my books: friends & counselors #17

Never – repeat, never – ignore footnotes for gold is often found there. The penetrating question below appears as a footnote in one of my all-time favorite books, by one of my all-time favorite authors:

The scribes who pored so assiduously over Old Testament prophecies did not recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of those prophecies. Should not their failure to interpret signs of the first coming sound a note of caution to those today who so confidently proclaim signs of the Second Coming?

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey (Zondervan Publishing, 1995); p.240

links to 4 helpful posts

1. C.S. Lewis and Aristotle on Civic Friendship

“Civility is one of those virtues that you don’t need when people are singing the same tune. A husband and wife getting along swimmingly don’t need to be civil, nor do best friends in the best of times. Civility is by definition exercised only when it’s needed, and that’s when we disagree about what is good and what we love. Perhaps we need to add a fourth type of friendship to Aristotle’s scheme, that of civil friendship. This form of friendship could be useful and perhaps even enjoyable, but most importantly it partakes in the good of the other because we can agree that one component of our good is respect for others with whom we disagree about other fundamental aspects of the good.”

2. Why Are You Afraid of Losing Your Privilege?

“Lord, forgive us for being afraid of losing our privilege.”

3. Things to know–and not to know–about Bible prophecy

“I used to know a lot more about prophecy than I do now.”

4. The Health Benefits of Hugging

“There are three types of people; touchy-feely people who always hug you hello, special occasional huggers and those who find displays of affection uncomfortable. Interestingly enough, your touchy-feely friends may also be happier and healthier, as recent research is beginning to identify the hug as a viable mental and physical health boost.”

Bruner on John 11.52


… and not just to die in the place of that nation alone but also in order to gather together the scattered children of God everywhere into one community.” [John 11.52] We may, therefore, appropriately end John 11 with a brief parade of Israel’s main texts foretelling and celebrating the Messiah’s magnetic worldwide work, honored just now afresh and unconsciously by Caiaphas’ Prophecy, as the corwning meaning of the raising of Lazarus (I will heighten relevant words and phrases):

Isaiah 2:3: “Many peoples will come and say, ‘“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.'”

Isaiah 42:6: “I have given you, [Servant of the Lord], a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.”

Isaiah 43:5: “I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up,’ and to the south, ‘Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.'”

Isaiah 45:21: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.”

Isaiah 49:6: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Isaiah 56:7: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Amos 9:11-12 [… in Acts 15:13-18]: “James replied, ‘My brothers, listen to me. Simon [Peter] has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. This agrees with the words of the prophets … as it is written, “After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; from its ruins I will rebuild it, and I will set it up, so that all other peoples may seek the Lord – even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called. Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things known from long ago.”‘”

Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Eerdmans, 2012), pp.693-694

i promise


NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow, May, 27. This guide will enable your follow-up of that morning’s sermon from Acts 2. You’ll find LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title “LIFE group guides.”


To celebrate our promise-making and promise-keeping God, who calls us to do the same with him.


When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak. …

Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! … this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel …

“Fellow Israelites, listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene was a man whose credentials God proved to you through miracles, wonders, and signs, which God performed through him among you. You yourselves know this. In accordance with God’s established plan and foreknowledge, he was betrayed. You, with the help of wicked men, had Jesus killed by nailing him to a cross. God raised him up! God freed him from death’s dreadful grip, since it was impossible for death to hang on to him. …

“… Jesus, God raised up. We are all witnesses to that fact. He was exalted to God’s right side and received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit, and you are seeing and hearing the results of his having done so. …

“Therefore, let all Israel know beyond question that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” (Acts 2.1-4,14-16, 22-24,32-33,36-39 CEB)


Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Tell us of some great day in your life that you had looked forward to for a very long time.

2. Tell us about some almost unbelievable event in your life that took you completely by surprise.


These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Read an OT account of the source of the annual feast known as Pentecost (Feast of Weeks) (cf. Deut. 16.9-12; Acts 2.1). In time, what did it come commemorate to the Jewish people?

2. Concerning the events of Christ’s passion, what did God do and what did people do (vs. 23-24)?

3. The Spirit is being poured out on people. Who is doing the pouring (vs. 32-33) and what does this say to you about the one doing the pouring (vs. 24,36)?

4. What are the commands in vs. 38? What are the promises in vs. 38? Who are they for (vs. 39)?


These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. What in this passage pierces, and bring conviction to, your heart? What encourages your heart?

2. How does making of promises in community, in others’ presence, affect your promise-keeping?

3. What sort of positive changes have you made in your life because you became a Christian?

4. How often does the fact that you’ve promised yourself to God, as a Christian, affect your actions?

5. Can you discern any pattern to what makes for your keeping or breaking promises? Explain.

6. How do you see the promises of this text affecting the way you’ll live before God this week?