Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith
By Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg

“Rabbi” was the Hebrew word for “my master,” and only later, after Jesus’ time, did it become a formal title. These men roamed from village to village, relying on the hospitality of residents. As an apprentice learns a trade, disciples followed the rabbis to learn not just knowledge but a way of life. Rabbis challenged listeners with themed stories, just as Jesus did. And Matthew 19:12, where Jesus says “others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven,” may refer to the practice of some rabbis to postpone marriage until later in life because of their itinerant way of life.

That’s only a snippet of information you’ll learn from this book that will shed light on scripture. Authors Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, discuss prayer, blessings, the Passover, Jewish feasts and much much more as they offer insightful commentary on the Jewish lifestyle and teachings of Jesus. They tie New Testament scripture to Old Testament parallels in ways that further enlighten the reader. Remember how Laban chased after Jacob when he fled, taking his wives, flocks and children with him? The authors write: “By eating together Jacob and Laban were proclaiming that their relationship had been restored. Because the meal was also part of a sacrifice to God, it was understood that the Lord himself was present . . . . “

Chapters end with suggested activities to help readers understand the teachings in an even deeper way. And sidebars explain unfamiliar terminology. Appendices include “Prayers Jesus Prayed,” data on The Feasts, a recommended resource list and a glossary. There’s also a notes section and an index to scripture. Of 264 pages, the end material takes up 56 pages. Published by Zondervan, the book sells for $21.99. Believe me, it’s worth far more than that to anyone serious about understanding scripture. Just discovered there’s an online study guide by Elisa Stanford available free at

I appreciated the careful research and documentation of the authors, which they presented in an easy-to-read, interesting style. I plan to keep this book by my Bible so that as I encounter the texts referenced, I can review what the authors have shared. I rarely re-read books, but this is one I plan to review. I’m also going to give copies as gifts because once you read it, you want everyone to discover what you’ve learned. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Three Reasons Rainy Days Pick Me Up

Cherry Blossom Trees Bloom by the Millersburg High School
It’s been a cold, rainy April, and May isn’t dancing in like Mary Sunshine either. I’m still wearing a turtleneck here in Pennsylvania. But for the first time I can remember, the cherry blossoms are perfect for our town’s Cherry Blossom Festival, which is always held on the first Saturday of May. Usually, the gorgeous pink blooms have dropped by this date.

As a child, I loved rainy days. When I was in fifth grade I had a navy-blue dress with white saddle stitching around big front pockets that I wore when it rained. In my mind, the dress matched the weather. Then there was the porch roof outside my bedroom window. I loved the beat of raindrops on that roof. And beside the house stood a tall cedar tree that, when it rained, dropped orange blossoms onto that roof. I loved the rain.

As an adult, though, not so much. We had a rainy trip to one of our speaking engagements in April. That always slows things down a bit. I also face rain in my life: a brother suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a husband facing a cochlear implant, a friend whose mother-in-law passed away. I would like to avoid such situations.

But when I look back over my life, I must admit that as surely as April showers bring May cherry blossoms, God has used the rain in my life to grow me. Funerals remind me that I too will soon meet my Maker. Challenges of any kind remind me to look to God Who God walks with me through them (Hebrews 13:5). He provides strength for the day.


1. Develop my spiritual life. We deepen our relationship with God as we read His Word and pray.
2. Develop my patience and perseverance. We grow stronger as we wait for answers and discover that just maybe, we may be part of those answers.
3. Develop my empathy and sympathy for others. We learn to see things from others’ perspectives as we experience adverse circumstances ourselves.

Rainy days are not so bad after all. It all depends if you carry an umbrella, and our umbrella is God and the promises of his Word. Be sure to read it today. There’s sunshine behind those clouds— behind those words.


Upcoming Engagements:
May 2, 12 Noon – Calvary Independent Church, Lykens, “That Face in the Mirror: Who Do You See?”
May 5, 6:30 p.m. – Ono UM Church, “That Face in the Mirror: Who Do You See?”
May 7, 6 p.m. – Grace UM Church, Millersburg, “If the Shoe Fits . . . “
May 9, 11 a.m. – Hebron UM Church, Millersburg, “If the Shoe Fits . . . “
May 30, 6:30 p.m. – Thompsontown UM Church, “If the Shoe Fits . . . “