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: 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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Digging in Deeper: Mark 7:8-9

“‘Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition.’ He also said to them, ‘You have a fine way of invalidating God’s command in order to set up your tradition!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We have an innate sense that we’re not enough on our own. We constantly seek out the authority of someone we deem higher than ourselves in order to give cover and justification to what we are doing. Today people tend to seek out the authority of a politician or a political movement to gain the justification they seek. In the past, God was the more likely target for such reaching. At the same time, however, we have an innate desire to be our own authority. We want to do what we want, when we want, how we want, and so on. What we want, though, doesn’t always accord with what we or the culture around us feels like we should do. We need that layer of external authority to give us cover. So, we take that authority, throw it over ourselves like a blanket, and keep doing what we want. The Pharisees were doing this and Jesus didn’t like it.

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Morning Musing: Mark 6:51-52

“Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been through an experience you simply didn’t understand? There are a couple of ways we respond to times like those. The first is to let the lack of understanding build within us a sense of curiosity wherein we go on some kind of a journey to gain a better grasp of what happened and why. The second response is to lean into the lack of understanding and turn ourselves away from the experience. We don’t want to try and understand it, we just want to put some distance between ourselves and it. Of these two responses, exactly which one we choose depends on a whole variety of factors. Generally, though, the more profound our lack of understanding is, the more likely we are to lean into the second. That’s what we see happening with the disciples here. Let’s dig into their reaction a bit and see what it might have to do with us.

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Digging in Deeper: Romans 14:13

“Therefore, let us no longer judge one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in the way of your brother of sister.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I used to wear rubber bands on my wrist. It was a phase in high school. I always had a least one and sometimes wore several. Whenever I found one sitting around somewhere I’d slip it on and wear it. The thing about rubber bands is that over time they begin to lose their elasticity when they are exposed to the rigors of life. It doesn’t happen all at once. But eventually, when you stretch them, you begin to notice that there are cracks in them. Once these start forming as long as you leave the rubber band alone, you can’t see them. If you stretch them, though, they show up. The further you stretch them, the more they show and the bigger they become. Stretch too far – and what counts as “too far” narrows over time – and eventually they snap. Our culture is like a rubber band right now. The church is too. Let’s talk this morning about how to avoid the snap.

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