Actions and words

As we see the kingdom of God expanding in the first century, we are amazed at how the good news of Jesus was spread as well as the people who became Christians. Although most of the teaching was initially in Jerusalem and Judea, with the increased persecution from the Jewish leaders, Christians began to enter areas farther away.

“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:4-8 NIV)

The precise town where Philip went is not specified in the text. Scholars have suggested at least two possibilities including Sebaste and Gitta. Sebaste was the main city of Samaria at this time, having been rebuilt by Herod the Great. This was a few miles northwest of Shechem, Jacob’s Well, and the burial site of Joseph. Gitta is said to have been the hometown of Simon the Magician according to Justin Martyr. Continue reading “Actions and words”

2020 vision

When Luke referred to his biography of Jesus, he summed it up in this way: “I wrote the former account, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after he had given orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen” (Acts 1:1-2 NET).

What we do and what we teach must go together. We see that in Jesus’ life: he not only taught the way to live, he lived that way. Continue reading “2020 vision”

No substitute

It doesn’t happen often, but a new thought struck me one day. I was showing my daughter how to shoot a basketball through the hoop when the thought came. There is one person on earth for whom there is, in my case, no replacement. My friends in Africa, Tennessee and Texas can find other friends, I suppose; if I should pass away, my spouse might (and probably should) seek happiness in another marriage relationship.

But for my little daughter, there would always and only be one Dad. I was irreplaceable. In the event of my death she might be lucky enough to have a good man become her “stepfather,” but I was her one and only “Daddy.” Continue reading “No substitute”

Being an example

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV).

Wouldn’t it have been great to receive a letter from the apostle Paul? Continue reading “Being an example”

From persecutor to proclaimer

Can you imagine how earth-shattering the news was that Saul of Tarsus had become a Christian?

He had gone to Damascus from Jerusalem to arrest Christians. He had with him letters from the high priest giving him the authority to do this (Acts 9:1-2 – keep in mind that the only Christians at this time were those who were Jewish). He was willing to travel at least 140 miles (220 km), a journey that would have taken around a week. This was one man who was determined to see Jews who were now following Jesus eradicated. Continue reading “From persecutor to proclaimer”

A secret life

When I look back on my teen years I see a repeating pattern.

In the 1960s, teens had long hair and wore bell-bottom pants with a flowery shirt. The long hair was supposed to be a sign of rebellion against the “establishment.” The evidence, though, shows otherwise. No matter how much we thought our hairstyles and clothes were different, we were all dressing alike. We were conforming to the majority of those our own age.

In a way, we were engaged in a sort of self-deception. We thought that because we looked different, we were different. Actually, we were not nonconformists. On the contrary, we looked like each other. We conformed to the way we thought we should look. Continue reading “A secret life”

Visual aids

“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV).

There is nothing like teaching an audience which does not speak your language to make one appreciate the value of visual aids. Some things just don’t translate very well. Some English words or concepts don’t have an exact equivalent in other languages. When that happens, the speaker and the translator must resort to other means in order to communicate adequately. Continue reading “Visual aids”