The Book of Acts Chapters 6 and 7 Live Class Audio

In our class on Acts, we went over the short chapter 6 and the much longer chapter 7. Acts 6 in many ways was about fairly practical things. The number of the disciples had increased so much that just managing the physical side of things got to be too much for the apostles. [The live class audio can be heard here.]

The Apostles pray for the 7 deacons in Acts 6.

The Apostles pray for the 7 deacons in Acts 6.

So they said, “It is not fitting for us to leave the Word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren appoint seven men from among you that we can set over this business. But we will give ourselves to the Word of God and prayer.” (Acts 6: 2 & 3) Everyone felt right about that; then the apostles laid hands on the seven who were chosen and prayer for them.

Well, in our class that we had, we got into a rather big discussion at one point about Acts 6:7 where it says “a great companion of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Some in the class put forward the idea that this didn’t say or mean that the priests had become believers in Jesus but just was commending them for their obedience to Judaism and the laws of Moses.

"A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith."

“A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”

I certainly don’t teach it like that. A good number of the priests in Jerusalem were moving out of the circle they had been in and into the circle of the Christians. But there’s the rub. It’s like Jesus said about “old bottles and new bottles”  (Luke 5:37-39). A continual question at  the time of the Early Church was how much of the old ways and traditions of Judaism should be carried over into the new moment and society that was being formed. “No man having drunk old wine straightway desires new.”  (Luke 5:39). This is a continual theme as we go further through Acts. And like some said in the class, this is still a big question for many believers in our times.

The siege of Jerusalem, 70 AD

The siege of Jerusalem, 70 AD

All these events in Jerusalem, around 35 AD, were against the backdrop of Bible prophecy. In Daniel chapter 9, the angel Gabriel had forewarned that after the Messiah was cut off, the city and the sanctuary would be destroyed again. God knew that this was going to happen in the lifetimes of many of those people. And it did happen in 70 AD when the Roman legions of Titus invaded Israel, surrounded Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the temple. Israel was effected ended as a nation, over 1 million were killed and the Jews were scattered among all nations for the nearly the next 1900 years.

So, considering all that, it’s amazing  to see the intense work of the Holy Spirit to win the hearts of the people of Jerusalem at this time, that they accept and receive their risen Savior and get on board with the way God was moving, even to the saving of their own physical lives in the next few decades to come.

The climax of all this was in Acts chapter 7. One of the seven men who’d been chosen in Acts 6 to be deacons and to oversee the physical side of things was Stephen, “a man full of faith and the Holy Ghost” (Acts 6:7), who also worked miracles at that time.

In the same way that Peter and John had been hauled before the religious authorities, Stephen was brought before them after they couldn’t stop his preaching and miracles. Stephen, in his witness to this religious council, gave a long and learned account of the history of his people to those assembled to judge him.acts 6 Stephen and the priests But as he recounts the history of Israel, Stephen doesn’t exactly glorify the Jewish people. He glorifies God, but he brings up incident after incident in the history of Israel where the people had rejected the messengers God had sent to them.

At the end of his speech to his accusers, Stephen said this to them.  “You stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You do always resist the Holy Ghost. As your fathers did, so do you!”  (Acts 7:51 & 52) His accusers rushed on him and the Bible says they even bit him with their teeth. Next they dragged him out of the city and stoned Stephen to death.

The stoning of Stepen

The stoning of Stepen

Thus ended the first phase of the history of the Early Church. Stephen’s martyrdom in Jerusalem precipitated a huge persecution against the Christians there and the Bible says very many of them fled the persecution, moving out to other nearby cities and towns. And “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4)

So it’s an amazing, significant, griping chapter in the history of Christianity. The live audio class is 48 minutes long and you can hear it here. I hope these classes are a blessing to you if you’re listening to them. For me, it’s such an inspiration and a check on my heart and spirit to read these things again and to let the Word of God search my heart and draw me towards the acts and deeds and commitment of the early Church. God bless you!

 

Acts Chapter 5 Live Class Audio

Annanias deadWe’re continuing our study of the book of Acts in our weekly classes here and recently we did Acts 5. [Here you can find the link to the audio of the live class.] One of the big things we talked about in relation to this chapter was fear, the fear of God and the fear of man.

To those who are not familiar with Acts chapter 5, I’ll copy in here the first 11 verses of the chapter and this will help you to understand why we talked about fear in the class.

(Act 5:1)  And a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.  (Act 5:2)  And he kept back part of the price, his wife also knowing, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Act 5:3)  But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart for you to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? (Act 5:4)  While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own authority? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God. (Act 5:5)  And hearing these words, Ananias fell down and expired. And great fear came on all those who heard these things.(Act 5:6)  And the younger ones arose, wound him up, and carrying him out, they buried him. (Act 5:7)  And it was about the space of three hours afterward, when his wife (not knowing what was done) came in. (Act 5:8)  And Peter answered her, Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? And she said, Yes, for so much.Annaniass wife (Act 5:9)  Then Peter said to her, How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door and they will carry you out. (Act 5:10)  Then at once she fell down at his feet and expired. And the younger ones found her dead, and, carrying her out, buried her beside her husband. (Act 5:11)  And great fear came on all the church and on as many as heard these things.

Pretty heavy stuff. And like someone said in our class, “This isn’t from the Old Testament, it’s from the New!”  Ananaias and his wife dropped dead after being confronted by Peter for their lying to God. “God is not mocked.” (Galatians 6:7) You can’t play games with God. At the beginning of the early church, the standard had to stay high and there was no place for hypocrisy or deceit. But the people magnified them. And no one joined themselves to the church but the Lord added daily.

And even the shadow of Peter passing by brought healing to some. (See Acts 5:15) Someone in the class said that sounded almost like something Catholic. But then we talked about that and how for hundreds of years, there was nothing but the Catholic Church. And God had ones like St. Patrick, Columbanus, ColumbaGellért in Budapest and so many more who were apostles to peoples across Europe and around the world, many of whom died a martyr’s death. Some would tell us that all those folks will go to hell because they were Catholics. I certainly don’t think that’s the way it is. God worked with the faith that people had then. Many people had no knowledge of God at all and could not read or write before the apostles of their day came to their land. So God did some things back then in the way of unusual miracles that are not normal any longer in our times.

The chapter continues with more persecution. Peter and John were thrown into prison (again) but this time they were released by an angel who told them bluntly, “Go, stand and speak in the temple, to the people, all the words of this life.” (Acts 5:20) peter and priestAnd when Peter and John did have to face the religious authorities (again) they again didn’t shilly-shally or pull their punches. They told the high priest that they had killed their prince and their Savior. When the religious authorities commanded them not to teach in the name of Jesus anymore, Peter and John told them, “We ought to obey God, rather than man.” (Acts 5:29)

When they had beaten them, they let them go.

When they had beaten them, they let them go.

So this is a strong, emphatic chapter. Of course it’s just so good to get in the Word together with others, to see how God worked in those first days of the Christian era. God is love, Jesus is pictured as the gentle Lamb of God, and the fruits of the Spirit begin with love, joy and peace. But also, life’s a serious business. In the early church era, it was a wonderful, but also an awesome and perhaps even a frightening experience at times.

Many equate fear with something bad. And often that can be true. But there’s a verse that has always spoken to me, “The fear of the Lord is clean.” (Psalm 19:9) Acts 5:11 says “And great fear came on all the church.” But it wasn’t a debilitating, hindering fear. It brought wisdom, sobriety, and Godly caution. This all resulted in a time of tremendous growth and reaping. “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” (Acts 5:14) The chapter ends with another stirring verse which may capture the spirit of those times. “And daily in the temple and in ever house they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts 5:42)  [You can find the link to the 40 minute audio of the live class here.]

Acts Chapter 4 Live Class Audio

Acts 4 arrestedThis is the fourth class on the book of Acts that we’ve had a group study and discussion on here. In the class before this we went part of the way into Acts 4. But this time, we started again at the beginning and went through the entire chapter. (The full audio of the Acts chapter 4 class can be heard here.)

A few subjects we touched on even before we got far into the class are:

  • How does the future church of the Last Days related to or learn from the foundational church in the book of Acts?
  • Will the body of Christ in the final End Time return full circle and end up being similar to the Early Church? Without material power or ostentatious ceremonies and assemblies?
  • Who exactly were the Pharisees and the Sadducees and how can you easily remember the difference?

One thing we delved into was what Peter told the religious council that had summoned him. In this chapter, there are a cluster of verses  that are like a brilliant constellation of major “stars” of Scripture.

Act 4:10  Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.  Act 4:11 This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.  Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.  Act 4:13  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

In verse 10 there, Peter and John just could not have been more straightforward in pointing out that the Jesus they’d recently crucified there in Jerusalem was the power behind the healing of the lame man. Then, to further their point, they quoted a well known verse from that time from the Old Testament, Psalm. 118:22 “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.” Jesus Himself had quoted that verse to them months earlier in relation to their rejection of Him as their Lord and Savior. (see Matthew 21:42)

Bu there was more. The next verse famously says, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) This is one of the most well known doctrines concerning Christianity and one of the ones that seems most difficult for many people. But then Jesus said the same thing of Himself in His lifetime in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no many comes to the Father but by me.” We spent some time in the class examining the implications of these verses and how they still impact people today.

Acts 4 Priests rageSo when the priests commanded Peter and John not to teach or preach anymore in the name of Jesus, did they obey the priests? You probably know the answer. We talked about that in the class and what it still means to all Christians.

At the time of Acts 4, the entire Christian witness and Christian church of God was centered in Jerusalem. It was a time of intense reaping. The sowing had been going on for all the 3 years of Jesus’ ministry but the time of decision had come and many did come over to the side of faith in Jesus. Acts 1-7 is all about this extremely important time in the history of the Jewish people when the gospel was preached to them in Jerusalem.

And then at the end of the chapter we hear again of the economic plan and program that was an integral part of the Early Church at that time. We saw this first in our class on Acts chapter 2. Here it says something very similar.

Acts 4 32-35Act 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.  Act 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.  Act 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,  Act 4:35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

For many modern Western ears, especially Christian ears, this sounds decidedly like Marxism-Leninism. But was it? Were the early Christians Communists? This was what much of the last part of the class was about.

I’m just seeing more and more how the Lord makes it so that things can be shared in these small group circumstances that just don’t seem possible to be said in large churches on Sunday in these times. I hope this summary is a blessing to you and that you’ll get a chance to listen to the full class.

Yours in Him,

Mark

Acts Chapter 3 Live Class

lame healed Acts 3- flattenedHere’s the third posting on the live classes I’m doing here with friends on the book of Acts. I really look forward to this time each week. [The audio of the live class on Acts 3 can be heard here.] There’s just such a satisfaction in being together with like-minded brethren and really getting in the Word with them. It’s one of the high points of my week.

Acts 3 scene 1In this class, we not only read Acts 3 but went some ways into Acts 4. Actually, in the continuity of the story line, Acts 3 and Acts 4 are part of the same narrative. All the apostles are still there in Jerusalem, involved in the follow-up of the huge reaping of souls from the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 2, three thousand souls came to the Lord and the early church at that time. Then at the beginning of Acts 3, Peter and John were going up to the Temple and a lame man asked alms of them, as beggars do everywhere.

Acts 3 scene 2Perhaps the most famous verse in the chapter is Peter’s reply to the man, “Silver and gold have I none. But such as I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6) And he did. In fact the Bible says he “went walking and leaping and praising God.” (Acts 3:8)

It didn’t end there. A huge crowd quickly gathered. So Peter again, like in Acts 2, spoke to the crowd and told them (as he had in Acts two) that this healing of the lame man was not done by their power but by the power of Jesus Christ, who had been slain there in Jerusalem just a few weeks or a few months before then.Acts 3 scene 3

Well, this is all in the class we had and again I was able to record it for those who want to hear it. The audio recording can be heard here. It’s also possible to download the file from the site and evidently some are doing that.

But just to summarize the rest of Acts 3, Peter’s preaching again really had huge results. We don’t hear about it till the beginning of Acts 4 but “many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.” (Acts 4:4) And by this time the commotion had aroused the attention of the religious authorizes. We read at the beginning of Acts 4 that the Sadducees had Peter and John arrested by the Temple guard and they were put in custody till the next day.Acts 3 scene 4

One of the things I mentioned in the live class is how amazing this whole episode must have been to those who experienced it. The lame man, who was over 40 years old, probably had heard of Jesus before since He was extremely well known to the people of Jerusalem before His Crucifixion. Could that lame man have hoped to meet Jesus all during that time but have felt that, now that He was dead (as most folks figured), then it was too late for him to receive healing? Maybe that all figured into that moment when he received healing through Peter and John? What was the atmosphere like in Jerusalem during those 24 hours or so when so many lives were changed forever? What was it like to hear Peter and John come back and explain to all the believers their experiences, after they’d been released by the religious authorities? The Bible tells us so much that is essential. But there’s so much to think about how it all must have been for those there and how the Holy Spirit was working so mightily on so many during that time.

God loved those people so much. The Bible says, “to the Jew first”.(Romans 1:16). And since God in His providence knew that in the lifetime of many of those people, Jerusalem was to be conquered and destroy again in less than 40 years from that time, His Spirit must have yearned and plead in the hearts of each one of those people who knew His Word so well that they would receive the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus and the complete change of heart and life that was available to each of them through faith in His Name.

The live class on Acts 3 and the first part of Acts 4 has been edited down to around 50 minutes. If this is something that you are interested in, I hope you’ll have time to listen to it. I know that for many nowadays, it’s difficult to find Christian fellowship that’s anything more than a light ceremonial hour on Sunday with people you don’t know and in a place where you come away still spiritually hungry and unfulfilled. So many are looking for something more, something deeper, something more total and complete. My hope is that these audio classes will provide some view into God’s Word and a feeling of a small group of believers gathered at His feet which will be a blessing and fulfillment those who are looking for more from Him at this time.

Acts Chapter 2 Live Class Audio

Things are continuing to go well with the live classes on the book of Acts here in Austin. Recently we did Acts chapter 2; boy, that chapter can shake you up!Peter and crowd It certainly did for the ones who were there in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, to say the least. Like I said in the class on Luke 24 and Acts 1, you just wish someone with a good understanding of the things of the Lord could do a really good movie of these things.

Well, I’m tempted to tell you the whole story of Acts 2 right here but perhaps you know it already. As I did with the first blog post on these classes on the book of Acts, I’ve made an edited audio recording of the Acts 2 class and it can be heard here. It’s 50 minutes long.Peter preaching

In our class recently, there were so many fundamental, exceedingly important subjects that came up in the class that we had to make a real effort to keep going back to the text in the chapter. Basically, Peter the apostle (along with around 120 people who were in the upper room in Jerusalem) were there on the morning of Pentecost, 50 days after the Lord’s crucifixion. Suddenly they were very dramatically all filled with the Holy Spirit and were even speaking in unknown tongues and languages that they themselves didn’t know how to speak. This attracted a huge crowd from among the Jewish pilgrims who’d come to Jerusalem from all over for the feast of Pentecost.

crowd listensPeter then stood up and preached a riveting sermon to the huge crowd, using prophecies from the Old Testament which all the Jews knew, plus the testimony of Peter and the others that God had raised Jesus from the dead there in Jerusalem just weeks before.

"What must we do?"

“What must we do?”

The result was that multitudes of the Jewish pilgrims asked Peter and the others, “What must we do?”  (Acts 2:37) To which Peter said, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

And the result? Three…thousand…souls got saved right then! (Acts 2:41)

It’s just an incredible chapter and basically it’s the beginning of the Christian era that so many of us are a part of. But in our Bible study we could hardly read the chapter for all the questions that kept coming up. That’s one of the really nice things about having these home church Bible studies: people can ask questing and get involved.

If you go to church on Sunday, probably you don’t get involved. You don’t raise your hand while the preacher is preaching, that just really isn’t done. Maybe it might work out that your church will have some kind of adult Sunday school before or after the church service. But those can often be pretty stuffy or just so social and secular that there’s really nothing spiritual about them at all.hawk&dove-flattened I wrote about my experience with this in a blog post called “Hawks and Doves”, about my sad experiences in visiting a large evangelical church in Houston.

But in our Acts chapter 2 class, we just were bouncing from one subject to the other. For example,

“Do you have to receive the Holy Ghost to be saved?” “How do you know if you have the Holy Ghost?” “Is speaking in tongues required to be saved?”

(Don’t laugh; in some congregations and even denominations, a failure to speak in tongues is an indication that your salvation and future place in heaven is very questionable.)

“And how about water baptisms? Is that essential?” “And by the way, were all those people in Acts chapter 2 Communists?!”

It says they lived together and shared all things so it could seem that way.

As you can probably relate to, almost everyone had some very serious questions about all this and we took time to go over these points at least to some degree. But the very fact that we friends could meet together on a week night and really delve into the Word was one of the best things of all. Think of all the millions of Christians who may go to some church or assembly once a week but never really get into the Word deeply. So many are seldom in an atmosphere where they can talk freely about questions they have and can bring up things on their heart that can be discussed among friends from a Biblical viewpoint.

So I’m just really happy for these classes that are going on now and I hope you’ll find that the Acts chapter 2 audio recording can be some kind of blessing to you as well. Join with us in a time of feeding on the Word, even if you’re thousands of miles away. “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of His Grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance…”  Acts 20:32

Luke 24 & Acts 1 Live Class Audio

In a recent blog post, I wrote about the series of live classes I’ve started here in Austin on the book of Acts. That’s off to a good start; recently I’ve edited the audio recording of the first class and you can listen to the class here.

The Apostle Peter, speaking to the crowd in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost

The Apostle Peter, speaking to the crowd in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost

A few months ago I went through the books of Daniel and Revelation with the same group of friends. That series was so heart gripping as we were able to see again, not only all the fulfilled prophecies of the past, but the ones yet to be fulfilled. It seems to me at least that current events in our world today dovetail so clearly with the conditions described by the prophecies which are yet to be fulfilled in the lead up to the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth.

But it’s not good to get so caught up in Bible prophecy that we lose sight of our own call to Christian discipleship that’s at the heart of the New Testament. That’s why for me the book of Acts is perhaps the best book in the Bible (after the four Gospels of course) which can make plain what it should mean to be a Christian.

In opening this series, I wanted first to set the stage and the background for the beginning of Christianity after the resurrection of Jesus. So we started the class with Luke 24, the last chapter in the book of Luke. It’s clear from the first verses in Luke 1 and the first verses in Acts 1 that they’re written by the same man, “Luke the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). Luke 24 just tingles with the atmosphere of the time between the Lord’s crucifixion, His rising from the dead 3 days later, and His ascension 40 days after that.

I just wish some movie could or would really do justice to that time and how it became clear to the disciples that Jesus had actually risen from the dead. In our class on this chapter, we also covered how that Jesus made clear to them that He wasn’t a ghost when He appeared to them, saying “handle Me and see for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see Me have.” (Luke 24:39)

From Acts 1, verses 10 & 11

From Acts 1, verses 10 & 11

Then in the class we went on to the book of Acts, which sort of overlaps the last verses of Luke. And Bible prophecy even comes into the picture. The two angels who were with the disciples on the Mount of Olives as they saw Jesus ascend up into heaven told the disciples that “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven”. (Acts 1:11) This is what was said in the Book of Zachariah 500 years before, speaking about the Lord’s ultimate return to the earth, “His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with You.” (Zachariah 14:4 & 5)

But perhaps the biggest thing in Acts chapter 1 was the promise of the Holy Ghost which Jesus said the disciples would receive in a few days after He had ascended. Such a ringing verse, “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. And you shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8) The Holy Ghost was not to be given as some kind of virtual toy for Christians to be proud about. But it was to be given as a source of power to increase their effectiveness in their primary purpose and duty: to witness to others about the Lord.

The class has been edited down to just under an hour. Since it was a live class, it isn’t the same type as the videos on the book of Daniel have been. Those are all scripted beforehand while this one was just given as it came and so there are more “rabbit trails and ramblings” than are in the Daniel videos. But several people abroad have asked if these could be made into some kind of audio class so that they can have the opportunity to be in on the classes and the atmosphere of a live Bible study.

Here’s a link where the audio can be listened to. I hope this class and the ones to come will be a blessing to you. With love, Mark

 

PS  In the last few days here we’ve had the funeral for my dad. There have been more relatives here than at any time since my parents 50th wedding anniversary in the late 90’s. It’s been a sad time but also a very nice time that so many have been together again. My four kids from Europe have been here and one of my grandsons.

Austin Live Classes Starting

I’ll be starting up a new series of live classes in Austin soon so I wanted to let ones in the area know in case they’d be interested in taking part.

From Acts 1, verses 10 & 11

From Acts 1, verses 10 & 11

This series is going to be on the book of Acts, which is the history of the birth and growth of the Early Christian church in the first years after the resurrection of Jesus.

What I love about that book is that we can find there the original pattern of Christian discipleship and cooperation as lived by the Apostles who had been with Jesus, as well as by Paul of Tarsus who was miraculously called to be an apostle as well. There’s just so much there in the way of their original beliefs, what they did with their lives, their difficulties in agreeing and working together, how they witnessed their faith, their sacrifices, the strong persecution they received and how the Lord through the Holy Spirit was so very present to lead them and guide them and show them what to do. I love to see how the Lord was, in a sense, way out in front of them and leading them into all truth. At times it almost appalled them as the Lord’s ways were so revolutionary and different from what they thought was the way God would do things.

A recent Revelation class in Austin

A recent Revelation class in Austin

Five months ago I posted an article about the live classes I was doing at that time in Austin. That was a series on the books of Daniel and Revelation which so many are especially interested in nowadays. We finished that up last week with a class on the Millennium and the New Heaven and New Earth, all found in Revelation 20 through 22.

A series on Daniel and Revelation is pretty hard to follow. Those are some of the most envisioning, soul-challenging chapters in the Bible, especially if you’re of the ones who believe that we’ll be going through times of tribulation before the coming of the Lord, as I and my friends believe.

But with the book of Acts, it’s a good deal more down to earth. On the other hand, there are all kinds of things in there that most churches shy away from teaching or even bringing up for a number of reasons. And yet it’s the fifth book in the New Testament, evidently written by Luke the Evangelist.Book of Acts It’s primarily a historical book but in it can be seen the fervor and dedication of the first disciples, as well as how they explained who Jesus was and what His significance was to the people of their day. With great zeal and fervor the early Christians witnessed daily both to the Jews who’d been looking for the coming Messiah as well as the much larger group of “Gentiles”, most of whom knew virtually nothing about the promises that had been made to Israel.

So I’m really looking forward to this study. And if you’re in the area and would like to possibly see if you’d like to join us, I’d like to hear from you. We’ll be meeting on Thursday evenings in the Cedar Park area, a suburb north of Austin. I’m finding that the atmosphere in these “small groups” has a real advantage at times over the much larger corporate church in that there can be so much more of an “open forum” environment and personal interaction between those present. I’ve made some good new friends over the past months and found a number of ones with whom I have similar views and aspirations.

We’re open to finding others who are looking to go further with their Christian discipleship and to dig deeper into God’s Word. If this is something you’d like to check out, please do get in contact with me and I can let you know more. God bless you, your friend, Mark

New live classes

It’s worked out for me over the last month to begin to give live Bible classes here in Austin. I’m really glad about that as this is something I’ve done in the past in many places, including here in Austin for a time between 2001 and 2003.

From classes I taught in Jakarta, 2007

From classes I taught in Jakarta, 2007

Actually, the series of videos that I’ve been working on comes from the live classes that I’ve taught for years in places like Scandinavia, Hungary, Indonesia, Brazil and Ukraine.

It’s been refreshing to find that so many Christians here who really feel that the best place for fellowship and Christian feeding in the Word can be found in what they call “small groups”. I do go to a “mega church” here in Austin and I wrote a blog post about it called “A Flock of Whooping Cranes”. But it’s been the smaller groups and adult Sunday school classes where I’ve really made new friends and these are the ones who’ve invited me to start going through the prophecies of Daniel with them. So far, it’s been around 15 people who come each Thursday night and it’s been a good time of deep Bible study.

In the past when I was abroad, much of the time my teaching was to what could be called “beginners”, folks who are relatively new to the Lord and to Christian teaching. Some of those times I was also teaching the children of missionary friends. But here in Austin, I would say the ones who are coming to the classes now are more “intermediate and advanced”. These are folks who have  a pretty good knowledge of God’s Word and also are relatively familiar with what the Bible says about the times leading up to the return of Jesus. With these new freinds we can dig deeper as well as also answer some questions (or try to) about some of the more controversial subjects of the endtime picture.

Picture 3

Daniel 7: the 4 beasts

I’m really glad that things have gone so well with the web sites this year and also the Daniel 8 video which should be viewable in the next week or so, Lord willing. But I’m also very glad to see this door open to be able to teach in a live setting again. With all the art that’s been done on the videos so far, it’s made it so that the classes now can have this art shown on a large screen.

The Ancient of Days

The Ancient of Days

The ones in the class can see what the Bible describes when it talks about “the four beasts” or “the Ancient of Days” or when when Daniel speaks with the angel Gabriel.

So if there are any of you in the greater Austin area who might be interested in coming to these classes, please get in touch with me . I’m open to other things like this developing if the Lord is leading and there are receptive people who want to dig deeper in the Word.

Gabriel speaks to Daniel

Gabriel speaks to Daniel

These are exciting times. Getting to know new friends, finding ones who really are hungry for the truth of the Bible, seeing what the Lord is doing and where things are going at this time is really thrilling. If any of this rings a bell with you, do get in touch with me and perhaps some new things in the way of live classes can be started up. God bless you!