Wednesday, July 29

5 Sets of Witnesses

We read Mark 3:20-35, but this was from all of Mark 3.

How many movies or stories are there about the ability of witnesses to report accurately what they have seen? Mark 3 talks about at least 5 different groups who see Jesus in very different ways.
I'll even give you one application/question up front. Which set do you relate to most?
1) vs. 7 - A large crowd. Something special was happening and they wanted to be a part of it almost in a Rock star, Beatles to America thing. Their vision of a kingdom was distorted; it was a vision starting with themselves and not with God. It was messed up by a desire to see what they could get out of it.
But within that crowd were many who had the beginning of faith, a desire for the kingdom that Jesus preached as demonstrated by the many who wanted to touch Him, who wanted to be healed. Love God, love others.
2) vs 11/12 "You are the Son of God." Now that's a pretty good testimony, right? What irony, the demons recognized Jesus when so many did not. I'll repeat myself again - knowing about Jesus doesn't cut it. A believing faith in Jesus is what matters and then you will respond with the Jesus Creed.
3) vs 14/15 "Jesus ... called to Him those He wanted" Are you a "called one"? Don't think that these guys had it all together. They, like you and I, are on a journey of faith. But they were called to spend time with Jesus, and after spending time with Him to tell what they were witnesses of and to even cast out demons.
4) vs 21 Family. But what do they say? "He is out of His mind". I don't know if they meant mental institution or just an expression they would use for someone who jumps out of an airplane. Maybe it was just - don't embarrass us anymore, tone it down a little. Jesus isn't about a part-time, when convenient faith; His is a crazy faith.
5) vs 22 Teachers of the law, all the way from downtown Jerusalem. And what did they say? "He is possessed". Again the irony. Who should know and testify about Jesus? But they don't. They try to trap and trick Him.
6) vs 33 And then Caroline pointed out that there is at least one more - Himself. Jesus is a witness to Himself and the kingdom that He is bringing. The new kingdom, the one that lives out the Jesus Creed, that will take over the world in a new way, that brings us all together at the table as we live out the journey together.

So which witness are you, or do you want to be? Are you able to report accurately what you have seen and experienced?
And how will you respond to Jesus?



Tuesday, July 21

More Compassion from Jesus

I started today by having everyone observe the Easter lilies growing under the cross in the middle of weeds and dying plants. What does that image make you think of?

Our message today was from Mark 3: 1-6 and Matthew 12:9-13

The Pharisees were baiting Jesus, trying to set Him up, get Him to break their rules of Sunday service. They had a man there with a shriveled hand and wanted to see if Jesus would heal him. Of course, if He did that would break probably several of their rules about work on Sunday. (Now my rules growing up were that Sunday was only for nap time. Well it seems that the pendulum has swung past that now.)
Anyway, Jesus answered with a question. From Matthew He asked if anyone has a sheep that falls into a pit, won't he pull it out? And isn't a man more valuable than a sheep? And then He heals the man. Jesus has been trying to show us and the Pharisees that we are to worship and act for the right reason. People are more important to God than rituals.
And how had the man with the hand been treated by the Pharisees? He was just a pawn to them used to try to trap Jesus. What was the response by Jesus? 1. Anger at the stubborn hearts of the Pharisees. 2. He healed the man despite the wrong motives that got him there.
God desires a loving relationship with us not a legalistic one. We've seen that God reaches out to zombies and outcasts and cripples, mixes us all together at one table, sinners and disciples alike because we have all been rescued like the sheep from the pit.
Who do your rules say you can help? How do you respond to your rescue?

One response is called The Jesus Creed (Scott McKnight, book of the same name).
"Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength." The second like it is this "Love your neighbor as yourself." There is no commandment greater than these.


Tuesday, July 14

WOW - Gleaners

79 families were served through Gleaners this past Saturday, July 11.
Because we didn't have the 100 families who needed food this month we were able to give more away to our families who did come. Seventy-three percent of these families are returns this month. They so appreciate the food, the prayers and the people who volunteer their time. We also want to say thank you to this month's volunteers who came to us from St. Luke University Parish, First CRC, Allendale Community Church, North Blendon CRC, Rusk CRC, True Community, Allendale Wesleyan Church, and others.
One of my prayers this month was to have someone who could speak Spanish and God brought us Maria all the way from Spain who is a visiting here for three weeks teaching English her students from Spain at Allendale High School. Some of you it was your first time with us and we welcome you back anytime. We were blessed with 33 volunteers. If you would like to receive the prayer needs of those we served via email let us know.

One of the big prayer requests we learned today is that Gleaners funding may be cut by the State Government. The people were able to write down on a paper plate why they need Gleaners and here are a few reasons. These will be sent back to Gleaners. 1) Helps my family of four with our food needs monthly. If I receive something I can't use, I share it with needy families in the neighborhood. 2) We appreciate it it because it frees up a little money to help with utilities and housing. 3) I'm retired and money doesn't go far as it did. The food helps a lot. It looks like it won't get better. 4) The food helps me and my family while I am working and a single mom. My father is disabled and my mother works part time so anything that helps make ends meet is a blessing. 5) The food I got today could mean the difference between having enough to eat and starving. It is that important. 6) Maria shared that the Spanish speaking people wrote how much they appreciated the food.


New Wine Skins

Mark 2:18-27

I don't have a lot to say about the message this week but I will copy what Caroline sent out in her prayer list and the link to the video we used. Thanks Caroline. It is At the Cross, Hillsong.

We celebrated communion and it was so humbling to kneel at the cross. Thank you Tim for listening to God's call to do that. We looked at Mark 2:18-27. I was particularly moved by vs. 22. We are new wine skins made new in Christ. What a reminder to put off the old self and look to Christ to renew us. It is a daily process. Yet we can always come to Him and ask for forgiveness because of what he did for us. Thank you Jesus for dying for us that we may live for you.


Monday, July 6

Rest Home or Hospital?

Mark 2:13-17

A third week of encounters with outcasts! This time it is the tax collector called Levi (or Matthew). This seems to happen soon after healing the paralysed man as Jesus is teaching to another group of people.
The Romans had this nifty way of collecting taxes and transferring feelings away from themselves. They required taxes, they had the local population collect them, and they didn't pay to have these taxes collected. So to make money the tax collectors had to charge extra in taxes, and sometimes a lot extra. So, these tax collectors were the ones hated not the Romans!
The Pharisees went further and made the tax collectors outcast - they and their families were restricted from a lot of things but especially from the synagogue. In the days of sacrifice, this meant that they were separated from God. (Just on a tangent thinking about Levi. I doubt that tax collector was the career choice he set out for after graduating high school. By the time he ended up as one I wonder if he felt that he had a choice in his future at all?)

What did Jesus see when He looked at Him? What did He say? What was the response?
Jesus said, "Follow Me"; Levi now had a choice for the future and he had two responses. The first response was the same as the other called men, the fishermen. He left everything to follow Jesus. (See Luke 5:28 and then vs 11). Jesus saw the same thing He saw when He looked at James, John, Peter or You and I. He saw ordinary people who could be extra-ordinary with Him.
The other response of Levi was to throw a party made up of tax collectors and fishermen; sinners and disciples. A) What, if any, was the difference between the two groups?
B) Being a disciple of Jesus does that - it pushes us together and connects us with "outcasts".

So the Pharisees were checking out this party from the door and asked the disciples (not Jesus) why He was hanging out with such sinners. What does a sinner look like? To the Pharisees - anyone who they said it was.

Some final questions.
What does it mean to eat together? What does it mean for Jesus to eat with all these people? Does it have anything to say about who should be included at Holy Communion?
Jesus said that He came not to call the righteous but the sinners. Of those two, who recognizes their sin? Is it enough to recognize your sin? Is the church a rest home for the righteous or a hospital for sinners?
See also Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:8, and Isaiah 1:10-20 about justice, mercy and personal righteousness.