How virtual tours are changing sermons

Andy with Bible in motion

Pastors and Bible teachers can use photographs and video clips from the land of the Bible to deliver the life-changing truths of the Bible. That’s the Sea of Galilee in the background of this message.

Not that long ago, an excited news anchor announced that a terrible event had just taken place in Europe. Even as he breathlessly uttered the “breaking-news” announcement, a video clip using Google Earth software was zooming down to the city where a reporter was waiting.

Why use Google Earth video clips on a national news program?

Because every network wants you to know that the stories it broadcasts are true. It’s part of a time-tested philosophy of delivering news. The “where” of the story is part of the evidence that the story actually happened.

Pastors and Bible teachers are discovering that the same philosophy works when teaching or preaching great Bible stories. Google Earth video clips can take any audience to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, or the valley where David defeated Goliath. Want to go to the “Gates of Hades” at Caesarea Philippi? Google Earth can take you there!

Bill Cummings? Bless his heart …

Capernaum synagogue ruins

When it comes to debating the reliability of the Bible’s historical record the geographical and archeological evidence is impossible to ignore. These are the ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum, where Jesus first met many of his disciples.

People in the South have a saying that sounds innocent enough on the surface, but those of us who’ve used it know it’s just a nice way of writing off someone who hasn’t a clue about reality.

“Bless her heart,” we might say of the woman who sings off key, but still insists on singing solos in church. Shake your head and offer a “Bless his heart” to the high school senior who simply can’t pass his required English exam. He’s trying, but it’s obvious. It’ll take a miracle before he can earn a high school degree.

The (Macon) Telegraph insists on publishing the weekly musings of Bill Cummings, a self-proclaimed expert on all things biblical. After reading yet another groundless claim that the writers of the New Testament made stuff up in this morning’s Sunday newspaper, I had to shake my head and utter, “Well .. bless his heart.”

In the South, Super Bowl Sunday starts at church

Rise up Falcons

The football experts say the Atlanta Falcons don’t have a prayer in this year’s Super Bowl.

Of course they do.

It’s Sunday. It’s the South. This is where football and faith live quite comfortably together.

Take all that hand-raising, for instance. On the football field, officials raise both arms to signal touchdowns. In church, we raise both arms in prayer … and it just so happens that on this Sunday, we’re praying for touchdowns.

Israel opens its doors to Syrian orphans

Clown and child

An Israeli citizen dressed as a clown entertains an 11-year-old wounded Syrian child in Safed, Israel.

Despite the fact that Israel is technically still at war with Syria, the Department of Interior has announced plans to take in 100, war-weary Syrian orphans.

The announcement came last Saturday as Jewish families were enjoying their Shabbat rest.

Surprisingly, it’s not the first time tiny Israel has tried to help civilians from the predominately Muslim nation that has attacked it on multiple occasions and still has an official position of destroying the Jewish state.

Why Christians, Jews and America should stand with Israel

An Israeli tank points toward Syria at a war memorial in the northern-most reaches of Israel. Though Israel has had much conflict with its Arab neighbors, it intentionally allows Muslim control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Since 1967, people of all faiths have been allowed to visits their holy sites in Israel.

An Israeli tank points toward Syria at a war memorial in the northern-most reaches of Israel. Though Israel has had much conflict with its Arab neighbors, it intentionally allows Muslim control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Since 1967, people of all faiths have been allowed to visits their holy sites in Israel.

A few months ago, as our tour bus turned a sharp corner high in the Golan Heights, a United Nations camp came suddenly into view in the valley below us.

It was neat, orderly and flying a crisp United Nations flag.

Our bus went silent as all of us onboard were suddenly reminded of war, attacks of terror and the constant state of tension that seems to envelop the Middle East.

“Ah,” the tour guide said into his open microphone. “Look below us. It’s the United Nothings!”

The bus broke into nervous laughter and our guide soon returned our attention to biblical pursuits.

The offensive tweets of Jesus: “Let the dead bury their dead!”

mt-olives-cemetery

A group of Orthodox Jewish men gather for a ceremony around a grave on the Mount of Olives. Even today, Jewish customs demand that a person be buried within hours after his or her death. William Haun photo.

Actually, Jesus never used Twitter. But if he had, “Let the dead bury their own dead” would have surely been blasted as one of the most offensive things the holy fingers had ever tapped into his holy smart phone.

Through exchange student’s eyes, we saw Christmas anew

mari-article-photo

Mari Santani went to Israel with us a few years ago to see the land of the Bible with her own eyes. We first met Mari at Christmas, when unexpected circumstances brought her to our home for a season. Thanks to that visit, we saw Christmas with fresh eyes. Here’s the column I wrote for today’s (Macon) Telegraph. Have a blessed Christmas Eve!

It only took a few seconds to realize why the lady on the phone was frantic.

The holidays were upon us, the last day of school was hours away, and plans to house an exchange student from Japan had fallen through.

“Is there someone in your church who might be able to take her for the holidays?” she asked.

Maybe it was the spirit of giving, or maybe it was the Spirit of God. Or perhaps it was the fact that our house was already home to three girls. What would one more hurt?

“Sure,” I said. “We’ll take her.”

And thus began one of the best Christmases of our lives.

What a Palm Sunday it’ll be in Dudley, GA! Without ever leaving home, we’ll travel to Jerusalem and see the path Jesus took on the last week of his life. By the time this day is over, you may never see the crucifixion and resurrection the same way again!

Date: November 19, 2017
Time: 9:45 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m.
Event: Dudley Baptist Church
Venue: Dudley Baptist Church
(478) 676-3186
Location: 1425 2nd Street

Dudley, GA 31022

What a Palm Sunday it’ll be in Dudley, GA! Without ever leaving home, we’ll travel to Jerusalem and see the path Jesus took on the last week of his life. By the time this day is over, you may never see the crucifixion and resurrection the same way again!

Date: April 9, 2017
Time: 9:45 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m.
Event: Dudley Baptist Church
Venue: Dudley Baptist Church
(478) 676-3186
Location: 1425 2nd Street

Dudley, GA 31022

Join us Sunday morning as we trace the path of the real Christmas story. We’ll go to Bethlehem … without ever leaving Zebulon Baptist Church!

Date: December 18, 2016
Time: 11 a.m.
Event: Zebulon Baptist Church
Venue: Zebulon Baptist Church
(478) 374-2363
Location: 1252 Eastman Cochran Hwy
Eastman, GA 31023