Sunday, May 7, 2017

Tears of Grief, Ashes of Repentance & Trumpets of Praise

You’ve surely heard the phrase “an elephant in the room.” This expression is applied when there is something everyone can see, but no one wants to acknowledge it or talk about it. The problem is: sometimes elephants can do a lot of damage if they stay in a room too long.

Years ago, NASA scientists knew that insulation foam was falling off of space shuttle fuel tanks. No one wanted to acknowledge this design flaw, because they didn’t know how to fix it. Finally, during one space shuttle mission, that foam flew off and hit the shuttle during take off. The Challenger exploded for all the world to see.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Gospel of Mark: It All Boils Down to This

Suppose you knew the world would end in a matter of days. Not in the religious sense—as if Jesus is coming back. What if you knew that an asteroid was going to hit this planet in a very short time. Scientists told you, “The earth will not survive the hit. It is all over!” What would you do? How would you spend your remaining days? Would you continue to go to work? What would you do? That is the premise of a movie that came out a few year ago, appropriately titled: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Watch this clip.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Gospel of Mark: To Love as God Loves

Sometimes people do things that are just very difficult to understand. Over Easter week, I found myself in a familiar text, John 20, one of the Resurrection texts from the Gospels.
Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. (John 20:1 CEB)
What follows is the story with which we are all familiar. Mary found out that not only was the stone rolled away, the tomb was empty! I’ve heard that story 1,000 times. But as I read it again this week, one particular phrase stood out to me, and I couldn’t quit thinking about it. “While it was still dark…” While it was still dark, Mary went to Jesus’ tomb. Before anyone else was up, before she did anything else that day, and I want to know why she went to the tomb so early. Because here is the thing: Jesus was killed on Friday. If Mary was at Jesus’ tomb before the sun came up on Sunday, I think we can assume she was there on Saturday too. Why is Mary spending so much time at Jesus’ tomb?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Resurrected People

The satirical site, The Onion, ran a humorous (note: fictional) article with a biting truth. The article was titled "World Death Rate Holding Steady at 100 Percent." The article reported:
World Health Organization officials expressed disappointment Monday at the group's finding that, despite the enormous efforts of doctors, rescue workers and other medical professionals worldwide, the global death rate remains constant at 100 percent. Death, a metabolic affliction causing total shutdown of all life functions, has long been considered humanity's number one health concern. Responsible for 100 percent of all recorded fatalities worldwide, the condition has no cure.
"I was really hoping, what with all those new radiology treatments, rescue helicopters, aerobics TV shows and what have you, that we might at least make a dent in it this year," WHO Director General Dr. Gernst Bladt said. "Unfortunately, it would appear that the death rate remains constant and total, as it has been since the dawn of time."

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Gospel of Mark: How Big Is Your Church?

Church, I found an extremely interesting article this week that I’d like to share with you. It came from a church journal. I have to believe you’ve probably never heard anything like this before:
Julie and Bob Clark were stunned to receive a letter from their church in July asking them to "participate in the life of the church"—or worship elsewhere. "They basically called us freeloaders," says Julie. "We were freeloaders," says Bob.
In a trend that may signal rough times for wallflower Christians, bellwether mega-church Faith Community of Winston-Salem has asked "non-participating members" to stop attending. "No more Mr. Nice Church," says the executive pastor, newly hired from Cingular Wireless. "Bigger is not always better. Providing free services indefinitely to complacent Christians is not our mission."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Gospel of Mark: Eating with the Outcasts

You know, legend has it that a meal actually saved this nation! When some of the first settlers arrived in the American colonies, they had great difficulty adjusting to their new home. Disease was rampant and homesickness caused some to plan trips back to England. But one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in those earliest days was hunger. Those early Pilgrims were hungry, and they didn’t know how to farm in this New World.

We all know the legendary story of the first Thanksgiving. Those Pilgrims became friends with Native Americans. And those native to this land taught the newcomers how to grow food in their new home. Finally, when the crops came in, they all sat down at the same table to eat together. Those who were once suspicious of one another found friendship around a table.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Gospel of Mark: In Search of a Better Life

A guy goes ice fishing for the very first time. All of a sudden, he hears a voice.

"There are no fish under the ice!"

He ignores it and moves to another area, cuts a hole, and tosses his line in. Again, he hears the booming voice:

"There are no fish under the ice!"

He nervously looks up and asks, "Lord? Is that you?"

"No, this is the rink manager!"