Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:22-24

“‘And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘”If you can”? Everything is possible for the one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What does it mean to believe something? There’s a nice, deep thought to get you started on your day. It’s worth some pondering, though. It’s worth some pondering if for no other reason than we are on the cusp of celebrating the historical event in which belief grants us eternal life. Or at least, belief pared with a confession of Jesus’ Lordship will. That’s what the apostle Paul said. If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Boom. So, what does it mean to believe? Jesus’ interaction with a father who didn’t here gives us a good opportunity to do some thinking together.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:19

“He replied to them, ‘You unbelieving generation, how long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to me.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

If you are a parent, have you ever finally lost it with your kids? I’m not talking about a time when you fussed at them and they settled down from whatever tiff they were working out among them. I’m talking about a time when you finally blew your top. They had been at each other’s throats and argumentative with you over an extended period of time. You tried to be patient at first, but that ran out an hour ago. You upped the ante to sterner warnings and assurances of punishment if the chaos didn’t abate and that failed to take. At last you just erupted at them. Everybody got yelled at. Everybody’s feelings were hurt. Everybody was then sent to their rooms to sulk for the rest of the day and probably forever. My take is that if you haven’t hit that particular parenting milestone, one of three things is true: Your kids are too young and haven’t quite gotten to the age where that kind of thing starts happening; your kids are too perfect and you need to check to make sure they haven’t been replaced by body doubles; or you are Jesus. Actually, scratch that last one. As this passage reminds us, even Jesus hit His frustration max on occasion. Let’s talk about it.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Acts 2:42

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” (CSB –Read the chapter)

One of the dominant sitcoms of the 1980s and early 1990s was Cheers. Its writing and acting were always terrific and its cast of characters was both quirky and compelling. It generated one spinoff series (Fraiser) that itself lasted longer than the original and is slated for a reboot sometime soon. More impactful than the show itself, though, was the idea behind. We all want to go to a place “where everybody knows your name.” Last night, a modern sitcom ended its 6-year run. It was rather starkly different from Cheers, but that same idea beat at the heart of the show. It’s an idea that is bigger than any single sitcom. It is a part of who we are as a people and what drives the church when it’s working like it should. This morning let’s talk about the church and Superstore.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Romans 7:24-25b

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Sometimes when you set out to do something, you just don’t get it right the first time. That was the general reaction to the much-hyped Justice League movie when it hit theaters in 2017. DC Comics was desperately trying to achieve with their major characters what Marvel was accomplishing with theirs. By all accounts, they should have been successful. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are names easily as recognizable and arguably more famous than Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. Or at least, they were. But they came late to the party and rushed to get their parity product into the theaters. The result was largely panned even though they hired Joss Whedon, the creator of the original Avengers magic, to helm the ship after the original director, Zack Snyder stepped down following the tragic death of his daughter. And that should have been it. But in a remarkable twist, HBO decided to take a risk and give Snyder the chance to make the film he had planned from the beginning. The final product released yesterday…and is over 4 hours long. I’m most of the way through it, but here are some thoughts I’ve had along the way.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Mark 8:34

“Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the lessons in English class that was always a bit more challenging than the rest for me was identifying various figures of speech. The reason for this is that there are so many different kinds of figurative language and the difference between some of them can seem pretty slight. The real trick, too, is that all of the different categories of figurative language are simply multiple ways of saying the same thing: the author didn’t mean what he wrote and he wrote it that way to more effectively and creatively make his point. Does it really matter if this sentence functions more like a simile or is a metaphor being slapped down on the table for you to understand what I’m saying? (Did you see what I did there?) Well, while naming various kinds of figurative language is good to be able to do, recognizing them when we see them is better. And in this verse, Jesus is using figurative language…or is He? Whether He is or not, He certainly got the attention of His audience. He should have ours as well.

Read the rest…