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For the 6th time, I have just arrived back in Canada after spending some time in Israel. This is the 2nd year in a row that I have had the pleasure of providing the teaching portion for the Back to the Bible Canada tour. We typically visit such sites as Caesarea, Caesarea Philippi, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, and Tel Megiddo. We also get to overlook the valley of Armageddon, the Valley of Jezreel, and many other sites. These places are all amazing, but for me, the real highlight is Jerusalem. For it is Jerusalem, as the Bible tells us, that is the city of the great king.

Due to the fact that this was the 2nd year in a row that we’ve done this trip, we were provided with the same local guides who led us last year. Both were Jewish men, who even though were not Christian, showed a great sensitivity and respect for the Christian faith. One of the two, a man named Shlomo (or Solomon) had started to feel like a very dear friend. He was professional and very knowledgeable (as is true of a great many of the Jewish guides). Even though he is not a believer himself, we were able to take part in excellent dialogue throughout the trip.

The times we spoke of the Christian faith were some of the times I loved the most.

Near the end of our tour, I asked Shlomo whether he might be interested in publishing a series of letters we might write to each other about our dialogue regarding the Christian faith and Judaism. He faced me squarely and said, “You are required to tell me the truth. What is your real motivation for asking me?” I told him that, yes, it was true that I had been praying for his conversion to Christ as his Saviour and Messiah, and it was also true that I wanted to keep that conversation alive. But my primary reason for asking was to model the kind of dialogue that I believed is possible between Christians and Jews.

Whether or not Shlomo and I engage in a dialogue of letters and publish it is far from certain. Publication is dependent on a whole host of issues that include time and editing resources. It may or may not come to be and may God’s will be done. But Shlomo’s question has caused me to think about the two-fold role of all Christians as they seek to present Jesus to Jews.

The first is the obligation that all Christians have toward the people of Israel is to recognize that we owe them a great debt.

In Romans 9:4-5, Paul explains the privileged position of Israel. He says, “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.  To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” Every single Gentile Christian who reflects on this text must come to the conclusion that we owe to Israel an infinite debt of gratitude we can never repay. Our faith and our Saviour come from Israel. Furthermore, the role that Israel has played in protecting and preserving the sacred texts of scripture must never be overlooked. It is for this reason, that all Christians must find every act of anti-Semitism to be especially horrifying. But we must go beyond anti-Semitism to nurturing a deep, abiding, overwhelming love for the Jewish people. God demands it of us.

The second obligation that all Gentile Christians have toward Israel is beautifully expressed in Romans 9:2;

“My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief.” This text expresses Paul’s sorrow over the lost condition of many of the Jewish people.

How do we superimpose these two passions? One is the longing for the conversion of the Jews to Christ, superimposed with a deep overwhelming sense of indebtedness to a people to whom we can never repay. If both of these impulses are not present, we sin against God.

Dr. John Neufeld
Bible teacher, Back to the Bible Canada

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I had the great privilege of being one of Warren Wiersbe’s many students. I studied under him in a class called; “Imagination and the Quest for Biblical Preaching”. Warren began by presenting the class with two preachers – one who failed at his task, and one who succeeded. He was speaking of Ahithophel the Gilonite and Hushai the Archite. We read about these two men in 2 Samuel 17.

Wiersbe said that at the outset, it would seem that Ahithophel’s sermon would surely sway Absalom, the young man who was seeking to lead a rebellion against his father, King David. After all, the Bible teaches us that in those days, “Ahithophel’s counsel was as if one consulted the word of God.” Furthermore, Absalom was disposed to trusting in the counsel of his most esteemed advisor.

With a skill I had never witnessed, Wiersbe dissected the difference between the counsel of the two advisors.

Ahithophel presented Absalom with the facts he needed, but Hushai presented an alternative counsel in language replete with images, and a call for Absalom to imagine himself as a great conqueror in the battle with David. Hushai spoke of the army of Absalom that was coming upon David as the dew falls on the ground. He presented David as an enraged man, like a bear robbed of her cubs. In the end, he told Absalom of his victorious leadership uniting all of Israel from Dan to Beersheba. Wiersbe pointed out that even though it is clear that Hushai’s counsel was bad counsel intended to lead Absalom to defeat, he succeeded because of his ability to appeal to Absalom’s imagination.

With that as an introduction, Wiersbe then took us through large sections of Scripture, showing the class how the Bible frequently appeals to images that excite the reader’s imagination. He showed us how the Bible not only presents us with God’s truth, but that it does so in a manner that engages us deeply. Whether it was the image in James of illicit desire conceiving and giving birth to sin – then growing up to become death, or Paul’s image of Israel as broken off branches of an olive tree – Wiersbe was fascinating. I told my wife that after taking Warren’s class, I had a distinct feeling that I had never read the Bible before.

Warren Wiersbe was both the Bible Teacher and General Director of Back to the Bible from 1980-1990.

He wrote over 150 books. His well-known “Be Series” covered the entire New Testament and most books in the Old Testament. In his distinguished life of service, he was a pastor, educator, author, and a radio Bible teacher. Most importantly, Warren Wiersbe was a devoted follower of Jesus who was thoroughly committed to the Scriptures. In his own words, he said, “I had developed an insatiable appetite for the Word of God, and I wanted to study and understand the Bible more than anything else in all the world.”

His impact at Back to the Bible is profound.

Warren Wiersbe passed into the presence of Jesus on May 2, 2019, at the age of 89. We here at Back to the Bible Canada are grateful beyond words to our Saviour for having blessed this ministry with such an able servant of the word.

Dr. John Neufeld
Bible teacher, Back to the Bible Canada

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Listen to today’s episode of Laugh Again with Phil Callaway called “To My Son on His Graduation”. Enjoy!

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Back to the Bible Canada by Dr. John Neufeld - 2d ago

Your Salvation Story is a 5-message series on the nature and reality of experiencing true conversion. What happens when someone is converted? Can a person lose their salvation after conversion? Is it possible to keep sinning after being genuinely saved? What is God’s role in our salvation, and how is it different from our own role? The need for salvation in our lives surpasses any other need we might encounter during our time on earth. All too often, people feel overwhelmed by the topic of salvation; seeing it as something that can never be fully understood, or even achieved. In this series, Dr. John Neufeld takes you through these tough questions, leaving no question left unanswered.

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This article was originally published on truelovedates.com written by Debra Fileta. Used here with permission.
_______________

I really like social media.

In fact, I’m a huge fan of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and I even have a blog. It’s such a convenient way to connect with friends and family. With just a couple simple clicks you can get in touch with someone, share an article, or look through a friend’s photo album – or even do all those things at once!

It’s great to be able to share pictures, thoughts, and information with friends across the globe, bringing them into your world with a blink of an eye. In the busyness of our society, it’s nice to be able to stay connected when you may not have time for a 30-minute phone call.

But, even so, there can be a huge danger in this kind of “connecting.” In an essence, there are times when the online world acts like a kind of social pornography – by taking sacred things and throwing them into a not-so-meaningful context.

When we look at pornography within the context of the sexual, it carries the same idea. We live in a society in which sex has lost so much of its value, because it is no longer set apart – rather, it’s on display for the world to see. In a world where sex is blatantly bombarding us through the internet, entertainment, media, and commercialization – the sacred has become ordinary in the pursuit of drawing an audience.

And sexuality that is shared with everyone loses its prime purpose: intimacy.

Sometimes, our approach to social media can pave the way for the same kind of problem. A place where meaningful things begin to lose their meaning – just to draw an audience.

In the same way, true intimacy and connection can get lost. Social media can allow for us to “connect” with people for the sake of connecting rather than for the sake of living, gratifying an urge inside of us momentarily, thus preventing us from experiencing true connection and true intimacy in its most fulfilling context: real life.

It’s almost humorous to see status updates (we’ve all done it…) talking about “how much fun” someone is having in the moment, or “how incredible” this experience is with their significant other, because if it’s really that great: why are we on Facebook right now? Why aren’t we savoring the moment?

Sometimes, I have to ask myself the same thing.

Matthew 7:6 is a really great analogy of what it means to keep track of the sacred: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

You see, there is a tendency to talk about the moment, more than to savour the moment.

A tendency to take the sacred things in our lives and “throw them to the pigs” giving them away to people who don’t REALLY care, rather than investing those moments in the people around us who actually, genuinely matter.

Sometimes, social media becomes like a “social pornography,” because it gives us a platform to share some really sacred things, some really intimate details, in the context of a meaningless atmosphere. And in the end, if we’re not careful, it can cause those things to lose their sacredness.

This might be a hard bite to chew, and an even harder one to swallow, but hear me on this. I am speaking to myself just as much as I am to anyone reading. In focusing so much on our “audience,” maybe we’ve lost the real meaning behind the show.

We can become so focused on the connecting, that we actually take away from the living.

Maybe it’s time to bring the focus back on the living and remember to set boundaries for the things that are sacred. Rather than tagging our wonderful friends every 15 minutes, maybe it’s time to turn off the computer, put down the smart phone, invite them over to the house and take the time to really connect with them: face-to-face.

In place of posting about our deep love for our significant other, maybe it’s time to take them in our arms, and tell him/her how much they’re loved – face to face and heart to heart; even if no one else hears it but them.

And rather than share how much we love Jesus by liking a page, sharing an article, or following a hashtag, maybe it’s time to learn how to love as He did and show compassion to the world around us in the reality and realness of everyday life. At the grocery store. In traffic. At work.

There is meaning in the sacred moments of life, not because anyone is following, sharing, or liking, but because they are things that are inherently meaningful in and of themselves – audience or no audience, likes or no likes.

These real-life relationships that God has given us are so meaningful, because through them, we are offered the opportunity to get a better glimpse of Him.

We do ourselves an injustice when we choose to connect superficially with the world around us in exchange for connecting intimately.

Don’t give in to the false intimacy that comes with social pornography and make time for the genuine intimacy that comes with the day to day real life.

Make time for the people around you. Here and now.

_______________

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. Her newest relationship book was released in the summer of 2018!You may also recognize her voice from her 200+ articles at Relevant Magazine, Crosswalk.com, and all over the web! She’s the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, reaching over 4 million people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!

The post Social Media Could Be Killing Your Relationships appeared first on indoubt.

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Listen to today’s episode of Laugh Again with Phil Callaway called “5 Questions For Wilma”. Enjoy!

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Back to the Bible Canada by Dr. John Neufeld - 3d ago

Your Salvation Story is a 5-message series on the nature and reality of experiencing true conversion. What happens when someone is converted? Can a person lose their salvation after conversion? Is it possible to keep sinning after being genuinely saved? What is God’s role in our salvation, and how is it different from our own role? The need for salvation in our lives surpasses any other need we might encounter during our time on earth. All too often, people feel overwhelmed by the topic of salvation; seeing it as something that can never be fully understood, or even achieved. In this series, Dr. John Neufeld takes you through these tough questions, leaving no question left unanswered.

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Back to the Bible Canada by Phil Callaway - 4d ago

Listen to today’s episode of Laugh Again with Phil Callaway called “God’s Bumbler”. Enjoy!

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Your Salvation Story is a 5-message series on the nature and reality of experiencing true conversion. What happens when someone is converted? Can a person lose their salvation after conversion? Is it possible to keep sinning after being genuinely saved? What is God’s role in our salvation, and how is it different from our own role? The need for salvation in our lives surpasses any other need we might encounter during our time on earth. All too often, people feel overwhelmed by the topic of salvation; seeing it as something that can never be fully understood, or even achieved. In this series, Dr. John Neufeld takes you through these tough questions, leaving no question left unanswered.

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Listen to today’s episode of Laugh Again with Phil Callaway called “Wilma Derksen’s Laugh”. Enjoy!

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