Ancient Egyptian Coins Found Bearing Joseph’s Name & Image

Joseph coins
Today’s Jerusalem Post reports that “archeologists have discovered ancient Egyptian coins bearing the name and image of the biblical Joseph… A thorough examination revealed that the coins bore the year in which they were minted and their value, or effigies of the pharaohs [who ruled] at the time of their minting. Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt, and bear his name and portrait.”

From the Middle East Media Research Institute: “Among these, there was one coin that had an inscription on it, and an image of a cow symbolizing Pharaoh’s dream about the seven fat cows and seven lean cows, and the seven green stalks of grain and seven dry stalks of grain. It was found that the inscriptions of this early period were usually simple, since writing was still in its early stages, and consequently there was difficulty in deciphering the writing on these coins. But the research team [managed to] translate [the writing on the coin] by comparing it to the earliest known hieroglyphic texts… Joseph’s name appears twice on this coin, written in hieroglyphs: once the original name, Joseph, and once his Egyptian name, Saba Sabani, which was given to him by Pharaoh when he became treasurer. There is also an image of Joseph, who was part of the Egyptian administration at the time.”

A Week of John 14-17


(Green Lake, Wisconsin)

I am taking time this morning to again read John chapters 14-17. In these great chapters Jesus instructs and counsels his disciples about kingdom-living after he leaves them. I invite you to join me in this. Use John chs 14-17 in your devotional time. Saturate yourself in these scriptures.

When God speaks to you, write down what he says in your journal. If you would like to share with me what God is saying to you, please do this. Thanks to those of you who are already sharing your thoughts with me!

At Redeemer we’ll be spending several months in these verses. Why so much time? Because here we have single Jesus-sentences that contain entire worlds of meaning. Like, e.g., the one verse we looked closely at yesterday, John 14:1, where Jesus says “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.” Personally, I think I could spend several weeks just on that one Jesus-thought alone!

This coming Sunday I will preach on John 14:5-7. Is there a higher, richer thing in the New Testament than what Jesus says in John 14:6? I am thrilled to think that I get to spend this week prepping for this, and then share what God is telling me with my church family.

Blessings to you for a God-saturated week!

Drawing Closer (Marriage Conference in Monroe)


A Marriage Conference
led by John & Linda Piippo

Discover how two different persons can overcome their differences and partner together to advance God’s Kingdom.

•October 23 – 7 PM – 9:30 PM
•Oct. 24 – 10 AM-7 PM
•$25/couple (includes Sat. dinner together)

•WHERE: Indian Trails Lodge, Monroe, MI
•Register by October 16
•For registration & information call 734-242-5277

Trust in God; Trust in Jesus


I’m preaching this Sunday on john 14:1-3. Here’s a place where, again, the chapter divisions in the Bible are misleading. There were no such divisions in the original text. What we call “John chapter 13” flows right into “John chapter 14.”

Jesus’ disciples have just seen Judas leave them, heard Peter confronted with his future denial of Jesus, and have heard Jesus tell them he’s leaving soon, by way of a horrible death. This leaves their hearts “troubled,” and they will only get more troubled in the hours to follow.

Knowing this Jesus tells them, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust in me.” Here are a few things I am now thinking about “trust.”

1. Trust is always about a future. It especially relates to those things we have no control over. Which are: most things.

2. The Greek word used in John 14:1 is pisteuo, which means: “personal relational trust” (Andreas Kostenberger, John, 425).

3. We place our trust in a person or persons.

4. Trust implies risk. Can we trust this person?

5. In life, trust in God; trust in Jesus.

6. Where trust is, troubledness is not.

The Genetic Fallacy

A common student response to the God-discussions in my philosophy of religion classes is to reason that discussion of how beliefs are acquired is relevant to the truth of those beliefs. If one can establish that, e.g., John was taught to believe in God by his parents, then somehow this casts doubt on the existence of God. In logic this kind of reasoning is known as committing the genetic fallacy.

The genetic fallacy is a logical fallacy in which the origin of a belief, claim, or theory is confused with its justification. This fallacy is more often used to discredit a belief, though it may also be used to support one.

For example: “Martin Heidegger’s philosophy must be wrong or evil because he was associated with the Nazi regime.” (This kind of genetic fallacy is known as an ad hominem circumstantial.)

Or: “You only believe in God because your parents taught you to. So your belief must be false.”

These kind of statements are fallacious because the origin of the claim has no logical relation to its truth or falsity.

Another example is: “You only believe Christianity because you were indoctrinated by your parents and culture. If you came from a Hindu family and culture you would be a Hindu,” with the spoken or unspoken impression ‘thus Christianity need not be preferred over Hinduism.” These are sociological & statistical claims. In neither case can anything be inferred about the truth of Christianity from reasons as to where a Christian’s belief allegedly originated. Logic, and philosophy of religion studies, care nothing for sociological, socio-cultural, anthropological, and psychological explanations of the formation and transmission of beliefs. This is because such studies are irrelevant to the truth of such beliefs.

Further note that, were genetic fallacy reasoning valid, then we ought to question everything we have learned from our parents, to include “1+1=2,” “The earth is not flat,” and “Milk comes from cows.”

Logic is concerned with whether or not statements of belief are TRUE.

· Christianity – An omni-God exists
· Atheism – no omni-God exists
· Hinduism – there are 330 million “gods”
· Buddhism – everything that is, is metaphysically One.
· Pantheism – everything is God
· Agnosticism – we can’t know whether or not an omni-God exists
· Skepticism – there are so many alternatives we can’t possibly know which one is true.

The origins of these beliefs have nothing to do with logical truth-claims. Philosophers look at these statements individually and ask: Is this statement true or is it false? For example, is the statement God does not exist true? How one came to believe that God does not exist is irrelevant to the issue of truth.

(More On) True Greatness

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(My friend Hal Ronning, in Jerusalem)

Luke 22:24 – “Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” Jesus responds to this by making an analogy between the kings who lord it over the Gentiles, and his own disciples. Jesus tells his disciples that they are not to be like these kings, who exert power over their “subjects” and personally gain from their “benevolence.” That… is evil. Punishing.

The disciples are not talking about what true greatness is, but about which one of them is greater than all the others. In this they show themselves to be still top immersed in the comparative, competitive world-system that produces the agonies of pride and shame.

C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, wrote an entire chapter on pride called “The Great Sin.” Lewis says:
“The heart of Christian morality is… Humility. The opposite of this… the Kingdom of Darkness thing… is Pride… Pride is the complete anti-God state of mind… Each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride… Pride is essentially competitive… Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the other person. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking, there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.”

I think the other side of pride is shame. Both pride and shame are forms of self-obsession, and all self-obsession punishes one’s self and others and hinders the ability to love and be loved. Lewis Smedes, in his beautiful book Shame and Grace, says that “shame is a ‘heavy feeling’ of not measuring up that can easily lead to a feeling of self-disgust and fundamental unacceptability. Shame is a vague, undefined heaviness that presses on our spirit, dampens our gratitude for the goodness of life, and slackens the free flow of joy.”

Jesus wants to free his disciples from the pride-shame continuum by which people rank and compare themselves with others. I have found that many people who are proud and posture themselves as superior to others actually have deep-seated inferiority and worthlessness inside of themselves. These dark things make if difficult to serve other people in the purest sense, which is, expecting nothing in return from them. To serve others without expecting to receive honor and glory and praise from them is freedom. To serve others without wallowing in self-degradation is freedom. Jesus’ kingdom has nothing to do withy such things. In the Kingdom of God honor, for everyone and towards everyone, prevails.

Aim low. Submit to one another and love one another. Be great for God. Do great things for God. Be free from comparing yourself with others. Celebrate when others do great things for God.

The Key to What the Real Jesus Is All About

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(I took this picture in the Arab Sector of the Old City of Jerusalem)

I’m preaching tomorrow out of Luke 22:24-30. Jesus’ disciples are arguing among themselves as to which one of them is the “greatest.” Jesus, because he is conferring a kingdom on them (just as God the Father bestowed a kingdom on Jesus), instructs them that such competitive rivalry that wants power over others is not what the Kingdom of God is all about.

How important is this for us to understand? N.T. Wright says, “This standing on its head of the world’s idea of greatness is central not only to all Christian work and ministry; it is the key to what Jesus was about.” (NTW, Luke for Everyone, 267)

God Gave Us Larry Norman

larry norman
I’m approaching my 40-year anniversary as a follower of Jesus. Way back in 1970 I was a drug-using, alcohol abusing, guitar-playing pseudo-hippie who had flunked out of college because of partying too much. Then, at age 21, Jesus found me. My life has never been the same.

At the time I thought that was it for my love for rock-‘n- roll. I was so screwed up inside that I was even willing to put down the guitar for the sake of Jesus even if it meant I had to sing 18th-century hymns to organ music the rest of my life.

Then God sent Larry Norman. He was in a psycheldelic rock band in San Francisco called “People” when Jesus found him. He had long blond hair, played guitar and piano, had a unique, impassioned voice like his singing was speaking words of truth to you, and an electric stage presence. And there was I, stuck forever in the world of organ-hymn music. I heard a song by Norman called “Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus.” One line was, ‘You’ve got gonorrhea on Valentine’s Day [VD] and you’re still looking for the perfect lay. … Why don’t you look into Jesus? He’s got the answer.'” Whoaaa… here was someone speaking truth and pointing to Jesus – “Why don’t you look into Jesus, He’s got the answer?” Larry was a real Jesus-follower who was willing to sing the truth about life and how Jesus is life, and he didn’t seem to care what other people thought. Many of us were captivated by that. Larry Norman became a leader for a lot of us.

Check out this article on today’s “Larry Norman was a Christian rock musician before the genre existed, combining faith with a backbeat and social consciousness. Think of him as rock music’s street preacher, often referred to as “the father of Christian rock.” “Between 1969 and 1979, Larry Norman was the Christian rock scene’s answer to Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Mick Jagger,” said Emmy-nominated director David Di Sabatino, who takes a critical look at Norman’s career and life in his documentary “Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman.” “He set the standard. He created the space for others to exist. … The vision he created for where Christian rock music could go still resonates today.”

Larry was the major influence on musician Steve Camp. (I once played with Steve in a small coffee house in Joliet, Illinois.) His album “Only Visiting this Planet” was produced by Beatles’ producer George Martin. Norman’s music has influenced U2, Guns N’ Roses, and Bob Dylan. “Black Francis of the alternative rock group the Pixies said Norman has been a lifelong influence. “I listened to his records growing up, and saw him perform many times. In fact, I used to dress up like him; long blond hair with bangs, sort of a grown-out British invasion look, with black jacket, black shirt, black pants and two-tone black and white cheerleader shoes,” Francis said. “While Larry is always referenced by his Christian beliefs, to me he was always an entertainer … humorous, poignant and always rock ‘n’ roll. His respect for the arena of entertainment is what gave him his power as a performer.”

I saw Larry perform, probably, 10 times. There’s one time I’ll never forget. Linda and I traveled to a county fair somewhere in Illinois to catch him. Not a lot of people had heard of him. Maybe there were 50-100 people there. He played and sang his heart out to us that night. There before us was the beating heart of God with long hair and prophetic, paradigm-shifting, revolutionary words pouring out in love.

Thank you, God, for giving us Larry Norman.

(The documentary on Larry is scheduled for release in 2010. Go here.)

2000-Year-Old Synagogue Found Near the Sea of Galilee


If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing I would like to be an archaeologist in the Ancient Near East. Here’s the link (Jerusalem Post) to the discovery of an ancient synagogue (prayer house) in Migdala near the Sea of Galilee. Migdala is the city where Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala) lived. The photo is of a drawing of a menorah engraved in stone that was in the 2000-year-old synagogue.

If God Made the Universe, Who or What Made God?


(Sterling State Park)

Some people (usually not professional philosophers) ask the question, “If God made the universe, who or what made God?” The answer to this question is: it’s a nonsense question. Here’s why.

If God is a being that exists necessarily, this means God could not not exist. This is how theists view God; viz., as a necessary being. This does not imply that God actually exists. Even if God does not exist, this is how theists define God, much as all define a “unicorn” as a one-horned horselike creature. Even atheists can acknowledge that, by the term “God,” is meant a necessarily existing being.

Following the idea of God as presented in the Kalam Cosmological Argument, God did not “begin to exist.” If only what begins to exist has a cause, and God did not begin to exist (because God’s existence is necessary), then to ask “What caused God?” is akin to asking “What color is the note C?” (See Moreland, 63)

So the question is incoherent. It is a “pointless category fallacy” (the ascription of a wrong feature to the wrong thing). (Ib.)