Biblical Study Tours and Random Pertinent Topics
We are going to Israel again to study Biblical culture with Dr Randal Smith.
Here are the details of our study tour. Click on the link to download the pdf.
Israel Study Tour April May 2023
We have been working with Randy since our first study tour in 1997. We worked with Randy on a Bible school project in Israel in 1999, and returned again in 2000 during the Intifada when we helped Randy begin a food and medicine relief project to Jewish and Arab families.
We have travelled with Randy and his wife Dottie to Turkey, Greece, Italy, and worked with them in their Bible School in Sebring Florida.
, Randy graduated from Hebrew University and worked as a teacher and guide for various ministries as well as CNN for many years. When we met Randy in 1997 he was training all the guides for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. Randy has been involved in many of the archeological digs in Israel since the early 1990's and is one of the best teachers to walk on a site with.
Randy is a walking Biblical encyclopedia but is able to make that heart connection with the message of the Bible that changes our perspectives and lives.
Benjamin Franklin once said that we should be a “Jack of all trades and a master of one.” Unfortunately that has often been misquoted to say “master of none”.
We all should be good at the business we are in, good at relating to others, good at managing our family and civic affairs, and good at creative expressions. Yet behind all this is the discipline that we should master: Biblical Studies. It is from an accurate understanding of the Bible and the principles therein that we achieve excellence at everything else that we do. Knowing God’s Word is the prerequisite to all successful human endeavors.
We offer some teaching on the Bible which we hope will help you better understand God’s Word in the cultural context that you find yourself.
Our contributors include Laura Bagby, honors graduate of the University of Hawaii, Dr. Randall Smith, director of the Great Commission Bible Institute and acknowledged expert in Biblical Culture, Jon Hamilton, a noted radio Bible teacher, and Michael Bagby, an honors graduate in History from Miami University.
Here are a few thoughts to consider:
How We Cultivate Our World
How does God want to use us to impact our world?
Do we have to travel to a far off place to do missionary work?
No. It can all happen in the places that God has already placed you.
Read how God want to use you in the vocation that you find yourself.
Download the PDF by clicking the link below:
How We Cultivate Our Earth pdf
The Perfect Footwear
On a family trip to Las Vegas for a wedding, Michael purchased a pair of Ariat boots, and discovered that these boots are the perfect footwear for his profession.
Keeping Your Cistern Clean
On a trip to the Wilderness of Zinn, Michael revisited a local watering hole, and discovered some personal application.
A Cultural View of the Beatitudes
What was Jesus really saying when He said
“Blessed are the. . . “?
A look with Biblical cultural eyes provides us a more appropriate “listen” to these powerful words.”
Why No Cheeseburgers at the Jerusalem McDonalds?
Why are their no cheeseburgers on the main menu at the McDonalds in downtown Jerusalem? The answer may surprise you, and perhaps help us understand more about the Laws that were given through Moses to the Hebrew people.
Are these laws old and out of date, or are they life giving and very relevant to the 21st Century follower of Jesus?
A Lifestyle of Making Disciples
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matt 28:18-20 NAS
This is the passage of Scripture called "The Great Commission" where missionaries have traditionally gotten their “marching orders” to go to other countries and evangelize unreached people. I first heard this message at a concert on Maui by a famous Christian singer, who’s latest album was titled “Jesus Commands Us To Go!”. I was so excited afterward that I told my cousin Kean that I was ready to go to any place and tell the people about Jesus.
He looked at me, and with a smile asked me: “How would you like to go to an island in the Pacific where less than five percent of the people attend church on Sunday?”
I responded excitedly: “Let’s go!”.
He calmly said: “You are standing on it!”
The Bible: Could I Trust It?
Since Johannes Gutenburg invented the printing press in 1439, the most printed book in history has been the Bible, with 2.6 billion copies printed since that time. If you took all the copies and stacked them end to end, the stack would reach one third the distance to the Moon (I did the calculations myself!)
Photo: A copy of the Gutenberg Press on display at
the Museum of the Bible Washington DC. GMB 2019
The Bible declares itself to be “living” and “active”, as well as the standard for our morality.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NAS
Paul told his disciple Timothy that:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The Bible was written by more than 40 different authors, who came from all walks of life- kings, farmers, priests, shepherds, fishermen, a tax collector, a physician, a fig tree pincher, all apparently under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It was written over a 1500 year period on three different continents (Europe, Asia and Africa), and in three languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic). Amazingly, all the authors agree on the basic message.
But could I trust it? All Scripture? Every word?
That was the question that I had to decide. I guess it’s the question that we all have to address at some point in our lives. Did God speak to mankind through this book? Is there a Divine Authority to its contents? Does God lay out His opinions on how we are to live our lives here on Earth? Can we believe what the Bible says about the origin of life; how we humans think and feel; life after death; who God is, and the great love that God has for us all?
Or is it just another book filled with men’s opinions, mythology, and another philosophy of life?
When Problems Arise, So Do We!
“Comfort” is a state of being that is naturally desired by all humans. We all strive to reach this state of “relief from pain or anxiety” and be “physically relaxed.” In a sense, the goal of all societies is to reach this state of comfort, or at least allow someone to be comfortable, often at the expense of many others.
When you are comfortable, you are content. Contentment often is a state of being that keeps us where we are at. When there are no problems, there is no reason to search for solutions. We naturally fall into a state of ‘couch-potatoing’ and ‘business as usual’. There is very little reason to do more than what is required. Comfortable & Content people are not the ones who change their worlds. They are often the spectators to those who are not content and not comfortable. This second group is those innovative, energetic, dynamic, and hardworking members of our society who actually accomplish great things in their lifetimes. We call them ‘movers & shakers’.
In the Kingdom of God, we are all called to be ‘world changers’.
Us? Change Our World? Really?
In The Search Mode
Are You Wandering Around in the Jungle?
Are You Looking for the Right Path?
“If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32
At some point in our lives, we all come to a place where we begin to search for answers to some of the real issues of life. Often, getting to this point is a laborious journey.
We may travel
through fields of achievement,
across mountains of excitement, along rivers of materialism,
through caverns of knowledge,
finally looking for the
oasis of spiritual fulfillment.
One traveler on this journey is a dear friend from my days in the Navy named Dave.
I met Dave in 1976 at Whidbey Island Washington. He flew in the EA-6B Prowler, the Navy’s electronic warfare jammer. I flew the A-6 Intruder, the carrier based all weather attack jet. We journeyed together through our years of flying in the Navy. In addition to flying, we spent many evenings eating cheeseburgers at Toby’s Tavern, rolling dice, playing pinball, throwing darts, and playing the Crown Avenue Frisbee Golf course. Rarely did we discuss spiritual matters. We were having too much fun!
Our paths separated in 1981 when I moved to Maui, where I began to experience the spiritual fulfillment of a true relationship with the Lord. After a few years, I went to Honduras on a two week trip to help Miskito Indian refugees from the war in Nicaragua. That short trip has turned into a long term engagement– now over 14 years.
Dave continued on in the Navy, finally retiring. We re-established contact in 1995, when Dave sailed on a small sailboat from California to Florida via the Panama Canal. After his journey of many months ended, we made contact through the internet.
What follows is a letter from Dave,
and my response….
The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus as told by Matthew. Mark, Luke and John
The Mural of Jesus at the Chora Church Istanbul Turkiye
In preparation for the celebration of my favorite holiday, Easter, I spent some time today going through the four Gospel accounts of Jesus' Crucifixion and Resurrection. I have color coded the sources with Red for Matthew, Purple for Mark (which is really Peter's account as told later to Mark according the the Second Century Church fathers) and Blue for John.
For historians, these are eyewitness accounts which caused these witnesses to proclaim that they had seen and been with Jesus after his resurrection, even eating meals with him. Under penalty of death, they maintained their testimony. These two aspects of these account lend considerable credence to their historical accuracy.
As a Professor of Law at Harvard University, Simon Greenleaf, who wrote the textbook on evidence admissible in court used by all law schools in the 19th and 20th century said:
"There is more historical - legal evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus than any other event in history."
The Resurrection is the Hinge of Christianity.
If It happened, then all that Jesus claimed to be is true.
If not, it's just another pipe-dream philosophy of what human life could be.
Here is the combined history of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, beginning with John:
The Real Christmas Story
Do you know the real Christmas story?
That’s not an absurd question in for this generation.
I suspect that many have a vague idea that this holiday is somehow connected to a fat white-bearded guy dressed in red and white, some reindeers (one with a red nose), a tall three-ball carrot-nosed top-hatted snowman, and a mother holding a baby with barn animals and shepherds standing around. Along with these characters, there is music to go along with the celebration: “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause”, “It’s Cold Outside”, “Jingle Bells”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Frosty the Snowman”, and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” are just a few of the many songs that have no historical or scriptural basis.
In addition, we bring evergreen trees into our homes, attach wreathes of evergreen branches to our doors and mantles, drink eggnog, and make Christmas cookies in the shape of Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph. We purchase gifts for our family and friends, and wrap them up and place them under the tree. This gift giving in American culture is often the centerpiece of the Christmas celebration.
We Americans spend millions during the holiday season.
This is the Cultural Christmas celebration that occurs in America and other parts of the world.
A more traditional celebration includes many aspects of the cultural celebration with the addition of a reading of the Biblical Christmas story that is recorded in Matthew and in Luke. This story begins in Nazareth, a small community in Galilee where most lived in cave homes on a steep hillside.
Photo: Modern Nazareth viewed from Mt Carmel.