The Old, Old Story Becomes New

Making a Case for Christ

Some of my earliest memories are going to my Grandparents (my mom’s parents) on Sunday evenings. This was a great time with cousins and aunts and uncles. Sometimes we would all go with them to their small country church.

One of the songs I remember singing at their church is Tell Me the Old, Old Story. This song started out as a poem that was written in 1866 by Katherine Hankey, then later put to music by William Howard Doane.

My memories of singing this song go back a long way, and this song was written further back than that. The Bible stories that this song speaks of go back even longer!

For a lot of people, the Bible and the stories in it are old, old stories that have no relevance in today’s world.

The story of the resurrection that we celebrate on Easter is one of those stories.

Lee Strobel was a journalist for the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers for 14 years. He was an atheist, but when his wife became a Christian, he began investigating the biblical claims about Jesus Christ and the resurrection.

What he discovered was not what he expected.

He took an investigative look at the evidence from the fields of science, philosophy, and history. He cross-examined a dozen experts with doctorates from schools such as Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis, asking hard-hitting questions, and built a captivating case for Christ’s divinity.

Strobel asked challenging questions like:

  • How reliable is the New Testament?
  • Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible?
  • Is Jesus who He said He was?
  • Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event?

The results of his investigation were so different than what he expected that he wrote a book about what he discovered and became a Christian. The title of the book is The Case for Christ and has since been made into a movie.

In this book he breaks down the evidence for one of the most important events in history. He summarizes this with the four proofs of the resurrection otherwise known as the four Es.


Did Jesus die on the cross? Was he dead? Virtually every scholar on planet Earth concedes that Jesus was dead after crucifixion. We have no record of anyone, anywhere, ever surviving a full Roman crucifixion. Even the Journal of the American Medical Association publish a peer reviewed scientific medical study of the evidence for the death of Jesus and said, “Clearly the weight of the evidence indicates that Jesus was dead even before the wound was inflicted.” Even the atheist New Testament scholar Gerd Lüdeman says, “Historically it’s indisputable that Jesus was dead.” So, Jesus was dead.


The second category of evidence is the early accounts we have for the resurrection. In other words, I used to think as an atheist that the resurrection was a legend and that took a long time to develop in the ancient world. What I learned is that we have preserved for us a creed of the earliest Christian Church. A creed that is an eyewitness-based report of the resurrection of Jesus. Now this creed has been dated back by scholars to within months of the death of Jesus — within months. That is historical gold. So, we’ve got a news flash from ancient history on the resurrection.


The best evidence for the empty tomb is even the opponents of Jesus implicitly admitted the tomb was empty. When the disciples began proclaiming that Jesus had risen what the opponent said was, “The disciples stole the body.” They’re conceding that the tomb was empty, they’re just trying to explain how it got empty. So, everybody’s conceding that the tomb was empty. How it got empty is the real issue, and that goes to the fourth category of evidence, which is eyewitnesses.


For most of what we know about ancient history, it comes from one or maybe two sources of information and yet for the conviction of the disciples that they encountered the resurrected Jesus, we have no fewer than 9 ancient sources inside and outside the New Testament confirming and corroborating the conviction of the disciples that they encountered the risen Christ.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ means that He is who He said He was. If this is the case…He is God as human. If this is true…He is still alive today. If this is true…this old, old story is a new story every day. It’s pretty hard to deny this case for Christ.

Our Family Trees Start at the Roots

And Some of the Branches May Not Be the Best

Every one of us has a family and every family has a story. Each of these stories is different. Some are comedies, some are fairy tales, some are mysteries, some are fantasies, and some are horror stories.

I’m fortunate to have an amazing family. Is isn’t perfect…no, but none are.

We all have memories of family…both good and bad. We are a combination of who God made us to be and our life experiences.

No matter what our family story is, we have the power to write our own chapter.

We all come from someone, somewhere, and something…a people, a place, and a story. So does Jesus.

Currently we are going through an Advent study, Roots: Advent and the Family Story of Jesus at church. Pastor Lisa’s message on Sunday was tied to the study.

The heart and mission of Jesus is better understood by exploring the roots that grew into Jesus’s life. The roots of Jesus are his family tree and its characters, the land of Israel – its towns and terrain, and the incredible faith-story of God’s covenant people, the Jews.

In Roots: Advent and the Family Story of Jesus, there is the rediscovery that Jesus — born naturally of a mother from a family line herself, and nurtured by a father who knew the names of his family many generations into the past (Matthew 1:1–17) — comes from the family vine of the great King David, the son of Jesse, and from a long line of faithful men and women.

Both Jesus’ genealogical ancestry and His faith heritage take us on a journey through the stories of saints and sinners woven into the family line of the Son of God.

Yes, you read that right, there were both saints and sinners in Jesus’ family tree.

Just because our family trees have some bad branches doesn’t mean that we must be bad. We can choose what kind of branch we will be.

In Matthew 1:6, we see that Jesse was the father of David the king of the Jews. In Isaiah 11:1-3, we read that a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse.

Have you ever seen a live tree cut down and just the stump is left? If you have then you know how new trees can sprout up from that stump. Often many more than just one tree. This growing and spreading of trees is the same in families.

The importance of family is evident with the popularity of people searching for their family ancestry. This desire to know who and where we come from is a part of who we are.

A tree is a great way to represent the growing and spreading of families with the relationships through a tree and branches.

If we go back far enough in our family tree, we will end up at the beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There were times throughout history when the tree was cut down and sprouted again.

We need to celebrate our history and grow into the branch that we were meant to be.

Peter Says He Doesn’t Know Jesus…What Are You Going to Say?

Going Through the Last Days of Jesus’ Life

Sorry about being a day late getting this post published. I would like to blame it on this being a short holiday week, but that wouldn’t be totally true. The short week may have played a small part, but it’s more to do with simply being busy.

The past several weeks we’ve been going through the Book of Luke. This week we finish up Luke going through chapters 22-24.

In these chapters, Jesus’ journey is coming to an end, and these things take place –  

  • Judas betrays Jesus.
  • Jesus shares the Passover with His disciples.
  • Pilate and Herod look for a way to set Jesus free.
  • The people want the murderer Barabbas set free instead of Jesus.
  • The sun stops shining for hours during the middle of the day.
  • The curtain in the Temple is torn in two.
  • Jesus is killed.
  • Jesus is buried.
  • Jesus returns and appears to His disciples.
  • Jesus opens their minds to understand.

There are a lot of people involved in the chapters.

  • Judas – Satan enters Judas (Luke 22:3), and he goes to the chief priests and the officers of the church to help them arrest Jesus. Satan couldn’t come into Judas’ heart without Judas letting him in. Judas had to allow this. The same is true for Jesus. He won’t come in if we don’t let Him. Just like Judas, this is a choice that is ours to make.
  • Peter – Jeus is telling His disciples that they will be tested. (Luke 22:31-34) Peter tells Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to jail and even to die with you.” Jesus replied, “Peter, I tell you that before a rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” You know the rest of the story. After Jesus is arrested and Peter is standing in the courtyard of the high priest’s house, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times. (Luke 22:54-65) Just like Peter, this is a choice that is ours to make.
  • Pilate and Herod – Neither of these men thought Jesus was guilty or deserved to be put to death. They weren’t willing to stand up against the people and set Him free. (Luke 23:1-23) Pilate and Herod were persuaded by the culture. Just like Pilate and Harrod, the choice to let culture persuade us is ours to make.
  • Barabbas – Upon the demanding of the people, the guilty Barabbas was released in place of Jesus. He was forgiven for his wrongdoing and set free. Then the innocent Jesus was killed on the cross in his place. (Luke 23:24-25) There are some that believe that after this Barabbas became a follower of Jesus. This is the same thing Jesus does for us. Just like Barabbas, Jesus paid for our wrongdoings and it’s our choice whether to follow Jesus or not.
  • Simon – As Jesus was being led away, some soldiers grabbed Simon of Cyrene and made him carry Jesus’ cross. This was not Simon’s cross. For all we know Simon may not even knew who Jesus was, but yet he carried Jesus’ cross for Him. (Luke 23:26) This is what Jesus will do for us. He will carry our cross.
  • Men on the cross on either side of Jesus – There were two criminals nailed to the crosses on either side of Jesus. One of them was insulting Jesus by saying, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and save us!” But the other criminal told the first one off, “Aren’t you getting the same punishment as this man? We got what was coming to us, but he didn’t do anything wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Remember me.” Jesus replied, “I promise that today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:32-43) Just like the criminal, we just need to ask Jesus and we can be in paradise with Him.
  • Joseph – Joseph was a church leader from Arimathea and member of the council but did not agree with what was decided. He believed in Jesus and was looking forward to God’s kingdom coming. Joseph went to Pilate and asked if he could take Jesus’ body down and bury it. He wrapped Jesus’ body in fine cloth and put it in his tomb that had never been used. (Luke 23:50-53) The fact that no other bodies had been buried there makes the empty tomb a big deal. Joseph believed and acted on that belief. Just like Joseph, we need to believe and act on that belief.
  • The women – On the day after the Sabbath the women prepared spices for Jesus’ burial. When they got there the tomb was empty. Suddenly, two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. The men tell the women that Jesus is risen and is not there. (Luke24:1-12) In that time women were seen as second-class citizens. This is partly why the apostles did not believe them until they went and looked for themselves. Just like the women, sometimes people won’t believe you but we still need to share the truth anyway.
  • Cleopas – Two of Jesus’ followers were walking and talking about what had happened. Jesus joined them and asked what they were talking about. With sadness in his voice, Cleopas answered, “You must be the only person from Jerusalem who doesn’t know what’s happened over the past few days.” “What do you mean?”, asked Jesus. They told Him the whole story and then Jesus asked them, “Why can’t you understand?” They asked Jesus to stay with them and when they sat down to eat Jesus broke some bread and He disappeared. The two men went back to tell the others what they had seen. (Luke 24:13-49) Just like the Cleopas, if we listen and learn, our eyes will be open to Jesus.

We are all these people. We are Barabbas. We are set free even though we don’t deserve it.

This isn’t the end of the story. Just like Peter’s story doesn’t end with his denying Jesus.  Our story is still being written. Remember the tomb is empty.

We’ve come to the end of Luke and now we’re going into Luke volume two…Acts.

The book of Acts picks up where Luke left off, providing us with a front row seat to the birth of the church, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the spreading of the Gospel and the growth of the church.

We Are Left Sitting on the Edge of Our Seats with a Good Cliffhanger

We’re Eager to Know What’s Going to Happen Next

cliffhanger is a plot used in fiction which features a precarious or difficult dilemma or a shocking revelation at the end of an episode. A cliffhanger is hoped to incentivize the audience to return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma.

Cliffhangers became prominent with the serial publication of narrative fiction, pioneered by Charles Dickens. Printed episodically in magazines, Dickens’s cliffhangers triggered desperation in his readers. This was evident in the anticipation of those waiting for the next installment of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop. A story about a thirteen-year-old orphan named Nell Trent, living with her grandfather.

In 1841, Dickens fans rioted on the dock of New York Harbor, as they waited for a British ship carrying the next installment, screaming, “Is little Nell dead?”

Dickens’ installment format and cliffhangers would typically culminate at a point in the plot that created reader anticipation and thus reader demand.

The popularity of Dickens’s serial publications saw the cliffhanger become a staple part of the “sensation serials” by the 1860s. The DNA of Dickens’s busy, episodic storytelling, delivered in installments and rife with cliffhangers and diversions, is traceable in everything.

The apostles were living out a cliffhanger in Act 1:6-14. They ask Jesus. “Are You now going to give Israel its own king again?”

He answered them, “You don’t need to know the time of those events that only the Father controls.” After Jesus had said this and while they were watching, He was taken up into a cloud.

Can you say cliffhanger?

They were wanting to know what was going to happen next, and Jesus left them standing there wondering. Then two men dressed in white clothes were suddenly standing there beside them. They asked, “Why are standing here looking up into the sky? Jesus has been taken to heaven. He will come back the same way.”

You know the apostles were sitting on the edge of their seats wondering when, how, why.

Cliffhangers in fictional stories can be exciting and stressful, but ultimately, we know that they are just a story. The writer of the story can keep us guessing and anticipating what’s going to happen next. The author can take us where they want us to go.

In our real-life story, cliffhanger levels of excitement and stress are ramped up. There are real trials and consequences in this story. This unknown can be pretty scary. We just want to know what’s going to happen next and that everything is going to be alright.

Sure, our life stories have drama and cliffhangers, but the Author will write a good story if we just let Him. In verse 8 Jesus tells the apostles, “The Holy Spirt will come upon you and give you power.”

We have the power to choose who writes our story. Let God write your story.

If we will let God write our stories, then the cliffhangers become a driving force to move forward to the next episode of our lives.

Enjoy your cliffhanger!

Why is it That Some People Can’t Stop Pre-telling the End of the Story?

It Would be Helpful if Those People Had a Spoiler Alert Alarm

It’s fun when reading a book or watching a movie and we’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen. It’s like solving a puzzle or riddle and makes our creative brain go to work. Part of the thrill of those kinds of stories is in trying to figure it out before you get to the end.

It puts a real damper on the fun of figuring it out when someone who knows the ending spoils it.

One young man had such a friend. This friend was notorious about spoiling the ending of movies. One day when the friend had spoiled another movie ending, the young man had had enough. The young man came up with a plan to get even.

He knew the friend loved jigsaw puzzles and he was always bragging about finishing them. So, the young man got a puzzle for his friend and before giving it to him, he took some of the key pieces out that were critical to the finished picture. 

One day, when the young man was at the friend’s house, the friend said, “You know that puzzle you gave me, some pieces were missing. I looked everywhere for them. I don’t know where they went. They are a key part of what the picture is supposed to be. I sure would like to see the finished picture.

The young man reached into his pocket and pulled out a plastic bag with the puzzle pieces in it…they had been cut up into little, tiny scraps.

Sometimes it’s good to know how the story is going to end.

Here’s where I’ll give you a SPOILER ALERT.

In Matthew 17:1-9 Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on the mountain and tells them how the story’s going to end. God comes to them in a cloud and tells them, “This is my Son and I’m pleased with Him. Listen to what He says.” Before God dropped in, Jesus’ appearance changed, He began shinning like the sun and His clothes become as white as light. Then Moses and Elijah show up and start talking with Him. These two represent the law and the profits being fulfilled in Jesus.

This story ends with a promise of eternal life.

One good series of books that tell a great story of the battle of good and evil and keeps us reading to the end is the Harry Potter series.

Back in 1999, when J.K. Rowling was in the middle of writing The Goblet of Fire, the author received a letter. It came from Anne Kidder, the family friend of 9-year-old Natalie McDonald who was dying of leukemia.

The books “had been her respite from the hell of leukemia,” Kidder told Maclean’s, a Canadian magazine, in 2000. “And because I’m the sort of person who thinks there must be something I can do, I badgered Rowling’s publishers in London, sending them a letter and an e-mail and a fax for her.”

Rowling herself responded to Natalie with a “beautiful” email that revealed secrets from the book and talked about which characters she liked best. Sadly, it was too late — Natalie died the day before the email was sent.

Natalie’s mother, Valerie, and Rowling kept in touch. The following year, Natalie’s family traveled to Britain to meet Rowling. It was on that trip when Valerie was reading The Goblet of Fire to her other daughters on the subway when she discovered an incredible gesture from Rowling: a passage in the book contained Natalie’s name. As a Gryffindor, no less, the house “where dwell the brave at heart, their daring, nerve and chivalry.”

It’s sad that Natalie wasn’t able to read the rest of the Harry Potter books. Sometimes, here on earth, no matter how bad we want it, some stories don’t end the way we want them to.

J.K. Rowling did something remarkable for this young fan who was dying. Natalie McDonald was the only real person ever named in any of the Harry Potter novels. As the author of an unfinished story, Rowling was able to change it.

As long as we’re still alive we can rewrite our eternal stories.

This is why it’s important for us to tell people about Jesus’s story and how it ends. It’s okay if we’re a spoiler when it comes to this story.

So…What is it That Your Company Does?

The Importance of Telling Your Companies Story and Telling it Well

We’ve all been asked the question…you know the one. “So…What is it you do for a living?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions when people meet someone new.

A simple answer of I’m a contractor, a painter or an electrician doesn’t cover it anymore. The business world has become so diverse in the different types of things being done. As an entrepreneur or solopreneur giving a clear and precise answer this question can be tough.

A cookie cutter answer doesn’t cut it anymore.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve worked on getting clear on our mission and the characteristics and actions needed to accomplish it. We’ve been using the Business Made Simple process for this.

This week we’ll use the things we learned, making a story that will clearly explain what it is we do in an exciting and interesting way. It won’t be the typical boring history of when the company was founded by my grandfather in 1929….

This story will be focused on our dreams and the future, not the past.

When asked, “What is it that your company does?”, we tell this story:

Construction companies struggle with a lack of business knowledge and construction customers don’t know what to expect.

Lack of knowledge and understanding leads to out of control, unprofitable businesses requiring too much time for too little profit and customers paying more than estimated for less than expected. This results in overwhelm, burnout, unhappy dissatisfied customers, lawsuits and termination of businesses.

We help both achieve their dreams, by providing businesses with systems, processes and training while educating and guiding customers through the construction process.

This leads to happy satisfied customers who become raving fans and profitable less overwhelmed companies separating themselves from their competition.

With the right tools and knowledge, construction companies and customers can build the businesses, construction projects and lives of their dreams.

If we will live out our story everyday in everything we do, we’ll accomplish our mission and…

Bridge the gap between construction companies and customers.

We can choose to live in a boring mundane world, void of purpose and vision…or we can discover our passion and purpose and write the story of our dreams.

It’s up to us.

Knowing the End of One Story in the Beginning Is A Good Thing

How You Read Other Stories Is A Personal Preference

There are two differing opinions of how to read a book. Some people start by reading the last chapter first to see how the story ends. Others will start at the beginning and not read the end until…well the end. Whichever way you want to read is fine except for one specific story.

There is one story that you should know how it ends when it begins.

Knowing how the story in the Bible ends is critical to our own story and how it will end. We are all living our own stories surrounded by other stories in the middle of a bigger story. These stories are being written continuously every minute of every day.

We can write our story however we want, it’s up to us.

The important thing to remember is the importance of choosing to write it rather than letting someone else write it for us. Pastor Lee referred to two different stories in his message Sunday.

The first you are probably familiar with; it’s the story of Rip Van Winkle. In this story, written by Washington Irving and published in 1819, Rip Van Winkle falls asleep in the Catskill Mountains. When he wakes up 20 years later, he has slept through the American Revolution.

After he goes back to town everything has changed. His wife is dead, his kids are grown, the country now has a President rather than a King. Nothing is as it was when he went to sleep.

Too much of the time we sleep through life and let it happen to us.

The other story that he told was less popular. It’s a story about a Mexican priest, Sergio Gutierrez Benitez, who supported an orphanage for 23 years as the masked professional wrestler, “Friar Storm”. The La Casa Hogar orphanage became home to 270 children. Father Benitez chose to write his story, taking an active role and changing other people’s stories at the same time.

We can let life happen to us, or we can choose the life we want to happen.

Too often when we choose to write our own story, we forget to check with the Author of all stories to see if we are following His outline. Too often we don’t listen before we think or speak. We assume we have everything figured out and just start blabbering. This isn’t the best way to write a story.

Just like Peter, in Matthew 17:1-5 when he was on the mountain with Jesus. While he, James, and John were standing there Jesus became white as light and Moses and Elijah appeared. Then Peter began talking and making suggestions to Jesus without listening. While he was talking, God spoke and said, “This is my Son…Listen to Him!”

We need to be quiet and listen.

We have control over how our story is going to be written. Listen to God, study your life’s outline and right a good story.