Morning Musing: 2 Corinthians 5:1

“For we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Covid doesn’t care. I don’t think I can count the number of times I have thought or said those words over the last 20 months. The reasons for them have changed a bit over time, but the sentiment is true. Early on in this unfolding chaos, people were taking every precaution they could, but one little slip of exposure could so easily prove to be devastating. And while older and immunocompromised individuals certainly faired the worst, Covid just didn’t seem to care whether you were healthy or not. Perfectly healthy people in the prime of their life got it and died, while folks who “should” have been taken without a struggle weren’t even slowed down by it. Covid just doesn’t care. Well, another person who had no business dying was lost this week. This time it was a friend.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 15:33-34

“When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What do you do when you feel like God has abandoned you? Where do you go? To whom do you turn? For many folks, when God seems to be absent, they get angry and turn from Him as if that’ll somehow show Him. We might turn hard into some kind of sin like a small child turns to bad behavior to get the attention of parents he feels aren’t giving him enough. We may simply turn to apathy toward Him, convinced that if He doesn’t care, then we won’t either. While all of these reactions are totally understandable, none of them will ultimately accomplish their aim. Pushing away the very person you want to have near doesn’t accomplish anything like what you are trying to achieve. Jesus, hanging and dying on the cross, felt utterly abandoned by God. Theologically, we know that He was. Where He turns offers us a good reminder of where we should turn in our own lives when we are feeling alone.

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Morning Musing: 1 Thessalonians 4:13

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Last week we talked about the Netflix series, Virgin River. I don’t usually come back to talk about the same series so soon after hitting it once, but as I watched the penultimate episode of season three last night, I was bothered enough I couldn’t ignore it. And I was going to wait until tomorrow like I usually do, but events in my own life lined up such that today is the right day for it. We’ll go back to Mark tomorrow instead. Today, we need to talk about a funeral.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 13:9, 12-13

“But you, be on your guard! They will hand you over to local courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a witness to them. . . .Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name, but the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I had the opportunity to hear last night from a missionary serving with a ministry called The Rock of Ages ministry. Justin and his family do prison evangelism. His was a pretty powerful testimony of God getting ahold of someone who was pretty thoroughly embittered by a much more difficult childhood than anyone should have to experience and had been exposed to just enough religion during it all to hate it. He spent many years consumed by alcohol and drugs, and had seen a bit of the inside of the prison system himself. Now God has called him to proclaim the Gospel to prisoners. Justin had a number of great observations to share, but one thing really stood out to me that I had not considered before. Prisoners who become followers of Jesus gain two things: eternal life and a target on their back. Other prisoners now know that their behavior is going to change to be more like Jesus’ behavior. This will serve them well outside the walls of the prison, but on the inside it means they can’t defend themselves. Their embrace of Jesus is like a green light to the unsaved prisoners to persecute them. Christians experiencing persecution is nothing new. It’s been happening since the very beginning. It is a tough topic to tackle, but fortunately, it is not one for which Jesus left us unprepared.

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Morning Musing: Mark 13:1-4

“As he was going out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Teacher, look! What massive stones! What impressive buildings!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another – all will be thrown down.’ While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives across from the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been to Washington, D.C.? The capital city is truly a wonder of human engineering and architecture. Now, the city itself is a mess. It’s been poorly run for decades. It is generally an uneasy mashup of the very wealthy and the very poor. Its cost of living is sky high. Its crime rate is high and the quality of its school system is low. And the weather is pretty awful most of the time. Except as a matter of pure convenience, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to live there. But when you get to the National Mall, all of that is completely forgotten as you stand in awe and wonder at the beauty surrounding you on all sides. It was designed to impress and it certainly does. It conveys the strength and power of the United States, her people, and her government in a way few other things accomplish. It suggests a permanence that nothing can touch. The temple complex in Jerusalem suggested many of the same things and was built for many of the same purposes. Yet when His disciples stopped to marvel at the whole thing, Jesus gave them a dose of reality that hit like a bucket of cold water. This is a dose of reality we could use ourselves. Let’s talk about it.

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