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Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

Who wrote Hebrews?

March 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I am reading through Hebrews, which, the title of this posting probably gave that away. Many wonder who wrote Hebrews. Traditionally, they say Paul. Others say it wasn’t Paul because it wasn’t his style. (Paul begins his epistles by identifying himself while Hebrews begins with the word “God”).

So, who wrote Hebrews?

I know the answer.

Not me!

Richard Zowie is known for his goofy sense of humor. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Today’s Bible reading in 2 Timothy, Isaiah

March 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I doubled my reading today to get caught up and will be completely back on track by the end of this week–if I stay on top of things and do my Bible reading and don’t fall a willing victim to the Eighth Deadly Sin.

Doubling reading is not something I recommend except for the seasoned, in-shape Bible readers. Otherwise, as you read a passage you’ll see things whiz by and you won’t have the time to study them in-depth. Perhaps in a few years, after I’ve read through the Bible three times, I’ll take my time and read a chapter a day. Or maybe I’ll do my daily reading and then go back to a passage and study it in detail. I counted the amount of passages I read today. By Saturday I’ll be caught up on my Old Testament reading and by Sunday, caught up on the New Testament.

As I read through Isaiah and use a Bible with no commentary, I wonder how much of the judgment God is preparing for the godless nations around Israel is for that time and how much of it is to be fulfilled in the end times. There is mention that the water from both the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea (which the Nile flows into) will become undrinkable…perhaps that’s when God in Revelation turns a third of the ocean water into blood in the second trumpet judgment and then all of the ocean water and then all of the rest of the water into the blood of a dead person during the second and third bowl judgments?

As tough as it is since I’m not a morning person, the morning really is the best time to read God’s Word. The days are stressful enough without starting them talking to God (or as that one PCC floorleader poetically put it, spending time with the “Holy of Holies”) and listening to what He has to say. So often we forget that Bible reading shouldn’t be viewed as something we as Christians have to do, but rather that it’s time we get to spend with a Creator who wants nothing more than to spend time with us and for us to to get to know Him on an intimate basis.

Richard Zowie will turn 30 years old as a Christian in October and was led to the Lord in mid-October 1981 by Pastor Jim Lilley of Kings Row Baptist Church in Alvin, Texas. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

12-8-10 devotions: Amos 7-9, Acts 24-25, Psalm 38, Proverbs 22

December 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Today, I did my reading after going on a 3.6-mile walk. I really think I’d like to have it where I get up early and the very first thing I do is Bible reading. With the amount I do, I figure half an hour is enough time to get everything read and to read comprehensively. Perhaps the reading could be studied again later in the day. Or perhaps it could be Old and New Testament passages in the morning and Psalms and Proverbs at night. All I know is there really is no one-size-fits-all approach.

I doubt I’ll blog about my Bible reading every day and will save those postings for what is truly beneficial to others.

With that, here is what I read today.

Amos 7-9: Because it has been years since I’ve read Amos, I will not really even start to truly understand it on the first time through. Amos, a sheepherder and a tender of sycamore trees, was called to be a prophet. Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, complained to the Israelite king Jeroboam about Amos, and apparently the king ordered exiled him to Judah because he didn’t like the message. Amos’ response was he was only relaying God’s message and that Israel faced desolate times for its disobedience.

Bad things in store for Israel at that time because of its idolatry and sin. God does promise forgiveness and restoration if the nation returns to Him. But if not, they will wander, be desolate and will be thirsty and have no relief.

Acts 24-25: Paul is accused of defiling the temple and causing many problems. He stands his ground, says the charges cannot be proven and, being a Roman, wants to appeal before Caesar. He also spends his time witnessing. This passage is a good example of how Christians don’t have to be passive all the time and just take abuse. They can, in a righteous, dignified way, stand up for their rights. Paul realized he could be executed, I believe. Apparently, the Roman law regarding this was far fairer and just than the Jewish law.

Psalm 38: This Psalm David talks about sin, healing from it and how sin can make you physically ill. I know in Psalm 51 David confesses his sin with Bathsheba.

When David writes in verses 4-5: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness.”, it reminds me of the reverend in The Scarlet Letter and how his private sin goaded his conscience continually.

If a person ever were to want to read what sin does to a person and what true repentance is, this would be an excellent Psalm to examine.

Proverbs 22: We in western society have a skewed idea of wealth. Many think of wealth as lots of money in the bank, excellent investments, a nice house, a nice car, a few vacation homes and the ability to travel whenever and wherever.

God tells us that it’s more important to have a good name than great riches; if you have lie, cheat, steal and be a cut throat to be rich, ultimately it is not worth it. God created all people, both those who are rich and those who are poor, and all are accountable to Him.

Wow, this chapter is chock full of great stuff:

…A wise (prudent) man sees evil ahead and avoids it…

…Train up (establish lifelong habits for) a child the way they shall go, and when they become adults they will be the right type of person…

…A person who gets into sin (whether by mistake or willingly) will reap heartache.

…Walking with the Lord helps you develop knowledge, but those who do not will be “overthrown” by God…

…A lazy man is so content being lazy that he will make excuses not to go out and get things done…

…God abhors men who are fooled by the words of an immoral woman…

…For those blessed with money, God expects them to be good stewards and, in my understanding, help out those in need before further fattening their accounts or indulging in excessive wants…

…Listen to the wise and apply godly knowledge…

…Getting into a personal relationship with an angry person opens you to learning their ways and troubling your own soul…

…Be responsible in your financial dealings. If you say you will pay a bill, pay it…

…Do not be quick to be arrogant and tear down the traditional ways your family has done things. Be very cautious…

…A man who “excels” in his work will be respected and will be sought out by important people…

Richard Zowie is going through the Bible in his Richard’s Two Shekels blog when not commenting on Christian issues or blogging about his Christian walk. He hopes by the end of 2010 to complete his first visit in years with all the Minor Prophets. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Dec 6-7: Amos 1-6, Acts 20-23, Psalm 36-37, Proverbs 20-21

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

On December 6, I did my devotions around 5 a.m. due to having to get up extra early. Surprisingly, it was easy to stay awake and read. I had wanted to re-read the passages in the evening, but I grew too tired and went to bed.

On December 7, I did my devotions after walking nearly three miles on a cold, crisp day (wearing shorts, something I don’t recommend).

I am trying to further summarize my devotions readings as to not bore my readers, since, again, nobody wants to read an exegesis. But I’ll do my best:

Amos 1-6: Reading this book makes me think Amos was just as exasperated at the Israelites as Joel was. You know it’s bad when a prophet tells you not bother making sacrifices to try to make things right: repent and turn from your wicked ways instead. God even tells them He is so disgusted that making music to Him will accomplish nothing. Perhaps it is comparable to a person cheating on their spouse and thinking a box of chocolates or a thoughtful gift will make all the pain go away and will fix things.

We find Israel is guilty of moral and ethical corruption. Israel has thwarted God’s efforts to get its attention through plagues, droughts and failed military campaigns, and in today’s reading it is suggested God will allow the Israelites to go into exile and once again serve another nation. That nation, eventually, would be Babylon.

Acts 20-23: Paul preaches and gives his testimony of how he came to Christ. The way it is worded, with God talking about how Paul was chosen to meet Jesus the way he did, I’m sure there are Calvinists out there who will say this proves God called Paul to Him and that Paul, overcome by irresistible grace, succombed. I wonder if they know how many wonderful, spiritual, ethical people I’ve met in my life who will probably not be in heaven someday because they are convinced there are many paths to God or that their works will save them or that there is nothing beyond this life. Sadly, some of the most condescending dirtbags I have ever met have been Christians. Sorry, but the notion that God programs people to accept Him or reject Him is a perversion of the Gospel. God does not want robots. He wants people who genuinely desire a personal relationship with Him.

That being said, Paul escapes a beating by reminding the authorities that he is a Roman citizen. He points out he was born a Roman citizen and did not buy his citizenship.

I suspect a showdown is coming…

Psalm 36-37 and Proverbs 20-21: Lots of encouragement from reading the Psalms and Proverbs. The importance of living righteously, using wisdom and knowledge and how if you keep your eyes on God and maintain an intimate relationship with Him, He will guide you through life. How foolish indeed it is to trust solely in yourself or in your bank account!

When I was in Monterey, California, in the military, I attended Monterey Bay Baptist Church (now Central Coast Baptist Church). Pastor Rick Flanders, who has since gone home to be with the Lord, told of witnessing near Pebble Beach, a very affluent area of northern California. He asked a man who had a beautiful home, RV and other expensive toys: “If you died today, are you 100% sure you would go to heaven?” To which the man replied, “I feel like I’m already in heaven!”

Also, David tells us to cease from anger and wrath and that worrying only causes harm.

Some people are warriors, but I certainly have been a worrier.

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer who believes it is his responsibility to use his talents for God’s glory. Hence, this Richard’s Two Shekels blog. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

12-5 Bible reading: Joel, Psalms 35, Proverbs 19, Acts 18-19

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

I got off to a late start with this Bible reading, unfortunately. Saturday was pretty stressful in the Zowie household due to our van breaking down. My wife and I were both very frustrated because we’ve had it in twice at one shop and now there are problems again that sound like they have something to with what we thought had already been repaired. We’re supposed to find out today what the problem was, and I pray it’s not too expensive.

So, I went to bed around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday and didn’t wake up until 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. It was one of those fun slumbers where nine hours felt more like five. I had intended to do devotions that morning, but time ran short as my sons and I had to get ready for church (which included getting rides to and from church).

So, that night when my work was finally done for the newspaper, I was able to sit down and read God’s Word.

Joel: On recent broadcasts of Insight For Living (one of my favorite Bible-teaching programs), Dr. Charles Swindoll has been talking about Joel. This is a book I have not read since probably around the time of college when I was making it a point to read the Bible through each year. I read some of the commentary in my Bible about Joel and then read all three chapters. It’s a story about the horrible desolation that will soon come upon Israel if it continues its path of disobedience against the Lord. Very poetic in the way it expresses how devastating it will be, and how its enemies will tear through its lands the way locusts tear through a crop. The book also ends with how things would return to normal if Israel repents and returns to God.

Joel 2:13 says this: “So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”

And, of course, for Israel’s enemies, they will be dealt with. God, of course, allows Israel’s enemies to work in ways to get the nation’s attention if they stray off His path, but when Israel is serving Him, it is a different story.

Psalm 35: This passage was a huge blessing for me as I deal with lots of frustrating issues in my personal life. You get to a point where you have to put things in God’s Hands and move on. I was encouraged and was reminded that for Christians living for God, they have nothing to worry about from their enemies.

Proverbs 19: Proverbs in each chapter is laden with wisdom, and this one is no exception. I was reminded again the importance of being wise, careful and living for the Lord. I also was convicted about making sure I am doing my job as a father (something I was far too lackadaisical on for too long).

My two favorite passages in this chapter:

Verse 8: “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will find good.”

And verse 11: “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.”

Acts 18-19: At Corinth, Paul continued preaching the Gospel and came across some who rejected his words. He told them their blood would be on their own heads. You know: while you can preach the Gospel and present it on a clear level, it is still the individual’s responsibility whether or not to accept it. If they reject it, that is their choice.

After receiving a vision from God that he would not be harmed, Paul remained there for a year and a half teaching and preaching. Paul then returned to Antioch and apparently got his hair cut after having taken a Nazarite vow. Anyone know why he took this vow?

Then in the next chapter, Paul teaches about what baptism does, heals the sick.

Some Jewish exorcists then try unsuccessfully to cast out a demon, whose words show the type of reputation Paul has. The demon says to them in verse 15: “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”

Many come to Christ and burn their books on magic, books that totaled 50,000 pieces of silver (I’m no economist, so I have no idea what that equals in today’s money).

No, I’m not a proponent of book burning, but this is a basic principle of the Christian life: if there is something in your life that is hindering your walk with God, get rid of it.

Paul then encountered problems in Ephesus, notably from a silversmith named Demetrius who apparently thought Paul’s call to repent from idol worship and serve the true God would kill his own business of making and selilng silver shrines of Diana. Despite the discord in the city, God was in control.

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer who laments the years wasted by having a Bible that collected dust on a shelf. His goal is, once he completes his long-put off Bible reading plan sometime in the spring or early summer, to read the Bible through again before the end of 2011. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

12-4-10 devotions: Hosea 11-14, Acts 17, Psalm 34, Proverbs 18

December 4, 2010 1 comment

I read these passages of Scripture this morning–all of them. This is a habit I would like to make a regular one.

Because I am limited on my portable Bibles, I read Acts, Psalms and Proverbs out of a Gideon pocket King James Bible and Hosea out of a slim line New American Standard. As I told my wife last night, I’m not the most comfortable with the NASB and, as far as modern versions go, find that I prefer the New King James. I am still looking at the English Standard Version but am undecided on it. (If you’d like to know more about my current stand on Bible versions and the King James Only debate, click here for a previous blog posting on the topic).

Hosea 11-14: I did not intend to finish the Book of Hosea today, but chapter 14 was so short I decided to go ahead and do so. This passage talks about God’s incredible, undying love for Israel and how He continues to love this nation even to this day. I think it’s obvious that God’s correction is based on heartache rather than anger. Yes, God is angry, but that is not the dominant feeling He has when dealing with His People.

I like 11:8: “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred.”

Later, God reminds Israel how He has been there for the nation from the early days of Jacob to the delivery from Egypt and through other times where He has blessed His nation continually. It is reminder to us as Christians to not waste each day with frivolous activities but instead to set time aside to read God’s Word, pray, worship and serve Him.

It brings a sorrowful thought to my mind: Dear God, I am so sorry You had to shake up my life and allow heartache to come in for me to truly grasp this. May You find me five years from now still diligently reading and meditating on Your Word.Hosea closes out his book in the fourteenth chapter with a message of hope as Israel learns reconciliation is possible and what will happen if the nation does repent. Consider verses 4 through 7:

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him.

“I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon.

“His branches shall spread; his beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon.

“Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.”

(As a side note, by wine I think Hosea is referring to actual wine and not the IFB phenomenon of Biblical “wine” that magically turns into non-alcoholic grape juice each time).

Hosea closes this fascinating book with this thought in verse 9: “Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.”

Great words of encouragement if you are a backslider to get your walk back on God’s path. Think it’s too late? If there is any inkling you have that you want to walk with God again, then it’s not too late. Don’t fool yourself, and please don’t let Satan tell you differently.

Acts 17: Paul continues his rabble rousing ways in Thessalonica, city he would later write two letters to.

Naturally, he made lots of enemies. This is par for the course if you are a Christian; if you are a Christian and everybody likes you, that’s usually a sign that you are doing something wrong. Everybody should respect you if you are walking with God, but not everybody will like you.

Paul and Silas left in the middle of the night to Berea, with similar results. They then went to Athens and encountered a reaction of strangeness. It was also here that Paul found an altar with the inscription “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD”.

It makes me wonder if Athens was such the city at the time that was starving for some type of relationship with a divine being that they established that altar. Or maybe it was their way to trying to blindly reach out to what they perceived to be a true god somewhere out there. Either way, Paul declared that God was this “Unknown God”.

Some believed, others didn’t.

Psalm 34: A great sense of relief and anxiety must have been on David’s mind as he wrote this Psalm. My Bible notes say he wrote this after leaving the presence of Abimelech, which he was successfully able to do by pretending to be crazy (David even worked up frothy spittle and let it get into his beard). Reading over this Psalm, you can almost imagine David crying happy tears as he wrote the words.

He writes in verse four and then six: “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears…This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”

This is a very encouraging Psalm that encourages us to experience God and see that He is indeed good.

David also reminds us in verses 17-18: “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.

“The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”

Proverbs 18: I have read about half the Proverbs on my list of completing my Bible reading. This is one of those books, like Psalms, where you shouldn’t only visit it once a year but should read one Proverb each day.

That being said…

This Proverb has been described as a contrast between the upright and the wicked. The first verse really, really spoke to me:

“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.”

That really describes the person I was when I went long dry spells without reading God’s Word, without being in church regularly. When you don’t read the Bible, you lose your way and start doing things and even saying things you’d never dream of doing if you are a Christian walking with God daily. You know what’s right to do, but in your backslidden state you work overtime to rationalize your sins.

Make no mistake: sin is sin. We may try to tell ourselves there is a justifiable reason for sinful choices we make, but at the end of our lives we will have to give an account to God for those stupid choices and will finally realize what a waste we made of our spiritual lives.

Verse nine tells us that whoever is slothful in their work is a close relative of him “who is a great destroyer”. It really is convicting and an encouragement to me to live my life where I am being productive and where my times of recreation are needed breaks rather than something that overpowers my own day.

And in my own marriage (which most likely will end in divorce), verse 13 is particularly haunting: “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.”

If you have a spouse who has something to discuss with you, LISTEN to them. Don’t be so quick to dismiss their concerns, worries or complaints as unimportant. To ignore them is to drive a wedge that could eventually be fatal to a marriage.

There are also other gold and platinum nuggets in this chapter, such as verse 14 telling us that while man’s spirit can sustain him (or her) in sickness, a broken spirit is a different story that requires the services of the Great Physician. Or, how about verse 15 telling us that the heart of the prudent acquires knowledge.

Interestingly, verse 17 encourages us to be very discerning with what people say: “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” Perhaps a neighbor (or someone who knows the story very well) knows far more about it than others realize.

And verse 19 is a reminder for us to be careful in our conversation and to behave ourselves wisely:

“A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

Once you’ve offended someone, it is very difficult to win back their respect or trust. If ever.

I am also curious about verse 24, which tells us: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Who might that friend be? Is this a best friend? Perhaps it is referring to God? Anyone care to guess?

Richard Zowie does not claim to be a Bible scholar: he graduated from Pensacola Christian College in 1995 with a bachelor of arts in history and earned an associates degree in 1998 from Defense Language Institute’s Russian Basic Course. He hopes someday to earn an English degree and, if the Lord opens the door, to obtain more formal Bible training. He currently is going through the Bible in his Richard’s Two Shekels blog when not commenting on Christian issues or blogging about his Christian walk. He hopes in the coming months to complete his first visit with all the Minor Prophets. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com. 

 

12-3-10 devotions: Hosea 8-10, Acts 16, Psalm 33

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I did my Bible reading Friday night after my work was done for the day, and I was upset with myself. Devotions should really be done in the morning–or at least begun in the morning.

In my current path, I think what I will try to do is read the Old and New Testament in the morning and at night, read from the Psalms and Proverbs. Or perhaps it is best to read it all in the morning and to take a closer look at each passage at night; each delve into Psalms and Proverbs provides encouragement to take on the day.

What works best for you, Dear Reader?

I knew of one man who was serving at the Roloff Homes and spoke at my then-home church, Beeville Baptist Church, to speak. He told of how he was reading the Bible through in a month.

Wow! I thought. That is a LOT of reading.

Sometime I may try that just to see if I can accomplish it, but I’m leery because with my short attention span, it would be a classic case of quantity over quality. At least three times in my life I’ve read over Old Testament books like Ezekiel, Amos, Obadiah, the other Minor Prophets along with tiny New Testament books like 1, 2 and 3 John and can barely–if at all–tell you what they were about. In fact, if I died today, I’d have to ask God to let me have a crash course on what Obadiah and other books were about since I must presume that, until we are completely perfected in heaven, it is possible still to feel embarrassment in heaven. (Perhaps some young Christian may even go up to David and say, “Yo! David! Was Bathsheba as hot as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models?!”)

Rabbit trail aside, what I am trying to say is I like the year-long approach to Bible reading much better.

That being said, what I might do is when I finish reading the Bible through (I am almost halfway through with my current plan that, sadly, I have been doing since 2003), I may see if I can read the Word of God through again before the end of 2011. We will see.

That being said…

Hosea 8-10: In these chapters, Hosea continues speaking to the brick wall that is the hardened heart of Israel as he urges the nation to repent and not face the humiliation of God’s correction. I imagine as he returned home for the night, perhaps Gomer even gave him encouragement and insight. “Honey, you won me back through tough love, and that’s what you need to have in your message to Israel–tough love.”

It’s a question I intend to ask Hosea someday. I am so glad now that when I get to heaven I won’t have to say, “Hello, Hosea! I’m ashamed to have to tell you this, but I don’t remember what your book was about!”

Hosea 8:14 says this: “For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and has built temples; Judah also has multiplied fortified cities; but I will send fire upon his cities, and it shall devour his palaces.”

Acts 16: This chapter touches briefly on a subject I intend to blog about in the near future.

Circumcision.

Timothy, a Christian whose Mom was Jewish and whose father was Greek, was not circumcised. He was in the ministry in Lystra and Iconium, and Paul had Tim circumcised. Since his ministry was among Jews (who were and are still circumcised), it was determined Tim could be a more effective missionary if he were circumcised.

Yes, by modern standards it seems silly that ancient man could get so hung up over foreskins, but it’s about how you can best tend to the needs of those you minister to. Having no respect for the culture of a country you work in makes you an ineffective missionary.

That being done, Paul continued to minister and lead people to the Lord, including the very prominent businesswoman Lydia, a merchant of purple in Thyatira.

Also in this chapter, Paul and Silas were famously beaten and imprisoned for exorcising a demon from a girl who told people’s fortunes. Paul saw her anguish and ordered the demon to leave her, which angered her masters since it deprived them of their lucrative income.

So, Paul and Silas were jailed and through their testimony of praising God despite their tough circumstances, the jailer came to know Christ. I wonder what would have happened had they moped, cried and complained? The jail probably was not a very pleasant place to be, and we can hardly imagine the miserable times there as they were beaten.

After leading the jailer and his family to the Lord, Paul then informed the officers of the local legal community that he and Silas were Roman citizens and that it was illegal to beat them without a trial.

Oops!

This was no doubt why tradition says Paul eventually was probably beheaded instead of crucified. It has been said crucifixion was the most severe form of Roman capital punishment: no Roman citizen could be crucified.

Reading about Paul and his trials leads me to one incontrovertible conclusion: I may be dealing with heartaches and craziness in my own life, but compared to Christians in the Middle East, Sri Lanka, China and other places, I practically live in Beverly Hills.

Psalm 33: As I read through the thirty-third Psalm, I wonder if it has been made into a song. I imagine David in heaven in a recording studio with musical instruments we cannot even begin to imagine, instruments that play melodies well beyond the limits of finite human sound.

In short, it is a Psalm encouraging musicians to use their talents to praise God.

Verse four tells us: “For the word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.”

This Psalm also speaks of God’s work during Creation (before man ruined things) and how God is in ultimate control over the affairs of man. It speaks of how God works in every human individually, placing things in their hearts that He hopes will bring them to Him.

Verses 18-22: “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy,

“To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

“Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.

“For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.

“Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.”

Richard Zowie is going through the Bible in his Richard’s Two Shekels blog when not commenting on Christian issues or blogging about his Christian walk. He hopes in the coming months to complete his first visit with all the Minor Prophets. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

 

Acts 14: Paul faces persecution, gets a headache

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Acts 14 represents the latest tale of what turned out to be some of the misadventures of the Apostle Paul. Last time we visited, he had led many to the Lord but, naturally, made many enemies. At Iconium, those Jews who chose not to believe decided to infiltrate the Gentiles there and get them to reject Paul.

Understand that Paul’s preaching was an extension of Jesus’ preaching. It wasn’t just the following of a new faith, but in many ways a completely new way of thinking. After all, Jesus had preached once that while adultery is wrong, a man is committing adultery in his own heart just by lusting after a woman (something that’s very applicable in our own culture where even in the summers in Michigan, it’s still easy to see women showing off their bodies).

He and his friends stayed a while, but the city then became divided: half sided with the unbelieving Jews (by the way, that is NOT a redundant term despite what any anti-Semite will tell you) and the other half supported Paul. Perhaps much of the hatred was because Paul, who had been the Angry Saul who persecuted the church, was now preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They then fled to Lystra and Derbe to avoid death by stoning (getting heavy rocks thrown onto you rather than being forced to smoke marijuana).

Paul then healed a crippled man, which led people to mistakenly think the two were Greek gods: they considered Barnabas Zeus and Paul–due to his being the chief speaker–Hermes. The two then had to explain to the people they were not gods but that they served the true, living God. It proved to be a witnessing opportunity.

Things seemed to be going well until some of the angry Jews from Antioch and Iconium reached the city and stoned Paul.

I cannot imagine the agony of being stoned as heavy rocks are thrown onto your head, torso, shins and other sensitive parts of the body; a heavy stone dropped or thrown with enough leverage could easily crush the skull or ribcage.

However, God had other plans and Paul miraculously survived (our atheist friends would insist the angry Jews just suffered from lousy aim or, if that failed, the Bible itself is just a collection of fables and nothing more).

Paul then told other Christians about the trials they must face when preaching the Gospel. They preached, prayed and fasted. Paul then concluded that his suffering allowed God to open the doors to share the Christian faith with the Gentiles.

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Husbands, wives and Ephesians 5: First thoughts

December 1, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been reading Ephesians 5 as I’m undergoing some changes in my life that will probably include the ending of a marriage. During this time, I have been reading from the Scriptures what it means to be a godly husband and father.

Paul gives great advice in Ephesians 5 about marriage. It is a must-read (as is all of the Bible, even First Chronicles) for anybody either wants to get married or who wonders why their marriage didn’t work.

Even in Christian circles, I suspect many do not really understand what marriage is all about. Perhaps this joke might illustrate that:

After their wedding reception, a newlywed couple settled into their room for their wedding night. The husband, who was considerably larger than his wife, then asked his wife to put on a pair of his pants. 
 
“Your pants will never fit me!” she laughed.
 
“That’s right,” the husband said. “I wear the pants in this family. I am the boss and I make the rules. Don’t you ever forget that.”
 
The bride thought a moment, went to her suitcase, took out a pair of her panties and told her husband to put them on. 
  
“Are you crazy?” he scoffed. “There’s no way I can get into those.”
  
She nodded. “That’s right. And that’s how it’s going to stay until your attitude changes.”
 
I suppose for some Christians who prefer to whisper about s-e-x, that joke might be considered tasteless. But not only is it funny, there is a lot of Biblical truth in it.

A pastor told me recently that one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible is when Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands. This is not an unconditional command: a wife should not submit to her husband if one of her children are put at risk. She should also not submit to him if he is telling her to do something her intuition tells her is wrong. Frankly, a Christian husband not living for the Lord should not be taken seriously when he tells his wife not to go to church.

The context of this verse is when wives are in a loving relationship where their husbands are loving them (in emotions, actions, feelings and decision making) the way Jesus Christ loved the church. In other words: a husband who by his conduct, actions, words, etc., shows his wife every day that he loves her more than his own life and that she is his queen will have a wife who will gladly reciprocate that love. But even then, this is not a license for a husband to run over his wife. He is to take her concerns, ideas into very strong consideration.

Men and women are wired very differently, and I’ve heard many say that when a woman is made to feel loved, honored, respected and secure in a relationship, it will make her feel more willing to be intimate with her husband. Many men are far more likely to be in the mood for intimacy when they see their wives smile and wear little or nothing at all. So, the above joke isn’t really that far off. When a husband makes his wife feel like a second-class citizen, he should not be surprised when she loses that sense of disconnect with him. The same is true for men also; they need to feel appreciated far more than what they care to admit.

I have also learned one thing husbands should do is listen when their wives talk to them. Be calm. Do not get defensive. Really, really, really listen. This is one reason why I have grown to loathe shows like Dinosaurs, Home Improvement, According to Jim or Everybody Loves Raymond. In these shows, men are the non-thinking idiots who must be constantly be bailed out of every mess they get into. It has been said that women are far more intuitive than men, and if a woman has something to say to her husband, he should listen and be very open to heed. It may take a beating to his pride, but I know in my own marriage when my wife told me of concerns she had, it was rare that her concern was unfounded.

Richard Zowie is a writer who, though a Christian for 29 years, still has a lot to learn about God, the Bible, the world and life. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 13: Bible-reading thoughts; Paul rebukes, preaches

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

I read this passage after Hosea 3 as I continue my trek to reading the Bible and hope to return soon to reading the Bible completely through once a year. One minister spoke of reading the Bible completely through in one month, which really brings to mind quantity versus quality.

At Pensacola Christian College, Pastor Jim Schettler spoke of how he liked to read a Proverb each day. Some Christians take this a step further and read both a Psalm and a Proverb daily. Not a bad system.

It may seem like a lot, but when you consider reading a few chapters of the Old Testament, one of the New Testament, a Psalm and Proverb, meditating and pondering and praying and taking notes, it can easily be done in an hour. Is one hour a day really asking that much? Perhaps it could be split up where in the morning you do your Bible reading and then at night review over it to learn and consider how it applies to you.

Yes, Richard’s Two Shekels reader: I am talking to myself most of all!

In Acts 13, we continue reading of the Early Church as Paul and Barnabas continued going out and being a nuisance by preaching about that radical Jewish rabbi named Yeshua, who was rapidly becoming known as Yeshua Ha Meshiach (Jesus the Messiah).

At the island of Paphos, Paul and Barney encountered a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus (which means “Son of Jesus”; keep in mind that Jesus–specifically, Yeshua, was a common name in those days). B-J proved to be a nuisance to those who wanted to hear the Gospel, such as Sergius Paulus, so Paul used God’s power to temporarily blind him.

Close minded? Nope. Sergius Paulus wanted to hear the Gospel, and this false prophet was trying to stand in the way.

After this, they traveled to Perga and then to Antioch and spoke at the synagogue. Paul preached, going through Jewish history and talking about Jesus’ earthly ministry and all the people who saw Him after he arose from the dead.

Paul then left the synagogue and preached to the Jews and to Gentiles who were interested in the message. The religious Jews, angry with the message, were opposed to Paul. He then made no friends by telling them in verse 46-47: “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

In this passage, Paul quotes Isaiah 49:6.

The Gentiles were very happy and many came to know Christ on that day.

Eventually, Paul and Barnabas were kicked out of the city, and they then shook the dust from their feet, as per what Jesus instructed His disciples to do when their message was rejected.

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 11-12: The church grows, then endures persecution

August 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Reading through these chapters really is a reminder of how much Peter has developed as a Christian. At the end of John, he had returned to his trade as a fisherman, defeated, only to have Jesus speak with him and empower him to return to the ministry. In Acts, Peter seems a man on fire for God. Not bad for an impulsive, act/speak-first-think-second man.

When Peter returned from Caesarea, he dealt with the apostles and other brothers and sisters in Christ who did not understand why he would meet with a Gentile. Knowing they would want to know why Peter spent time among the “uncircumcised” (non-Jewish people), he rehearsed what he would say.

He then explained his vision and how he presented the Gospel. In verse 17, he asked: “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?”

In other words: If God is willing to receive and save them, who was I to refuse God?

They began to understand what God tried to explain centuries ago to a stubborn prophet named Jonah: God wants all the world to come to Him, not just the Jewish people. Then, they started spreading out and preaching the Gospel to non-Jewish places.

During this time, Barnabas, a man known as an encourager, sought out Saul (who, again, soon would be known as Paul) and brought the new apostle to Antioch. And, in verse 26, we learn this group of believers first were called “Christians” in Antioch. Whether a term best used to describe them or a term of contempt, I don’t know.

Finally in this chapter, Agabus received word form the Holy Spirit there would be a “great dearth” to take place in the days of Claudius Ceasar. The disciples then, according to their own abilities, sent relief unto their brethren who were in Judea.

I suppose this was all bad news for King Herod, who then decided to persecute the church. What Herod didn’t seem to understand, and what the Romans would rapidly learn, is that if you want to make the Christian church go away, persecuting it is not what you want to do.

James was killed (apparently not the same James who wrote the Book of James), and then Herod imprisoned Peter. This, according to verse 3, “pleased” the Jews who undoubtedly saw this Christianity as a threat to their monopoly on religious control.

The church prayed for Pete as he was in prison and guarded by soldiers and bound with chains. The angel of the Lord came and with all the bright light, also served as a primitive alarm clock by “smiting” Peter to wake him. Pete’s chains fell off.

Naturally, Peter–having just waked up–didn’t know if this was real or some strange elaborate dream. He soon realized it had really happened and then had to convince others that he was indeed really out of prison, released on divine probation.

Herod, as you can expect, wasn’t happy Peter had escaped and promptly had the prison keepers executed.

The king then made a speech to the folks of Tyre and Sidon that was probably designed to fortify relations. Verse 20 said they desired peace with Herod for this key reason: “…Because their country was nourished by the king’s country.” Herod probably reminded them of that frequently as he spoke.

Dressed in royal apparel (some commentaries say he wore a robe of shimmering silver), he delivered a speech to them. The folks were very pleased with this and concluded Herod must’ve been a god and not a man.

Herod’s ego probably made him in no hurry to correct them (assuming he would have, which, frankly, is doubtful). And he was then smote by the angel of the Lord for not deflecting that praise and giving honor where honor was due. The text said he was “eaten of worms” and suggests he died a very excruciating death.

And as this happened, God’s word spread and multiplied as Paul and Barnabas continued in their ministry.

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 9:23-43: Saul, Peter and Tabitha, a.k.a., Dorcas

March 31, 2010 1 comment

I read this passage yesterday and found it to be interesting to get in some more first-century Christian history. When it comes to reading the Bible and blogging, I prefer to read the entire passage first and then take notes on what I read. It works so far and I hope the readers like that. I also try to mix in what I was doing at the time so that it doesn’t read as a cure-for-insomnia exegesis.

Saul: “Hey! I’m a Christian! Honest! No kidding! No more persecuting Christians! I even now wear a W.W.J.D.? bracelet!”

Saul, soon to be known as Paul, the Apostle Formerly Known as Saul, had quite the transformation. Earlier in this chapter he was on his way to Damascus to continue persecuting Christians. Now, he had to be rescued from some angry Jews who wanted to kill him. Before they got to him, disciples came by night, lowered him down the wall from his room in a basket and transported him to Jerusalem.

Despite rescuing Saul (who, again, will soon become Paul), the other disciples were still very reluctant to accept Saul as a fellow Christian. It reminds me a little of the mass reluctance among many Christians when shock rocker Alice Cooper announced he’d become a Christian.

If ever Alice Cooper were to record a new song, it would probably be titled, “No More Mr. Unsaved Guy!”

It seemed so unfathomable that a man known for his outrageous performances would actually be a fellow believer in Jesus.

Seeing the concern, Barnabas vouched for Saul to the disciples and convinced them to give him a chance to prove themselves. They did, no doubt some worried that Saul was a double agent. If only he’d had with him a Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye signed copy of Left Behind, or perhaps if he’d had a W.W.J.D.? bracelet.

We read that Saul was sent to churches in Caesarea, Tarsus (his hometown), Judaea, Galilee, Samaria and that many people were saved and edified.

Peter continued fishing, healing

It’s hard to believe that, at the end of the Gospel According to John, Peter was found to be a defeated disciple with a heavy Galilean accent (which would probably make him sound like the Jewish equivalent of redneck). In this chapter, we see him preaching, teaching and healing. Specifically, healing.

First, a gentleman named Aeneas who’d been bedridden with palsy for eight years. God used this healing to bring people to him in Lydda and Saron.

Peter then wowed people at Joppa through his miracle performed on a disciple named Tabitha, also named Dorcas. Verse 36 described her as a woman “full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.” Unfortunately, she became sick and died and was apparently prepared for burial and placed in an upper chamber.

With people weeping, Peter came and kneeled down and prayed and commanded Tabitha to rise. She opened her eyes, saw him and sat up.

Tabitha’s return from the dead was no doubt the talk of the day in Joppa as people probably texted, blogged and read newspaper accounts about it. Verse 42 tells us many believed in the Lord.

Peter then stayed in Joppa a while with a tanner named Simon. It really is amazing to see what the Lord accomplished through Peter, and it never ceases to amaze me how God chooses to work with seemingly-humble, lowly people instead of relying on the well-educated, upper crust.

Richard Zowie is currently blogging his way through the Bible and has no idea how long it’ll take. He hopes to have it done within two years. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 9:1-22: Saul becomes a Christian named Paul

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve always found Acts 9 to be one of the more fascinating chapters in the Bible as it tells the story about Saul’s unusual conversion. We know from Biblical history and from his subsequent autobiographical snippets that Saul had plenty of head knowledge of God, but not a heart knowledge.

There are countless paths people take to come to a saving knowledge in Jesus Christ. In my 28 years as a Christian, I’ve concluded that God fishes for souls the way we fish for, well, fish. Each type of fish requires a different bait, and even the same fish will require different types of bait depending on the time of day, the time of year, the water conditions, and so on. We don’t all walk down the aisle during the invitation.

One minister, a former practitioner of the Amish faith, recalled stopping plowing in the middle of a field to pray the sinner’s prayer.

For me, it came from attending services at Kings Row Baptist Church in Alvin, Texas in 1981. One night, in October that year, the pastor came to our house and I prayed the sinner’s prayer. Based on the teachings I’d heard, I knew it was the right decision.

One guy I knew at Pensacola Christian College, had a different path. Ray was into Christian rock music (which, of course, was frowned upon by PCC) and he told me he’d been saved a few years earlier at a Petra concert.

Yes, that same Petra rock band that so many independent, fundamental Baptist ministers decried (one even saying during a sermon that Petra was “going to hell”).

One high school friend told me of how he went to a church because he heard lots of pretty girls would be there. He became a Christian, and I could tell by his walk it was legitimate.

And then there was Saul.

Fresh off tormenting Christians and on his way to Damascus to apprehend Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem, Saul fell victim of a witnessing session–by Jesus Himself.

A bright light came from heaven, Saul fell and heard someone saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

Saul, no doubt, was very overcome and flabbergasted by this vision and asked, naturally, who they were.

The answer in verse 5: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: [it is] hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

There was no mistaking who this was. Saul, I’m guessing, was by this time a very well-read scholar of Jewish law, a rabbi. He had to have known who Jesus was and probably remembered Jesus’ earthly ministry extremely well. As for “kicking against the pricks”, I suspect this meant that Saul was rebelling against God despite all the clear, insurmountable evidence of Jesus and who He is and who Christians are.

Jesus then told Paul to go to Damascus. Initially he could see but then his sight was gone for three days as they continued their travel. He also for that period of time was without anything to eat or drink.

God then spoke in a vision to a Christian in Damascus named Ananias and told him to meet Saul of Tarsus at the street called Straight and that Saul would be praying. Ananias was to lay his hands on Paul so he might receive his sight.

Naturally, Ananias was reluctant. God, you do realize who Saul is, right? He’s killed a lot of Christians and is a wicked man! he probably told God.

God then explained to Ananias that Saul was a “chosen vessel” of God to bear God’s name before the Gentiles, kings and even the Jewish people. Furthermore, God said, Saul would suffer many great things for God.

So, Ananias went, laid his hands on Saul, and prayed for him to receive his sight and receive the Holy Spirit. Both immediately happened. Verse 18 says it immediately fell from Saul’s eyes as if it had been scales, making me wonder what disgusting mixture of dust and ocular fluids must’ve accumulated in his eyes and sealed them shut when he gazed upon Jesus’ brilliantly-bright white countenance. Saul was then baptized, cleaned up and given something to eat and drink.

From there, Saul (who would soon become known as Paul) preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the synagogues, declaring Jesus is the Son of God. This, no doubt, amazed those who heard him and they probably wondered if this was some joke or some elaborate attempt to draw Christians out to the open. But Saul increased and confused those in Damascus.

There are two questions this text poses:

One, wasn’t Saul in his conversion “forced” to come to Christ? Doesn’t the text suggest that Saul succumbed to irresistible grace? No. The Bible is filled with many other stories, such as Cain, Judas and even Queen Jezebel of people who either had direct contact with God and Jesus or directly witnessed the works of God yet chose to turn their backs on Him. Saul could’ve easily chosen to turn his back on God. Clearly, he was misguided in his persecutions as he thought he was doing God’s work. When he realized he wasn’t, that was part of what led him to Christ. There are also many people out there who feel the call of God and yet turn their back on it. The evangelist David Benoit, who lectures on rock music and the occult, often has told this story: a young man came up to him after a sermon and said, “Brother Benoit, I know I need to be saved, but becoming saved means I’d have to quit having sex with my girlfriend, and to be honest, I’d rather go to hell than stop doing that.”

Not to mention the unsaved in Revelation who, after seeing Scripture after Scripture being fulfilled, will still turn their backs on God.

Two, some have wondered if Saul being referred to as a “chosen vessel” indicates he was “chosen” to become a Christian. I think it refers to his work as a Christian. We make the decision whether or not to accept Christ as our personal savior, and once we become a Christian, God has a plan for our life of how we can best serve Him. This plan is what is “chosen” for us. Saul decided to become a Christian and God chose him for hte service of evangelizing the Gentiles, kings and the Jewish people.

And, of course, writing most of the New Testament.

Richard Zowie runs several blogs and enjoys blogging about the Bible and getting an improved understanding of it. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 8: Saul, Philip, Simon, Ethiopian

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I look at Acts 8 as a historical chapter, in that it’s telling what happened in the early church rather than reporting on Biblical truths.

Starting with Saul, who soon would exchange his S for a P and become Paul, we read in the first four verses that while the beloved Stephen was being buried, Saul ratcheted up his persecutions of the church. It said he “made havock” among many Christians, which my Bible notes say carries the idea of the ravagings of a wild animal. Yikes! He’d enter houses, drag out the Christians and place them in prison.

Moving onto Philip, this apostle did the unthinkable: he preached in–GASP!–Samaria! As we know from the Gospels, the Jewish people had virtually no dealings with the Samaritans and considered them beneath the Jews. To evangelize undesirables must’ve seemed disgusting for many.

Verse nine to 25 tells us that among Phil’s converts was a sorcerer named Simon. Unlike the book of Revelation, where the word “sorcerers” come from the Greek word pharmakeus is what we borrow to create our word pharmaceutics, this time sorcerer in Greek is mageuō, which carries the idea of being a magician. Apparently Simon could perform tricks, and based on the reading it looks like it was an elaborate sleight-of-hand but even, to an extent, something supernatural. He was able to use this to his advantage over the people.

Which leads us to Simon seeing the apostles performing miracles. When he saw them lay hands on people and impart on them the Holy Ghost, Simon offered to pay the disciples to give him the ability to do this also.

Peter and the others rebuked him. Peter told him he’d sinned thinking that God’s gifts could be bought with money and that his heart was in the wrong place.

This leads to an important question: was Simon really saved?

One school of thought is no. He saw the miracles and was enthralled by them and then “converted” as a way of trying to get closer to learning how to perform this elaborate trick that, no doubt, he would’ve loved to add to his repertoire.

Another school of thought is yes. Simon was simply a brand-new Christian who had a lot to learn about God and the Christian walk.

What do I think? I think it’s a mixture of both. Yes, he did get saved but he also didn’t grasp the concept of spiritual gifts. It is possible that his conversion was a scam, but only God knows for sure.

Finally, in verses 26-40 Philip met with an Ethiopian eunuch. The text suggests this eunuch was very well respected back home. He read Isaiah 53 and had questions about it. Philip then explained to him what the verses meant and how they pointed to Jesus as the Messiah.

And in verse 36, the Eunuch saw water and asked about being baptized. In 37, Philip told him if he believed in all his heart, he could be baptized, to which the eunuch replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

The chariot was stopped, and both Phil and the eunuch went into the water as Phil baptized him.

I notice that some versions omit verse 37 while some notes say that this verse isn’t found in some/many/most manuscripts. Could it be Satan’s way of trying to subtly point people towards a baptism-is-required-for-salvation viewpoint?

The baptism completed, the Holy Spirit transported Philip to Azotus.

Richard Zowie hopes someday to blog about every chapter of the Bible. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 7: Stephen is martyred

February 24, 2010 Leave a comment

I actually read this passage on Monday and am, sadly, just now blogging about it. Getting off my duff, I plan to return to daily blogging about Bible reading. Later today or, most likely, tomorrow, I’ll blog about the next chapter of Daniel.

Acts 7 is a fascinating chapter, in that it’s the first Biblical recording–post crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus–of a martyr.

That martyr’s name, of course, was Stephen.

In his sermon, Stephen preached a sermon summarizing the Old Testament from Abraham, to Moses, down the line and eventually ending in the New Testament with Jesus. He concentrated heavily on Moses, particularly his early life and when he was receiving the laws from God on Mt. Sinai.

Bluntness was a normal practice in the early church’s preaching, and Stephen was no different. He referred to the authorities in the temple in verse 51 as “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears.” Notice he did not say they were physically uncircumcised. All obedient male Jews then were. He was telling them they were crude and stubborn in their ability to listen and hear what was being preached, and if they were truly open and receptive, they would’ve seen that Jesus’ life was a fulfillment of Scripture. Instead, the authorities and their ancestors chose to persecute, torture and even kill the messengers who called for obedience unto God.

And then Stephen looked up to the sky and described seeing Jesus at the right hand of God. A death sentence. They took him outside the city and stoned him.

Like Jesus at His crucifixion, Stephen showed compassion to those who stoned him. In his final words in verse 60, he asked God not to lay this sin at their charge.

We also see in verse 58 that Saul held the outergarments of those who went to kill Stephen. Saul had yet to become a Christian and transform into Paul, but I have to wonder what went through his mind at this time. Perhaps seeds were being planted and watered as he saw this Christian die for their faith.

Richard Zowie, a Christian for 28 years, operates several blogs. Post a comment or e-mail richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

How does God view what we'd call "time"?

I understand that time does not exist to God the way it does for us, the analogy given in the Bible of a thousand years being as a day to God and a day being a thousand years.

Still, while I’m eons from understanding God’s mind, I wonder how He sees the events that transpire on earth…

We look at a timeline of the past, present and future. Is it possible that God sees our world and, in his “timeline”, everything is happening at once?

Right now, I type at my computer in May 2009; perhaps as God sees me typing he’s also seeing Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, David fighting Goliath, Jeremiah begging King Zedekiah to heed common sense and obey King Nebuchadnezzar, Malachi penning the last of the Old Testament, Jesus being born, working miracles, crucified, risen, Paul writing the New Testament, Christians being eaten by lions, Martin Luther hammering his 95 Theses at Wittenberg, and so forth?

In God’s economy of “time”, is human history all happening at the same time?

Sometimes I picture God viewing a giant matrix of images with the very first one being the creation of the world and the very last one being Satan’s defeat at the end of the millennial reign.

I could be wrong, but it’s always a pleasure to take a break from life and use the mind God gave me to imagine.