August 2009


Whenever I read the book of Acts, I am struck by the parallels between the lives of the early church leaders and the life and ministry of Jesus found in the Gospels. I see it in the way they proclaim the message of the gospel boldly, the way they stand firm and strong in the midst of persecution, the compassion they show to the disenfranchised, the way they heal those in need, and even the way they die (especially with Stephen).

With that in mind, I am always struck by the similarities between Jesus raising of Jarius’ daughter from the dead and Peter raising Tabitha from the dead through the power of Christ. They strike me as similar because of the command given to the one who had died. In Mark 5:41, Jesus says to the girl, “‘Talitha kum!’ (which translated means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up’).” In Acts 9:40, Peter says, “Tabitha, arise.” In Acts, Luke goes to some length to point out the Greek translation of Tabitha’s name, Dorcas, and then uses the two names interchangeably, though he uses the name Tabitha in the command to arise.

One more interesting note is the presence of Peter at both resurrections. I can’t help but imagine Peter speaking the words, “Tabitha, arise,” and having a chill run down his back and a smile come across his face as he remembered hearing Jesus saying words so similar many days prior in Jarius’ house.

I’d say there are some more minor similarities between Mark 5 and Acts 9, but what do you think: am I stretching the parallel? Either way, I pray that all I say, think, and do reflects Jesus as was true with Peter and the early church leaders.

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Last Friday around 11pm, Andrea, the girls, and I left our condo to meet my parents and younger sister for a week-long vacation in Michigan. That departure time wasn’t in the original plan. The original plan was to leave Saturday after lunch and a morning of somewhat relaxed packing. Plans changed after a 5pm phone call from my mom that went something like this:

Me: Hey, Mom.

Mom: Hey! Where are you guys?

Me: At home, packing.

Mom: Ha, ha. No seriously, where are you?

Me: I am serious – I’m at home. I’ve been here all day.

Mom: Are you really serious?

Me: Totally. Why?

Needless to say, Andrea and I were convinced that the rental was from Saturday to Saturday. We were wrong; it was Friday to Friday. The next hour was a little rough. We went back and forth about what to do, finally deciding to do the best we could to get ready and see what happened, which resulted in our nearly-midnight departure time.

Amidst the whole debacle, my attitude was far from stellar. Praise God, my wife was a rock – she laughed during the phone call. I didn’t laugh until we were on the road, and I think I spoke some absurdity during the packing-frenzy akin to, “I don’t even want to go anymore.” My expectations of the first 24 hours of our vacation experience had been crushed.

The idols of my heart – a care-free packing process, a clean house to come home to, and the ideal first day of vacation – were blatantly exposed as I examined those crushed expectations. Like my three-year-old having a request for candy rejected, I didn’t get what I wanted, so I sinned. Everything I thought I had control of was now in a complete tail-spin, and I watched the plans I had been worshipping go down in a fiery blaze.

God is the ultimate iconoclast, exposing our idols and often smashing them for us, leaving us the choice of building new ones or submitting to Him. My hopes and plans weren’t sinful on their own, but when they were not realized and I responded in anger, I could see them for what they really were: objects of worship I would sin to see realized or sin if they were not. In retrospect, I praise God for exposing them, and inclining my heart to cling to Him as the only one sovereign over all things, including my vacation plans.