Digging in Deeper: Revelation 7:9-10

“After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In the summer between my junior and senior years of high school I got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend three weeks in Higashimurayama, Tokyo, Japan. It was an absolutely fantastic trip. It was made even better that I made the trip with a group of some of my closest friends at the time. Rather than staying in hotels, though, we all were assigned to a different family with whom we spent the bulk of our time. The total cultural immersion was a transformative experience. Our hosts were gracious far beyond what we could have imagined. They went out of their way to both make us comfortable, but also introduce us to the best their culture had to offer so that we could appreciate it more fully. It worked wonderfully. Traditional Japanese culture is beautiful. I got back home even more convinced of that than I was before I left. But during our time there, it was really nice to get together with our group members. There’s just something about relaxing in a culture with which you are familiar when you’ve been immersed in one with which you aren’t. I was reminded of this by a recent episode of Mixed-ish. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: Mark 8:14-16

“The disciples had forgotten to take bread and had only one loaf with them in the boat. Then he gave them strict orders: ‘Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’ They were discussing among themselves that they did not have any bread.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Most days, when I get home from an event in the evenings, I just grab my stuff out of the car and head inside. Sometimes, though, I stop on the way in and look up. Where I live, although we have a bright street light in our front yard that I wish wasn’t there, we are far enough out in the country that light pollution is pretty minimal. On clear nights, when you look up, the stars are pretty spectacular. It’s one of those things that’s always there, but that you don’t always notice. It’s amazing how often we miss things that are right in front of our faces. The disciples regularly did that. Let’s learn from their cluelessness.

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Morning Musing: Mark 8:11-12

“The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, demanding of him a sign from heaven to test him. Sighing deeply in his spirit, he said, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.’” ‭(CSB‬‬ – Read the chapter)

There are two kinds of people who don’t believe in Jesus: the seeker and the skeptic. The seeker hasn’t settled too fully into a particular worldview and is open to learning about the truth of the Gospel. The skeptic, on the other hand, is not. The skeptic doesn’t simply not believe, he doesn’t want to believe. A seeker won’t ask for a sign, but will be impressed by one. A skeptic will ask for one, but won’t accept it if it comes. Jesus knew the difference between the two and wasn’t about to tolerate being patronized by the latter.

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Morning Musing: Mark 8:4

“His disciples answered him, ‘Where can anyone get enough bread here in this desolate place to feed these people?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been around someone who was slow on the uptake? One of my favorite such characters is Pinky from Pinky and the Brain. The characters were originally one of the side shows of the classic cartoon, Animaniacs (currently in the second season of its revival on Hulu), but became so popular they got their own show. I watched every episode. Twice. The show is about two lab mice, one a super genius thanks to experimentation, the other a complete moron, who together try to take over the world. One of the show’s running gags is that Brain gets an idea for taking over the world, asks Pinky if he’s thinking the same, and Pinky responds by saying, “I think so Brain, but….” and then follows that up with something completely off the wall. Here’s a nice compilation of these responses. In any event, the joke is that Pinky never quite manages to be in the moment with Brain. He’s always a few miles behind the eight ball. When Jesus was facing another huge and hungry crowd, He asked the disciples yet again to feed them. From their response, they might as well have been Pinky.

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Others First

As we come to the final part of our conversation about how to love like Jesus, this morning we’re taking a look at one more example of Jesus’ love so we can understand it better. We know that loving like Jesus is important. We know that it requires both grace and truth. But how exactly do we get the one another part right. This story answers that question. Thanks for tuning in this week. Next week we’ll kick off a brand-new series looking at just what exactly followers of Jesus believe called You Believe What?

Others First

I like getting what I want. Don’t you? That’s just a sign things are going like they should be going. You’ve perhaps had those days before when everything was falling into place just like you envisioned it would go. Those are good days. You know what I don’t like? Not getting what I want. Anyone with me? Have you ever not gotten what you wanted? That’s more of the rule for how life goes than the other way, isn’t it? What really creates a conundrum for us, though, is when you getting what you want and me getting what I want are mutually exclusive outcomes. In that kind of a situation, what are we most likely to pursue? Well, if we’re being honest, it’s probably going to be our own interests. Why? Because we want what we want more than we want what somebody else wants. If we wanted what somebody else wanted, it wouldn’t be what somebody else wanted, it would be what we wanted and there would be no problem. But when it’s not? Well, that’s where things can get tricky.

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