Monthly Archives: February 2017

Stations of the Cross


In many churches of the Catholic tradition, and some Protestant and Orthodox denominations, one may find 14 pieces of art work that illustrate the Stations of the Cross.

The artworks are meant to encourage the individual toward reflection about the sufferings of Jesus on our behalf. Some of the stations are drawn directly from the Bible while some are from church tradition. Both Protestants and Catholics have developed versions of the Stations of the Cross that are exclusively Scriptural.

In the weeks and days leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, will be posting reflections spurred by the 14 traditional stations as illustrated by the art works from the San Gabriel Mission in California. The images were painted by an artist (Juan Antonio) from the Native Peoples of Southern California. The scenes were influenced by European concepts and the subject of art history analysis but have distinctive aspects as well. The originals reside within the church but they are too dark to photograph without flash. What will be posted are photographs of replicas displayed in the San Gabriel Mission Museum.

The 14 traditional stations are as follows:

  1. Jesus Is Condemned to Death
  2. Jesus Takes Up His Cross
  3. Jesus Falls the First Time
  4. Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother
  5. Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
  6. Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
  7. Jesus Falls a Second Time
  8. Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
  9. Jesus Falls the Third Time
  10. Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments
  11. Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross Luke
  12. Jesus Dies on the Cross
  13. Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross
  14. Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb

Bible Project: Heaven & Earth

Just recently heard about a team of animators working with theologians to share about the teachings of the Bible.

In the video below, they discuss what is heaven and what is earth.

What do you think?

The Bible Project has many more videos some to explain important ideas in the Bible and in others exploring specific portions of the Bible.


What to do with a tough passage: Acts 5:1-11


image source:,_The_Death_of_Ananias_(1515).jpg

One of the challenges in leading a small group Bible study is what to do about “tough passages.”

An example is Acts 5:1-11. In brief, this is the episode in the early church when Ananias and Sapphira lie about how much money they give to the church after selling some property. God’s judgement fell on them and they died.

If your small group is typical, they are likely to find this story shocking.

What to do?

Let the group wrestle with what happens here. This needs to be aired out: emotional reactions can and should be shared.

After giving a few people in the group the opportunity to address the difficulties, then move onto the point of the lesson.

First, make sure the group clearly understands the nature of the sin. God did not judge Ananias and Sapphira for being “cheap.” Their sin was claiming to have given all the proceeds when they actually did not: they lied. Their money would indeed help meet the needs of the poor in the community. However, by their lie, they placed a higher value on been seen as generous then being truthful to God and the community.

Next address the context.

One context to bring up is the episode before this passage in Acts 4:32-37. Thus, what Ananias and Sapphira did was completely counter to what the people of the church had been doing and experiencing. The dishonesty would be very disruptive of the unity of the church.

The other context worth bringing up is that God has in the past brought swift justice to those within the community of faith. Three prime examples can be seen from the Old Testament: Joshua 7, Leviticus 10, and 2 Samuel 6. Quickly discuss them with perhaps a more detailed look at one of these three passages. In each case, God’s explicit instructions have been violated.

The third context is the impact this episode had on the early churchAnd great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things (Acts 5:11). The church had been seeing so many amazing things happening: (1) the resurrection of Jesus Christ was being proclaimed with boldness, (2) the Holy Spirit’s power was revealed in healings and signs and wonders, (3) the community was transformed toward unity and generosity, and (4) the people have a healthy fear of God’s holiness. Instinctively, we prefer to dwell on the first three items. Nonetheless, item number four is important.

When you lead the group to the closing thoughts, give the group time to consider areas in their lives that needs re-examination. Allow time for quiet reflection. Depending on the personalities in the group, there could also be some sharing and prayer.

Tim Keller on Jeremiah 29:1-14

Always on the look out for material that explains the Bible and how it helps us live for God.  Recently came across this sermon from NY Redeemer Pastor Tim Keller. In the sermon below, he challenges us to consider how we can live for Christ in the city.