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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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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A Little Something Different

So, even as I sit down to write this, I know that it’s going to seem like fishing. Rest assured, it’s not. I usually try not to bring any more attention to this than I can help it. But this is a day for reflecting so here goes nothing. Today I grow another year older. Rather than our usual meditation on Mark’s Gospel, I thought I’d do something just a bit different and reflect with you on a few lessons I’ve learned over the years. Lord willing I’ve still got many yet to go, but here are a few things I’ve learned so far.

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Morning Musing: Mark 3:16-19

“He appointed the Twelve: To Simon, he gave the name Peter; and to James the son of Zebedee, and to his brother John, he gave the name ‘Boanerges’ (that is, ‘Sons of Thunder’); Andrew; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.”‬ ‭(CSB‬‬ – Read the chapter)

Who is the church for? Everybody, right? That’s the “right” answer. But is it really? I mean, look at most of our churches. While there are a very few that are truly a blend of races and ethnicities, most are largely, if not entirely homogenous. And for folks who spend much time in a contest in which everyone is pretty much just like you, it becomes easy to start to think that the church is really only for people who look like you. What we see here, though, points us back to that right answer and helps us understand why it is so right.

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Knocking Down Walls

We’ve finally reached the end of this journey. We’ve seen the church rise up, thrive through adversity, stand firm in the face of some pretty intense internal challenges, and finally hit its stride here in the most exciting story of all with a church business meeting. Wait…a church business meeting? How could that be exciting? Because this one would set the tone for how the church working well would approach ministry for the rest of its history. You’ve never seen such an exciting business meeting before. Read on to find out what happened and what it means for us.

Knocking Down Walls

Have you ever seen the gameshow Wipeout? It is a favorite in our household. If you’ve never seen it, the basic premise is that a group of pretty average folks are invited to take part in an insane series of obstacle courses. Each course is designed for the contestants to fail and in increasingly embarrassing ways. The bigger the wipeouts, the better the laughs. 

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