British archaeologists are seeking to authenticate what could be a landmark discovery in the documentation of early Christianity: a trove of 70 lead codices that appear to date from the 1st century CE, which may include key clues to the last days of Jesus’ life. As UK Daily Mail reporter Fiona Macrae writes, some researchers are suggesting this could be the most significant find in Christian archeology since the Dead Sea scrolls in 1947.
Archives for : March2011
“ I saw him in the church building for the first time on Wednesday. He was in his mid-70′s with thinning silver hair and a neat brown suit. Many times in the past I had invited him to come. Several other Christian friends had talked to him about the Lord and had tried to share the good news with him.
He was well respected, honest, a man of good character. He acted much like a Christian would act, but he never came to church or became a Christian. After I got to know him well and we had talked about a wide range of subjects I asked him if he had ever been to a worship service.
He hesitated. Then with a twisted grimace told me of an experience he had as a boy. He was raised in a large family. His parents survived the depression but they struggled to provide food and clothing for the family.
When he was around ten years old a friend invited him to go to services with his family.
He went – the Sunday School class was great. The songs were fun to sing and the stories, oh the great Bible stories, were exciting to hear. He had never heard anyone read from the Bible before. As class ended the teacher pulled him aside and said, “Son, please don’t come again dressed as you are now. We want to look our best when we come into God’s house.”
He looked down at his old hand me down overalls that were certainly worn and tattered. He thought about that for a moment and said softly, “No ma’am I won’t ever.” Then he looked at me the author wrote and said, “And you know what. I never did.” It was clear that he was done with that conversation.
The author reflected, I am sure that the Sunday School teacher meant well and in fact was representing the feeling of the majority of the folks in that congregation. But what if, what if she had put her arms around the dirty little boy in the ragged overalls and said, “Son, I am thrilled that you came this morning and I hope you will come every chance you get to hear more about Jesus because he loves you so much.” Moreover what if she would have talked with the preacher or her friends in the church and mobilized a full blown outreach effort to help this family make ends meet.
The story ended like this: Yes I saw him in the meeting house for the first time on Wednesday and I cried as I looked at the immaculately dressed old gentleman lying there in his casket. He was looking his best. But all I could think of were those words of an impressionable little ten-year-old boy echoing in my mind, “No ma’am I won’t ever.”
While on the “truth about Islam” page you can also pick up a wonderful Power Point presentation about Islam (this is also from Focus Press and is being posted with their permission).
While you are here, why not take a moment to vote in the following surveys on Islam?
The free translation service from Google seems to work pretty well. If you are a preacher or Bible class teacher, you can easily make your sermons and classes available to just under 60 different languages for free.
My study on “how to become a Christian” and the information on “New Testament Christianity” has now been put into every language Google currently supports. This information is available using the links below or my “how to become a Christian” page.
Arabic – كيف تصبح مسيحياً
Imagine that you see the following statements posted on a “social networking site” like facebook.
Monday: Stopped by a cop on the way to work but managed to lie my way out of the ticket! Cops are idiots.
Tuesday: Bought ten lottery tickets at lunch and only won a dollar.
*Wednesday: Had a light supper and golfed till dark; what a GREAT night!
Thursday: Down to my last beer in the fridge…ugh.
Friday: Got a *$%#@$ virus on my computer.
Saturday: Getting up early tomorrow for an all day fishing trip at the lake. Hope the weather is good.
Sunday: Girlfriend’s parents are out of town this weekend…can’t wait to spend the night at her place.
Which of the preceding statements would we associate with a person who is trying to live a faithful Christian life?
We might not be surprised to find vulgar and sinful things posted by the unsaved, but Christians should not be among those who post this kind of material. Saying non-Christian things online is just as bad as saying it in person and it often reaches a much broader range of people.
Bottom line: Think before you post. Too, if you see a post from someone who professes to be a Christian but posts inappropriate things, kindly remind them of verses like Mt. 5:16.
*The point about Wednesday assumes the person has the option to attend a Wednesday night Bible class.
It seems that with all we’ve accomplished, about all we have really added is speed and noise. We get there faster, but we don’t know where we are going. And when we get there, we’re out of breath.
I read one time about a man who swallowed an egg whole. He was afraid to move because he was afraid it would break. But he was afraid to sit still because he was afraid it would hatch. There are a lot of people like that today–so frenetic, so pressured they don’t know which way to go. And the place where the pressure and restless often hit home is in the home.
Adrian Rogers, Ten Secrets for a Successful Family, Crossway Books, p. 71.
An out-of-towner drove his car into a ditch in a desolated area. Luckily, a local farmer came to help with his big strong horse named Buddy. He hitched Buddy up to the car and yelled, “Pull, Nellie, pull!” Buddy didn’t move.
Then the farmer hollered, “Pull, Buster, pull!” Buddy didn’t respond. Once more the farmer commanded, “Pull, Coco, pull!” Nothing. Then the farmer nonchalantly said, “Pull, Buddy, pull!” And the horse easily dragged the car out of the ditch.
The motorist was most appreciative and very curious. He asked the farmer why he called his horse by the wrong name three times. The farmer said, “Oh, Buddy is blind and if he thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn’t even try!”
We’re a lot like Buddy, aren’t we? We don’t like to do something if we think we’re the only one pulling. Need an example?
Ever said, “Why should I pour my time and effort into the work of the church? No one else seems to care!”
Or, “Why should I put forth the extra effort to do a good job at work? No one else does, and it wouldn’t be appreciated anyway!”
Or, “Why should I be nice to him? He’s certainly not going to make any effort to be nice to me!”
See what I mean? Like Elijah in the cave, we often find ourselves saying to God, “I alone am left.” (I Kings 19:10). Nobody else is faithful. Nobody else is trying.
But God told Elijah he had 7,000 people on His side that Elijah didn’t know about. Like Buddy and Elijah, we may be blind. Blind to what others are doing around us. But, even if we are the only one doing what is right, we need to continue.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)
Hang in there, and have a great day!
“I want to say that it’s been a pleasure teaching you this semester. I know you’ve all worked extremely hard and many of you are off to medical school after summer. So that no one gets their GPA messed up because they might have been celebrating a bit too much this week, anyone who would like to opt out of the final exam today will receive a “B” for the course.”
There was much rejoicing amongst the class as students got up, passed by the professor to thank him and sign out on his offer. As the last taker left the room, the professor looked out over the handful of remaining students and asked, “Any one else? This is your last chance.” One final student rose up and took the offer.
The professor closed the door and took attendance of those students remaining. “I’m glad to see you believe in yourself.” he said. “You all have “A’s.”
Too often, we’re content to settle for second best. A lot of students would be thrilled to settle for a “B” (“That’s better than I usually get.” “That’s doing better than most of the others I know.”). And most students, I think, would rather get a “B” with little time spent studying, than to make the effort it takes to get an “A”.
A lot of us are content to settle for second best in our spiritual lives as well. We’re close to God (at least closer than many people we know), but we aren’t willing to take the time and the effort to have the kind of relationship we know God wants us to have.
The biggest problem with settling for second best is that we miss out on that which is best.
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ ” (Luke 10:42)
What Martha was doing was good (second best, even), but “Mary has chosen what is better.” May we always seek out and choose “what is better” in our relationship with God!
Tonight, after our evening service had concluded and most members of the congregation had left, a man walked into the church building and said he was seeking “help.” He correctly identified me as the minister and asked if he could present his request.
This man said he lived in the state of Michigan and he was on his way to Indianapolis, IN because his 2-year old son had been hit and killed by a car earlier in the day. His son had been in the custody of his ex-wife and she had failed to properly watch him.
This fellow’s story sounded sincere and it was convincing. After listening to what he had to say and asking if there were any other details I told him we always verify the details of a person’s story before helping. In his case we would be glad to give him the money he wanted once we verified his story with the Indianapolis police department.
After introducing the police into our discussion some subtle changes were evident in this fellow’s behavior. He said he understood that verification was necessary because “some people lie” and “we should check with the police while he went to his cousin’s house down the road to collect some money he was owed.”
In spite of the attempts to tell this man we would give him the full amount of money he wanted after verifying his story, he insisted on “going to see his cousin.” Although this was suspicious and suggestive of a con artist, if our visitor had truly lost his son a few hours earlier, perhaps the shock of the event was interfering with his ability to correctly reason. Thus, in view of his unusual claim, we agreed to call the police department while he went to see his cousin.
The police dispatcher in Indianapolis had not heard of a two year old being killed earlier in the day; he also said this type of event would have surely been discussed among the officers. The dispatcher finally suggested I check with the Coroner’s office so a second call was made to the morgue.
Fellow Christians waited with me at the building for a reasonable amount of time and the man never returned. The calls to the police department and the Coroner also failed to validate this man’s story.
The time spent with this man was interesting as well as insightful. Consider the following thoughts.
1. Some people lie.
2. Some of the lies people tell are “whoppers.”
3. The Bible teaches us to give people the benefit of the doubt, but we must be mindful that con artists are in the world. We have no obligation to help people be freeloaders.
4. Try to go the “second mile” with people, even if it seems they do not deserve it.
5. Jesus said if we could “gain the whole world” this would not be worth our eternal spirit. In our world there are those who will “sell their soul” for a few dollars or a free night in a motel.
James Hewett goes on to say, “The dad did a thorough job of gluing his children to their faults and mistakes. People do it to us all the time. They remind us of our failures, our errors, our sins, and they won’t let us live them down. Like my son trying frantically to free his finger from the plane, there are people who try, sometimes desperately, to free themselves from their past. They would love a chance to begin again. When we don’t let people forget their past, when we don’t forgive, we glue them to their mistakes and refuse to see them as more than something they have done. However, when we forgive, we gently pry the doer of the hurtful deed from the deed itself, and we say that the past is just that–the past–over and done with . . .”
Are you familiar with www.jeremiahinstitute.com? This web resource is designed to “The Jeremiah Institute is dedicated to providing positive and biblical solutions to the challenges of stress and burnout. It is possible to rekindle the fire as Jeremiah did, but it will take work. This site contains opportunities to enrich your personal growth, as well as provide tools to enhance your ministry.”
Can politicians learn anything from the Bible? Yes; the following verses have a lesson for them as well as all others. What “is morally wrong can never be politically right” (J.C. Ryle, John, 2:339).
John 11:47-53 – The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many signs. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. 49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 nor do ye take account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 Now this he said not of himself: but, being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death.
During World War II, a church building in Strasbourg was destroyed. After the bombing, the members surveyed the area to see what damage was done. They were pleased that a statue of Christ with outstretched hands was still standing. It had been sculpted centuries before by a great artist.
Taking a closer look, the people discovered both hands of Christ had been sheered off by a falling beam. Later, a sculptor in the town offered to replace the broken hands as a gift to the church. The church leaders met to consider the offer and decided not to accept it. They felt the statue without hands would be a great illustration that God’s work is done through his people.
Truly, in the church, we are the “hands of Christ”. If Christ is to minister to the poor, it must be through our hands. If he is to take care of the sick, it must be through our hands. If he is to reach out to those who are lonely, it must be through our hands.
“Together you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of that body.” (I Corinthians 12:27, NCV)
See something around you that Christ needs to take care of today? He has no hands……..but your hands!