Tom with kids in Kuwait

Tom with kids in Kuwait
Tom with kids in Kuwait

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An Homiletic journey through the Acts of the Apostles

Acts of the Apostles

What would you do if your boss was killed?  You had followed him faithfully for 3 years, never giving much thought as to what you had left behind, amazed at his teachings, and then devastated when he was murdered.  Then he came back to life and you were both witness to this miracle and commissioned to tell the world about it.

What would you do next?
How about huddle with others in the same boat scared out of their knickers?
Then the Spirit of God engulfed you and you were filled with knowledge and power and the burning desire to speak the truth.  There would be no more keeping this good news to yourself.

That’s the 21st century lead-in to the Book of Acts.  The author is Luke the gospel writer.  The book is written as a letter than is also an account of many years, martyrs, missionaries, miracles, hardships, and faith.  It is written to a friend of God.  Perhaps this was a single person or all of us whom have been called friend by God.

This article is something of a homiletic journey through the Acts of the Apostles.  It is not a study aid, commentary, chapter by chapter explanation, or stand-alone guidebook to these early days of the church.  Hopefully, the articles below will be challenges to read more, know more, and live more like those who received the good news for the first time.

Bookmark this page if you plan to read all of the articles below.

Are you now ready to write your own chapters?
Will your life be a legacy lived for Christ?
Will your faith and hope and love be something that future generations will retell?
My prayer is for all answers in the affirmative.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Got Oil?

Got Oil?
A Play in 3 Acts

This short drama brings life to the phrase and U.S. Coast Guard motto, Semper Paratus or “always ready” or the Boy Scout Motto, “Be prepared.”  It is the Parable of the 10 Virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13 lived out through as few as 5 or as many as 20 cast members.  It reminds us that while we are loving, caring, and sharing people; our faithfulness to Christ (symbolized in the oil) is not for sale or loan or to be bartered away.
Let’s thrown in one more motto:  Semper Fidelis.  Leathernecks know that this is “Always Faithful.”  We are to live faithfully in the Kingdom of God now—that means following Jesus now—so that on the day of Christ’s return we will not be caught off guard.

It is recommended that all cast members read Matthew 24 and 25 for a week before assigning parts.  Discuss what it means not to know the day or the hour of our Lord’s return.  Discuss putting our talents to work.  Discuss the separation described at the end of the age.

Now select parts, get into character, and have fun presenting the Parable of the 10 Virgins in a fresh new way.

Meg (with oil)
Mattie (with oil)
Sally (without oil)
Shirley (without oil)
Crowd (can be imagined where there is a small cast)
Offstage Voice
Echoed Voice
Voice from inside the door [can be Offstage Voice if needed]

Act I

[Four girls sitting on steps with lamps.  Meg and Mattie have containers of oil]
Meg:  They are going to be so happy.
Mattie:  I’m  so happy for her.
Meg:  Yes, and one day it will be our day and other young ladies will line the way for that wonderful day.
Mattie:  And you have a way with words.
[Sally and Shirley roll their eyes]
Sally:  Really, don’t you think this whole waiting for the groom and his party is a bit overplayed?
Shirley:  I don’t know.  The food is always good at these things.
Sally:  If you can wait that long.
Shirley [looking at Meg and Mattie]:  You ladies bring anything to eat?
Meg and Mattie [together]:  Yes.
[Both dig into their bags]
Meg:  How about some fresh baked cookies?
Shirley:  You bet!
Mattie:  Or some energy bars?
Sally:  Now we’re talking.
[The girls share their food]
Sally [Looking at Meg and pointing to a large bottle she took out of her bag]:  And that’s some oil.
[Mattie takes out her larger bottle of oil and shows it to Meg]:  Had a coupon for the large size.
Meg:  You are so going to be the Proverbs 31 wife.
[Mattie smiles]:  That’s my hope.
Sally:  How about you let me have some of that?
Shirley:  Yeah, I could use some too.
Meg:  You had better get your own.
Mattie:  Yes, get some while you still have time.
Shirley:  We've got time.
Sally:  What’s the rush?
Mattie:  Really, ladies, this isn’t something to be put off.
Meg:  Trust her.  You need to have your own oil.  There is time now.  Why don’t you go now?
[Both Sally and Shirley wave their hands at the other two as to give them the brush off]
Sally:  Wish I had brought my nail kit.
Meg:  Oh here, you can use mine.
Sally:  What’s up with that?  You won’t give me any oil but you feed me and you would let me use your nail kit.
Meg:  Yes.  This oil has a very special and very specific purpose.  It’s not for me.  It is for the bridegroom.  I am going to be ready for his coming.
Mattie:  Same here.
Shirley:  You two are bonkers.
Sally:  Ditto
Meg:  Call us what you want, but we will be ready.
Shirley:  Bonkers.
[All four girls pantomime continued conversation until gradually all fall asleep]
Offstage Voice:  Get ready!  The groom is coming.  Get ready!
[The girls awaken and wipe the sleep from their eyes]
Echoed Voice:  Get ready!  The groom is coming.  Get ready.  Get read.  Get ready [Fading out]
Meg:  Isn't this exciting.  Let’s get our lamps going.
Mattie:  I’ll  help you first.
[The two pantomime pouring oil into their lamps and lighting them]
Meg:  They are getting close.  I can hear the crowd. 
Mattie:  Oh, how I have waited for this!
Sally:   Hey!  Give us some oil.
Shirley:  Come on.  Let us have some of your oil.
Meg:  You need to go quickly and buy some for yourself.  Hurry before the wedding party gets here.
Sally:  Really, you won’t give us your oil?
Shirley:  Yeah, really?
Meg:  This oil is my steadfast readiness.
Mattie:  Sort of my faithfulness.
Meg:  My oil won’t help you.  You really need your own.
Mattie:  You really should hurry.
Sally:  Pleeeaaaaaaaaase!
Shirley:  And pretty pleeeasssssssssssssse!
Meg:  Hurry.
Mattie:  You are running out of time.
[Sally and Shirley throw up their hands walking off, turning back to shake their fists, walking more, turning back and putting their hands on their hips]
Shirley:  Get my own oil, really?  We will just see how this comes out.
Sally [Looking out into audience]:  Yeah, what she said.
[Sally and Shirley exit stage left]
[The wedding party enters stage right and exits stage center.  People in the crowd are waving to Meg and Mattie.]
Come on!
Follow us!
It’s time to party!
Get your lamps and join in!
[Meg and Mattie smile at each other]:  Let’s go!
[The entire group exits stage center making all sorts of celebratory noises]


Act II

[Sally and Shirley enter stage left.  Lighting remains low.]
Sally:  Where is everyone?
Shirley:  They are gone.
Sally:  I hear a party going on in there [pointing to stage center].
Shirley:  That’s where we are headed then.
[Both walk a few steps forward and knock on an imaginary door facing the audience.]


Voice from inside the door:  Who is it?
Shirley:  Shirley.
Sally:  Sally.
Shirley and Sally together:  Shirley and Sally.
Voice from inside the door:  Don’t know you.
Shirley:  Sure you do.  We waited for hours with our lamps.
Sally:  Yeah, and we even went to get oil.
Voice from inside the door:  Don’t know you.
Both girls collapse and cry themselves to sleep.

[Voice from inside the door reads the scripture]

New Century Version (NCV)

36 "No one knows when that day or time will be, not the angels in heaven, not even the Son. Only the Father knows. 37When the Son of Man comes, it will be like what happened during Noah's time.38 In those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving their children to be married, until the day Noah entered the boat.39 They knew nothing about what was happening until the flood came and destroyed them. It will be the same when the Son of Man comes.40 Two men will be in the field. One will be taken, and the other will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding grain with a mill. One will be taken, and the other will be left.
    42 "So always be ready, because you don't know the day your Lord will come. 43 Remember this: If the owner of the house knew what time of night a thief was coming, the owner would watch and not let the thief break in.44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at a time you don't expect him.


[Meg and Mattie enter stage right and see Sally and Shirley asleep]
Meg:  Are they OK?
Mattie:  I think they are just sleeping.
Meg [gently touching Sally]:  Are you OK?
Sally [Awakening]:  What?
Shirley [Awakening and rubbing her eyes]:  What’s happening?
Mattie:  You girls, really.  I don’t know what to think of you.
Meg:  It’s only the biggest day of the year.  The wedding?  Remember?
Shirley and Sally [together]:  It’s today???
Meg and Mattie [together]:  Yeah!
Shirley and Sally [together]:  Really?  We didn't miss it?
Meg:  No, silly, let’s go.
Shirley:  Not so fast.
[Shirley and Sally look at each other and shake their heads in agreement]
Sally:  Yeah, not so fast.  We need to get some oil for our lamps first.
Shirley and Sally [together]:  We’ll meet you there.
[Shirley and Sally run off stage left]
Meg and Mattie [together]:  Good call.
[Meg and Mattie walk off stage right]
Meg:  Nothing like being always ready.
Mattie:  Well, you never know…
[Meg and Mattie pantomime their conversation until off stage]

[Voice from inside the door reads the scripture]

Revelation 11:15  The Message (MSG)

The Last Trumpet Sounds

15-18 The seventh Angel trumpeted. A crescendo of voices in Heaven sang out,
The kingdom of the world is now
    the Kingdom of our God and his Messiah!
He will rule forever and ever!

The End

Copyright Notice

Use of this work without the express written consent of the author is authorized, encouraged, and may be done with or without giving credit to the author.  Use this to bring glory to God.  Use it to lead people to Christ.  Use it to be a light in this often dark world and the God-seasoning of the earth.  Use it to help people laugh, learn, and love.  Put it to work so that people will respond with the faith God has given them and proclaim Jesus to be Lord.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Imaginary student

Sally strolled through the halls
Everyone had gone home
Her imaginary bird kept saying
Why must these halls we roam?

Through a school with no people
An eerie sort of place
Where desks have no students
Not a single happy face.

Because I want to be a student
I want to come and learn
For I too am an imaginary person
Now that’s an unexpected turn.

For the real kids take for granted
The teachers, books, and learning
While I long to be where they are
Reading, writing, and discerning.

For such is not to be my lot
In this life or another
For I am but a thought gone astray
From the mind of my imaginary mother.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ministering to others--how hard can it be?

I have found ministry and ministering to people to be quite simple and strait forward.  I don’t know what all the fuss is about.  At the beginning of each day, I petition the Lord for a few things to help shape me, prepare me, and equipment for the ministry ahead fully expecting that he will give me eyes to see the need and ears to hear those in need, as well as the wisdom and courage to act.

But like I said, I do ask for a few things first, some basic ABC stuff.  I ask God to help me be,  and I am thankful because I am:

Alert to the need presented
Accepting of the person as a child of God
Anxious for nothing as God’s intervention is sought

Blessed to be ordain for this very challenge
Beckoned to be in this place and at this time to serve
Boasting only in Christ and not myself

Casting my net where the Master directs
Counting the moment’s challenges among my blessings
Counseled by the Counselor who walks beside me

Discerning without condemnation
Delivering a return on my Master’s investment
Doubting not that God will provide the increase

Entrusted with talents by my Master
Empowered by God’s love
Equipped with the word of God

Fixed on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith
Faithful and just with others as God is to me
Favored by God to have his trust in this ministry

Guided by divine wisdom
Granted gifts from above
Giving cheerfully.

Hopeful that God’s will be done
Holding all thoughts captive and obedient to Christ
Humble before God through my service to others

In prayer continually
Intuitively responding to the call of God’s Spirit
Inseparable from the love of Christ

Justified before God and so aware the magnitude of this gift
Jealous for God as he is for me
Joyful in all circumstances for my joy comes from the Lord

Knowing the truth and sharing it in love
Kneeling before God fully humbled by his grace
Knocking on doors to find those in bondage to sin

Love, love, and more love in everything I do and say
Lamenting with empathy and mercy the plight of those in need
Lost to the world and claimed by Christ

Making the uncomfortable, comfortable
Moved to compassion
Mastering my impulses and human nature so not to impede the ministry

No fear of anything in this world
Needing nothing more than Christ
Never doubting the word or the Word of God

Offering only my best efforts, my first fruits
Ordering my life for purposeful service before guiding others
Owing nothing but the debt to love one another

Praying continually
Proclaiming the good news at every opportunity
Pursuing a godly life

Quietly and secretly making my offerings
Quickly choosing listening over speaking
Questing always for the inspiration of God before speaking

Resisting the Devil and temptation
Renewing my spirit through God’s Spirit
Repenting of sin and following Jesus as a way of life

Seeking God’s Kingdom first in everything I do
Serving others so that I am last in this world
Searching for God in all of his creation

Trusting in God and not my own understanding
Tithing without second thought
True and faithful to the One who is Faithful and True

Unwavering in my faith
Understanding of other’s situations
Unflinching in my love for God and all of his children

Victorious in Christ permitting myself neither despair nor self-pity
Vocal in speaking the voice of truth without regard for the world’s judgment
Vehement in protecting the oppressed

Worthy of the ministry set before me
Wasting neither time nor resource as a good steward of that entrusted to me
Wanting nothing in return from those who are helped

XII times XII in my forgiveness
Xylotomy resistant, choosing to examine the plank in my own eye instead
Xeroxing messages of love for those who don’t live online

Yoked only to the Lord
Yanked by the Spirit and casted into experiences that refine me
Year-round faithful, not a two timer

Zealous for God and his ways
Zion’s own now and in the time to come
Zestful and exuberant in all I do in response to God’s love.

This ministry stuff might really be a challenge if it wasn't for God taking me as a lump of clay and shaping me each and every day.

I can hardly wait to see what the ABC’s of tomorrow look like!