The first recorded gladiatorial combat in Rome occurred when three pairs of gladiators fought to the death during the funeral of Junius Brutus in 264 BCE, though others may have been held earlier. During the height of the Roman empire thousands of men and women were killed in the Coliseum in Rome. Many Christians refused to attend these violent games but for many it was ‘just entertainment’. Few people know that it was a Christian monk who brought the games to an end in the early fifth century. Unfortunately Telemachus was stoned to death for his faith!
Jesus claimed on several occasions that He had the authority to forgive sins. For many this is a deeply offensive thing to say. The uniqueness of Jesus Christ is challenged by many people today. It is very instructive to think deeply about people who believe that they can find God without Jesus. As we have seen before, some people will go to extreme lengths to earn their salvation. Consider this true story about a 'raised arm baba'. How do you respond to Amar's self-torture? Do you admire him or do you feel sad for him?
Very often we hear bad news from an African country like Uganda. We hear stories about famine, hunger, misery, warfare and man-eating lions. We see disturbing pictures on television and in newspapers but is there any good news which comes from this vast continent? The following story is full of hope and clear evidence that God is at work in a broken, groaning world.
Wouldn't it be brilliant if Christians were well known for creating the best factories, offices and work places in the UK? How easy it would be to talk about God's kingdom if we could point to an abundance of stories like this:
Julia Turner is absolutely thrilled with her factory job at the American equivalent of Boots the Chemist – Walgreens. You might be surprised to learn that Julia has Down's Syndrome. She is one of the many disabled people who have jobs they love – all because of the vision of one man who had a baptised imagination – Randy Lewis.
Randy Lewis was a senior Vice President at Walgreens in the USA. Walgreens is the American equivalent of Boots the Chemist and has over 8000 shops and employs 176,000 people. It has a turnover of $76 billion.
Men pay upwards of £1000 to listen to the 'wisdom' and 'insight' of 'pick-up' artist Julien Blanc. His worldview boils down to this: objectify women and use them for your pleasure. Videos of Blanc preaching and ranting can be found online under the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundtheWorld.
In my last blog I explored the impact of astrology upon the emperor Tiberius. Consider this contemporary story of a president who followed the stars!