Casting call

Acts 13

What did Paul look like? I’d like to think that he looked Tom Hanks, medium build, handsome, friendly, approachable. But what if he looked like Woody, not the doll, but the actor writer, director Woody Allen? It’s more likely. He was Jewish. What about Barnabus?who did Barnabus look like? I think of Patrick Warburton. The voice of Kronk in the emperors new groove.

Now with that picture in mind read the chapter.

“Acts 13:2-5New International Version (NIV)

2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

On Cyprus

4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.”

Saul changes his name to Paul. And he begins to do what he was created for, build out and build up the Church.

“9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.”

“15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”

16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me!”

Paul then goes onto do a very thorough explanation of the person and mission of Jesus.

The Jewish people would reject him and so he immediately began to speak to the gentile population.

I think that Paul was a small man in stature but a giant in intellect, in passion and in purpose.

He jumped into the new role of traveling evangelist with everything he had and everything that he was.

So a guy who looked like Woody Allen and a guy who looked like Patrick Warburton walked into a synagogue….and the world would never be the same.

“49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus use me to change the part of the world that you have set me in.

Of course their is no way of knowing what these men of God looked like and some people might be offended that I use Woody Allen as an example because of some of his choices. Sorry. That’s what I see in my brain. Besides, what would Woody Allen be like if he knew Jesus? can you imagine? He might be like Paul.

(Originally posted 10/17/15)

The father’s heart.

I don’t know what your view of God is. My default view is, and It really shouldn’t be as long as I’ve known him and as faithful as he has been and is being, that he is cool and distant.

Psalm 103 paints a picture that shows a better and more accurate description of who God is.

The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone— as though we had never been here. But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!

Psalm 103:8-18 -NLT

I need to take a snapshot of this view of God and paste it up in my head, heart and soul so that I remember who God is. He is my father, tender and compassionate. With a love for me, for us, that remains forever.

And the rest

Acts 10

And the rest…..

Here is where we come in.

Up to this point in the story Christianity was as a sect of Judaism. God had other plans. God had bigger plans. God had plans that would eventually include me, not exclude me.

“34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”

Jesus had said that they would be witnesses in Jerusalem, the city, Judea, the area, Samaria, the area next door, and the utter most parts of the world, and the rest. I think that they were thinking geographically. That they would travel and tell their story to the Jews in the utter most parts of the world but God wasn’t talking about land masses. He didn’t come to save the land masses. He didn’t come to just save Jewish people. Jesus came to save the masses. Jesus came to save the masses that are messes. I am one one. I am one of the mass that is a mess. I am a sinner. I’ve done things. but more than that, I still, even after accepting Jesus as my savior want to stray away. My heart is self centered and bent on wanting what it wants. Jesus knew all that and he died for me.

Because of Cornelius and his family, and Peters obedience I can be welcomed into the family of God without becoming a Jew first. I don’t know all of the details but The process was not easy and would leave a convert always on the outside.

Bob Denver wanted equal billing for all of the characters on Gilligans Isle. The theme song during the first season didn’t mention the names of two supporting cast members, it said ” and the rest”. Again I don’t know all the details but after the first season we get to sing, “the professor and Maryanne,”. Because God so loved the world, the masses of people not the masses of land, he gave his only Son that whosoever would believe in Him, would not perish but have everlasting life.

Good news for ALL of us. In Gods song of salvation our names can be included.

(Originally posted 10/14/15)

11 in 1

Acts 9

Saul/Paul’s conversion.

“9 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.”

The word ‘tool’ has gotten a new use. We now say someone is a tool and it means something bad. Not in my garage, not in my daily life, (I’m an electrician by trade), not in my vocabulary. A tool is what you use to get things done. I have one tool called an 11 in 1, which is a screw driver with 8 bits a 3 sizes of nut drivers. As an electrician It is indispensable.

Chapter 9 has stories of 4 men who were tools in Gods hands. Each used in specific ways for specific tasks.

Ananias, used to minister to death threatening Saul. To heal him, baptize him and teach him. To accept him and bring him into fellowship.

Saul, who’s heart was changed on the road to Damascus. He immediately began to teach that Jesus was exactly who he said he was, the messiah and there was no turning back for Saul or for anyone Saul would encounter.

There was Barnabas, his name means “son of encouragement”. He was used to befriend Saul and bring him into fellowship in Jerusalem. I imagine him as a Yukon Cornelius type who brought the bumble into Christmas castle just in time to put up the star. An encourager, an includer, a bold and fearless follower of Jesus who knew that Jesus can change the heart of a man.

And then we have Peter. Everywhere he goes miracles happen. The sick are healed, the lame walk and even the dead are raised to life.

I hope that I am a tool. Only in the best sense. Jesus use me to tell about you. You have forgiven all of my sins. You have changed me so much already but I am still in process. Continue the process you started in me and use me.

I want to be a Christian 11 in 1.

(Originally posted 10/13/15)

It’s a gift

“Del, It’s a gift…. ”

That’s what Neal Page tells his friend Del Griffith when Del frets about repaying a debt. (Planes, Trains and Automobiles)

Being indebted to someone or something is a terrible place to be. I got money from the US. Government to go to college. I don’t have to ever pay it back because it was a grant. That’s what you do when you give something of value to a person when you know they can’t repay you. It’s a gift. It’s a grant. No payments, no interest, free. A gift.

That is what God has done for us in Jesus. He has gifted, granted, graced us with forgiveness. It’s a debt we cannot pay. Our sin is a stain that we are powerless to wash away. We can’t pay for it. We cannot clean it up or cover it with a pile of good deeds.

Do you know what God calls our good deeds? He calls them filthy rags (think used feminine protection). Our good deeds look like used tampons to God. How can we ever expect to pay for our sins with used tampons?

The good news is we don’t have to. “Though our sins be as scarlet, he will wash them whiter than snow”.

We cannot pay for a gift. If a gift is a gift then it is free.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:4-10

We are forgiven by the grace of God.

(your name, my name here)It’s a gift.

(Originally posted 10-13-19)

It isn’t about perfection, it’s about believing

(This post is a memory from a year ago)

I was at a worship conference this weekend and was given a sweet reminder about one of my favorite things about my dad.

First I want to quote this verse that gives me an admonition to follow my parents example.

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.”

My dad believed in Jesus. He struggled to follow him but he never denied him. One thing he would do at family gatherings as the eldest son, instead of saying grace would lead us in singing the doxology.

At the worship conference We sang the doxology. I was reduced to a snotty puddle of tears as I remembered my dads strong voice singing “praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below, praise him above ye heavenly host, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”

Thank you dad. Thank you for your strong and steady belief, even if practicing your faith saw dips and swells. Thank you for hanging on to Jesus. Thank you for giving me these precious memories.

Grace does a body good

Acts 6

Some of the widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.

The apostles were concerned and decided to divide the labor of ministry. It’s like when a human is formed from two cells, the egg and sperm. They quickly begin to multiply and as they do they cluster into groups. Theses groups begin to develop into the various organs and tissues that will make up this little person. No group is more important than any other because they are after all just specialized copies of the original two cells.

The church, this living organism is a multifaceted organization with millions of people. We all, all Christians, have a part play in the function, health and growth of the church, which is also called the body of Christ.

Stephan was chosen not to preach and teach, he was selected to serve the widows in their needs. “3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

And yet he served. And the church continued to grow.

“7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Stephen Seized

8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.”

My body has a lot of different parts and pieces. I need them all to work, to work well, to work hard, to work at their jobs even when I don’t recognize or am aware of what they are doing. It’s a team effort and all victories and defeats affect my entire body. Every part of me is working together to feed, encourage, bless, protect, aid, and serve every other part. When a part is sick or hurting all parts suffer.

We are like that. Us Christians. We all part of one body. One body of Christ. We need to work together. We need to be connected to each other. We need to aid and support each other. One body, one goal: witness to the miraculous work that Jesus is doing in us.

The good news is Jesus loves us and has forgiven all of our sin. He wants to have a relationship with us. Once we have become part of his body, He wants to use us to reach the rest of the world with the message of grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. He needs all of us healthy and strong and connected in order to accomplish this. For me that has meant a multiple step process, Step one, stay connected to the rest of the body, step two, get healthy, admit to my own sickness and need for help, step three, when sick, do what the Bible and my Christian leaders recommend to get well.

Stephan was a servant and yet his ministry included great wonders and signs and he was described as a man full of Gods grace and power. I want to be more like him.