Crucifixion Events

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The death of Jesus may be the most attested execution in all of history. It’s certainly the most meaningful execution, as the death of Jesus brought a fulfillment to prophecy that was made in the immediate aftermath of humanity’s first sin. 

I have frequently written about the historicity of the Bible. The crucifixion of Jesus is not a “once upon a time” or “in the make-believe land of Israel” story, but an actual event, which involved actual people, at an actual moment in history. Even the way the four Gospel writers record the crucifixion of Jesus attests to the historicity of this event.

Check out this chart of the events that show how Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John record this historical moment. 

When did this moment in history occur? Consider this scholarly insight from The Archeological Study Bible

“In what year was Jesus born, and when was He crucified? These are long-standing historical questions. The seemingly obvious answer to the first—that He was born in A.D. 1 (there is no year 0)—is incorrect, however, since the calculations on which our modern calendar is based were faulty. …

“The chronology of Jesus’ life, though clear in outline, cannot be fixed with absolute precision. Matthew and Luke both inform us that Jesus was born before the death of Herod (4 B.C.), though it would appear that His birth occurred toward the final years of Herod’s reign, suggesting an approximate date of 6-4 B.C. The next chronological marker comes from Luke 3:1, where we learn that John the Baptist’s ministry began during the fifteenth year of the reign of the emperor Tiberius. Since A.D. 14 is the generally accepted date for Tiberius’ accession to the throne, John’s ministry would have commenced between August A.D. 28 and December of 29. Jesus began His own ministry shortly after John had embarked on his, at some point in A.D. 28 or 29, making Jesus about 32 or 33 years old at the time. This fits well with Luke’s statement that Jesus was ‘about 30 years old’ (Luke 3:23).

“The duration of Jesus’ public ministry was approximately three years. While the exact chronology of this period is difficult to ascertain, the final phase of His ministry allows for closer scrutiny. It is clear that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, who governed Judea from A.D. 26-36. …

“Taking Friday, Nisan 14, as the day of the crucifixion, astronomical data informs us that the only years from A.D. 29-36 that could have seen Nisan 14 on a Friday are A.D. 30, 33 and 36. A.D. 36 is easily dismissed as too late, while A.D. 30 seems too early (although some who begin Jesus’ ministry in A.D. 28 and shorten His public ministry find it acceptable). This leaves A.D. 33 as the most likely date for the year of Jesus’ death and resurrection.” 

As you celebrate the victory over sin and death that Jesus won by His sacrificial death on the Cross, rejoice also that this is an actual historical event that bought your freedom from your sin. It is indeed miraculous, but it is also historic. Let’s never lose sight of either of those facets. 

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AC/DC (book review)

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A few weeks ago a storm had knocked power out to our house, and yet I still automatically flipped on a light switch every time I walked into a room. We have become so accustomed today to the consistent flow of electricity everywhere, but that wasn’t always the case. Tom McNichol recounts the history of the epic battle that brought electricity to our homes and offices in his book AC/DC.

I think most people would call Thomas Edison the pioneer of the flow of electricity to homes that lit up the lightbulbs he created. This is true in a certain respect, and yet it is only a fraction of the story. Edison did perfect a lightbulb for the express purpose of enticing people to bring electricity into their homes or businesses, and he did create a power station to generate that electrical flow. 

But power can flow through either direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC), and Edison steadfastly—some might even say stubbornly—stuck to his conviction that DC power was the way to go. In the meantime, other inventors, especially George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla, were perfecting and promoting the superior advantages of AC power. The battle between these forces was vicious, unrelenting, and at times gruesome! 

Interestingly, it took the unique talents and prodigious minds of all three of these inventors to bring us the electrical systems we now rely upon so heavily to power our homes, businesses, cars, computers, and smart phones. From AC wired power to DC battery-stored power, we are daily grateful for these inventors’ creativity. 

I will add a slight footnote to this review that I found the bookend chapters of this book—that is the first and last chapters—to detract from the overall fascinating history. The opening chapter talks about man’s fear and fascination of lightning, and the last chapter talks about a modern-day technology battle that I found incongruous with the history of the AC/DC battle. But despite those somewhat awkward chapters, I found the balance of the book to be quite entertaining and educational. 

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Hal Moore On Leadership (book review) 

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Sometimes you might hear it said of someone’s leadership mettle or leadership philosophies that they are “battle-tested.” In the case of Hal Moore On Leadership, this is literally true! 

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young,” which recounts the first full-scale military battle in Vietnam between Moore’s 450-man force and the 2000 soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army. Despite being completely surrounded and severely out-gunned, Moore’s First Cavalry decisively defeated the NVA. 

General Moore’s leadership principles won the day for his men in that battle. But even then, his principles had already been battle-tested under fire in the Korean War, and put to the test in the various assignments that Hal Moore faced in his highly-decorated military career. Moore was continually tasked by superior officers to re-tool underperforming units, or step in where tensions were high, or help reorganize when the Army was experiencing some growing pains. 

Moore not only excelled at every assignment, but he kept meticulous notes that are now available to any leader in this excellent book. 

Hal Moore On Leadership is partially a biography, but mostly his story is told as the backdrop for the leadership principles that were proven to be correct time and time again. 

Students of both leadership and military history will find this book enjoyable and practical. 

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24 (book review)

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Whether you are a Major League baseball fan or not, there is so much to love about 24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid by John Shey. 

Willie Mays is arguably the best all-around player in baseball history. There’s only a few that surpass him in individual statistics like home runs, stolen bases, and fielding prowess, but combining all of his stats puts the Say Hey Kid into a rarefied category! 

Willie overcame such huge obstacles and racism, took time away from baseball to serve his country during the Korean War and still racked up mind-boggling statistics, and exhibited a loyalty to both teammates and opposing players that make hardly anyone a comparable peer. He played the game competitively, seldom took a day off, always had time for the fans (especially the kids), and has remained an integral part of his beloved San Francisco Giants for more years in retirement than he even did as a player. 

He accomplished all of this with class and professionalism. 

John Shey compiled twenty-four life lessons from Willie Mays’ life, to match his iconic jersey number. Each chapter tells the story of his life before, during, and after baseball while elaborating on that particular leadership lesson. This book is extremely well written. 

Both baseball fans and students of leadership will find many rich lessons in 24, all presented in a very enjoyable format. 

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From Malachi To Jesus

I just finished a series looking at the minor prophets. After Malachi, there is about 400 years of silence as far as what is recorded in the Bible for us. That doesn’t mean nothing is happening on the pages of history. In actuality, there is so much happening on the world scene.

This chart is in both the Quest Study Bible and The Life In The Spirit Study Bible. Always remember: All of history is His story! 

Washington’s Immortals (book review)

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There’s an old proverb that says,

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost,
for want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
So a kingdom was lost—all for want of a nail.

I thought of this proverb as I began reading Washington’s Immortals by Patrick K. O’Donnell, which recounts the history of a regiment from Maryland that not only turned the tide of a crucial battle in the American Revolutionary War, but who were at the center of nearly every vital battle throughout the war. 

At the outset of the war, the British army and navy nearly overwhelmed George Washington’s forces in New York. One regiment from Maryland stood their ground, keeping the British bottled up for just one hour. But that one hour allowed General Washington precious time to get his retreating army to safety. Without the bravery and tenacity of these Marylanders, the war could have been over almost before it started. So to paraphrase the old proverb above, for want of the brave stand of the Marylanders, the American cause could have been lost! 

As General Washington watched those brave men not only stand their ground, but repeatedly counterattack the far superior British forces, he said, “Good God! What brave fellows I must this day lose!” 

If that were the only service to the American colonies that this elite group had supplied, it would have been enough. But time and time again, General Washington and General Nathaniel Green placed the Marylanders in the most vulnerable or the most crucial places on the battlefield, knowing that these men would not fail to come through. 

O’Donnell follows the movements of the Marylanders from the beginning of the war all the way through to its conclusion in a very readable manner. He shares just enough of the details of the battle for us to get a feel for the gravity of the situation, but not so many details that it becomes laborious reading. 

Any students of American history, military history, or leadership-under-fire will appreciate reading Washington’s Immortals. 

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10 Quotes From “Reading The Bible With The Founding Fathers”

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For any students of American history or of the role the Bible has played in affecting world affairs, Reading The Bible With The Founding Fathers is an eye-opening book. You can check out my full book review by clicking here. Unless otherwise noted, quotes are from author Daniel Dreisbach. 

“Following an extensive survey of American political literature from 1760 to 1805, political scientist Donald S. Lutz reported that the Bible was referenced more frequently than any European writer or even any European school of thought, such as the Enlightenment or Whig intellectual traditions. Indeed, the Bible accounted for about one-third of all citations in his sample. According to Lutz, ‘Deuteronomy is the most frequently cited book, followed by Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws.’ … Saint Paul is cited about as frequently as Montesquieu and [William] Blackstone, the two most-cited secular authors, and Deuteronomy is cited almost twice as often as all of [John] Locke’s writings put together.”

“The founders often quoted the Bible without the use of quotation marks or citations, which were not necessary for a biblically literate society but the absence of which fail to alert a biblically illiterate modern audience to the Bible’s invocation.” 

“Increasing unfamiliarity with the Bible makes it harder and harder for Americans to understand their origins and their mores, or to put words to their experiences. … Lacking knowledge of the Bible, Americans are likely to be literally inarticulate, unable to relate themselves to American life and culture as a whole.” —Wilson Carey McWilliams

“Knowledge of the Bible and its place in the American experience, in short, helps Americans better understand themselves and their history.” 

“In regard to this Great Book [the Bible], I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.” —Abraham Lincoln 

“[T]he Bible has had a literary influence not because it has been considered as literature, but because it has been considered as the report of the Word of God.” —T.S. Eliot 

“[William] Tyndale, who was the first to translate the Bible into English from the original Hebrew and Greek, can be rightly called the father of the King James Bible. Approximately ‘eighty percent of his Old Testament and ninety percent of his New Testament’ were adopted by the King James translators. …  

“There is much truth in the remark that ‘without Tyndale, no Shakespeare.’ It is also true that ‘without Tyndale, no King James Bible.’ ‘Without the King James Bible,’ Alister McGrath observed, ‘there would have been no Paradise Lost, no Pilgrim’s Progress, no Handel’s Messiah, no Negro spirituals, and no Gettysburg Address. … Without this Bible, the culture of the English-speaking world would have been immeasurably impoverished.’” 

“The size of the vocabulary found in the King James Bible is not extensive. [William] Shakespeare, it is estimated, used between fifteen and twenty thousand different words. Milton’s verse draws on a lexicon of about thirteen thousand words. The Old Testament, in the Hebrew and Aramaic, has approximately fifty-six hundred words. The New Testament, in the Greek, has around forty-eight hundred words. In the entire King James Bible, by contrast, there are only about six thousand different words, according to one accounting.” 

“The opinion that human reason, left without the constant control of divine laws and commands, will preserve a just administration, secure freedom and other rights, restrain men from violations of laws and constitutions, and give duration to a popular government, is as chimerical as the most extravagant ideas that enter the head of a maniac. … Where will you find any code of laws, among civilized men, in which the commands and prohibitions are not founded on Christian principles? I need not specify the prohibition of murder, robbery, theft, [and] trespass. … Every wise code of laws must embrace the main principles of the religion of Christ.” —John Adams 

“Moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. These principles and precepts have truth, immutable truth, for their foundation; and they are adapted to the wants of men in every condition of life. They are the best principles and precepts, because they are exactly adapted to secure the practice of universal justice and kindness among men; and of course to prevent crimes, war and disorders in society. No human laws dictated by different principles from those in the gospel, can ever secure these objects. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible. … For instruction then in social, religious and civil duties resort to the scriptures for the best precepts and most excellent examples of imitation.” —Noah Webster

The Story Isn’t Over Yet

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One of the things I enjoy about my Apple Watch is the connection I have with others who also use an Apple Watch. For instance, I get notified when my wife has finished a workout, and one of the pre-set replies I could choose is, “I’ve got questions!” That’s a funny way of me saying, “How did you complete that workout?!” 

In Psalm 75 and Psalm 76, Asaph tells us how God will deal with the wicked. But then Psalm 77 begins with Asaph using words like, “My soul refused to be comforted, my spirit is overwhelmed,” and then he launches into the tough questions like: “How long is this going to last? Has God forgotten me? Have I fallen out of favor with God? Has His mercy dried up? Can God keep what He has promised? Is God angry with me?” When I read all this, I feel like saying, “Asaph, I’ve got questions!” 

Yet, these complaints of Asaph ring true to real life. Like when a friend called me last week and started our conversation by asking, “Why can’t things just go easy for me?”

Here’s the simple answer: The Story isn’t over yet. We are in a battle, and the enemy of our soul is still trying to take us out, or at least shut us up. 

In Psalm 77, Asaph tells his story to Jeduthun (a Levite worship leader whose name means praising) in four chapters, with a Selah for each of the breaks between the chapters. 

Chapter 1—Distress (vv. 1-3)

The word distress means confronted by an adversary. Ever been there? Every follower of God has been, so Asaph invites us to Selah: pause to contemplate things like (a) Is this distress causing me to reevaluate the foundation on which I stand? (b) What is it God is shaking in my life? When God shakes things up, it is to cause us to remember and muse about the ONLY sure foundation that can withstand any storm (see Matthew 7:24-27). 

Chapter 2—Questioning (vv. 4-9) 

Notice the words Asaph uses: thought, remembered, mused, inquired. He is asking those tough questions, but he is asking them in a way that he can carefully consider the answers. That means he is really taking a Selah pause with each question. I think he has come to this conclusion: “Aren’t all these really just rhetorical questions? And isn’t the answer to all of them a resounding ‘NO!’?” If you aren’t sure the answer to all of these questions is no, please read Romans 8:31-39.

Chapter 3—Recalling (vv. 10-15) 

Notice the continuation of the words: thought, remember, meditate, consider. He also asks another question in v. 13 which he then answers in the next two verses. His call to Selah here is another pause to reflect: “Has God lost His power? Has He changed His mind?” And once again the answer is a loud and clear, “NO!” (see Isaiah 59:1; Hebrews 13:8) 

One of the important takeaways from this stanza of Psalm 77 is this: Looking back in gratitude at what God has done allows me to look forward in hope to what He is still going to do. My remembering what God has done in the past leads to: 

  1. Release from the darkness 
  2. Renewed praise 
  3. Recovered strength 
  4. Refocused outlook 

Chapter 4—Hope (vv. 16-20) 

Asaph says, “Look what God did! And since He is the same today as He was yesterday, guess what He’s still able to do!” We know this because the Bible says, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20). 

Remember I said earlier that God isn’t done telling His story yet? God isn’t done yet, He knows His Story, and His Story is still being told. But He’s also already told us how His story will end (see Revelation 21:4-6). And the end of His story is really just the beginning of the Real Story! 

C.S. Lewis said it this way in the closing words of The Last Battle:

“And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page; now at last they were beginning Chapter 1 of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.” 

When you find yourself saying, “I’ve got questions: How long is this going to last,” Selah to remember that the Story isn’t over yet. The Storyteller knows how it ends, and He promises us: But what of that? For I consider that the sufferings of this present time—this present life—are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! (Romans 8:18 AMP)

If you have missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find the complete list by clicking here.

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Churchill’s Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare (book review)

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This book was a complete and pleasant surprise! I have read so many books about Winston Churchill, including a number of books that Churchill himself wrote, and I never knew about the prime minister’s special group that played such havoc with the Nazi war machine. Giles Milton unpacks the fascinating tale in Churchill’s Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare. 

This book reads like a classic spy novel, but it is the actual historic record of saboteurs, weapons makers, and out-of-the-box plotters who absolutely frustrated Adolph Hitler’s war plans at nearly every turn. The start of World War II caught so many by surprise that they were woefully unprepared to confront what appeared to be the invincible German military. Some in the British government hit upon the idea of fighting a guerrilla-style war to slow down the Germans’ advance. 

Mr. Milton does a marvelous job of following six key gentlemen in the way they created new weapons, new training regimens, and new fighting styles. Everything they did was so unconventional that the traditional leaders in the British government and military hesitated to give their support to this special ministry, and even went out of their way to thwart their efforts. Fortunately, Mr. Churchill was all-in on this group and cleared out the roadblocks for them. 

Whether you enjoy fictional spy novels or non-fictional accounts of historical events, I’m confident you will thoroughly enjoy Churchill’s Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare. 

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How Christianity Changed The World (book review)

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Alvin Schmidt claims, “No other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation, movement—whatever—has so changed the world for the better as Christianity has done.” And I quite believe him. He lays out the evidence to back up this bold claim in his book How Christianity Changed The World. 

A few years ago I presented a series of messages to make the case for the resurrection of Jesus. One of the pieces of evidence I presented was the cultural engagement of Christians whose lives had been transformed by a personal relationship with the resurrected Jesus Christ. Alvin Schmidt’s book is like taking this single point of mine and putting it on steroids! 

Using the reports of first-person observers from the first century all the way through present day, Mr. Schmidt shows how there is not a single part of the culture that hasn’t benefitted from the involvement of those who live out the Christian principles they have discovered in the Bible. From the care of the sick and elderly, to the elevation of women and marriage, to art, and architecture, and music, and medicine, and science, and education—every sphere of life has been improved by practicing Christians. 

I would highly recommend reading this book and then keeping it close at hand to share with those ignorant or skeptical of the claims of Christianity. As William Barclay noted, “Anyone who asks the question, ‘What has Christianity done for the world?’ has delivered himself into a Christian debater’s hands. There is nothing in history so unanswerably demonstrable as the transforming power of Christianity and of Christ on the individual life and on the life of society.” To that, I add a hearty Amen! 

Please get a copy of How Christianity Changed The World for your library. 

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