I was accused a few years ago of being in a cult of Paul. The assertion was that myself and others made too much of the Apostle Paul, his writings and his particular brand of New Testament theology. We needed to be less Paul-focused and more Christ-focused. I argued that Paul was Christ focused and studying Paul should bring Christ into focus. Paul pushed back on some of those same accusations during his ministry stating the Christ is not divided and there are not Paul Christians, Apollos Christians, etc. Here is a link to my first Defense of the Apostle Paul from eight years ago. The comment thread was very involved, and might be longer than the actual post.Continue reading
Cancel culture is
The term cancel culture may be new to our vocabulary but the idea of silencing voices of those we do not want to hear is ancient. Jeremiah lived around 600 B.C. and was once thrown in a nearly dry well. There was no water but he sank into thick mud and could not free himself. On another occasion he wrote a letter of warning to King Jehoiakim who cut the scroll with a knife, a few lines at a time as it was read, and threw God’s word into the fire. Many of the Old Testament prophets were ignored, mocked, exiled or killed.Continue reading
And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. –John 12:23-26
Wednesday April 8th was the first day of Passover for observant Jews. The event we know as the Triumphal Entry occurred when Jesus came into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover for the last time. Ethnic Jews and those practicing Judaism gathered at Jerusalem from all around the Mediterranean world. John 12 records that “some Greeks” came looking for Jesus. The very well known statement “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” is found in verse 21. Philip told Andrew, Andrew and Philip went together and told Jesus. His response is shown above. He talks about bearing fruit, eternal life, following him and being honored by the father. He also talks about, as he had many times before, sowing seeds but in this instance uses what happens to seeds to allude to his crucifixion and burial. The grain of wheat must fall into the earth and die in order to bear fruit. Continue reading
If you listen to my Sunday sermon (it’s linked in the left-hand sidebar) there are numerous references to Peter and other disciples fishing. Jesus called Peter by telling him that he would become a “fisher of men.” Peter left his nets behind and that’s an important detail to keep in mind.
When we go fishing it’s probably not on a commercial fishing vessel. We go for recreation or even for sport which probably means a rod and reel for most people. We use bait, either live bait like night crawlers and crickets or else some type of lure or fly. Sharing the Gospel message is like casting a net, not like using bait on a hook. When Jesus first met Peter his crew had been out all night and not caught anything. Same story in John 21. We cast the net of the Gospel and many times come back with nothing. But we keep throwing it out there. If we were trying to attract cell phone or cable customers to sign a contract then bait and switch or bait and hook tactics might do the trick. But we are called to build the Kingdom, not generate profitable sales figures. Go out into the world and be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. Don’t forget the innocent part.
In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus told the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the promise. He then ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. In Acts 2 they were gathered in one place and the Holy Spirit filled the entire house. Each one filled with the Spirit began to speak in tongues, and they went out into the streets of Jerusalem. This event is known as Pentecost and is still celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday. Some in the crowd that day objected that the Apostles were merely drunk and Peter responded with a turning point sermon in the history of the church.
Some of Jesus’ teachings were meant for multitudes of followers, while at other times he taught only his disciples. There are some occasions we cannot be sure who he was talking to, nor if he meant the present time or prophesied of future events. Did you know that sometimes the Apostles wondered about the same things?
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Luke 12:41-43 Continue reading
I like to build to a point, but I’m going to come right to it. Through the Bible God calls people into his service that are, for lack of a better term, screwed up. No one used by God in some great way has their act together. Consider a few examples; there are many others.
In Genesis 15:6 Abraham becomes the first person of faith. He believed God, and God counted it to him as righteousness. He is lauded in Hebrews 11 for having the faith to offer his son Isaac. But before Isaac was born he father Ishmael by the Egyptian servant Hagar. He lied twice about his wife Sarah was his sister. A role model of faithfulness, perhaps not so much for other things. Continue reading
In the Old Testament, the prophet was a person who did the speaking for God. Not necessarily predicting future events, the prophet acted as the spoken voice of God on earth. During Jesus’s earthly ministry, he was found daily in the temple or synagogue reading and teaching. While his sermon on the mount may have turned the Pharisees’ world upside down, he was regarded as a rabbi in most Jewish circles. In Acts chapter 2, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter preaches something entirely new. Continue reading
As Jesus finishes the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) he offers some practical advice concerning his teachings. He says that anyone who hears his words and does them is like a wise man that built his house on a rock. Do we all know what happens next? The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, but the house did not move. To not heed the word of Jesus is to be the foolish man who build his house on the sand; great was the fall of it. Continue reading
If we began a study of the first century church, 9 times out of 10 we would begin with Acts chapter 2. The Holy Spirit comes as promised, and Peter preaches a fiery message proclaiming Jesus is the Christ. Certainly by the end of Acts 2, we see the first Christian believers come together in an organized way. But if we back up a just a few chapters, Jesus gives the disciples instructions on what will happen next, going beyond his death, burial and resurrection.
Critics of Christianity, as an organized religion (the Church), even claim that Jesus had no intention of starting a new church or movement of any kind, but rather his followers started one in his name. To put it mildly, these critics have not studied the Bible. Continue reading