PantheonPaul is under house arrest and is having coffee with his Roman guard, Rufus.

Paul (eyes closed; thoughtfully): This medium roast, breakfast blend is just about perfect.

Rufus (eyes closed; nodding): Yeah, nice and smooth. Arabica beans from Alexandria, if I’m not mistaken.

Paul (opening his eyes): The roast is what makes the difference, simple but crucial.

Rufus (smelling the coffee): Agreed.

Paul: So, have you thought about what we discussed?

Rufus: Sure. Jesus is God, but it’s hard to see through all the junk. Sometimes I don’t see the difference between the Roman church and the Roman Pantheon–I can imagine Christians building a huge temple here, too.

Paul: That’s all noise and nonsense. It’s really simple. Forget all the other stuff unless it draws you into a better relationship with God. The junk can be good or bad depending on the circumstances.

Rufus: Simple? Seems like your faith is nothing but trouble. After all, you are under arrest, right?

Paul: Point well taken. But, do I look worried?

Rufus (laughing): NEVER! You are as cool a customer as I’ve ever guarded. Yet, odds are, you’ll be crucified and I’ll have to hold you down.

Paul: Yeah, I know. I’m not the least worried.

Rufus (questioningly): Why?

Paul (smiling): Happens I know a guy who was crucified–epic fail in Judea–he COULDN’T be killed! He didn’t die and I won’t either.

Rufus (tapping Paul’s chest): Well, apparently Jesus is God–you aren’t.

Paul: Au contraire mon Rufus. I am he, he is me, we is he and we are one.

Rufus: Explain.

Paul: OK. One God, whom we met in Jesus; One Faith, no death in him; One Baptism, repentance and change; and One Way, living abundantly in grace and truth. Faith, hope and love–the greatest is love. No death.

Rufus: That’s it?

Paul: Totally–in fact, I need to send that to the Ephesians. Got a letter–John and Jesus’ mother, Mary will be moving to Ephesus to help in the church we started there.

Rufus: What about the churches, temples, rituals, ceremonies, Hebrew Histories, apostolic letters and stuff?

Paul: Just expressions. Not the main thing.

Rufus (putting down his coffee cup): Well, I believe Jesus didn’t die, for us–and I repent and want to follow The Way.

Paul: Act with grace toward others with truth in your heart. This could be a dangerous move for you. No more pillaging.

Rufus (thoughtfully): God help me.

Paul: Absolutely.

Tr8: One God, One Faith, One Baptism and One Way.

 

Holy BibleIt’s 78 and Murphy, the non-disciple, sits in front of his public house in Caesarea. He’s very old. As he sits, his son, Josh, joins him.

Josh (excitedly): Dad! Guess what? A bunch of us have made a book!

Murphy (quizzically): Made a book?

Josh: Yeah, we’ve collected all the Jewish histories, all the gospels and a bunch of letters from James and the Apostles–we call it, The Holy Bible.

Murph: Hmm. The Holy Bible. Sounds impressive.

Josh: See, we’ve put it all together and then we can tell people, “Believe the Bible and you’ll be saved.” It’ll all be in one clean package. You know, all the answers in one place. One-stop-shopping!

Murph: Believe the Bible? I believe–I knew–Jesus and was a witness. I believe in Jesus, who didn’t die, for us.

Josh (exasperated): Duh! Sure, it’s all about Jesus. We believe what you believe, we’ve just made it easier to tell his story.

Murph: I have my doubts.

Josh: Listen, Dad, you believe the Hebrew histories and prophet stories, right?

Murph: I find it hard. After all, we’re not Jews. Yet, I believe the histories and stuff on Jesus’ word. He believed ‘em and quoted them, that’s good enough for me. I don’t have to understand ‘em. I trust him.

Josh: Well, that’s splitting hairs, isn’t it? Doesn’t really matter why, just that you do.

Murph: It’s different to me. The key is he didn’t die. He lives. In me. Now. Histories don’t really concern me. They didn’t change my life.

Josh (more exasperated): Good grief! Well, you DO believe in the gospels, right?

Murph: I believe the gospels because I know the guys who wrote ‘em and saw what they saw. I’m pretty sure John is in Ephesus and I’m pretty sure Matthew is alive someplace. All but James, cleared out of Jerusalem before it fell. Jesus warned ‘em to flee and they did.

Josh: So, we agree. The gospels are important and should be believed.

Murph (shaking his head): They’re Jesus’ story. I believe what I saw and I saw what the gospels say. They are reliable.

Josh (getting angry): Why are you fighting? We agree! You always have to be right!

Murph: I know we agree, but while the truth in the stories is important, the grace and love is more important–it’s what HE lived. It’s why he didn’t die.

Josh (irritated): Okay, I’ll concede that. Just work with me on this. The book is a good idea.

Murph: With the right perspective it’s a good idea, with a legalist, it could be disastrous.

Josh: What about the letters? We included James’, John’s, Peter’s, Paul’s, that Hebrew letter and even one by Jude.

Murph: I’m not sure about Jude and I think Barnabas wrote Hebrews, but I’m not sure. Could be Apollos or maybe even Paul in his “Hebrew phase.”

Josh (emphatically): But it’s all good and reliable, right?!

Murph: Yes.

Josh: Finally! It may take a few centuries to catch on, but this book has legs. I promise. All the guys in my small group agree. Your generation seems to be the holdouts–funny how the witnesses seem to resist this project.

Murph: Truth is, some of us have discussed it. Here’s our concern: After our generation this is all going to sound like a tall tale or myth. People will surely say the gospels aren’t true because they won’t know the historical context.

Josh: What?

Murph: Jerusalem, the war, the destruction of Herod’s Temple, the mass crucifixions and genocide. They won’t know that everything changed in the 60s. WE all KNOW about the fall of Jerusalem in 70. What future generations won’t know is what happened in 70 validates the gospels and letters.

Josh: What do you mean?

Murph: I mean, if they knew about the destruction and genocide, they’d know the gospels and letters were written by eye-witnesses. Why? Because the elimination of the Hebrews as a nation would have been mentioned–Jesus prophesied it, then we saw it happen decades later after he went up. Those of us who are still around talk about it and marvel. That’s just how he was when he lived with us…

Josh (thoughtfully): Sorry, Dad. I know it’s tough, still….so, future generations will have the gaul to suggest the gospels and letters aren’t real, or are just stories?

Murph: What do you think?

Josh (thoughtfully): Hmm. That’s something to think about. But surely, if we get the Bible all together, people will believe it.

Murph: Well, I hope so. But you know what the Sanhedrin did with their “Scripture”–they crucified Jesus. He died, then he came back. I saw him myself.

Tr8: Believe in Jesus. The one who didn’t die, for you and me. He lived so we can live in his truth and by his grace and love.

Watch this!

 

fame

Posted: June 24, 2014 in Humor, Morality
Tags: , , , , , ,

Bob Zimmerman In 1900 there was a tent evangelist named, Bob Zimmerman. Bob wanted to be famous more than anything in the world. He worked hard and constantly thought what it would be like to be a social icon for generations. In his meetings he’d get everyone into frenzy and then get them to walk the sawdust aisles in his tent.

When he was 25, he met the devil at a conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The devil said he was in the fame business. Bob got excited.

“Can you make ME famous?”

“Sure.”

“What do I have to do?”

“Well, how famous do you want to be?”

“I want to be in public’s eye all over the country for generations to come.”

“I can do that. Just abandon the teachings of your youth and focus on yourself and preach health and prosperity as salvation.”

“Deal!”

“Put on a suit and meet me at the photographer’s shop on First Street tomorrow.”

“I’ll be there.”

The next day he went to the photographer and the devil had Bob’s picture taken. Lucifer turned to Bob and said, “You will be in over 600 venues in 42 states Some people will pray before your image.”

“Woohoo! I’ll be rich. People will see my face and thank God under my gaze!”

“Not so fast…you turning from your upbringing?”

“Yes! It was all rules and religion anyway.”

“What about faith?”

“I’m done with silly Bible stories and keeping rules. If Jesus were real he’d have answered my prayers for fame years ago. I say, the hell with all of that! God helps those who help themselves!”

Bob walked out into the street and was hit by a water wagon and was killed instantly.

Bob’s portrait, along with 20 other fame-seeking fools, hang in over 600 Cracker Barrel restaurants in 42 states. Bob is usually seen over the fireplace and one can often see couples and families thanking God for their food under his pretentious gaze.

Tr8 – Fame without substance is an illusion.  If you must wish, wish to serve others selflessly like Christ did. Think about those who have won fame for generations. What did they do? There’s no greater love than this–that a man lay down his life for those he loves.

followerMurphy, the non-disciple, stood speechlessly steaming as his wife, Harpreet, walked away. He’d just smacked her a good one in the middle of an argument. Harpreet, from a former abusive relationship, also just smacked him.

This was something both thought would never happen. But, in the heat of the moment, under the circumstances, both vented their frustrations physically. This was not the first time either received a smacking, but it was the first time between THEM.

Murphy (to himself): I can’t believe this…

Harpreet: I can’t believe this.

Murph: I’m sorry, I…

Harpreet: Either the pub goes or I do!

Murph: There’s nothing wrong with the pub! It’s how I make a living and take care of you!

Harpreet: No, it’s how you avoid me and leave me on my own!

Murph: You know I love you. How else am I to pay the bills?

Harpreet: Find a way that doesn’t require you to tend bar all hours of the day and night.

Murph: This isn’t fair…

Harpreet walks out.

Murph (as she goes): I’ll work something out. I promise.

Harpreet: Yeah, sure. What’ll you do?

Murphy, moodily locks up his pub and heads up to the nearby highlands to seek wisdom from the Oracle of Galilee, Madam Roberts. She lives in a cave and is locally known for her wisdom.

Madam Roberts (rubbing her brow knowingly): Ah! You have a problem and come for the Wisdom of the Oracle. Sit.

Murph (sitting across from Madam): Wow, how did you know? My marriage is falling apart. I need you to help me.

Madam: The Oracle needs inspiration.

Murph (pulling out a few denari): Here’s an offering. My problem is…

Madam (holding up her hand): Stop. The Oracle knows all. You have fought with your wife.

Murph: Well, duh. She thinks I don’t…

Madam (closes her eyes, sways, rises and lifts her hands: The Oracle speaks: “Love not the circumstances dictate actions.” Go. Next.

A man with a goat enters the cave.

Murph (startled; as he’s leaving): Hey, can I buy a comma?!

Murphy is pushed out of the cave.

Murph (heading down the hill): Well, crap. Love, not the circumstances, dictate actions?Love not, the circumstances dictate actions? Love not the circumstances, dictate actions?

When Murphy returns to his pub he turns around and finds Jesus following him.

Murph: Hey, Jesus. What are you doing?

Jesus: I’ve been following you.

Murph: Really? I’ve been up to the Oracle. She wasn’t much help. Wouldn’t give me a comma.

Jesus: Well, what did you expect? I’ll give you the comma–it goes after the first word.

Murph: Love, not the circumstances dictate actions.

Jesus: Yep.

Murph: I love Harpreet but that doesn’t change the circumstances.

Jesus: If love can’t change your circumstances, you are stuck.

Murph: Why can’t Harpreet change and work within our circumstances?

Jesus: Who’s love do you control? Figure out what part of the problem is yours and begin working with that.

Murph: Harpreet will only be happy if I give up the pub!

Jesus: Love is most evident in sacrifice. Think about those who love you and you’ll be thinking of those who have made sacrifices for your sake. They’ve followed you all your live. Only love can inspire such sacrifices–it’s not natural or rational.

Murph: Hmm. You’re right, but I don’t know if I can make the kind of sacrifices needed in my case.

Jesus: Follow me. You and Harpreet, follow me.

Murph: But what if she won’t?

Jesus: Love follows. It’s the sacrifice. You follow me, she follows you, you follow her, I follow you…love follows. If she loves you, she’ll follow you. If you love her, you’ll follow her. If you love me, you’ll follow me. If you follow me, I will care for you.

Murph: How can I follow you AND follow her?

Jesus: Murphy, we are good friends, right? Do for Harpreet as I would do for you. You found me here for you today. I’ll always have what you need. You be me to her. The key: Start over. Whoever follows, always gets another start–another chance to get it right.

Murph: Okay, I’ll restart. I’ll follow. If all goes well, we’ll both follow, but no matter what, I’ll follow.

Tr8: Love follows.

opposite partyLevi is a tax-collector in Capernaum. He is a second-generation collector. His father was awarded the Capernaum office after fighting in Syria for King Herod the Great and Rome. His job was easy and straight-forward–collect taxes for Rome, Judea and himself–leverage annihilation for wealth. Levi wasn’t too worried about the moral aspects of his work–after all, it was inherited and he was just doing what his father did.

If there were two types of people in Capernaum, he was the other type. The local religionists–local Hebrews, scribes and pharisees–were proudly and totally screwed up and didn’t know it. He detested their holier-than-thou attitudes. He was more than happy to add a “jerk tax” for those who thought they were better than everyone else.

At least he was honest about his situation–he was screwed up and knew it beyond a shadow of a doubt. He had a bunch of friends in similar straits–soldiers, government employees, money-lenders, prostitutes, pimps and gangsters. If there was a hell, he’d be going there with all his friends. Unless something changed.

Then something did.

Jesus (sticking out his hand; a crew of what appear to be frowning Hebrew fishermen and synagogue leaders are behind him): You are Matthew! Glad to meet you!

Levi (confused, taking the hand): No, I’m Levi.

Jesus: Not anymore, you are no longer “attached” to your tax business. I’m changing your name to Matthew, “Gift from God.”

Levi: Seriously? Do I know you? Who are you to change my name?

Jesus (dead serious): I’m God. You don’t know me, but I know you.

Levi (hesitantly studying him): …right…

Jesus: I’ve come for you, Matthew. Follow me.

Levi (coming from behind his counter): So, you are God and you want me to follow you?

Jesus: Correct.

Levi: Why would I do that?

Jesus: Come and see.

Levi (putting things away): I’ll lock the office, then I’ll come and see.

Jesus: Great. You can “come and see” at your house.

Matthew (looking up): My house?

Jesus: Correct, again. It’s “Thursday’s Happy Hour at Levi’s” so your friends are probably already arriving at your house.

Matthew (raised eyebrow): Then it’s on.

Jesus (throws his arm over Matthew’s shoulder; motions to those behind him): Follow us! So, Matthew, how’s your mother?

Matthew (warming up to the idea of Jesus): She’s well, how’s yours?

Jesus: She’s a saint. We’ll have to get them together. Mom leads a women’s group that meets at Peter’s mother-in-law’s house on Mondays. I’ve told Mom to expect your mom next week. They’ll hit it off in an instant.

Matthew (approaching the entrance to his residence): You know, your friends and my friends aren’t going to get along. They are pretty much opposites.

Jesus (smiling): Yeah, this is going to be fun.

Matthew (looking at Jesus and catching his mischievous attitude; smiling): So, we’re going to mix it up…this will be fun.

Matthew and Jesus enter. Jesus’ entourage follows and lines walls. Matthew’s “sinners” friends are sitting with their drinks and look up to see the crowd of “saints” enter.

You could hear a pin drop.

Matthew (to the “saints”): Welcome to my house. Choose your poison–Cokes, wine or liquor?

Saints:

Jesus: I’ll have a Psagot–it’s very good: dark-fruited and dense yet sleek in texture.

Matthew (surprised, with a new respect): Good choice. I’ll have the same (they sit at Matthew’s spot in the room).

Jesus: Thanks.

Matthew (to the assembled group): Welcome to my house. I’m glad to have the opportunity to introduce you to…

Jesus: Jesus.

Matthew: …Jesus. (Waving to the disciples and synagogue leaders.) Welcome, friends. Any friend of Jesus is a friend of mine.

The two groups, seated and standing, gaze at each other in mutual disdain. The town’s leading prostitute winks at the leader of the synagogue. All of Matthew’s friends (and Jesus) chuckle. Those along the walls turn up their noses, look offended and generally shake their heads in judgment.

Pharisee (to disciples): Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?

Jesus (hearing this): It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Pharisee: Are you telling us to leave?

Jesus: No, stick around–the “doctor” is in.

The disciples and and synagogue leaders reluctantly ease to the floor. Mary Magdalene (the prostitute) passes around clean towelettes, bowls of figs and a pitcher of wine.

Jesus: Ok, now that everyone is settled–I have a story (the room goes silent). There was a man who sent workers out to his vineyard…

Everyone entered the debate on the conduct and punishment for contemptuous servants. They were all united in their enmity toward ungrateful vineyard workers. As the two sides came together, Jesus smiled at Matthew. Matthew looked deeper into Jesus eyes…

Matthew: I see. I’ll follow.

Jesus: Yes, you do, Matthew. Welcome to my kingdom.

Tr8: No matter how screwed up you are–whether you realize it or not–Jesus is coming and he wants to rename you.