Questioning through Mark: 3:7-19

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve– designating them apostles–that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus couldn’t get away. He pulled back, they advanced. He had something they needed and would do almost anything to get: power to heal, to change, to restore. And yet they didn’t know who He was. Didn’t see He was a sacrificial Messiah. The dying Lamb.

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If you’ve ever wanted to get away from the action, you’re not alone, and you shouldn’t feel guilty. You need rest. You need privacy. You need companionship. Away from ministry does not always mean away from your friends. Nor does it necessarily mean away from action.

However, we don’t always get what we seek. So although rest is necessary, it doesn’t come on our terms. We have crowds that follow, people who need us, and when we can’t back off, we must turn around and engage.

Jesus sought rest, and sometimes that meant He wanted to be alone, but other times it meant He wanted time with his team. Reading the Gospels reveals a pattern: Jesus comes and goes. He moves around. He actively engages in teaching, healing, casting our demons, and then he withdraws and prays. He walks along the road with just his team. He rides in a boat with his team. And then He’s back in the crowd.

What about you?

1. Do you hide in the business of life to avoid the work of withdrawing? Because it can be a discipline, especially for an extrovert. Being alone or with close friends requires you to be honest and prayerful, to face what’s in your heart, to face Him who sees your heart.

2. On the flip side, are you constantly withdrawing? Running from the crowd that’s following you? Maybe you need to turn around and engage, face the disease and demons of others.

3. Who’s with you? Jesus “called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.” Though he withdrew, he called. When you call someone to come alongside you in ministry or friendship, choose carefully. Choose prayerfully. We do not choose who is in the Body of Christ with us. We do choose who we let close to us, who we trust. As Christians we sometimes think we must be close to everyone in the body. This is not realistic, nor wise. You can’t be everyone’s best friend, and let us not deceive ourselves with the prideful thought that we would be a good best friend for everyone. We are called to love and serve others, regardless. But taking someone into your inner circle, that’s not a calling to dish out lightly. Jesus took it seriously, and we should too.

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An Honest Look at 10 Years

Ten years ago I said “I do”to Nate, and vowed to be his wife in good times, hard times, sick times, fun times, confusing times, and any other times Nate and I might traverse together.

Some might say we’re lucky to make ten years, and a look at the marriage statistics in our culture would confirm it. luck has nothing to do with it. Neither does “being in love.”

Commitment

When we said “I do” I knew there would never be an “I don’t” between us–not in the divorce way. There have been plenty of “I don’t want to” times and “You drive me crazy” times (interpret that as you want).

But all the time is “I love you” time

That’s commitment. We know that we know that we know that we love each other. No matter what. To be honest, I’ve had to remind myself of that a few times. I’ve asked myself, “Why does he love me?” because I’ve seen nothing good in myself. And at other times I’ve asked myself, “Why do I love him?” Even if I can’t articulate why at the moment, when I climb into bed at the end of the day and he’s there, I know that I do.

So do I have a good marriage?

I have a great marriage. A spectacular, wild, heart-thumping marriage. That doesn’t mean it is struggle-free, and in today’s social media culture we can pretend that a great marriage is two-dimensional, something we see on the pages of a magazine or on TV. Happiness looks so easy.

Let me assure you, I’ve yelled at my husband for the stupidest things. Like when he leaves mounds of dishes by his side of the bed, or blatantly rejects the facts of science (like germ theory) or refuses to attend social events with me.

But this post is not about the struggles. It’s about the blessings. In honor of ten years of marriage, here are ten things I love about Nate:

10 reasons 1

Does this need explanation? He endures the yucky in me, and I’m thankful. And he even cuddles me when my bearish ways are at their heights.

10 reasons 2
This man can hike and work with the best of them.

10 reasons 3

No loud speeches or fancy talk, just action.

10 reasons 4

 

The things this man has made me would blow your mind. And just because he’s a quiet server, someone who likes to give. I’m lucky to have received from him.

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Yes, you read that correctly. I love that he loves football. It’s manly. It exhibits the strength and wildness innate in a man. Label me whatever, but that’s how I grew up–with sports-loving men. When I was in seminary, we used to joke that Sunday’s were “s” days: Sabbath, sports, study, and . . . .

10 reasons 6

We had this great idea once to hide a turtle in the bed of a friend for a practical joke, but as soon as we took it inside, it peed all over. We never knew a turtle could go so much. And we laughed. There have been so many more times that laughter gets the best of us and we can’t stop. He’s got a great laugh, and I’d do almost anything to hear it.

10 reasons 7

He took a personality test once, when I had to for seminary. He came out a loner. A LONER! I’ve always thought of him as my mountain man, someone who could disappear into the hills for months on end without seeing others. Though his introvertedness has its frustrations, it’ good for me, also an introvert. Talking can be overrated. Being together while being silent, now that’s a five-star night.

10 reasons 8

Respects it, loves it, thrives in it, and makes me feel safe in it. This man appreciates the beauty of God’s creation.

10 reasons 9

It’s amazing to look at our kids and think, “We made them.” I couldn’t have made these two without him. And even with him, what are the chances of that one sperm connecting with that one egg? The creative power of procreation is a wonder to me. I think I could have ten more kids with this man and be continually amazed at the results. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” wrote the Psalmist. We all are.

10 reasons 10

Sometimes I like to fight with words. I can zing some good phrases his way. He doesn’t take the bait. He goes quiet on me. Which drives me crazy. But really, it’s a good thing. I married a man that lets me get the wild out, and stays tender. He’s patient with the kids when I want to run out of the house and up the road all the way to the railroad tracks and jump on a westbound. Tenderness should never be underestimated. A tender man is a rare and beautiful thing.

 

Lean Into the More

longing

The longing for more . . . embrace it, lean into it, loose it in your core . . . as long as its object is Jesus Christ and your heavenly home.

This is NOT discontentment. This is the knowledge of the greatest reality juxtaposed with the anguish of a broken existence. This is eternity in your heart, at war with the effects of sin in this world.

If you are human, you are made in His image and you possess this longing, whether it’s forefront in your heart or not.

eternity

This longing shifts my focus beyond present struggles. It allows me to have hope for friends in shattering circumstances. It allows me to set aside petty, selfish thoughts. The temptation to hate how I look? Shot down. The frustration at lack of success? Set aside. The lie that I’ll never measure up? Conquered. The weariness of my body that makes it hard to lift my teacup to my mouth?

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Take hold of the longing for eternity and hang on to where it leads you: heavenward to Jesus Christ.

Worship for your day: Endless Hallelujah, Matt Redman

Questioning Through Mark: 2:23-3:6

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.
Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Sabbath for man

1. How do you react when Jesus flips your understanding of something on its head? The disciples had hundreds of years of theology behind their understanding of the Sabbath, and yet Jesus needed to correct them, to enlarge their idea of the Sabbath.

2. What is our image of Sabbath? I daresay the Church in America has a loose, casual attitude toward Sabbath. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man. In other words, it’s a gift. It’s not a law that burdens us. It’s a gift that brings joy and rest. Why, then, are we so quick to dismiss the concept of Sabbath from our lives?

3. If they persecuted me, Jesus told his disciples, they will persecute you. How is it that when Jesus heals someone, there are some who want to kill him for the act? Those who do not have the Spirit of God within them struggle to understand the things of God. The Pharisees and Herodians, instead of seeing the compassion and power of Jesus, saw only the dismissal of tradition, and it scared them. Let us not be like the Pharisees, who missed the point, and became angry–even hostile–to Jesus. Nor let us be surprised when we do something in Jesus name and receive in turn hostile responses.