Review: The New Testament for Everyone by N.T. Wright

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The New Testament for Everyone (3rd edition) Book Review & Description

The New Testament for Everyone by N.T. Wright is a beautiful book with quality binding. The hardcover edition of the New Testament for Everyone by N.T. Wright comes with a sturdy book box sleeve and has the feel of a coffee table book. It is definitely a book worth leaving out for your houseguests to peruse!

N.T. Wright: A Reliable Scholar

Professor N.T. Wright has earned a solid reputation as one of the foremost Biblical scholars of our day. He serves on the faculty of theology and religion at Oxford University and has also taught at Cambridge.

I have long respected N.T. Wright’s ability to defend the historicity of Jesus against some of the popular resurrection deniers like Marcus Borg and John Spong. I was raised indoctrinated in the Borg/Jesus Seminar camp, but I was moved by Wright’s conviction that Jesus did indeed live, die, and rise again in power. I read many books by N.T. Wright before converting to Bible-believing Christianity.

The evangelical church as a whole has been blessed by N.T. Wright’s scholarship because he has been willing to engage in respectful debate concerning the Historical Jesus and provide a wealth of commentary and study materials on various New Testament topics. Wright’s dedication to searching the riches of Scripture proves that it is absolutely possible to remain a person of faith in the academy. Because of people like N.T. Wright, Bible-believing Christians need not become disproportionately distrustful of or shun academic pursuit. We may not agree on everything, but N.T. Wright definitely brings thoughtfulness and a wealth of knowledge to theological study and discussion.

N.T. Wright has chosen to work to help ordinary people understand deep theological concepts and he doesn’t just hide away in an ivory tower, but rather uses his scholastic aptitude for the sake of the Gospel.

Knowing that N.T. Wright values the Bible as the Word of God and is not a deconstructionist theologian trying to disprove or devalue the Word of God makes the New Testament for Everyone all the more appealing.

I never thought of this before, but Wright’s given name is Nicholas Thomas – he goes by his initials N.T. And he is a New Testament (N.T.) scholar! How providential! :). Next time you need a commentary on the New Testament, check out a book by Professor N.T.!

The New Testament for Everyone: A Fresh Translation

The title and tagline immediately grasped my attention: a New Testament translation completed by an eminent theologian who wants “everyone” to be able to understand it. Amazing!

I spent enough time in Divinity School to know that not every professor/theologian cared if the general public could understand their posturing and pontificating.

In contrast, Professor N.T. Wright is using his God-given intellectual abilities to share the Gospel in a way that modern readers can truly understand. This is a gift!

From the back of the book jacket: “If the Bible cannot be understood by everyone, then it is not good news. From the very first days of the church at Pentecost, the good news of Jesus was translated into languages of everyday people through the power of the Holy Spirit, spreading like wildfire to the ends of the earth.”

The Pentecostal minister in me says, “Amen!”

Also, “The language used in this translation seeks to convey the meaning of the original Greek while also being accessible to the modern reader, making it a valuable resources for scholars, pastors, and . . . everyone!”

I believe the New Testament for Everyone translation will become very useful for church Bible studies and pastoral sermon preparation.

Deity Pronouns

“Religious” words such as the “Holy Spirit” and deity pronouns such as “He” when referring to Jesus are traditionally capitalized in Bible translations. It is becoming more common for these words to be printed in lowercase, with academics citing no distinction in the original languages. The New Testament for Everyone follows this custom and I noticed it fairly quickly when I began reading through some of the first pages of the Gospel of Matthew.

This editorial practice concerns me; however, because we live in a day and age in which respect is lacking. The utilization of lowercase text for the third Person of the Trinity simply makes me uncomfortable, but that is just my personal preference.

But speaking of pronoun debates, at least we can all agree here that Jesus was a man. 😂😇

Translation, Updated Language, and the Power of Pentecost

The English language is malleable and has changed over time. Certainly, as a British scholar, N.T. Wright knows this because even his Canadian and American colleagues do not use the queen’s (now king’s!) English.

I was struck by the New Testament for Everyone translation’s rendering of the interaction between John the Baptist and Jesus in Matthew 3:

John tried to stop him. “I ought to be baptized by you,” he said, “and are you going to come to me?” This is how it’s got to be right now,” said Jesus, “This is the right way for us to complete God’s whole saving plan.”

Matthew 3:14-15, New Testament for Everyone by N.T. Wright

Upon reflection, it is so very true that this is the way most of us talk nowadays. It is quite different from the New King James Version’s:

And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

Matthew 3:14-15, NKJV

I really like how N.T. Wright communicates that “fulfilling all righteousness” is “completing God’s whole saving plan.” My only concern would be if this translation is veering far from a literal understanding/translation of the original Greek, but it seems that Wright (accomplished in Greek) is doing his best to express the original in terms we understand today. Indeed, in the preface, Wright shares that he does not intend to paraphrase, but instead to translate as closely as possible while recognizing that there are certain words or phrases that are virtually untranslatable from one language to another. He writes, “all translation is risky, but it’s a risk we have to take.” (Wright, vii).

Returning to the example of Pentecost, N.T. Wright, powerfully points out, “The first thing that happened in the life of the church was translation. On the Day of Pentecost, God’s powerful wind swept through Jesus’ followers, filling them, like the sails of a great ocean-going sailing ship, so that they could take God’s good news to the ends of the earth. And they found themselves speaking other languages, so that everyone in the crowd could understand.” (Wright, vii).

Wright continues his preface in a highly accessible, attention-grabbing writing style. I am looking forward to reading through this entire translation this winter, snuggled under a blanket by the fireplace.

Book Contents

As promoted by the title, this book contains all of the writings of the New Testament Scriptures translated in a way that makes sense to English-speakers today. In the New Testament for Everyone, each of the books is named using the traditional names except for the letter of Jude: N.T. Wright helps readers understand that this letter was written by “Judah,” important for contextualizing the Hebraic nature of much of the writings even of the New Testament.

The New Testament for Everyone also contains maps and a glossary.

Jesus, Messiah

If you know me well, you will notice that I often prefer to write Jesus the Messiah as opposed to Jesus Christ. This is because I feel that “Christ” has become a title almost like a last name but one that, due again to our language, does not carry the original meaning of Messiah/Anointed One that Middle Eastern Jews would have recognized in their language. Using the terminology of “Christ” repeatedly cements the Greek mindset primordially into a text that was intended to reach the Jew first and then the Greek.

Jesus came to be our Messiah and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that linguistically N.T. Wright agrees with me! He has favored the term “Messiah” throughout the New Testament for Everyone which is fairly groundbreaking since this translation is intended for a wide audience!

A sample to give you the idea:

The well known verses from the New King James translation of Philippians 2:9-11:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (emphasis added)

Notice how N.T. Wright has translated these same verses:

“And so God has greatly exalted him, and to him in his favor has given the name which is over all names: That now at the name of Jesus every knee within heaven shall bow – on earth, too, and under the earth; and every tongue shall confess that Jesus, Messiah, is Lord, to the glory of God, the father.” Philippians 2:9-11, New Testament for Everyone by N.T. Wright, emphasis added

This discovery has really convinced me that I am going to greatly enjoy this new resource and I believe you will, too!

My recommendation:

★★★★★

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The New Testament for Everyone deserves a 5 out of 5.

N.T. Wright exhibits remarkable humility and dedication to the furtherance of the Gospel mission in his New Testament for Everyone. His lifetime of study and teaching has inspired him to translate the New Testament in a fresh manner that will bless laity, students, scholars, pastors, and teachers all over the English-speaking world. I highly recommend this resource to everyone who loves the Word of God.

Rev. Jennifer Mieliulis Fuentes, M.Div., Duke University

Book details

Title: The New Testament for Everyone
Author: N.T. Wright
Publisher: Zondervan Bibles
Release Date: 
2023
Genre: BIBLES/Other English Translations/Text

ISBN-13: 978-0-7852-2771-7

PURCHASE LINKS:  Amazon | FaithGateway Store

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Daniel’s 70 weeks Prophecy and the War in Israel

5784 B”H

The Prophet Daniel had much to say about the end times and the war in Israel has really brought some of the Biblical prophecies to light as we witness the ongoing conflict. I have received many questions regarding the Biblical timeline of the end of days, so I thought we should take a closer look at Daniel today.

End-times prophecy in Daniel 9

A key prophecy found in the book of Daniel: 70 weeks

Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.

Daniel 9:24

Daniel‘s prophecy describing the determined “seventy weeks” can be better understood as 70 “7’s.”

What is translated as “weeks” in most English Bibles is really describing groupings of 7 in Hebrew.

During the 70 “7’s, 6 important things will happen:

  1. To finish with transgression
  2. To put an end to sin
  3. To make reconciliation (atonement) for iniquity
  4. To bring in everlasting righteousness
  5. To seal up vision and prophecy
  6. To anoint the Most Holy (or the Most Holy Place)

Notice the first three are concerned with eradicating sin and transgression. The last three speak to the everlasting reign of our King.

In the Bible, 6 indicates lack of completion or total fulfillment. Therefore, we know to look more deeply, search God’s Word for more. Let’s move on to the next verse:

“Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.” Daniel 9:25

We have certainly witnessed the troublesome times of today. In this verse, we see another reference to time: “seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.”

This is all a prelude to the revealing of the antichrist:

“And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.


The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;


But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.” Daniel 9:26-27

The antichrist is also known as the “little horn” of Daniel 7:

“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 

I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.” Daniel 7:7-8

Daniel 9:27 clearly informs us that the antichrist (antimessiah) will make a covenant with Israel and then betray Israel. Daniel 7:8 so aptly describes this evil charismatic figure as the epitome of pompousness.

With the war in Israel, many Bible-believing Christians are starting to wonder:

Has the antichrist already been born? Is he walking the earth today?

Only prayer and discernment will answer those questions as history continues to unfold.

But for those who believe that the coming of our King is in the very distant future, consider all that is going on right now. If Iran and even Russia get involved in the current conflict (in a greater way than they already have by supporting Hamas and even Hezbollah) the violence will escalate to a level never seen before. The people of Israel will become desperate for hope and change, and many could quickly be swept away by the lies of a false messianic figure.

The final seven years begin with the covenant.

Are you prepared for the true end of days?

This is not intended to incite fear in you, but do you realize how very close we are to the true end of the age? We are nearing the end of the Biblical timeline of history. We must be prepared! We must know the Word and hide it in our hearts, we must have a living, ongoing relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Yeshua haMashiach), and we must do everything we can to share the Gospel to as many people as we can.

There is revival happening in pockets all around the world. It is not coincidental that we see so many falling away and so many also being rescued just in time. These are all signs that the end is near and soon, so very soon, our Righteous Redeemer will come again and reign!

Time to Forgive

Don’t worry if some of this seems overwhelming. Mathematics has never been one of my strengths so these prophetic words of Scripture make me scratch my head, too!

But there’s no escaping math, and even Jesus said we have to forgive 70 x 7 times!

“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22

The return of Jesus Christ (Yeshua haMashiach) is imminent

The imminent return of Christ should motivate each one of us to study the signs of the times and the signs in the heavens. Each of us should be diligently praying and fasting and studying the Word of God. There are so many parallels between the different concepts presented in the Bible and I believe this passage on forgiveness is one such parallel.

Redeeming the time

We know time is short. And so for that very same reason, we must be diligent to love and to forgive so that we can make the most of our time, redeeming our time:

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

I pray that you have taken to heart the importance of knowing the Word of God and where we stand in relation to the fulfillment of significant portions of Biblical prophecy.

I am praying for you today, dear reader, and your family – that you and your household may be saved. Please leave a comment below with any prayer requests, comments, or questions!




Sweetness amid the sounding shofar: the prophetic significance of Rosh HaShanah

Elul 5783, B”H

Rosh HaShanah/Yom Teruah

Rosh HaShanah will begin at sundown on Friday, September 15 this year. This Biblical holiday lasts through sundown on Sunday, September 17. Rosh HaShanah is also known as “Yom Teruah,” literally the “Day of the Shout.” Yom Teruah is a more correct name, Biblically, for this feast. Many refer to it in English as the Day of Trumpets, or the Day of the Shofar.

Scriptural precedence for the Biblical feast can be found in Numbers as well as in the Psalms which we will look at in a moment.

 “And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets.” Numbers 29:1, emphasis added

Have you ever heard the sounding of the shofar?

The tone is so profound. To celebrate this holiday, the shofar is sounded:

“Sing aloud to God our strength;
Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song and strike the timbrel,
The pleasant harp with the lute.

Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon,
At the full moon, on our solemn feast day.
For this is a statute for Israel,
A law of the God of Jacob.” Psalm 81:1-4
, emphases added

There is a solemnity, calling all hearers to humble themselves before the King of all kings. There is also joy, for we know that one day the shofar will sound and the dead in Messiah will rise and those who are still alive will meet the LORD in the air:

“For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of God’s shofar,and the dead in Messiah shall rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left behind, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air—and so we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, TLV

Inherent and Inerrant Cohesiveness of the Biblical Narrative

Our Savior and Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled the prophetic meaning of each Biblical feast found within the pages of Scripture.

I view so much of this as a “lost history” because so many believers have not been taught about our collective history as the people of God: native and grafted in members of the house of Israel.

The Biblical holidays (particularly the Fall Feasts) are eschatologically significant, pointing us to the end of days and affirming the inherent and inerrant cohesiveness of the Biblical narrative.

The Hebrew Scriptures form the foundation for the New Testament and all of the Scriptures are without error. The entirety of the Word of God is valuable and we must treat it as such!

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Prophetic and Eschatological Significance of Rosh HaShanah/Yom Teruah

The Bible exhorts us to “Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!” Psalm 66:1

Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah provides occasion for such shouting, though we should not limit our praise to just one time of year. If we look to the Scriptures, we will see that every aspect of the Feast days points to Jesus (Yeshua).

During the Hebrew month of Elul, spiritual preparation is made because it is known that soon the Bridegroom will come. You may be interested in my recent post explaining a bit about the month of Elul and preparations for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur (the High Holidays).

When the shofar is sounded on Rosh HaShanah, we are reminded of the coronation of our King. He has sought us in the field, we are beloved and betrothed, and we await the Marriage supper of the Lamb.

“‘Then he said to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”'” Revelation 19:9

Each Rosh Hashanah is sort of like a divine dress rehearsal. Some believe that the final shofar will indeed sound on Rosh Hashanah, but I am cognizant of the Word of God which says no one knows the day nor hour.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36

That said, Yeshua (Jesus) may have been alluding to Rosh HaShanah when He said this because “no one knows the day nor hour” had connotations as a wedding idiom at that time. “No one knows the day or hour, but we know those two are getting married!” Also, the Jewish community did not know the exact date or time for Yom Teruah, and it had become commonplace to describe Rosh HaShanah as the feast of which “no one knows the day nor hour!”

Word to the wise: always be ready.

The King is coming.

The Sweetness of a New Year

In Hebrew, Rosh HaShanah means “Head of the year.” It is the start of the Biblical new year and is a time of repentance as well as rejoicing.

I love how Rosh HaShanah occurs always just after the start of the school year. My children are homeschooled and we enjoy incorporating aspects of the Biblical Feasts into our studies of history and Biblical studies. It is customary on Rosh HaShanah to eat apples and honey and to pray for a sweet new year.

In our household, this means praying we will each demonstrate sweetness of character and be kind to one another.

Sweet and Sour: Sweetness amid the Sound of the Shofar

For those of us who are counted among the saved, sanctified, and sealed in the Book of Life, the New Year is very sweet.

But we must also be cognizant of the dichotomy between that which is sweet and that which is not-so-sweet.

If we are honest, Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah) reminds us of the sour reality that not everyone will be saved.

Not everyone will heed the warning blast.

Not everyone will repent.

We will find perfect relief of our burden to preach at the end of days, but until then, we must continue to introduce our loving and merciful Savior to a lost and dying world.

To me, it is a bittersweet reality.

We truly must do more to reach the unreached.

So great is ADONAI’s mercy, so sweet and so generous.

We have been commissioned to share that Good News, and we must. Before it is too late.

Wake up sleeper, open your eyes!

Have you heard the song by Austin French, “Wake up Sleeper, Open your eyes”?

“Wake up sleeper
Open your eyes
Oh sinner, arise
Leave your past at the door
Wake up sleeper
Come to the light
Christ is alive
Death don’t live here anymore
Death don’t live here anymore”

These lyrics are so appropriate for Rosh HaShanah/Yom Teruah because the sounding of the shofar is intended to wake up sinners out of their slumber so there will be repentance before it is too late!

As followers of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), we, too, need to be awakened once again. There is so much apathy in the church today and we must repent of our complacency. We must awake from our slumber! Like the Prophet Joel said, we must sound the alarm on God’s holy mountain!

Looking forward to things yet to come

This Rosh HaShanah/Yom Teruah, let us look forward to all that the LORD has in store for those who love Him:

“But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Here is a wonderful worship song that contains that verse:

God’s plans for your life are so great! Keep your eyes on Jesus (Yeshua) and always be ready!

“And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17

Sweetness at the mercy seat

Brooke Fraser’s recent song, “Honey in the Rock” also has such beautiful lyrics and it brought me some inspiration today.

Sweetness at the mercy seat
Now I’ve tasted, it’s not hard to see
Only You can satisfy

This Rosh HaShanah, may you experience the sweetness of salvation at the mercy seat of the LORD Most High. Once you have tasted and seen, you will know that our God is so very good and His love endures forever.

Shana tova! Happy New Year!




Elul: repent and rejoice! the King is in the field

Elul 3, B”H 5783

The Hebrew month of Elul

You may recall my post from July about Tisha b’Av. In that post, I introduced the Hebrew months of the year to help ubicate us in understanding the significance of certain dates on the Biblical calendar.

One of those months is called “Elul.”

Elul (Heb. אלול) comes from the root word “to search.”

This is the time of year when we are reminded that the LORD searches our hearts and knows us and we repent for those things which we continue to struggle with in our ongoing journey in holiness.

We are to search inside of ourselves and turn away from that which harms our relationship with the LORD Most High as we enter a new Biblical year.

Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

Medieval Jewish sages realized that each letter of the word “Elul” in Hebrew can serve as an acronym for the well-known phrase from Song of Solomon 6:3 “Ani l’dodi, v’dodi li” (Hebrew for “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine”).

Song of Solomon 6:3

When we reflect on this time of preparation, we see that Elul is a time of preparation for the Bride, for truly the Bridegroom is coming. This is a time of self-examination as we prepare to meet our Coming King. He accepts us with the deepest of love when we come before Him with a pure and contrite heart, made beautiful by our relationship with Him.

Elul, the High Holy Days, and the Coming of the Bridegroom

The month of Elul precedes what are known as the High Holy Days. These days include Yom Teruah (also known as Rosh Hashanah) and Yom Kippur. Yom Teruah occurs on the first day of the next month which is known as Tishrei. The High Holy Days are customarily a time of introspection as Yom Kippur serves as the yearly day of atonement. Israel pleads to be written in the Book of Life, and sealed for another year.

Now that our Messiah and Almighty Savior Yeshua (Jesus Christ) has come, those who have confessed Him as LORD and King have the assurance that the names of the saved are written in the Book of Life, never to be blotted out.

Elul is like the month before the wedding. Preparation is made because soon the Bridegroom will come. The Bride may prepare for the Coming Bridegroom with grace, dignity, and confidence because she has been set apart, consecrated, made ready for the moment when her King comes.

Repentance and Holiness

As saved and sanctified children of God, we continue to pursue holiness and the path of righteousness.

Hebrews 12:14 exhorts us to “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”

Though we may not experience all that which tremendously occurred at Mount Sinai, we now spiritually experience the glory of Mount Zion.

The writer of Hebrews continues: For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.  (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” 

And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven . . . ” Hebrew 12:18-25, emphases added.

We are to live our lives with quiet and holy fear (reverence).

To do this fully, a true believer and follower of the LORD will very obviously seek to live in humility, all too aware of our faults and failings, but awesomely and intimately aware that He is perfecting us each and every day. We live with an attitude of repentance, thankful that His mercy blots out a multitude of sins. We do the work of ministry, always seeking to share the Word with those who do not yet know Him – not to gain a place in heaven, but to demonstrate our heavenly citizenship! The world glorifies sin. We glorify only Jesus (Yeshua), the One who died to take away our sins and the One who will return for us!

James 5:20

“. . . let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:20

On the Day of Shavu’ot (Pentecost), Peter urged his listeners to repent:

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.  

For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’

Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.  You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” Acts 3:19-26.

Teshuvah: Biblical Repentance

The Jewish understanding of the concept of “teshuvah” is slightly different than the traditional Christian interpretation of repentance.

Standard Christian repentance is about simply turning away from sin. There is nothing wrong with that. But teshuvah, true Biblical repentance, goes deeper than that.

Teshuvah is a “return.” More specifically, a return to our first love after being astray.

Inherent in teshuvah is the acknowledgement that we have sinned, but this is more about returning to the Way of the LORD than about guilt: it requires an action on our part to strive to right the wrong.

“Teshuvah” is seen as an action. It is often said one is “doing teshuvah.”

Teshuvah means the individual identifies the wrongs they have committed and actively works toward a behavioral change “to right the wrong.” The sinner confesses to God, but also goes back to the one he or she has wronged to ask for forgiveness and attempt to right the wrong.

Christians know that we cannot earn our salvation, so the concept of “teshuvah” gets a bit difficult for many Christians to understand. I have even found that some Christians simply do not want to understand because they would rather remain complacent. Some use texts about grace to shirk any semblance of responsibility, which is a truly irresponsible way to view YHVH’s immense and perfect grace. I believe in grace. I also believe in doing what is right.

Teshuvah is something the Christian can do in gratitude for salvation. Any decent person of faith ought strive to right their wrongs, right? The difference is, we know that we will never be able to erase the evil we have done to another so we cannot completely right our wrongs and we know that. We trust in our Merciful LORD, the Righter of Wrongs to bring healing, restoration, and ultimately wholeness.

Elul is the time of year when teshuvah is emphasized. Hosea uses the term “teshuvah” in admonishing the people of Israel to return to the LORD.

Hosea 14:2

“Take words with you,
And return to the LORD.
Say to Him,
“Take away all iniquity;
Receive us graciously,
For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.” Hosea 14:2
, emphasis added

Biblical repentance is about returning to the LORD with nothing hindering our relationship. We are cleansed and made new by the blood of the Lamb and we are victorious by the word of our testimony.

We are ready to meet our Beloved.

“Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all sins.” Proverbs 10:12

Proverbs 10:12

40 Days of Repentance: Elul or Lent?

The time of repentance observed in the month of Elul is set by Biblical precedent.

It sounds very much like a Hebrew “Lent” for those familiar with Lenten practices.

I will be controversial here, but I’m not one to shy from that . . .

Lent is a manmade invention championed by the liturgical world. It is not Biblical.

Historically, significant efforts were made to distance the “church” from its Jewish (and Biblical, mind you) history. It is no secret that Catholic and Lutheran churches alike were plagued with antiSemitism for many many years.

Those who invented Lent took the concept of Elul (a 40 day time of prayer and fasting lasting from 1 Elul to 10 Tishrei) and “Christianized” it, citing a time to prepare to honor the death and resurrection of Christ. Sadly, the Western inventions of things like Advent and Lent have served to confuse the body of Christ and isolate us from the true Biblical feast days and their significance.

Elul is about returning. Let us return to the basic (Hebraic!) tenets of our faith – to seek to walk on the path of righteousness, guided by the LORD Himself as written in His Holy Word.

From Genesis to Revelation, the Word of God is available to us and if we are not spending time in the Word, that is another reason for repentance.

Collectively, we should repent that the church has strayed so far and has actually contributed to the unbelief of the Jewish people as they observe the glaring discrepancies of many unBiblical “Christian” practices.

May we return to the essence of Elul.

Cheshbon haNefesh: The accounting for the soul

Cheshbon haNefesh is a Hebrew term used frequently throughout the month of Elul. “Cheshbon” is used in modern Hebrew to describe an invoice or bill, such as at a café. Cheshbon: what is owed, what must be paid, the account. Nefesh refers to the soul or what makes you you – it is a word that is also translated as “life” or “being.” Nefesh is the life force within you.

During Elul, we are reminded of His gracious gift. We fall on our knees in the humblest of gratitude, thankful that Yeshua (Jesus) shed His precious blood in payment to redeem our souls.

We owe everything to our Savior yet we know our account has been paid in full.

Elul is a time to reflect on how we are using our nefesh – how are we using the life that is within us to advance the Kingdom of God? It is a time to take ourselves to account.

This is a time to realize where we truly fall short in our relationship with our Creator. In what ways do we fail to love? Do we truly love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind?

HaMelech ba’sadeh: The King is in the field

It is often said during Elul that “the King is in the field.”

The King of all kings, who may seem unapproachable, who is far in His heavenly palace seated on His throne is the same King who reaches out His scepter even when we are unworthy of His mercy. The King of all kings is the same King who comes to our level – He humbled Himself and walked in those fields ripe for harvest.

The Chassidic interpretation is that the King comes when the laborers are in the field – meeting His workers where they are. Surprising them with His presence. Demonstrating kindness.

The King is coming.

The King is in the field.

The King of all kings is approachable and He loves you.

You can go to Him and He will receive you with open arms.

And you will be raptured away in love together.

Personal Prayer and Devotional Time during the month of Elul

It is traditional to read Psalm 27 daily during the month of Elul.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the 
LORD.

Psalm 27:8

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the LORD will take care of me.

Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Perhaps you would like to reflect on this passage during this time, as well. This Psalm truly speaks to the relationship aspect of our faith: that we call upon Him and He answers and we are to seek His face.

The King is in the field and the harvest is ready but the workers are few.

Will you meet Him in the field?

Will you share the Good News that the King is coming back again!?

Repent and Rejoice!

Our King is coming for us!

Please comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts about the month of Elul and the coming of our Almighty King!




7 Biblical responses for when your child experiences racism for the first time

Our family bubble

I like my faith-filled bubble.

Our family prays together and we read the LORD’s Word together and we worship together.

We love to share our faith with those who do not know the LORD and all of us are pretty resilient in the face of argumentation and those who refuse to accept the Truth.

My children are homeschooled and sometimes I forget that we live in this joyful little bubble!

The enemy wants to burst your bubble

And I was taken off guard yesterday.

My son had gone outside to walk our German Shepherd, Canelo, on a small dead-end road that borders one edge of our corner lot house. Our family has walked that way many times because there is rarely a car and we often see beautiful wildlife including deer and sandhill cranes. I often try to get a close-up picture, but the creatures prove elusive.

Canelo

An evening walk has become a new summertime routine for my son. He started taking the dog all by himself about a week or two ago and I believe it is a quiet time for him. I have noticed an improvement in his snarky-young-teenager remarks and so I was very happy that he had learned to get some fresh air and exercise.

The road seems like a peaceful one, with just four houses on the short northwoods street.

The end of the road

Last year, the houses on that road held a little community rummage sale, so we stopped by and met the neighbors. They were all fairly friendly, but the couple living at one of the houses seemed less so . . . and overly interested in detailing the alcohol flask collection they were trying to sell.

We assumed from their demeanor and manner of conversation that they perhaps struggle with drinking.

I hadn’t seen or heard from them since.

Until last night.

My son came home and he had a look of disbelief on his face.

I asked him what had happened.

When loving thy neighbor is put to the test

“The neighbor lady yelled at me.”

I couldn’t imagine this, so I asked for details.

He recounted: “She came out on her porch and yelled out, ‘. . . You need to go use a different path. Can’t you see you’re making my dog bark? Go on.’ Then she just stood there and stared at me until I left.”

I asked him if he replied to her spitefully (which would not have necessarily surprised me).

He said, “No, I just said ‘Ok, I’m sorry’ and came home. I had a million bad things I wanted to say to her, but I didn’t because I know I’m supposed to be Christian.”

Well, there’s a proud mom moment. My child is trying to act like a follower of our Messiah ought to act.

Trying to give the neighbor lady the benefit of the doubt, I asked if she perhaps was kidding? Maybe she had a twinge of humor, “look, kid, you make my dog bark and it drives me crazy…”

“No. She was not joking one bit.”

So the mama bear in me was incensed that our very neighbor could be so mean to a child! Especially my child! My son’s mere presence in the road in front of her house caused her an issue? Our dog wasn’t barking at her dog. I have heard her dog on other occasions. I believe he looks out their front window and barks every time a dog passes. But that is her issue, not mine. And most certainly not my son’s issue.

I want to tell her that the road is public land and my child has the right to walk his doggie wherever he so pleases. And I want to shout right back at her. How dare she hurt my son’s feelings! But alas. I am a Christian. I am a pastor! I have to be “Midwest nice” at the least, right? I have to love my neighbor!?

Ugh. No one said following Yeshua (Jesus) would be easy.

Perceived Racism

But there was something else that my son said that really hurt my mama heart. He said that the woman had muttered something before yelling and he thought it sounded like “you ill . . . ”

I said maybe she meant, “you ill-mannered….”

I asked if he did anything that seemed disrespectful, such as allowing the dog onto her grass.

He said, “no, more like ‘you illegal’ . . . “

I paused and took a deep breath.

My husband is a legal U.S. citizen. But that doesn’t mean everyone knows or believes that about him. Quite honestly, I wish it didn’t matter. My husband is caramel-skinned and was born in Mexico. My son is handsomely half Hispanic with beautiful tan skin, mocha eyes, and dark curly hair.

Whether or not my neighbor said something that horrible or not, my son perceived it that way.

My son felt like a target of racism.

This sweet boy who has grown up fairly sheltered from the ugliness of the world’s ways says he no longer feels safe walking down this small countryish road right next to our own house.

Addressing Fear

He told me not to worry, that he would use the other roads in front of the house instead.

But you see, that requires crossing a much busier road. And it is not fair that my son would have to change where he enjoys walking in nature just to please an angry (and possibly inebriated) lady who isn’t interested in dealing with her own dog.

I have never felt unwelcome or unsafe in this community. But then again, I am white and I grew up just over an hour from where we currently live.

My son said he observed that the woman’s garage was open with two rifles on display.

Now, my son is known to have an active imagination, so I do not know if this is true or not, though it would not surprise me. It doesn’t help that we just watched the movie “Till” the night before.

What saddens me is that my son is now scared.

He said he’s seen the videos where angry people shoot kids who just ring a doorbell or just because of the shade of their suntan.

I told him that he cannot live in fear. We will still walk on that road with our heads held high. I am blessed because my son knows much of the Word of God, so I reminded him of 2 Timothy 1:7:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

I guess I knew we would confront issues of race eventually, but it was so unexpected, right here just a few houses up the road.

That said, I do want to be clear. My neighbor may not have said anything racially charged at all. I am focused on what my child perceived. Racially-motivated or not, the outburst was still unprovoked and unsettling.

So how do you help a child who has encountered real racism OR perceived racism for the first time?

I’m not sure I have all the answers to that one, but I do know that we should turn to the Word of God.

He comforts us because our identity is found in Him alone, not in what the world has to say. I am writing this because it is therapeutic to me today.

I am searching the Scriptures, too, to be able to minister to my son’s little heart and I am hopeful this can help someone else somewhere, too, because our world is full of division and unkindness.

1. Remind your child that all of us were created in the image of God. Race is a social construct and racism is sin.

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” Acts 17:26

Acts 17:26

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

There is no place for racism when living in holiness.

2. If your child has accepted the free gift of salvation that is given to us by putting our faith and trust in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), he or she is part of a holy, set apart and chosen generation and God calls us “special.” We don’t need to rely on anyone else to validate our existence or our skin color.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

3. Encourage your child to turn to the LORD when feeling scared, discriminated against, alone, or unsafe. He is our Stronghold, our Fortress, and our Deliverer.

“I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18:1-3

4. Emphasize the Biblical mandate to remain peaceful. Always seek shalom: wholeness and peace.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

Matthew 5:9

5. Hear out your child. Allow him or her to express their emotions about racism.

I sat down with my son and I commended his recent progress on working hard and improving his early teenage years attitude. (We had some rough moments a few months ago with this too-big-for-his-britches young fellow!) He acknowledged his improvements, but also admitted having some pretty ugly thoughts about the neighbor. I believe it is so important to allow my son to have space to talk about how he was feeling and even explore this early introduction to racism. He knew that he could trust me to support him and love him through this. I’m grateful he has time to work through this as he matures and potentially encounters something far more direct or offensive.

I told him: you are acting like a child of God.

You have a tender heart and you are seeking to do what is right.

But whether that woman knows it or not, she is serving the devil. As harsh as this sounds, that makes her a child of the devil.

And the devil uses people like that to try to unnerve the children of God.

I told him, clearly, son, you’re doing something right if the devil has to take the time to come out and bother you like that using a daughter of the devil.

The best thing we can do is pray for her to come to understanding and repent and that she would, by God’s grace and abundant mercy, become a daughter of God one day.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

Our Savior told us to rejoice and not just be glad: “be exceedingly glad!”

We can confront anything with exceeding gladness because we know our journey doesn’t end here. One day we will rejoice in heaven, rewarded for remaining faithful to our LORD.

6. Exhort your child to be an overcomer despite any circumstance.

I told my son that while you pray for those who persecute you or revile you, your duty is to guard your heart and your mind with the Word of God.

“Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

He is your Protector and Defender, and you shall not fear walking down the road.

“The LORD will give strength to His people;
The LORD will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

Realize that the Scriptures serve for exhortation: we know who God is and we know that He cares for us, therefore we make a conscious choice. We will.not.fear.

This coming from someone who battles anxiety! But I know deep in my heart the Truth that whenever I, with faith and conviction, truly hold onto the hem of His garment, my fear is lost and He makes me brave. I seek to instill this understanding in my children so they, too, will always rely on our Father’s goodness, provision, and security.

Whether confronting racism, sexism, religious discrimination, anti-Semitism, classism, or any other -ism, if we remember that the LORD is on our side, we can and will walk in victory.

7. Pray together in the Spirit.

There is no substitute for prayer.

Pray with your child.

Model a life of faith for your child.

And pray for your neighbors and anyone else who would cause you distress.

Trust that the LORD will work everything out.

Remind your child to wear the armor that God has provided and pray together with your child in the Spirit.

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:17-18

Walk in Faith, no matter what and refuse to be intimidated

This afternoon, my husband and I told our son we were all going to take a family walk.

He looked panicked.

“Can I stay home?”

My husband gently told him in Spanish: “no, m’ijo, pero estaremos contigo.”

“No, my son, but we will be with you.”

Just like the LORD is always with us.

We had our son grab a hold of Canelo’s leash and walk him just like he had the night before. On the very same path.

He learned one step at a time not to be afraid.

Because children of the Most High God shall refuse to be intimidated.




Review: Evangelical Study Bible

I am a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid (BG2). As a #BibleGatewayPartner, I have received a copy of the New King James Version Evangelical Study Bible published by Zondervan Bibles at no cost to me in exchange for an honest review here on the Adonai Shalom USA blog. #BG2

Evangelical Study Bible (NKJV) Book Review & Description

The new Evangelical Study Bible published by Thomas Nelson is immediately appealing! The design on the hardcover edition is very inviting: it features a lovely tree branch design with modern coloration and reminds us that the Bible is truly life-giving:

New King James Version Evangelical Study Bible

Evangelical: Reaching the world around us

I particularly liked what is printed on the front inside of the book jacket: a short admonition to be bearers of Truth: to use this Bible to become firmly “grounded in the truth” in order to reach the world around us. The book jacket challenges the societal norms of today which falsely posit that “truth is just a perspective . . . . always changing, shifting, and transforming to conform to the standards of the world around us.”

Given that the book jacket is indeed the first impression most of us would get from a hardcover book, I believe this was tastefully and wisely done.

We are blessed to have so many different study editions of the Scriptures available to us in the English language. This particular study Bible emphasizes the importance of living out an evangelical faith. I would not be surprised if the Evangelical Study Bible becomes a very popular edition for Bible study groups throughout the English-speaking evangelical world. The articles and in-text resources are very accessible for new as well as more mature Christians, making this an excellent choice for anyone looking for a general evangelical study resource.

Use of color in the Evangelical Study Bible

The Evangelical Study Bible contains what the editors call “special helps” which are “unique to this Bible.” These include doctrinal footnotes, personality profiles, information of archaeological sites with full-color photos, apologetics articles, and in-text full-color maps. There is an introductory page for each book of the Bible complete with a full color image.

The use of color throughout makes this Bible particularly eye-catching. Today’s social media savvy youngsters use photos and images constantly. Likewise, this Bible grabs one’s attention through the use of full color images, a wise choice to meet the goal of making this an evangelical-friendly Bible. There are additional full-color maps in the back that offer additional eye-catching material and useful tools for personal study and even apologetics.

This Evangelical Study Bible follows the custom of using red lettering for the words of Jesus. I am such a fan of red letter Bibles. I love to clearly see what Jesus said!

This Bible also features verse-by-verse commentary, short articles and background notes on Christian teachings and doctrine, cultural and archeological notes, word studies, and other helpful indices. The text is a very readable 10.5 point font, slightly larger than the 9.5 point font in the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible that I also recently reviewed.

The NKJV Evangelical Study Bible lives up to the slogan printed on the cover: “Christ-centered, Faith-Building, Mission-Focused.”

Contributing Editors

An impressive list of contributing editors can be found in the early pages of the Evangelical Study Bible. These Biblical scholars have received degrees from reputable universities and theological schools including Dallas Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Regent University, Liberty University, Hebrew Union College, and Westminster Theological Seminary. The commentary throughout the Evangelical Study Bible appears to be dependable and fairly interdenominational. The editors profess faith in our LORD:

“We believe that the Bible is God’s message to men and women of all time – that it presents His plan for salvation and daily Christian living. We pray that this new edition of the Evangelical Study Bible will increase your understanding of that message and will richly bless your spiritual life and growth for years to come.”

“Dear Reader,” Evangelical Study Bible, viii.

My recommendation:

★★★★★

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Evangelical Study Bible deserves a 5 out of 5.

This is an excellent evangelical resource for anyone who takes their faith seriously and wants to enhance their personal study and devotional time with in-text study resources and verse-by-verse commentary.

Pastora Jennifer Mieliulis Fuentes, M.Div., Duke University

Book details

Title: Evangelical Study Bible
Author: 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: 
2023
Genre: BIBLES/New King James Version/Study

ISBN-13: 978-0-7852-2771-7

PURCHASE LINKS:  Amazon | FaithGateway Store

#BibleGatewayPartner

Evangelical Study Bible



What does it truly mean to be “Pentecostal”?

(Acts 2) 5783 B”H

Infilling. Indwelling. Whatever you’d like to call it, you need it! We all do.

The infilling of the Holy Spirit.

Often called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the infilling, indwelling presence of the Third Person of the Trinity is the Promise from the Father, a gift that all believers may receive!

“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49

Pentecostal Christianity

Despite the fact that the largest organized evangelical Christian fellowship in the world (the Assemblies of God) just so happens to be Pentecostal in belief and practice, most Americans do not know very much about Pentecostal Christianity.

Globally, here are the number of adherents in some of the largest and most well-known classical Pentecostal movements or denominations:

Assemblies of God: 85 million

Pentecostal Holiness: 4 million

Church of God (Cleveland): 7 million

Church of God in Christ: 3 million

These particular denominations are Trinitarian with sound doctrine. Pentecostal fellowships in general, but particularly the Assemblies of God, have always emphasized global missions.

The fruit of that determined investment are these combined 99 million+ members around the world. This is proof that Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered evangelism is effective!

“Send it on down, LORD, let the Holy Ghost come on down.” Hosanna Music

The Erroneous Jesus-only doctrine

The United Pentecostal (UPCI) Oneness denomination is growing, currently with 5 million members, but this group denies the Triune nature of God. In most cities, UPCI churches are known as “The Pentecostals of . . . ” leading many to believe all Pentecostals share this type of erroneous doctrine. The UPCI teaches what is termed, “apostolic doctrine.” This is a doctrinal problem that new leaders need to be able to confront and correct with love because it is more than just a semantic issue. These churches are often known as “Jesus-only” churches because they do not baptize in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but rather in the Name of Jesus, only.

The UPCI teaches that women must have uncut hair, may not wear makeup, and that men should not wear shorts. I applaud their efforts to emphasize modesty, but I do believe they have gone a bit too far.

Because of outward appearance (particularly of UPCI women), many people in the United States have equated all Pentecostals with this type of legalism.

But the reality is, being Pentecostal is about what the Holy Spirit has done on the inside, and yes, our outward appearance should reflect holiness, but in a balanced way, not infringing on personal freedom. I personally choose to wear skirts and dresses, but I am not required to do so by the organization with which I am affiliated.

What makes a person “Pentecostal?”

We need to reclaim the term “Pentecostal” for all who are genuinely filled with the Holy Spirit.

Clothing or hairstyle does not make a person “Pentecostal.”

Nor does emotionalism. Sometimes Pentecostals have a reputation for being expressive or “too” emotional. God has given us emotions and there are appropriate moments even in the context of a worship service when emotion can and should be expressed and even encouraged! But emotion for the sake of a show or drawing attention to oneself…. that is not what makes a person a “Pentecostal.” A true Pentecostal person has a healthy understanding of how God ministers to our emotions.

The Spirit of the LORD makes a person “Pentecostal.”

Power from on high makes a person “Pentecostal.”

Being filled with the Holy Spirit (with evidence) (more on that later), makes a person truly “Pentecostal.”

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4, NKJV

The Full Gospel

Notice that Acts 2:1 says “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come . . . “ (emphasis added)

The Day of Pentecost was actually the Feast of Shavu’ot, that had been celebrated for years. It’s just that this time, in Acts, God was going to do something so much greater. If you are interested in learning about the Feast of Shavu’ot and the Biblical Spring Feasts, click here for my post that goes more in-depth on that particular subject.

When I usually read this, I focus on the fact that the Jewish Feast day had come, but let’s look at the important adverb there: fully.

The Feast day had fully come. It was the precise day . . . but also: this was a day of fulfillment. The Day prophesied by the Prophet Joel had fully come – the LORD was going to even more fully work in the lives of His people.

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

Joel 2:28-30, NKJV

There is a fullness to the Gospel. Never again shall you hunger or thirst for Living Water because that Living Water will come to you and indwell you.

The Full Gospel is that which the Pentecostal communities proclaim: that the Gospel didn’t end at the Resurrection! There was more yet to come! The LORD would unite His people through the power of the Holy Spirit and dwell inside of them.

Prior to the Pentecostal outpouring of Acts 2, the Spirit of the LORD came upon God’s servants, but only for a certain moment or occasion, for a certain purpose. After Acts 2, the Spirit of the LORD would dwell within those who are called by His Name. Hallelujah!

Pentecostalism is about receiving all that the LORD has for you

I love how God does things holistically.

We find this to be true throughout the Bible. For example, a Biblical term, “shalom,” meaning “peace,” is more than a simple “peace” that we understand in our English language today. The Hebrew “shalom” that the Bible talks about is holistic – an all-encompassing wholeness that only the Prince of Shalom could bring.

So God doesn’t just deal with one part of us – its not just “accept Jesus in your heart” and that’s it. Our heart is vitally important and so is our soul and spirit, but also this physical body we are living in right now.

The LORD of All wants you to have a relationship with Him that includes aspects that are very experiential. Being baptized in water is a physical symbol of your dying to your sin and rising with Him to new life. Being baptized in the Holy Spirit is also physical! Your physical body will feel the glorious spiritual effects – you will be filled with a uncontainable joy and your tongue will speak praises to God with amazing fluidity.

Yes, God can use people who have not (yet!) received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But He can use you for so much more greatness if you receive the awesome gift He has for you. He wants so much for you – don’t limit your experience with the LORD because of your preconceived notions of what it might mean to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Don’t fear! The LORD designed all of this so beautifully. Receive what He offers you!

What is the Biblical Evidence of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

The Biblical Evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is often called the “Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.”

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4, NKJV, emphasis added

The people were ALL filled with the Holy Spirit (all of them – there were no exceptions or exemptions. No one was left out. The LORD blessed those who had gathered in the Upper Room to wait for the Promise of the Father by pouring out His Spirit upon every.single.one.

The Biblical pattern is this: when people are filled with the Holy Spirit then they begin to speak with other tongues as given by the Holy Spirit.

Speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

But some churches don’t “believe” in speaking in tongues.

Some even preach against the practice, saying that this occurred only on that particular Pentecost Day.

But read your Bible carefully!

No where does the Word of God suggest that people stopped receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so certainly He continues to fill His people!

Most people who claim not to believe in the Holy Spirit baptism are people who have actually prayed and asked God for it, but did not (yet!) receive it. They conclude that because they have not received it, then it must not exist. A very poor conclusion indeed.

Some people are quite nervous or frightened about the whole idea of speaking in tongues. I know I wasn’t raised around that and I didn’t quite understand what it was all about until I received the blessed outpouring. The Bible tells us to not be afraid! Seek Him with your whole heart and He will fill you!

Speaking in tongues will give you a holy boldness to share the Good News with others and will help your prayer life tremendously! If you want to be able to pray effectively and with power, you need the baptism of the Holy Ghost!

“Pentecostal” or “Spirit-filled?”

Being “Pentecostal” is fairly synonymous with being “Spirit-filled.”

It has become more widely accepted and more popular to be “Spirit-filled,” perhaps because this term carries less baggage as I explained with the Trinitarian vs. Oneness doctrinal controversies.

“Spirit-filled” carries its own set of issues at times because some of the new age movements (I may be harsh, but I call it “charismatic witchcraft”) are also comfortable calling themselves Spirit-filled and this causes confusion and division within the Pentecostal movement.

Both terms are appropriate. It is just important to know to what exactly you are referring!

Pentecostal and Spirit-filled worship services are vibrant and full of life! If you’ve never visited a Pentecostal church, I encourage you to find one to visit in your area! Expect to see people raising their hands in praise and worship and plenty of music and prayer!

Pentecost Sunday (The Feast of Weeks/The Feast of Shavu’ot)

This Sunday, followers of our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) from around the world will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday (Shavu’ot). I encourage you to go beyond a once-a-year celebration.

Know this: the Holy Spirit can endue you with Pentecostal power, a gift you may enjoy every single day of the year. If you don’t receive the initial physical evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit right away, do not get discouraged. It will happen in God’s perfect timing.

Pray today that the Holy Spirit will baptize you in His Holy Fire!

Are you seeking the Holy Spirit baptism? I’d love to pray for you. Leave a comment below!




Biblical Mothers of the Faith: Phoebe, Priscilla, and Junia

Today, let’s analyze Romans 16. This is a chapter in the Bible that highlights women serving in ministry. These women are mothers of the faith. This Mother’s Day weekend, let us rejoice and praise the LORD for all the believing mothers who pray and teach and lead with a godly example.

The Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans is filled with instruction and exhortation. Paul does not hesitate to credit those around him (including wives and mothers!)who have worked hard alongside him for the sake of the Gospel. In Romans 16, Paul names names – and most of the people named in this chapter just so happen to be women.

Phoebe: A “servant” or a “deacon”?

The New International Version (NIV) rightly describes Sister Phoebe as a “deacon”:

Phoebe: Deaconess

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.  I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.” Romans 16:1-2, NIV, (emphases added)

She is described as a person of means – a “benefactor,” well able to minister to God’s people. She gave to others both materially and spiritually. Phoebe was a spiritual mother in the faith!

But sadly, the New King James Version demotes our dear sister. She is relegated to the status of a “servant” and “helper.”

I typically prefer the NKJV translation over the New International Version (NIV) because the NKJV is a literal translation truer to the original languages, but as with any human translation, bias can be found, and this really is a stark example:

“I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.” Romans 16:1-2, NKJV

Let me address my sisters in the LORD for a moment: has this ever happened to you?

Did God ever inspire you to lead or to teach – to be a spiritual mother – but someone brushed you off as “just a servant?” Oh mothers, please know you are valued in the Kingdom and there is a place for you.

Our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) wants us to have the heart of a servant, but it is one thing to submit and surrender ourselves joyfully to Him and a totally different thing to have your spirit crushed by those who think women aren’t intended to minister. It is so very important to look to the Bible to see what God says about women in ministry leadership positions.

Sister Phoebe was a leader in the church!

While “servant” and “deacon” can be used interchangeably, it is notable that had the name listed been male, it is most likely “deacon” would be the preferred translation. The modern American mindset limits the meaning because it has become commonplace to teach that women are prohibited by the Bible to serve in an official capacity such as a “deacon.” This teaching is biased and errant and must be corrected. There are many instances in Scripture in which we see women held what we would consider positions of authority – Prophetess Miriam, Judge Deborah, Deaconess Phoebe . . . The LORD has chosen to use many women throughout history to reach the nations and to serve as spiritual mothers!

Priscilla: A “CoWorker” of the Apostle Paul

Notice that when Paul extends greetings to Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, he names Priscilla first. This was quite uncommon in both the Jewish and the Roman cultures, as it is even in our own today. Generally, we name the husband first. This serves to highlight Priscilla’s strong role as a “fellow worker” alongside Paul in the mission to reach the nations with the Good News. To make it easier for us to understand in our modern context, the NIV aptly uses the term “coworker” to describe this ministry relationship. Both Priscilla and Aquila were recognized as critical parts of the ongoing ministry, but in most instances of Scripture, Priscilla is named before Aquila. She was very much a leader:

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.” Romans 16:3, NKJV

In 2 Timothy, the ministry couple is again addressed, and again Priscilla is named first:

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.” 2 Timothy 4:19, NIV

Both Priscilla and Aquila sailed as missionaries with Paul.

“Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.” Acts 18:18ab, NIV

In Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila helped mentor Apollos as he began preaching. Here, they are both most certainly operating in the role of pastors and spiritual parents:

“[Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” Acts 18:26, NIV

The church even met at their house:

“Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.” 1 Corinthians 16:19b, NIV

Priscilla and Aquila were a model pastoral couple. They worked as a team and Paul recognized both of them as ministry leaders. A spiritual mother and father working together to bless the people of Ephesus.

Truly, Pricilla and Aquila’s ministry is an ideal pattern for us to follow. Here was a married couple who loved the LORD and could minister together. I am blessed to be married to a man of God who also happens to be a pastor, and this model has worked so wonderfully for us.

Junia: Female Apostle

Junia is a female name.

Some translations have opted to translate this name as “Junias” to masculinize it!

This is due to some translators’ personal discomfort with the idea that a woman could be an apostle!

But the Scriptures are clear and for generations “Junia” was translated as “Junia.” It is a female name!

Paul is very consistent in his positive descriptions of women in ministry. Not only does Paul refer to Junia as an apostle, he calls her a person “of note” – noteworthy, outstanding! There is no place in Scripture that prohibits wives or mothers or single women from serving in the ministry.

“Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” Romans 16:7, NKJV (emphasis added)

Mothers of the Faith

If anyone has told you that women are not to serve as deacons, pastors, or apostles, you might want to share these passages from Scripture with them.

Women, just as men, must demonstrate godly qualities in order to serve as leaders in ministry, but in our day, it seems there are often extra hoops for women to jump through in order to be considered equally qualified. Believe me, I am no feminist, but I do know that I have had to truly stand up for myself on many occasions as a female pastor. If you are a young woman who has been called to the Gospel ministry, reach out! I’d love to hear from you and encourage you.

Our LORD is the One who saves, who calls, and who equips. We should rejoice that God uses both godly men and women to minister!

Phoebe, Priscilla, and Junia are our spiritual foremothers who demonstrated persistence, passion, boldness, and commitment to the work of the ministry for the sake of the Gospel.

So this Mother’s Day, think of who the spiritual mothers are in your life.

Are there any women who have journeyed alongside you on the path of faith?

Who are the women who have prayed you through tough circumstances?

Be thankful for their witness and show them your appreciation!

If you are a woman who is mature in her faith, be that spiritual mother for someone else. If you are a mother, you know what it is to care for your children and pray for their well-being and exhort them to live well for the LORD!

Look for ways to allow the Holy Spirit to work through you so that you may bless others.

Be one of those mothers who prays consistently and fervently.

And have a wonderful Mother’s Day!




Review: the new NIV Student Bible (New International Version)

I am a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid (BG2). As a #BibleGatewayPartner, I have received a copy of the NIV Student Bible published by Zondervan Bibles at no cost to me in exchange for an honest review here on the Adonai Shalom USA blog. #BG2

NIV Student Bible Book Review & Description

The NIV Student Bible, published by Zondervan Bibles

The NIV Student Bible is intended to help guide young people in deepening their familiarity with and understanding of the Bible. It was just recently published this month by Zondervan Bibles so if you are looking for a new Bible edition to gift to a student, this may fit your needs.

The hardcover edition of the NIV Student Bible features an attractive book jacket. The colors are appealing and the design continues throughout the overall Bible. The use of blues and neutral patterns makes this appropriate for both young men or young women. This Bible includes a yellow satin ribbon for use as a bookmark.

The NIV (New International Version) of the Bible is an accessible translation so it is appropriate that it was the translation chosen for a new student Bible. The New International Version is not my personal favorite, but when used comparatively, it holds its own and is valuable. The NIV translators sought to bring a modern English cadence to the wording which is particularly helpful for younger readers who may be unfamiliar or unready for a more complex cadence.

“Introduction to Habakkuk,” NIV Student Bible

The NIV Student Bible contains short explanations of key verses and book introductions that will capture the attention of a young person. For example, in the introduction to Hosea, a caption reads, “Tearing God’s Heart” and posits the question: “Why would He love such a woman?”

In the introduction to Habakkuk, the issue of theodicy is introduced (but not mentioned by its technical name). (“Theodicy” refers to the question of why God who is so good permits evil). I wonder whether it may be a disservice to the young student to not at least mention the term, but then again, this is aimed at teenagers who probably don’t need all the technicality yet. The introductions to each book appear to be intentionally kept short and simplistic so as not to overwhelm a young person.

Philip Yancey and Tim Stafford contributed to the notes found throughout this edition of the Bible. While the NIV Student Bible does contain some devotional-like study commentary, it would not be considered a “Study Bible” for most academic purposes. Yancey and Stafford’s writing style is easily understandable and the textual insertions are tastefully done.

The Bible text of the NIV Student Bible is printed using a “Comfort Print” font so it is readable and attractive.

“Habakkuk,” NIV Student Bible

This NIV Student Bible contains very useful information in the back of the book: a “Where to find it” section that includes “100 People You Should Know,” “Glossary of People and Places,” “Well-known Events,” a “LineUp of Rulers,” a “Subject Guide,” and beautiful glossy color maps.

Color map of Paul’s Missionary Journey in the NIV Student Bible

The LineUp of Rulers is so well done I wish I had it in my own personal study Bible! It is an excellent resource that will benefit anyone interested in the history of the kings and chronicles of Scriptures. It is exceedingly helpful for keeping straight the kings of Israel vs. the kings of Judah!

“A Lineup of Rulers,” NIV Student Bible

My recommendation:

★★★★★

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I would recommend the NIV Student Bible for high school aged students and possibly young college students. Some of the topics in the glossary may be too mature for middle schoolers.

This is a useful and valuable resource for students today who are wrestling with tough questions and are seeking guidance from the Word of God.

Book details

Title: NIV Student Bible
Publisher: Zondervan Bibles
Release Date: 
April 4, 2023
Genre: BIBLES/New International Version/Reference

ISBN-13: 978-0-310-46163-0

PURCHASE LINKS:  Amazon FaithGateway Store

#BibleGatewayPartner

Rev. Jennifer N. Mieliulis Fuentes, MDiv, Duke University




Behold, your King is coming to you: Zechariah’s Palm Sunday prophecy

(Zechariah 9; Luke 19:28-48) 5783 B”H

It is already nearly Palm Sunday and Passover! We still have snow on the ground here in the northwoods, but the joy of our Savior’s Resurrection warms our hearts and helps us remember that the spring flowers are just about to burst forth.

Zekharyah: God remembers

Have you ever read the full prophecy found in Zechariah 9?

Zechariah (זְכַרְיָה (Zekharyah) was a priest and prophet by heritage and lineage and God used him to reveal one of the most important Messianic prophecies!

The Hebrew name “Zekharyah” means “God remembers.”

God remembers His people, He remembers His promises, and prophecy is fulfilled precisely because the LORD has spoken and His Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

The chapter begins with judgment on Israel’s enemies – highly appropriate given the promise of Zion’s Coming King who would defeat evil. God remembered all that Israel had endured and reassured them that He would send the Righteous One.

Zechariah 9:9-17 contains the prophecies that were fulfilled on Palm Sunday. Additionally, this passage prophesies that the coming King would speak shalom and salvation to the nations:

Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion!
        Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!
    Behold, your King is coming to you,
        a righteous one bringing salvation.
        He is lowly, riding on a donkey—
        on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

I will banish chariots from Ephraim
        and horses from Jerusalem,
        and the war bow will be broken.
    He will speak shalom to the nations.
    His rule will extend from sea to sea,
    from the River to the ends of the earth.
As for you also, by the blood of your covenant,
        I will release your prisoners from the waterless Pit.
Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope!
    Today I declare that I will restore twice as much to you.
I will bend Judah as my bow
        and fill it with Ephraim.
  I will rouse your sons, O Zion
        against your sons, O Greece.
    I will wield you like a warrior’s sword.

Then ADONAI will be seen over them
    as His arrow flashes like lightning.
ADONAI Elohim will blow the shofar
    and march in whirlwinds of the south.

ADONAI TZVA’OT will defend them.
    They will consume and conquer with sling stones.
    They will drink and roar as with wine
        and be filled like a bowl,
        like the corners of the altar.
ADONAI their God will save them on that day
        as the flock of His people.
    They will be like gems of a crown
        sparkling over His land.
How good and beautiful it will be!
    Grain will make the young men thrive
        and new wine the virgin women.”
Zechariah 9:9-17, emphases added

Isn’t this beautiful to picture?

“They will be like gems of a crown sparkling over His land.” Zechariah 9:16b

He loves you so much you sparkle like a regal gem!

As you can see, this Bible passage describes the overwhelming and awesome power of the LORD Most High. His arrows flash like lightning and shofars will sound and the LORD of the Armies will defend us. It is really impactful to dwell on this passage for a time. Meditate on God’s Word! You will always be blessed.

Our Humble King, Owner of all things

Do you notice that the Zechariah passage ends with all such fanfare and victorious imagery, but it sure didn’t start out that way. It tells about a lowly Man, riding on a donkey. But, despite the humbleness of the passage, it does make a bold announcement:

“Behold, your King is coming to you.” Zechariah 9:9

What a statement!

The King was coming! And not just any King – your King. The One who will hold out His scepter of righteous forgiveness and allow you into His Presence with all-consuming love, mercy, and passion.

Do you need to hear that today?

Do you need to know that there is One who holds all Authority, the Majestic King of all kings, and He is coming once again? No one knows the day or the hour of Yeshua’s (Jesus’) Second Coming, but I can assure you this: He is coming back for His own.

As Zechariah records, Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ our Lord) is the Righteous One and He is bringing salvation. He will save you, deliver you, and set you free of your burdens and your sins and even the curse and sting of death. He will give you new life, if you will trust in Him today with all your heart.

Luke documented the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy that the Messiah would ride on a colt. (Luke 19:30ff).

I love how the owners of the colt ask the two disciples in Luke 19, “Why are you untying the colt?” Luke 19:33

That was a reasonable question. The disciples didn’t own the colt, but the Master, the LORD Himself can given them permission to take it! They were instructed to simply say,

“The LORD has need of him.” (Luke 19:34, NKJV).

“The Master needs it.” (Luke 19:34, TLV).

God owns everything, so He owned that young donkey, too.

The LORD needed the donkey because He was absolutely fulfilling in every minute detail the words of Zechariah‘s triumphal prophecy.

Luke describes the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Even though our LORD chose to use a lowly donkey as His transportation into Jerusalem, the events of that first Palm Sunday were far from lowly.

During what is commonly described as “the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem,” there was now a full multitude of people who would consider themselves Yeshua’s (Jesus’) disciples. They were celebrating because they knew He was the Anointed One, the Promised King!

Scripture says that they praised God with a loud voice!

Do you, too, praise Him with a loud voice?

Do you let it be known that you and your household serve this King?

“When Yeshua came near the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began to rejoice. They praised God with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen, saying,

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of ADONAI!”
Shalom in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!”

But answering, Yeshua said, “I tell you that if these keep silent, the stones will shout out!”

As He drew near and saw Jerusalem, He wept over her, saying, “If only you had recognized this day the things that lead to shalom! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will surround you with barricades and hem you in on all sides. And they will smash you to the ground—you and your children within you. And they won’t leave within you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:37-45).

Blessed is the King!

What has often become a repetitive custom to say, “Baruch haba b’Shem Adonai” was in that moment the most powerful declaration of allegiance and praise!

Shalom in Heaven and Glory in the Highest!

Shalom in heaven!

Glory in the Highest!

Doesn’t that reach the depths of your heart?

The joy of knowing the King of kings has come!

I imagine the overwhelming experiential joy that the disciples must have been feeling at that moment!

The Pharisees missed the mark and wanted to hear a public rebuke.

But Yeshua (Jesus) knew the condition of their hearts.

He wept over the Holy City, knowing that despite their daily greetings to one another saying, “Shalom,” they truly didn’t understand shalom.

More than a greeting and more than a temporary condition, true shalom comes only from being in right relationship with the Holy One, learning to love and seeking His mercy. Keeping every jot and tittle of the law could not save the people. They needed to know the Lord of Shalom.

Rejoice Greatly and Shout

Zechariah 9:9 proclaims we are to rejoice greatly and shout because of the announcement of the Coming King!

As we enter this Holy time of Passover and celebrating the FirstFruits of the Resurrection, I pray you will rejoice greatly. That you will not be ashamed to shout praises unto God Most High!

The tomb is empty. Our King will return!

Celebrate! And may we pray for those who do not yet know Him. That they, too, would shout “Hoshiana!” (Hosanna!): Please, save!