Crossroad Bible Study

February 7th, 2009

God and brains

Posted by Anna S in Uncategorized  Tagged Luke 1

As I read Luke 1, I was struck by the questions that Zechariah and Mary asked.

Being a fairly analytical person (that might be putting it mildly!), I tend to think through something before leaping into it enthusiastically. I can imagine that if I were in Zechariah or Mary’s shoes, my first reaction probably wouldn’t have been “Yeah! Bring it on!!”

Some years ago the church that I attended had a prevailing culture that questioning anything showed a lack of faith. I really struggled with that, and with the role of the mind in Christian life – to the point where in utter frustration I wondered why God gave us brains, if He meant for us to leave them behind every time we met with other Christians.

I’d be really interested to know if other people have had similar experiences, or struggles.

Anyway, back to Luke 1

I like the fact that both Zechariah and Mary had questions. Sure, Mary’s question came from a place of greater faith and trust, but she still asked the question.

I like the fact that even though Zechariah got it wrong, it didn’t screw up the whole plan (God didn’t say “Oh well, if you’re going to have that attitude, I’ll just give the baby to some other geriatric couple.”) It reminds me again of how astounding grace is, and how God is prepared to work through fallible people!

I’m really thankful that my faith is a work in progress – God continues to work in me, and I’m not still stuck in the spiritual space I was a few years ago.

And I’m really thankful for being in a community of faith where others around me (you guys!) can challenge me to grow, and where I can use my brains for (hopefully) Godly purposes.

February 5th, 2009

genealogies – yawn!

Posted by johncatmur in Uncategorized  Tagged Luke 3

…but before I talk about that…ever wondered why John the baptist is suspected as being the Messiah?  Maybe we all know but I sense its not often thought about. One of the roles of Messiah was to restore righteousness to Israel, to purify the nation (i.e. not just to deliver them from enemies as is the common view).  John of course contributed to that. But someone was coming who would do that in a greater measure…

Anyway, geneologies.  If you’re like me then looking at other peoples family tree is extremely boring and tedious…except when you spot someone famous way down the line!  We see that kind of thing on TV.  Well the Jews, like Maori, put great importance on their whakapapa so it was natural to give lineage at important times like this.  And indeed we spot some ‘stars’ along the way…David, Jesse….Judah, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham…Adam….God!  So it is interesting after all, see? Now in Matthew the emphasis is on Christ’s lineage to David, but why does Luke here want to trace it back to the father of the human race, and even the Creator himself?  Anyway got any insights there?

February 4th, 2009


Posted by Hannah Venable in Uncategorized  Tagged Luke 2

I was struck while reading Luke 2 about how God had a specific calling for each person in the chapter and how important, yet different, each of their callings were. Mary’s calling is rather obvious as it is the focus. She becomes the mother of the Savior. But the others in the chapter are quite unique as well. The shepherds were called to come and worship the King. Simeon and Anna were both waiting for the Messiah and their calling was simply to be another sign of the validity of His birth. Although the Charlie Brown part in the devotional was a bit silly, I did think the author made a good point about how God uses all sorts of people in His church. It makes me excited to think about what sort of callings He has for all of us.

It also reminds me to be very sensitive to the Lord speaking to me about my calling. For the Shepherds, the Lord made sure that they wouldn’t miss His call. As He used lots of angels and loud shouts! Sometimes that is how God speaks! But then, with Simeon, it was through the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit that he knew that this baby was the Messiah and he knew where to find Mary and Joseph. It seems that the Lord speaks to us in many different ways and we should be ready for however He decides to communicate to us.

February 2nd, 2009

The name of Jesus Christ

Posted by johncatmur in Uncategorized  Tagged John 1

I just love the way John doesn’t mention the name of the Word until right near the end of the passage.  Its very dramatic when he finally speaks the name ‘Jesus Christ’ – like a film trailer when all the action is building up and then the hero is finally revealed explicitly.  Lovin it.

December 8th, 2008

Childbearing and Women

Posted by Hannah Venable in Uncategorized  Tagged Judges 13-16; Ruth; 1 Samuel 1-3; Luke 1

As I read many of these stories, I am struck by the importance of childbearing. It seems like one of the primary callings for women is to bear a child. And it seems like it is one of the main ways that God wants to use them. In Judges 13-16, we saw how God gave that specific calling to Samson’s mother. And it appeared that the Angel of the Lord was not very interested in talking to the husband, as he wanted to give the calling specifically to the wife. In the book of Ruth, Ruth is honored for being able to bear a child that will be an ancestor to King David. And then, in 1 Samuel 1-3, we see how Hannah is blessed by bearing a son that will be dedicated to God and lead Israel. But it is not just an “Old Testament thing.” We also see in the life of Mary the honorable calling to be the mother of Christ (Luke 1).

Certainly, we can label this as cultural. God was using them in ways that the culture deemed honorable. But there seems to be something beyond that. The whole theme of the Bible as shown in the proto-evangelium (Gen. 3:15) is that the seed of the woman will crush the head of Satan. In other words, childbearing is what will bring us salvation! Now, we see women in the Bible used in other ways as well: Deborah as a leader, Phoebe as a deaconess, Priscilla as a teacher etc.

But I am just wondering if we too quickly put away childbearing as a way that God wants to use women today. Could it be that childbearing for women is a common way that God uses women across all cultures and times? Part of me doesn’t like that idea because I want my own actions to be what counts not the actions of my child. But I am wondering if that is part of the beauty of this, childbearing is a way for a woman to be honored by her humility and sacrifice.

November 28th, 2008

Genocide in the OT

Posted by johncatmur in Uncategorized  Tagged Joshua 5:13-6:27

This is a tough question we have to face.  There are no easy answers. In today’s reading the Israelites killed not just combatants but also civilians and animals – women, children, young, old, cattles, sheep, donkeys. On the other hand, not only Rahab was saved but also her family; the innocent was saved but also some ‘guilty’ ones.  Two observations: 

a) there seems to be a different view in ancient Hebrew culture of who is ‘innocent’ and who is ‘guilty’; these verdicts are shared by the community rather than pinned to isolated individuals.  Guilt taints everything around it; it spreads from the direct perpetrators to all around, even staining animals residing in the guilty culture. Can we cope with this idea? And who has the authority to decide anyway?

b) we are (rightly) appalled by the ‘Holy Wars’ of modern history. But is it ever technically possible for there to be genuinely justified Holy War? Does our instinctive disgust towards those who kill in the name of religion cloud our thinking at all? 

We are worlds apart from the worldview of the Hebrews in so many ways.  We are super-sensitized to the yukkiness of blood and guts because we never see any; they saw it all the time.  We think individualistically; they thought collectively.  Our default mindset (even for most Christians) is secular; theirs was theistic. 

No easy answers.  But I thank God that there is enough about my faith I can be sure of to carry the uncertainties and ambiguities that defy explanation

November 25th, 2008


Posted by Alan Collins in Uncategorized  Tagged Genesis 38; Deuteronomy 23; Ruth 4

Now that I’ve got your attention…I realise im probably ahead of everyone else in this reading. But this was to exciting to wait. I read earlier in Genesis 38 the story of Judah and Tamar. Tamar was Judahs daughter in law whose husband died before she conceived. To carry on the brothers lineage, Judah instructed his other son Onan to sleep with Tamar so that his brother would have a child to carry his name. Onan did but knowing that any child born from the relationship would not count as his own, he let his semen spill everytime he was with her. This sin was very great in the eyes of the Lord, and Onan was put to death. To cut a long story short, after more deceit, sex, and lies, Tamar conceives twins after disguising herself as a prostitute and tricking her father in law Judah, to sleep with her. The firstborn was called Perez. It was a fairly dysfunctional household this boy was born into. Judah was his father and grandfather. Tamar was his mother and sister in law. The Lord hates marriages like this. In Deuteronomy 23 it says that no one who was born from an abhorent marriage could enter the assembly of God, EVEN DOWN TO THE TENTH GENERATION. Who was the tenth generational descendant from Perez? Who would have the favour of the Lord restored to himself and his lineage. The family tree in Ruth 4 tells us that his name was David….

November 24th, 2008

Quick Question

Posted by Hannah Venable in Uncategorized  Tagged Exodus 19-20:21

So, do you think that the whole Israelite camp heard the ten commandments?  Or do you think that it was just Moses and Aaron?  It seems a bit unclear from the text.  They seem to have decided that the people should not come up to Mt. Sinai by the end of chapter 19.  But then the next chapter just starts with “And God spoke all these words . . . ”  So it seems that He might be speaking to everyone.  Plus, afterwards, they said, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen.  But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” (20:19).  So, it seems that they did hear God speaking and they didn’t want to hear anymore.  But perhaps all they heard was “thunder and lightning” (20:18).

What do you think?

November 20th, 2008


Posted by Philip Harvey in Uncategorized  Tagged Exodus 12:1-42

Just a couple of things I was thinking about as I read it.

1) As Exodus was the first book of the Hebrew scripture it is interesting to think that this is perhaps the first event that involved God and all of Israel in action with each other.  Passover (and the following consecration of the first born in chapter 13) kicks off their life as a nation under Yahweh.  God expected holiness from the start.

2) That the 430 years is the fulfillment of the prophecy made to Abram in Gen 15:12-16.

3) Sorta like how God called into life everything in Genesis 1, so God is here calling into being his priestly nation.

Stay Gold


November 19th, 2008


Posted by Hannah Venable in Uncategorized  Tagged Exodus 1-2

My sister-in-law, Karina Venable, put a post up on another Biblefox blog from our church back in Texas.  She made an interesting connection between Moses’ description in Exodus and Acts.

Check it out:

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