Good News from Mars (Part 1)
Those of us, who are familiar with Apostle Paul's sermon at Mars Hill, realize that it was delivered while he was on his second missionary journey. It was following his brief visit to Thessalonica where his gospel was well received, particularly among the Greek community. It was prior to his journey to Corinth where he was to penetrate the Greek religion which was commercializing sensual vices under the guise of worship.
When we think today in terms of ancient Greece, certainly the people and culture associated with Athens comes immediately to mind. It was the place where the Hellenic spirit achieved its most glorious expression. The Hellenistic Age, the period from the death of Alexander the Great to the founding of the Roman Empire by Augustus; and a period during which the culture of Greece had attained a high degree of maturity, was characterized by an amalgamation of the arts, philosophies, and religion. The most diverse people from the Nile to the Indus, from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf, came under the spell of the Greek spirit.
I have always been fascinated with ancient Greek history primarily because the Greeks were a very cultured and interesting class of people. Unlike the Romans who seemed preoccupied with gladiator fights for their entertainment, the Greeks went to theaters to see plays by such dramatists as Aeschylus, Sophocles, or Euripides. And it is to this Greco-Roman world that Paul came with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now, we already know that Paul had traveled extensively all over Asia Minor and wherever he went he accomplished great achievements. Surely, God had blessed his ministry because not only was his travels broad, and not only was his preaching of such magnetism that people tended to gravitate towards Christianity, but Paul was also endowed the unique gift of being able to bring people into community. At Galatia he initiated the Church of the Galatians, at Philippi ? the Church of the Philippians, at Ephesus ? the Church of the Ephesians. So what I am suggesting is that Paul touched a lot of lives and did a lot of good wherever he went.
But, when Paul got to Athens, he found himself in an environment unlike any he had ever experienced before. Athens: the citadel of intellectual life for the Greek world. Athens was the capital of academia. Paul found himself in the midst of various sects of philosophical educators. Every religious cult in the world found some exponent in Athens. It was the rendezvous of scholars; the universally recognized center of learning. Those who desired learning went there to get it. Those who had learning went there to show it.
The Athenians pride was monumental and to some degree, it is understandable. After all, here was the seat of a great university where folks from all over world clamored to attend. They were proud of there tradition and ancient culture. Athens was a cosmopolitan city, lively and colorful and was considered to be Greece's "City of Light." This was the home some three or four centuries earlier of such great philosophers as Plato, who formulated a theory related to ideas and who became renown for his literary skills; Aristotle's, who distinguished himself in logic and who became known as a universal genius. And of course you remember that it was here at Athens that Socrates drinks from the poisonous cup because he refused to change his principles or alter his way of thinking.
It was to this kind of intellectual climate that Paul had come with the gospel. And that is one thing about the gospel; it does not take detours, it does not make waves, it does not adapt itself to comply with man's limited understanding. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not interested in how many degrees we have behind our names. It does not care anything about academia because there is something about the gospel that penetrates the wall of intellectualism. It breaks down the stronghold of human knowledge and human understanding. The word of God you know, is quick and powerful and shaper than any two edged sword.
So Paul found himself in Athens, the center of what was highest in Greek civilization. Now, I do not want you to misunderstand me. It was not that Paul was out of place among these intellectual giants. Paul was a scholar in his own right, though these philosophers were unaware of it. Paul had received rabbinical training under Rabbi Gamaliel and Gamaliel was the leading Rabbi of his day. So Paul was no ignoramus by any stretch of the imagination.
But Paul did not come to Athens to match wits with the philosophers. Paul was not interested in participating in philosophical debates. He was not concerned about expanding his knowledge regarding their religious stance. Paul was there on business ? God's business. He was there to introduce the gospel; to change their direction, to correct their disorders in religion. He was not there to supplement his education.
(continued in Part 2)
Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, veteran social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach which can be reviewed on her site. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: My Grief Management Workbook, is expected to be available in July.
You are welcome to visit AMEN Ministries: Your Soul's Service Station for spiritual refreshing, soul edification or to browse our newly expanded mini shopping mall.
Blessings to all!
The Winds of Change
Humanity is entering a very critical time in its path of evolution. The winds of change began to blow over eighteen years ago at the event you call Harmonic Convergence but the only ones who felt this at first were those many call star-seeds or light workers. Today almost everyone on the planet is being swept up into them. The third dimension world of duality is beginning to be blown away so to speak.
Pursuing Your Destiny
During my childhood days, I disliked Lenten season because radio and TV stations were off the air (no cable yet during the 70's) and food is limited to veggies and fish. Likewise, I was taught that holy week (1) is a time to be sad (at least in Manila), the elders then are singing the passion in a sad tune. (2) I was also told to "be careful" because God is "dead" (as if all forces of hell is turned loose during those days). And (3) People should act holy. I thought, people have the rest of the year to live like the devil. I even remember asking my mother, 'why is God dying every year?'
Acknowledging Emotions and Feelings
We'll begin with a question:
A Dozen Facts of Life
1. Life is a precious gift given to us by the God.
What Does God Want From Me? A Personal Revelation of Conviction Verses Condemnation
It's strange how my life today looks wildly different from the way it was in the beginning of my Christian walk. My spiritual life cooled after being burned by a fellow Christian a few years back. Then, unthinkable challenges, such as adultery and divorce, came my way. I became someone far different from the bible believing, Jesus freak I thought I was.
Learning the Secret of Contentment (Part 2)
Paul's encouragement to the Philippians is also our encouragement. Consider his afflictions and trials:
Building The Body of Christ
As a walked across the gym floor with perspiration coming from my brow, my wife, Denise said "honey, you're a bodybuilder". I looked at her with amazement was my wife just getting it. I had been building this body for more than twenty years. Then again she said, "You're a bodybuilder", it was then that I got the revelation she was speaking of the body of Christ. She was saying what Paul was inspired to say in Ephesians 4:12 "to prepare God's people for works of service, so the body of Christ may be built up." Since that day neither of our lives will be the same.
Awakening from the Dream, Divine Source through Barbara Rose
Greetings my Dear Beloved Souls
Esoteric & Occult Secrets
To understand the nature of esoteric and occult secrets it is worthwhile looking at origin of the words esoteric and occult. Esoteric derives from the Greek word esoterikos, from the root word eso, 'within' . The word occult derives from the Latin words occulere, 'conceal' and occultus, 'secret' . Both of these words, esoteric and occult, are used to describe the study of arcane wisdom, the spiritual mysteries, and magical and hermetic philosophies.
A Merry Heart is Like a Medicine
When the body of Christ isn't protected we become vulnerable and sick in the same way. Every person in the body of Christ represents an important part of that body. Some people lead and some follow, but without the other one, it's impossible to work correctly. When one person in the congregation hurts, we should all hurt and when someone has a praise report, we should all be in praise. But unfortuneately, this is not the case. We neglect eachother's needs, we covet eachother's possesions, we envy, we get jealous, and we secretly hold unforgiveness towards our brethren. This behavior soon leads to an attack on the body of Christ. A serious illness will develop and could end up causing death among the whole church. I've seen it happen when even the pastors were destroyed by the leading of the people and not the leading of God. This led to offenses and regrets and soon the church folded.
Stress Strategy: Flex Your Spiritual Muscles
In his book, Stress Without Distress, Dr. Selye suggests that a person's interpretation of stress is not dependent solely on an external event, but also depends upon the perception of the event and the meaning he or she assigns it. So, how you look at a situation determines if you will respond to it as threatening or challenging.
I come face to face with self whenever you come into my life and I want to thank you.
Be Aware of the Supreme Deceiver (Part 1)
One cannot read the account of Benhadad and Hazael in God's word not be overcome by a certain sense of sadness. You recall Benhadad was ill and sent Hazael to the prophet Elisha to make inquiries regarding his recovery. Elisha told Hazael that Benhadad would not die from his illness, but that he would nevertheless, die. Elisha then stared with horror at Hazael before suddenly bursting out in tears. Not understanding what was happening to Elisha, Hazael asks him why he was crying. Elisha tells him that he was weeping for the children of Israel. It pained Elisha to foresee the horrendous suffering Hazael was going to inflict upon the people of Israel. He tells Hazael that he "will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women."
Abiding in the Word
How many Christian people do you know who are bearing no fruit? Jesus said, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (John 15:4)
Time for Healing
We have to go through some unfortunate experiences sometimes in our life. When you speak with other people you will always find out how easy your experience is in comparison to what they have suffered. The impact that experience has brought on your life cannot be identified in your immediate moment but on the contrary will be understood once you step out of the experience itself.
Christening and Baptism Favor Ideas
Baptism and christening ceremonies are an important event that signifies the start of a child's spiritual life. As a common courtesy to guests who attend these ceremonies, the parents of the child or the host of the event often obtain party favors as a gift. Here are some themes and ideas that are appropriate for these occasions:
Perception of Freedom
Sometimes we're already free but we don't realize it. We don't believe it or act like it?
A Mothers Battle
The tongue is such a tiny little organ. Yet, it can be one of the most powerful weapons. James 3 has a lot to say about the tongue? I suggest that you read the entire chapter. (It's very short)? Anyway, verse 6 says; And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is a world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body? Whew, those are some strong words?but, wait, that's not all. Proverbs 18:21 tells us; Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it for death or life. It is scary to think that my mouth has that much power.
Inner-Tubing With God: Understanding Gods Ways
It is so obvious that God works and thinks on a totally different level than we do. I have spent most of my life in my left logical side of my brain trying to figure out God, people, events and reason. Only to be left frustrated, irritated and emotionally dehydrated.
Neither White-washed Nor Unmarked
When I was 10 years old my father decided to dig a full basement out from under our house. In one corner he pointed out to me a change in the pattern of the packed earth that formed the wall. "Notice how this part is all layered," he said, "while the earth right next to it is not? This may be an old Indian grave." I was filled with amazement. Our house might have been built on top of a dead man's bones!
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