Archive | April, 2020


27 Apr

from Acts 16, thoughts on-

a slave, prison, an a household saved

the essence of this narrative, for me, is in verse 33.,,

‘At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.’

Why is this essential for me?

Read the context of Paul and Silas physical stories below,

‘Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.’

Why is verse 33 a touchstone for me?

The jailer, who had to be an expert in tortured; who had to either have taken joy or satisfaction in hurting prisoners; takes Paul and Silas into his home and..,

listens with his household to Paul and Silas; he then washed their wounds, he cleanses them; the jailer then feeds them and finally, they are baptised immediately ( where? how? We do not know.,,but it had to be in the jailer’s home because it was immediate )

he who used to torture and bleed others, like Paul did as the Pharisee Saul, now washes, cleans, heals the open wounds of prisoners

he who was in a jail of torturing others and thus himself, is now free, he and his whole household

death and torture have lost their flogging stings

He, He, heals, changes, renews and rebirths. Why? Because,,,

We are His Household. We are simply and wholly His.


lifting, Psalm 24

24 Apr

a thought from today’s Psalm

from Psalm 24, there are two NIV translations of this Psalm, one In 1984 and another in 2011

The opening of this Psalm is the same in both NIV translations, verses one and two..,

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,

   the world, and all who live in it;

for he founded it on the seas

   and established it on the waters

… the translators, though, make different choices in verses 3 and 4..,,

in the 1980’s NIV

the first translation reads in the mid verses,

3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?

   Who may stand in his holy place?

The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,

   who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false 

I love this earlier translation as there the unclean, the impure, lift, they raise up their souls to an idol(s). This is very akin to Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, with his lifting, placing and splitting his soul into seven horcruxes as he murders individuals.

The second NIV translation, post 2011 translation follows,

3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?

   Who may stand in his holy place?

The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,

   who does not trust in an idol

   or swear by a false god

‘ trusting’ in an idol is, in my view, a weak translation here. It doesn’t spiral in connection to the closing of the Psalm 24, where in both translations end with ‘heads lift(ed)up’

7 Lift up your heads, you gates;

   be lifted up, you ancient doors,

   that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?

   The Lord strong and mighty,

   the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, you gates;

   lift them up, you ancient doors,

   that the King of glory may come in.


Who is he, this King of glory?

   The Lord Almighty—

   he is the King of glory.

Poetically, the earlier translation serves to underscore the worship of an, the idol, the lifting of a soul to a false image or creation. Why did they, the translators, change the phrasing? Perhaps, they desired a more literal translation rather than a poetic one here and in other key places?

It matters not, though, as idols are in both word choices.

This type of idol, the one we ‘lift’ and worship is always emotional, all consuming, murderous of a self’s thought, emotions and spirit. A soul. Only He can be worshipped and adored.

From a cross to our hearts, from horcruxes to our selves, only He can be lifted up. Only He.

from Acts 16- persuaded after sailing straight

23 Apr

from Acts 16- persuaded after sailing straight

…. after listening closely to the Spirit as He speaks to us through: children and their life’s; work choices and love choices; years and tears filled with shouts of joy, and filled also -at least in part-with tears, we can sail straight…and when we teach the place and people’s He wants us to be with, then, and only then, can the people He leads us to can persuade, lead us straight …,

‘From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district[a] of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.

13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.’

stopped by Jesus, at Troy, Troas(d)

22 Apr

from Acts 16…

,,,sometimes the Holy Spirit, the Spirit if Jesus, keeps us from going somewhere we want to be, go ..,

He stops us. Why?

..,because he calls us to a new and different place… new and different companions…new places and a new and different task…

He wants us anew; renewed; reborn. So we stop and then travel, with him…

6 ‘Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.’

His will; thy will…done

a coming cloak, Acts 15

20 Apr

today we end Acts 15 thinking, reading 📖 about conflict ..,there is

Disagreement, a sharp, between Saul/Oaul and Barnabas

36 ‘Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.’

a key word, from verse 39…‘sharp

Barnabas and Saul/Paul have had many words together: encouraging and challenging words; loving and disturbing ones; angry and silent, unspoken ones. This day, all their looks and moments are sharp -whether spoken with sound or with a silent look.

Sometimes, even the best of sisters, friends, family, people …Shannons, Deardras, Beths, Sarahs, have conflict that is not immediately resolved.

Yet, in their shared past, in their shared lives and shared troubles… think of their beginnings together- think of what in their present they refuse to share: John Mark

Barnabas stood by the murderous Saul when no one else did; now he stands by the deserter John Marl. But Saul won’t stand by Barnabas’ man. Why?

Because, Saul could not forgive John Mark for deserting them.

Paul is still, in part, Saul. But, at this time, however…

But Barnabas can forgive. And he does. And this changes John Mark’s life.

The encourager forgives. He has to the courage to give. Paul, still in process; he is not yet fully ‘Paul.’ He is still in part the Pharisee he was as Saul: judging others, and himself, mercy never to another. Squeeze all.

Even himself.

Thus, by the nature of Paul’s and Barnabas’ characters, there was no real choice. Sharply, they had to agree to disagree. They part for a time. But they reunite in Rome in the form of a delivered cloak. ( 2nd Timothy 4:12) and at this moment, Paul is the encourager if others, and especially of John Mark.

The Saul, who could not show mercy after he was shown great mercy, now does so. why?how?

Saul/Paul had to go to Rome to be complete. And he needed his cloak. He needed more than a cloak, he needed to forgive and encourage. He needed to move fully from Saul to Paul. And he does. And he does so by becoming a Barnabas who encourages and gives care.

And Paul does do with his Saul. Complete, he finishes his journeys in Rome, cloaked in love and forgiveness; cloaked by Barnabas and friends. Cover, cloaked by John Mark and his love.


a prayer, Psalm 18

19 Apr

on this resurrection day ..,

on this 18 April Greek Easter Sunday, a prayer from Psalm 18, only one verse

18:35 ‘you stoop down to make me great’

in the NIV today this verse basically reads: ‘ your loving kindness makes me great’

essential question: Why did the NIV change this verse, and a small but significant number of other verses, in their newest translation?

They wanted to more literal, a less poetic choice of words. They move to the literal; I prefer breathing their poetry, their poetic pause of words:

you, my Lord, stoop, bend from the heavens, as a giving mother, as a loving father, to touch, hold, be with me

such poetic moments make with you me great

listening, James listens to Peter& then speaks… (Acts 15)

16 Apr

listening … Acts 15 James speaks, after he listens actively to Peter

we are all seeds planted by our Lord .. some seeds are planted by scattering; some in deep rich soil; some spaced apart so they can spread out and grow. Each seed needs to be know and cared for differently, and by a steward, a caregiver.

Paul is a caregiver of the Lord’s seeds. The book of Acts is, in a deep sense, Luke’s journal of Paul’s caregiving. Paul is a caregiver to the seeds he has been entrusted to by Jesus.

Whether children and friends; or fellow workers and fellow church worshippers; whether a chosen husband or wife or partner or an appointed mother; or father or in-laws;

We are first care givers, present and active; then we are.. both givers and receivers of care. Never ‘caretakers’; we are in James’ and Paul’s; Barnabas and John Mark’s footsteps. We are caregivers, seed stewards.

we, as James, listen and care.

Circumcised, Acts 15

15 Apr

as I read this chapter, right before I get to one of my most thought about passages ( Saul/Paul’s conflict over John Mark ), I think of circumcision: what is and isn’t; what it was in history and what it means in our present.

from these ‘brain droppings’ I form questions: essential questions, concerning what circumcision means to mean and why is important?

but before me, there were others, in Peter’s Jerusalem for whom the question of gentile circumcision was an essential life principle: who is in the eternal kingdom? and how, most importantly how, do we enter His Kingdom?

I enter, we approach and abide, His presence by heart circumcision, by heart faith. Hear Peter,

“This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.

The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

Praise Him that He knows the heart… and yet He still loves…

Us… you…


a sharp, sharp dispute- Acts 15

14 Apr

from the opening of Acts 15

an essential question:

when should we be in a, have, sharp disagreement(s)?

my answer is in the opening of Acts 15,

Why the sharp dispute? Because, be, the cause, their cause was not ‘small potatoes’ but an essential one. The law, or grace? The external, visible sign, or the internal quiet unseen one? Do you fight? Or overlook? ? For either: make it good and for a purpose, for an essential principle…

For the gospel … fight and overlook,

Reflect and study; discuss and debate; listen and then rethink; then, in a chosen community, small or great, go and act by Gospel principle… His sharp principle

on the Sabbath, He rose

12 Apr

He is risen!!

an essential question: 10,000 Jews believed 5 weeks after Jesus’ crucifixion. People who were cowards, who ran away, were now proclaiming and dying for their belief in an individual bodily resurrection. What happened to their fears and despairs? to their lives and hearts?

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. ( ‘also’ – they received’ … ‘also’ – they stand… ‘also’ – they, we, all, are saved)

Paul gives the answer in his letter to the Corinthian church:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared toJames, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am.” 1 Corinthians 15: 1-10

People allowed the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection to confront and reshape their understanding of the world—their conception of what was possible—that’s what happened. This would have required the overturning of their established beliefs. In the first century:

• Gentiles/pagans believed that the soul was good; the body was corrupt. A bodily resurrection would not only have been inconceivable but intensely undesirable.

• Jews believed in an individual and powerful messiah. The material world was good. Death was not liberation but tragic. They had a belief in a resurrection at the end of the world for all; not in the middle of history, while the rest of the world was in suffering and disease.

A bodily resurrection would have been hard to accept whatever your background. But the evidence was compelling and so they did. Jesus’ death and resurrection was of first importance and swept aside past beliefs. Ultimately, these first believers did not let their fear of death control their belief. They embraced the eternal promise of life with Jesus because they saw Him raised.

Ultimately, these first believers did not let their fear of death control their belief. They embraced the eternal promise of life with Jesus because they saw Him raised. First things first, see Him today by faith.

Risen.. His is risen indeed.