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Archive for November, 2016

Verse 19: “And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak?””

I once went on a once-in-a-lifetime trip as a high-school band student. I toured with the United States Collegiate Wind Bands, one of several ambassador bands comprised of musicians from across the United States. During our 3-week European tour, we got to stay in the homes of Dutch families in the village of Oud Beijerland. Now, in the Netherlands, English is taught as a mandatory second language; still my fellow Alabama roommate and I were careful not to let our “Southern accents” slip when we talked with our host family. One evening, as we were enjoying the sunset of a beautiful Dutch day, I asked our host family’s 16-year-old daughter Rachel, “what time do y’all eat supper?” She blinked several times, pondering what I said before innocently replying, “what time do…what?” Embarrassed, I restated, “um, what time does your family eat dinner?” She smiled, answered “around 5pm…in fact, I should go inside and help my mother.” With that, she excused herself. My roommate Drake picked at me, “you idiot.” I said, “I know! I know! She had no idea what “y’all” means!” 🙂

The Athenians were bewildered by Paul’s talk of resurrection…some thought he was a “babbler” while others thought that it must be some new god he was describing. Long before social media, most Athenians’ favorite activity was chatting about the latest intellectual pursuit or new philosophy. So, quite fittingly, they brought Paul to the Areopagus, the local center of all discussions, to ask, “what’s it all about”?

Unlike my question to Rachel and her response, Paul figuratively rolled his sleeves up as if to say, “I’m glad you asked!”

More to come!

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Verse 16: “Now while Paul waited for them in Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.”

In issue #22 of the old DC comic-book The Atom, the world’s smallest superhero wound up meeting a race of “little people” who lived in nearby Giant Caverns (Yes, I know it’s a pun, but I’m not making this up! :-)). A normal human gangster named Eddie Gordon had stumbled into their cave and learned to control them with the sonic echo generated by his revolver gunshot. He used their hypnotic state to make them rob for him; their warriors wore armor, wielded fantastic weapons, and rode bats. The Elvarans, as Gordon and later the Atom himself learned, retreated to caves to survive for centuries from the human-sized oppressors who sought to kill them. Though they loved peace, they fought with such ferocity to survive, that over generations there was born a “racial hatred” for any “tall humans”. Just the sight of one would send them into a warrior frenzy. They couldn’t help it. Even as the Atom aided them in freeing them from Gordon’s control, he wound up having to rescue Gordon from their battle frenzy when the hypnotic effects of his gunshot wore off.

I don’t know if Paul had such extreme emotion like the Elvarans when he saw that the beautiful city of Athens, with all its populace, was given over to idol worship. However, the NKJV translation of the Scriptures states that “his spirit was provoked”; the NIV translation says “he was greatly distressed”. The sight did deeply move Paul to do something, for he couldn’t stand to see so many lost people, especially when he knew the Truth. Did Paul lead protests of the pagan worship? Did he write letters condemning the idolaters? He couldn’t wait on Silas and Timothy to join him there; he had to act…and act he did. So what did he do? He reasoned with them…in the synagogues and in the marketplaces. More on that later…

Does knowing someone who is lost move you, Christian, to do something? To…act?

Something to think about.

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Verse 11: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

In the climax of the Star Trek episode “The Omega Glory”, Kirk was battling a starship captain marooned on a planet (he was violating the Prime Directive by interfering in the conflict of two tribes of people populating the planet). With both parties captured by the “Yangs”, the leader of the “Yangs” began reciting a pledge to a torn flag; Kirk (a student of Earth history) completed what he recognized as the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. Cloud William was shocked that a stranger knew the “holy words” (the Yangs were at war with the “Kohms” and Kirk was trying to prove that his party was “the good guys”). Cloud William tested Kirk by reciting the beginning words of their most holy document, and challenging Kirk to complete the words; Kirk couldn’t because he at first had trouble recognizing it. After a fight of “good over evil” over the renegade Captain Tracey, Cloud William (who now thought Kirk was a god until Kirk told him otherwise) confessed that Kirk was good, but doubted because Kirk didn’t recognize the ‘E Plebneesta’; Kirk, now recognizing what it was, stated, “that’s because you pronounced it so badly”. When Kirk surveys the ancient manuscript, he correctly reads the Preamble of the United States Constitution (“we the people”), and instructs the Yangs that those words “must apply to everyone or they mean nothing”. William, still confused, promises to Kirk that the “holy words” would be obeyed. Kirk and company separate from the Yangs, who now stare intently at the document, being educated on its true meaning. (the full episode plot can be read at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Omega_Glory ).

Paul, in his next stop at Berea, found a much more willing-to-learn group. The Scriptures state that not only did they receive the word “with all readiness” but also “searched the Scriptures daily” to explore and to understand what they were taught. I think of the scene from Star Trek, when the Yangs now were educated on what they studied, and now knew its true meaning. Paul did the same thing here; he pointed out the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Berean disciples plunged into the Word, discovering themselves that what Paul had taught them was true…and had been there all along. There is a sense of excitement and wonderment, when you finally understand the true purpose of something that you have studied for so long. Like a Good Book…you just can’t put it down…you’ve got to read more!

Something to think about.

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