THE Big Story

Here’s an interesting presentation of THE Big Story of God, humans, and the world:

Please bear in mind that this is a three-minute summary, so do give the presenter some leeway if he does not include some details we would prefer to see if we were the ones to present a Big Story 😉 .

What do you think?

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Note (added 10/10/08): This presentation was developed by James Choung, who explains it further here.

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Back from Davao; For My Classmates: Don Carson Links

I’m back from Davao where I taught a two-week summer class on the Old Testament prophets, at Koinonia Theological Seminary.

Davao is at the lower right corner of this map, while Manila is at the top half of the map. It’s about 961 km (597 miles) from Manila, 1hr 40mins by plane.

I promised my students I’d give them the links to a pages containing links to Dr. Donald Carson’s audio lectures and sermons. So, classmates, here they are:

D. A. Carson Audio sermons and lectures – Free from around the Web; and

D. A. Carson MP3s.

Dr. Carson is one of my favorite Christian scholars, and I highly recommend his books, commentaries, and audio lectures and sermons. Widely read, sharp intellect, and an able defender and promoter of the faith.

He has also preached at All Souls Church in London, which used to be headed by the Rev. Dr. John Stott. His sermons are excellent examples of solid exegesis and application. His messages at All Souls can be downloaded from their site. Just search for sermons by preacher, “Don Carson”.

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American Idols Shout to the Lord

I don’t really watch American Idol, so I missed the two episodes last week where, it turned out, the remaining contestants sang Darlene Zschech’s beautiful song Shout to the Lord.

I was just alerted to this through my favorite blog Parchment and Pen, which asked: What’s up with American Idol and Jesus? and posted a link to this YouTube video:

Maybe the program is just pandering to the strong conservative Christian market base, but that’s OK. Thanks be to God that praises to Jesus Christ are sung on US TV primetime.

(Seems that something happened behind the scenes, though, because the name “Jesus” was replaced by “Shepherd” in the first night’s performance, during the actual Idol Gives Back telecast. But the same song was sung again the following night, with the name “Jesus” placed back!)

Canadian Idol, on the other hand, seems to be already open to Christian songs. Their 2004 winner, the very talented Kalan Porter, performed this awesome number on that show, a moving rendition of MercyMe’s I Can Only Imagine:


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(Bonus clip 🙂 : Porter also sang this powerful song, for which a fan made a video montage on YouTube:)

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(Note: Wikipedia has a note about the performance of Shout to the Lord in last week’s Idol Gives Back show where the name “Jesus” was replaced by “Shepherd”, but was placed back in the following night’s repeat performance of the song. The Parchment and Pen post from which I got the original heads-up has interesting views on this from various commenters.)
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Life After Life After Death

Since I mentioned Easter in my last post, here’s a good “teaser” regarding the concept of resurrection, which I stumbled on just today: N. T. Wright on Resurrection.

Good comments by the readers at the end, too.

Quotable quotes from Bishop Wright (possible answers to the question Where do we go from here? 😉 ):

Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world.”

There is life after life after death.”

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I think the writer of the movie Gladiatormeant it in a different way, but the line that he gave for the character of Maximus is true: “What we do in this life will echo in eternity”.

God bless you, and by His grace and mercy grant you resurrection life through Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
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Judging God

Last March 16, my wife and I were guests on a radio show where we talked about Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday is the first day of what Christians call the Holy Week, which culminates in Easter Sunday. We observe Holy Week every year to commemorate the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate that day when Jesus entered Jerusalem and was hailed by the people as a king. The people took off their robes and laid them on the road for Jesus’ donkey to walk on. They broke off branches of palm trees and likewise laid those on the road.

In the Gospel according to Matthew, the people shouted “Hosanna to the son of David!” They hailed Jesus as the descendant of the great king David, the greatest king the nation of Israel has ever had.

In Mark’s account, the people shouted “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming!”

And according to Luke, the people shouted “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Clearly the people saw Jesus as the king-descendant of David, who would re-establish the kingdom of Israel and sit on David’s throne. He was the Messiah who had been proclaimed by the prophets and whom the nation had been waiting for for hundreds of years.

Finally the shame of Israel would be ended! Finally they would be a great kingdom again! Finally they would be able to throw off the shackles of the Roman empire!

This Jesus would be the one to lead them! This Jesus—his teachings and his mighty miracles for the past three years show that HE is the promised deliverer of the nation: the Christ, or Anointed One, Yeshua ha mashiach, Jesus the Messiah! This Jesus is THE Christ!

Less than one week later, they were shouting, “Crucify him!”

“Give us Barabbas! Crucify Jesus!”

What happened?

Expectations.

They had expected a human king who would help them overthrow the Gentile colonizers.

He had come to destroy the powers of Satan, the usurper. He had come to overthrow the ruler of this world [1]. But that wasn’t what they expected, and that wasn’t what they wanted.

That still isn’t what most people want.

Because of His miracles, they thought they could expect Him to feed them forever [2]. They didn’t understand, nor did they care, that He had come to give them more than physical bread and more than physical water. He had come down from heaven as the bread of life [3], and he assured them that whoever came to Him for drink would never thirst again [4]. But that wasn’t what they wanted.

Most people still don’t care for those.

He had come to deliver them from sin and death. They expected to be delivered from the Romans and from poverty.

Then they woke up on Friday to see that this supposed Messiah had been arrested and tortured by the Romans, handed over to the conquerors by their own religious leaders. And he couldn’t say anything in his own defense, couldn’t call on an armed group to try to free him.

What kind of liberator is that? What kind of Messiah is that?

So when their religious authorities told them to ask that the Zealot Barabbas be released instead of this pretender Jesus, well—at least that one had tried to do his part in overthrowing the hated Romans.

“Give us Barabbas! Crucify Jesus!”

They judged and evaluated God, and rejected Him when He didn’t meet their expectations.

Until now—people still stand in judgment of God. The created still evaluates the Creator.

And when He does not meet their expectations, they reject Him. They prefer “saviors” who would save and feed them in ways they expect and understand. They create their own gods, according to their own expectations, according to their own image.

Almighty God has very graciously revealed Himself to us through His prophets, through the Scriptures, and ultimately through His own Son [5], but humans prefer their own imaginations over the divine revelation.

In his post The Gospel According to Oprah?, Pastor Eyriche Cortez cites the story of the “world’s most powerful woman” being turned off by the revelation that God is a jealous God—she then proceeded to look for a god whom she would be more comfortable with.

According to the story [6], she judged God, found that the revelation He gave about Himself in the Bible did not meet her expectations and preferences, and decided that the God of the Bible was not the true God.

She is not alone in this.

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To be continued…

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[1] cf. John 12:31
[2] cf. John 6:1-26
[3] John 6:35
[4] John 4:14; 7:37-38
[5] Hebrews 1:1-4
[6] I found the original version of this Oprah story here. Check it out. Worth reading.

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This is Part 1 of a series. Other posts in this series:

Part 2: Original Sin

Part 3: To Understand, Stand Under

Part 4: Dying for Rebels
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