The surprising cost of a miracle

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 8.11.52 AM

This post ran in the Aug. 20, 2016 issue of the Macon Telegraph.

Call it the most offensive miracle in history.

If there had been video of what Jesus did to a blind guy on social media, it would have ignited a firestorm of protests. In terms of public relations, it was a recipe for disaster. In terms of common courtesy, it was flat-out rude.

And yet there was Jesus, embarrassing a man with a physical disability.

The disciples started it, actually. When Jesus and his followers happened upon a blind beggar, they turned him into a theological discussion.

“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” (John 9:2, NLT)

Can you imagine being in the blind man’s sandals? “Hey guys! I’m blind … not deaf! Can you show a little sensitivity here?”

At that moment, Jesus did something shocking.

EIN loves students! We’re headed to Westfield Schools for chapel services with the middle and high school students in October.

Want to take your students on a virtual tour of biblical sites? Contact us!

Date: October 12, 2016
Event: Westfield Schools

We’re returning to Lizella Baptist Church for three virtual visits to Israel! We’ll be at the church for morning and evening services on Sunday, and again for the Wednesday-night Bible study. The Sept. 28 Wednesday Bible study begins at 6:15 p.m.

Date: September 25, 2016
Time: 11 a.m., 6 p.m.
Event: Lizella Baptist Church
Venue: Lizella Baptist Church
(478) 935-8632
Location: 2950 South Lizella Road
Lizella, GA 31052

Why 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!

EIN returns to First Baptist Church in Americus for a Sunday-morning journey to Israel on August 21!

Date: August 21, 2016
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Event: First Baptist Church Americus
Venue: First Baptist Church
229-924-9035
Location: 221 S. Lee Street
Americus, GA 31709

We’re taking Israel to North Carolina! Cedar Rock First Baptist Church will host an EIN Bible conference Oct. 23-26. We’ll host the Sunday-morning Homecoming service at 11 a.m., and have evening conferences Sunday-Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. each night. Pastor Andy Cook began his ministry at Cedar Rock in 1989, during his days at Southeastern Seminary.

Date: October 23, 2016—October 26, 2016
Event: Cedar Rock (NC) Bible Conference
Venue: Cedar Rock First Baptist Church
(919) 853-3458
Location: 4879 NC Hwy 56E
Castalia, NC 27816
Public: Public

Want to host a Bible conference at your church? Contact us!

If you’ve got a clear path in front of you, it’s because He’s cleared the way

Proverbs 3 5 6 Path

For the first hour of the hike, the only thoughts I could manage dealt with getting more air in my lungs and more willpower to my legs.

Both goals seemed nearly out of reach.

We were taking a week off, spending time in the North Georgia Mountains. These were the mountains I’d climbed as a teenager. These were the paths I’d chosen during a week of mid-life denial a decade ago when a friend and I hiked 40 miles along the famous Appalachian Trail. By the time that week was over, we had renamed it the Appalachian Trial.

We were only back in these same mountains for a day hike.

The lesser-traveled Benton MacKaye Trail was near the cabin we were using, so a son-in-law and I found a trailhead and disappeared into the forest.

You want us to love THESE enemies?

Arbel

Mt. Arbel towers over the northern corner of the Sea of Galilee. The caves in the cliffs hid some of the most troubling stories in Israel’s long history of dealing with cruel oppressors. The message Jesus offered the people of this community? “Love your enemies!” Mari Santani photo.

 

It’s one of the most troubling psalms in the Bible.

The setting is in Babylon, where Jewish families were experiencing life as a captive people. They weren’t exactly prisoners of war, but they couldn’t go home, either.

When their captors demanded that they sing, Psalm 137 came up from the belly of a heartbroken musician.

O Babylon, you will be destroyed.
Happy is the one who pays you back
for what you have done to us.
Happy is the one who takes your babies
and smashes them against the rocks! (Psalm 137:8-9)

Smash the babies against the rocks? This is your prayer?

There’s a reason we don’t sing that one in church. There’s a reason we don’t cherish images of infants being destroyed. This little phrase is so troubling, it’s easier to pretend it’s just not there.