The Most Misunderstood Apostle

The synoptic gospels tell us how Jesus called his disciples to him and chose from among them twelve (12) who he designated ‘Apostles’ : (1) Simon, who he named Peter (2) Andrew, who is Peters’ brother, (3) James and (4) John (5) Phillip (6) Bartholomew (7) Matthew (8) Thomas (9) James, son of Alphaeus (10) Simon the Zealot (11) Judas, son of James (12) Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Luke 6:14-16

Most of the apostles, except for Peter, James, John, Thomas and Judas are left shrouded in a fair amount of historical obscurity. For the most part the Church has colored the apostles in a very positive light, all except one; the one we traditionally call ‘ Doubting Thomas’.

Thomas is the Hebrew word for ‘Twin’, while ‘Didymus’ is the Greek word for twin.

After leaving Jerusalem rather hurriedly, Jesus went back to the place where John had baptized. While at this place He received word from Mary and Martha that their brother, Lazarus, had died. Lazarus was from Bethany, a town about two (2) miles Southeast of Jerusalem. This was the vicinity where the Jews tried to stone Jesus to death. No wonder the disciples were very concerned with their safety when Jesus said, “let us go back to Judea”. It is here that Thomas first shows his true colors, and breaks through a barrage of mental complacency and courageously steps out on pure devotion, when he said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him”. Thomas was obviously the first of the twelve to express a commitment to Christ even if it meant death.

Again, Jesus comforts his disciples telling them that he is going away to prepare a place for them so they can always be with him. Then he said something that I think was designed to evoke a specific reaction. He said, ” You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:4 Thomas, again, is the only one who rose to the occasion and articulated the pure honesty that was in his heart. Thomas said, ” Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” John 14:5 Had Thomas not voiced his concern there would have been no reason for Jesus to respond in such an inspiring and eye-opening way. Jesus responded in such a way that it became one of the most memorized parts of scripture to date : ” I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” Thomas doubted no more than any of the other apostles.

Awaken O’Sleeper

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Wake The Sleeping Church Author calls Christians to Action in Inspirational Commentary

Detroit – Nathaniel Stalling Jr. introduces his new book, Awaken O’Sleeper (now available through Author House), where he identifies key issues and problems practicing Christians encounter today. He hopes to revive the spirit of the Church by clearly defining the Church’s mission and how to carry it out. In this book, Stalling calls Christians to action on a variety of concerns surrounding the church, including the overlap in all areas of life and society, how Christians are defined, how others use these definitions, and divisions in denominations.

“This book will shake your complacency and help move you toward activism. Every time we allow someone else to define us we become more and more someone else,” Stalling says.

One of the topics discussed is how the political arena uses the Church to their advantage in a chapter called “How Much Is Too Much?” In another chapter, he voices concern about the divisions between Churches of different denominations, stating that there are divisions in core beliefs including: baptism, communion, Christ’s Resurrection and, grace.

A lack of sound teaching in many Churches is a major concern. “When you see so many so-called Christian groups stamping Jesus name on these heretical teachings that have become popular today, it makes me bristle with shame and burn with indignation”, Stalling says. These strong feelings show his beliefs that these problems have gone on for too long and deserve an immediate, direct and firm response.

Stalling discusses relationships in all areas of life. He explains that Christians need to treat their relationship with Jesus Christ, their spouses, children, friends and co-workers with a fluid relativity and understand the connection. Additionally, he discusses the importance of knowing and understanding suffering.

“This book is intended for Christians who may have fallen down, but are not ashamed to get back up,” Stalling says. “We need to renew our love, our commitment that we made when we first surrendered to Christ.”

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Who Told You That You Were Naked?

I, in my finite mind, always equated nakedness with the lack of clothes. It’s amazing how much we take for granted, until our own reasoning is challenged. I had read the story of Adam and Eve many times, and it never dawned on me to question why they were so shook up behind realizing their nakedness. After all, they had always been naked. So I went over the account again, and there it was.

God, right after the fall of Adam, asked Adam two questions, one of which he never answered. I’ve often heard men and women preach and teach on the second question, and how Adam passed the buck to the woman, and how she passed it to the serpent. But, to my recollection, I have never heard anyone preach or teach on the first question.

The two questions that burned in Adams mind are found in the third chapter of Genesis; He said, ” Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” I kind of equated that first question with the lack of clothing. Wrong! They lacked material clothing from the very beginning, that kind of nakedness was not a sudden new-found awareness. Therefore, when Adam said, ” I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked: and I hid myself”, he was not talking about material clothing. Notice that in verse seven (7) they had already provided themselves with aprons made from sewn fig leaves. So when Adam said he was afraid because he was naked, he already had a type of covering. So, if he was not referring to material clothing, or physical nakedness, what was he referring to?

We know when God created Adam he was a perfect immortal being, clothed in God’s own righteousness. When Adam fell, or sinned, he was changed from immortal to mortal, and Gods’ righteousness was withdrawn from him. Adam was now spiritually naked, as well as spiritually dead.

God, through his written word, tells us that we need to be clothed (spiritually). God, inspiring John to write to the Church at Laodicea said this, “therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, ….” Revelation 3:18.

Adam never answered that first question because he didn’t have to. No one had to tell him he was naked, he knew.

We know too. When we do things that go against our better judgement, against our conscience, against all conventional wisdom, no one have to tell us, we know.

The Bible says, ” let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints”, Revelation 19:7, 8 RSV.

HE DID IT HIMSELF

I want to tell you somethingJesus Christ on the cross that you need to know, It happened two thousand years ago, There was a man in the middle that died you see, and he did it so the entire world could be free, He suffered very much for me and you, He said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”.

He raised his head to say a solemn prayer, and the whole world stopped right then and there, The planet grew dark from twelve to three, He was the perfect sacrifice, you see, All the angels in heaven couldn’t understand, what made God do what he did for man,

He expressed His love for you and me, when He led us by the hand to Mt. Calvary, which is harder to say ….. I can’t, or I can ..? Make up your mind .., you double minded man, what need to be done, you couldn’t buy it with wealth, so God came down and did it himself, He clothed Himself with humanity, and took on the world, singlehandedly.

Father God had a brand new plan, and made it true through a brand new man. satan shrieked, “it’s a mysterious plot”, but what God started, no one could stop, He promised that He would bring us through, and by His own word ….. He did it too, He shed His blood to make us free, to be with Him for all eternity.

What was a mystery had now been revealed. We had come to the place in God’s plan where He could step into the void of His creation and fill it with His own glory. This not only filled a void in natural space and time, but expanded our mental and emotional capacity to have a relationship with Him. For the first time since the great fall in the garden, we were called into a relationship with our creator.

Against amazing odds from every side Jesus prevailed. He prevailed against the Pharisees, Sadducees and, Scribes. He prevailed against the mighty Roman army and, He prevailed against the Greek philosophers. He prevailed with a simple message: “I love you, and am willing to give my life for you.”