Gary Alley

A Parable of Dirt

A Parable of Dirt

Every Friday night, many Jewish families gather and welcome the Shabbat, or Sabbath.  At this weekly traditional gathering, God is thanked for his provision, specifically with blessings related to two elements—the wine and the bread.  This is, because the entire meal in biblical and Jewish tradition can be summed up by those two things—wine symbolizes drink and bread represents food.  

Are We “People of the Book”?

Are We “People of the Book”?

It can be argued that the spread of Christianity was empowered by its universal message, making it highly compatible in many cultures and languages.  Yet, that strength can also be a weakness, when the shifting winds of culture and language blow back on the original biblical meaning and context.  To safeguard the gospel message, a robust relationship with Hebrew and Greek are essential for the future of the Evangelical church.

"I Desire Relationship Not Sacrifice"

"I Desire Relationship Not Sacrifice"

This past week we ended the holiday of Hanukkah or “Dedication” that commemorates when Judah Maccabee restored the purity of Jerusalem’s temple after having been desecrated by Gentiles with their pagan sacrifices. Among other things, Judah’s forces tore down the altar that had borne the blood of pigs, and rebuilt a new one in its place. Having completed the remodeling, Judah celebrated this rededication for eight days at the end of 164 BC. At the heart of Hanukkah is restoration of pure sacrifice.

An Ancient Yom Kippur Mashup-->Jesus Mixing the Prophet Isaiah

An Ancient Yom Kippur Mashup-->Jesus Mixing the Prophet Isaiah

There is only one story in the gospels where Jesus reads from the Scripture when he was in his hometown synagogue. At some point after the destruction of the First Temple in 587 B.C., Jews first began meeting in synagogues every Sabbath—or Shabbat—and reading from the five books of Moses. Those first books of Hebrew Scripture—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—also known as the Torah, formed the core scripture readings in the synagogue every Shabbat.

When God's Home Was Destroyed

When God's Home Was Destroyed

The writer of Lamentations sits astonished. The unbelievable has happened. It is the 6th century B.C. and the holy city of Jerusalem is no more, and its temple—the House of God—is razed. The city of the Judean kings is plundered and left bare. David’s descendants have been murdered, raped, and enslaved. Bodies of old and young lie in the road; like an apocalyptic nightmare, the famished survivors wander the ravaged streets like zombies, even eating their children.

9-11's Long Shadow on Today's "Terrorism"

9-11's Long Shadow on Today's "Terrorism"

As the World Trade Center Towers in New York City fell on September 11th fifteen years ago as a result of Islamic extremist attacks, those of us still living then knew the world had suddenly entered a new era of fear. While the annals of history have always been scribbled in the blood of millions who have died in war, 9-11 has proven to be a portent of the 21st century’s slippery struggle with an elusive enemy.

The "War on Terror" Fifteen Years Later: From New York to Orlando

The "War on Terror" Fifteen Years Later:  From New York to Orlando

On September 20, 2001, President George W. Bush declared a "War on Terror" in the aftermath of the Islamic extremist group, Al-Qaeda’s, September 11th attacks on the United States. Interestingly, similar words were first used by the Reagan Administration in 1984 when it called for a “war against terrorism” in reaction to the bombing of the American and French barracks in Beirut which was linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Fear the Walking Refugees?

We are all witnesses to a seismic moment in modern history. It is being called the greatest refugee crisis since World War II as hordes of desperate men, women, and children from lands of chaos and conflict seek safety and hope in Europe. The news over the past weeks has been dominated by apocalyptic scenes of crowds swarming razor wire fences and overwhelmed police trying to contain the tens of thousands.

A Tale of Two Churches

Recently, two famous churches on two different continents were attacked within hours, or possibly even minutes, of each other. One attack was against the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, a historic African American church. On Wednesday evening, June 17th, Dylann Roof entered the church joining a Bible study for about an hour before opening fire around 9 p.m. killing nine people.

Birth Pangs of a Jewish Nation

Last week, Israel celebrated its birth. Following the Jewish calendar, on the 5th of Iyyar, 67 years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben Gurion and the Jewish National Council declared the establishment of the modern Jewish state. Yet, before every birth, there are labor pangs, and before those travails a fetus has slowly developed in the wake of conception. The modern state of Israel’s birth was much more than one miraculous day.