1 footprint reindeer shirt
1 handprint necktie
2 knitted button-on neckwarmers
1 knitted pair kid mittens
1 potholder (from felted sweater)
1 "Margaret" sling bag
15 felt cardinal ornaments
1 felt penguin ornament
2 canvas tote bags
1.25 pairs knitted socks
1 knitted balaclava
2 pairs pajama pants (from old plaid flannel shirts)
1 cork board
and best of all... I finished the quilt I started 10 years ago! King size, hand-quilted, machine pieced on my grandma-in-law's antique Singer that only did straight stitches. Whew!
I honestly hope not to see another needle, thread, or skein of yarn for a while!
Each night after supper the children hunt all over the house to find the wise men which go with our nativity. Every day the wise men get closer and closer, finally finding the baby King Jesus on Epiphany. To make things a bit more fun, there is usually a note to the kids from the wise men, along with a little gift or surprise for the day (trip to a museum, etc). For the frugally-aware among us, you'll quickly recognize this as a chance to take advantage of after-Christmas sales too!
Today the camels forgot their toothbrushes and had to go back for them, so the wise men were very close to their point of origin (storage closet). They gave light-up toothbrushes to the children. They're more excited about their flashing toothbrushes than any other gift they've received so far!
We visited family in MI last week - and enjoyed having 24"+ of snow fall on us while there! We drove in during a snowstorm that gave about 4-6", four days later 8-10" fell, then 2 days after that a day-and-a-half long blizzard dumped another 12". We snuck out inbetween snowstorms. With all that snow, Steve got some snowmobiling in but I didn't get a chance to go XC skiing (apparently it's still muzzleloading season, which could definitely put a damper on things, especially since I'm given to ski with my hands on my head like antlers.)
With allusions to Jonah, the Old Testament prophet to the Gentiles, Paul sails to Rome but his ship is caught in a storm. The sailors wind up doing as he says, which saves their lives, though they lose the ship.
They crash on Malta, and Paul heals many there. They winter for 3 months before going on to Rome, where Paul meets believers, and calls together the Jews. They hadn't heard from the Jews in Judea or elsewhere about Paul. He preaches to them, and the same thing that always happens happens: some believe, some don't. Paul tells them he is going to the Gentiles next.
Felix holds a hearing of both sides. The Jews accuse Paul of instigating unrest, the one thing Rome can't stand. Paul defends himself ably: he's done no such thing, but believes the Law and Prophets as every good Jew does. Felix stalls, hears Paul more often, is convicted by him, but leaves him in jail as a favor to the Jews.
Festus also wants to do the Jews a favor by handing Paul over to him. Paul argues correctly, and well, that Festus has no right to do that as he appeals to Caesar. Herod Agrippa arrives and Festus talks shop with him, about Paul's case, wondering what to tell Caesar about Paul. So Agrippa hears Paul, too. (Perhaps a sly move on Festus' part: pretending to seek Agrippa's wisdom, while sloughing off responsibility for what to tell Caesar to Agrippa.)
Paul again grounds his defense in the orthodox Jewish Pharisee's resurrection hope, fulfilled in Christ. He also describes his mission to the Gentiles, preaching forgiveness of sins in Jesus. Agrippa and Festus are both somewhat convicted. Agrippa's words are a rebuke to Festus for making Paul appeal to Caesar when Festus offered (threatened) to hand Paul over to the Jews.
Paul's retinue is divided after the Ephesus riot, reuniting at Troas in a few months. Paul writes Romans meanwhile, on his way to Jerusalem for Pentecost. He raises Eutychus from death on the Lord's Day. He summons the Ephesian elders, charging them to shepherd the church, as he would not see them again - he was heading into danger in Jerusalem.
The Spirit prophesies Paul will be bound in Jerusalem, but he goes on anyway. Paul pays for some Jews' ritual vow-keeping in the temple, as a sign that he doesn't teach Jews to forsake Torah. James gets his buy-in to their council letter (Acts 15). The trouble starts with unfounded accusations, as it often does. Like Jesus, Paul lays his life down before the Jews, who charge him wrongly, which spotlights his message before Jew and Gentile/Roman alike. Paul uses his Tarsus citizenship to get an audience with the Jews, through the Roman tribune.
He tells his story, but they riot when he talks about going to the Gentiles with the Gospel.
The Roman government gets Paul before the Sanhedrin to figure out what's going on. After a misstep with the high priest, Paul appeals to his Pharisee convictions - which he still holds, or he's lying - to divide the council instead of having all against him. Jesus guides him to appeal to Caesar, saying he will testify in Rome. This appears to have been Paul's strategy all along: to the Jews first in Jeruslaem (Acts 22), then to the Gentiles, when the Jews are hardened (Romans 1:16; 11:25). We find a microcosm of this in every city Paul comes to. The Jews plot to kill Paul. He hears of it through his nephew, and sends him to the tribune, who is apparently favorable to Paul, and inclined to believe him. The issue has gone beyond the tribune, so he hands Paul over to the governor Felix, who is in Caesarea.
"In no way can there be anything like scientific co-operation [reason, archaeology, logic, etc.] as a support or exoneration of faith, but that every theological effort is bound up with the act of faith itself" (pg 24).
"A person who pursues theological courses is spiritually sick unless he reads the Bible uncommonly often..." (pg 40).
I didn't write before to hurt or offend you, but out of love. If the offender has repented, then forgive him, and I too forgive. Christ always goes before us, wherever we go.
Death will just be swallowed up by life, being home with the Lord. We are ambassadors for Christ, through Whom God reconciles Himself to the world, not counting our sins against us.
Don't receive God's grace in vain. We are suffering for you, in Christ; open your hearts to us as we have to you. Dont' fellowship with unbelievers - separate from them. Cleanse yourself of every defilement, body and spirit.
I don't regret my letter grieving you, for it bore fruit. Titus has comforted us with news of your faithfulness, and I am confident of you.
The other churches of Macedonia have given generously. Since you excel in everything else, do so here, too. Christ was rich and became poor for you. Return the favor in His Body, the Church. Share the burden and blessings equally, as they did when manna fell from heaven. Titus is coming to you with this letter, and others.
I stuck my neck out saying you would give, so don't embarrass me. When I come, give willingly. If you sow generously, you will reap generously.
Our ministry is spiritual warfare, taking all thoughts captive to Christ. We are of Christ as you are. Our authority over you is for your good; our appeal to you is not overdoing it, for we came to you with the Gospel first. Recommendations from others don't matter; only from the Lord. Don't seek approval from men, but from the Lord.
This is why they crucified Jesus - they couldn't and can't understand Him.
You are still in the infancy of the flesh, jealously following personalities. We are all working toward the same harvest, and the last day will reveal the value of each one's work. Also all things are yours, so don't be jealous of others.
You brag of being rich and strong while your spiritual betters go about weak and poor. What are you thinking?
Don't boast when sin goes unchecked among you. Remove the leaven of sin from your house/church.
When you take each other to court, you prove you can't judge among yourselves. You ought rather be wronged. You are inheriting a kingdom of purity, so act like it.
Paul has a right to be paid by the Corinthians, but he didn't ask for it, to not stumble them. So why are you glorying in things that will stumble others? Run as an athlete straining to win the prize.
After Israel was saved they fell back into idolatry and sexual sin, too, just as you are doing. Watch out! You participate in idols' feasts and Jesus' feast, both. Do what builds others up, not just whatever you may do. You MAY do what you want (vs 39), unless others perceive you endorse idolatry, or unless you will offend them. Imitate me (Paul) in this.
God designed our spiritual gifts to work together, like body parts in a body. Each needs the others. We are one in Christ, in the Spirit, in our baptism. We each have needed gifts, and need others.
The gift of tongues is all right, but doesn't build up the church much. Desire the gifts that do. Prophesy in turn in church, so all can understand everything, women not taking part in evaluation of prophecy (though they pray in church - vs 11:5)
Since Corinth, whether because of Priscilla and Aquila or for some other reason, Paul stays in one place much longer (Acts 18:9-11, 19-23). He pauses his evangelizing in Eph to get to Jerusalem, makes his circuit through Galatia and Phrygia until he gets to Ephesus, and picks up where he left off there.
In Ephesus he tries evangelizing the Jews in the synagogue for 3 months, then goes to a secular lecture hall during the lunch and afternoon hours for 2 years, daily.
The name of Jesus is advanced greatly among Jewish and occultists, alike. So much so, that the idol industry feels it and is threatened. They riot; Paul wants to go argue with the mob! But most tellingly about Paul is verse 37. Either the town clerk was really ignorant of Paul, or Paul preached Christ without speaking against the pagan Greek pantheon.
The Berean Jews believe, being famous for searching the Bible to discern the truth of the speaker. But the Jews from Thessalonica now do to Paul what he did to the early church, chasing them from city to city. Paul goes on to Athens, while the lower-key Silas and Timothy order the church under radar and follow Paul when they are done.
Paul can't take it in Athens, where Greek gods are everywhere. He speaks out, but doesn't seem to attack their gods as much as preach Jesus. He gets at least two converts, and others who remain interested.
Paul stays longer in Corinth than elsewhere, by God's leading, and with Jews of his same trade, apparently - tentmaking. Converting the Jews' synagogue ruler must have been a blow. The Jews try to implicate Paul with a new ruler, Gallio, but it backfires and their own new synagogue ruler is beaten - a warning not to bring frivolous lawsuits before Gallio, perhaps.
Paul heads back for Antioch, with Priscilla and Aquila in tow. He apparently keeps the Torah, though he has already argued so vociferously to the Galatians against relying upon it for one's justification, for he has taken a Nazirite vow (Numbers 6) and cuts his hair in accordance with the regulation there.
Application: we aren't all called to be an evangelist full time, and we live in a fairly Christian culture, so no heavy duty guilt trip here. But have you ever faced opposition, pressure, or hostility for believing in Jesus? Not for lifestyle practices like Sabbath observance or family life, but directly for believing in a risen Savior?
1. Timeline, by Michael Crichton. This was my first Chrichton book, and I wasn't too impressed. I breezed through it, only reading it for the time travel aspect of the plot. Turned out to be a decent survey of medieval life, though.
Like a child grows from strict obedience ("Do this. Yes, ma'am") into self-responsible judgment calls ("What would be the wise use of my time right now?"), so Israel was also trained on the "Do this" law as a nation of priests (Leviticus), but had to grow up to apply it with wisdom as kings and prophets. We often try to go back to a Leviticus, "just tell me what to do," childish mindset, even if we are 35 or 45. In one sense we ought never leave that mindset, always remaining submissive to God (Ps 123:2); in another, we are called to be wise judges ourselves, like Solomon with the two women (1 Kings 3:16ff).
This is not to disparage Leviticus. All the OT applies today, in various ways, even the food laws which Jesus declared nullified. There is a right way to apply it today, as I think we should do with our worship order (Leviticus 9), as David did in making some Levites musicians, which was not stated explicitly in the Law (1 Chron 15:16ff), as Israel did with the feasts of Purim (Esther) and Hanukkah (John 10:22). These things are not departing from Scripture, or failing to argue from Scripture. They are applying it with wisdom. We don't have to squint with suspicious eyes when we see this, wondering "what are you trying to get away with?"
This touches on many important things like what we can do in worship, what holidays we can/should celebrate, etc, and it all stems from how we read the Bible.
The Ishmael and Isaac history is repeating itself: Jews apart from Christ are Ishmael, physically of Abraham but not receiving the promise. Christians are Isaac, children of the promise.
If you go back to following the law as your identity and trust, then you have left Christ, fallen from grace. In Him, only faith working through love matters, not the law. I (Paul) am not preaching circumcision to you. I wish those who are would go further and cut more off. The law of freedom is to love and serve each other. The fruit of the flesh and of the Spirit are each obvious and opposed to each other.
Restore sinners gently, not sinning yourself. Sow a harvest for yourself and beyond, to share with others in need.
Circumcision advocates are counting noses for Moses. Look how great Moses is, how many followers he has! I boast only in the cross of Jesus Christ. There you find the real circumcision. Believers in it are the real Israel of God. Don't give me any more grief about this; I have scars elsewhere on my body because of Jesus.
APPLICATION: what belief or practice that is important to you comes closest to defining your identity, your faith, supplanting Christ and His cross?
Live and let live
Your family being together
The commandment to be Nice, and not offend
Gender roles in marriage and family
"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. 20 And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear."
These verses refer to that time somewhere between age 16-21, where the child is still under parental authority, but of sufficient maturity to be willfully, persistently, long-term stubborn, and know most of the ramifications of it. An 18-19 year old doesn't have to "grow out of" their adolescent rebellion before excommunicating them. At that age, they know exactly what they are doing and are guilty.
Then, as now, there is a court of appeal beyond the parents. If a 17-19 year old son is rebellious (for instance, physically harmful or endangering of his siblings or mother, and father is absent or doesn't restrain him), this verse applies. I would say that it applies today not in that he should be executed, but that he should be turned over to the civil authorities and/or the church.
Once the rebellious young one is not under parental authority, this verse inherently no longer applies, as the elders at the gate can bring him before them himself. "He is of age; ask him." So this verse doesn't speak to the assertion that a son is under his parents' authority until married.
There is no verse that says an adult has to obey his parents. We ought not misapply verses that appear to say it, just to have absolute clarity on how it goes in that 18-25 year old (or beyond) phase of life before marriage. We ought to be releasing and launching them in that phase, rather than overly directing and controlling, which squelches the growth of adult-like decision making, which they need to be mastering at that age. That they can practice with parental oversight/protection is a gift.
Notice there is no punishment or guilt implied or imputed to the parents in this scenario in Deut 21:18-21! A parent can do all in his power to restrain and disciple his children, and still end up in this situation. If not, this verse wouldn't be here. This does not undermine the truth that we believe God for the salvation of our children, or that parents are covenantally responsible for the sins of their children. Deut 21:18-21 is how they carry out their responsibility with a child who is out of control: they take him to the church and/or state.
The other apostles recognized his call to the Gentiles, and rejected the necessity of circumcision for believers in Christ.
Paul rightly rebuked Peter for re-segregating meals according to Torah.
We are not reckoned righteous by keeping Torah, but by believing in Jesus as the Christ.
Our requirement to keep Torah, and our condemnation by Torah, was killed with Christ on the cross.
If you try to live (be justified) by the law, you will be condemned by it, for all have sinned. We should live by the promise, which precedes the law. The law doesn't contradict the promise, but wasn't meant as the source of life or justification. Its purpose is rather to define and condemn sin. We are no longer under it, since Christ has come. It is faith in the promise of God to Abraham and to us, not adherence to the Law, that reckons us righteous and one of God's people.
Paul wants to go back to visit the churches again, but not with John Mark, who left them before. Barnabas insists he come, so Barnabas and John Mark go, and Paul takes Silas with him, separately.
Paul discovers Timothy in Lystra, and has him get circumcised so as not to stumble the Jews there. Interesting, after chapter 15!
Seeking to go north to Asia, Paul and Silas and Timothy are hindered. The Spirit directs them west to Macedonia instead. Lydia is converted in Philippi. The Gospel is dismissed until it starts having an impact. When a cash cow psychic is exorcised and thus ruined, they throw Paul in jail. This just furthers the Gospel, converting the jailer and his household. Then Paul insists the magistrates admit their fault in jailing them. Doesn't seem very humble, according to the pietist, perhaps, but it was important to set the public record straight that the enemies of Christ sought the injustice, not His followers.
Trials test and strengthen your faith, so rejoice in them.
Ask for wisdom. Don't follow your desires into sin.
All gifts come from God, who made us be born again into a new creation.
The implanted word helps you resist temptation, if you apply it, instead of letting it bounce off your forehead.
True religion acts, it doesn't just feel or believe.
Don't be partial to the rich. Show mercy in judgment, as you will be judged with the measure you use. Your faith will be shown, proven (justified) by your works.
The small tongue greatly reveals the heart of evil in us. Taming it is impossible. We speak both good and ill from the same tongue, which is unnatural. Wisdom leads to a harvest of righteousness; evil bears fruit antithetical to this.
Our worldly desires create all kinds of problems. We must deny them and humble ourselves to draw near to God. Speaking evil of others is the opposite of this. So is boasting in your future accomplishments.
The rich must remember the poor instead of exploiting them.
Patience in tribulation is needed, while waiting for the seed of the Word to sprout.
Sing when cheerful. Pray and confess sin when sick. Righteous prayer does a great deal.
Restoring a sinner is a great work.
Paul and Barnabas are now persecuted from city to city, as the Jews get the city officials or a mob in each place to harm him. They get a different response from the Greeks to healing a man than the Jews: they are worshiped as gods. Then the Jews come and convince them to stone them. Talk about a fickle mob.
As they return through the cities where they converted men to Christ, they follow up, strengthen the churches, and appoint elders in every church.
Application: Paul remains steadfast and doesn't stop, in the face of intense opposition, even when it means physical harm. How often do we stop living our faith or speaking of it, when faced with mild disapproval from others?
Missionaries northwest of Jerusalem and Damascus have most success among Gentiles, especially in Antioch. Barnabas is sent there, and he recruits Saul, from Tarsus. These two become representatives of the church to Jerusalem, where aid is needed for the isolated believers for the prophesied, future famine.
National politics enters the church scene for the first time. Herod wants to do the Jews a favor, and so helps them persecute the church. He kills James and imprisons Peter. An angel releases Peter supernaturally. When he comes to in the street, his first thought is the house church of John Mark's mother, which ought to be a clue to its significance. There seems to be a correlation here between Peter's preservation from Herod and Jesus' in Matthew 2. Herod dies, but Jesus, the Word, increases and grows. John Mark goes to Antioch with Saul and Barnabas.
1. Defend those God defends, even if society does not.
2. Pay attention to the ministry God blesses with fruit, while not losing sight of the parameters of the Word of God.
3. Do not despair of the giants in the land who resist God; they will soon fade from the scene.
Meanwhile, Peter continues to heal, even raising a widow from death. He breaches the Jew-Gentile gap. Only Nixon could go to China, right? Even so, Peter has to lead this, before Paul begins in earnest. Peter preaches to Cornelius' household, a message tempered for Gentiles without all the Jewish Scripture and history: forgiveness of sins, judge of men, and resurrection are the main themes. The Spirit falls "even on the Gentiles," a telling phrase of controversy to come.
Application: is there someone ELSE you need to tell about Jesus? Not because they are plan B in God's eyes, but because you hadn't thought to go there with the Gospel.
Phillip then goes south and meets an Ethiopian going home from worshiping in Jerusalem, reading Isaiah 53. He preaches Jesus and the eunuch is baptized.
Application: the Spirit converts many who would not normally be included, but a persecution from the Jews was required to get the apostles out to them. Hm.
In defense, Stephen tells the whole history of Israel, highlighting that they have always rejected God's anointed ruler and redeemer for Israel, mentioning Joseph, highlighting Moses, then mentioning the other prophets they persecuted. They reject and stone him, Saul holding their coats for them, approving.
Application: who are the Hellenist widows in your church, who are being overlooked?
Would you think to defend your faith by recounting Israel's history? How well do you know your spiritual family history?
Growth of the Church escalates the situation; the Sadducees get jealous as the Church grows. This time they imprison all the apostles, but they respond the same: preaching and saying they have to obey God before them. Gamaliel, a prominent Pharisee, uses his position to temper the Sanhedrin's opposition to the Church.
1. Have you ever had opportunity to bear witness to Jesus before what you knew to be a hostile audience? Will you have it again? Use this speech as a model to imitate in preparing to give an answer for the hope that is in you. Rejoice to know that you are imitating Jesus in His being rejected by men.
2. Do you trust your church leaders to distribute wisely your tithes and offerings?
Application: the core of the Gospel is given from verses 22-40. Have you spoken it to others recently? What do these verses say is the proof of its truth?
You have the power of the Spirit from Jesus to bear witness to Him where you are. Are you doing so?
The apostles are now joined by Jesus' family, and 100 or so others. Peter leads them in replacing Judas. The first act of the Spirit in Peter's doing so is to lead him to quote the Word, showing from Psalms what Judas was. It was important to have 12 apostles, not 11. They realize they are the new Israel.
While the acts of the apostles in this book are not always commands for what we should be doing today, in this case we can ask: are we able to apply the Word to events concerning us and our witness to Christ, so as to guide us to more effective bearing witness?
"Who you marry will have far more impact on what you become than any other factor. Where you go to church is also critical to your spiritual and moral development. Both of these will have much more impact on you and your children, and your children’s children (for a thousand generations), than any degree from any college or university. If that is the case, then why wouldn’t a young person have these issues at the very top of his list as he makes decisions about his future? Whether it’s school, or career, or preparation to be a wife and mother, we must place ourselves in the way of wisdom, preparing ourselves for the best possible opportunities."
The guards report to the Jews, who circulate the stolen body story.
Two disciples heading home to Emmaus meet Jesus. Though they don't recognize Him, He teaches them all about Himself from the Word. They recognize Him in the breaking of bread.
Jesus re-appears in the Jerusalem upper room, teaching them from the Word, having them touch Him, and eating fish in front of them. He gives them His authority to give or withhold forgiveness.
He re-appears next week, to doubting Thomas, who stops doubting and worships Jesus as his Lord and God. The point of the Gospels is for us readers to also believe and worship Jesus.
The disciples go back to Nazareth. Peter goes fishing with the other disciples. Jesus enables them to catch fish, as they will convert the nations to Him, and He provides breakfast on the shore. He restores Peter by commissioning him to shepherd His flock.
The disciples see Jesus again in Galilee on a mountain. They worship Him, and are commissioned by Him to disciple all the nations by baptizing and teaching them. They are given power to do signs confirming their Gospel message. He then ascends to heaven.