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 it...today.

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 time...how 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.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hotel's and Free Breakfasts

I am sitting in yet another Hilton Hotel. I just finished breakfast and managed to grab the public computer for a few minutes. Just a couple of quick thoughts...

First,  have you ever noticed that it is hard to turn away from the free food? I always make sure that I have my travel mug full before I leave. But is it really free? I would rather not carry around the free food for the next five years...don't get me started on protein surfing.   Ok, so I have eaten enough breakfast for the day.  I will not eat the mini-pastries that are just over in the corner.

Second, I have gotten used to life on the road and finding myself in places that I would not have anticipated 10 years ago. That leaves me with trusting the One who knows the end from the begining.  Wonder, awe, acceptance, hope and submission...not necessarily in that order,  are the mantra...correction the ongoing jetstream of the soul that God is blowing my way. So what becomes my response to the Wind of the Spirit? 

My job is to learn how to set sail by the jetstream of the Spirit...that is the goal for the coming year.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Field Trips...

When I was in school, I always looked forward to field trips.  Not for the usual reasons, believe me I really didn't have a burning desire to see rock formation on my Earth Science field trip.  But it was the chance to see all of the usual players in a different setting, a chance to get outside of the box that school put you in.  Field trips where a chance to see people for who they were in the real world, not in the artificial construct of school.

I am going on a church field trip today.  It is Conference time again...that signals another trip around the seasons, in the church year.  In my mind and heart this is a time to reflect and to think about what has gone on this year.  Conference is a bit like field trips were like in high school and college, it is a time to get out of the box, and see thing from a different perspective.

Especially the New England Conference of the Free Methodist church...conference is a time to see beyond the edges of the confines of the limited construct of the local church.   It is the chance to see how God is working across the cultures that separate God's people.  It is a chance to experience a unity in diversity that is the fabric of our church.  Let's not mention the food...brothers and sisters but that is another reason for making the field trip.

This year in LSCC it has been a year of gathering strength and of solidifying gains made.  We have done building things and we are going to see our first person start on the road to ordination this conference.

So the coming year is a time when we need to take a field trip with God.  A time to get out of the usual constructs of what church, The Kingdom, and our past view of what God is doing in our lives.  It is a time to create a new construct, a new paradigm not of the past and the glory days long gone, but of a new day of God's blessing.  I am sure that blessing will not be anything like what I can describe, and everything like it at the same time.

A new construct that views church not as a building but a people given over to God.  A new paradigm that is not fear based, or guilt based,  or limiting in any way what God can do.  Can God use a guy dressed up like a rabbit...absolutely.  Does God want us to stretch and move outside of the constructs of the past?  Absolutely.

I am trusting that the beginning of that new year, that new construct, that new paradigm of what God's work looks like is going to start on a field trip to Conference that starts in motion a field trip with God.