The Oracle at Delphi

In Acts 18:12 the book of Acts speaks of Paul being dragged before Gallio, whom Luke describes as “proconsul of Achaia.” Skeptics railed at this description, pointing out that there was no record of such a man governing the province at that time.

Of course, the reader should understand two things. First, we don’t know everything. There is a host of governors and leaders in ancient times about whom we have no record. As it turns out, we don’t know everything. Rather than saying “records of a proconsul named Gallio don’t exist,” it would be more honest to say, “We don’t yet have a record of Gallio outside the Bible.” Second, the purpose of doing archaeology is to try to fill in those gaps in knowledge. Otherwise, why do it? Continue reading “The Oracle at Delphi”

“Corban” garden budget

Beautiful gardens don’t have to cost much unless you count “sweat equity” as a cost.

This year, thanks to some bargain shopping, we were able to plant a majestic Dawn Redwood in the front yard to replace the almost-dead Red Haven peach tree. Well, it will be majestic in a few years, we hope. It’s only five feet tall now, but it’s a beauty!

It joins a redbud seedling planted to memorialize a beloved cat, the original redbud and a magnolia that came with the house, and a crape myrtle over the grave of another cat. A few years ago we added a very nice $3.00 sugar maple. A very ugly swamp maple will not be missed once the “good” maple grows big enough to replace it. Continue reading ““Corban” garden budget”

Fear of the unknown

“And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today” (Luke 5:26 NKJV).

My first international travel was in 1983 and since then I have made between 50 and 60 foreign trips. For the past 20 years or so I have mostly gone back to the same places and have become quite familiar with the geography, customs, and procedures of those places. I do not notice that I experience any anxiety on those trips – they have become part of my routine.

On the other hand, when I do go to a new destination I usually become at least somewhat nervous about what I will face and whether I am fully prepared. This in spite of my experience and regardless of how strange or hazardous the new destination might, or might not, be. Obviously, if I were to go to a place known for chaos and violence that nervousness would escalate, but even a peaceful, orderly place may present new challenges. That which is not known is to be viewed with caution at the very least. Continue reading “Fear of the unknown”

Why didn’t they believe?

What would it have been like to be the first to discover that Jesus’ tomb was empty? With all that Jesus had said about his rising on the third day, you might think that the apostles excitedly camped out the night before at the tomb awaiting Jesus’ resurrection. But that was not what happened!.

It was a group of women who discovered that the tomb was empty early that Sunday morning. They went to tell the apostles and all his followers that he was no longer in the tomb. “But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11 ESV). Continue reading “Why didn’t they believe?”

History’s Mysteries, Revealed (2)

“The time is fulfilled…the kingdom is at hand” (Mark 1:15).

(the previous article in this series can be found here)

Just recently, this writer attended a funeral of an 82-year old woman. Among other qualities and talents, she was a quilt-maker. She made over 50 beautiful and personalized quilts for her loved ones during her life. Many were made entirely by hand. Many of them were on display near the casket.

Like some people, she had previously related to her family a few preferences for her funeral, like her favorite passage of Scripture. But she had a rather unique wish as well: she hoped it would snow on the day of her burial. As uncomfortable as this would be for her attendees, she hoped that they might all gather ’round the grave site, wrapped in the quilts she gave them. Continue reading “History’s Mysteries, Revealed (2)”

The cruelty of cultural love

Just the other night, a short TV advertisement promoted a culturally forged love. Part of its message was quite biblical and healthy for society – love everyone. What disciple could argue with this? Just as God loves all people, so too Christ’s followers should seek the well being of everyone. While Christians should hate evil, they should neither hate sinners nor saints.

However, another aspect of its message was quite cruel. As might be expected in our culture, the epitome of love was presented as affirmation and acceptance. However, this makes no sense, unless you assume society exists within a vacuum. Continue reading “The cruelty of cultural love”

But did Jesus even exist?

Just to clarify, I believe that Jesus is the son of God. I believe there is ample evidence for that assertion. Some might ask, however, “Did Jesus even exist?” Is there reason to believe that an historical figure named Jesus of Nazareth even lived? Aside from the four Gospels (because four witnesses aren’t enough, apparently), there is no other mention of Jesus Christ (They also missed Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians etc.).

Well, there were at least five ancient historical writers who mentioned Jesus. None of them were believers in Jesus as the son of God, you understand, and none of them mentioned Jesus for any reason than the fact that he was an important historical figure in the first century. Continue reading “But did Jesus even exist?”

Leaving the heart’s door open

The chief priests and the scribes wanted Jesus dead.

But, these kinds of things are delicate. The Sanhedrin didn’t have the power to put a man to death — only the Romans could do that — and Jesus was innocent and not worthy of any sentence at all.

Importantly, the enemies of Jesus needed a way to make sure they had their man. They needed someone who knew Jesus to hand him over to them. Accuse the wrong man and the Romans would be less likely to listen next time. In addition, the scribes and priests knew the people supported Jesus. The religious leaders couldn’t just take the Lord into custody. Riots may ensue. Continue reading “Leaving the heart’s door open”

Not if but where

“Then Jonathan said, ‘Very well, let us cross over to these men, and we will show ourselves to them. If they say thus to us, ‘”Wait until we come to you,'” then we will stand still in our place and not go up to them. But if they say thus, ‘”Come up to us'” then we will go up. For the Lord has delivered them into our hand, and this will be a sign to us’ ” (1 Samuel 14:8-10 NKJV).

The battle between Jonathan (assisted by his armor bearer) and the Philistine garrison as recorded in 1 Samuel 14 is one of the great “victory to the underdog” stories of history. Better armed and much greater in numbers, the Philistine army dominated Israel. But King Saul’s son took on a detachment of the enemy aided only by his apprentice and won definitively, inspiring his fellow Israelite soldiers to join the fight and drive the invaders from their country. Continue reading “Not if but where”

The helper

Have you ever wondered how the apostles and writers of the good news of Jesus were able to record all the things he did while teaching and helping people? Not only did Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the events of Jesus’ life, but they did it without contradicting each other.

How did Peter, Paul, James, Jude, and John know what to write in the letters they sent to the first Christians? How did they know what Jesus wanted written down about living the Christian life, not only for those living then but also for those who would be Christians in the future? Again, they did it without contradicting the other writers. Continue reading “The helper”