Posts Tagged With: Crusades

Simon the Samaritan Sorcerer

His legacy is forever set in stone, indelibly etched in granite as Simon the Sorcerer.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, Simon the Sorcerer is the very first person we meet outside of the cozy confines of the Holy City, Jerusalem. #ThisIsHuge!

You talk about a guy who had the deck stacked against him, meet this Simon the Samaritan Sorcerer.

That gasp you just heard was the rush of disbelieving air exploding out of the collapsing lungs of Luke’s original readers.

Trust me: We should gasp too!

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Man Who Bore the Stigmata

YOU are poetry personified.

A living, breathing, warm-blooded, lyrically beautiful poem.

Want proof? Here’s proof:

His name is Saul of Tarsus.

To us, he will forever be memorialized as the celebrated Apostle Paul. Though, as you will hear in this PODCAST, he would reject out of hand that lofty adjective “celebrated.”

We celebrate Paul because we owe to him more than we could ever hope to repay. For starters, thirteen epistles preserved as New Testament Scripture. Which, when taken together, form 23% of NT.

It is true that our old friend Luke was actually the more prolific of the two—Luke wrote slightly more of the New Testament in terms of word count, 27%. (And BTW, in case you are interested, the Apostle John gets the bronze medal—John’s Gospel, 3 epistles, Revelation combine for 20% of the New Testament.)

It is to Luke we owe a huge debt of gratitude for his compelling biography of Jesus and his gripping history of the ancestors in our faith, in whose glow we bask each week as we study this great book of Acts.

But it is really Paul who more than any other biblical writer lays for us theological foundation for our faith.

So while we do indeed, and for good reason, celebrate the vaunted apostle, he would describe himself as the least—λχιστος (a superlative, “less than the least”)—of all the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9). And Eph 3:8, “less than the least of all God’s people.”

This was not false modesty on Paul’s part. Not at all. This was a guy who was abundantly self-aware. He knew the roots from which he sprang. He knew that his very first mention in the New Testament places him at scene of, and makes him complicit in, the stoning of Stephen. Not Paul’s finest hour by any stretch.

Paul understood that all that he was was do solely and singularly to God’s amazing grace. The chorus of which he sung regularly and repeatedly.

So much for us to learn and know and appreciate and to emulate in this marvelous man. Let’s meet him now.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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In a Word… “Irresistible.”

Someone near and dear to my heart shared with me something from his heart that, to be honest, broke my heart.

He admitted to me,

“If all I had to go by were many of the Christians I have known — the things they have said, the way they have said them, the way my family and I have been treated by those in the ‘church,’ especially when we needed them the most — I never would have become one.”

Ouch! That was painful to hear. But you know what? Upon sober reflection, I understand exactly why he said what he said.

He wasn’t the first to say it. He most certainly won’t be the last. 

I heard in his words an eerily-familiar echo. An echo of something the famous Gandhi once said. 

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Let’s say it together: “Ouch.”

It was this very sentiment that compelled me fourteen months ago — after experiencing what you could appropriately call a crisis of faith — to begin at the beginning. Laying aside everything that I thought I knew about Jesus — all that I had heard preached in “church” over all these years, all that I see lived out in so many “Christians” — and starting over with no preconceived ideas whatsoever about who I thought Jesus was/is.

With my fragile and faltering faith literally hanging in the balance, I dove headfirst into the four Gospels with but one singular goal in mind: 

To discover who Jesus REALLY is.

By harmonizing Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and moving ever so slowly and deliberately through the life of Jesus from before His birth to after His resurrection, I was and am desperate to cut through all the haze, filter out all the noise, and see Jesus as He really is.

The dear people at the Safe Haven have joined me in this journey that we have called, Jesus in High Definition. And for each of these dear people walking this road with me, I am profoundly grateful. (By the way, you are more than welcome to join us on this journey. You can even start way back at the beginning. You’ll find each of our studies — free downloads each — by clicking HERE.)

Well, fourteen months later, we are halfway through the Sermon on the Mount. Want to know what I have discovered thus far?

Jesus isn’t anything like I’ve been taught that He is. Jesus isn’t anything like I’ve been shown that He is.

In a word, the Jesus who is emerging from the pages of the Gospels is irresistible.

jesushug

Gandhi had it right when he said so simply and yet profoundly,

“I like your Jesus.”

Well, with all due respect to Mr. Gandhi, may I amplify that just a bit? Fact is, “I LOVE my Jesus.” 

Not the Jesus I hear about in church, a picture that is far-too-often distorted.

Certainly not the Jesus of church history. You know, the Jesus of the Crusades, Inquisition, or Holocaust. The Jesus of the Gospels was NEVER a part of any of that.

Not the Jesus I hear pontificated about by politicians who invoke His matchless name to pander to the so-called “Christian right” (whatever that is) to win votes. (People looking to the talking heads at Fox News, or any other news, to see modern-day reflections of Jesus are looking in the wrong place!)

Not the Jesus I see when so many of His “followers” treat others unkindly, harshly, rudely, critically, uncharitably, insensitively, impatiently, judgmentally, with unnecessary cruelty. With an “I’m-better-than-you” arrogance. With a “You’re here to serve me” attitude. Quick to complain when inconvenienced. With an unwillingness ever to be wronged, a refusal ever to turn the other cheek. You know… an empty “fruit-of-the-Spirit” basket.

Jesus was NEVER.ANY.OF.THOSE.THINGS. Ever!

Yes, I LOVE my Jesus. The irresistible Jesus. The Jesus of the Gospels. The Jesus whom I get to introduce each week to the precious people at Safe Haven.

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