Steve’s Writings

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by Steve Ray on March 19, 2014

I can’t put everything on my blog that I can quickly share on Twitter. Plus, Twitter notifies all my followers immediately of everything I share on my blog. Ain’t technology grand?

If you want to keep up with all our adventures, blog posts, pictures and videos, pilgrimages and other fun stuff – as well as apologetics, Catholic and Bible study topics…

… then follow me on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/JerusalemJones!

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God said “Please”; Abraham said “OK”

by Steve Ray on February 2, 2014

Studying Scripture like this is one of my favorite things to do in the whole world. Nice little tidbits pop out, like the one Which I share from you while visiting the sites related to Abraham in Hebron in the Palestinian a West Bank.

abraham-isaac2.jpgWhen God said to Abraham: ”Take Isaac, your only son, the one whom you love, and offer him up on a mountain which I will show you,” he did not give Abraham a firm command, but rather a request. This being the case, it makes Abraham’s response all the more impressive. Abraham had been agonizing over a son for more than 25 years and well after childbearing years, 90 year old Sarah is finally granted the joy of a son.

We have no idea today of the importance of that son to Abraham; all of his hopes and dreams were centered on that son. All of God’s promises, his covenant, his possessions, the land — all that would be fulfilled through Isaac. And now God asks Isaac to sacrifice him on an altar and burn his body. )By the way, human sacrifice was not uncommon in Canaan at the time, though it was an abomination to God and he never intended Abraham to actually sacrifice his son.)

It is one thing to say OK when God when he gives a pure and deliberate command, but in the nuances of the Hebrew language, God’s “command” to Abraham actually have the effect of a request. It is like God is saying “Please.” And to a “please” one can say “no” without violating a law or incurring guilt. Here is what Jewish Publications Society commentary on Genesis says,

The Hebrew adds the participle na to the imperative which usually softens the command to an entreaty, as noted in Sanhedrin 89b, Genesis Rabba 55:7, and Rashi’s commentary. Abraham has absolute freedom of choice. Should he refuse, he would not incur any guilt. (For imperative with na cf. Num. 20:10; Judg. 13:4; 16:6, 10, 28; 18:5; Isa. 1:18; Amos 7:2, 5.) (The JPS Torah commentary (151). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.)

abraham-isaac3.jpgWord Biblical Commentary says,

The reader has been alerted by the verb “test” that something difficult is about to be asked of Abraham, while he [Abraham], of course, is quite in the dark. The way the command is put here tries to soften the blow for Abraham while maximizing our realization of its enormity. “Please take.” The use of the enclitic “please” is rare in a divine command and makes it more like an entreaty, another hint that the Lord appreciates the costliness of what he is asking. (Wenham, G. J. (2002). Vol. 2: Word Biblical Commentary : Genesis 16-50. Word Biblical Commentary (104). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.)

I was impressed with Abraham’s utter docility and obedience to God before, but even more so now. He said “Yes” to God’s request even when it was not commanded in strong terms. A descendant of Abraham, a young Jewish, a young girl also said “Yes” to God, as did her Son. She said, “Let it be done to me as you have spoken,” and he said, “Not my will but thine be done.”

These shining examples call us to a higher obedience and love for God. We must aspire to do – not only what he commands, but also what he wishes. In the end, we are the ones who are blessed beyond measure.

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To see the content rich and colorful Newsletter with stories, news,  a free gift, upcoming trips and speaking events and riddles, click here.

The Real Bethlehem   by Steve Ray

The donkey tried to bite me as I climbed on his back. Flies were buzzing incessantly around my head and my clothes were drenched with perspiration.

The smelly donkey belonged to a young Palestinian boy in the Jordan Valley, the lowest place on the face of the earth. An ancient document says that Mary rode such a boney-backed creature from Nazareth to Bethlehem which was over 90 miles as a crow flies.

Trying to better understand Mary and the life she lived in Israel 2,000 years ago, I was exploring her land, reliving some of her experiences and making a documentary to share it with the world. My wife and I feel like we know Mary, the real girl, because of the many times we have visited her land and walked in her footprints. 

 The word Bethlehem is made up of two Hebrew words meaning “house of bread.” Mary was on a journey to Bethlehem while nine months pregnant. In her womb she was carrying the Bread of Life (John 6:35). 

Click to see my video bike ride through Bethlehem

Isn’t it interesting that Mary was going to the House of Bread to deliver the bread. And when Jesus was born, where did his mother place him? In a manger! The first thing Mary did was place her newborn baby in a food dish for sheep. Was she implying that some day her Son would become our food?

To see the content rich and colorful Newsletter with stories, news,  a free gift, upcoming trips and speaking events and riddles, click here.

Free offer for Steve's talk on Abraham: Father of Faith and Works

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Steve’s Short Story “The Last Nightmare” Might Scare the Hell Out of You!

November 25, 2013

The Last Nightmare A Short and Terrifying Story by Steve Ray Everything went blank for a moment, but that moment seemed like eternity. He felt a motion, not with wind and breeze, but a motion none the less. He was traveling, moving, floating, transcending-he wasn’t really sure. The sudden blackness gave him time to regain [...]

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Mary and the Other Body of Christ; Visiting the Upper Room (Pentecost May 19)

May 12, 2013

The room was pretty full. It was warm but a gentle breeze was blowing—that would change. There was fear in the room. The Roman army was a thing to be feared, they had just crucified Jesus and it was a dangerous thing to associates of an executed criminal. They were also anxious about the promise. [...]

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Do Catholics Worship Mary?

May 7, 2013

In response to the show I did with Drew Mariani on Relevant Radio: I thought it would be a good time to respond to an e-mail I received a while ago. It was a questions from a friend wrote to ask me for my take on Mary. He was corresponding with someone that said Catholics [...]

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Entering the Empty Tomb; A Contrast – Now and Back Then (our 1st group arriving in Israel today)

April 22, 2013

It looks different today, but the place is the same. It is darker now, covered with a dome that blocks the sun. There is no grass, no hillside, no trees waving their leaves nearby.   Instead there are the hushed voices of hundreds of people, the Muslim call to prayer echoing in the distance and the [...]

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Purgatory? Doesn’t that Deny the Work of Christ?

April 16, 2013

What’s the Deal with Purgatory? by Steve Ray Isn’t the finished work of Christ sufficient? Didn’t he pay for all my sins? Why the heck do Catholics teach that we have to suffer in Purgatory for our sins? Plus, the Bible never mentions purgatory so it must be an unbiblical doctrine, right. Wow! Sounds like [...]

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My Two Books to Help Understand the Papacy and the Process

February 12, 2013

Ray, a former Evangelical Protestant and Bible teacher, goes through the Scriptures and the first five centuries of the Church to demonstrate that the early Christians had a clear understanding of the primacy of Peter in the see of Rome. (Click on book image to learn more or to purchase) He tackles the tough issues [...]

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Did Eastern Church Father St. John Chrysostom’s Accept the Primacy of Peter?

November 27, 2012

Many non-Catholics like to argue that St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, did not accept the Primacy of Peter. I have written much about this in my book Upon This Rock. I have written on it extensively on my website HERE (scroll down to 3rd section “My Books”) The Navarre Bible Commentary gets this [...]

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The Cross & the Crucifix: Letter to a Fundamentalist

November 13, 2012

The Cross & the Crucifix (From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix) Dear Evangelical Friend: You display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the [...]

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New Wikipedia Entry for Steve Ray; What Do You Think?

August 7, 2012

There is now an entry for me on Wikipedia. What do you think? How could it be approved? Any suggestions for the editors? You can see it HERE.

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Just Finished My Book and Bible Study: “Joshua, Judges & Ruth”

April 15, 2012

I have been writing this with every free minute for the last few months. I have just finished my 300 page Bible Study on Joshua, Judges & Ruth which will be offered by CatholicScriptureStudy.com this fall. It is tied in to the Fathers, the Catechism and Jewish history. I am very proud of the result. [...]

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Seclusion is Paying Off!

February 18, 2012

Seclusion is paying off. I finished writing the sections for Joshua and Ruth. I now have only to write Judges and the Intro! Making good progress on this study for CSS which will also be a book published by Ignatius Press a year or two down the road. I have four other books in the [...]

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I am a Recluse, Hidden Away in Confinement During February

February 12, 2012

My wife Janet has locked me away in enforced isolation and limits my email and internet to ten minutes a day :-)  I am sneaking out right now to update everyone. Actually, I agreed to write a Bible Study on Joshua, Judges & Ruth, three fascinating books in the Old Testament. They will be offered [...]

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Meet St. Paul as he Writes to the Romans; A Brief Study

January 11, 2012

I love St. Paul and love to write about him and his epistles. I also enjoyed traveling through six countries filming his life story and theology. St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans is often seen as impossible to understand except by theologians and most skip right over this masterpiece. With hopes that you will take [...]

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