The End

In Lord of the Rings, the treacherous Saruman thinks he can thwart the good plans of Gandalf by casting him off his high tower.  But an eagle comes and carries Gandalf away to safety.  Saruman later dies a gruesome death.

In The Count of Monte Cristo, Mondego believes he can take Dante’s fiancee by framing him for a crime he didn’t commit.  He marries the woman Dante loves while he’s in prison.  But Dante escapes prison and, in a duel, slays him.

In The Lord of the Flies, a plane full of boys headed to a boarding school crashes on a deserted island.  The boys go awry under the rebel leadership of Jack, who murders a weak boy in the heat of the moment and then premeditates the murder of a misfit.  Jack and the other boys in his gang think they get away with it and are totally free to act as savages.  And then a plane comes for them.  Rather than being taken to a boarding school or back to their parents, they’ll be sentenced by a judge as juvenile murderers.

In Cinderella, the evil stepsisters and stepmother think they can keep Cinderella from the ball where she is destined to meet Prince Charmin– by refusing her even the most humble evening gown.  But a fairy godmother arrives and changes her rags into the most beautiful dress at the ball.

A story isn’t a story without a resolution.

What will the resolution to my story be?

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

(Matthew 25:31-32, NIV)

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Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 10:23 pm  Comments Off on The End  
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Jungle Gym

The story of Jonah has almost been quarantined as a “kid’s story”.  A coloring page.   An opportunity to sell plush whales with little men inside.

We pretty much think of Jonah as a goof.  Who would ever think they could escape God by getting on a boat and going somewhere else?  We intuitively sense the eyes of the Lord on us at all times.  But do we really know we can’t hide?

The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh.  Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord.  He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish.  He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. Jonah 1:1-3, NLT

I think we miss the point of Jonah’s rebellion.

I don’t think Jonah thought he could actually hide from God.  I think he thought he could escape God.

What’s the difference?

A mom watching her kid on the playground says, “Time to go.”

The kid looks back at her and runs over to the jungle gym, climbing up.  He sits there, smirking, arms crossed.

Would we say this kid is ‘hiding’ from his mom?  Or would we say this kid is trying to escape his mom?

I don’t think Jonah was so ignorant that he believed God couldn’t find him in Tarshish.  I think he flat-out didn’t want to do God’s will and he thought he could avoid God by going against His instruction.

Would we say the child who sits on top of the jungle gym has much of a chance of escaping his mom?

Not so much.

And we, no matter where we go, or how deeply we bury ourselves in sin to avoid the voice of the Spirit, will never escape God . . . unless we turn away from Him forever.

It gets awfully lonely sitting on top of the jungle gym.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1, ASV)

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Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Prayer for Freedom

Jesus, free me from me.

Hide me in you.

Let nothing show outside of your covering.

Tuck all of me within you.

Wrap the folds of your grace around me.

Have mercy on my soul.

Pay for me.

Ransom me.

Forgive me.

Redeem me.

Break open my fist that clutches “my precious”.

Be more precious to me than “my precious,” forgiving Jesus.

Be my precious, Savior Jesus.

You are my precious, Redeemer Jesus.

I love you.

Jesus, imprison me in your fort of grace.

So that I can be free to run and jump and play.

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Wheedle Bug Life Cycle

In science class, you can learn about the life cycle of a hibiscus plant or squid, but you just don’t hear about the wheedle bug life cycle.

No, this isn't *really* a wheedle bug, but I couldn't find one to pose.

The wheedle bug’s life cycle has six interdependent stages:

1.       Please

2.       Please

3.       Please

4.       Waaah

5.       Waaah

6.       Waaah

The life cycle can go on for, oh, just about forever.

The wheedle bug is an insidious little bug, and he often crawls around on people’s brains.  And when he does, regardless of their age, they begin to pray things that, if taken out of their eloquent wrappers, sound a lot like whining.

The wheedle bug strikes hard in the movie What About Bob? Bob is a character . . .  in need of, well, 24/7 therapy.  And he doesn’t take well to his psychiatrist leaving the office for a vacation.  His response?  He finds out where the psychiatrist is vacationing and goes there to beg him for attention.

His *very annoyed* psychiatrist will have none of it, until Bob makes this plea:

“Check it out!  I’m in a really bad shape!  Come on, please!  Gimme, Gimme, Gimme! I need, I need, I need!”

Sometimes, (or a lot of the time) I imagine God is distracted with more entertaining things than me, so I have to get His attention back on me with a “gimme, gimme, gimme” wheedling and repeating.  Or, maybe I think He is really annoyed at me and expects me to really beg before He’ll care about what I want.

The wheedle bug is good at manipulating and controlling–but he isn’t good at loving.  Unless it’s loving himself.   He is looking out only for himself.

The wheedle bug’s prayer is, “I wanna have what I wanna have.  I wanna have what I wanna have.  I wanna have what I wanna have.”

When wheedle bugs don’t get their way, they have a habit of flying away, and leaving us feeling abandoned by God.  Although we feel rejected by God, what has really happened is our wheedling . . . and our plan . . . has been rejected by God.  But as we stand before Him, speechless and empty-armed, He motions for us to come follow Him and join His will.

One of the unbelievably astonishing traits about God is that He doesn’t turn back to go about His will when we turn away from Him.  He waits for us to turn back.  And He waits.  And He waits.

And if we stop wheedling, we’ll see Him there.

“All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” (Romans 10:21b, ESV)

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Photo by John Tann, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/31031835@N08/

The beetle John Tann photographed was from Paruna Reserve in Australia.

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

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Old MacDonald’s Prayer Tossers

My pastor confessed that he has, at times, been what I would call an Old MacDonald’s prayer tosser.

I immediately knew what he was talking about because I have been, too—way more times than I would like to own up to.  My pastor described us prayers tossers something like, “We throw prayers over our shoulders as we go.”

This reminds me of somebody with a bag of magical dust frolicking through life singing to the tune of Old MacDonald:

I will get just what I want

E-I-E-I-O!

I will get just what I ask

E-I-E-I-O!

With a . . prayer prayer here and a prayer prayer there!

Here a prayer, there a prayer, everywhere a prayer prayer!

I will get it if I beg

E-I-E-I-O!

Yes, I will get it if I nag

E-I-E-I-O!

God will very soon give in

E-I-E-I-O!

With a . . PRAYER PRAYER here and a PRAYER PRAYER there!

Here a PRAYER, there a PRAYER, everywhere a PRAYER PRAYER!

A verse or two more and I’m sure I’ll get it,

E-I-E-I-O!

You know, I have been so, so guilty of this, and yet . .

Have I ever been nagged, whined at, manipulated, grouched at?

Yes.

Did I like it?

Nope.

I highly doubt God likes it either.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 6:27, NIV)

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?   Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? (Jesus, quoted in Luke 12:25-26, NIV)

Never worry about anything.  Instead, in every situation let your petitions be made known to God through prayers and requests, with thanksgiving. (Philippians 4:6, ISV)

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Throne and Thrown

The disciples could hardly wait to become royalty.

Jesus’ popularity was climbing higher and higher.   He could heal anyone of anything.  No one could accuse Him of even one evil act.  No one could argue with His teaching.  No one could trick Him.  And He was soon to be hailed as the Messiah in the capital city.

The disciples were more sure than ever that His kingdom was coming soon.  They probably imagined Jesus would soon be the king over all Israel, and they would be His advisers, important officials of His court.  In their minds the triumph of Jesus over the earth was probably nearly the same in their minds as a heavenly triumph.

And so two of His disciples (and their mother) start making plans for how they will use their relationship with Jesus:

Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor.  “What is your request?” he asked.

She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking!  Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?”

“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”

Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left.  My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”

When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.  But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.  But among you it will be different.  Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:20-28, ESV)

The disciples had in mind to be throned, but instead they had been thrown for a loop they didn’t expect.

Jesus wasn’t promising them a life of royalty.  He was warning them instead that anyone who followed Him should have a life of service.

But have you ever noticed how many people want to hear messages and read books about how to improve their relationship with God so they won’t have anymore troubles?  So they can sit on a throne of security, wealth, or happiness and relax?

But improving your relationship with God may mean you have more troubles!  Throughout the Bible, were thrown for a loop by the plan of God, which led them to service in ways they could never have imagined.  Such was the case for a slough characters throughout the Bible like Able, Job, Moses, Gideon, Samuel, Elijah, Naboth, Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Steven, Paul, and Jason.

I don’t get anywhere in our relationship with Gob by expecting Him to make my life easier, to place me on a lofty throne in a suffering and dying world.  And why should I have the audacity, the disregard, the disrespect, to ask Jesus for such a selfish request as to live in a castle when He came down from Heaven to live in poverty and die in torture?

When Jesus says:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. ( Jesus, quoted in Matthew 7:13, NASB.  Also see Isaiah 35:8 and Luke 13:24.)

He isn’t giving us imagery of an easy, convenient, painless path that leads to Heaven and a hard, inconvenient, painful path that leads to Hell.

Jesus by His own life showed what real life is about.  It isn’t about trying to make things easy when you’re living in a world that’s going to be hard.  And it isn’t about trying to be rich in a world where people go hungry every day.  And it sure isn’t about avoiding suffering.

Life is about serving God.

And that’s what makes the path so narrow.

Plenty of people will believe in God if He’s trumpeted to be a God who serves us.

Few people will believe in God if, as He serves us, He expects us to serve Him.

Because we all know there’s just bound to be trouble if you try to be God’s servant in a Where-are-my-servants? world.

Jesus called the apostles and said, “You know that the rulers of nations have absolute power over people and their officials have absolute authority over people.  But that’s not the way it’s going to be among you.  Whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant.  Whoever wants to be most important among you will be your slave.  It’s the same way with the Son of Man.  He didn’t come so that others could serve him.  He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people.” (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 20:25-28, GWT)

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Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

This photo was taken in Hampton Court, East Molesey, England, GB.

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Break, Breaking, Broke, Have Broken

I remember a song I had on audio-cassette (yes, the early 90’s!) as a kid that was supposed to help you learn verb tenses.  I think it really worked, because I still have the very, very repetitive melody stuck in my head.  (Think 80’s-workout-song-meets-commercial-jingle and you’ve come about as close as I can get you.)

The lyrics to the song were simple.  The singer (a.k.a. educator) sang verbs.  It went something like this:

Walk, walking, walk, have walked!  (Dee, dee, dee-dee-dee . . dee, dee, dee-dee-dee)

Hop, hopping, hopped, have hopped! (Dee, dee, dee-dee-dee . . dee, dee, dee-dee-dee)

The song took on irregular (messed-up) verbs too.  ‘Break’ would have sounded like this:

Break, breaking, broke, have broken!  (Dee, dee, dee-dee-dee . . dee, dee, dee-dee-dee)

If I had to tell what I’ve done for my life in 5 words or less, I think I’d go back to that verb song and say: break, breaking, broke, have broken.

I have broken.  I’ve broken my own dreams.  How messed up is that?  But, more than anyone else, I have broken myself.  At times, it’s been something like a robot prying itself apart with a wrench.  At times, it’s been something like a dog ripping itself apart with its teeth.  And at times, its been something like a TNT barrel jumping up and down on a detonator.

I am broke.  (Or, to show what I learned from the song, broken.) Sometimes I’m a big pile of gears, one hand still on the pliers.  Sometimes I’m a pile of spaghetti that used to be a dog, only my teeth left.  And sometimes I’m almost not even here anymore, pieces of me fluttering around in the aftermath of my detonation.

I break.  Have you ever wanted to write the words, ‘Try, try again’ on a piece of paper and then stab the words over and over with a pair of scissors?  Well, when I try to put the pieces of myself back together, to heal my wounds, to collect what scraps of me I can find . . . I end up assembling myself all wrong, cutting my wounds back open, pasting my scraps together in a decoupage of nightmares.

I am breaking.  I fall apart.  I bleed.  I flutter away in the lonely winds of time.

. . . If you’re thinking “What is this, an ad for antidepressants?” hang on just a second . . .

Because, you see, I am not a verb.

That’s right.

I am not a verb.

I have broken, I am broke, I break, and I am breaking . . . but I am not a verb.

I’m a noun.

I’m a me.

And even though I have broken, I am broken, I break, and I am breaking . . . There’s another verse I’d like to introduce to the verb song:

Heal, healing, healed, has healed!  (Dee, dee, dee-dee-dee, dee, dee, dee-dee-dee)

God has healed me!  He healed me!  He heals me!  He is healing me!  And—look out!—He will heal me!

DEE, DEE, DEE-DEE-DEE!  DEE, DEE, DEE-DEE-DEE!

You see, I’m not a Christian because I’m less broken than anybody else.

I’m a Christian because Jesus in His grace has made it possible for me to be healed and I want to be healed!

And if you want to be healed, you can be a Christian, too.  All you have to do is

—one more verb—

ask.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, ESV)

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. (Psalm 147:3, NLT)

The Lord God has put his Spirit in me, because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor.  He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken, to tell the captives they are free, and to tell the prisoners they are released. (Isaiah 61:1, NCV)

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Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm  Comments Off on Break, Breaking, Broke, Have Broken  
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Are the testimonies of Christ’s early followers on the level of ‘Elvis appearances’?

I recently heard an atheist equate the apostles’ and followers’ testimonies of seeing Jesus after He rose from the dead as similar to Elvis appearances.

There’s a problem with this, though.

How many people are willing to be killed for their belief that they saw Elvis?

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have stories of early Christian suffering in the New Testament.  James the apostle was killed for his faith very soon after Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 12:1-2).  Peter and other apostles were flogged for their beliefs (Acts 5:40).  During Jesus’ ministry, He warns His followers that people will hurt them because of their faith (see Matthew 10:17-38, Matthew 24:4-14, John 15:18-27, John 13:12-17).  Before Jesus ascends to Heaven, He tells Peter he will be killed for his faith (John 21:18-19).

We also have historical accounts about how early followers died.  (See a list of primary sources at the end of this blog.)

Lee Strobel makes a great point in a clip from a sermon on The Case for Easter.  Just because people are willing to die for something does not mean they are right.  Suicide bombers, for example, aren’t right to kill people just because they are willing to die.

But here’s the big difference between this example and the early apostles:  Suicide bombers are basing their information on what they have heard or read.  The early apostles were willing to die for something they claimed they saw happen! This was not a case of reading or hearing misinformation.  This was a case of being witnesses to the greatest miracle of all time!  They certainly weren’t dying in ignorance!

So why would anyone die for a hoax—especially since the hoax was based on the belief that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and so they would one day be raised from the dead, too!  Why would anyone want to die hopelessly for a belief they knew was a lie and certainly would be of no benefit to them or anyone else once they were dead?

Furthermore, the apostles were not the only people who claimed to see Jesus after He was resurrected.  Paul, a man who suffered terribly for his faith (2 Corinthians 11:24-29) was so confident in this fact that he refers doubters to the more than 500 people who saw Jesus after He died (1 Corinthians 15:6)!

It is a well-documented fact that the early Christians were persecuted (I wondered if it was–see Primary sources as evidence for persecution).

So in order to claim a hoax, someone would have to claim that the apostles and early followers “hoaxed” people into believing in the resurrected Christ and then did not—somehow, someway—themselves die.  But this goes against history.

And anyway, what would the early followers have to gain from this?  They were not getting power and status or wealth from their claims—just the opposite!  They were losing power and status in society and becoming poor!  The apostles (not including Paul, since he had not been converted yet) were flogged (Acts 5:40) and Paul endured many tribulations (2 Corinthians 11:24-29).

Second of all, if you were part of a movement of thousands of new believers with at the hub 500+ people who claimed they saw the resurrected Jesus . . . and all around you Christians were being thrown in jail, ostracized, suffering, and killed . . . but none of the 500+ people who claimed they saw Jesus were a part of this persecution . . . what would you think about that?

And furthermore, in order for none of the 500+ people who claimed they saw Jesus to have been persecuted along with the other believers, they would have had to renounce their faith.  And, in spite of this, the early Christians would have had to be willing to continue their faith.

Is this a reasonable argument?  I think not.  (For more information, see Dr. William Lane Craig’s book Reasonable Faith or his website reasonablefaith.org.)  So was the apostles’ and early followers’ testimony a hoax?  No way.

Someone may say, Well, what if the persecution of all the early Christians was made up? But you would have to believe this in spite of the primary sources (see list at the end of the blog), not including the primary sources within the New Testament.

So there is no way 500+ people were lying and there was some kind of amazing conspiracy, based simply on the terrible persecution the early church suffered.  People don’t pretend to see something and then stand by it when they have to suffer and die for it.

So there could only be one of two possible reasons for their willingness to die that I can come up with:

1.        500+ people hallucinated the resurrection.

2.       500+ people saw Jesus raised from the dead.

If you believe it was a hallucination, what a hallucination it must have been: multiple occasions, widespread, and willing to die for!  And somehow, when everyone was hallucinating, they all came to the conclusion that they were seeing an alive person, rather than a ghost.

To show how strange this would be, suppose I hallucinated that I saw my dad (who died several years ago).  If I saw my dad, my belief would not be that he had been resurrected and was here with me, even though I believe in resurrection.  Why wouldn’t I think he’d been resurrected?  I believe the resurrection will come at the end of time.  So actually, did the Jews (who believed in resurrection–some didn’t believe it at all), the ethnic group all the apostles came from.

I might think my father’s soul had come to me, but I wouldn’t believe he was resurrected unless I saw him and touched him over a long time period (and with witnesses would be a plus).  Otherwise, I would think I’d either had a heavenly visit or I had hallucinated or dreamed.

I am not an expert in hallucinations, but I did run a high fever one time as a child and hallucinated a knight standing beside my bed.  The hallucination was:

  • Blurry
  • Sight only
  • Not something I believed when my fever was reduced

If I saw my dad, I would afterwards probably believe I had been dreaming or hallucinating.  But if I saw my dad, and I could wrap my arms around him, and he took me to play mini-golf, and he came back another time when I was with my friends and talked with us, and he came another time when I was at church and everybody there saw him . . . I would change my opinion from a hallucination to a reality.

If the 500+ people who saw Jesus after He was resurrected were hallucinating . . . why didn’t they come to their senses later and recant?  And if they were really crazy enough to hallucinate someone on multiple occasions and interact with that person . . . how in the world were they sane enough to write the four Gospels?  How in the world were they believable enough to get such a huge following?  And how in the world did Peter and Paul convince so many outside people they had healing powers?  Was that all hallucination, too?

But this isn’t sounding like mere hallucination at all.  This is sounding like schizophrenia.

Have you ever been around someone who is afflicted by schizophrenic?  Did you find him/her to be believable for very long?  Could you imagine him/her going out in public and gathering support by the thousands?

 

There’s no getting around it: to claim the witnesses to Jesus Christ’s resurrection resembles in any way people who claim Elvis sightings has no basis in truth and trivializes the testimony of the early Christians who were willing to leave everything, suffer, and even to die for their Savior and God.

Paul was so confident in the fact of Christ’s resurrection that when people questioned whether the dead would be raised back to life for judgment and eternal destiny, he guaranteed:

And if Christ has not risen, it follows that what we preach is a delusion, and that your faith also is a delusion.

(1 Corinthians 15:14, Weymouth NT)

And it was this same confidence that led Paul to say:

For this [gospel] I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

(2 Timothy 1:11-12, HCSB)

Primary sources as evidence for persecution

(found at http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/persecution.php)

Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs

Cyprian, Letters 11.1; 24; 55.14; 67.1; 75.10; 77-80.

Cyprian, To Fortunatus.

Cyprian, To the Lapsed 8; 25; 27

Eusebius, Church History 2.10, 22-23, 25; 3.12, 17-19, 32-33, 36; 4.9, 12-17; 5.1-5, 21; 6.1-2, 4-5, 28, 39-42; 7.1-4, 10-13, 15, 30; 8.1-10.5.14.

Eusebius, Life of Constantine 1.27-32; 2.34, 53.

Eusebius, Martyrs of Palestine 3.1; 4-6; 8.1.5-13; 9.2-11.31

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20.195-203.

Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 68.

Justin Martyr, 2 Apology 2.

Lactantius. On the Deaths of the Persecutors 6; 10-13; 15.6; 16.4; 48.2-12

Martydom of Polycarp.

H. Musurillo, editor & translator. The Acts of the Christian Martyrs. Oxford: Clarendon, 1972. pp. lxxiii + 377.

Origen, Exhortation to Martyrdom.

Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas.

Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96, 97.

Pseudo-Cyprian, Glory of Martyrdom.

Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars (Claudius 25, Nero 16, Domitian 15)

Tacitus, Annals 15.44.

Tertullian, Apology 1-5.

Tertullian, Crown 1.1

Tertullian, To The Heathen 1.6-7.

Tertullian, To the Martyrs.

Books for more information on the Resurrection

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona

The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright
The Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 5:48 pm  Comments Off on Are the testimonies of Christ’s early followers on the level of ‘Elvis appearances’?  
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Hero

Have you ever had a time where you idolized someone, saw that person as your rescue, or looked up at them as a role model . . . only to have your adoration come crashing back down on your head?

There are all kinds of reasons people don’t live up to our expectations, like:

  • They are people we don’t personally know, and we fantasize the life we think they must lead.
  • They make a mistake we thought was incompatible with their character.
  • They fail or disappoint us in some way.
  • We find out we are insignificant or even unknown to them.
  • They break a promise.
  • Something happens outside their realm of control and we see they are not as powerful as we thought they were.

I’ve had experiences throughout my life with people who didn’t lived up to my expectations, as I know have you.

Only one person have I found who can be my hero.

Everyone else has the same problems I do, and they don’t care about me as much as I would hope, and they aren’t who I wanted to think.

But that’s enough about everyone else.

I want to talk about the one.

Jesus Christ, my Master, my Savior, my Lord.

Jesus lived a supernatural life here on earth, and one of the ways that was shown was in His choice of friends.

He didn’t look for heroes.  He looked for disasters.

He didn’t, you see, have any need for a hero.

He is the hero.

So instead of searching for heroes among the rich, the powerful, the famous, and the popular . . . He searched for people He could rescue.

Have you ever wondered why He is called Jesus Christ?  Christ is the word for Messiah or Savior.

Hero.

But Jesus didn’t come to earth looking for people who wanted His autograph.  He didn’t come to show off His power or even His perfection.  He came for the man who cut himself with rocks and walked among tombstones.  He came for the woman driven into darkness by her demons.

He came for the boy who would know himself as Jesus’ little brother.  He came for the woman who would be exposed in the most horrifying embarrassment of her life.  He came for the man who would lie three times that he didn’t even know Him.  He came for the boy in the casket.  He came for the man who had made his living cheating people.

He came for the man who had been promised he would see the Messiah before he died.  He came for the widow who was waiting on His arrival.  He came for the girl trapped by demons.  He came for the boy who threw himself in the fire.

He came for the man who had so much doubt.  He came for the woman who had so much past.  He came for the man who hoped Jesus would be willing to heal him.  He came for the man who wasn’t sure whether Jesus could heal or not.  He came for the sick boy.  He came for the dead girl.

He came for the woman who couldn’t stand tall.  He came for the man with dropsy.  He came for the man who had given up hope of ever being well.  He came for the servant who lie deathly ill in his bed and the servant who would lose his ear.

He came for the paralyzed.  He came for the blind.  He came for the demon-driven.  He came for the poor.  He came for the insignificant.  He came for the powerless.  He came for the broken.  He came for the destroyed.

He came for the man who could not speak.  He came for the woman bound to her isolation.  He came for the men who had to stay away from society.  He came for the women who lost their brother.

He came for the man who would help carry His cross.

He came for the man who would be crucified as a thief right next to Him.

He came so that man wouldn’t die alone.

Only one can I find to be my hero . . . only one . . . only one.

And one is enough.

Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. (Mathew 4:23-24, NLT)

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Clip art from Open Clip Art, http://www.openclipart.org/

Is there a loving Creator?

Yes.  And that’s what makes suffering all the harder.

It is our sadness in suffering that shows there is a loving Creator.

For example, we can imagine we are in a dungeon with no lights.  This is misery.

But suppose suddenly a light turns on in the dungeon, a projector screen comes down, and we see slides of people playing on a beach, looking like they’re having incredible fun.

Now we’re not just miserable.  We’re also sad.

The presence of sadness shows we are aware that something more is going on than what we’re experiencing . . . that there was a time when people played on beaches instead of living in dungeons.

The presence of sadness goes back to the fall, when Adam thought it would be smart to taste the knowledge of evil.

Thousands of years after Adam . . . imagining a creation of perfection can be very hard.  We see so much suffering, so much tragedy, so much death . . . yet we still long for a perfect world.  Movies, sitcoms, books, and video games try to capture that idyllic society in one way or another, that place we wish we had.  The problem is, we are so messed up by sin that most of the time what we think would be perfect . . . would actually belong in Hell.  But our minds are still constantly searching for something better than what we have now, something that no amount of trying to indulge ourselves here on earth can cure.

There is something better.  But we are going to miss out if we do not know Jesus, because He is the sunrise.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1, NIV)

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Photo by Sean MacEntee, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/smemon/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm  Comments Off on Is there a loving Creator?  
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