Posts Tagged With: death

The Most Glorious Gift You Can Imagine (Courtesy of Stephen)

Philippians 1:3 (in the NLT) reads,

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, Philippians is a “Thank You” note from Paul’s sizable soul to the not-so-sizable ékklesia—or small faith family—meeting in Philippi.

Paul wrote this precious little letter upon receiving a financial gift that the believers there sacrificially sent to him to help sustain him during some very dark and difficult days during which he was imprisoned in Rome.

As I reflected upon the fact that this week we will celebrate five glorious years together as our own Safe Haven ékklesia, it did not take me long to realize that (as it is translated in the NIV),

“I thank my God every time I remember you.”

BTW, please keep listening until the end, where I give to you a little anniversary gift of my own, courtesy of Stephen—the first martyr of our precious Christian faith.

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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A Sin Unto Death

Acts 5:1(NLT)—“But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property.” Hmmm…

Just try to imagine for a second this otherwise unimaginable scenario, as related in this PODCAST:

A highly-respected individual walks into the cozy confines of Safe Haven, only to drop dead on the spot.

Some time later, his unsuspecting wife walks in, and she too keels over, stone-cold dead.

That is exactly what happened here in Acts 5, one of the most mysterious and misunderstood narratives in all of the Bible.

For starters: That word “But,” δ—as in “But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property”—is ominous in the extreme.

In the technical grammar of the passage, δ is an adversative particle, signaling something that could be translated: “On the other hand”; or, “Contrary to what you just read”; or, “By way of a startling, scandalous, and jaw-dropping contrast”…

Alerted by that pesky particle, I can tell you that we are about to hear a strange story, a sobering saga, a troubling tale that sounds totally out of character as far as God is concerned.

Or is it?

A head-turning happening that prompts us to ask three questions:

1. Why did this happen?

2. Could this happen today?

3. What does it all mean for us?

Since context is everything, let me begin by first giving you the backstory.

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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Setting the Record Straight Re: Baptism

It is an elegantly simple, straightforward, non-controversial statement (at least in original language).

Yet, as you will hear in this PODCAST, one that has led to nearly 2000 years of confusion. Confusion over things like:
What is the proper mode of baptism? (Sprinkling? Immersing?) Should babies be baptized?

Is baptism a sacrament? An ordinance? What’s the difference between the two? And what does it matter?

Must someone be baptized in order to be saved? And if you have not been baptized, are you then not going to Heaven?

My, oh my. How adept we humans are at taking something so supremely simple, and making it so insufferably complicated.

My friends, we have a lot to talk about.

Specifically: We need to talk about:

1. What did Peter actually say?

2. What did Peter not say?

3. What is the Scriptural significance of baptism?

4. Where exactly did Peter say this? IOW, is this story even plausible? Where in the Jerusalem of Jesus’ day do you find enough water to baptize three thousand people?

5. What are implications of Peter’s words for us today?

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 Forgotten Half of THE Greatest Story

Today is Easter Sunday.

BUT, as you are about to hear in this PODCAST, today is infinitely, eternally so much more than that.

A day of incomparable significance. 

“Christ IS risen. He is risen INDEED.”

But that is only half the story.

Ready to hear the other half?

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

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Dramatic Words of a Dying Man (Part 3)

darknesscross-e1458908003261Caiaphas, the high priest that year, must have been fit to be tied.

Well, somewhat so.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, it was Passover. The Holy City, Jerusalem, was teaming with pilgrims. The all-important 3 PM Passover sacrifice at the Temple was fast-approaching.

It was arguably single most financially-flourishing day of the year (second only, perhaps, to the Day of Atonement) as far as the corrupt Temple Industrial Complex over which Caiaphas presided was concerned. There was money to be made this day. Lots and lots of money.

But the heavens seemed to conspire against Caiaphas.

Of all the luck (bad luck indeed), a most-rare, hauntingly-eerie atmospheric anomaly threatened to diminish severely Caiaphas’ shady haul of ill-gotten shekels.

At 12 PM, high noon, a mere three hours before the afternoon sacrifice, the sky turned ominously dark. If it stayed that way, there would be no 3 PM Passover Lamb sacrificed that day.

Well, according to Matthew 27 — Read ’em and weep, Caiaphas. 

“At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until 3 o’clock.”

A darkness that drove everyone away from the cross as they scrambled for shelter from the encroaching gloom of that midday backness.

Coincidence? No way!

Now there would be no Passover Lamb sacrificed at 3 PM on this day.

Or would there?

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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Dramatic Words of a Dying Man

crosses1“Jesus said…”

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, the fact of the matter is this: Jesus said seven statements, this as His life was literally dripping out of Him drop by precious drop. Each one of the seven — when considered separately — tells a most-dramatic tale. All of the seven — when considered collectively — give us an unparalleled insight into the heart of Jesus.

It was, after all, Jesus who much earlier in His ministry said this:

“For whatever is in your heart determines what you say” (Matthew 12).

On yet another occasion, Luke 6, Jesus said,

“What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

So if we want to know what is in Jesus’ heart, we need look no further than what Jesus said. His words.

And as we are about to learn, what Jesus said from the cross, in the closing moments of His storied life, reveals perhaps most clearly of all exactly what was in His sizable heart. What a beautiful heart His was and is.

So join me now at the foot of the cross as we hear for ourselves the final words of Jesus as His innocent and holy life comes to a violently calamitous close.

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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Jesus Walks the Way of Sorrows

praetorium4It is called, appropriately enough, the Via Dolorosa, Latin for “The Way of Sorrows.”

For Jesus, it absolutely was a way of sorrows — every single excruciatingly painful step of it, from the Antonia Fortress (where Pilate sentenced Him), to Golgotha (where Jesus’ execution awaited Him).

In this PODCAST, we will walk that path together.

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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Demystifying the End Times (Part 2)

danger11“Watch out that no one deceives you.”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, given the wild-eyed speculations with which Christian community has historically been bombarded regarding all-things prophecy-related, Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 give us a good warning indeed. A warning which explains why we want to take a sober, strictly-biblical look at what Jesus taught in Matthew 24 – 25 about His Second Coming and the end of the age.

Let me remind you that we are now on Tuesday of Jesus’ final week, a mere seventy-two hours before His crucifixion.

For the disciples, not to mention Jesus Himself, a head-spinning turbulent few days had just passed, highlighted by the Triumphal Entry and the Cleansing of the Temple. Yet, without trying to be cliched about it, they hadn’t seen anything yet.

And frankly, neither have we.

So for the moment, as they took a brief breather to gather their thoughts and emotions, Jesus and the twelve disciples huddled on the Mount of Olives and took in the breathtaking view laid out before them.

We can only imagine how many confusing thoughts were cascading through the disciples’ collective minds. So it’s no wonder that even in this moment of solitude that might have otherwise provided some much-needed quiet contemplation, they asked Jesus the question that was now haunting their hearts.

Naturally, they wondered about the future and how all of this 3+ year wild-ride they had been on with Jesus would end.

So, in response to their question, Jesus told them.

Ergo, the Olivet Discourse.

Though the Olivet Discourse centers primarily upon the events of the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation, which we will distinguish in this podcast, I thought it would be most-beneficial to give you a complete overview of the entire prophetic puzzle and its 7 principal pieces before we break down Jesus’ Olivet Discourse.

Last week, we discussed Rapture and AntiChrist. (Podcast #171)

This week, we’ll consider the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation.

And next week, we’ll round out this introductory overview by highlighting the Second Coming, the Millennium, and the Eternal State.

However, before we get embroiled in the Tribulation, as you will hear here, I must first make one especially helpful, clarifying remark about the Rapture.

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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Behold the Lamb

web-happy-lambThere is a beautiful and breathtaking symmetry to the life and ministry of Jesus.

Case in point, as you will hear in this PODCAST, here in John 12, the beloved disciple brings us full circle. You may not see that now. But trust me, you will by the time we conclude this discussion.

Let me give you one tantalizing little hint: This beautiful symmetry to which I refer has little to do with palm branches, but everything to do with lambs.

Now watch this: When John introduced us to Jesus for the very first time, this is what he wrote:

“The next day John (the baptizer) saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”

That’s in John 1.

Here in John 12, this is what we read:

“The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city.”

Now listen: In both cases, at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry in John 1, and here at the very ending of Jesus’ ministry in John 12, it’s all about a lamb.

I know that as you read any or all of the accounts of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem as recorded in all four of the Gospels, you may not see a lamb. But trust me, it’s there. Front and center, it’s there.

Just as it is in John 1, so it is here in John 12, Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Miss that, and you miss the whole point of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry, on this — the Sunday before Passover.

Which raises a most intriguing question: Why did Jesus choose to ride into Jerusalem on that Sunday? Jesus could have ridden into Jerusalem on Saturday (If He did, we would call it Palm Saturday!), or on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday.

Why did Jesus choose to ride in on the Sunday before Passover? Answer that, and you get the whole picture.

Here’s a secondary question: Since Passover did not officially begin until that Thursday night (Remember Jesus sharing with the disciples their final Passover seder in Upper room on Thursday night?), why were so many pilgrims in Jerusalem so early on that Sunday?

Answer that, and you get the whole picture.

Which underscores this point: The Bible is God’s picture book, and Jesus’ Triumphal Entry is yet another three-dimensional, High Definition portrait of breathtaking significance. A panoramic masterpiece that, though we studied one portion of the Triumphal Entry last week (Daniel’s prophecy), this picture is far too important to ignore this week.

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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“Jesus Wept.”

40364.pIf last week’s discussion revealed to us the iconic image of the heart of Jesus, this week’s PODCAST will unveil to us the iconic image of the humanness of Jesus.

The beloved Apostle John wrote this in the first chapter of his Gospel masterpiece:

“Jesus became human and made his home among us.”

Paul wrote this to his beloved little community of Christ-followers in Philippi:

“Though he was God…  Jesus became completely human.”

Here in John 11, we will see just how completely human Jesus truly was.

I’ll clue you in right here from the start: We are about to witness three powerful, very human emotions collide within the heart and soul of Jesus. And as a result, we will be all the richer for having witnessed this collision, each emotion in response to the death of Jesus’ dear friend, Lazarus.

You are about to take a quantum leap in your understanding of who Jesus is, in a way that you may not be anticipating as we break the seal on this (to many people) very familiar story.

This entire discussion under this overarching question: What does it feel like to be Christ-like?

Rabbi, paint picture. OK, courtesy of John, let’s paint this picture. The picture of a very human Jesus, a human side of Jesus that perhaps you have never seen before.

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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