Digging in Deeper: Mark 10:31

“But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Play to win. That’s the mantra – spoken or unspoken – of pretty much every sports team ever. If you’re going to play, you might as well put forth the effort to win. Otherwise, why bother? But just what exactly does it mean to win? Well, it means you beat everyone else. When all of your opponents are defeated and you are the only ones left standing, you have won. My Kansas City Chiefs played to win all last season until they got to the Super Bowl. Then they played to…whatever else it was they were doing…and got absolutely decimated by Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Always Tom Brady… In any event, we did not win. This is just how life works. Well, that’s not quite true. It’s just how life works here, but not in the kingdom of God. There winning takes on an entirely different look.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:43-47

“And if your hand causes you to fall away, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and go to hell, the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to fall away, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to fall away, gouge it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In 1986 a new term was coined to describe a certain class of radio disc-jockeys: Shock jock. Shock jocks were radio personalities who pushed the envelop of what was socially and morally acceptable (not to mentioned allowed by the FCC) as far as they possibly could in order to keep their audiences coming back for more. The idea of saying unexpected or potentially offensive things to get people to listen, though, has been around for a long time. While this kind of thing has often been a tool of comedians, its use goes further back than that. Using a bit of shock to get His audience to pay attention was actually something Jesus liked to do on occasion. Here is perhaps the most famous example of his doing this. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: Mark 9:1

“Then he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God come in power.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the things that seems to mark wisdom gurus is the fact that they spout off things that don’t make a whole lot of sense. This is particularly true in the various religions of the East. I think about the child in the Oracle’s house in the first Matrix film (which was heavily influence by Eastern philosophy). He’s sitting there bending spoons with his mind and when he explains what he’s doing to Neo he says, “Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead, only try and realize the truth: There is no spoon.” Now, in the context of the movie, this eventually makes sense; as a metaphor for something outside of the movie, though, it is nonsense. One of the things that makes Jesus so different from the various New Age gurus with whom He is sometimes compared is the fact that He tended to say things that made sense. Most of the time. Sometimes He shot a little over our heads. Let’s wrestle with one such statement together this morning.

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Morning Musing: 1 Peter 2:20

“For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure?  But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

Peter wrote to a group of believers who were facing unjust suffering.  He wrote to them to offer them encouragement to keep on in their faith in spite of the things they were enduring.  His message was and is so powerful that 1 Peter is still a favorite book of the Bible among people who are facing persecution today. Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Philippians 3:8-11

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

What would you be willing to do to get the thing you want most?  That kind of question appears in many different contexts.  But, its focus nearly every time is aimed at discovering the lengths to which someone is willing to go to achieve some highly desired end.  And most often, the kinds of things that are imagined for the person to do fall outside and even well beyond the borders of what was previously considered morally acceptable.  But, the goal is sufficiently desirable that violating previously held moral and ethical boundaries is seen as a worthy price to pay.  Consider the basic plot of a story like the Taken trilogy.  A man’s daughter is kidnapped and he makes clear to her kidnappers that he will stop at literally nothing to get her back safely.  The ends in this case justify the means deemed necessary to reach them. Read the rest…