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.