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Posts Tagged ‘the truth’

Verses 11-12: “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.”

In the 1965 Pink Panther cartoon, Pink Ice, the Panther is running a diamond mine in South Africa. However, all his diamonds continue to be stolen by rival mine owners, Devereaux and Hoskins. When the bumbling duo attempts to get rid of the Panther, he uses good ol’ fashioned cartoon tricks to ultimately make them distrust each other and have them at each other’s throats, all the while taking their diamonds in return. This was one of those rare Pink Panther cartoons where the Panther actually spoke (the voices of the Panther, Devereaux, and Hoskins were provided by the legendary voice actor, Rich Little.)

Though very humorous to watch how the Panther gets Devereaux and Hoskins to begin sniping at each other and eventually antagonize each other, there are people today and back in Biblical times who would set people against each other. This happened in the case of Paul and the Corinthian church; false prophets had filled the church with lies about Paul, and the church didn’t return the affection back to Paul that he had honestly and openly shown them. Paul correctly admonishes them, telling them that they are their own worst enemy; that Paul and his company of missionaries are not restricting them, but they are hurting themselves.

How many times have we allowed our own misconceptions or groundless beliefs about something to get in the way of the Lord’s work? We need to listen to the truth from Jesus Christ, He who is the Truth. Think how much the church could do today if all its members were united in following God, and not trying to add a comma where God put a period?

Something to think about.

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Verse 10: “Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself,””

When I attended college, I would pass through the main concourse of campus and frequently see two “sidewalk pastors” who used to deliver the “fire-and-brimstone” style of evangelism. Most times, even if the pair were speaking the Truth, it was lost amidst the circus-like barking and yelling that they did. I feared that most students who gathered around them (some to taunt and some to egg them on) didn’t hear the real message, because it was lost in all the noise. I guess you could call them “sideshow pastors” instead of “sidewalk pastors”!

In contrast, I had a friend from the Baptist Student Union, who also would take up a perch elsewhere along the concourse. He was a devout Christian and a good preacher himself, but he simply chose to read out loud (but not scream out loud) passages from the Word to the students as they walked by. I don’t ever recall him drawing much of a crowd, but he didn’t do what he did for show. Occasionally, I stopped just to say hey and I’d pray for him. I like to think, in his quiet way, that Bruce was able to preach the Word and reach folks just because he wasn’t “in your face”.

Paul here acted much like my friend Bruce. Both parties in this legal proceeding opened their arguments with a customary captatio benevolentiae (I found this in a footnote of my Holman Bible, it is Latin for “winning of goodwill”); it was meant to curry favor with the presiding judge. Tertullus, in my humble opinion, went way overboard in his opening, as shared previously. Paul, though, was courteous without being fawning, and acknowledged Felix’s experience as a judge to hear his defense. Paul calmly put forth “just the facts” (to paraphrase Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet), and gave his defense, pointing out that he had not broken any Roman laws, that his accusers had no evidence of their charges, and that the only squabble they had was of a religious nature, not political.

I have no doubt that God had His hand on Paul’s delivery. Even Felix could see through the “smoke and mirrors” approach that Tertullus and company were presenting. We need to remember Paul’s example today more than ever, especially in the rancorous climate we live in where each side of arguments clamor to be the loudest. The Truth is still the Truth, no matter how loud the lies are proclaimed.

Something to think about.

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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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Verses 4-5: “And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.”

“Round. Flat.”
“Round. Flat.”
“Round. Flat.”
“ROUND! Columbo, the world…she’s flat!”

Thus went the conversation between Christopher Columbus and King Ferdinand of Spain…in the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Hare We Go“.
Columbus: “The world, she’sa round.”
Ferdinand: “She’s flat.”

Columbus (picking out an apple from a fruit bowl): “Look, King…she’sa round like’a the apple.”
Ferdinand: “She’s flat like the pancake.” (the king waves a pancake in Columbus’s face.)
Columbus, angrily, gesturing at the globe on a stand: “Pasta Fazool’e! She’sa round, she’sa firm, she’sa fully packed!” Taking off his hat, Columbus proclaims: “She’sa round like’a my head!”
Ferdinand takes the ubiquitous big wooden mallet, smashing it on Columbus’s head: “She’sa FLAT like your head!”

Some people refuse to believe the truth, no matter what they hear. Of course, Bugs comes to the rescue to prove it to Queen Isabella and help Columbus (I always loved the “pitch the baseball around the world and it comes back with stickers from various countries” gag!)

As usual for the time Paul lived in, he preached the Gospel, this time in Thessalonica. Some believed and were converted. Some Jews heard the Gospel and refused to believe, even drumming up a mob to have them arrested. It has been said that Christianity is a belief that can divide a world.

So which side are you on? The flat side or the round side?

Something to think about.

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Verses 13-17: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.””

Police Commissioner Wainwright Barth was having dinner with his nephew, Lamont Cranston, in the fashionable Cobalt Club. He was scolding his nephew on being late to this meal that Lamont had invited him too. Lamont apologizes, stating he was late because there was some…trouble on the bridge. Barth then receives an urgent message about another report of…the Shadow.

Lamont: “I thought you said he was only a rumor.”
Barth: “I’m sick of this Shadow business…his meddling in police affairs. This time tomorrow, I’ll put a task force on him.” (Barth crumples the note).

The light around Lamont dims, his eyes shining, showing the viewer that he is about to use the powers…of the Shadow.
In a hypnotic, dark voice he says, “You’re not going to appoint a task force.”
Barth agrees…”I’m not going to appoint a task force.”
Shadow: “You’re not going to pay any attention to these reports of the Shadow.”
Barth: “Ignore them entirely.”
Shadow: “THERE IS NO SHADOW.”
Barth: “There is no Shadow. If there were, I’d be Eleanor Roosevelt.”

Uncle Wainwright frowns and rubs his head as if he had a momentary headache; then he continues talking to Lamont, who has resumed his normal identity.

Barth: “Where was I?”
Lamont: “You were about to tell me who she is”, Lamont says. (referring to the recently-arrived, attractive woman named Margo Lane.)
(This dialogue was taken from The Shadow, a 1994 movie starring Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow, Penelope Ann Miller as Margo Lane, and Jonathan Winters as Commissioner Wainwright Barth.)

Of course, the Shadow was a fictional crime-fighter, just like Batman or the Phantom. He used his powers to cloud men’s minds in order to crush the criminal element…sometimes he also had to cloud the minds of the police in order to remain what he wanted to be…a 1930’s urban legend that no one would seriously consider was real. He used misdirection, rumor, and denial to conceal the truth of what was fact…that a costumed vigilante was waging a successful war on the underworld of crime.

In real life, there are those who would conceal the truth to further their means. Governments of other nations not as democratic as ours suppress information daily in their attempts to control the populace. There have even been recent revelations that certain government agencies in our own nation have concealed spying operations on our population. The Sanhedrin and religious leaders in Acts were no different. Yet they were cornered: here was truthful evidence of a miracle: a lame man of over 40 years of age walking and leaping; two men, not educated or formally-schooled, yet speaking to the council on religious matters as if they were; what’s more, they were disciples of Jesus…the same Jesus who had been crucified for saying he was the Messiah! And were there ever a whole lot of witnesses to attest to the act! The only thing they could do at this point, was threaten them in the name of their “religious authority” not to continue their preaching. In other words…pop the hand, don’t do it again!

Ever heard of trying to “ignore the elephant in the room”? (something so obvious, that NO ONE could say it wasn’t so?) We’ll see in the next passage how the council’s actions…at hiding the overwhelming truth of Jesus Christ…were about as effective as those of Commissioner Barth.

Something to think about.

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