Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Subject: Take a Lesson from a Pop-Up Head

Dear Ethan & Emily:

Have you ever seen those pop-up heads at an amusement park where you take a mallet and see how many heads you can “smash down” as they are continually popping up?  It’s a lot of fun, and I always found it a challenge.

As I was having my devotional time this morning, this imagery came to mind as I was reading of the persistence of the apostles as they preached the gospel under persecution in the early church.  The 5th chapter of Acts starting in verse 12 tells quite a story: 

v.12: “Meanwhile, the apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people (Meet the “pop-up” heads!).

v. 13:  No one else dared to join them, though everyone had high regard for them (a real flaky bunch of followers).

v. 14:  And more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord…

v.  17 The high priest and his friends…reacted with violent jealousy (don’t tread on our turf, guys!). 

v.  18 – 19:  They arrested the apostles and put them in the jail (that settles that!).  But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out (surprise…!).

v.  21:  So the apostles entered the Temple about daybreak and immediately began teaching  (The “heads” just keep popping up!)

vv. 21 – 22:  …they (the high priest and his officials) sent for the apostles to be brought to trial (we’ll take care of these guys for good!).  But when the Temple guards went to the jail, the men were gone (Can’t you just see their faces!).  So they returned to the council and reported, ‘The jail was locked, with the guards standing outside, but when we opened the gates, no one was there! (I wonder which one of the guards got stuck with giving this report??)’

v.  24:  When the captain of the Temple guard and the leading priests heard this, they were perplexed….” (no kidding!)

v.  25 – 26:  Then someone arrived with the news that the men they had jailed were out in the Temple, teaching the people.  (Won’t these “heads” ever stop popping up??)  The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested them (relief…after giving that earlier report, they all had Anacin headaches!)

v.  33:  …the high council was furious and decided to kill them (Give me a mallet!).

vv. 34 – 39:  But a Pharisee named Gamaliel spoke on their behalf:  ‘…my advice is, leave these men alone.  If they are teaching and doing these things merely on their own, it will son be overthrown.  But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them.  You may even find yourselves fighting again God.’

v. 40:  The council accepted his (Gamaliel’s) advice.  They called in the apostles and had them flogged (Hit ’em…then hit ’em again!).  Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go (Now now…guys…be nice and stay put!).

v. 41:  The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus.

v. 42:  And every day, in the Temple and in their homes, they continued to teach and preach this message: ‘The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus.'” (Those “heads” just kept popping up again and again!!)

There is definitely humor mixed in here with the seriousness!  What is amazing is the fact that these high officials were so frustrated by what these “pop up head” followers of Jesus were doing…that they even overlooked and seemed oblivious to the fact that these men had been in jail and disappeared with the guards still standing outside the cell…and it didn’t seem to register!  (Hello??)  They were so busy trying to “smash” the message and activities of the apostles they weren’t really aware of what was doing on! 

My prayer is that we be challenged and encouraged by the “pop up” courage of these early Christians.

“Pop up” and share your faith with someone today.

With love,