Tuesday, July 31, 2018

This week's Adult Sabbath School lesson (July 28 - August 3): the Conversion of Paul

You weren't there when it happened.

No, you didn't watch your friends and family getting dragged off to jail.

You didn't stay awake nights, wondering if you should stay-put and risk arrest, or take-off and live in exile.

And you didn't see what they did to Stephen - what he and his friends did to Stephen . . . 

But if you had, then you'd understand.

And sure - now he says that he's a believer . . . now he says that God has forgiven him . . . and now he says that he wants to worship with us?

Well, you can do what you want.

But if you'd gone through what I've gone through, then you'd understand why I could never forgive a man like Saul!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

This week's Adult Sabbath School lesson (July 21-27): the First Church Leaders

It's all politics - nothing but politics.

Church politics.

Mind you, I've nothing against those Hellenists -- those Jews who speak Greek.

No, I'm glad they're following God.

I'm glad that more than 3,000 of them decided to follow Jesus on Pentecost.

And you can't fault them for their enthusiasm. No, they're all eager to share the little they know with their fellow believers . . .

Just so long as those fellow believers speak Greek.

But I can't help but wonder what this sudden influx of "outsiders" will mean for our church.

I mean, there's already talk of changing the way we run things -- talk of giving them some say in who gets help from the church . . .

And the next thing you know, they're going to be teaching, and preaching and stirring up all kinds of trouble!

It's all politics, if you ask me -- the kind of politics that comes from "outsiders" with their foreign ways, and their foreign ideas, and their lack of respect for the way we do things here in Judea.

And no, I've nothing against those Hellenists -- not the ones who joined our church, at any rate.

But why do they keep trying to change things?

If twelve apostles was good enough for Jesus, after all, then what's all this talk of "deacons"?

Monday, July 16, 2018

This week's Adult Sabbath School Lesson (July 14-20): Life in the Early Church

Just as God is One, so should be God's people - One in faith, One in practice, and One in loyalty. 

For that reason, we have watched with concern as various schismatic "movements" have spread among our people; that is why all we ask all believers to carefully consider the following questions as  they seek God's guidance in these troubled times:

1. Does this "movement" place undue emphasis upon controversial beliefs, i.e. the resurrection?

2. Does this "movement" show respect for the established symbols of our faith, i.e. the Temple?

3. Does this "movement" encourage trust in the leaders of God's people, i.e. the priesthood?

4. Does this "movement" lead to undue familiarity (and even compromise) with those who have rejected the truth, i.e. tax-collectors and other sinners?

5. Does this "movement" follow the teachings of someone who has already been judged and found wanting, i.e. Jesus of Nazareth?

Organizations, groups, or individuals that answer in the affirmative to any of these five questions should not expect any kind of endorsement from the Sanhedrin . . . 

Even if they did heal a man born lame.

Monday, July 09, 2018

This week's lesson (July 7-13): Pentecost

Dear Diary:
Pentecost was GREAT! I mean, we had miracles! Crowds! Thousands converted in a single day! I can hardly wait until we do it again tomorrow.

Dear Diary:
Something must have gone wrong - I mean, NOTHING happened. Maybe tomorrow?

Dear Diary:
A lot of those people who joined on Pentecost need help - a LOT of help! Well, what can you expect? Still praying for another Pentecost.

Dear Diary:
They got some Bible-studies going for all those people who joined, and they're talking about some kind of feeding program for those in need. All valuable in its own way, I suppose . . . BUT IT'S JUST NOT THE SAME!

Dear Diary:
Am I the only one around here who sees the need for ANOTHER outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

Dear Diary:
Somebody asked for a donation to the feeding program - I told them this kind of thing attracts the WRONG kind of people. She said the people in her group would pray for me. THE NERVE!

Dear Diary:
One of the new people asked me to join their study group - said I'd find it a blessing. Told them I was too busy praying for ANOTHER Pentecost. They asked what was wrong with the one we'd already had. THEY JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND!

Dear Diary:
Almost two weeks have gone by, and still nothing!

Dear Diary:
We began with such high hopes.
What went wrong?

Monday, July 02, 2018

This week's lesson (June 30 - July 6): You Will Be My Witnesses

Overheard in the Upper Room before Pentecost:

. . . "No luck - Joseph says he's not interested in trying for two out of three.". . .

. . . "Samaria? That can't be right! Are you sure He said we're going to Samaria?". . . 

. . . "Given the way he behaved, you'd think Peter would be too embarrassed to show up - much less say anything.". . .

. . . "I know He said we won't know dates or times - but if you look carefully at the time-prophecies of Leviticus, you'll find . . . "

. . . "Okay, maybe He didn't actually mean the literal place we call Samaria; maybe He was using this as some kind of metaphor." . . .

. . . "Are you sure that really happened to Judas? I mean, ewwww!". . .

. . . "I'm not saying we should get rid of them, but I am worried about precedent. If the Holy Spirit falls on everyone here, after all, that means some of the people who receive it will be women.". . .

 . . . "It's so nice we can all be together like this; I wish we could stay here forever!" . . .