Digging in Deeper: 2 Timothy 1:8

“So don’t be afraid of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What brings you shame? One time in second grade, I wet my pants right in the middle of class. I had skipped out on a bathroom break for some reason and was too embarrassed to raise my hand and say I had to go. I held it as long as I could, but eventually I couldn’t anymore. Then I was really embarrassed. I’m honestly not sure how I managed to avoid getting made fun of for it. I must have had some really good kids in class with me. Sometimes our shame is obvious like that. Other times, though, what causes us shame is more abstract. We are ashamed of ideas and of being associated with them. One of the ideas that is increasingly bringing people shame today is the Gospel. There is nothing new under the sun. Paul here wrote to Timothy about this very thing.

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Digging in Deeper: John 15:12-13

“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Our world is broken. There is darkness everywhere we turn. It manifests itself in many different forms, sometimes masquerading as light, but it is always darkness. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote about 2600 years ago, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?” No human culture has ever been exempt from this. If all people were saints there would be no need for laws. But we aren’t. So there is. That’s not the end of the story, though. Having laws in place is meaningless unless people follow them. But we aren’t saints. Thus we are not going to follow laws meant to restrain our behavior unless we are motivated to do so by the threat of a consequence that is more inconvenient to us than our desire to have whatever the law has forbidden. Even these consequences, though, are meaningless unless there are people who are committed to upholding the law and enforcing the consequences for violating it. In other words, we need law enforcement officers. That is, we need police officers. Let’s talk today about what a blessing they are.

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Morning Musing: John 13:35

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Love is something that I’ve been coming back to again and again this month. I guess it’s the season. The more I think about this one idea, though, the more significant it becomes. If you are a follower of Jesus, people will recognize you as such because of your love. I’ve said it before, but that’s the only sure test for being a follower of Jesus we find in the Scriptures. In other words, if we don’t get that right, our identity will remain clouded in uncertainty. That or we will be guilty of false advertising. Well, Fridays have become my days for cultural review. Today I want to tell you about a show that puts this principle on display in a way that has become really endearing over its several seasons. This morning, let’s talk about Superstore.

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Morning Musing: Mark 7:14-15

“Summoning the crowd again, he told them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What do you get when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste? I recently saw a magician squeeze ketchup and then pour salt out of the same tube of toothpaste. I’m pretty sure he monkeyed with the tube somehow. Normally, when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste out comes a glob of…toothpaste. This isn’t rocket science. Now, here’s the real trick question: Why does toothpaste come out of that tube when you squeeze it? Ready for this: Because that’s what’s in it. I know, I know, this is mind-blowing stuff. So why am I thinking about toothpaste this morning? Because of what Jesus said here. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 7:5

“So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ceremonially unclean hands?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever crossed a taboo? I live in the south now where, “Yes, Ma’am,” and “Yes, Sir,” are a fundamental part of the culture. Not so where I grew up. I grew up greeting most adults with nothing more than their first names. You can perhaps imagine the shock, then, when I met my wonderful in-laws when visiting Lisa in Charleston, SC for the first time and greeted them warmly by name…first name. Much to their credit, they handled my massive faux pas without even blinking, but I had violated a culturally sacred custom. Every culture has its customs. Some are wise and rightly held (like patterns of respect and honor in the south), but some are just there because, well, they’re there. Others are locked in place because of the currently prevailing worldview whether or not that worldview accords with reality. Jesus and His disciples came up against some of these during His ministry. Let’s talk about it.

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