Morning Musing: Luke 15:14-16

“After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. He longed to eat his fill from the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one would give him anything.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever considered someone to be irredeemable? It’s easy for us to do. When someone does something terrible enough, our first instinct is to write them off. Or, when someone falls into a pattern of troubling behavior long enough, the ones who have tried to help them out of it for a long time finally throw up their hands and give up on them. Sometimes, when another person just irritates us enough, we pass a final judgment on their character as terrible, and that’s the end of their story as far as we are concerned. How many marriages have ended with the stated reason given being “irreconcilable differences”? In all of this, we begin to believe a lie: That person or situation will never change. This is certainly a tempting lie to believe, but a convincing lie is still a lie. Let’s talk about the truth this morning.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 15:37-39

“Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed his last. Then the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing opposite him, saw the way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Did you ever have anything as a kid that your parents made off limits to you? What was it? Sometimes parents put restrictions on what their kids can access as a matter of selfish convenience, but most of the time, they do it for an entirely better reason than that. My parents made throwing dirt clods from the garden at the shed off limits for me when I was growing up. If you’re wondering why they had to do that at all, just put yourself in the mind of an elementary-aged boy and you’ll understand. The explosion of dirt when those clods hit the wall of the shed was just so satisfying. I ignored this restriction, of course, and soon thereafter broke the window in the side of the shed with an errant throw. That was why they put that restriction in place, by the way. Other times a restriction is put in place because the thing on the other side of the line is genuinely harmful for us. There are fences and no trespassing signs around power substations. Those are to protect people from being electrocuted. Restrictions generally have reasons. Well, the people of Israel had a restriction around God. You didn’t go into His presence unless you were prepared for it. This restriction was actually put in place by God Himself. And it held until God took it down. Actually, He ripped it in half. I mentioned yesterday the tearing of the temple veil when Jesus died. This morning let’s dig a little deeper into just what that meant.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 14:55

“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they could not find any.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Every now and then we learn of the simultaneously joyous and heartbreaking story of a man being released from prison after spending decades locked up for a crime he did not commit. Each one of these instances – far, far too many borne on the backs of black men who were unjustly locked up by a system laden with subtle racism that has proven far more difficult for our culture to eradicate than we once thought – is a tragedy. Innocent people being made to suffer unjustly is an outrage to all clear-thinking citizens of any nation. And the greater the suffering of the innocent, the more it should enrage those who learn of it. It certainly does our God who is fundamentally just in the core of His character. This is what makes the death of Jesus of Nazareth so scandalous. Have you thought of it in those terms before? We celebrate it because of what it accomplished for us, but this morning let’s pause a moment to remember that it also represented the absolute pinnacle of injustice.

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Morning Musing: Mark 14:29-31

“Peter told him, ‘Even if everyone falls away, I will not.’ ‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus said to him, ‘today, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ But he kept insisting, ‘If I have to die with you, I will never deny you.’ And they all said the same thing.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever made a promise you couldn’t keep? Perhaps it wasn’t your fault. You had every intention of keeping it, but the circumstances of life made it impossible. That’s bad enough. Have you ever made a promise, though, you couldn’t keep, and you insisted on making it even when someone else warned you that you wouldn’t be able to keep it. You took the warning as a personal challenge. You made the promise, fully intending to keep it, just to show them they were wrong. Except they weren’t. Peter did that with Jesus, and this morning I want to talk with you about it and what it means for us.

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Digging in Deeper: James 1:19-20

“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”
— ‭‭James‬ ‭1:19-20‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

I don’t usually come back to the same passage quite so soon after talking about it on a given day, but I just couldn’t think of any more relevant a word for what I am seeing happen in my little corner of the world right now than what James wrote here. A couple of weeks ago, we talked about anger and why people seem so angry all the time these days. Then, this past week, I’ve watched people be angry and stay angry and my mind went back to James’ wisdom. What are they angry about? On the surface, a bit of cloth, thread, and elastic that can’t cost more than about fifty cents. Let’s talk this morning about masks.

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