Archive for May, 2012

Paul and Barnabas were walking through the marketplace in Antioch after church. They are going to Olive Garden for soup and salad. As they walk, a young girl and man are right on their heels.

Girl: 6×6=36!     16×23=368!    48,588×455=222,307,540!

Barnabas: 55×32?

Girl: 1,760!

Paul: 7×5?

Girl: 35!

Man with girl: She’s my slave. She can multiply anything. I rent her out as a calculator.

Paul: 9×9?

Barnabas (just ahead of the girl): 81.

Man: Want to hire her for some calculations?

Paul: No. We mostly add.

Man: You’re already into me for 6 calculations.

Paul: No way! We didn’t ask for the first three and Barnabas answered the last one.

Man: Hey, everyone! These….CHRISTIANS…THEY don’t want to pay for their calculations! I’m being oppressed!

A group gathers around them.

Man: Wilbur, how much did you pay me for calculating how many casks you could move with your crew?

Wilbur: 50 cents. Yeah, 5 men, 5 trips, 25 casks. I remember.

Man: There! See? You owe me $3.00.

Paul (steamed): Here’s $1.50 for 2 questions.

Girl: $1.00

Paul: Did that one count?

Man (thinking): Of course. That’ll be $1.00.

Paul (handing over $1.00): Okay, here. This ain’t right. No one should have to work as a calculator. Girl, do you like this?

Girl: I’m so tormented. All I can do is…multiply…if only I were free!

Man (slapping the girl): Shut-up, winch!

Paul: That’s it bub. Demon, identify yourself and come forth!

Girl (falling to the ground): Aghh!

Demon: Paul of Tarsus, servant of Jesus Christ! I am the Demon of Multiplication. Please don’t send me to the pit! Please!

Paul (looking around): Foul fiend! Go! Into that donkey, you minion of evil!

The girl sat up, in her right mind, smiling calmly at the crowd. The people were amazed.

Man (startled, looking at the girl): What’s 13×120?

Girl:  I don’t know.

Donkey: 1,560.

Tr8: Multiply your grace by helping others. Boldly help the helpless.

Peter: Okay, what are we going to do about Judas?

James: Wha’d’ya mean? Judas took care of himself.

Peter: No, we need to replace him. There are supposed to be 12 apostles, just like the 12 tribes.

James: What? Where did you get that?

Peter: Isn’t that why Jesus called 12 of us, because of the 12 tribes?

James: I thought it was because there were 12 months. Remember how he did the disciple-of-the-month thing? I was February. Mary used magnets and put our pictures on the refrigerator?

Peter: Hmmm. I thought it was the tribes.

Matthew: I though it was because there are 12 people on a jury.

John: I thought we were a dozen, like a box of donuts.

Andrew: No, basketball. 2 squads and 2 referees. I mean, we ruled at the Temple courts.

Peter: Well, whatever. We need to fill Judas’ position.

John: Maybe we ought to wait and see if the Holy Spirit sends us someone.

Peter: I did a close-your-eyes-and-drop-your-finger in Psalms this morning and got these 2 verses:  ‘May his place be deserted and let there be no one to dwell in it’ and ‘may another take his place in leadership.’ That’s gotta mean something.

James: The first on seems to say we shouldn’t, the second seems to say we should. But, I guess I see where you’re coming from.

John: What if Jesus is going to send us someone? He’s the only one who ever picked disciples.

Peter: Well, we have a couple alternates who have been with us from the beginning. Like Joseph or Matthias. Jesus chose you guys, right?

Joseph: Jesus asked me for a towel after his baptism and I’ve been following ever since.

Matthias: Jesus asked the Baptizer who I was ’cause I was standing a little close during one of their conversations. I’ve been following ever since.

James: Okay, Joseph and Matthias have been with us through it all — from Jesus’ baptism through the resurrection. How shall we decide which one?

John: Best 2 of 3, rock-paper-scissors.

Peter: No, we’ll let God decide. Who has the dice? Evens, it’s Joseph, odds, it’s Matthias.

James: Who roles the dice?

John: Roll the dice and whoever’s number comes up roles the dice. If it’s a double-six roll ’em again.

Peter: Here goes…..9! Simon the Zealot! Come on down!

Simon: Here we go…a 5 and a 4….that’s…that’s

John: 9, Odd.

Peter: Welcome to the crew Matthias! Joseph, better luck next time. There’s water melon in the kitchen.

Matthias: So now what?

Peter: Well, from now on if we need to make a decision or something, you get a vote and you’ll be a group leader in the church.

Matthias: I’m already mentoring a group of Greek guys. You know Stephen, right? He’s in the group.

Peter: Yeah, I know Stephen. You’re doing a good job, Matthias. I guess we didn’t know it, but you’ve been an apostle all along.

Tr8: Do your best wherever you are. Follow Christ’s example even when folks aren’t watching — you may be an apostle and don’t know it.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35

Jonathan, teenaged Prince of Israel, is sitting on a rock sipping his morning coffee (breakfast blend). His armor bearer, Zarrow, is with him. Things are quiet.

Zarrow: Why do they call a small a “tall?”

Jonathan: ‘Cause they can. If it’s good coffee you can call it anything you want. Where’d you get the name, “Zero?”

Zarrow: It’s ZARROW. My dad was an archer and said my name is the sound an arrow makes. You know: pull, release, “zarrow.”

Jonathan: Hmmm.

Zarrow: Are those Prince of Egypt pajamas?

Jonathan: Yeah, Dad gave ’em to me for Christmas. I think he slid over the edge a bit, but I humor him. He’s been real moody lately. He liked the movie a lot.

Zarrow: They’re not too bad, I suppose (grinning).

They sit for a minute in silence. Jonathan sips down the last of his coffee and throws his cup into the recycle bin.

Jonathan: Let’s attack the Philistines. Right now. In our pajamas.

Zarrow: What?

Jonathan: Let’s attack. You and me. In our pajamas…with sharp sticks.

Zarrow: Not a good idea.

Jonathan: Are you kidding? If you KNOW God is on your side, why not?

Zarrow: The guys up on that mountain are hardened warriors…with axes and spears and swords…

Jonathan: But we KNOW God is with us.

Zarrow: We’re just two guys. They have thousands up there.

Jonathan: Whatever. I’m gonna go up and see what God’ll do.

Zarrow: If you go, I go.

Jonathan calls up a couple of chariots and they storm across the valley toward the Philistine position on a cliff, above. No stealth. The Philistine guards are standing, looking over the ledge, scratching their heads.

Philistines (shouting down from the heights): What are you Israelite wusses doing? The porta-potties are down the valley. You could get hurt here. Are those Prince of Egypt pajamas?

Jonathan (shouts): YES, THEY ARE! Okay, Zero, here we go.

Zarrow: Z-A-R-R-O-W. What about swords? Armor? Shield? Bow and arrow? More men?

Jonathan: Nope. Sharp sticks. Think. What would you do if you KNEW, beyond any shadow of doubt, God was with you?

Zarrow: Well. If I KNEW God was with me, I suppose I’d attack ’em in my underwear with a pocket comb.

Jonathan: Now you get it!

Jonathan begins to shed his pajamas and nods toward Zarrow. Zarrow reluctantly sheds his pajamas, too.

Jonathan: I wouldn’t have guessed you were a briefs guy. Got a comb?

Zarrow: No comb.

Jonathan: Okay then. Sticks or rocks?

Zarrow: Sticks, I guess. We have no pockets.

Jonathan and Zarrow climb the cliff up to the Philistine emplacement. They charge into camp. In an area about the size of a front lawn they kill 20 Philistines. The enemy camp becomes terrified and scatters.

Jonathan: That’s what I’m talkin’ about. It ain’t no thing when you KNOW God is with you.

Jonathan and Zarrow head back to camp for a wrap-up cup of coffee. While sipping their coffee the Israelite scouts bring back news of the Philistine retreat. King Saul turns off the DEFCON 5 light and sends his infantry up the mountain to mop up after Jonathan and Zarrow’s attack (see 1 Samuel 14).

Tr8: Do what you’d do if you KNEW God was with you.

The continuing story of two traitors: Cornelius and Peter. The night of the grill Jesus was betrayed into the hands of his enemies. Cornelius was the Roman presence as the chief priests captured and tried Jesus at Caiaphas’ palace.

Peter following the crowd to the palace gate. He sat nervously by a fire.

Bystander: It’s getting colder! Hey, weren’t you with the Messiah guy?

Peter: No. You’re thinking of somebody else.

Another bystander: No, I’m sure you were with him in the Temple. I saw you!

Peter: Seriously? You think I’d get sucked into this Messiah business? No way.

Cornelius waited at the gate as well. He wanted nothing to do with Jewish religious politics — especially with regard to Jesus of Nazareth. As long as things were relatively peaceful. He would watch, not act. He moved nearer the fire and listened.

Peter: I have a twin brother. Maybe you saw him.

Cornelius: Nah, you are one of them. I remember seeing you with him in Jerusalem a year or so ago. He healed one of my servants.

Peter: I say, ‘Hail Caesar! Not, Hail King of the Jews!’ The hell with this, I’m out of here!

Cornelius and the others watch as Peter disappears into the night muttering under his breath. Cornelius turns and walks into the courtyard. Jesus is in the middle of a group of Temple guards and clerics. He’s taking a beating, but makes no sound.

Cornelius (shakes his head and thinks to himself): Jewish justice. Religious fanatics. He doesn’t deserve this. They gripe about Rome, but look at these bloodthirsty fools!

The leaders and priests walk over to Cornelius.

Caiaphas: We need to take him to the Governor’s palace. We’ll have a riot here if we pursue this further here. Take possession of the prisoner and escort us. Pilate’s orders.

Cornelius: As you wish.

Cornelius has a front row seat for Jesus’ mock trial, beating, humiliation and crucifixion. He waits on Golgotha for the injustice to end. He’s been involved in a lot of death, but this is too much. The skies darken and all that can be heard are the sobs of a handful of women nearby.

Jesus (turning a swollen, knowing eye toward Cornelius): It is finished!

Cornelius is amazed. He has seen death take men, but never a man take death. It was like someone leaving a room.

Cornelius: Surely, this was the Son of God!

At the end of his duty shift he called for a scribe.

Scribe: Sir?

Cornelius: Take this down: ‘I, Cornelius, Centurion of the Italian Regiment, herewith resign my commission. In consideration of leave accrued, this resignation is effective immediately. I depart for the coast today and will sail with the first favorable tide.’ Deliver this to the Governor’s palace immediately.

Cornelius retired to Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast, troubled with the role he played in Christ’s crucifixion. He prayed to God with his household for forgiveness on a daily basis.

Peter was staying with Simon the tanner in Joppa when he had a dream and followed the Spirit’s leadership to Caesarea (Acts 16).

Peter finds himself knocking on a retired Centurion’s door in Caesarea. The door opens and a servant escorts Peter’s crew into the inner court. There, he is met by Cornelius and his household.

Cornelius (looking closely): I know you.

Peter (looking down): I know you, too.

Cornelius: You denied your Lord…

Peter: You crucified…


Peter spends the rest of the evening telling Cornelius the story of the risen Christ. Confessions are made. Burdens are dropped. The gospel brings peace and forgiveness to both.

Tr8: Confession lightens the heart. Peace is in forgiveness. Bonds are forged in suffering.

It’s the night before Jesus’ arrest. Everyone has gathered at Mary’s house. They are grilling hamburgers. Most of the disciples are upstairs, but Jesus, Peter, Mark, and his cousin, Barnabas, are on the porch. A gentle breeze is blowing from the west. Jesus is working the grill.

Mary, Mark’s mother, is a widow. She hands Barnabas a plate full of burgers. Barnabas, her elder brother’s son, came to Jerusalem to help her four years earlier. Barnabas holds the plate while Jesus moves ’em to the grill. Mary ducks back inside and reminds her serving girl, Rhoda, to put a large bowl of water and a towel upstairs.

Mark is the youngster on the porch. He’s fatherless, but father rich — all three men on the porch think of him as their son.

Peter: How’s school, kid?

Mark: Don’t ask. Mom’s grounded me ’cause I wrote, ‘Roma edunt vermes’ on my Latin notebook.

Peter: That could be dangerous, kid. Rome has no sense of humor.

Jesus: Work on your Greek, Mark. Peter’s gonna need a good scribe someday.

Barnabas (to Jesus and Peter): Mark’s in the top of his class. The only kid who comes close is a senior named Saul…he’s a bit of a mess, but if he ever discovers humility he’ll be something.

Jesus (rotating the burgers): Barnabas, I want you to keep a close eye on Mark and this “Saul” kid. As I said before, I’m going away…

Peter: Here we go again…

Jesus: Seriously, Simon? We have a tough weekend ahead. Get in the game. Barnabas, Saul and Mark are both going to need your encouragement, so be ready.

Barnabas nods. Jesus flips the burgers. A Macadonian centurion with a squad of Romans walk past the gate.

Peter: Those guys still give me the creeps. That centurion works in Pilate’s palace. Wasn’t it his servant you healed long-distance?

Jesus: Yep. He’s a good man with a really tough job. He’ll retire after this weekend in a state of total disillusionment. Peter, you’ll see him tonight at the High Priest’s palace and again in the future. You’ll both have betrayals to talk about. You’ll become close. I will give you both peace.

Peter: Rabbi, I’m not seein’ that. Centurions are not my cup of tea…

Jesus points the spatula at Peter and shakes his head. The burgers sizzle.

Mark: Jesus, when I get out of school, can I follow you?

Barnabas: Mark, ANYONE who wishes can follow Jesus. I’ve never seen him turn anyone away. Right, Lord?

Jesus: Barnabas, you’re truly ‘the son of encouragement.’  Yeah, Mark, you and Barnabas will follow me.

The sun dips toward the horizon. The hamburgers on the grill are about done. Jesus flips them and puts cheese on them. Mary comes out with a platter.

Jesus (with a deep sigh): Okay guys, let’s head upstairs. Mark, take notes tonight. In Greek.

Tr8: Follow. The sooner the better. Take notes