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Ancient synagogue discovered in Galilee excavations

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By Elisa Moed, Founder and CEO of www.Travelujah.com
ASSIST News Service

HUQOQ, ISRAEL – A monumental synagogue building dating to the Late Roman period (circa fourth and fifth centuries C.E.) has been discovered in archaeological excavations at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee.

The excavations are being conducted by Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and David Amit and Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, under the sponsorship of UNC, Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., and the University of Toronto in Canada.

Students and staff from UNC and the consortium schools are participating in the dig.

Huqoq is an ancient Jewish village located approximately two to three miles west of Capernaum and Migdal (Magdala). This second season of excavations has revealed portions of a stunning mosaic floor decorating the interior of the synagogue building. The mosaic, which is made of tiny colored stone cubes of the highest quality, includes a scene depicting Samson placing torches between the tails of foxes (as related in the book of Judges, chapter 15).

In another part of the mosaic, two human (apparently female) faces flank a circular medallion with a Hebrew inscription that refers to rewards for those who perform good deeds.

“This discovery is significant because only a small number of ancient (Late Roman) synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical scenes, and only two others have scenes with Samson (one is at another site just a couple of miles from Huqoq),” said Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religious Studies in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“Our mosaics are also important because of their high artistic quality and the tiny size of the mosaic cubes. This, together with the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue’s walls, suggest a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly.”

Excavations are scheduled to continue in the summer 2013.

 

TBN expands reach to Hispanic viewers with Enlace TV network

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Special to Inside The Pew

LOS ANGELES – With a population of more than 50.5 million, Hispanics make up the largest minority in the United States. What’s more, surveys show that faith in God plays a vital role in the lives of an increasing number of Hispanic individuals and families. It’s little wonder, then, that Trinity Broadcasting Network’s exclusive Spanish-language affiliate, Enlace, has taken its place as one of the fastest growing Christian television networks in North America.

In fact, Enlace president Jonas Gonzalez Jr. recently reported that in the first six months of 2012 alone, the Enlace network expanded its distribution to an astounding 14 million additional subscribers in the U.S. Add to that its recent launch on Mexico’s VETV direct-to-home satellite provider, with an estimated two million new subscribers, and the trend becomes clear. “The Hispanic community places a high priority on faith and values,” explained Gonzalez. “Latino families are drawn toward programming that not only entertains, but inspires and draws them closer to God and the family. That is why Enlace has enjoyed such popularity across Latin America and the U.S.”

TBN founder Dr. Paul Crouch recalled the first time he met Enlace’s founder, the late Jonas Gonzalez Sr., nearly 25 years ago at a converted spaghetti factory in Costa Rica where the elder Gonzalez had built a small television studio to broadcast Christian programming to local viewers. “I’ll never forget that day, because it reminded me so much of TBN’s own start,” recalled Dr. Crouch. “The sparse studio, the primitive equipment — the ten-watt transmitter that was so small I could hold it in my hands. Just like TBN, Enlace was a miracle in the making, poised to explode beyond its humble beginnings and take the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ to the Spanish-speaking world.”

And, indeed, Enlace’s global growth has been nothing short of miraculous. With TBN’s financial support, technical expertise, and unflagging guidance and encouragement, Enlace has grown into a 24/7 Christian television powerhouse, with 15 satellites and thousands of cable and television affiliates broadcasting faith and family programming to Spain, Mexico, Central and South America, and across the United States. And with the addition of Enlace Juvenil, its exclusive youth network, Enlace now reaches every Hispanic viewer demographic with programming that is relevant, entertaining, and uplifting.

U.S. cable and satellite providers have quickly recognized Enlace’s commitment to Hispanic viewers, with DirecTV, DISH Network, Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, Cox, AT&T U-verse, and Verizon FiOS all including Enlace in their broadcast packages. Enlace is also one of the five multicast channels TBN provides in its full-power broadcast offerings in 35 cities across the nation — along with its TBN flagship channel, the JCTV youth network, the Church Channel, and the Smile of a Child kid’s network.

“It’s a privilege to include Enlace and Enlace Juvenil as distinct members of Trinity Broadcasting’s Family of Networks,” said Dr. Crouch. “They represent the commitment we have embraced at TBN over the past 40 years to use this miracle called television to take the good news of Jesus Christ to our neighborhoods and communities, and to the very ends of the earth.”

Wallace: Easter is time to examine nature of Jesus

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By J. Warner Wallace
Special to ASSIST News Service

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. – It’s Easter Season once again, and it’s definitely the time of year when people are curious about the life and nature of Jesus of Nazareth. Have you ever thought about what separates Jesus from otherwise religious men from history? Have you ever been challenged to defend the Divinity of Jesus?

Jesus claimed to be God and he demonstrated his Divinity in several important ways. When people think about the nature of God (even those who doubt God’s existence) they typically think of God as all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving. The gospel eyewitnesses described Jesus as having all three of these Divine characteristics:

Jesus is All-Knowing?

Jesus demonstrated His “omniscience” to the woman at the well. “Leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?‘” (John 4:16-19, 28-30). In addition, the Gospels tell us repeatedly that Jesus knew the thoughts of people around Him (Luke 6:8 and 11:17, for example) and He also knew who would betray Him (John 6:70). More importantly, Jesus knows the very nature of our hearts (John 2:24-25)

Jesus is All-Powerful?

J. Warner Wallace

Jesus repeatedly demonstrated his “omnipotence” as he performed dozens of miracles. These miracles confirmed His power over nature (Matt 8:23; Mark 4:37; Luke 8:22), His power over disease (Matt 8:2; Mark 1:40; Luke 5:12), His power over need (Matt 14:15; Mark 6:30; Luke 9:10; John 6:1-14), and His power over death (John 11:38-44). But the Bible describes Jesus as far more than a miracle worker. The Bible attributes all of God’s power to Jesus:

The Power (Ability) to Create?

Jesus is not simply our Savior. According the Bible, Jesus is also our creator (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16)

The Power (Authority) to Forgive ?

Jesus repeatedly demonstrated His Divine authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:1-8)

The Power (Ability) to Grant Eternal Life?

Jesus demonstrated the ability to provide eternal (spiritual) life in the next world (John 10:28, John 11:25-26)

The Power (Right) to Judge?

Jesus, as the author of our lives, demonstrated His right to evaluate how we have lived as His creation (Matthew 25:31-33)

Jesus is All-Loving?

Jesus repeatedly demonstrated His “omni-benevolence.” He gave His life as the supreme demonstration of His love (John 15:9-14), even though we are seldom, if ever, worthy of His affection (Romans 5:6-8). Jesus loves and desires that ALL should come to know Him (John 3:16-18). Jesus’ omni-benevolence is demonstrated not only by the broad group that He loves, but also by the extent to which He is willing to demonstrate that love.

This Easter, as our friends and family begin to once again consider the nature and person of Jesus of Nazareth, let’s take the time to help them see that the Biblical eyewitnesses described Jesus as much more than a good teacher or a wise man. They clearly and repeatedly testified that Jesus possessed the very nature, power, wisdom and essence of God Himself. Perhaps this is why Jesus told His disciples, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

J. Warner Wallace is a cold case homicide detective, a missions’ leader and a church planter. He earned a Master’s Degree in Architecture (UCLA) and a Master’s Degree in Theology from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. J Warner is the director of Please Convince Me Ministries and hosts the www.PleaseConvinceMe.com website, blog and podcast.