Bible kevinroosecomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 27:33-38

33 As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength,[a] for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 (We were in all 276[b] persons in the ship.) 38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.

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Last week’s entry described the ship’s approach to land and the sailors’ thwarted plan to escape by dinghy.

That was in the middle of the night. At daybreak, Paul encouraged everyone to come together for a communal meal after 14 days (verse 33).

Matthew Henry’s commentary says that it wasn’t as if no one had eaten anything, but they had eaten during breaks when they were trying to save the ship — and probably not very much (emphases mine):

Not that they had all, or any of them, continued fourteen days without any food, but they had not had any set meal, as they used to have, all that time; they ate very little, next to nothing. Or, “You have continued fasting, that is, you have lost your stomach; you have had no appetite at all to your food, nor any relish of it, through prevailing fear and despair.”

Paul continued, saying that they needed to build up their strength and not to worry because nothing would happen to them even if no one was tending the ship during that time (verse 34).

John MacArthur points out:

He says in verse 34, “I beseech you take some food for your health.” This means for your wholeness. It’s a word that’s used of physical salvation and of spiritual salvation in Scripture. But here it means for your physical wholeness, for your safety. “For there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.”

Now you say, “That’s a rather dumb thing. I mean who cares if you lose a hair on the way in?” But you see, that’s an old Jewish proverb. You can go back to I Samuel 14:45, II Samuel 14:11, I Kings 1:52, Luke 21:18, and in all those places you’ll find that old proverb. It meant that you’re going to be secure. It meant that you’d have complete immunity from harm. So Paul says, “You’re all going to make it. But that’s no excuse not to have a good breakfast.” So you see the balance is here between the sovereignty of God and the perfect planning of God and the responsibility of man.

Then Paul acted as priest, breaking the bread — hardtack — and giving thanks to God, breaking it and eating some (verse 35), suggesting a secular Communion.

Henry explains the importance of giving thanks by saying Grace before eating:

5. He was chaplain to the ship, and they had reason to be proud of their chaplain. He gave thanks to God in presence of them all. We have reason to think he had often prayed with Luke and Aristarchus, and what others there were among them that were Christians, that they prayed daily together; but whether he had before this prayed with the whole company promiscuously is not certain. Now he gave thanks to God, in presence of them all, that they were alive, and had been preserved hitherto, and that they had a promise that their lives should be preserved in the imminent peril now before them; he gave thanks for the provision they had, and begged a blessing upon it. We must in every thing give thanks; and must particularly have an eye to God in receiving our food, for it is sanctified to us by the word of God and prayer, and is to be received with thanksgiving. Thus the curse is taken off from it, and we obtain a covenant-right to it and a covenant-blessing upon it, 1 Timothy 4:3-5. And it is not by bread alone that man lives, but by the word of God, which must be met with prayer. He gave thanks in presence of them all, not only to show that he served a Master he was not ashamed of, but to invite them into his service too. If we crave a blessing upon our meat, and give thanks for it in a right manner, we shall not only keep up a comfortable communion with God ourselves, but credit our profession, and recommend it to the good opinion of others. 6. He set them a good example: When he had given thanks, he broke the bread (it was sea-biscuit) and he began to eat.

Those on board ship were duly encouraged and also ate (verse 36). The older translation of verse 36 better expresses their state of mind:

Then were they all of good cheer.

Luke was careful to tell us how many men were on the ship: 276 (verse 37), so Paul had persuaded a lot of people to have a good meal before the next set of events.

When they had their fill, they threw the wheat out into the sea in order to lighten the ship (verse 38). The wheat would have been from North Africa, destined for Rome, most likely. By then, it was probably soaking wet and of no use.

MacArthur explains that while they were at sea, they needed the extra weight. Nearing land, as they were at this time, they needed to dispose of it:

they never would jettison the entire cargo in the Mediterranean because they would use the remaining cargo as a ballast and to keep the ship down in the water to some extent. Also, I’m sure they felt perhaps they would be able to salvage a part of it. But by this time it was so totally sea-soaked, so totally salted that it was worthless. In addition to that, when you’re going to beach the ship you want it as light as possible so that it’s as high on the water as it can be so that you can get as close to the shore as you possibly can. So they jettisoned everything in verse 38, all of the wheat.

Let’s recap their journey so far. The first stage was setting sail from Caesarea and changing ships. The second was the stay in Fair Havens. The third was the violent storm. The fourth, coming up next week, is the shipwreck landing them on Malta.

Note that Paul has been leading them since the storm. He reminded them that they had ignored his advice to stay in Fair Havens. The centurion, Julius, and the crew had overruled him.

Once he told them how wrong they were, they put their trust in him to lead the way.

In closing, these are MacArthur’s thoughts on Paul’s leadership and what we can learn from his example today. He delivered this sermon in 1975, by the way, but it’s just as true in 2019:

… in terms of the principles that [have] here, you could title it “Leadership in Crisis,” because it really is a portrait of a man who is a leader just when he needs to be one.

It shows a man who comes through in the tremendous time of stress with all of the abilities that a great leader has to have. So it’s not just a narrative about a shipwreck. It’s also a portrait of a leader in the midst of a crisis. I was thinking, as I was thinking about that fact, that if there’s a premium on anything in our world today it’s a premium on leadership. And whether you’re talking about government or industry or economics or education or medicine or science or whatever, there’s a tremendous need for leaders or capable people who can make decisions, or people who are willing to let the buck pass to them and then handle the situation.

There was an interesting survey done in recent years of seminaries in America. And the determination of the survey was that the vast majority of all people studying for responsibilities in the church wanted to be no higher than second man because nobody wanted ultimate responsibility. And I think that’s not only true in terms of the church, but it’s very true in terms of the world. There is definitely a premium on leadership. And especially true, I think, since leadership is so susceptible to criticism.

But in the church, I think we face the same thing. There needs to be a rising up in the church of leadership and people need to accept the responsibilities that come with being a leader. Now, the world is really preoccupied with this. In fact, there is a rather constant stream of seminars and professional methodologies being presented to various and sundry communities of people to try to extract from those communities the leaders. And I’m sure they have their criteria for determining who is a leader.

The same thing is true, I think, in the terms of the church and in God’s kingdom and the things that God wants to do. There’s a real need for leaders. And I believe the Holy Spirit is seeking leadership. I believe God is calling out leaders. In all of God’s history, as you go back in the Bible, you’ll find that God moved through men. And that in every era, at every crisis time in God’s economy there were leaders that God used to bring about the effecting of His will. And whether it was Moses or Joseph or David or Abraham or Elijah or Elisha or Ezra or Nehemiah, or whether it was, in the New Testament, John the Baptist or Peter or Paul or whomever it was, at all points in time God had somebody through whom He could lead.

And the tragedy so often of the history of Israel was the tragedy of an inadequate leader, an immoral leader, an ungodly leader, or a leader who just failed to fulfill the obligations that are basic to leadership. I think that as you study the Scripture, the greatest view or insight you have of leadership is simply the example of lives of the men that are the leaders. And that is really the case here in Acts 27.

This is why it is important to pray for our current leaders as well as good future leaders, be they religious or secular.

The story continues next week as the 276 passengers reach Malta.

Next time — Acts 27:39-44

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Trinity SundayWhat follows are the readings for Trinity Sunday, June 16, 2019.

These are for Year C in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

Image credit: GodAndScience.org

I have a few posts which explain the importance of Trinity Sunday and the holy mystery of the Triune God:

On Trinity Sunday

A great way to explain the Holy Trinity

Anglican reflections on the Trinity

A practical — and Anglican — reflection for Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday — an Anglican analysis of its importance

Emphases mine below.

First reading

Wisdom speaks to us through God’s divine revelation (first four verses) and through Christ Jesus (verses 22-31).

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

8:1 Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?

8:2 On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;

8:3 beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out:

8:4 “To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.

8:22 The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.

8:23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

8:24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.

8:25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth–

8:26 when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil.

8:27 When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,

8:28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,

8:29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

8:30 then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,

8:31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.

Psalm

The Psalm reflects on the greatness and glory of God, to whom we owe all honour and praise.

Psalm 8

8:1 O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

8:2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

8:3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;

8:4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?

8:5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.

8:6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,

8:7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,

8:8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

8:9 O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Epistle

Paul discusses our justification by faith through grace and the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives.

Romans 5:1-5

5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

5:2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

5:5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Gospel

Following on from previous Eastertide readings in Year C, this is another passage from Jesus’s final teachings at the Last Supper, once Judas had left. John 14 through John 17 are among my favourite chapters in the Bible. I wrote about the following verses a few years ago:

Trinity Sunday 2016: May 22 (John 16:12-15, Year C)

John 16:12-15

16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

16:14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

16:15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Sundays after this one are referred to as being ‘after Pentecost’ or ‘after Trinity’. Where used, the celebrant’s vestment colour will be green until the first Sunday of Advent.

On May 23, 2019, LBC’s award-winning journalist Rachel Venables broadcast a revealing investigation about Purple Drank’s arrival in the UK:

She received many negative comments to her Twitter thread on the subject, but, let’s keep in mind that the kiddos already know about it. She’s no doubt trying to inform parents and guardians:

Her article for LBC radio has more. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

Teenagers are turning lemonade, boiled sweets and liquid codeine into a potentially lethal drug.

The liquid Codeine is shipped in from Africa and France and can be easily bought on Instagram.

It has risen in popularity after rap stars in the US starting singing about it and taking it in their videos.

The drug takes around 20 minutes to kick in and lasts around three hours. It is popular amongst teenagers and students and one user told LBC it is “the drug to be seen with at parties”

The drug advice website Frank states that codeine is especially dangerous to mix with alcohol and drugs like Valium and other opioid[s]. They state: “Taking more codeine than prescribed to you by a doctor, or taking illegal codeine (such as from a friend, a dealer or website), increases the risk of overdose and other side effects.”

The UK Addiction Treatment Centres website adds: “Regular users of codeine often develop both a physical and psychological dependence on the drug, which causes various symptoms whenever they try to quit.

To avoid these withdrawal symptoms, many people will continue to use codeine, even if doing so causes negative consequences for themselves and others. It is this cycle of abuse that more often than not leads to a crippling addiction.”

It is so addictive, doctors advise not taking it for more than three days.

One young man, Noel, now 18, started drinking it a year ago. Since then, he has increased his usage and takes it every weekend. He describes the ordering process on Instagram (!?!) for Purple Drank, also known as Purple Lean:

People have their own lean pages to sell. Then there’s a PayPal or Depop page they send you once you order it.

There’s a normal delivery time of 3-5 days and it will be with you. It will be classed as child’s clothing, because they don’t get checked as hard. It protects the shape of the bottles as well.

It’s so easy for kids to order it to their house and tell their mum it’s some shoes.

Mitch, a dealer in the Midlands, says he’s been making a lot of money by selling ‘lean’. He says that police are unaware of ‘drank”s popularity:

Everyone was asking for it, couldn’t get it and we realised you could charge what you wanted and people pay it. If you get a good weekend, you can make a few thousand pounds.

I haven’t heard of anyone being done and prosecuted for selling bottles of lean yet. I don’t think they’ve caught on yet to how big of a issue it is really.

The government’s ‘Talk to Frank’ service is for those who want to talk about drug addiction. Call Frank free on 0300 123 6600.

A commenter had this helpful information:

Purple Drank is an illegal recreational drink popular in the Southern United States rap community, whose main ingredients originally consisted of prescription strength cough syrup, containing codeine and promethazine, and either a carbonated soft drink (generally Sprite) or fruit juice. The purple-ish hue of Purple Drank comes from the dyes in the cough syrup. Recently, the term has expanded to cover mixtures including over-the-counter cough syrup and vodka in place of prescription cough syrup. Other terms for Purple Drank include Barre, Oil, Purple Tonic, Lean (or Southern Lean,) Drank, and Syrup (which is sometimes slangly pronounced as Sizzurp.)

After all this time, I thought we would escape the scourge of Purple Drank. Apparently not, sadly.

France began reporting on it in 2016. French pharmacists first noticed it in 2015. L’Internaute, a daily online news service, explained (translation mine):

The ingredients in this marvellous, dangerous mixture are all legal. Purple Drank is a mixture of cough syrup containing codeine, which is an opiate, and promethezine, an antihistamine neuroleptic, [combined with] alcohol and energy drinks. On the other side of the Atlantic, this beverage has created a very real health problem.

The consequences can be serious. Drowsiness, agitation, delirium and even convulsions: it’s not a pretty sight. And victims are mostly young people: adolescents from 12 years old up to young adults. Both boys and girls are affected …

Pharmacists were the first to notice this phenomenon. In 2015, the National Order of Pharmacists raised the alarm.

Since then, pharmacists, general practitioners, ER doctors and addiction specialists have been urged to report anything that ‘seems suspect, in particular, coming from young adults or adolescents’.

Parents, guardians: summer’s coming. Please be alert.

There is much to cover in the aftermath of the EU elections held in the UK.

Hell certainly broke loose at the end of May, and I don’t mean Theresa.

Labour

After many months, if not a year, of anti-Semitic slurs coming from some elements of the Labour Party, the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) finally took action:

During the BBC’s programme about the EU election results on Sunday, May 27, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell declared that he had voted for the Liberal Democrats, the largest Remain party. The Labour Party duly expelled him, then decided to review their decision:

Kate Hoey, on the other hand, has played her cards well as the most prominent Leave Labour MP since 2016. She believes that The Brexit Party deserves a seat at the negotiating table:

The Brexit Party

Nigel Farage is absolutely correct about Theresa May’s ‘deal’, or treaty:

Meanwhile, party chairman Richard Tice, one of three newly-elected MEPs for the East of England region, isn’t taking any nonsense:

On May 29, Westmonster reported:

Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice has issued a legal letter to an SNP MEP following allegations of money laundering were made in a Sky News interview on Monday.

Alyn Smith accused the Brexit Party of being “shysters” who were “a shell company for a money laundering front”.

The interview which has been circulated across social media for the last 48 hours was brought to the attention of Tice whose solicitors have now issued Mr Smith with the following letter:

Conservative Party

The race continues for party leader, succeeding Mrs May.

The overall picture of the runners and riders shows gaps in their commitment to delivering Brexit:

Priti Patel has been committed to delivering a proper Brexit since 2016:

She also recognises the despair at grassroots level among the loyal, tireless volunteers:

It won’t be long before we see how this develops for the Conservatives.

I hope true Leavers do well. More to come as the leadership contest narrows.

In late May 2019, John Cleese was touring Canada.

Here are his thoughts on the hospitality industry:

Call me ‘old school’, but I’m with John Cleese on these observations.

On Thursday, May 23, 2019, the author Judith Kerr went to her eternal rest.

A survivor of Nazi Germany, she was best known for her children’s book, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, a modern classic in Britain and the Commonwealth:

I am unfamiliar with the book and Ms Kerr’s other works. However, from reading and hearing about The Tiger Who Came to Tea, I had the mistaken impression it was for adults. People have been saying it is about the sexual revolution of the 1960s, or feminism, or an unhappy marriage, or alcoholism or depression.

So it was interesting to run across a tweet from the BBC’s Emily Maitlis:

Her colleague Nick Robinson tweeted this reply:

She told me that some told her the tiger was really the Gestapo. Even when she said “No, he’s just a tiger” they said “Ah, you may think that but it’s your subconscious conjuring up the Gestapo”

Sometimes, a story is just a story.

Writers and playwrights have had to deal with readers’ deep introspection for years. Arthur Miller was one of them:

Sometimes a name is just that: a name. Nothing more. No deep symbolism.

In closing, here is Emily Maitlis’s interview with Judith Kerr, who was 92 at the time. She describes her happy childhood in Paris, then London. Her parents, who were going through endless difficulties during the war in Paris, protected her from it all. She did not know that her mother was suicidal for a time. She found out only when she read a collection of family papers as an adult:

Kerr, a former screenwriter for the BBC, told Maitlis that she came to writing books ‘late’, as a wife and mother. Her husband, Tom (Quatermass) Kneale — a fellow BBC screenwriter — strongly encouraged her. She said that, had she not started writing books, she would have become religious.

As it turned out, she said she never was religious. She said near the end of the video that she strongly supported euthanasia.

Maitlis says she was ‘inspired’ by meeting her idol. Oh, well.

I should think it would be impossible not to embrace religion after what she and her family went through. Personally, I would be giving hearty thanks to God daily. Then again, perhaps her parents were not religious in the first place, so she never had the example.

More’s the pity.

The following tweet about an aborted baby is utterly saddening.

Not only was the life of this member of God’s creation terminated, but the comments in the photo compendium are absolutely vile. Take a look at ‘Garbage Humans’. Click on the image to read all the comments:

Words fail me, especially seeing as women — potential mothers — are saying such disgusting things.

Fortunately, others commented sensibly:

Please join me in praying for human life, at all stages of development.

God has a purpose for every child conceived, and it is not abortion.

Bible boy_reading_bibleThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 27:27-32

27 When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. 28 So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms.[a] A little farther on they took a sounding again and found fifteen fathoms.[b] 29 And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. 30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.

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Last week’s entry discussed Paul’s revelation of the vision he had of the angel of God — whom Paul worshipped and to whom he belonged — of deliverance from the storm. However, he said, they would have to reach land in order for it to happen.

Now they had been in a relentless nor’easter for a fortnight in the Adriatic — not the present day Adriatic Sea, although that is what it was called in the Ancient World — when the sailors had reason to believe they were nearing land, around midnight (verse 27).

John MacArthur explains the location (emphases mine):

Adria, in ancient times, referred to the central Mediterranean, that whole area. And they didn’t really know where they were, other than that they were somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean in the Sea Adria. Well, “as they were driven up and down in Adria” – and that gives you an idea that they had no idea where they were going because they didn’t even know if whether it was up or down – “about midnight the sailors deemed that they drew near to some country.”

Even in those days, sailors had sounding instruments of some sort to check sea depths, so those on Paul’s ship found a depth of 20 fathoms. Further on, they took another sounding and found a depth of 15 fathoms (verse 28). One fathom is approximately two yards or two meters.

It being dark, the crew feared a shipwreck, so they let four anchors down to stabilise their position and prayed for daylight (verse 29).

Matthew Henry gives us a practical application of their situation:

When those that fear God walk in darkness, and have no light, yet let them not say, The Lord has forsaken us, or, Our God has forgotten us; but let them do as these mariners did, cast anchor, and wish for the day, and be assured that the day will dawn. Hope is an anchor of the soul, sure and stedfast, entering into that within the veil. Hold fast by that, think not of putting to sea again, but abide by Christ, and wait till the day break, and the shadows flee away.

I know of a Catholic four-year college in the US that used to have a class ring with a Cross with two anchors crossed beneath it, diagonally. Those are the anchors of faith.

The sailors were understandably frightened. They decided to lower the lifeboat into the sea, climb aboard and desert the ship to somehow save themselves (verse 30).

Henry warns against such treachery:

having the command of the boat, the project was to get all of them into that, and so save themselves, and leave all the rest to perish. To cover this vile design, they pretended they would cast anchors out of the fore-ship, or carry them further off, and in order to this they let down the boat, which they had taken in (Acts 27:16,17), and were going into it, having agreed among themselves, when they were in to make straight for the shore. The treacherous seamen are like the treacherous shepherd, who flees when he sees the danger coming, and there is most need of his help, John 10:12. Thus true is that of Solomon, Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth or a foot out of joint. Let us therefore cease from man. Paul had, in God’s name, assured them that they should come safely to land, but they will rather trust their own refuge of lies than God’s word and truth.

However, Paul saw what they were doing, went directly to the centurion — Julius — and his men. Paul told them that, unless everyone remained on board, no one would be saved (verse 31).

Henry says that, even if the sailors had deserted, God would no doubt have saved Paul and everyone else in some way.

Henry then provides thoughts on the adage that is not in the Bible but is nonetheless applicable to a life of faith: God helps those who help themselves. This is Henry’s brief analysis, which is well worth remembering:

Duty is ours, events are God’s; and we do not trust God, but tempt him, when we say, “We put ourselves under his protection,” and do not use proper means, such as are within our power, for our own preservation.

Returning to the story, the centurions quickly cut the ropes tying the lifeboat to the ship, preventing any cowardly escapes by the sailors (verse 32).

MacArthur says:

I’m not sure Paul advised them to do that because they could have used that dinghy. They could have used it to get to shore later on. As it turns out they’re going to have to swim. But, apparently, the centurion thought it necessary to stop them.

I would like to cover nautical and historical information that MacArthur gives. Cauda, which he mentions, is called Gavdos today and is the southernmost Greek island. It is located just south of Crete:

Verse 27 then indicates that the sailors heard the surf pounding. It’s interesting to look at a little bit of nautical insight into this. Now mark this. The distance from Cauda, on your map, to Malta, is 476.6 miles. Now, Mediterranean navigators have supplied information that indicates that such a ship in a gale or hurricane wind would drift about 36 miles every 24 hours.

If they were fighting into the wind to try to compensate, they would be able to go about 36 miles every 24 hours. Now, if that was true, it would take them exactly 13 days, one hour and 21 minutes to be driven from Cauda to Malta. You add one day from Fair Havens to Cauda and you have the sum of fourteen. So navigational information, nautical judgments corroborate, specifically, the fact that is in fact a 14-day journey if you happen to take it in a hurricane.

Now, according to further calculations, and as I said at the beginning of this study last Lord’s day, many archeologists and many historians have studied this passage for its nautical information. And so many secular minds have been applied to this passage. But according to these calculations, it would be on the 14th day that they would have been less than three miles from the entrance of the harbor at Malta that today is called, for obvious reasons, Saint Paul’s Harbor. So the nautical people tell us that in exactly 14 days at that speed they would be three miles from the entrance to Saint Paul’s Harbor.

Now notice that Malta is a dot in the Mediterranean. You have to see here the providence of God, don’t you? There’s no other conclusion. The Scripture is so accurate. The soundings that they then took indicate that they are passing Koura. Notice that Melita, or Malta on the map, the very east point of it is called Koura, K-O-U-R-A. And by the time they would have passed Koura, they would have been about a quarter mile from shore, and that’s why they would have heard the pounding. A quarter mile from the east point shore, three miles yet to go until they would come right into the harbor, now called Saint Paul’s Bay.

That harbour is still known as St Paul’s Bay, although, strangely, the Apostle is not the town’s patron saint.

Koura is today known as Qawra, which is Maltese.

Continuing on with MacArthur’s explanation:

And do they heard the pounding of the furious surf being driven by the wind to crush the shore. Well, of course, as soon as they heard that they wanted to find out how near they were, so verse 28 says, “They sounded,” – that is they dropped sounding devises into the sea to determine the depth. – “and they found they were twenty fathoms.” A fathom is approximately six feet, so you can multiply that and figure out they’re about 120 feet. And then they went a little further it says, probably about a half an hour. “They then sounded again and found it fifteen fathoms.” And even today it’s interesting that the – that the geography around Malta supports this very text, that these are very accurate features. “And they found it fifteen fathoms,” so they were really moving toward the shore.

I have found an essay online, complete with maps, which discusses St Paul’s journey. I will write about it once I finish covering this perilous sea journey — which continues next week.

Next time — Acts 27:33-38

Pentecost2What follows are the readings for Pentecost Sunday, June 9, 2019.

These are for Year C in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

As Pentecost is the Church’s birthday, the following posts explain the significance of this great feast day:

Pentecost — the Church’s birthday, with gifts from the Holy Spirit

Lutheran reflections on Pentecost

Thoughts on Pentecost: the power of the Holy Spirit

Reflections for Pentecost — a Reformed view

Pentecost Sunday — May 15, 2016 (John MacArthur explains adoption in the ancient world)

May 20, 2018: readings for Pentecost Sunday — Year B

Justin Welby’s thoughts on Pentecost (2018, Archbishop of Canterbury)

The readings for Year C offer choices for the First Reading and for the Epistle. The account of the first Pentecost from Acts 2 must be read as either one of those.

Emphases below are mine.

First reading

The choices for this reading are either Acts 2 or Genesis 11 (the account of the Tower of Babel).

First choice

Acts 2:1-21

2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

2:2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

2:5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.

2:6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

2:7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?

2:8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?

2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

2:11 Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

2:12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

2:13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.

2:15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.

2:16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

2:17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

2:18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

2:19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.

2:20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.

2:21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Second choice

Genesis 11:1-9

11:1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.

11:2 And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.

11:3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.

11:4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”

11:5 The LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built.

11:6 And the LORD said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

11:7 Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”

11:8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.

11:9 Therefore it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Psalm

The Psalm praises God, the giver of all good things, the author of all creation, the keeper of His covenants.

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

104:24 O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

104:25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.

104:26 There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

104:27 These all look to you to give them their food in due season;

104:28 when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

104:29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

104:30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.

104:31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works–

104:32 who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.

104:33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

104:34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.

104:35b Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD!

Epistle

As I mentioned above, there are two choices.

First choice

If Acts 2:1-21 was not read earlier, it must be read as the Epistle.

Second choice

Paul tells the Romans that if the Spirit leads them, they are indeed the children of God. This is a short but important takeaway for us and should remind those of us who were confirmed to actively use the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:14-17

8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

8:15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”

8:16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

8:17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ–if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Gospel

John wrote down Jesus’s many teachings during the Last Supper. Here is what He says to Philip about seeing the Father and receiving the Holy Spirit.

John 14:8-17, (25-27)

14:8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.

14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

14:12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.

14:13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14:14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.

14:17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

14:25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you.

14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

I hope that everyone reading this has a Pentecost Sunday of prayer and reflection. Let us remember to pray to the Holy Spirit regularly for guidance, wisdom, discernment and continued faith.

There is so much news to cover that it is difficult to post on everything in a timely manner.

Throughout the EU election campaign, one party’s online media and messaging shone through: The Brexit Party’s.

Rachel Johnson, Boris Johnson’s sister, knew even before May 23 — election day — that the small party of Remainer independents to which she belonged didn’t stand a chance. Here she is holding a revised Change UK campaign poster with Brexit colours rather than her party’s customary black ‘bar code’ (distinctly uninspiring):

The Brexit Party was Trumpian in its many rallies up and down Britain and for its messaging, particularly on social media.

Therefore, the unsung hero of The Brexit Party is Chief Digital Strategist, Steven Edginton. Hats off to him for a superlative job, starting with nothing:

One of the party’s candidates, Martin Daubney, rightly retweeted Steven’s message, adding his compliments:

The best part is that The Brexit Party’s social media were the most shared by far in the run up to Thursday, May 23:

Wow! Congratulations, Steven, on a job WELL DONE!

I hope he returns for the next General Election.

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