Friday, August 24, 2007

Youth Praise Night

Here's an idea that when part of an over all strategy can help youth focus on making Jesus the central part of their life.

Last night, (August 23, 2007) Pam and I had the chance to attend a Youth Praise Night in North Branch, Michigan at SS. Peter & Paul Parish. It began in a huge tent set up for the weekend parish festival and later moved indoors because of threatening thunder storms that rolled through the thumb region of Michigan. But the bad weather did not dampen the group's enthusiasm. The Michigan Catholic (Robert DeLaney) did pre-event coverage which you can read about HERE.

Fr. Rich Treml, pastor of the parish, told me he hoped the event will get the youth in the area, both Protestant and Catholic, excited about trusting Christ with their lives.

Fr. Treml's team invited Evangelical Nate Kreger's worship and praise band from a local Protestant church to lead off the night's activities. Leading those gathered in the tent in a long set of upbeat Gospel-Praise-Worship songs with an emphasis on a loud heavy beat, Nate and his team got the youth, and many of the adults dancing in the isles -- or at least bounding in front of their white plastic lawn chairs.

But what can't be missed are the words of the songs that remind us all that "God is an Awesome God" and to trust God with our entire life in everything we do.

Significantly, while the music took place outside and then in the church's sanctuary, a group of adults prayed before an Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. As they prayed, they could look out from the chapel on the sanctuary's activities. Over the worship leaders, above the altar, is a beautifully wood-carved crucifix.

Leading the second set, inside the church, was the Saginaw Diocese Praise Team led by Catholic Evangelist Bill Richart. Bill has a website if you want to contact him, HERE.

I took heart at seeing parents bring their younger children to expose them to the enthusiasm that worshiping God should prompt in all of us.

Mass is mostly a time of quiet reverence, but David made loud, banging noise in the presence of God as his sacrifice of praise.

We can do the same.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Basics of Adult and Teen Faith Formation

Yesterday my wife, Pam, watched the Catholic daughters of our neighbor for a few hours. The night before, Pam and I had watched ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING, a very good and recent movie on the Biblical story of Esther. I suggested to the girls that they might like to watch the movie while they were over. After chasing our cat around the house for a while, the girls settled down, and Pam turned on the DVD and projector system.

During the movie the oldest (Age 13) asked a lot of questions. Pam, being well versed in Bible stories by her parents, and by the parenting of our own children in Evangelicalism, provided answers throughout the movie. She was surprised, however, at how little this catechised and first communion young lady knew about the Bible. (Pam later told me that two years ago the Director of Religious Education at our Catholic church gave a test to the 7th and 8th grade catechism students, that they all failed.)

Later, after the girls had returned home, their mother came over and asked Pam for a Bible so her 13-year old could read the story of Esther as Pam had suggested she do. Evidently, the only Bible in this Catholic home was a hard-to-read Orthodox edition. Pam came into my office and rummaged through my shelf of Bible translations and editions, and found one. But today, I think, we're going out to buy the girl and her sister a good teen Bible -- maybe even one in LEATHER.

During my devotions and prayers this morning, I was asking God for a way to communicate with the Church the results of the research I've begun on the BEST PRACTICES OF ADULT (and TEEN) FAITH FORMATION. It occured to me that there are some absolute (that's A.B.S.O.L.U.T.E.) basics of faith formation, that begin with having a Bible, and being very familiar with the stories in it.

I started listing in my prayer journal the basics (below). Please feel free to enhance and send suggestions for improvement on this list. These have numbers, but I'm not suggesting an order. While these are suggestions to individuals, they are also suggestions to church leadership (bishops, priests, DREs, and parents) to do things that, hopefully, cause these to occur.

1. Get a Bible and read it -- to yourself, to your kids, everyday, all the time, for the rest of your life. Get a LEATHER one with your name imprinted on the cover in gold leaf. Make sure the text is easy to read (type size) with lots of study helps inside. A concordance or small encyclopedia is REALLY necessary.

2. Get (give out as gifts) a Catechism of the Catholic Church, and use it in your Bible readings and studies.

3. Attend inspirational events, or create them and ensure that there is discussion and/or a talk by a captivating speaker in conjunction with these: Gospel music concerts, Biblical movies, field trips to spiritual destinations, praise and prayer meetings with both small and LARGE groups, Eucharistic adoration in an environment that is memorable (e.g. tents, candles and great music).

4. Attend (organize) Bible Studies for small and large groups. These need to be led by either someone close to the attendees (a parent), or an excited, captivating leader who is above reproach. PLEASE DO NOT APPOINT BIBLE STUDY LEADERS WHO MIGHT HAVE A DEGREE IN THEOLOGY, BUT ARE BORING. Desire to lead these groups, or a passion for the activity IS NOT ENOUGH. The facilitator MUST HAVE A GIFT OF LEADING AND FACILITATING. People will attend PRIMARILY because of their attraction to the leader. That is why we call them "leaders" -- because people naturally follow them. (A friend just told me that she may drop out of RCIA because the leader is BORING.)

5. For teens, participate in a Bible Quiz team, and beat the socks off the Evangelical Churches in your area. For adults, start and coach a Bible Quiz team from your church. If you have never heard of Bible Quizzing, learn. A god place to start is This was an important part of my upbringing, and one of the reasons that many Evangelicals know their faith better than Catholics.

6. Participate (create) small growth groups around interests and or callings (e.g. music, service, parenting, singles, business, work, sports). These are groups where small groups of people get together regularly to study, fellowship, pray, and, most importantly, are there to help each other during the week when trials or celebrations occur. EVERYONE in a parish should be assigned to a small group, whether or not they attend. In some churches small groups are assigned to a layperson who becomes the informal leader and instigator of prayers or events for the group. In some Evangelical Churches these people are called deacons and deaconesses (which are much different from the trained deacons in Catholicism.) Don't get hung up on the name. Call them something different. Just do it.

7. Start and maintain a prayer telephone chain (or email, or text messaging) for everyone in your small group, and by extension the entire parish. When someone needs prayer, the group leader is called, who becomes a gatekeeper, and the group is called to pray. These are VERY helpful to inculcating the Christ centered existence during the week.

8. Attend (organize) regular all-church one hour prayer meetings that include:
--- 1. Worship and adoration for 20 min.
--- 2. Prayer for personal and group needs for 20 min.
--- 3. Singing and praise for 20 min.

9. Hold family prayers EVERY NIGHT before bedtime. This is NOT a prayer just before a meal while the food gets cold. These should be led by the eldest, like a parent (if so inclined), and should include daily scripture reading, structured prayers, and spontaneous prayers about personal needs. Keep the length reasonable. My sister and I used to fall asleep as my parents prayed "around the world" -- and then we'd be reprimanded for falling asleep. God help us! (When you're an adult, one-hour in a solid block should be your goal, but we're discussing "basics" here, not advanced spirituality.)

10. Attend (organize) Sunday School classes EVERY SUNDAY, for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Platoon with Mass. Sunday School classes may become the main meeting time for the small group, which can also meet occasionally for recreational events. (See my other post on Sunday Schools.)

My research is producing wonderful results. People are sending in great ideas, and I will continue to share these ideas in the coming months. Please keep the ideas coming, and even post them in the comments below. And please forward these posts to others. Talk this up. There's a lot of work to do -- by all of us -- the body of Christ.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Christ Came to Set Us Ablaze

Today's Scripture Readings point again to this theme of "turning-on" nominal Christians to the faith, as opposed to just going through the weekly ritual of going to church.

In Jeremiah 38 (and before) we read Jeremiah's prediction of the Babylonian captivity because King Zedekiah and the citizens of Jerusalem were just going through the motions.

In Hebrews 12 we read about the many saints that went before us to heaven who are watching our progress, hoping that we obey God and his priests, so we don't turn up in captivity.

And in Luke 12 Christ says:
I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! (Luke 12:49
Compare that verse (Luke 12:49) to Revelations 3:14-16:
To the angel of the church in Laodicea...because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth...(Rev. 3:14-22).
Do you see the parallel between the OT and NT passages? God warns Jerusalem (a metaphor for today's church) to obey God's spiritual leader set over them, Jeremiah, or suffer the consequences, which is exile. In the NT Jesus wishes the people were on-fire (hot) but to those that just go through the motions, He will spit them out of his mouth.

Catholics, especially, get lazy I think, because we falsely think that because we participate physically in the sacraments (e.g. Holy Communion once a week), we're on the right path.

But the Church's teachings through councils, popes and evangelists, continually remind us that the disposition of our heart (i.e. the degree of our faith) determines the degree to which the physical sacrament is able to impart grace. In The Catechism the section on The Sacraments of Salvation BEGINS with a condition:
Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace... (1127).
A few paragraphs later, the IN BRIEF section leaves us with these reminders:
They [the sacraments] bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions (1131).
The Holy Spirit prepares the faithful for the sacraments by the Word of well-disposed hearts" (1133). (emphasis added)
In other words, we have to participate by the discipline and focus of our hearts and lives. We have to make Christ the center of our lives if we expect to get to heaven.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

On-Fire Protestant or Lukewarm Catholic?

The Need for an Adult Sunday School in Every Parish.

A Proposal and a Request for Best Practices.

In very recent months I have come face-to-face in conversation with regular attenders at Mass who have proclaimed to me:

  • Jesus isn't God, Buddha is just as good.
  • I don't pray with my kids because they aren't into that.
  • It doesn't matter that I'm living with a man who isn't a Catholic (and who isn't my husband), I'm a good Catholic and I go to Mass every week.
  • Suicide is not the result of a lack of faith, but insanity.
  • I'm all alone, and I have no one to help me.
  • I don't know anyone at Church.
  • Wearing occult jewelry and partaking of Holy Communion is not a contradiction.
  • I can't expect our priest to visit my son in the hospital.
I'm 60-years old now. When I was a kid, in the 50s, I hung around with Catholic friends in my neighborhood, and got to know their parents who went to Mass every week. These were not people that I would have thought were Christians. (Sorry if I come off as judgemental here; I don't mean to suggest I know if these people were going to heaven or hell. But by their language, topics of coversation, and lack of personal witness of any Christian faith -- there was certainly plenty of information to evalutate that Christ and Christianity was not central to their lives.)

Today, I know people that go to Mass that are likewise faith-challenged or are holding out for a god of their own choosing—the new atheism, e.g. "I believe in God, and he's just like me" (Dr. Ray Guarendi). I know many that are great and holy Christians. But too many, I conclude, have no clue what their faith means or how to appropriate it for their everyday needs. They worry, but prayer to God is not the first thing that comes to mind. To many Catholics, God is as distant as FEMA appeared to be to the victims of Katrina....a long way off, disinterested, incapable, and under funded.

Our bishops know the problem, however -- at least those that had something to do with drafting USCCB's statement Our Hearts Are Burning Within Us. The first section of this statement is titled, "A Renewed Commitment to Adult Faith Formation." The third & fourth paragraph, in part, read:
To grow in discipleship throughout life, all believers need and are called to build vibrant parish and diocesan communities of faith and service. Such communities CANNOT exist without a strong, complete, and systematic catechesis for all its members. By "complete and systematic" we mean a catechesis that nurtures a profound, lifelong conversion of the whole person and sets forth a comprehensive, contemporary synthesis of the faith...[that] will help ADULTS to experience the transforming power of grace and grasp the integrity and beauty of the truths of faith... Adult faith formation, by which people consciously grow in the life of Christ through experience, reflection, prayer, and study, MUST be "THE CENTRAL TASK in [this] catechetical enterprise, becoming THE AXIS around which revolves the catechesis of childhood and adolescence as well as that of old age. (some emphasis added, some are the bishops)
The bishops go on to pledge their commitment to make this vision a reality. Coming from Evangelicalism, the descriptions in this statement sure sound like adult Sunday School.

In the DVD program Common Ground: What Protestants and Catholics Can Learn From Each Other, in response to Evangelical pastor Steve Andrews' questions about what Catholics can learn from Evangelicals, Father John Riccardo says this:
To many Catholics, their faith is like a book on a bookself that they pick up only on Sundays. But to an Evangelical their faith is the WHOLE bookcase.
As an Evangelical for the first 50 years of my life, I learned that it was important to make Christ and my faith the bookshelf of my life -- or at least try hard to reach that goal. When I had a problem of any kind, I was imbued, automatically, to turn to God for help...and then turn to other Christians in my life—my pastor, my Sunday School teacher, my friends, my prayer partners, my deacon. When I was a youth pastor, it was a normal part of my life to get calls from those under my care asking for help with everything from a flat tire to sexual temptation.

One of our adult daughters goes to an active and generally well-run Evangelical Church where they just assigned new deacons and deaconesses. Their job is to be ready to help those in the church assigned to them in any and every way possible. Phone numbers are exchanged, prayer chains established, small prayer meetings gather weekly. Bible studies are held weekly as well. And it should be noted that the entire congregation is continually encouraged to join and attend these weekday small groups, AND regularly attend a Sunday School class for adults.
In such an environment you grow up knowing that your first line of defense in any and every kind of problem is your Christian leaders and friends, e.g. God.

The central technique that Evangelicalism uses to create this culture is Sunday School, which is not just for kids, but for adults of all ages and interests. Evangelical Sunday School is an EVERY week event for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. It becomes the single most important event of your week, next to worship, that strengthens your spiritual commitment. The classes are organized around interests such as business, evangelization, parenting, singles, music and so on. This week in The Michigan Catholic, Sr. Janet Schaeffler, OP, the archdiocean associate director for adult faith formation lists over 100 topics that could serve around which to structure Sunday School and other faith formation classes. Regardless of the topics, however, the center is always the faith and how we can make Christ the center of our life and at the heart of ever decision. The idea behind Sunday Scool or any faith formation activity is not just head knowledge, but heart and soul application.

Evangelical Sunday School provides a comprehensive focus to the concept of faith community. In preparing for this article, I came across a website that answers the question: How to Start a Sunday School. I recommend it to our Catholic bishops, priests, and DREs. This page from the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptism Convention provides a good addendum to the bishops' published vision. This short but comprehensive page explains the purpose and elements of a successful Sunday School program around nine building blocks: Explore, Examine, Engage, Educate, Enlarge, Enlist, Encourage, Embark, and Evaluate.

In my experience, my Sunday School classes (from childhood through my adult years) became the center of my Christian community in which I operated. Many Catholic parishes are too large to establish support communities without activities outside of Mass. Most parishes have many such groups. But there is only one kind of group that directly affects the spiritual growth (in knowledge and faith and service) all at the same time... and that is a group that operates like a Sunday School class.


When I first started to suggest a Sunday School program that ran in the educational center of the church at the same time as Mass, I was told that it would be inappropriate because people might go to Sunday School instead of Mass, and that would be a sin.

Hello, folks, let's not be ignorant about this. First, Catholicism isn't an either/or religion, it's an "and/both." Platooning Mass and Sunday School is a natural . EVERYONE goes to BOTH, EVERY WEEK. Second, if someone goes to Mass, but would rather be somewhere else, well, they need to go to confession just as if they weren't in Mass at all. ALL of Catholic doctrine, especially dealing with the sacraments, requires the right disposition of heart or the sacraments have no effect. Better that a person skip Mass and go to Sunday School, if while they're IN Sunday School they learn the reason for attending Mass. Every bishop and priest knows that there are far too many people attending Mass that believe that attending it physically, but wishing mentally they didn't have to, is of absolutely no spiritual good. Maybe some spiritual good may come out of belligerent attendance, but such individuals might as well go practice their faith on the golf course.

A Catholic customer told me last week that when their children became teenagers, they stopped going to the Catholic Church because it was robbing their children of the enthusiasm for the faith. You can blame these parents all you want for not knowing how to inculcate a passion for Catholicism at home, but when the priest only allows one verse of the recessional hymn because he's trying to keep Mass short so people will not leave too soon for the beach...something else is wrong. Their parish was one that gets significant operating revenue from Bingo. If this was my parish, and another Catholic Church wasn't close at hand, I'd take my teens to the local Evangelical church if it had an alive youth group that would get my kids excited about Christianity. It may be far better that our kids be on fire for Christ and their faith vigorus while attending a Protestant faith community, than lukewarm about Christ while half-heartedly attending Mass at a Catholic Church. Christ has warned those that are lukewarm that he will spit them out of his mouth.

As Thomas Howard wrote, "Catholic is not Enough" and I will declare that "Mass is Not Enough." The Eucharist may be the center and summit of our faith, but that statement assumes that there is enough faith to understand the importance of The Eucharist. When the faith is lukewarm, or cold, The Eucharist, miraculous as it is, is of little consequence. In fact, if you don't believe the dogmas of the faith and practice them, the Church advises you to not take The Eucharist, as does the Bible for fear of illness. That is why Protestants that attend Mass are asked not to take communion with the rest of the community.

Our bishops know that the faith of too many Catholics is lukewarm. In paragraph 35 of "Our Hearts Are Burning..." they state:
Many Catholics seem "lukewarm" in faith (cf Rev 3:14ff). And as surprising as that statement may be to some, it is nearly an equivocation. Notice the couching and politically correctness of how it is worded. Al Kresta told me he read a book when he came back into the Church about how bishops are chosen -- they can't be confrontational. This statement from paragraph 35 underscores Al's discovery. The truth that our bishops understand, but that they were afraid to confront in plain language could probably be stated this way: "Too many Catholics are lukewarm in their faith and Christ has promised to spit them out of his mouth. We gotta do something about that." (cf. Rev. 3:14ff)" Let's get with the program, or Christ is going to spit all of us out of his mouth.

I propose that every parish start an adult Sunday School program... with all volunteers from the parish... and around that Sunday School program build up the passion for the Church so that not only will Christ embrace us, but we will attract those in our world, neighborhoods and communities that need what only Christ can offer — salvation... for now and for eternity.

At my company, Nineveh's Crossing, we may soon start a multi-year project that will collect and publish annually, the best practices in any Christian community for imbuing a vibrant, passionate, and practical faith. We will be particularly attentive to successful techniques found in Evangelicalism. But we will also include Catholic devotions, with suggestions of how to make the practices produce spiritual fruit and a passion for the faith.

Please send this article to others and ask them to send their observations of best practices and case study descriptions to me. I will give each credit for their contributions. With your observations please send contact information of the church or locale that is implementing the best practices that you share.

If you know of a Catholic Church that actually has a Sunday School program up and running, please tell me who it is. Send information to me at The project needs a name, as well.

To God Be The Glory. We have a duty to present the Church to Christ as His Bride, spotless. We have a way to go.

Stan Williams

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fr. John Riccardo's Pod Casts

Lately my concern has been focused on how to turn up the heat on Catholic passion for the faith. The reason many of us Evangelical converts came over to Catholicism has everything to do with the logical and historical consistency of Catholic doctrine and it's agreement with the Bible. It has very little to do with the witness of Catholics around us. In fact, many of us became Catholic in spite of the poor Christian witness of Catholics around us.

This is nothing new, to us, or to the bishops, who have authored two documents (or statements as they call them) about the importance of adult formation in the faith, and the lack of it in the American Catholic Church. (See Our Hearts Are Burning Within Us and Summary of the National Directory for Catechesis, available from the USCCB's Website store.)

When I speak of this concern to some bishops or priests, I get blank stares and sometimes a rebuttal. Pardon my shorthand, but I think there is an attitude in American Catholic culture that Mass is Enough. Sorry, but, Mass is Not Enough. As Fr. John Riccardo says in the DVD Common Ground, faith for some Catholics can be like a book on the bookshelf, but for Evangelicals their faith is the whole bookshelf. There is a lot we Catholics can learn from Evangelicals in terms of how to make our faith vigorously, and intimately part of our life.

In the meantime, there is much we ALL can learn about our Catholic Faith. As many of us believe, there is about 2,000 years of stuff to catch-up on. Multiple lifetimes will not be enough. But thankfully, there are priests (and bishops) like Fr. John Riccardo that continually challenged us with top-flight instruction and catechesis.

Today, I discovered his Podcast site. Wow! Is it loaded. And it appears to be all free. There are his homilies, talks about others like theologian Dr. Robert Fastiggi who has approved some of Nineveh's Crossing's products, and it looks like Fr. John's entire RCIA program. This is a goldmine folks. Check it out. Here's the link:

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Rebuilding the (Temple) Church

I am often asked what the name of our distributon company (NINEVEH'S CROSSING) means. I keep coming up with variatons on the same answer. Here's yet another one.

In a recent email to our Nineveh's Crossing customers, I added these two Scriptures at the bottom.
Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!" ...Then everyone whom God had inspired to do so -- prepared to go up to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:3)

My answer to them was this: "It is the God of heaven who will grant us success. We, his servants, shall set about the rebuilding; but for you there is to be neither share nor claim nor memorial in Jerusalem." (Nehemiah 2:3)
That might have been okay, but two weeks later I wasn't sure anybody understood why I put them there. So I added this mysterious explanation:
In case you don't get the significance of the scriptures that follow, they're both addressed to exiles who were, in part, in NINEVEH, and they were asked to leave their place of exile, and CROSS back to the promised land and build the church.
Ah, now, that got a response from one alert soul who wrote:
I am sorry but I do not understand the meaning or application of the two Scriptures at the end of the email I just received. Thank you. (Annette S.)

Well, Annette, you're probably a lot more astute about ancient history than the writer of that explanation, and so you have forced me to hide under a small mountain of books, in an effort to explain my speculative view of history.

Alas, I've emerged from my canyon of paper to come up with this even more speculative defense. (Does pride have no corner where it can simply say, "I have no clue what that means, I must have had too many cornflakes for dinner?")


The Scriptures and my oblique remark relate to Nineveh's Crossing's desire to have something to do with rebuilding and reuniting the Christian Church. Recently, I re-read parts of Ezra and Nehemiah, and saw a connection between how Ezra was rebuilding the Temple (analogous to the Church) and Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls to protect the people and the Temple (analogous to a defense of the Church). We see ourselves as trying to do both. Evangelization has numerous facets: (a) building up of existing Christians, (b) conversion of people who call themselves Christians but really aren't, (c) conversion of unbelievers, (d) restoring Christians who have fallen away, (e) and stoking the fire where the embers are almost cold and dark. Jonah apparently was preaching to non-believers (see first drawing).

Ezra (see second drawing) and Nehemiah were stoking the fires as they preached to the people in Jerusalem. As Jonah crossed through Nineveh, the city repented and came to God. As Ezra and Nehemiah crossed from Babylon to Palestine with building materials and treasures to restock the Temple, so they were rebuilding (and reuniting) the people of God to their rightful worship.

It seems to me that a great body of Christians are in exile; they are in a lot of places, but they're not home in the Church that Christ started and the Apostles built. We're in Babylon and perhaps in Nineveh. God is calling us back to rebuild the Church. But to do so, we're going to have to CROSS over a wilderness and find our way to Jerusalem. The physical wilderness that Jonah and the Jews transited is a metaphor for our spiritual and perhaps physical journey, if not also for our physical confrontation with metaphoric whales and robbers along the way; and Jerusalem is a long understood metaphor for the physical and spiritual Church.

Indeed, the journey for most of us will not be an easy one. Jonah had to battle his own lack of faith and trust in God and probably showed up at Nineveh's gates bleached white and smelly from being in a whale's stomach for days (At the right Jonah is cast forth by the whale. I personally think that what scared the Ninevehites into repentance was Jonah looking like a walking ghost; he probably spelled like hell...[pssst,'re writing about Jonah not you. Oh yeah, sorry.] ...he probably smelled like hell. Did he "scare the hell" out of Nineveh's inhabitants?)

Ezra and Nehemiah were afraid of battling robbers and raiding parties during their journeys back to Palestine. Nothing worthwhile is easy. If it's not whales, it's robbers. And after you get where you're going, you have to contend with hecklers and political opposition. (Ezra 4)


My very shallow understanding of history during this time of the Old Testament puts Jonah at Nineveh's gate about 785 BC. Nineveh at the time (see colored drawing), appears to have been the Assyrian capitol. To Nineveh's South are the Babylonians, and to their East the Medes. In the 600s, Nineveh is decimated by the Babylonians and the Medes who split up Nineveh's wealth. In the late 600s and 500s, the Babylonians take Isarel into exile. And in the 400s, Ezra and Nehemiah are allowed to return with some Jews to rebuild the Temple and Jerusalem's walls. (Today the ruins of Nineveh can be found across the Tigris river from Mosul, Iraq.)

So, it seems possible that when Ezra and Nehemiah return from Babylon, they draw some Jews out of the area that was once NINEVEH, and together they CROSS back into Palestine to rebuild the physical aspect of their faith, the temple (drawing at the right) and the walls. I saw the two Scriptures I cited as a call to Christians to unite and to rebuild the Church and its defenses.

Thank you, Annette, for asking the question. It is always fascinating to me to try and figure out what my mind was doing when I write stuff without thinking very hard about it. Hope this helps.


The wonderful black and white illustration above are by French artist Gustave Doré (1832-1883) who produced hundreds of quality Bible story illustrations in his lifetime. (I wish Blogger had an easy way to capture drawings.) In all of them there is a leader, a group of people laboring, and the rebuilding of a spiritual struture within the physical realm. Fascinating stuff.