Prioritizing the Person of Peace

Paul took off on his second gospel-sharing journey probably more than a year after the first journey ended. This time Silas went with him. Apparently, the two grew close while Paul was at the Jerusalem Council. In addition, Silas had returned to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to encourage the church there (Acts 15:22, 32), giving these new partners more time to get acquainted. (For more on the Jerusalem Council, see Antioch, part 2.)

Paul and Silas headed north out of Antioch. They probably stopped in Paul’s hometown of Tarsus. Then, they travelled through Derbe and the three cities where Paul had been persecuted on the first trip: Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch. In Lystra, they picked up Timothy.

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When It Rains

We had a lot of rain in East Tennessee this week. It reminded me of something Jesus said…

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  –Matthew 5:45b

When I was younger, rain meant we couldn’t play outside, so I thought Jesus’ comment about rain was a negative example, as in, bad things happen to both good and bad people. Later, I learned that in the ancient Near East, the sun and the rain were good things. Thus the application for us goes like this: “God gives out gifts of wisdom, talent, beauty, and skill according to his grace—that is, in a completely unmerited way.  He casts them across the human race like seed, in order to enrich, brighten, and preserve the world” (Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor, Penguin: New York, 2012. 191).  Without disputing this truth, I think the negative perspective is also true.  Consider this example… Continue reading

Intersection: Philip (part 3)

Philip left his exceptional work in Samaria, where lots of people were coming to faith, to walk down a road where one person would hear about Jesus.  But he didn’t know that beforehand. He simply knew he was supposed to go, so he went (Acts 8:26).

When I sat down to write about Philip a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t imagine it would blossom into three blog posts. (You can find the first two *here* and *here*.) But that’s what happens when we open the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in our study. I have read, studied, and taught this particular text more times than I can count; that’s why I thought it would be an easy post to write. As I started typing, however, He opened my eyes to fresh thoughts…and more thoughts…and more. I pray that you are even more blessed than I, as we jump back into Acts 8. Continue reading

The Right Place at the Right Time: Philip, part 2

Philip crossed an ethnic barrier into Samaria, then came back into his “passport country” in order to reach a tourist from yet another people group. Does that seem strange to you? Sometimes obedience doesn’t square with common sense. I call it uncommon sense. But let’s keep going…

Through the Desert

It has been hours, maybe even overnight, since Philip left the northern city of Samaria. No cellphones, so he can’t call his associate pastor to check on church affairs. He can’t even let his family know he made it safely through Jerusalem, a city he previously fled because of persecution. Continue reading

Fight, Flight, or Follow

fight or flight

Psychologists say we’re born with this fight-or-flight instinct. They say, when faced with a crisis, our adrenaline starts flowing, and we either stand up to fight or seek a way to flee. They say it’s just human nature.

They say it’s just human nature,
but we have Jesus’ nature in us.

But we’re not just human. We are Christ-followers.

Mark 14. Continue reading