Blessed with a loving family and an education that opened a world of possibilities, still this 20-something, rough-and-ready Texan had no clue about how to make his mark in life. Now, many years later, CHESTER (“CHET”) STEWART is one of his state’s best-known, widely-honored, most generous business leaders. His career positions him at a turning point in his clients’ lives. Learn how one man finds the joy of living where you’d least expect it.
You’re in a serious jam. The year is 60-ish A.D. Your name is Epaphras. Normally unflappable, you seem to be unraveling. Having exhausted all your workarounds, you sorely need been-there-done-that wisdom that you can trust. Who’s your go-to guy?
“Life is endless frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.” That gem is traced to “Anonymous” who wanted to be unknown if quoted at a Bible study. Born as “Saul of Tarsus,” Paul’s nasty street cred preceded him for three decades while planting churches along the Mediterranean. While terrorizing Jesus Christ’s early converts, this well-intentioned religious hitman is supernaturally transformed. God taps the most unlikely, sincerely wrong zealot to tell the Gentile world “Messiah has come!”
In 2008 Oprah devoted all of her radio shows to teach A Course in Miracles, a book by an atheist. It claims (1) Jesus is not God, (2) Satan, evil, and sin do not exist, and (3) the Bible cannot be trusted. The author insists that Jesus dictated the book to her.
It's not easy to make a name for yourself when the person whose cleats you must fill is Sonny Sixkiller. But our keynote speaker did that in stride, setting Husky rushing records in the 1970s that were unapproachable for decades. After four years at the University of Washington, he began his all-star career in the hospitality industry, manning the front desk at Seattle's venerable
Jacob lied, stole, cheated, slandered and put himself first. (Sound like anyone you know?) Yet in His mercy God spoke comfort to Jacob and us: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:10–22).
Joseph is his father Jacob’s fair-haired boy, the first of two sons by his father’s favorite wife, Rachel. He reveals to his dad and his ten, envious half-brothers his dreams that one day they’ll bow to him. The technicolor robe which Joe’s doting Dad gives him is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Genesis sets the Bible’s theme: “Man is incomplete without an intimate, Father/son relationship with God.” Understanding and wisdom begin with knowing Him. “Without faith it’s impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). No one illustrates this better than a guy named Joe who lived between 2000 and 1600 B.C., a golden age called Egypt’s Middle Kingdom.
This is the factual account of the son of a successful Hebrew rancher in Canaan (today’s Israel). To his family’s disgust, young Joseph shares with them his dreams that some day he’ll rule over his parents and eleven brothers. Having had enough of his arrogance, the boys sell him to a caravan of Arabian merchants en route to Egypt. There he, at 17, is sold as a slave to Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh’s palace guard. When he shuns the sexual moves of his boss’ wife, she has him jailed.
Maybe you’ve noticed that life isn’t always fair. Here’s a small consolation: “When you fall, I’ll be there to catch you. With love, the floor.” Then there’s this request that arrived at the North Pole: “Dear Santa: I’ve been good all year. Okay, most of the time. Well, once in a while. Forget it, I’ll buy my own stuff.”
Like Paul, Joseph, Abraham’s great-grandson, was a world-changer. Without his leadership the entire Egyptian and Jewish populations would have starved to death, severing the lineage into which Jesus would be born. However, since He’s always true to His word, God would never allow that.
Of the New Testament's 27 books, 13 are by Paul, a Jewish Roman citizen. His letter to Christ’s folks in Rome in 57 AD is called "the fullest, plainest, grandest statement of the gospel." It answers life’s #1 question: How can a person get right with God? (Job 9:2; John 3:3-4; Acts 16:30)
Paul’s longer than usual letter to Jesus’ friends in Rome is postmarked circa 57 A.D. The Jews have been dispersed for seven centuries, having been captured by Babylon and Assyria (both aka Iraq), Persia (today’s Iran), Greece and occupied by Rome.
Apostle/tentmaker Paul’s writing springs from real life, and is inspired by God. Born Jewish in Turkey, schooled in Palestine, this ex-Pharisee is a citizen of Rome. The Empire is home to barbaric tribes, scholars, rich traders, farmers and 60 million slaves! Chariots race at Circus Maximus.
The Bible opens with the Old Testament (OT) describing Earth’s creation and its first humans. With history, poetry and prophecy, the OT’s 39 books trace the Jews’ bumpy ride up to 400 years before Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The New Testament’s (NT) 27 books describe the life and teachings of Jesus, God’s only Son, while He lived on earth. Next, the Acts of the Apostles relates the infancy of the Christian faith. Then a string of letters, most written by Paul, God’s first missionary to the Gentiles. The NT concludes with Revelation, the biblical Star Wars.
B.I.B.L.E. = Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth Four sportswriters might profile the Mariners' inscrutable right fielder, Ichiro Suzuki, from different angles -- his quirky batting style, lightning speed, flame-thrower arm, or stratospheric success at bat with the sacks juiced. Four looks, same Ichiro. The Bible's four gospel authors cover Jesus differently. Matthew does Christ as King. Mark, Christ as Servant. Luke, Christ the Son of Man (God in human flesh). John, Christ as the Son of God (the God-Man, fully human yet fully divine). Four lenses, same Jesus. John states that Jesus is God, the Key to life, the One who died that we might live forever forgiven! Either we buy John's assertion that God loves us sinners and offers us eternal life instead of eternal punishment. Or we don't. No wiggle room.
Since 1890 Margaret Fox, Spiritualism's co-founder, has rested at Cypress Hills in Brooklyn. Bahai founder Baha'u'llah is buried in Bahj, Israel. Zionism patriarch Theodor Herzl’s remains are at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, is entombed at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass. INation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad is interred in Mount Glenwood Cemetery near Chicago. In 1997 the Church of Satan Anton LaVey died. His ashes are who-knows-where.
Let's say you're God, you want to tell your creation who you are, how much you love them, and what life can be like in a trusting relationship with you. C.S. Lewis, Oxford scholar-broadcaster-novelist, describes how God went about this: "Among the Jews there suddenly turns up a Man who goes about talking as if He were God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time.
Jesus Christ, claiming to be God's Son, knits the Bible into one seamless whole, giving us wisdom to cope with today, while inviting us to become personally related to Him now. We're examining the earthbound exploits of Jesus, as recorded by His last living disciple in the late 1st century, an ex-fisherman named John.
We're investigating the New Testament's fourth book, written by John, one of Jesus' original twelve disciples. He and his brother James were northern Palestine's "sons of thunder." But hanging with Jesus for three years transformed them from brawling fishermen into wise, loving, godly men who braved persecution and martyrdom to spread the new Christian faith.
John was from northern Palestine, near the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water. He and his brother James were full-time fishermen when they heard Jesus say, "Follow Me," and joined His 12-piece band. James would become the first of that dozen to be martyred for telling others about the Messiah.
Jesus has taken His disciples from the Upper Room, scene of the "last supper," up to Gethsemane, just hours before His arrest where He's fingered by the traitor, Judas. There He preps them for "the hinge of history” -- His crucifixion and resurrection. He says after His ascension to heaven, He'll return to earth as King of kings, in great power. No one, not even He, knows when He'll return; only God the Father knows.