Thursday, October 25, 2007

Guy Kawasaki's New Web Startup

I've been a big fan of Guy Kawasaki ever since I heard him speak at a nonprofit boot camp hosted by Craigslist a couple of years ago in San Francisco. I just read this interview with him in Entrepreneur magazine. It's about a new website he's just created called Truemors, short for "true rumors." It's a social media site, but it's also a business startup, and the purpose of the interview is to show that it doesn't take big bucks to start something successful. As someone trying to get two new organizations off the ground (without much money), I found this very helpful.

Here are a few excerpts...

Truemors is a functioning illustration of what it takes to launch a web startup these days. It didn't involve gobs of VC funding or years of development and testing. It may or may not turn into a big moneymaking enterprise, but entrepreneurs can learn a lot from Kawasaki's experience with getting Truemors off the ground and onto the internet. The startup guru took a few moments away from his new venture to answer our questions.

How did you fund Truemores?
So far, it's only cost about $12,000, so it was personally [funded]. Whenever I need more capital, I make another speech--a fraction of a speech, actually. This beats sucking up to VCs, and I'm a VC.

Lots of people said they could do Truemors for less money by shaving off domain registration costs here, legal costs there, etc. Yes, people could do almost everything that I did for less, saving a few thousand dollars. But the point wasn't to go from $12,000 [in startup costs] to $7,000. It was going from $1 million to $12,000.

You spent no money on marketing. Is this approach something the average internet startup entrepreneur could get away with?
No, but it's certainly not the case that you have to have millions of dollars to market something on the internet. You'd get that impression from most pitches to VCs. I was fortunate and did it for close to nothing, so anyone should be able to do it for $50,000 to $100,000.

What advice would you share with other entrepreneurs about this startup experience?
The most important lessons are: Do things quick, dirty and fast; don't wait for the perfect time/market/product; ignore the naysayers--odds are they are right, but you'll never know unless you try; and keep things cheap so you can make a lot of mistakes.

What does the fact that you were able to create a web startup so quickly and inexpensively tell us about the state of web entrepreneurship in general?
Now more than ever, people should give it a shot to create the next Google, You-Tube, Facebook, eBay, whatever. You can get things done so much cheaper, faster and better because of tools like MySQL and WordPress as well as the willingness of the crowds. There are many tech businesses that take millions to start, but there are many that can be done on credit cards. I hope I've proven that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Acts 15

It is no exaggeration to say that Acts 15 is the most crucial chapter in the whole book.
Ben Witherington
New Testament History: A Narrative Account

Some time later some men from Judea came to Antioch and began teaching that circumcision was a requirement for following Jesus. Paul and Barnabas, who were still in Antioch, heard about this and confronted them. After what had taken place in Galatia, it's easy to believe that Paul was fired up. The church in Antioch appointed Paul and Barnabas, along with a few others, to go to Jerusalem to get some answers. This was beginning to become a huge issue, and the leadership needed to address it.

When they arrived in Jerusalem (250 miles from Antioch), they shared how God had brought salvation to many Gentiles throughout Galatia. Immediately a group of believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and declared that these Gentile believers would have to be circumcised.

Peter stood. He reminded them of what God had done at Cornelius' home, how He made no distinction between Jews and Gentiles, and how the grace of God was available to anyone who believed. He said that requiring anything more than faith was like putting a yoke around their necks. Luke says that the entire assembly fell silent.

Next Barnabas and Paul (notice how Luke reverses the order once again) spoke up, relating all that God had done throughout Galatia.

Finally, James stood and pronounced judgment on the matter. (We learn through this chapter that James had at some point over the past twenty years become the primary leader of the church). The decision was that Gentiles should not have to be circumcised (follow the law of Moses) in order to become a follower of Jesus. Following Jesus was difficult enough. No other burdens would be placed on them.

James did give the Gentile believers a few requirements.
  1. Abstain from things that have been offered to idols (normally referring to meat)
  2. Abstain from eating the meat of strangled animals
  3. Abstain from eating blood
  4. Abstain from sexual immorality
At least a couple of these requirements sound rather strange to modern readers, but James' judgment would have been clear to the readers of the document. He was telling Gentile believers that they must stay away from pagan temples. Paul would later echo this warning (1 Corinthians 8,10). James said that though they did not have to be converted to Judaism, it was mandatory that they make a complete break with paganism.

I find it fascinating that in a letter this important, the leaders used the phrase, "it seemed good" three times. The first instance is verse 22, where "it seemed good" to the leaders to send Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch with this pronouncement. The second instance is verse 25, in which they relayed this same information in the body of the letter. The third instance is verse 28, where they say, "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden" than the requirements listed above.

They never said that this was God's divine Word for the Gentiles. They had no doubt been praying like crazy and having endless discussions. It seemed to them that this was the correct response. Part of me wants a little more definite of an answer, but another part of me loves that they were ok with this.

The letter was received by the church in Antioch with much rejoicing.

Some time later (possibly up to two years later) Paul came to Barnabas and suggested that they return to the churches they had planted to see how things were going. Barnabas thought that was a great idea, but suggested that John Mark go with them. Paul had obviously not gotten over the fact that he had abandoned them a few years earlier. Luke says that they got into such a sharp disagreement (15:39) that they parted company. Barnabas took John Mark and went to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas (who had earlier accompanied them from Jerusalem to Antioch with the letter) and went back to Galatia.

This saddens me. Barnabas was such a great man of God, yet this is the last that we hear of him. He no doubt continued to spread the gospel, but I wonder if he and Paul ever reconciled.

Timeline - Pt. 2

The year was 49 AD, and it's possible that up to a year had passed since Paul and Barnabas returned from their first missionary journey to Galatia. Some time after arriving back in Antioch, Paul received word from the churches in Galatia that some men (most likely from Jerusalem) had been going from city to city, telling them that unless they were circumcised, they were not true followers of God.

I believe it's very important to think about who these Jews were. The Jews who came from Antioch to Lystra and left Paul for dead (Acts 14:19) were most likely not believers. However, the Jews who take part in the Jerusalem Council are believers. I believe that the men who came to Galatia were probably also believers. They were a part of the church. Jesus had changed their lives, and now they were followers of Him. However, they had also been devout Jews, and they didn't for one moment believe that Jesus had come to destroy the law. They believed that a person had to follow all of God's law before becoming a follower of Jesus. They believed that Paul was only preaching half of the truth, and they felt that it was their responsibility to preach the other half.

After receiving this news, Paul writes his first letter, what we now know as Galatians. His purpose for writing this letter is to urge them not to follow any other gospel, especially one that requires circumcision, because a gospel requiring circumcision was not a gospel that depended on faith alone.

Earlier that year, the Emperor Claudius had issued a decree stating that all Jews had to leave Rome (Acts 18:2). This surely played a role in why these Jewish believers responded as they did. Fear always makes us behave in ways we normally do not, and I believe this was the case with them. They were now even more protective of their spiritual heritage.

Fall is Here

Saturday was a great day. We spent it with the Currier's and the Thomas' in Arlington at Uncle Fudd's Pumpkin Patch. Mason and Lyndon are two of Adam's best friends, so it was a treat to see them all playing together at the Pumpkin Patch. Here are a few pictures.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Acts 14:19-28

We're not sure how much time transpires before this next section, but soon some Jews from Antioch and Iconium came to stir up trouble. Who were these men? It's most likely that they were devout Jews who felt very strongly that Paul was undoing all that they believed in. He had to be stopped. They were apparently following him from city to city. That's why I believe they arrived very soon after this incident.

Nonetheless, upon arriving they stirred up the crowd and convinced them that these two men deserved to be stoned. In some ways this is hard to believe. I can understand that the people ofLystra might have been a little humiliated that they thought these two men were gods, but still, was that a reason to stone them? These Jews must have been very persuasive. They were definitely passionate about preserving their faith.

Paul was about to suffer greatly for the gospel. He was apparently taken while Barnabas was somewhere else. He was dragged to the center of the city. His clothes were torn from his body. Men, women and children from the crowd bent down, picked up rocks, and began throwing them at this servant of God. After it was over they dragged Paul out of the city. They supposed that he was dead. One normally "supposes" that someone is dead when there is no breathing, so it is safe to assume that Paul was in fact dead.

Soon Barnabas and the disciples found Paul and began praying for him. Luke says that Paul rose up, went back into the city, and the next day he and Barnabas fifty to sixty miles to Derbe. I can imagine that traveling fifty to sixty miles one day after being stoned would not be pleasant. After preaching the gospel in Derbe, and seeing many people become disciples, they began the trip back to Antioch, stopping along the way in each of the cities where they had been. If I had been Paul, I think I would have wanted to skip Lystra. It couldn't have held good memories for him. However, he went back. I wonder what that was like. Here is this man whom everyone in the city thought was dead. He wasn't dead.

In each city, Luke says that they strengthened the disciples and appointed elders for each church. I have always been fascinated by this. Here is a group of people who have not been disciples for very long. Their leaders have been run out of town but they have now returned. Unfortunately, they are leaving again. Yet they are raising up leaders, new spiritual parents. Paul had an unwavering faith that God would do the real work of ministry. Luke points out that Paul and Barnabas, through prayer and fasting, committed these new churches to the Lord.

I love verse 27. Returning to Antioch, to the church that had commissioned them, must have been quite the celebration!

"And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles."

Acts 14:1-18

Iconium was ninety miles from Pisidian Antioch. When they arrived, they once again went first to the synagogue, and once again, many Jews and Gentiles believed. Luke tells us that Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly, but God bore witness to His word by "granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands" (14:3). They were able to stay in this city for a long time. As had happened before, those who didn't believe sought out ways to rid themselves of these men. After learning of a plot to stone them, Paul and Barnabas fled to Lystra.

One day while they were in Lystra, Paul encountered a man who had been crippled since birth. Paul saw that this man "had faith to be made well" (14:9). Paul understood that faith was a prerequisite for transformation. Paul commanded him to stand and the man stood. The crowd saw what had happened, and believed that these newcomers were in fact Zeus (Barnabas) and Hermes (Paul). A little background here is needed. There was a story that every child in Lystra knew. It was the story of these two gods visiting their city but not being welcomed. The city in turn missed out on many blessings. Everyone knew this story, and no one wanted to make the same mistake twice.

This time they began worshiping Paul and Barnabas, who no doubt had no idea what was happening. A priest of Zeus even came out to begin making sacrifices to them. At this point Paul and Barnabas tore their garments and pleaded with them to stop, saying that they were only men, though men representing the Most High God, the One they should be worshiping.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Acts 13:13-52

After staying in Paphos for a little while, the three men set sail for Perga (southern Turkey). When they arrived, John Mark decided to return to Jerusalem. We're not sure why, though my best guess is that he was homesick. Whatever the reason was, it would cause dissension down the road between Paul and Barnabas.

From there they traveled to Antioch in Pisidia. On their first Sabbath there, Paul and Barnabas went to the synagogue. In the synagogue, after the readings out of the Law and the Prophets, Jewish men were given a time to share a word of exhortation. Paul accepted the invitation, stood before the men, and began recounting Israel's history, beginning with the slavery in Egypt and ending with the murder of Jesus. He told them that the forgiveness of sins comes not through obeying the law of Moses, but only through Jesus.

Luke says that at the end, the people begged them to come back the next week and share the same thing.

The next Sabbath, "almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord" (13:44). The amazing thing was that the Jewish people were a minority throughout the cities of Galatia. These were primarily Gentiles who had showed up to hear Paul. How did the whole city hear about Paul? The only explanation is that the Jews, as well as the Gentile converts to Judaism, must have shared the news.

The Jewish leaders had never had a crowd like this, and they became jealous. They contradicted him and reviled him. His response was to move to his secondary audience, which in many ways was his primary audience: the Gentiles. Quoting Isaiah 49:6, Paul said, "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.

Luke tells us that the Gentiles began rejoicing when they heard this, and "as many as were appointed to eternal life believed" (13:49). The Jewish leaders, though, went to the leaders of the town and spread lies about Paul. The leaders "drove them out of their district" (13:50). It's not clear whether this was a violent driving out, or more of a kind request for them to leave. Either way, Paul and Barnabas "shook of the dust from their feet" and headed toward Iconium.

New Project

It seems that flying by the seat of my pants happens on a pretty regular basis for me, at least in most areas. However, fixing things in the house is not one of those areas. Anything having to do with remodeling, decorating, repairs, etc., is usually met with extreme caution and planning. That's just a rule I've had...just because I have no idea what I'm doing.

Well, this weekend we broke that rule. We were going to paint our front room this weekend, but then we got to thinking that we should look at refinishing the hardwood floors before painting. If you've been to our house, you know that we are the only home in Midtown with carpet throughout. We had been told that the hardwood under the carpet in the front room could be refinished.

So, on Sunday morning, we decided to start moving furniture and then proceeded to rip up the carpet. I was planning on refinishing the floors myself, with Jason (my Gandalf) by my side. He's quite the pro in this area. However, we think we're going to hire the job out. There is just so much going on, and Lyndia, Mandy's mom, suggested that our marriage would appreciate it. When the parent says that, it's best to listen.

Nonetheless, here are some pictures of our room at its current state. I'll post more pictures when the job is finished.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Acts 13:1-12

As we have already learned, the church in Antioch was made up of people from all over the world. This was reflected in their leadership. One day the prophets and teachers were together worshiping and fasting. Those present were:
  • Barnabas
  • Saul
  • Simeon - also called Niger, meaning "black-skinned"; some believe that this was Simon, the man from Cyrene who carried Jesus' Cross (Mark 15:21); though there is no proof
  • Lucius of Cyrene - Cyrene is in Northern Africa; it's quite possible that Lucius was one of the men who first preached the gospel in Antioch (Acts 11:20)
  • Manaen - he was a member of Herod's court, which meant that he had a high placement in the government
While they were worshiping and fasting, the Holy Spirit told them to "set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them" (13:2). The leaders then laid hands on them and sent them off. John Mark traveled with them. They left Antioch around AD 45-48.

Their first stop was Seleucia. There they boarded a ship and sailed to Salamis, a city on the island of Cyprus, where Barnabas was from. They went straight to the Jewish synagogue and proclaimed Christ there. They continued to travel across the island (about 100 miles), finally arriving in Paphos. Here they encountered a magician named Bar-Jesus (aka Elymas). He worked for Sergius Paulus, the Roman governor over Cyprus. Sergius Paulus heard of Barnabas and Saul's arrival and wanted to hear what they had been proclaiming.

Bar-Jesus didn't like their message, and tried to persuade his boss from listening. Saul turned to him, gave him a strong rebuking ("you son of the devil"), and caused him to be blind. At this Sergius Paulus was astonished and asked Saul and Barnabas to share their message with him. After hearing the message he believed that Jesus was the Son of God.

Two other items of interest take place here. First, we find out that Saul also goes by Paul. I've often wondered if this had anything to do with the fact that their convert's name was Paulus. A better theory is that at this point Paul decided to use his Gentile name rather than his Jewish name (Saul). Second, up to this point Barnabas has taken the lead. Luke in fact has been referring to them as "Barnabas and Saul." From now on, though, he will refer to them as "Paul and Barnabas."

Acts 12

In Jerusalem, persecution was still going on, nine years after Stephen's death. Herod (Agrippa I) had James (brother of John) put to death by the sword, and then had Peter thrown in prison. He was going to wait until after Passover to have him executed. Luke says that the church prayed earnestly to God for Peter.

Their prayers were answered, for on the evening before Herod was going to kill him, an angel rescued him from prison. Peter thought he was dreaming, but once they got outside and the angel vanished, he realized that it wasn't a dream. He knew that God had rescued him!

He went straight to the house of Mary (John Mark's mother). Many people were there praying. He came to the house and knocked on the gate. A servant girl named Rhoda recognized his voice, and her excitement she ran to tell the others, forgetting to let him in. They thought she was crazy. When they finally went to the gate and saw that it truly was Peter, they were amazed. He told them what had happened, and then instructed them to let James and the brothers know.

The next morning Herod found out what had happened, and ordered that the guards be executed.

Later on, Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. They came to plead with him for peace, because their food came from him. In their pleading, they called him a god. Herod, instead of turning the praise to the Most High God, received the praises, and God struck him down. He was eaten by worms. This occurred in AD 44.

At about the same time, Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, where they had delivered an offering to the church there. John Mark returned with them.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Acts 11:19-30

It's possible that up to ten years have passed since Stephen was murdered, and we find that the effects are still lingering. These Jesus-followers no doubt feared for their lives, but they also did not waste opportunities to share with others their stories of transformation.

Before going any farther, a brief recap...

Most scholars date Stephen's death and Saul's conversion at around 35 AD. At the time, the church in Jerusalem numbered at least 5000 people (Acts 4:4 mentions 5000 men, and Acts 5:14 says that multitudes more believed). It's possible that there were 10,000 followers of Jesus in Jerusalem at this time. When persecution broke out, Luke tells us that all but the apostles scattered. Let's say he meant the apostles and a few others. That's still a LOT of people leaving Jerusalem. In Acts 8:4 Luke informs us that all of them "went about preaching the word." Satan thought he had won a major victory when Stephen was killed and the people scattered, but it actually unleashed an army of missionaries!

If you remember, many of the people who were converted on the day of Pentecost had not been from Jerusalem, but when the Spirit fell and the Church was birthed, they didn't want to leave. Now that everyone was leaving Jerusalem, it would make sense that most would now return to their homes.

Luke tells us that some of them traveled up to 300 miles. Cyprus is 250 miles by sea from Jerusalem, and Antioch is 300 miles from Jerusalem by land. Those that traveled to these cities spoke about what the change they had experienced in Jerusalem, but they only spoke to fellow Jews. However, and this is a BIG however, some men from Cyprus and Cyrene came to Antioch and spoke to Hellenists (Greek-speaking non-Jews).

I've often wondered why the men from Cyprus and Cyrene didn't return to their homes like most of the others. Cyrene is 800 miles away from Jerusalem, so I guess it's possible that they were simply tired of traveling! However, I think there is something else at work here. Perhaps they were the first cross-cultural missionaries! All of us are called to go and make disciples, but most of us are called to people like ourselves. Some, though, are called by God to go to a people very different from themselves. Some call them missionaries. I don't, because I believe that we are all missionaries. I call them cross-cultural missionaries.

A bigger issue, though, is that these men, for some reason, felt the urge to tell not only fellow Jews, but also Gentiles. This must have happened around the same time as Peter's visit with Cornelius. God was definitely up to something here! Luke informs us that as these men preached Jesus to the Gentiles in Antioch, "the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord" (11:21).

The church in Jerusalem heard about this and sent Barnabas to get a report. Peter's news had no doubt hastened a response. Barnabas "saw the grace of God" in Antioch and "was glad" (11:22). He decided to stay, but first he went to Tarsus to look for Saul. We last saw Saul after he escaped death in Jerusalem and went to Tarsus years earlier. We are not exactly sure what he's been up to, but God is about to release him into the ministry that He called him into.

Once they were back in Antioch, they taught the church for a whole year. Luke points out that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

A new church in a new city was about to be birthed, but this one would look very different from the church in Jerusalem. This one would be made up of people from all over the world.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Mid-South Fair

On Sunday Mandy, Adam and I went to the Mid-South Fair. We had a good time, though we didn't realize that on wristband day they don't sell individual ride tickets. We were a little bummed, but I don't think Adam was too heartbroken. After all, he got to ride a pony.

And Mandy and I were ok with this as well, because we got to try a deep fried Snickers for the first time. When I first heard about the deep friend Twinkies, Oreos, and Snickers I thought it was a little redneck for the boy who had just moved from California. But I have since repented (maybe not of the Twinkie - I still think that's very odd), and decided that as an act of my repentance I should try one. It was quite good. Sorry, no picture of that.

On the flip side, I'm sure glad the Mid-South Fair is over, and I really hope the rumors are true that it doesn't come back. Our side of Cooper-Young gets a little crazy during the Fair. There were quite a few times when I had no parking; my car alarm went off a few times because of the speakers in passing cars; and then there's the trash. I know I'm complaining, but that's ok, because last night a few of us picked up a lot of the trash. My biggest frustration came Monday morning, when I realized that someone had turned on my water hose the night before. I'm sure whoever did had a great reason for doing that. times, but I won't be sad if those fun times end!

New book

I've really been trying to break my long-term habit of not finishing books. I start a book, get half-way through it, but then find a different book and start it. So right now I'm in the middle of two different books: Mavericks at Work, by William Taylor & Polly Labarre, and Stripped: Uncensored Grace on the Streets of Vegas, by Jud Wilhite. Both are great reads. Here's the problem, though. Today I went to my local Borders (by local I mean in Germantown) and picked up unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity...and Why it Matters, by David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons. That also seems like it's going to be a great read. Can I be disciplined to wait? I just don't know. Please pray for the strength to overcome.

Bibo No Aozora

If you've seen the movie Babel, you'll remember this piece. As soon as the movie was over, I went hunting for this song. Very nice.

Monday, October 01, 2007


It had been ten years since Barnabas had last seen Saul (Paul). Where had he been for those ten years. Paul's letter to the Galatians gives us some answers, but also poses more questions.

Paul shares with the Galatians who he was before his encounter with Jesus (Gal. 1:13-14). He then tells him about his conversion in Damascus (Gal. 1:15-16). It seems from Luke accounts that Paul went to Jerusalem pretty soon after his conversion, yet Paul tells the Galatians that three years had passed before he went to Jerusalem to meet with the disciples.

After the Jews in Damascus tried to kill him, he escaped and fled to Arabia (Gal. 1:17).. Later he went back to Damascus. Three years passed between the time he escaped Damascus and when he met the apostles in Jerusalem. What did he do during those three years? This was probably the time in which Paul "worked out his salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). He had undergone such a paradigm shift. He had much to learn from Jesus. Much of the theology we find in his letters no doubt began developing during this time. Paul no doubt also preached Christ to the Arabs during this time.

After three years had passed Paul went to Jerusalem. He tells the Galatians that he spent 15 days meeting with Peter and with James (Gal. 1:18-19). It seems that this points back to Acts 9:26. After the Jews tried to kill him, he went to Tarsus. Paul stayed in Tarsus until Barnabas came to ask him to join him in Antioch.

Acts 11:1-18

Word traveled fast back to Jerusalem about what had taken place in Caesarea, and when Peter arrived back home, everyone wanted answers. This had apparently been an issue before, because Luke explains that there was already a "Circumcision Party" - those who believed that a person must become a Jew (get circumcised) before becoming a follower of Jesus. It actually makes sense that they would believe this, because up to this point all of them were Jews. They didn't understand that Jesus had died for Gentiles as well.

Those of the circumcision party were not happy. They felt that Peter had gone against the Torah (Jewish law). Peter explained what happened. This hadn't been his plan. He had no idea that this was going to happen. But he did hear from God, and he was obedient - and look what God had done! He shared with the apostles (and all the brothers and sisters) what had happened, then ended his story with, "If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed int he Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way" (11:17)?

Then there was silence. I imagine that it was perhaps a long period of silence. What was the response going to be? No doubt they were just as perplexed as Peter had been when he was on the roof. They could have easily dismissed Peter, but there was one problem: they knew him. At least ten of these men had walked with Peter for the previous eight years. He wasn't crazy.

Their response was to glorify God and proclaim that God had granted "repentance that leads to life" to the Gentiles as well as the Jews!

Acts 10

While Peter was in Joppa, a Roman centurion named Cornelius was in his home in Caesarea (40 miles north of Joppa). It was the ninth hour (3:00), and so he was praying (devout Jews, as well as God-fearing Gentiles prayed three times a day: 9:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and sunset). Here's what we know about Cornelius:
  • He and his entire household feared God
  • He gave generously
  • He prayed continually to God
  • He belonged to a group known as the Italian Cohort (for some reason I think of Tony Soprano when I hear that)
During his prayer time he saw a vision. An angel told him to send for a man named Simon Peter. He didn't tell him why and he didn't give him any more information. He just vanished. Nonetheless, Cornelius had never experienced anything like this, so he obeyed. He sent two servants and a soldier to Joppa to find this man known as Simon Peter.

The next day, while the three men were traveling to Joppa, Peter was on the roof praying (I guess he was a little more devout than Cornelius, because he was praying at noon as well). He became hungry, and while he was praying he too saw a vision. The vision was of a great sheet descending from heaven. The sheet was filled with all kinds of animals, and a voice spoke, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." It doesn't sound like a big deal to us, but to Peter, this was ridiculous. Never before had Peter eaten any animal that God had called unclean (for a description of what God called clean and unclean, see Leviticus 11). He of course made this known to the voice. The voice said it again. Peter responded again. The voice said it a third time, and this time Peter hesitated before responding.

Remember the night Jesus was crucified? Peter denied his Lord three times. And then, after Jesus was raised from the dead, His restoration process for Peter involved asking him the question, "Do you love me?" three times. The "voice" now has his attention, but Peter is utterly perplexed. He acknowledges that the voice he has heard is God's, but it makes no sense. It is as if everything he has ever known is being challenged.

At that moment there was a knock on the door. The three men had found Peter. Peter came down and said, "I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?" They explained what had happened to Cornelius, and asked him to come with them back to Caesarea. He agreed, so the next day they began their travel back to Caesarea.

Cornelius was waiting for them, and he had invited his oikos (his friends and family). When Peter arrived, he explained to them that three days ago, he wouldn't have been caught dead in a Gentile's home, but now God had revealed to him that He shows no partiality, and accepts all who come to Him, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Peter went straight to proclaiming Jesus, and as he did this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who were listening. The Jewish believers who had been traveled to Caesarea with Peter were dumbfounded. They never expected the Holy Spirit to fall on Gentiles! Peter, who had gotten it by now, commanded that they should be baptized.