Posts Tagged With: Luke

Questions–Then and Now

The Theater in Caesarea

Did you know that Adolph Hitler survived at least six—SIX!—assassination attempts?

As you will hear in this PODCAST, these six assassination attempts occurred in 1921, 1938, 1939, two in 1943, and the final attempt on July 20, 1944.

Get this: Any one of which, if successful, would have either prevented World War II—as well as the wholesale slaughter of six million of our precious Jewish friends—or brought both the war and the Holocaust to a screeching halt.

The older I get, the more questions I have.

As but two examples:

First: Why did God allow each of these six assassination attempts to fail?

I’m not now going to debate the ethics or lack thereof of political assassination in a time of war. Whether or not as Committed Christ-Followers we should support or condemn such actions is way beyond the scope of tonight’s discussion.

I’m simply asking: Would not our world have been a better place if just 1 of those attempts had succeeded?

What possible purpose could have been served by God allowing the likes of Hitler to live and to continue to torment the human race?

The failure of the final attempt on Hitler’s life is to me especially curious given the facts that A) Just 9 months and 10 days later—on April 30, 1945—Hitler killed himself in his bunker in Berlin.

And B) Tried and executed as a conspirator to that final, failed attempt on Hitler’s life? A man of far greater and more positive influence than I could ever hope to have, a man—to quote Hebrews—“of whom our world is not worthy.” I’m talking about the German pastor, theologian, and prolific writer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A precious, priceless servant of the Lord summarily executed by hanging a mere three weeks before Hitler bit into a cyanide tablet and shot himself in the head.

Had Hitler killed himself just three weeks earlier, would not Bonhoeffer’s life had been spared? Could not Bonhoeffer have then continued—perhaps for many, many years—to instruct and inspire the lives of countless Christ-followers the world over with his positive influence?

Why did God spare the life of a servant of Hell named Adolph Hitler just long enough to cost the life of a servant of Heaven named Dietrich Bonhoeffer?

God does not owe an explanation. But He does allow me to ask the question. So ask it, I will and I do.

That’s my first question.

My second question is this: Why did God allow a King named Herod Agrippa—a Jew who sold his soul and sold out his own people to the Romans in a cynical quest for power, position, and popularity—to live just long enough to destroy countless lives of Jewish Christ-followers in Jerusalem, as well as kill someone as stellar as the Apostle James?

James–brother to the Apostle John. Member of Apostolic trio—Jesus’ inner circle—Peter, James, and John? A man—to quote Hebrews—“of whom our world is not worthy.”

God does not owe an explanation. But He does allow me to ask the question. So ask it, I will and I do.

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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On the Road Again

The Treasury in Petra

It had to be a rather rude awakening to be sure—Paul’s initial introduction to the unenviable life of an apostle.

As we will learn in this PODCAST, there is much—much more than we could possibly imagine—behind Paul’s otherwise enigmatic statement in 1 Corinthians 4:9, a rare moment of personal reflection (and dare-I-say exasperation and frustration) in the writings of this most-prolific apostle:

“I sometimes think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor’s parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world—to people and angels alike.”

Well, here in Acts 9, the Apostle to us Gentiles endured quite the humiliating spectacle indeed.

It was hardly the homecoming our new friend, the Apostle Paul, had anticipated as he entered archway in the main gate leading to Straight Street in Damascus.

Was his heart all a-flutter? Mine would have been.

After a three-year absence from its legendary landscape, his formal training as an apostle now complete. I have to believe that Saul-now-Paul had much upon which he would have liked to reflect.

  • Perhaps a quiet, private, personal rendezvous with the spot on the road where he first met Jesus?
  • Maybe a knock on the door of Judas’ house, where he was graciously housed for three days as a man-struck-blind?
  • How about cup of Turkish coffee with Ananias, the man tasked with, and understandably fearful of, being first follower of Jesus to approach just-converted Saul?
  • Possibly some visits to the synagogues where he first preached, “Jesus is indeed the Son of God”?

Paul’s heart had to be pitter-pattering with excited anticipation as he once-again approached the storied city.

But alas. A happy homecoming wasn’t in cards that fate dealt this soon-to-be-suffering servant of Jesus.

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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Saul Goes to Seminary

Do you know what I love about Bible?

Well, truth be told, there are a lot of things that I love about the Bible. Far too many to tell in this PODCAST.

But certainly residing at or near the top of my rather lengthy list is this: The window the biblical writers open to the growth and maturity of its principle players.

Case in point: The Apostle Paul.

Paul did not emerge from his road to Damascus encounter with Jesus a wholly-mature believer. Nor did Paul burst on the scene armed with a fully-formed theology that would become the capstone of his prolific writings. Paul had to grow in his faith as a committed Christ-follower just like the rest of us.

I love that!

Paul moved from a measurably primitive understanding of Jesus to a remarkably profound comprehension of who Jesus was and is and all that Jesus did and accomplished. This growth, this development, this maturity takes place right before our wondering eyes ever to behold in all of its spiritual splendor.

In short, Paul was a person in process, just like us! A process well-documented in the New Testament that as we are about to learn slowly-but-surely took place over many, many years.

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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Jesus’ Leadership Manifesto (An Encore Podcast)

While I am away speaking at a Junior High/Middle School Camp at a place near and dear to my heart–Hartland Christian Camp–may I welcome to the Upper Room, and Jesus’ farewell address to His beloved disciples.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, as we break the seal on this, Jesus’ final night before the crucifixion, I do so with something of a lump in my throat and the pinkish hue of embarrassment upon my otherwise rosy cheeks. This because this particular portion of the grand story of Jesus’ life and ministry hits me most personally. And if, as they say, “Confession is good for the soul,” then I make my confession to you, my beloved little Safe Haven family, tonight.

There is embedded within this most amazing scene, Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, a timeless lesson that, if only I could turn back the hands of the clock and the passage of time, I would have taken to heart way back when I was just starting out in my ministry.

This pointed and practical warning is as timely today as it was that night in that Upper Room when Jesus gave it to His disciples.

A timeless truth that has come to define my life and, more to the point, my ministry today. A living lesson of which you are the beneficiaries.

As we detailed last week, this so-called “Last Supper” was a modified Passover seder. I say modified because as we learned last week, the word seder means “order.” As in a carefully choreographed, specifically scripted order to the meal.

Yet, at certain significant points along the way, Jesus purposefully departed from that thousands-year-old order and added to that script.

Just as Jesus did here, in John 13, at the very beginning of their meal together.

It was certainly customary — very much a part of the script — for the host (Jesus) to wash His hands ceremonially as meal began. But why did He then wash His disciples’ feet?

Especially given that every other departure that Jesus made from the seder script expanded or enhanced the significance of their celebration of Passover, especially in light of His coming death as ultimate Passover Lamb.

Every departure, except for this one: Jesus washing His disciples’ feet.

A beautiful gesture, to be sure. The quintessential picture of loving humility and servanthood. So much so that foot washing in some Christian traditions even today, has been elevated to a sacrament or ordinance equal to that of Communion and Baptism.

You talk about, Paint the picture, Rabbi? How about Jesus kneeling as a slave to wash His disciples’ feet (including Judas’ feet) as a three-dimensional, high definition picture of this? (The this to be explained in the remainder of this Podcast.)

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 Most Important Person of Whom You Have (Perhaps) Never Heard

His name was Matthias.

I wouldn’t blame you a bit if you had no recollection of this selfless servant of Christ.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, Matthias is mentioned only twice in the NT, both times here in Acts 1 (verses 23 and 26).

At first blush, Matthias may appear to be just a footnote in the ever-developing drama of redemption. But I can assure you that he is anything but.

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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Unhindered!

So it is with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye that in this PODCAST we bid adieu to Jesus in HD.

Lest you regret that we will now no longer hear all-things-Jesus-related, fear not, my friends. For as we now break the seal on the amazing book of Acts and our study of Peter in HD, which of course will then pivot to Paul in HD somewhere around ch 13, and as I will demonstrate in mere moments, the book of Acts is very much a book all about Jesus primarily; Peter, Paul and other apostles secondarily.

In this podcast, our goal is to lay the foundation for this entire study.

A study that will include:

1. Entire of book of Acts; the lives primarily of both Peter and then Paul, along with an entire array of some of the most interesting individuals you’d every want to meet;

2. The birth, growth, and establishment of what Jesus called in Matthew 16:18 His ekklesia — this when He declared for all the world to hear,

“I will build my ekklesia, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”

3. The non-stop-yet-failed attempts of “all the powers of hell itself” to conquer it, destroy it, and in any way possible to frustrate its expansion to the whole world.

4. The way in which redemptive history unfolded in the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

5. The glorious heritage that is ours as the present-generation of Christ-followers, with a direct link all the way back to these amazing men and women of faith. Individuals who literally put their lives on the line in order to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission that we detailed for you last week in our final Jesus in HD podcast.

This is our heritage. You and I are standing on the shoulders of giants: the fathers and mothers of our faith.

I can assure you that they would not have seen themselves as anything but frail, faltering, certainly faith-struggling individuals; never as giants. Yet, giants they were. People who lived literally day-to-day as they tried to navigate the shark-filled waters of their spiritually-hostile, Rome-dominated world.

What an example they set for us; what a legacy they left for us as they humbly bore the name of Jesus before a watching, often unwelcoming world. We cannot know, nor appreciate, who we are as CCFs, nor what this is all about, nor where this is all going, unless and until we understand from where we’ve come. That is what this study will provide.

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’ Leadership Manifesto

45615Welcome to the Upper Room, and Jesus’ farewell address to His beloved disciples.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, as we break the seal on this, Jesus’ final night before the crucifixion, I do so with something of a lump in my throat and the pinkish hue of embarrassment upon my otherwise rosy cheeks.

This because this particular portion of the grand story of Jesus’ life and ministry hits me most personally. And if, as they say, “Confession is good for the soul,” then I make my confession to you, my beloved little Safe Haven family, tonight.

There is embedded within this most amazing scene, Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, a timeless lesson that, if only I could turn back the hands of the clock and the passage of time, I would have taken to heart way back when I was just starting out in my ministry.

This pointed and practical warning is as timely today as it was that night in that Upper Room when Jesus gave it to His disciples.

A timeless truth that has come to define my life and, more to the point, my ministry today. A living lesson of which you are the beneficiaries.

As we detailed last week, this so-called “Last Supper” was a modified Passover seder. I say modified because as we learned last week, the word seder means “order.” As in a carefully choreographed, specifically scripted order to the meal.

Yet, at certain significant points along the way, Jesus purposefully departed from that thousands-year-old order and added to that script.

Just as Jesus did here, in John 13, at the very beginning of their meal together.

It was certainly customary — very much a part of the script — for the host (Jesus) to wash His hands ceremonially as meal began. But why did He then wash His disciples’ feet?

Especially given that every other departure that Jesus made from the seder script expanded or enhanced the significance of their celebration of Passover, especially in light of His coming death as ultimate Passover Lamb.

Every departure, except for this one: Jesus washing His disciples’ feet.

A beautiful gesture, to be sure. The quintessential picture of loving humility and servanthood. So much so that foot washing in some Christian traditions even today, has been elevated to a sacrament or ordinance equal to that of Communion and Baptism.

You talk about, Paint the picture, Rabbi? How about Jesus kneeling as a slave to wash His disciples’ feet (including Judas’ feet) as a three-dimensional, high definition picture of this? (The this to be explained in the remainder of this Podcast.)

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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“I Want to See.”

99222_origMeet Blind Bartimaeus, a man who seems at first blush to be nothing more than a bit player in this most dramatic and poignant moment.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, this wasn’t the first time that Jesus healed a blind man. Nor is this the first time we have talked about Jesus healing a blind man. Last November, Podcast 141, comes to mind. So I would totally understand if you were tempted to bring to this story a sense of “been there, done that,” Déjà vu all over again. Like, if you’ve seen one blind-man-healing, you’ve seen them all, right? WRONG!

As I said just a moment ago, this story is both dramatic and poignant.

The implications of this story, both for the Jews of Jesus’ day, and for the entire world in our day, cannot be overstated. This story is indeed dramatic, dramatic in the extreme.

Nor can we overstate the emotional state Jesus must have been in at this most significant moment of His ministry, as the final chapter of His life is about to unfold. Emotions that infuse this story with feeling from start to finish. A story poignant to a palpable degree.

To be perfectly honest, there is so much going on here that I’m really in a quandary as to where to start. So let me start with this: In the Middle East, both in Jesus’ day, and in our own day, Symbolism = Substance.

Symbolism = Substance. IOW, as I’ve said so often, the Bible is God’s picture book. The biblical writers were painters. The visual means something. Symbolism = Substance.

In this story about yes, yet another blind man being healed by Jesus, it really is all about the optics. The symbolism. The connections that the original readers would have made in their minds as they read Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s account of this miracle

The symbolism of What happened (the healing of Blind Bartimaeus), When it happened (c. AD 30, just days before Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem), and Where happened (Jericho).

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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So Near, and Yet So Far

rich-young-ruler-3You could call this story an epic “Opportunity Lost.”

You talk about a guy presented with a once-in-a-lifetime golden opportunity, an opportunity that he squandered. An opportunity that he squandered Badly.And.Sadly.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, this is an offer rarely made, and shockingly dismissed.

A young man who burst on the scene like a blazing comet streaking overhead, only to flame out and fall out of the sky to come crashing and burning to earth.

What a story!

One thing’s for sure. Jesus never took a class on Personal Evangelism, witnessing, soul winning, or whatever you want to call it. Because, to be honest, Jesus Broke.Every.Rule of personal evangelism in this very personal encounter.

Here you have what we call in our contemporary Christian culture a seeker coming to Jesus to ask Him one question. THE question. The single most important question.

A softball question that any one of us could answer.

His question?

“What should I do to inherit eternal life?”

This young man asked Jesus exactly the right question, to which Jesus gave him exactly the wrong answer!

Or did He?

Don’t fault me for asking that. Jesus’ own disciples thought that Jesus gave him the wrong answer. Check it out: The disciples were “astounded and astonished” when they heard Jesus’ answer.

All this guy needed to do, all that Jesus needed to tell him to do, was to pray a “Jesus, come into my heart” prayer, right? Yet, by the time Jesus got done with him? The young man walked away.

In the words of the noted Lutheran New Testament scholar, R.C.H. Lenski,

“Picture him: an exemplary young man in early manhood, fine and clean morally as the phrase now goes… wealthy… with a strong religious bent… a pillar (in the community)… Where is the church that would not give him a prominent place?… Yet all this is in the eyes of Jesus… worthless.”

Yeah verily, I will add, so worthless that Jesus offended him. Lost him. Drove him away.

Know why?

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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