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where that kind of thing starts happening; your kids are too perfect and you need to check to make sure they haven’t been replaced by body doubles; or you are Jesus.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.

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We have talked so far in this series about God, people, and sin. Those are all good things to know, but we left things last week in a bit of a hard spot. I told you to come back this week and I’d finish the story. Well, here we go. Although you and I are sinners, God wasn’t content to leave us there. Let’s talk together today about just how He fixed that problem. It’s quite a story.


When was the last time you got something unexpectedly good? That happens every now and then and it’s always fun. I remember an occasion like this several years ago when we were eating at a Buffalo Wild Wings. I happened to be wearing a KU shirt. In the next booth over were several young women from the military who were all stationed at Fort Lee. One of them noticed my shirt and immediately asked where we were from. We talked for a minute and figured out that her parents actually lived right around the corner from where my folks live. It was one of those occasional small world experiences that are hard to explain as anything other than a God wink. In any event, they finished their meal and left, but when we later went to pay for our meal, it had been covered in full. I can’t imagine it was anyone other than that soldier who got what was perhaps a welcome taste of home who paid for the meal. We never had even the slightest chance to do anything for her in return and almost certainly never will.

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The Trouble with Holes

The next stop in our journey of understanding in a bit more detail just what we believe as followers of Jesus isn’t an easy one. This is going to be one of the more difficult conversations we’ve had together. This isn’t a fun subject. But it’s one we have to talk about or else we run the risk of missing out on something absolutely essential to a relationship with Jesus. This week we are talking about sin. Hang on tight and stay tuned for what comes next. This one is hard, but it gets a whole lot better.

The Trouble with Holes

Have you ever been in a deep pit, but managed to pull yourself out of it? I remember crawling over and around and through some boulders at a park somewhere near Gettysburg, PA on a family vacation when I was growing up. We were playing tag or something with some other kids and I went into a passage that was pretty narrow. I remember crawling in and thinking, “I’m not going to be able to get through this.” Thinking about it today still makes me feel claustrophobic and panicky. Fortunately, I managed to stay calm then and squeeze through the passage to get out the other side.

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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.

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Digging in Deeper: Genesis 3:4-6

“‘No! You will certainly not die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Okay, I give. What on earth does this have to do with joy? Were you asking that as I started reading? I mean, on its face, this passage is about the entrance of sin into the world. There’s nothing particularly joyful about that. So, why are we reading this passage this morning on the second day of our weeklong reflection on this third virtue of Advent? Because it tells us a whole lot about joy. Let’s talk about it.

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