Articles Blog Post History Quotes Wisdom

The six mistakes of man (Wisdom from philosopher Cicero)

The Roman philosopher and statesman, Cicero, said this some 2,000 years ago, and it is still true.

The six mistakes of man:

  1. The delusion that personal gain is made by crushing others.
  2. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected.
  3. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it.
  4. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences.
  5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and study.
  6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.
Articles Blog Post Growth History

Why it’s okay to be ordinary – Jesus the Carpenter

A historical point to the ordinary spread of Christianity

“In truth, most missionary works were not carried out by the apostles, but rather by the countless and nameless Christians who for different reasons— persecution, business, or missionary calling— traveled from place to place taking the news of the gospel with them.” – Justo G. The Story of Christianity.

Many of us believe that the people responsible for the high success of Christianity were the apostles and immediate disciples of Jesus. While that has its place in the world of truthfulness, it’s not the entire story. The fact of the matter is that the apostles were with Jesus, learned from him, and began the work of building Jesus’ church in Jerusalem. However, the spread of Christianity was not because the apostles in Jerusalem, it was because of the Diaspora Judaism – or the Dispersed Jews — Jewish people living outside of Jerusalem, using the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, or the Version of the Seventy, named as such because of an ancient legend that told of seventy Jewish scholars commissioned to translate the scriptures. After working independently, they found that their translations agreed exactly, which would later be proof of the legitimacy of the translation of the Bible as divinely inspired[note]The Story of Christianity Vol 1. Justo G.[/note].

Having a Greek translation of the Old Testament tells us that a generation outside of Jerusalem was rising that did not know Hebrew or Aramaic, and therefore had to use the Greek translations, so that when the Gospel of Jesus was heard at some of these dispersed places, it was easy for these Jews to understand Jesus’ message, and were able to take this message to the entire land of Palestine (the Roman Empire), which primarily spoke and understood the Greek language.

What we can learn from history

The point of this historical summary —— which is my favorite subject to talk about, as you can probably tell —— is that we learn that Christianity was simply carried out by ordinary people. When I first learned this, it made me cry, and I am not exaggerating. Because sometimes I think that we want to be a certain kind of individual with a certain kind of status and profession that would show people who we are.

In the Christian world, if you are not a pastor, then you are not serious about Jesus, or if you are not a preacher, then you cannot or will not express your faith —— you have to live your faith in private. But history tells us that it wasn’t the apostles that were responsible for the spread of Christianity, rather it was ordinary people like you and me —— yes, the traders, the slaves, the physicians, business owners, carpenters, teachers, the people running away from the Roman soldiers, those incarcerated, chefs, plumbers, etc —— yes, it was all those ordinary people in love with Jesus, while doing their work and going about their own business, would tell people about their experience and testimony of the one that resurrected from the death, and that the same way he resurrected, he could resurrect them from their spiritual, emotional, and even physical distress.

Jesus the Carpenter

The fact that Jesus was a carpenter, lets us know that this is true. God moved to our neighborhood and became a carpenter. I mean, if you are God and you want to come to the world you created to save it, you would probably have chosen to be the King, or an official Prophet (in Old Testament standards), or a Pastor (in our standards nowadays), or some type of political figure, the president, or something with a better societal standard and status. But Jesus came as a carpenter. And this is significant for us, because if Jesus came as a carpenter, it means that in our days, he would have come to take an ordinary job like yours and mine, and that if he was a customer support representative, an accountant, an electrician, a plumber, a school teacher, a doctor, a web designer, a graphic designer, a good ol’ millennial gamer, or a kitchen dinner cook – he would have still been able to carry out his purpose in life.

What you are is not the same as who you are. You may be an accountant, which is a what, but that does not mean that this is who you are. What you are, describes a function you are executing in the world, who you are, describes an identity you have in the world.

The idea that we have to become a certain kind of profession to be liked and considered successful is killing you. Yes, you read that right, becoming a profession is what we are becoming nowadays. We are taught that our entire lives will be defined by what we become. A doctor is more respected, an athlete is more liked, a business owner is richer, a Yale student is deeper, a Harvard graduate is smarter, an MIT guru is hired faster – and these achievements is what society teaches us to become. There is one problem though; it’s not possible for us to become a what (what we do), rather we become a who (who we are – identity). At the end of your life, when people are giving your eulogy, you want them to describe who you were and not what you were.

Who you become is more important than what you become.

So stay true to who you are, and where you are in life right now. It may not be where you ultimately want to be, but even in those places, you can still carry out the purpose that God has given you. I don’t think Jesus’ ultimate purpose in life was to execute the office of a carpenter, but while he was a carpenter he was still able to carry out his purpose. In fact, him being a carpenter was his preparation for his ultimate ministry and calling – he died on a wooden cross. He WAS a carpenter but BECAME our savior. In this way, Jesus fulfilled his calling when he died on a wooden cross to save us.

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On to you…

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Blog Post Devotional History

A Weekly Devotional

NOTE: If you are reading this, please note that this devotional was first written for a group of students in a class I was teaching on Living Life on Mission. If you find yourself wondering about a statement that may not make sense, it could be because there is context to it that was only expressed to those students. If you have any questions at all, please comment at the end of the article.

Weekly Devotional

Last week we learned that Christianity started in the midst of persecution. According to Acts 1:8 – in that day a great persecution broke. This persecution was the painful start of a new “Religion” in the Roman empire, in the land of Palestine, in the midst of the Hellenistic culture.

However, this persecution, though painful since it lasted more than 400 years, was a blessing – for it caused people to gather. An untamed gathering that gave way for conversations about the resurrection of Jesus. Since people of the “new race” – which was the title given to new Christians when they first started – could not gather in a single building, amongst others with the same belief, they found unique ways to spread the message of Christianity without being taken to prison, or even killed. Some of those gathering ways were to eat in public squares with others, visit each other’s home, join people’s trading journeys, etc. Staying true to the commission of Jesus to his followers; as you go, make disciples.

These first Christians had no Bible as we have it now, even though they had the “scriptures”, it wasn’t an established “scripture” base, rather it was more of a “if this scripture helps me, I will read, if this other doesn’t help me, I won’t read”. However, they would draw strength and belief from the testimony of others.

In this context, we find Christianity flourishing throughout the Roman empire. Simple gatherings, conversations, and testimonies would give way to a whole new religion, still true and strong till’ this day.

The reason why I say all this is because I believe this introduction gives us a good context as to how we can define living a Life on Mission. Even though as a society, and as a people, we have evolved, in our thinking, reasoning, and doing, there are universal truths and wisdom that can still guide our spiritual walk today – over 2000 years later. To be able to live a Life on Mission, we need to define what Life is, and what the Mission is, and the early church, in the midst of persecution can help us understand these two components of our Christian walk.

— Napoleon Bonaparte quotes on Jesus:

“Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him. . . . I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man; none else is like Him: Jesus Christ was more than a man. . . . I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me . . . but to do this is was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice. When I saw men and spoke to them, I lightened up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. . . . Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ.”