficult to use for word study. Please hear me though, creative words may inspire, but they don’t replace the direct translation of the original word meaning, which we’ll talk about in a bit.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ” (John 3:16-17, NIV).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16, ESV).

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again” (John 3:16, MSG).

Look at:

Context. What’s happening in this scenario? Who is the audience? A particular verse may speak to you, what does that verse mean in context of the whole passage?

Word meaning. What is the meaning of the word in the source language? The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and a few books in Aramaic, and the New Testament was written in Greek. Looking up words in the source language gives a depth of understanding you don’t get when just reading in English. For example, I may read “For God so loved the world” in John 3:16. My mind naturally thinks of “love” as affectionate or romantic, but that’s not what this verse means. In the original Greek, “love” in this verse is agapaō which means good-will, to be fond of. God’s love for us, the love that led Him to give Jesus for our sins, was not an emotional response. It was prompted by love of good will. If you’re interested in doing word studies I like using the free website Blue Letter Bible. Pick the KJV and check the box for “Strongs” and it will show you concordance links next to words so you can easily see what they mean in the original language.

Connections. Next, we want to look for connections within the passage and to other passages. How does John 3:16 relate to the rest of the chapter? What other passages speak to the same topic? For example

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

Application. How does this passage apply to your life? What is God saying to you through it?
Where to start reading? A great place to start reading is with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) as they give four different accounts of the life of Jesus, based on the perspective of their authors. Psalms and Proverbs are also great books to begin with as Psalms is full of praise and Proverbs is basically tweetable-sized tidbits of wisdom.

How to Read the Bible

Reread. Read the same passage multiple times. Sometimes I’ll do this in one sitting: I read the whole chapter, then go back and reread looking for key words or phrases that stick out to me. You can also reread the same books over and over. God uses familiar passages to say new things. All. The. Time.

Ask. If you don’t understand something, ask. Ask God. Ask friends or leaders you trust to help you discern what a scripture means. Google to find other passages of scripture that speak to the same topic. Read trusted commentaries from Bible scholars and then ask God to help you discern how you should receive their interpretations.

Implement. Even considering all of the steps above, this step is one of the easiest ways to “break” the Bible. We must do what it says, otherwise, it’s a bigger mess than putting the wrong soap in the dishwasher. When we don’t apply God’s Word to our lives we settle for pride and deception and not the blessed infilling of God’s transforming love.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:22-25, NIV).

Know that God longs to speak with you through His Word. Seriously LONGS. Like more than I desire chocolate. Respond to Him, He’s willing, ready, and waiting.

‘The beginning.’ These words have overtones of something especially important. Genesis 1 begins with the words, ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’, and John begins his Gospel with the words ‘in the beginning was the Word,’ and in his first letter commences with ‘that which was from the beginning – we declare to you’. In each of these cases ‘in the beginning’ takes us back into eternity.
—  Peter Pett’s Commentary of the Bible

12 things i am learning because it’s my day off tomorrow and I can’t post it then: :)

1. kindness is so important. so much of a person’s character can be judged by little acts of kindness, such as opening doors for people, letting them cut in line, tipping more than they should, the way one talks to others when they disagree. i want so much to be kind in all i do.

2. spending time with Jesus as much as I possibly can is changing me so much. it is killing the ugliness of my flesh and i am becoming who i always wanted to be.

3. the time that you prepare for your calling is just as important as your calling. 

4. if i’m going to lead people, i better spend a whole lotta time on my face praying that Jesus would break my heart for others and would destroy every ounce of flesh in me. if i spend more time being a ‘leader’ than I do with my King, there is a problem.

5. when you say you’ll pray for people, actually pray for them. it produces miracles upon miracles. 

6. i just want to take pictures all day long. i love it so much.

7. gold fingernail polish is my favorite. all time favorite.

8. i’m going to braid my hair everyday for a month just because.

9. walking out of my room to see my husband on the couch, raising his hands and singing at the top of his lungs with tears running down his face in worship is literally the most heart breaking, beautiful, teaching moment. i want to learn to worship like that man, with no shame and no abandon and and in front of whoever because only Jesus matters. 

10. i need to read commentaries with my daily Bible reading, because I crave the historical context and perspective it gives me.

11. i forgot how much I adore pistachio ice cream.

12. i can stop worrying about my future so much…..because at the end of the day, if my husband is still madly in love with my heart, then life will have lived up to my every dream.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Psalms 23:5-6 KJV

In ancient Near Eastern culture, at a feast it was customary to anoint a person with fragrant oil. Hosts were also expected to protect their guests at all costs. God offers the protection of a host even when enemies surround us. In the final scene of this psalm, we see that believers will dwell with the Lord. God, the perfect shepherd and host, promises to guide and protect us throughout our life and to bring us into his house forever.

Life Application Bible Commentary