What do you think of when you think of the Newsboys? One of the CCM industry’s long-running Christian rock acts, the Newsboys have been around since 1985, with hundreds of songs and seventeen studio albums to their name. But chances are you don’t know them for their song “Cornelius.” It’s a bouncy, catchy ode to the converted centurion by the same name from Acts 10, but at the end of the day, it goes afield from the text to applaud general integrity, refusal to compromise, and…such bizarre lines as “What rhymes with Cornelius? Helium.” So, having hooked your interest with an introduction only tangentially related to the content of the passage, let’s set aside the Newsboys’ deep cuts and take a look at the tale of the man behind the song.
Here’s some more chocolate that my parents brought back from their trip to Israel, and man, I had to do some research just to identify it. I nearly missed the only English letters on the wrapper: the main website for the Strauss group, which is in Hebrew. Flipping to the English version of the site, I dug down through their complete brand selection until I recognized the cow logo from the wrapper: it’s their Parra chocolate brand. As noted before, Strauss’ chocolate is not Fair Trade certified, but it is kosher, and the Strauss company has its own commitment to sustainable practices and sourcing. Yeah, but how’s the chocolate, right?
Greetings from the ghost town that is a mall food court at 9:30 AM on a Friday. I just got done with a dental appointment, and to celebrate, I’m subjecting my teeth to sugar and cacao solids. I know it’s been awhile since I said anything about the physical circumstances under which I’m opening up the Bible, but today’s a little out of the ordinary, so here’s me for old times sake, talking about the site where I’m reading about Saul’s conversion.
If you were reading through the New Testament in canonical order, starting with Matthew and ending with Revelation, then Acts 8 would be the last you’d see of Philip. Even in the first half of the chapter, he ends up leaving the limelight as Peter handles Simon the Ex-Sorcerer’s attempt to purchase distribution rights to the Holy Spirit. But in the latter half of the chapter, Philip gets a solo adventure and an opportunity to do some big kingdom work, and it all starts with an angel and a eunuch.
Stephen’s death was a bit of a sucker punch to the early church. Not only did they have to cope with the loss of one of their most devout members, but also Jerusalem turned hostile to the faith. The majority of the new Christians had to disperse to other regions, and Saul spearheaded the persecution efforts, imprisoning many of those who stuck around. But you don’t get diamonds without pressure, you don’t get pearls without irritants, and it takes a lot of (ahem) fertilizer to make a rose.
Do you remember that scene in The Prince of Egypt where Moses kills an Egyptian and flees to the wilderness? He goes to stop one of the taskmasters from beating a Hebrew slave, but accidentally sends the taskmaster plummeting off a scaffolding and kills him. Everyone sees the event, and Moses runs away into the desert. It’s a dramatic scene, but as it does elsewhere, the movie takes some liberties with the text it’s interpreting. It differs starkly from both the original account in Exodus and Stephen’s interpretation of it in his speech before the Council in Jerusalem.
Acts 6 begins with strife between the Greek-speaking Jews and the Jews native to Judea. You may be familiar with the situation, in which those who provided meals for the needy were overlooking the widows among the Greek-speaking Jews. As I read it today, I found that I associated it in my mind with Biblical themes of compassion for the poor and opposition to racism, such as we see in Acts 2:44-45 and Galatians 3:28. But Luke includes the story of the overlooked widows to introduce a larger story: Stephen’s martyrdom.