• I've just completed the story of the lost (prodigal) son: Here it is under the title ‘Extravagant love and two lost sons’: Jesus continued, ‘There was once a man who had two sons. The younger son said to his father, “Father, give me my share of your estate that will come to me when you die.” [In this way, the son was basically saying, “I wish you were dead.”] So the father divided up his inheritance between the two sons. ‘Soon after that, the younger son cashed in his inheritance, packed up all his belongings and left home. He travelled to a country far away, where he spent his new-found wealth on a binge of wild, reckless living. Boy, did he have a good time! But after he had got through all his money – down to the last penny – a severe famine devastated the whole country, and he was left with nothing … absolutely zilch. So he went and linked up with a local farmer, who sent him out into the fields to feed slops to the pigs. (Because Jews considered pigs unclean, this menial work would have been deeply humiliating for him.) He became desperately hungry: he even longed to eat the pods in the swill that the pigs were feeding on, but there was no one he could turn to who would give him anything to eat. ‘But when the son hit rock bottom, he finally faced up to reality. He came to his senses and recognised his own guilty wretchedness. He said to himself, “How many of my father’s servants, who are paid a pittance, are better off than me? They’ve more than enough food to eat, while here I am starving to death! I’ll get up and go back home. I’m going to turn back to my father. He’s my only hope. I’ll not put it off a moment longer. I’ll throw myself on his mercy. I’ll confess to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son, but because I know that you’re generous even to your paid servants, make me like one of those.’” ‘He knew that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so he acted on his decision, got up, left the distant country and went back to his father. But while the son was still a long way from home, his father saw him. His father had been in anguish ever since his son had left home. But now he saw his son – this thin, weak, dirty, smelly, miserable figure – but nevertheless still his son! – walking along the lane. The father threw all caution to the wind big time and jumped for joy! He felt the deepest mercy and compassion for his son, ran out at breakneck speed to meet him, gave him the biggest hug in the world and kissed him tenderly over and over again! ‘The son began the confession he’d rehearsed, saying to his father, “Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son …” ‘But the Father interrupted his son, telling his servants to welcome him back home, “Quick, we’ve got to honour my son! Fetch the best robe and put it on him. Of course I take him back and accept him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet to restore his full dignity as my son. Bring out the fattened calf, the one we’ve been keeping back for special occasions … well, if this isn’t special, then what is? Pull out all the stops! Let’s have a party and celebrate his homecoming, because we thought this son of mine was dead but he’s now alive. He’s come back to life again! Once he was lost, but he’s now been found! I’m going to give him a fresh start.” And they began to celebrate.
    1. I have just completed Matthew's Gospel: something of a marathon. Here is my draft of the final few verses: <18>Then Jesus came up and encouraged them. He declared to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. My resurrection confirms that I am the unique sovereign Lord of heaven and earth. <19>Because this is so, I command you to go out now and make disciples in every people group. Be bold and step outside your comfort zone. Train people throughout the world to follow me. As you go, baptise the new followers in the one name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Wash the new followers with water as a sign that they have abandoned their old way of life and are committing themselves to follow me. <20>Teach those new followers to not just listen to, but also to put into practice, everything that I have commanded you. As you do all these things, never forget my promise that I am present with you always. I will equip you with my personal resources of power and encouragement. Remember that I am close to each of you every moment of your lives, wherever you are, right to the very end of this age.’    I wanted to include "Be bold and step outside your comfort zone," as that seems necessary for many of us, not least me. The further challenge was: am I only a disciple of Christ or am I making disciples?
      1. Hello Martin. I am a Brit, retired pastor, Logos power user and published software developer. I would like to discuss an idea with you that relates to several of your books. If you are interested please email me at tony@iiexperts.com. If you prefer you can reach me on +1-817-468-0982 during normal office hours US CDT. My cell for texts is +1-817-913-3855. If you decide to contact me I will be happy to elaborate on my ideas. Thanks for your time.
        1. Recent highlights include discovering that in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ transfiguration, only Matthew mentions Jesus touching his disciples (whom I call his apprentices): But Jesus came to them and touched them gently with his hand to encourage them. He said, ‘Stand up. Don’t be afraid.’ (Matthew 17:7).  Or how about this the use of ‘conveniently forget’ relating to ‘Corban’ in Matthew 15: <3>Jesus answered them, ‘Why do you reject God’s commandments in order to respect your traditions? <4>For example, God commanded, “Honour your father and mother” and, “Whoever insults their father or mother is sure to be put to death.” You are to treat your parents with great respect. <5>But you say that if anyone tells their parents that the support they were going to give them is instead “committed to God”, <6>then they no longer need honour their father or mother. In fact, in so doing, you’re conveniently forgetting God’s word. Your traditions have become more important than God’s word and you’re cancelling out God’s message for the sake of your tradition. <7>You’re hypocrites! Isaiah hit the nail on the head when he prophesied about you …
          1. I've been beavering away through recent months and am currently drafting Matthew 13. Readers have appreciated my version of Matthew 9:35-38: <35>Jesus went throughout all the towns and villages in that area, teaching in their synagogues, declaring that the good news that God’s reign had now come in him. He also healed all kinds of diseases and disabilities that people were suffering from. <36>As a result, crowds of people flocked to him. When he looked at them, he had deep compassion on them. His heart went out to them and he felt intense sympathy for them because he saw their desperate need. They were stressed out and struggling to cope with life, wandering round with no one to look after them or lead them, like sheep without a shepherd. <37>Then he told his apprentices, ‘I see a bumper harvest that is ready to be gathered in, but at the moment there are only a few workers. Many more workers are needed. <38>So co-operate with the Lord who owns the harvest. Pray urgently to him that he will thrust more workers into his harvest field – workers who will roll up their sleeves and gather in the crop.’ Readers have also appreciated my version of Matthew 11:28-30: <28>‘Come to me, all of you who are worn out, overwhelmed and weighed down by the stresses and strains of life. I will relieve you of these heavy burdens. <29>Submit to me; live your life harnessed to me. Follow me and become my apprentices. Let me teach you and train you because I am sensitive and humble in heart and you will find spiritual strength and refreshment <30>because following me is pleasant and a joy, not a chore or heavy burden.’ To listen to a message I preached on Matthew 11:28-30 at the church I'm a member of, go to:
            1. This is so inspiring for me...
          2. I've just completed the Beatitudes (or the "Be-Attitudes" as I sometimes think of them!). I gave them the title "The challenge of true Christian character": Jesus told his followers that they were to be distinctive, radically different from the people around them. The attitudes and actions of his followers could become like this only because God’s power was at work in them. If they lived in such a way, they would enjoy the privileges God would give them now and in the life to come. Jesus taught them: <3>‘Other people say, if you’re self-confident, you’ll be happy. But I say to you, it’s those that humbly recognise their spiritual need who are truly happy and fortunate. They will draw on God’s resources, so the kingdom of heaven already belongs to them. <4>‘Other people say, don’t worry about sin. But I say to you, it’s those that mourn and grieve over their sin and failures who are truly happy and fortunate. God will comfort and encourage them. <5>‘Other people say, it’s the arrogant that are successful. But I say to you, it’s those that humbly trust God who are truly happy and fortunate. They not only enjoy the blessings I give them now but they also look forward to inheriting the new earth that God will create. <6>‘Other people say, if you do your own thing, you’ll be fulfilled. But I say to you, it’s those whose deepest desire is to lead lives that are right with God who are truly happy and fortunate. They long to see justice prevail throughout the world. Their appetite for God will be satisfied. <7>‘Other people are successful by bullying their way to the top. But I say to you, it’s those that are merciful, kind and generous towards others who are truly happy and fortunate. God will be merciful towards them and forgive them. <8>‘Other people say, it’s OK to deceive others and see what you can get away with. But I say to you, it’s those that are fully devoted to God and let him clean up their inner life who are truly happy and fortunate. They catch glimpses of God’s glory now and are ready to see him in all his fullness in the life to come. <9>‘Other people fight and make war. But I say to you, it’s those that seek and make lasting peace who are truly happy and fortunate. God will recognise them as his children, because they reflect what he is like. <10>‘Other people say, don’t get too committed to God. But I say to you, it’s those whose lives are so right with God that they provoke hostility who are truly happy and fortunate. They will suffer persecution but the kingdom of heaven already belongs to them. <11>You’re truly happy and fortunate when people insult you viciously, persecute you and make false accusations against you because you follow me. <12>Don’t be miserable but feel on top of the world at such times because a great reward is waiting for you in heaven. That reward will more than make up for the suffering you’re now going through. Remember that the prophets who went before you were also persecuted.
            1. The Challenge Of The True Christian Character. What a fantastic title. I cant wait for the entire translation to be completed.
          3. Mark is now in my final review stages and I have started Romans. I would value prayer for this. The Lord has already given me some good thoughts. Here are the headings for Romans 1, followed by my draft of what I see as the key verses (1:16-17): Gripped by the gospel (verses 1-7) ‘I want to preach the gospel to everyone’ (verses 8-15) The gospel unleashes God’s power (verses 16-17) The gospel is necessary because God hates sin (verses 18-25) The depths of sin (verses 26-32) The key verses (16-17) are:   I’m writing this because the gospel isn’t something I’m ashamed of. No! I don’t feel embarrassed about it in the slightest. People laugh at the gospel because it may seem foolish. But I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to declare it: in fact, I’m proud of it. I can’t keep quiet about it because the gospel itself is God’s saving power – his power to bring about salvation. The gospel unleashes God’s power. It’s God’s driving force, his way of working in us to bring about our salvation. Who is the gospel effective for? Every person who trusts God to save them: God’s salvation is available to everyone who believes, first to those who are Jews and then also to all the people who aren’t Jews but are Gentiles. This is because the gospel reveals the way we are put right with God. How does this happen? It’s all about trusting God from start to finish. This is what the Scripture confirms, ‘Those who are right with God by trusting him will live. They’ll live by trusting him through thick and thin.’
            1. Here is the Good News in a fresh new way.  Love it.  More please.