Showing posts from January, 2015

Letters to a Wounded Church (1)

We're still studying Acts. Really we are. But it seemed like a brief diversion might be useful, so we can see what those apostles were writing at the time. With that in mind, here are some questions about Galatians... (14) So... What About Those Galatians? Some commentaries place Galatia to the North of Pisidia and suggest Paul didn’t go there until his second and third missionary journeys ( Read Acts 16:6, 18:23 ). But there are lots of reasons to believe the region, like North America, was much larger than just a name on a map. One obvious reason is the immediate connection between Paul’s letter to the Galatians with the Jerusalem Decree, which preceded his second missionary journey. Another is the likelihood that Galatians is one of Paul’s earliest letters, since it never refers to church structures or lines of authority. One theory suggests Galatians was written shortly before the conference in Jerusalem. The Galatian churches would have been very new and unstructured

A Church Dividing

Did you imagine the church of Acts as some perfect, perfectly united entity that solved all problems with a quick dash of prayer and obedience to the Spirit? Have you ever heard people say how they wish our churches were more like the church of Acts, as if somehow we've lost that pristine innocence? But maybe we're not so different after all - just a little bit bigger. Our Coffee Break group is continuing its studies in Acts with a look at a Biblical example of a Church Dividing (13) The Jerusalem Decree Paul and Barnabas have returned from Galatia. Now they’re back in Antioch (on the coast of Cilicia, just north of Syria, just north of Galilee). The church is spreading as a result of their missionary journey. But it’s also getting stretched... Does this remind you at all of Jesus’ parable about wine and wineskins? Paul returns to Jerusalem 1.        Read Acts 14:28-15:2 Why might they have stayed so long in Antioch? Didn’t they think the Jerusalem church would want

Do you know where Paul's Galatians lived?

Ever wondered where Galatia is? The bit I'd failed to remember is that it's exactly where Paul went on his first missionary journey. No wonder his epistle to the Galatians sounds so much like he wrote it soon after (i.e. soon after the Jerusalem Council, but that's in next week's study). Anyway, we're still studying Acts in Coffee Break, so here's the next set of questions: (12) Paul’s First Missionary Journey Everyone knows Paul traveled, and everyone knows he wrote letters. But who did he visit and who did he write to, and when? We’ll try to tie passages from Paul’s epistles to the story in Acts as we read on, and watch how the church was spread throughout the known world. Before his journeys 1.        Where did Paul come from? (Read Acts 16:37, 22:3,25-29, Philippians 3:5. He was a Roman citizen and a devout, well-educated Jew, born in Tarsus and brought up in Jerusalem.) What would someone of his background be expected to be like? (Read Galatia

What gift is on your star?

Each year, around Epiphany, a basket of stars is passed around at our church. Each star has a word written on it, and these gifts are our "star gifts," intended to inspire and encourage us throughout the year to come. Worshipers are asked not to look inside the basket, but simply to reach in and receive, with thanks, whatever the Lord should choose to offer them. Last year, my word was "tolerance." Those who know me will know I spend way too many hours on the internet, where I have lots of unseen friends of many and varied religious and social persuasions. I enjoy their conversation, their friendship, and the generous welcome they offer me. But sometimes I hear my Christian friends voice that popular aphorism: "If you don't stand up for something you'll fall for anything." Then I wonder if they might be looking at me, criticizing me for excessive tolerance perhaps? But if tolerance is a gift... If tolerance is a gift, perhaps God gave it to

Continuing Acts: Peter and Paul

Our Bible studies start up again this week, and we're continuing in Acts. But we reached a natural stopping point before Christmas, so now we're starting by recapping where we've been and where we're going. In particular, we're looking again at those two important characters, Peter and Paul. Part 1 (before Christmas) was mostly Peter. Part 2 will be mostly Paul, but can we really split them up? And if we can, why didn't Luke just write two books instead? (11) Peter and Paul Saints Peter and Paul are both important in the books of Acts, but which one (if either) is more important, and why do we care? Is it human or holy to always want to find the “best” of everything, instead of rejoicing in what we’re given? Which one of Peter and Paul spends more time on center stage in Acts? Which one has a greater influence in the growth of the new church, or in the Christian church today? Would you describe a particular church or denomination as following one or th