23 June 2008

St. Paul's Blog 5: The Rest of Acts

Jerusalem was really exciting. I started a riot in the temple (not even on purpose!). It didn't stay in the temple for very long, though, because they decided to drag me out into the street so they would have more room to beat me. A cohort of Romans came by and calmed the crowd down some, which was nice. I knew an opportunity when I saw it, so I asked him to let me say a few words to the crowd in Hebrew. After the crowd shouted me down and started throwing dirt and clothing into the air, the Roman commander decided he should probably take me someplace a little safer (like prison).

I met some different rulers, like Felix, Festus, and Agrippa (no, I didn't make fun of their names, but it was pretty hard). I got to preach to all of them, and it went pretty well, I suppose, because nobody fell asleep and plummeted to their deaths or anything.

So now I'm on my way to Rome to preach to the Emperor. Of course, my escorts and I have had a few little problems, such as a shipwreck. The captain can't say I didn't warn him... "Let's wait for winter," I said. "We're all going to die," I said. But nooooo, he just HAD to get to Phoenix before the winter set in.

The soldiers were all for killing us prisoners when the ship ran onto an island after being buffeted for a couple of weeks at sea, but the good ol' centurion kind of liked me and wanted to make sure I got to meet the Emperor, so he let us live. Then, a snake almost succeeded where the soldiers left off -- who knew that snakes liked the fire so much? -- but God saved me yet again!

I'm more convinced than ever that God will use me just how He wants to, no matter how many riots or high priests or soldiers or snakes try to stop Him. Regardless of what happens to me in Rome, He will be glorified, and if I die in the process, I just get to see Him face to face that much quicker! Talk about a win-win situation.

22 June 2008

St. Paul's Blog 4: Acts 18:23-21:17

I'm kind of tired lately. There has been a lot to do here in Asia. For instance, it seems like every time I turn around, someone is wanting me to use their handkerchief. I do my best, but there's only so much snot one man can expell before his nose gets sore. This is definitely not what I meant when I said "all things to all men."

Here's how exhausted I am: I hardly even put up a fight when my friends told me not to go down to the big riot at the Ephesus Theater... and you know how much I love a good riot every now and again. It's probably for the best that I didn't go, because the city clerk stopped the riot pretty quickly without even preaching a lot to make the people madder at him. What a boring ending.

I guess I'm not the only tired one around, though. A few weeks ago I was preaching in Troas, and some kid named Eutychus fell asleep during my sermon. I was kind of ticked off because I had only been talking for a few hours and I was barely halfway through my first sentence! He died (a fall from a three-story window will do that to you), but I wasn't done preaching yet, so I raised him from the dead, gave him something to eat, and made sure he was sitting on the front row for the rest of my sermon. THAT should teach him a thing or two.

We're in Caesaria now, on our way back to Jerusalem. I've been trying to get some rest, but it's hard since about every half hour, one of Philip's daughters starts prophesying. Most of their prophecies are pretty good, but every once in a while, one of them will talk about a tiger in the woods and how he will be the master of some tournament of catching eagles and other birdies with traps made of sand. Now that just doesn't make any sense at all.

Speaking of prophets, one stole my belt the other day. When I tried to get it back, he tied me up and basically said that there was a lot more where that came from if I kept going toward Jerusalem. You might think I was in quite a bind, but really I was knot. I knew that with Christ on my side, I would never have to be afrayed!

Jerusalem, here I come.

St. Paul's Blog 3: Acts 15:36-18:22

Hi again! Boy, it's been a while. I kind of lost track of time, what with all that wacky circumcision hullabaloo! It wasn't exactly what you'd call a cut-and-dry case, but I think we managed to slice through the complexities of the situation and come up with a fairly incisive resolution.

After that was over, Barnabas and I wanted to go back to see all of our old friends to encourage them in their faith. The only problem was that Barnabas wanted to bring his whiny little quitter of a cousin with us. I basically told Barnabas that if John Mark came along, I might end up martyring him myself, so we agreed to disagree and went our separate ways. Consequently, I have a new buddy named Silas who came on this trip with me. He has a very nice singing voice, which may seem irrelevant, but it came in handy later.

After picking up Timothy (and circumcising him, just to be on the safe side), we headed to the part of Asia that is famous for its Macedonia Nut Cookies. Of course, being who we are, we immediately got into some trouble. We cast a demon out of a slave-girl, but instead of thanking us, her masters made the Romans mad at us. I guess they preferred to have their possession intact, so to speak.

After we had lost our shirts and quite a bit of blood, the kind jailer escorted us to his very nicest cell. To thank him, we sang some songs, and I think I can say without being immodest that we brought down the house. The jailer said it just about killed him to hear it. Then the jailer and his whole family got saved, and the Roman officials apologized to us! It all goes to show you that God continues to be faithful, even when you're getting stripped and beaten and no one in the whole town has even offered you a single one of their famous regional cookies.

21 June 2008

St. Paul's Blog 2: Acts 13:1-15:35

Guess what! We went on a missionary journey!!! It started out with some pretty stiff opposition and went downhill from there. You’d think that people would be happy to hear good news, but noooo. All they want to do is yell at us. The governor of Cyprus seemed willing to hear what we had to say, but his blind friend--well, at least he was blind by the time we’d left--was a little less willing to “see” things our way.

Barnabas’s whiny little cousin Mark couldn’t take it, so he was gone before we even left the first little island. It’s a good thing too, because I think I’d have helped him “see” things my way by the end of the trip too, if you know what I mean…

In the next town we were able to expound at great length on the gospel, and they even asked us back the next week. But we must have done something to offend the Pisidian Antioch Ladies’ Society because they ran us out on a rail. That was OK; the town was real dusty anyway, so we cleaned our feet off and headed for Iconium…

Iconium was a lot like Pisidian Antioch, except that the people there weren't very welcoming and also they tried to stone us.

We hoped we might get a warmer reception in Lystra, and we weren't disappointed. All we did was heal one guy and suddenly they were convinced that we were gods! (I was kind of offended that Barnabas got to be Zeus and I had to be Hermes.) After a lot of talking, we managed to keep them from offering sacrifices to us. But then our old friends from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium came to town, and pretty soon, the rocks were flying again.

Next, we visited the town of Derbe. I'm not sure why they call it that, because it doesn't even resemble a hat or a race. But the people there were friendlier, so that was nice. Even better, we reached a lot of people there for Jesus! This missionarying can be pretty exhausting sometimes, but it's worth it.

St. Paul's Blog 1: Acts 8-10

For the past week, I have been writing a blog in the voice of St. Paul for a Bible camp's daily newspaper. The kids were studying Acts, so they thought it would be kind of fun to have a "different" take on the reading. And I am nothing if not "different."

I kind of banged it out between doing other things, so the quality varies, but I figured I should probably post it here because I'm so bad at posting other things. :-)

This week I had a real eye-opening experience. It was pretty unexpected; I guess you might say it kind of blind-sided me.I had just finished a very successful campaign against a fanatical cult of peace-loving zombie worshipers in Jerusalem, and I was on my way to Damascus to do the same thing there. I was all set; I had several faithful thugs, letters from the religious leaders in Jerusalem, and a nearly full bottle of my new Threats 'n' Murder Brand Mouthwash ("It makes heretics say, 'Ouch!'"©).

Suddenly, a blinding flash exploded across my retinas, and that was the last thing I remember seeing.

So it turns out that I had been wrong. Really wrong. The people I had been persecuting in Jerusalem -- the ones who had insisted that the infamous Jesus of Nazareth had been the messiah and had risen from the dead after his crucifixion -- hadn't been lying. I spoke with their living Lord myself that day on the road.

After the voice stopped, I continued on with my companions to Damascus. We stayed at Judas's house on Straight Street, where I fasted and prayed for three days and three nights. During that time, the only thing I remember seeing was a vision where a man named Ananias came and laid hands on me to heal me. So it wasn't that surprising when a man named Ananias came to the house and did exactly that.

The first thing I asked after the scales fell from my eyes was whether I could be baptized. I was amazed by my experience, and I was convinced beyond doubt that Jesus was the messiah.

I guess this means I might have to start using my knack for troublemaking in a more constructive way in the future...

I am aware of all internet traditions

Tee hee... I found out about this via EB and TLQ.