Sunday, December 30, 2012

Questions about Faith

Mark 8
27 Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”
28 “Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’”

Lord Jesus--There is the implicit assumption of the resurrection almost a re-incarnation view of it. The idea that the people from the glorious past would be brought back to life and set things right.

The past is just what it is. The past. There are no more glorious, brave or noble people available in the past than are present now. The heroes of the past have made their choices and are taken care of in your economy.

There is religious short hand going on here also...Elijah was to come back before the Messiah. The people were waiting with anticipation for God to move.

The people longed for the heavy hand of Roman oppression to end. They longed to see you work in power. I wonder sometimes if I have that longing in my heart with the same kind of desperation that they had...even if it doesn't look the way I would like it to?

29 He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”
Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”

Lord Jesus--That question is what jumps out of the page at me. Who do I say that you are by my life? Do I say that you are Messiah? Or, a self-help I say that you the Anointed One of God come to transform and bring victory to those who depend on you? Or, do I harder, plan better, and see what happens.

You came to transform, to release resurrection power into lives open to your leading...not to some kind of workaholic nightmare. There are times when I actually feel as if I get it...the power and wisdom of grace. Usually they are the times when you are pushing me at the boundaries of where I feel comfortable. I can so easily slip into the impression that grace is worked for, owned and rented out.

When really, grace is lived out a step at a time, day after day you are released to work as you see fit. Simple words come to mind...the righteous walk by faith not by out your salvation with fear and trembling. It is step by step, and day by day that the Spirit continues to work in our lives. I seldom see grace, in vast panoramic views but often in bit size chunks you show what you have done and are already doing.

Give me eyes that are open to seeing your work alive in the world that surrounds me.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Seeing Eye Faith


[8.22-23] They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the village. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, “Do you see anything?” 

Lord Jesus-There are no sure fire recipes for miracles, it is never that neat.  This man was brought to you by friends who begged for his healing.  I wonder if there were Pharisees in the crowd that brought this man to you.  This person was in need and he had friends that were concerned for him.  I wonder if they had to drag him to see you? Was he tired of the quest after something that he could seemingly never have? How many tries at healing did this man have to go through before he met you, Lord Jesus?

[8.24-26] He looked up. “I see men. They look like walking trees.” So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. 

I wonder why it took two touches to heal this man.  I don't know why people looked like trees to him after you put spit on his eyes.  Those words keep running around my mind..".I see men they look like trees."  How often do I see the movement of your Spirit but am not able to make out the real intent of it. There is some awareness of presence but not content always.  This man desperately needed a second touch from you if he was going to live a life not hemmed in by his lack.  Would his life have been improved if he had left see trees instead of people?...sure but you don't want improved you want transformation.

The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus. Jesus sent him straight home, telling him, “Don’t enter the village.” 

Lord Jesus--How often have I had to come back to you again and again to be able to get a view of how life really is?  This man needed a kind of seeing eye faith that you allowed him to test out while you were right there beside him.

That is the way it is for me from time to time...I get part of the picture but miss some required elements.  So I am left with people that look like trees wondering if I am stuck in a nightmare on a dark night.  But then you are right beside me and all it really takes is a second look, a second touch and things come into focus.  You never leave me looking at people who look like trees for very long.

Lord Jesus--In this day that I will rush to very soon, lead me by the hand when all I see is distorted grace me with the touch of you healing hands in this day.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30811-30815). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Faith Beyond Fish and Bread

Mark 8
11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

Lord Jesus--I can miss the point so easily. Your work in my life is not about proof...signs and wonders.  They are points that lead in a direction.  There is nothing that is random or without a purpose.  All of them are to be used to point toward you...I just need to look for the intention and the direction.  The point is not fish, bread or whatever the present tense need is.  The point is deeper and wider than that.The point is that no matter what face the present need may take, you are going to use them to shape me and mold me. 

It is not random circumstance no matter how much it appears to be the case on this side of the looking glass.  There is intention...there is molding that is going on...there is obedience that is called for. It looks much different from my end of the heaven to earth continuum   It looks, random, hopeless and chaotic at best. But then you know that better than I do...

I understand what drove these leaders of their faith to look for understanding, and sure things. The problem is simple.  The only sure thing is that you will continue to lead.  The next steps will always require faith...there will be the need to reach beyond what is a sure thing.  Faith and grace are never from each other.

14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

Lord Jesus-When you were talking about had nothing to do with fish and bread.  It had everything to do with the way that these religious elite approached the world and especially the way that they approached God. They approached you through what they knew expecting it was the whole of revelation. 

You surprised them you moved beyond their limited often you surprise me.  Don't allow me to get hardening of the categories.  The faith walk continues far beyond my limited ability to understand...beyond my limited theological and ecclesiastical categories.  

In the journey that awaits me today, focus my heart on the things that are really important.  Not fish and bread but your much to rejoice in and be thankful for...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tricks With Fish and Bread?


008 [8.1-3] At about this same time he again found himself with a hungry crowd on his hands. He called his disciples together and said, “This crowd is breaking my heart. They have stuck with me for three days, and now they have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they’ll faint along the way—some of them have come a long distance.” [8.4] His disciples responded, “What do you expect us to do about it? Buy food out here in the desert?

Lord Jesus--I wonder what would happen if the Sunday sermon went on for three days without coffee or a break? These people did not miss out on the blessing because they were willing to wait, to listen and to stay with you during those three days in the desert.  I wonder how that played out...were there breaks in the teaching? Did they ration out the water that was available? Do I miss out sometimes because I leave for home too soon?

If you were concerned with these peoples needs after three days how much more is there concern for those who walk with you a life time? How often does your heart break  for the needs that you are  fully aware of?  Yet, on my side of the earth-heaven continuum I remain unaware of that breaking heart of my Lord.

So maybe my default should be to assume that you know exactly what is needed.  That you are working in ways that are unseen to bring about exactly the feast that is needed at exactly the right time.  My part is to listen, to watch, to respond with faith when needed.  Was there just a hint of sarcasm in the voice of the disciples as they look around and said..."What do you expect us to do about it?" losing the sarcasm would also be a move toward positive...

[8.5] He asked, “How much bread do you have?” “Seven loaves,” they said. [8.6-10] So Jesus told the crowd to sit down on the ground. After giving thanks, he took the seven bread loaves, broke them into pieces, and gave them to his disciples so they could hand them out to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He pronounced a blessing over the fish and told his disciples to hand them out as well. The crowd ate its fill. Seven sacks of leftovers were collected. There were well over four thousand at the meal. Then he sent them home. He himself went straight to the boat with his disciples and set out for Dalmanoutha. [8.11-12] When they arrived, the Pharisees came out and started in on him, badgering him to prove himself, pushing him up against the wall. Provoked, he said, “Why does this generation clamor for miraculous guarantees? If I have anything to say about it, you’ll not get so much as a hint of a guarantee.”

Lord Jesus--Do I buy into the same way of looking at miracles that the Pharisees did?  They were not looking at the people impacted but rather for a guarantee of authenticity of the act performed. For you the act was a validation of seeing a known need and seeking to address the need.  It was not q theological debate that moved your heart but rather the needs of these people who cared enough about the message to listen even with out eating.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30794-30802). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Open Eyes and Ears

Mark 7

[7.31-35] Then he left the region of Tyre, went through Sidon back to Galilee Lake and over to the district of the Ten Towns. Some people brought a man who could neither hear nor speak and asked Jesus to lay a healing hand on him. 

Lord Jesus--I wonder who these people were who brought this needy man to you.  They were powerless to help him themselves except in this small way.  They could bring him to the person that could meet his need. Yet this simple act changed his life.  

So often I think of evangelism in such static ways.  As if there are rules to telling people about you. Really, what you want me to do is to bring needy people to the place where they can expect help.  Teach me the simple thing that this needy man's friends instinctively knew.  Forgive me for making telling someone about you a difficult stilted should be as natural as breathing, or talking about a well loved friend.

He took the man off by himself, put his fingers in the man’s ears and some spit on the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up in prayer, groaned mightily, and commanded, “Ephphatha!—Open up!” And it happened. The man’s hearing was clear and his speech plain—just like that

Lord Jesus--This man had lived in the quiet dark all his life.   The miracle was more than just helping him hear and speak.  You restored what had never been experienced.  You gave to this man an understanding of speech and sight that he never had before.  You helped him see and understand what he was seeing.  

How often do I see what is right before my eyes and yet miss the point entirely?  I like to think of myself as a bright person but I can be so thick.  I trip over what you put in front of my feet...all the while looking for your will. Restore and reorder my sight and hearing.  Don't let me miss your will on the way to doing your will. 

Lord Jesus-In the day that awaits me in a few hours, open my eyes and ears.  Help me to experience life with eyes wide open and ears that are listening for your call. 

[7.36-37] Jesus urged them to keep it quiet, but they talked it up all the more, beside themselves with excitement. “He’s done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30784-30790). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Needs of the Unnamed

Mark 7
[7.24-26] From there Jesus set out for the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house there where he didn't think he would be found, but he couldn't escape notice. He was barely inside when a woman who had a disturbed daughter heard where he was. She came and knelt at his feet, begging for help. The woman was Greek, Syro-Phoenician by birth. She asked him to cure her daughter.

Lord Jesus--You were looking for a time of rest and of decompression with the disciples a time to teach, a time to deconstruct for them the events of the work that they were engaged in.  It was not just the work at hand that you were interested in, but also building their understanding of the kingdom.  Since the feeding of the five thousand that had been the goal.  A mountain hide away by the sea would have suited your needs...but it was not to be.

Yet the needs evidenced everywhere that you moved...from the misunderstandings of the pharisees,  to the fear of the disciples,  to this women and her daughter...need surrounded you.  They still surround you in the prayers of your people.  So often I come to you with a check list of needs in hand.  Forgive me that my lists leaves out the most important elements of prayer too often...adoration and praise for who you are.  Right now I praise you and lift your name are a mighty God engaged at the point of our needs.

[7.27] He said, “Stand in line and take your turn. The children get fed first. If there’s any left over, the dogs get it.” [7.28] She said, “Of course, Master. But don’t dogs under the table get scraps dropped by the children?” [7.29-30] Jesus was impressed. “You’re right! On your way! Your daughter is no longer disturbed. The demonic affliction is gone.” She went home and found her daughter relaxed on the bed, the torment gone for good.

Lord Jesus--You are still meeting our needs.  We may not see you this side of the pearly gates but you are intimately engaged in our lives.  You continue to heal your people.  You continue to engage in the our lives with grace and understanding of our weakness and need. 

Interesting that this is a healing that is long distance...the girl afflicted by the demonic never even saw you. She received healing at your word.  The same word that had spoken into existence the created order was now active in the life of this little one chased by demons.  We never even learn the name of this little one. But you cared about this little one who was not a part of the covenant community.  Yet...

In this day with the needs that will confront me,  help me to be a person of peace and grace. Give me eyes to see the needs that surround me as you see them.  May I be your workman in this day concerned about the "least of these."  Don't let me get tripped up with silly tags and code words that obscure the person for whom you died. 

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Location 30784). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Clean Inside and Out

007 [7.1-4] The Pharisees, along with some religion scholars who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around him. They noticed that some of his disciples weren’t being careful with ritual washings before meals. The Pharisees—Jews in general, in fact—would never eat a meal without going through the motions of a ritual hand-washing, with an especially vigorous scrubbing if they had just come from the market (to say nothing of the scourings they’d give jugs and pots and pans).

Lord Jesus--There is nothing wrong with being clean. Part of the point here is the heart can not get clean from the outside in...the action has to be internal, dynamic and ongoing.  The Pharisees wanted to make it external, static, and achievable with great effort that they could control and manage.

 [7.5] The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, “Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?” [7.6-8] Jesus answered, “Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull’s-eye in fact: These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it. They act like they are worshiping me, but they don’t mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy, Ditching God’s command and taking up the latest fads.”

Lord Jesus--Worship needs to something beyond a show, a procedure or a performance...something deeper on the heart level. It can become so driven by outside forces...something that is expected, something that is planned for, and something that has no power in it. Worship can become a part of  "Church Light" or "church lite." The choice is made in the heart of each person present.

Somehow worship needs to become something deeper than just saying the right things and going through the motions.  It needs to be something deeper.  A place where action meets intention.

So today Lord, as we gather for worship wed action with intention in a way that transforms your people.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30756-30764). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Miracles and The Everyday

 Mark 6

[6.53-56] They beached the boat at Gennesaret and tied up at the landing. As soon as they got out of the boat, word got around fast. People ran this way and that, bringing their sick on stretchers to where they heard he was. 

Lord Jesus-Healing was an everyday event in your ministry. This is one of the most confusing and difficult areas in the church today.  I absolutely believe that you work in the everyday situations of my life. Miracles happen but they are not so often the sick being healed.  Why not?  Is it because we don't bring our sick to you?  We keep them home.  We stay home when we are ill.  Now, some of that is good public health...don't get the healthy sick.  But I wonder how much of that is not thinking... not believing that you can act.  

Prayer should be my default should be where I reflexively run to at the first sign of trouble or need. I have to face it that prayer is a growing edge in my life.  You have been engaging me and continue to engage me in an ongoing dialogue.  This prayer journal is an example of that ongoing conversation. NEEDTOBREATHE lyrics come to mind...

In your ocean I'm ankle deep,

I feel the waves crashing on my feet;
It's like I know where I need to be
But I can't figure out,
I can't figure out
Just how much air I will need to breathe
When your wave washes over me,
There's only one way to figure out
Will you let me drown?
Will you let me drown?

The answer to that question is NO! You are not going to let me drown. You intervene in ways that I just don't even have a clue about.

But do I bring all of the hurts to you first?  All of the questions? All of the growing edges?  Most of the time,  I have to go through my wash cycle first.  I have to cycle through fear, anxiety, desperation and then finally acceptance of the fact that you are the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Why do I do that?  When acceptance is where I end up anyway? I can almost hear you saying yet again..."Silly Man..."

Wherever he went, village or town or country crossroads, they brought their sick to the marketplace and begged him to let them touch the edge of his coat—that’s all. And whoever touched him became well.

So this early morning as I write this I realize that really I am not looking for big gigantic revelations of mystical dimensions.  That would be great if you choose to send it my way. But really it is a simple thing that I am looking for...just the edge of your coat. 

A touch of your hand in grace and love extended...that is more than enough for a Tuesday morning.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30752-30755). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Walk In the Wind

Mark 6

[6.47-49] Late at night, the boat was far out at sea; Jesus was still by himself on land. He could see his men struggling with the oars, the wind having come up against them.

Lord Jesus--There is comfort in the fact that the struggle of these men was something that you were aware of and interested in.

I have to admit there are times that your awareness of and interest in my struggles is a statement of faith.  It doesn't always feel like you are aware.  But what do I know?  I know that you were mindful of 12 men in a boat with the wind blowing against them.  That is not exactly a world shattering event except if you are one of the 12 guys in the boat. I am reminded again of the smallness of my faith and the places where you meet me.  Thank you that this little bit of faith which you have given me remains intact and is affirmed again and again.  You see me at my place in the boat struggling with my oar heading into the wind.

Pasting thought?  It is interesting to me that if the wind was against them and they were travelling across the lake away from where You were praying, then the wind was blowing them back to you.  That is a keeper...I wonder how many times when I am struggling with a headwind,  it is really just a Jesus wind blowing me back toward you?

At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them, walking on the sea. He intended to go right by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and screamed, scared out of their wits. 

Lord Jesus--Your walk on the water towards these struggling men speaks to me today. You walk toward your people in the middle of all that is blowing against them.  You walk towards the point of struggle.  In the middle of the long nights and the dark walk toward not way from me.

[6.50-52] Jesus was quick to comfort them: “Courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” As soon as he climbed into the boat, the wind died down. They were stunned, shaking their heads, wondering what was going on. They didn’t understand what he had done at the supper. None of this had yet penetrated their hearts.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30747-30752). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Praying Through The Hinge Points

Mark 6

[6.45-46] As soon as the meal was finished, Jesus insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead across to Bethsaida while he dismissed the congregation. After sending them off, he climbed a mountain to pray.

Lord Jesus-- Was it dark when the crowds finally left? The last person leaving...with a touch on the shoulder and a last word to them as they walked away in the dark.  The stars just coming out with a clarity that only a night sky can have far from the city.

It has been a long day  filled with words and work. You are the only one on that lonely stretch of beach just beside the sea of Galilee. You start the climb up the mountain.  Was there a breeze off the lake as you climbed? Was it a hot night?  What were your thoughts as your footfalls touched on barely seen rocks.

You climbed the mountain in the dark to spend time with the Father...time for reflection, mediation and connection.  Night was the time to seek out the was a time when others were sleep. Night was not to be feared but embraced as a time to seek out hope, help, communion with the heart of the Father.

Why it is that I skip over this time you spent with the Father?  I don't usually linger on the reality of time spent with the Father.  I have seen these interludes as filler sentences... in-between times to the main event. When actually they may have been the main event.  This incident when the masses had their needs met and knew where the bread came from was a turning point in your work.  You sought out time with the Father to sort out the onward rush of events?  Or, was it a dull ache in your heart for just a bit of home as you looked out in the night sky so far from the Father's side? Did the stars look the same to you as they had when you were with the Father? Could you pick out the constellations of home?

Lord Jesus--Prayer is not an in-between activity.  It is not filler to the main events of life. Prayer brings meaning to the whole.  It is from the time spent in connection with you that the the rest of life's events makes any sense at all.. That mountain may have been dark with the stars above but it was there that the Father met you.

Who are the people that need the focus of prayer right now?  What situations do you call me to pray about today?  Lord Jesus--Train my heart to the real  work of prayer.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30745-30752). NAVPress

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Expectations and So Much More

Mark 6

[6.35-36] When his disciples thought this had gone on long enough—it was now quite late in the day—they interrupted: “We are a long way out in the country, and it’s very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they can get some supper.”

Lord Jesus-It is right in the middle of the unexpected that so many times my faith is grown and matured.  I would like things to always go according to my plans and expectations.  The disciples expectations had been  challenged yet again even after You aimed them in the direction of rest.  But if they had received what they had planned on...a rest time with you...they would have missed seeing you feed the five thousand.  I wonder which they would have picked if they had the choice.

[6.37] Jesus said, “You do it. Fix supper for them.” They replied, “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?” [6.38] But he was quite serious. “How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory.” That didn’t take long. “Five,” they said, “plus two fish.” [6.39-44] Jesus got them all to sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred—they looked like a patchwork quilt of wildflowers spread out on the green grass! He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples, and the disciples in turn gave it to the people. He did the same with the fish. They all ate their fill. The disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. More than five thousand were at the supper.

Lord Jesus--In the middle of need, you met and exceeded the need.  You took what was available and made it work.

Lord Jesus--How long will it take until I can rest in your direction and realize that you will not put in front of me what is not possible with you help?  Faith is always faith in a person...a relationship that has been lived out over time. A place where connection is not so much depended on but is a part of the atmosphere that surround and envelopes me.

I remain in your grip and enfolded in your arms even when my expectations are not met.  Amazing things happen that are not a part of my expectation.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30735-30744). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Plans Change Sometimes...Dig in and Rejoice

Mark 6

[6.30-31] The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.

Lord Jesus-The disciples had just come back from this vision expanding experience of being used by God.  I am sure that there were questions by the hundreds and debriefing that just needed to be done.  "What holds back the work of God that flows so free sometimes and then sometimes seem so held back, stilted, and somehow restricted.  What did it mean when we can't heal?...How can we be more effective?" 

The sending requires times when we can come back to the place of teaching.  But really it isn't a place at all that we come back it? It is a relationship...that needs time to clarify, to reconnect to the real meaning...a time to refocus on what really matters.

How many times do I miss the times of rest because I am on to the next thing? Lord Jesus, help me to sense your call to come off and spend some time in the quiet when the push of the next right thing to do isn't at my elbow.  Timing is in your hands not mine...

 [6.32-34] So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.

Plans are made for changing.  I am sure that the presence of this crowd did not surprise you. Tired and spent you saw them for who they were...sheep without a shepherd running after what they thought might actually meet their need.

Does your heart still break Lord Jesus when you see me running after you?  Sometimes I am just like this crowd running after the newest movement of the Spirit of God when really all I have to do is open up to what you have been whispering in my ear the whole time.

So what is your word for me today, Lord Jesus?  "Plans change, Kurt.  It is a fluid world not static and unchanging...set sail today to the wind of the Spirit.  Listen with ears wide open to my call.  I am speaking.  There is work to open! Dig in and rejoice at the opportunities for today."

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30730-30735). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A few thoughts...

I have been blogging on another space about just everyday stuff...thought some might be interested...lately I have been ruminating about resilience...

Just saying...hope the week goes well.

Sending Lived Out

Mark [6.14] King Herod heard of all this, for by this time the name of Jesus was on everyone’s lips. He said, “This has to be John the Baptizer come back from the dead—that’s why he’s able to work miracles!” [6.15] Others said, “No, it’s Elijah.” Others said, “He’s a prophet, just like one of the old-time prophets.” [6.16] But Herod wouldn’t budge: “It’s John, sure enough. I cut off his head, and now he’s back, alive.” [6.17-20]

Lord Jesus--Prophets are inconvenient people at least by the estimation of Herod. The first thing that Herod thought of was John when he heard of you. For Herod there was guilt and the knowledge of sin. Somehow that is amazing for this despot to know that his actions were wrong speaks volumes.

Sin unresolved is like that. It infects and brings a jaundiced view of the world. Herod could not escape the reality of his past and the weight of his failures. His view of  you was impacted by his reaction to John.

Herod was the one who had ordered the arrest of John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison at the nagging of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. For John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herodias, smoldering with hate, wanted to kill him, but didn’t dare because Herod was in awe of John. Convinced that he was a holy man, he gave him special treatment. Whenever he listened to him he was miserable with guilt—and yet he couldn’t stay away. Something in John kept pulling him back.

Lord Jesus--Herod was pulled again and again back to John.  While John was in the dark, miserable prison of Herod, he was impacting this tyrant king.  He may not have known it in his prison cell...with the rats and the stink but he was on the king's mind.  We know that John had questions in his prison cell as he heard of your ministry.

John, I am sure,  would have love to see the sun, the sea and the sand but that was not where he found himself. He was in a cell, in the dark, with his thoughts and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

[6.21-22] But a portentous day arrived when Herod threw a birthday party, inviting all the brass and bluebloods in Galilee. Herodias’s daughter entered the banquet hall and danced for the guests. She dazzled Herod and the guests. [6.22-23] The king said to the girl, “Ask me anything. I’ll give you anything you want.” Carried away, he kept on, “I swear, I’ll split my kingdom with you if you say so!” [6.24] She went back to her mother and said, “What should I ask for?” “Ask for the head of John the Baptizer.” [6.25] Excited, she ran back to the king and said, “I want the head of John the Baptizer served up on a platter. And I want it now!” [6.26-29] That sobered the king up fast. But unwilling to lose face with his guests, he caved in and let her have her wish. The king sent the executioner off to the prison with orders to bring back John’s head. He went, cut off John’s head, brought it back on a platter, and presented it to the girl, who gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and got the body and gave it a decent burial.
Herod's Tomb

Lord Jesus--So what do want me to take away from this sad   vignette  of guilt, murder, and pain?  Maybe that...sin is not just a personal choice. Sin is also systemic and invasive it colors our culture and our way of looking at the world.

Was it a personal choice that Herod made when he gave the word for John murder?  Sure, that an more...

In the end it was the king's pride that brought him to murdering John.  It was an intoxicating mixture of pride, control, and lust with a bit of the fruit of the vine mixed in that lead him to order John's death. Death and ultimately judgement found Herod even with all his power that he held over John.

John lived out his mission with questions.  The greatest prophet ended his life with question marks intact.  It didn't work out exactly like he may have thought it should. Yet, he was faithful to the sending.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30727-30729). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Sending Begins

Mark[6.7-8] Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions: [6.8-9] “Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.

Lord Jesus--So often I have looked at the act of sending out as something that is somehow qualitatively different than the rest of life. As if there was normal life and then there is the stuff that is the Jesus part of my life.

All of life  is a piece of the same cloth.  All of life is a part of the whole that you are working with me on.  Life is not segmented with a church part, a work part, a family part...and the list goes on.  Your sending is what forms the context of the whole of life. Your disciples were at this point just getting the glimmer of the idea of where you were going to go with this in the future, but for the moment your teaching them what being sent was all about.

The lessons about being sent do not stop. The context changes over time but the lesson that you call me to a life of being a sent one continues to challenge me.  It isn't about special equipment, money, or connections that are needed.  It isn't about anything other than being authentically yours within each setting you place me.

[6.10] “And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.[6.11] “If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”

Lord Jesus--This is an interesting take on of rejection.  Rejection says more about those who reject than about the message or the messenger.  Here is a hard lesson to learn.  No need for fuss just move on.

[6.12-13] Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.

Lord Jesus--The miraculous in the middle of the mundane...So often I miss the work of your Spirit because of the packaging. I have been trained by a culture to look for the miraculous as if it will show up in a commercial on television.  Miracles are not a validation of anything other than the love of God written arross the bodies of the poor, the oppressed and the overlooked.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30708-30711). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stubbornness Limits

Mark 6

006 [6.1-2] He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?” [6.3] But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?”

Lord Jesus--The old saying..."Familiarity breeds contempt" comes to mind. These people knew you well, they thought. They were people that grew up with you and who may have attended synagogue with you for years. They could recognize you walking down a busy street in Jerusalem. They knew the contours of your face and how you kept your hair. They knew the way that you walked and held yourself in the middle of the masses. Yes, they knew you too well. They could pick out your voice as you spoke of the Kingdom, freedom from oppression and sight to the blind. Yet they could not hear the message. They knew you, and I wonder if there wasn't some counting to nine months going on in the background of this small town. In their minds, You were the last person that they would have ever thought would make it big and be someone out on the national stage.

They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further. [6.4-6] Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn't able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness. He left and made a circuit of the other villages, teaching.

Lord Jesus--The missed opportunity is what hits me about this passage. History, salvation and wholeness was at the fingertips of these people and yet they let you leave with them unchanged. Awesome power was just waiting to be released among them yet they choose the safety of their preconceived notions of you limiting what they could receive. Stubbornness was what held these people back.

Where are the places where I am limited your power to act by my preconceived notions of how you work and what you want to see happen? Who am I writing off as no one special that you want to be able to use in ways that I could not imagine?  Where are the places where my stubbornness gets in the way of your power to act, change and transform?  Where are the places where I am staying put in safe Nazareth when I should be chasing after you to Jerusalem?
Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 1800). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Rest of the Story

Mark 5
[5.37-40] He permitted no one to go in with him except Peter, James, and John. They entered the leader’s house and pushed theirthrough the gossips looking for a story and neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: “Why all this busybody grief and gossip? This child isn’t dead; she’s sleeping.”

Lord Jesus--The way that you see the world around me is much different than the way I do. You see and related to the world in a way that some could see as losing tract of reality. I am going to stay away from all of the questions that circle around in my heart and head about this incident. I know just enough to fill me with all sorts of questions. Was this little girl really asleep? Was she dead? Does it really matter?

Today the sensational gets news coverage and I would love to see the miraculous happen right in front of my eyes. That was not the point here, there were honest to goodness hurting people in this house aside from the gossips and news junkies.

Provoked to sarcasm, they told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. [5.40-43] But when he had sent them all out, he took the child’s father and mother, along with his companions, and entered the child’s room. He clasped the girl’s hand and said, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, get up.”

Sometimes we get the idea that the power was in the words. They are just words after all! The words were not the point at all.  The Word of creation certainly can speak to our deepest needs with power.

At that, she was up and walking around! This girl was twelve years of age. They, of course, were all beside themselves with joy. He gave them strict orders that no one was to know what had taken place in that room. Then he said, “Give her something to eat.”
Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 1800). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Listening At The Critical Moments

Mark 5

While he was still talking, some people came from the leader’s house and told him, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?”

For this father and leader whose daughter was sick it must have been a difficult few moments.  First, just as he has gotten your attention he is interrupted by this women who shouldn't have even been out in polite company anyway. Only to receive this unwanted, dreaded news from home.  I am not sure that I would have been able to stay in my out of my own way at this point.  I would have been jumping up and down making a scene. This man resisted the impulse to lash out, instead he listened.

[5.36] Jesus overheard what they were talking about and said to the leader, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.” [5.37-40] He permitted no one to go in with him except Peter, James, and John.

There are those times when I find myself in the situation of this man...surrounded by a cacophony of voices tugging at my attention.  Most of the time they are caring and concerned voices, which in some ways makes the confusion even deeper.

The people who were at this man elbow were trusted servants and relatives of his house hold.  They were people who saw first hand the death of this beloved little one.  They may have been those who held her hand as she slipped away from this life.  I wonder if the tears were even dry on their faces as they had to face this father's grief.  Certainly, they were concerned and caring voices that surrounded him that day.

In the middle of the crescendoing babble, Lord Jesus reach through with your calm and critically needed words of grace and peace. You told this man the same words that I so often need to hear, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.”

This are not words that are easy to hear in the babble of voices that surround me sometimes. They are like the voices that this man heard...caring, considerate, even grieving for his loss voices. Of all
of the thoughts that come to me as I reflect on this, the hardest part is the train myself to hear you in the middle of the babble. All other voices are important, none of the others are critical.

That really is the lesson of a life time, to listen and to be able to hear your voice in the middle of the distractions that surround me. Your voice is the voice that calls me to hope in the darkness, to love when I fear I am abandoned, to reach out when I would prefer to withdraw, to push when I would just as soon give up. Your voice is the one that calls me to doing the next right thing that stands in front of me when I would just as soon stay put on the couch.

More often than not I  hear your voice...give me the courage, strength and determination to follow

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (pp. 1799-1800). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Touch of Faith

Mark 5 

Lord Jesus--This little vignette is sandwiched in the middle of your trip to heal Jairus's daughter. She really was healed by accident,  kind of but I am getting ahead of the story...

A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus.

I wonder what this women's view of the medical profession was? Doctor's that all that wanted was money? She was not able to be engaged in polite society because of her physical condition, and to top it off now she was poor.  There were no easy answers. By Jewish law she was unclean and could not worship with the rest of God's people. I wonder what she thought of God's people?  What was her street level view of God?

 She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.”

Lord Jesus, was there a bit of shame and guilt that plagued this women, as if she were somehow responsible for her condition?  This incident is a time when there act of healing was not actively engaged in but was almost passively given. Her faith was in the power that there was in a simple touch.

Your touch Jesus in my life...more accurately...her a finger hold on your robe for just a moment made all the difference in her life.  That brush with grace transformed her life from the inside out.

The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with. [5.30] At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

This women had more faith than I do sometimes.  She reached out, that motion itself was an acted out prayer.  This was not a casual touch of a passerby, it was an intentional act of faith.  From the outside looking in there was not difference in the touch.  The disciples didn't get it at all at the time.

I wonder if Peter thought of this incident often in later life...maybe formed in a question.  "How do I reach out in faith for your robe in this situation, Lord?"  It is the same question that I ask myself from time to do I reach out in this situation?

She asked for you to work in her life, and her reaching out was the evidence.  so where are the places that I am risking and reaching right now?   Where am I going to be reaching out today...each day there is that movement toward faith that needs to take place in my heart.

[5.31] His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!” [5.32-33] But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and gave him the whole story. 

She knew immediately that she was healed.  I wonder if she thought that you wouldn't notice that her faith had results?  You always notice, don't you...

[5.34] Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

Risking to reach out in faith is the essence of what kingdom work in all about...reaching out and being thankful for what happens.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30678-30685). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Telling the Story And Living the Story

Mark 5

[5.18-20] As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man begged to go along, but he wouldn’t let him. Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you.” The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town.

Lord Jesus- This really is the post script to this story of change. This man want to leave the tombs behind and join you in your travels. The reasons why that was possible are not given to us.  But you had an even more audacious mission that you sent him on.  It wasn't to travel but to stay home and to tell his story to those who knew him best.  You sent him to the very people who had seen his decent into the darkness, now could see the transformation that had taken place.

Transformation takes place within community.  Sometimes it is dramatic and affirming with large changes seen all at once.  Sometimes transformation takes place slowly over time in ways almost to gentle and gradual to notice. The impacts of that transformation are lived out daily in front of the people that are a part of our community. The telling of the story...becomes the living of the story and its implications over a life time.

The mystery of grace is that lives can change and do change with the implications lived out for all see.

Psalm 1

1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Today Lord Jesus, Empower me to live out the implications of transformation within the setting that you place me.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 1799). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Mark 5

005 [5.1-5] They arrived on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gerasenes. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.

Lord Jesus--Living in the tombs and grave stones this man was already dead in a way and was acting out his inner turmoil and distress.  He was tied up in more ways that just with chains and ropes. He was bound to the choices and direction that he had taken. Some see demon possession as something thing involuntarily happens in a persons life.  I am not sure that is the case.  I am sure it is a place where no one intends to end up.  But I am not so sure that it is,   What it this place where this man ended up was the accumulation of a life time of choices?  Ending up in a place where he had no choice...

Can free will bring me to the place where there are progressively limited choices?  And then to no choice at all?  Sin appears to me as freedom when in reality it leads to tombstones, madness and rage.  That is the place where Mob...also known as Legion in other translations ended up. These two feet have taken me far.  But the call of your Spirit is to a life that is lived out in submission to and acceptance of my dependence on more than my choices.

So often possession, this man being a poster child of it, is seen as somehow outside of human choice matrix. It is seen through the lens of old horror movies.  Really, this man ended up in a place which was direct result of his choices.

 [5.6-8] When he saw Jesus a long way off, he ran and bowed in worship before him—then bellowed in protest, “What business do you have, Jesus, Son of the High God, messing with me? I swear to God, don’t give me a hard time!” (Jesus had just commanded the tormenting evil spirit, “Out! Get out of the man!”) [5.9-10] Jesus asked him, “Tell me your name.” He replied, “My name is Mob. I’m a rioting mob.” Then he begged Jesus not to banish them from the country.

[5.11-13] A large herd of pigs was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs so we can live in them.” Jesus gave the order. But it was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the sea and drowned.

Lord Jesus--The thought that I am taking away from today's interaction with you is that choice has a cumulative impact. What appears on the surface to be freedom can be the freedom of driftwood that ends up useless on a Carolina beach after a storm.  Through your gift of grace and submission to your will, I find a freedom that Mob never knew before he met you.  Other words that you said come to mind..."and you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free."

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30663-30666). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

On the Beach and In the Boat

Mark 4
[4.35-38] Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

Lord Jesus-Why is it that storms still surprise me? The scene must have been rattling to the disciples. Fishing and boats were things that they knew about.  The sea of Galilee was home to them.  They knew about the kind of quick and disastrous storms that could develop quickly on this little body of water.  I wonder if as they were getting into the boat did they think about the weather?  Were they aware like only experienced would be of the cloud formations and the direction of the wind...the smell and almost taste of the air as they were on the shore?

It is in the very situtaions in life where I think, or maybe assume that I have some level of competencey that can have the most storms and waves.  It is with simple things like the tools of my trade and the conditions that I have dealt with during a life time of experience. It was just another day...just another stretch of beach that the disciples found themselves on with you and the need to cross the same lake that they had fished on for years.

How often had they push off from the beach into the deep water? Thousands?  As you started to rest, I am thinking that it was a moment when for a brief period of time Peter and the rest of the fishermen on board saw the roles reversed.  Thy were being trusted with this task.

The wind picks up and the waves get bigger and the wind is not helping.  How long has they worked before they became overwhelmed and panicky?

 [4.39-40] Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” [4.41] They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”

How long before I will get it that the storms are teaching moments if I just take time to listen above the sound of the wind and the waves that surround me?  The stuff of storms in wind, rain and noise.   The work of the Spirit in my life is about turning wind, rain and noise into the stuff of hope alive in my heart.

Maybe that is what you meant when you said...

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30649-30654). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.