Monday, July 22, 2013

Recent Developments

My recent trip to Chicago and other Developments

A lot of things are going on recently. I went to Chicago and have a very productive visit. I was able to make many important connections and re-connections.

I have started my doctoral work at Houston Graduate School of Theology. I am planning to do my doctorate on "Facilitating Interaction between the Aramaic Assyrian Christian Community and Evangelical Christians for Sustainment, Spiritual Renewal and Missional Outreach." I think I should put my research into good use and this way, perhaps I can help the Assyrian Community and at the same time earn my doctorate. (The backup proposal is "Church Renewal through the Preaching of Law and Grace. I think the Assyrian project is better, although I will also implement the law and grace program, probably as a type of practice run for the Assyrian work.)

While in Chicago, I did a radio program and met with the Assyrians for Christ. (See I also went to the Assyrian National Foundation and the Ashurbanipal library. I got to see a lot of their archives on the Assyrian Levies from WWI-WWII and the archives on the beginning of the Assyrian American Immigrant community. I also found some good resources in the "bookstore" which desperately needs organizing. Honestly, it is frustrating. Things are in such disarray. It seems some Assyrians care, but many don't. I am not a native born Assyrian and I care. Maybe I can do some good with my doctoral program.

Will Stephen be deployed again?

It sure looks that way to me. I am going to begin deployment training in October and will complete it in the end of May. I have no mobilization orders yet. I think I will be most likely going to Afghanistan. The reason I believe I will be deployed is that I am doing mobilization training in the environment of sequestration and budget cuts. I don't think they would be spending the money on our training in this environment if we weren't being deployed. I think there is a 75% chance that I am being deployed.

What is the doctoral work going to look like?

I have just completed my first of six weeklong intensives. (The seventh is for presenting and defending the thesis. We have a huge amount of work we do on our own.) I hope that I can finish three of the intensives before I go on my deployment-but, while thinking about it, I realized that I may only be able to finish two. Regardless, I will have a good start on my doctorate before I go on the deployment. Soon after I return, I will get back into the program. (I will probably take a short break after returning from the war zone. I will likely need some rest and refreshment upon my return.) Dr. Towne says it will take me about 9 months working with the Assyrian community to complete the project. The only challenge is that I will need to have "measureable outcomes." I am not sure about how I am going to do that, but I will think of something. I will need to narrow the research-but everything that gets cut out I will keep and use-for the newsletter, a book, or something else.


New Research

As part of my doctorate, I am going to be doing more research. This means I am going to start doing academic research again. My books are based on solid research-but when I started writing, some of the printers said that they didn't want footnotes. The last time I have done proper academic research is on the three papers that I had published for the Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies. I am going to do a new paper on Saint Isaac of Nineveh and I am going to complete my paper on the Mandaeans. (I lost a binder full of research I had collected on the Mandaeans, so this has caused me to stall on this project. However, I didn't lose my books on the Mandaeans and I will have to put the rest of the research together again.) I've already relocated some of the lost Assyrian research but I lost some articles of an Mandaean journal. I guess I can complete my work without it but it is frustrating. I hope the lost binder turns up.

I intend to finally make new submissions to the Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies.

What is this Doctoral Research going to look like?

I am going to engage with the Assyrian community. I think I am going to work with the local congregation here in Houston-but of course-I will be going back to Chicago-and going back to California as well. I may visit with the Chaldeans in San Diego as well. (The Mesopotamian Community is very sensitive about labels such as "Assyrians," and "Chaldeans." I work mostly with the Assyrians and I prefer to use the word "Assyrian." But, "Chaldeans" don't like it and the Assyrians feel the same way about the word "Chaldean."

The Up-Coming Charisma Ad

I have placed an advertisement in Charisma magazine promoting my Assyrian/Aramaic work. The advertisement wasn't cheap and was a great risk on my part and I hope it pays off. Going on this deployment will help me financially. I was about to start sinking in a financial hole. I also do have access to financial aide for the doctoral program. But the danger is that it represents a future problem-paying off my student loans. The deployment will give me money in the bank instead of me getting in the red. Taking financial aid is good for the short term, but could put me in a serious bind once I am Doctor Stephen Andrew Missick. With the ad I am now officially broke. This extra pre-mobilization training came at the right time. Now I will be making money again. I am concerned about student financial aide. If I take the max I am entitled to, I will be in a deep hole once I graduate. I have to be cautious with the student financial aide.

Teacher's Certification-on top of everything else

While I am working on my doctorate and preparing for my third deployment-I am also working on getting teacher's certification. This will most likely be my last deployment. I feel that after three deployments that I have done my part. However, if we stop playing games and fight a real war against radical Islam-with victory and the defeat of radical Islam as our goal-I will entertain the concept of continuing to serve. I am taking online modules for teacher's certification. I am halfway through. The modules are long, arduous and very time-consuming.

To supplement my income, I will continue for now to substitute. It gives me the flexibility I need while working on a doctorate and being deployed.

Gospel of Thomas Movie

A movie version of the Gospel of Thomas can be viewed on You Tube. Search under "Gospel of Thomas-Gentle.)

Transcript from "The Five," July 9, 2013.

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: So, most people lose when they get tired of winning, it's just too exhausting to stay on top. But when you retire your mantle as world leader, the problem is now, your successor. As winners choose to be losers, losers are energized. Saturday, a Muslim gang set fire to a school in Nigeria. They shot all the children attempting escape, the rest inside burned to death, 43 died, every one a child but one. You can credit Boko Haram, a Muslim group seeking destruction of Western civilization. They attack schools because knowledge might shed a light on their sick beliefs. And their lighter fluid is their blinder. As Kevin Williamson of NRO points out, the group's name translates loosely as "Western education is sinful." Ironic that their leader has a graduate degree. There is irony here in America, too, for the educated among us continue to flunk the most basic lesson taught this generation, that there's a bunch of people who really, really want to destroy our way of life. We can try to reason with them and avoid sensitive words to spare feelings so we can call it workplace violence, but it's at our own risk. We tell ourselves it's an American trait to appreciate diversity. What if what's diverse is also vehemently un-American. And when they sense an American willing to sacrifice their place at the top, it makes them want that spot even more.

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: Very good. GUTFELD: Bob, you've been following this stuff. This specific group targets schools and kills kids. BECKEL: They are a bunch of thugs, murders and they go after the Christian schools, they have done this, they burn them down. We don't do that here, if we burned your mosque, you would really be upset. The fact of the matter is, these guys are murderers, they're terrorists and if this is what the prophet told you to do, then the prophet was wrong. Now, I've (INAUDIBLE) gotten from you all, you don't like what I say about not letting your students come here. If it were up to me, I would not have another mosque built in this country until we got it worked out who was not a -- and, by the way --KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, CO-HOST: Here we go.

BECKE: -- is any Muslim out there, any Muslim cleric, any Muslim leader say anything about this? No, you're cowardly, because you're afraid they're going to put a fatwa on you, fatwa this. ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: Put it there. GUTFELD: Somehow I knew that would rile you. Andrea, it's really not about -- people always talk about the United States wanting to spread democracy, it's not really about that, we actually just want to stop the spread of this. We're not asking for anything special. We just don't want to be killed.

TANTAROS: But do we want to spread democracy? Because the Muslim Brotherhood was doing -- now, they weren't going after schools, but they were allowing the persecution for Coptic Christians. They were allowing jihadist to enter the country. Mohamed Morsi was pardoning accused terrorists in Egypt. And what did our administration do? Nothing. Instead -- Greg, instead of saying what Bob said, which is courageous, this administration says we are not at war with radical Islam over Memorial Day Weekend from President Obama. We're not at war with them, they're a peaceful religious. We have a history of shared tolerance. Bob, I wish -- I wish this administration would wake up the way that you have woken up.

BECKEL: You and me both, peaceful religion? These guys since they were little kids they were taught how to be terrorists. I mean, I just -- I don't understand it. By the way it was the Muslim Brotherhood that was responsible for burning those Coptic churches in Egypt, they said they only looked the other way. Well, why don't you have the courage to look at it and stop it? ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: What was the big rush to get the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt them? GUTFELD: That's a good point. GUILFOYLE: Leading Mubarak in. Good job. BECKEL: Yes, you want to leave anyway, leaving that aside. Both George Bush and Barack Obama said we want democracy in Egypt. Well, they got it and look what they got. We have got to learn a lesson here that we can't impose our democracy in other countries because you're not going to like what you get.

BOLLING: How's this? Let them be democratic, let them vote in the Muslim Brotherhood if they want, but let's stop giving them $1.5 billion or $2 billion and send them F-16s, and give them all the tools to fight us when we don't like what happens over there. BECKEL: It's the military that's siding with us here. BOLLING: But when the Muslim Brotherhood won, Mohamed Morsi, who represents the Muslim Brotherhood, won in Egypt, that was the moment we should have said, OK, fine, you want Muslim Brotherhood, that's fine, but our foreign aid is cut off, Egypt. Sorry.

BECKEL: You cut off the military and you're going to cut off the last friend you got in that country. GUTFELD: Something that will get you even angrier. I want to go to Kimberly about the trial for the Fort Hood, which is beginning. So, he's defending himself, but he's paralyzed, so he's going to require 10 to 20 minute breaks for stretching while he drives those people crazy. BECKEL: How do you stretch when you're paralyzed? GUTFELD: I don't know. It's a question I don't have any answer for. But I supposed he had to do stretching exercise. But he's defending himself. Kimberly, this is already a farce before it starts. GUILFOYLE: Well, he's going to use this trial, OK, for his own purposes to try and preach jihad, he's going to make a mockery of the legal system and it's our own fault. I mean, we are a cowardly to say this is workplace violence instead of jihad right here on our own soil. And we're treating him, you know, with -- like kids gloves, saying, hey, listen, go ahead, do whatever you want, make these statements, represent yourself, make a mockery of the court system and the legal system in general and I think it's shameful. BECKEL: Is this a military tribunal?

Egypt's Christians target of Islamist anger in wake of Morsi's ouster

Lisa Daftari, Published July 11, 2013' Egypt's Muslim extremists, angry over the ouster of Mohammed Morsi from the presidency, have zeroed in on the nation's Christian minority, scapegoating them even though the Islamist leader was widely unpopular. On Thursday, the body of a Christian merchant abducted last week from the town of Sheikh Zweid was found decapitated in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula. The grisly discovery came as attacks on Copts and their churches have escalated amid rumors that Christian leaders masterminded Morsi's removal. Last Saturday, Coptic Christian priest Mina Abboud Sharobeen was shot dead by gunmen in an outdoor market. Historically, Egypt's Coptic community, numbering only six to 12 million, approximately 10 percent of the country's 85 million population, have faced severe marginalization and often have been imprisoned and tortured for their Christian faith. While they were undeniably part of the movement that ultimately pressured the military to oust Morsi, they were hardly alone. "Egypt's Christians played an important role in ousting Morsi," said Khairi Abaza, a senior fellow at the Foundation from the Defense of Democracies based in Cairo. "They were part of the 20 to 30 million Egyptians who took to the streets, showing that Egypt is united despite its diversity, and that it is their country as much as any Muslim." The Coptic community's new pope, Tawadros II, has often openly condemned the extremists Muslims and more recently, publicly supported the removal of President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from office. Pope Tawadros even made a televised speech supporting a timeline for Egypt's future shortly after interim president Adli Mansour was sworn into office. He is being hailed as courageous, as his predecessor, Shenouda III, had encouraged Copts to keep out of politics and the public eye for fear of backlash and retribution. "There could be concerns of retaliation against Christian individuals or churches by some extremists who could use them as targets to express their anger at the ousting of Morsi," Abaza said. Muslim Brotherhood factions inside the country have harshly condemned Pope Tawadros for openly supporting the removal of Morsi. Among the Egyptian people, however, there is more hope of reconciliation between Muslims and Christians, according to Abaza. "There is a stronger solidarity between Christians and Muslims in countering extremism. These last two years were a wake up call for both moderate Christian and Muslims that national unity is in danger," he said.

Biblical Archeology Review features Aramaic

In the May/June edition of BAR on page 61 there is a picture of an Aramaic incantation bowl of which thousands have been discovered. An Aramaic incantation was written on the inside of the bowl. The article is about the Divine Name-(Yahweh the Tetragrammiton).

The Assyrian American Yellow Pages

While in Chicago, I picked up the Assyrian American Yellow pages ( and found it to be a helpful resource.

Coptic and Assyrian Christianity in Archeology Magazine

In the November/December edition of Archeology Magazine, there was an article on the ruins of the Sudanese Christian community. The article is entitled "Pilgrimage to Sudan: Miracles of Banganarti" b Jarrett A. Lobell.

In the March/April edition on page 41 there is an article about the discovery of a "Hidden Christian Community" from the 8th and9th Centuries. This was discovered at Failaka in Kuwait. It is now a swampy area "but a millennium ago, this was the three-square mile pocket of fertile and well-watered plain cultivated by a small community of isolated Christian in a region populated by Muslims." The excavator believes "Christians may have settled the island's interior in order to keep a low profile long after others in the region had converted to Islam. The small farms and villages, which were eventually abandoned, may make the last refuge of Christianity in the region. Yet the larger of the two churches appears to have boasted a lofty bell tower that would have been visible far out to the sea, hardly the sign of a community fearful of announcing its faith. There are few written documents of Christian life around the Persian Gulf in late antiquity and the early medieval period, and Zurek hopes that the work at Failaka, together with other excavations of ancient Christian settlements along the Gulf coat, may reveal their hidden history."



Christian History features an edition on Ethiopic Christianity

The latest edition of Christian History (Issue 105) is on Christianity in Early Africa. The edition discusses the North African Fathers such as Tertullian and Augustine and contains a lot of information on the Coptic Orthodox Church of Ethiopia.

The Cyrus Cylinder

I did go and view the famous Cyrus Cylinder in Houston. I had already seen it at the British Museum. They did have Aramaic manuscripts there which are also featured in the book "The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning for the Middle East" by John Curtis. I found the book very helpful on Persia in the Biblical Period and even on the Zoroasterian Religion. It is hard to get information on Zoroasterianism-I even talked to Zoroasterians and didn't get the answers I was looking for to my satisfaction.

On page 79 there is an article "Pottery ostracon with Aramaic inscription." It is a letter to Micaiah from his friend asking him to visit him and complaining that he hadn't yet. Translated it says, "Greetings to Micaiah from Nathan son of Gemariah. Now, come, enter tomorrow with out fail…do not fail to come tomorrow…" This is a letter of the garrison at Elephantine in Egypt which was garrisoned by Aramaean and Judean soldiers. The book says, "Aramaic is a north-west Semitic language related to Phoenician and Hebrew that was written in an alphabetic script with twenty-two characters. Because Aramic was so much easier to read and write than the cumbersome cuneiform writing systems, it began to be used in the Assyrian and Babylonian empires alongside cuneiform for administration and communication.


Please pray for the persecuted church in the Middle East. Also please pray for me. Remember my youtube channel: and my church King of Saints Tabernacle, 2228 FM 1725, Cleveland Texas 77328.


Revelation 8

Traditionally, the Son of Zebedee and brother of James-the first of the Apostles to be martyred. Some wonder if John was a priest-or if there were two John's. John 18:15, John is known to the high priest. John also hesitated to enter into the tomb of Jesus, until he knew it was empty (John 20:5) probably because he wanted to avoid ritual defilement. But wasn't John a fisherman? On the other hand, wasn't Jesus a carpenter and Paul a tentmaker? Schonfield notes, "The Revelation or Apocalypse of Jesus Christ is such an excellent specimen on the literature that it can only have been written by an expert, one moreover who was intimately acquainted with the Temple and its ministries…The writer thinks in Hebrew, and the sounds of certain Hebrew words enter into the visions. He writes however in a not very literary Greek." (Also noted in the "Unvarnished New Testament"-where the Greek is described as being written with a foreign accent.) Revelation 8:1-5, "The images of the angel, the altar, the coals and the incense relate to the incense offering on the Day of Atonement in the temple in Jerusalem. The incense offering was the liturgical act that began the daily office of temple worship."

In his book "the Leader's Journey" Mulholland has some interesting commentary. "Usually, the priest selected to offer the incense offering was given a silver censor and about half a pound of incense.

But on the day of Atonement the day on which the people of God were brought into full and prefect covenant relationship with God, the pries would be given a golden censer with as much incense as he could hold. The priest would then ascend the large sacrificial altar in the courtyard in front of the sanctuary. Upon this altar the sacrificial fire perpetually burned. The priest would scoop coals from the sacrificial fire into the censer and then descend from the altar. As he entered the sanctuary, he approached the Altar of Incense, the golden altar, which stood before the Holy of Holies, where God's presence was believed to dwell. He would place the coals on the altar and then drop the incense on the coals, the smoke of the incense would rise into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies.

In John's vision, the angel is given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints, another image that would have been familiar to Jewish Christians in the first century. The times of the prayer in the synagogues were scheduled to coincide with sacrifice. In John's vision, therefore, the prayers of the saints are mingled with the sacrificial fire of God's holiness in God's presence.

But the vision introduced a new element. The angel scoops up the prayers of the saints, now incandescent from being purified by the sacrificial fire and inflamed in the presence of God, and cast them onto the earth. The result is thunder, voices, lighting and earthquake-all biblical images of the disruptive presence of God in the fallen world.

He continues stating, "John's vision is a powerful representation of the nature of prayer. Prayer is the act by which the people of God become incorporated into the presence and action of God in the world. Prayer becomes a sacrificial offering of ourselves to God, to become agents of God's presence and action in the daily events and situations of our lives. How different this is from the idea of prayer as asking God to change our situation without any involvement in our part!" (page 107-108).

You probably realize that such prayer is most difficult to practice as an individual. We become so skilled at avoiding any real release of ourselves to God, any real release of ourselves to God, and real sacrifice of our structures of security. This is undoubtedly why Jesus began the paradigm of prayer with the word our. We are to pray "Our father," not "My Father," because there is an essentially corporate dimension to prayer. Corporate prayer lifts us our of the narrow, limited perspective of our individual needs and desires and provides us with the broader, deeper vision of vital relationship with and sacrificial response to God in the midst of our life and world.

In this case-the prayers of the righteous bring judgment.

We see a brief vision of God's heavenly temple, with a focus on the golden incense altar. This opens a cycle of seven visions-each introduced with trumpet blast. Fiery devestation descends from God's altar in response to his peoples pleas. Judgment falls upon land sea, river and springs-even upon the lights in the sky-yet God shows restraint.

In the earthy sanctuary (temple and tabernacle) there were two altars, one for the blood sacrifice and the other for incense-adjacent to the veil of the Most Holy Place-the Holy of Holies (Exodus 27:1-8, 30:1-10). John sees only one altar in heaven, fulfilling both functions (Rev 6:9, 8:3). As incense was associated with the prayers of the saints in the earthly sanctuary (Psalm 141:2, Luke 1:9-11) so it is in John's visions.

Not only martyrs under the altar (6:9-10) but also suffering saints on earth cry out for justice. Therefore fire from the altar, from which the saints prayers rise, will be flung to earth in judgment, indicating that the judgments to follow in answer to the prayers of the saints.

There is no altar of blood sacrifice in the heavenly temple. Why? One reason is because death doesn't exist in God's heavenly kingdom. Another reason is that Jesus atones by his own blood. (Hebrews 9:11-14).

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