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Caught up to Paradise - 2 Corinthians 12

Residing in Michigan for over half my life, I had heard about Paradise. Because Paradise is a small town in the Upper Peninsula, you may have never visited there in your life, but you knew it existed. It was WAY up there next to Tahquamenon Falls and nothing else. Where's Tahquamenon Falls? Next to Paradise and nothing else. It's a long way from home.  Why all of the talk about Paradise? Because Paul talks about it in 2 Corinthians 12. There was this guy who had been caught up to Paradise. Not in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, but into the REAL Paradise. While there, he'd heard things that he was unable to repeat. What on earth was this? Who was this guy? Here's what was going on. Paul defended his position of Apostleship in chapter eleven and gave the Corinthians an idea of what Apostleship looked like in chapter twelve. It came with great wonders, like seeing or instead hearing unimaginable things. But, too, that position came with a terrible cost. God gave Paul a &q
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Solomon and Paul - who was the winner?

Solomon had everything and was in constant despair. Paul had nothing and had learned "in whatever state he was" to be content. Who was the winner here? Paul lists the trials he had been through in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33. His was an extraordinary ordeal. Paul suffered for the gospel. His goal was to preach and teach Christ. Solomon's was an inward focus. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us a sad tale. All that Solomon did was to satisfy his slightest whim. He built, destroyed, invested, and sold his investments, yet he didn't find satisfaction. All was vanity. Who was the winner? Who accomplished God's will for his life? Whose life was worth living? I would say that each man left his mark on Bible history. Both men had successes, and both had their challenges. The wisest man in history made tremendous blunders. Paul considered himself less than ordinary, yet he wrote a third of the New Testament Scriptures. Solomon, like Mick Jagger, couldn't find satisfaction. P

Zacchaeus was a wee little man

We've all heard or read the story of Zacchaeus. It's a cute story about a little man who has lunch with Jesus. He climbed up in the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see. Right? So, that was a part of my Bible reading yesterday. I wondered about that story. It seems like Zacchaeus earns his Salvation by giving half of his stuff to the poor. However, this can't be the case because salvation can't be earned. So, what is going on then? How would I be able to share this story with someone? God knew. I got a nail in my tire and needed to take it to the tire guy down the street. We were chatting when I whispered a prayer, asking God for an opening to share spiritual thoughts. There was a slight lull in the conversation, and I said, "Where do you go to church?" That was pretty subtle. He said, "I'm Catholic. My dad was born Catholic, and I'm Catholic." A little later, I asked, "What does it mean to be Catholic?" The tire guy looked a

Remember Lot's wife.

Luke 17:32 is Jesus' shortest admonition. But what does it mean?  We must remember that context is key to any Bible study. The context of this short warning is talking about the coming of the kingdom. In a few short years, Jerusalem would suffer destruction. Jesus hearers would need to be ready to flee the city with no remorse or lingering yearnings. Lot had taken his family to live in the lush plain. They had become accustomed to the wicked city's lifestyle. Angels had warned that destruction was imminent and had to yank Lot and family from the house. They gave specific instructions not to look back at the firestorm from heaven. Lot's wife didn't heed the warning. She was too involved in the convenient life. Looking back at the horrible scene she suffered, the consequences and became a lasting reminder for us. How attached am I to this world? As judgment comes, will I look to Jesus' arrival or back at what I have to leave behind? My goal and gaze must be constantly

Thief in the Night

  The other night we heard much shouting coming from the neighbor's house. In a way, we've become calloused to the noise because it happens occasionally. This time, however, we discovered that someone had attempted to break into the neighbor's house. We got that impression when three cop cars showed up. Oops. Something good may come of this. I mention this because we've lived here for over two years and have never had any contact with the neighbors. They come home from work, open and close their front gate, and pronto. They're in, and we're out. It's funny how a crook jumping a fence can shake a person's perspective. I remember how it was for me a few years ago when four thugs entered my home at night. It took a year for me to get over the trauma. We just had a short conversation and exchanged phone numbers with Cristiane. She wants to help us (and us to help her) if this uninvited guest ever comes back. She's suddenly become interested in friendship

This Little Light of Mine

  Do you remember the kid's song from your junior church days? This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. We sang with gusto as we held our fingers up and made it go in a circle, indicating a tiny candle that we would let shine all over the world. What is the origin of this song? You'll notice that the song doesn't mention Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit. But I am sure that they were intended, right? The idea behind this little diddy probably came from Luke 11:33-36. This is what Jesus said there: 33 "No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is

Parables

He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “ ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ (Luke 8:10). For many years I thought that Jesus taught the parables so that the people could understand a heavenly meaning by hearing an earthly illustration. That is what I'd been taught in junior church. My understanding was way off the mark.  Jesus began to speak in parables to confound the unbelievers. Those who had rejected him as Messiah would be left scratching their head in confusion. As illustrated in the parable of the soils, even his followers didn't get what he was saying.  It's the same way today. Many people read or hear the Word and it doesn't make sense to them. It might be in simple English, or whatever their language, but they can't understand the meaning or the application. This fact shouldn't discourage our evangelistic work, it should hel