Archive for the ‘Mark’ Category

It’s just Caesar

October 6th, 2017 by Maureen

Jesus said to them “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Mark 12:17

There will always be people and entities that get to tell us what to do. They will set policies and make laws, some of which we don’t like. They will have the authority to regulate and evaluate things, like the way we do our work or keep our yards. To some extent we allow this through our choices of affiliation and residence, and through what we choose to put in the time, energy, and funds to try and change. What we also allow is how much we let this stuff get to us. After all, it’s only Caesar. We can choose to render control of our attitudes about all this stuff to God. Doing this makes the rest of the rendering we have to do much easier.

Lord, I render unto You my heart, my responses, and my perspectives.

Time to vacate

July 31st, 2017 by Maureen

And the disciples gathered with Jesus and told Him all about the things they had done and taught.
Jesus said, “Come away to a quiet, solitary place where you can get some alone time.”
There were so many people coming and going that they didn’t even have time to eat. Mark 6:30-31

Vacation. Root word: vacate. Leave where you are now. We all need times when we are not obligated to do anything, to talk to anybody, or even to care about anything. Constructive activities we enjoy and important meetings with people we like can still drain our energy after awhile. It’s nice to be able to take several days away, but sometimes it’s right in the middle of the busy that we most need to vacate. We might have to get creative to find those alone time places near home and work to recharge. We may have to get even more creative to find time for a breather. If Jesus encouraged His disciples to take a break from His mission to save the world, most of us can carve out five minutes from whatever we’re doing for a little self-care.

Lord, thank you for times and places to vacate body, mind, and schedule.

Whack priorities make it hard to follow

July 25th, 2017 by Maureen

As Jesus is walking out of town a well-dressed young man run up and kneels down in front of Him.
“Good teacher, what must I do to gain eternal life?”
“Why do you call me ‘good.’ Only God is good,” Jesus asks.
“You know the commandments. Do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, do not cheat. Honor your parents. I’ve kept all of those since my youth,” the man replied. He is focused on his request rather than the point Jesus is making. He assumes that Jesus is asking for his definition of ‘good’ and his definition is steeped in law.
Jesus look at the man kneeling in front of Him. He loves the guy. He really wants him to get it and He knows what’s standing in the way.
“You lack one thing. Go sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor. Then your treasure will be in heaven. Come follow me.”
This seems harsh. There is no record of Jesus asking anybody else to sell all their stuff, but we don’t know everything Jesus said to his other followers. We do have multiple stories about Jesus’ followers leaving everything behind to follow Him. Given the climate of the times, followers of Jesus needed to be all in.
The man walks away from Jesus completely demoralized. He doesn’t think he can be all in because he had a lot of stuff. Mark 10:17-22
Jesus knew how much this guy cares about being rich to be all in, how much he defines himself by it, how much he depends on it. Being rich means the guy can see, touch, use, control, and count on resources on earth. Loving being rich means the guys attention, effort, and priority is going to be on protecting what he has and getting more. There is no way for us to fully experience God as the source of abundance and hope, and the definer of what all that means, if we make money, or anything else, the thing that defines, satisfies, and consumes us. I’ve always hoped this rich young guy figured it out later.

If the news is so good, why do you sound so mad?

May 21st, 2017 by Maureen

The time has been realized, and the reign of God approaches, change your mind, and believe in the good news. Mark 1:15

I woke up this morning to the sound of a voice that sounded angry. There was a preacher on TV in another room. I couldn’t see him but could imagine the tension in the stance, the facial expression, and the gestures that usually accompany such a vocal tone.  According to communications experts, body language makes up 55% of communication and vocal tone makes up 38%. The actual words only make up 7%. This is a well known statistic, but there is a caveat.  When the nonverbal doesn’t match the verbal message, this formula explains  what people respond to in trying to understand the message. Context is also important. Does the speaker expect the audience to disagree? Does the message require the speaker to be on the defense? So if a speaker delivers a message that should be fabulously good news to an audience they are supposed to love in an angry voice, what is that audience to make of it? How many people change their minds because someone is yelling at them?

Lord, maybe it’s just me, but please inspire those who share the good news to share it as if it is indeed good.

A Saturday for reviving dead dreams

March 26th, 2016 by Maureen

They took Jesus body down, wrapped it in linen and laid it in a tomb. A stone was rolled against the entrance. Mark 15:46, John 19:38-42

Those who followed and loved Jesus must have been devastated. Those who hoped He was the Messiah sent to deliver them from oppression must have been so disappointed. The impact of His crucifixion on their personal lives was far greater than any failed venture or personal risk they’d taken before. Not only had following Him required sacrifice and investment, they had staked their very souls on Jesus being right and now all the evidence shouted against that. Saturdays like this are long and hard. When hope is gone, the post-mortem on loss brings fear, doubt, guilt, blame, resentment, frustration, and/or despair. Sometimes we move on more cautious and cynical than we were before. When hope and faith start to look naive, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is a reminder that there is evidence we cannot see and that our hopes still have substance.

Lord, help me to keep believing, praying, and dreaming through silent Saturdays. Help me to expect more.

Public opinion doesn’t make an idea true

March 14th, 2016 by Maureen

And Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. “Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.” They began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ If we say from men then the people will revolt because they all considered John to be a real prophet.”  Answering Jesus they said “we do not know.” and Jesus answered “And nor will I tell you.” Mark 11:29-33

Every day people use this sort of logic to settle on opinions or avoid giving them. But this isn’t really logical thinking because the opinion is driven by the anticipated response rather than starting with a given truth. We fear expressing our real thoughts and opinions because we are afraid of how people will respond and how those responses will affect our influence. Sometimes we refuse to submit our truths to logical thinking or to objectively explore other points of view because we are afraid of where it will take us. We need be afraid of thinking and exploring ideas. Logic emanates from God just like all good things do. His Spirit is there to lead us into all truth.

Lord, help me to be fearless and reasonable in presenting Your truth as I understand it.

Communication and listening

January 15th, 2016 by Maureen

Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. Mark 4:24

Sometimes when we read God’s word, hear teaching, or seek His guidance we think we “get it” right away when there is really a need for personal reflection before we can fully process what has been said. Somewhere between our ears and our hearts we may lose focus, fail to see ourselves as stakeholders, or just fill in the blanks with our own agendas or add contexts that do not actually apply.  Perhaps we can take the worship principles in Joel Houston’s The Stand and develop an arms-raised-hearts-abandoned-in awe-soul surrendered approach to listening to Him and for Him.

Lord, help me to fully receive and process what is said to me.

Unwrapping gifts from Jesus

December 25th, 2015 by Maureen

Jesus gives us gifts, some of which we use on a daily basis, some we take out of the box once in awhile, some we look at, say “thanks” but have no idea what to do with them, and some we never even unwrap.

abundant life Jn. 10:10

supernatural love Jn 13:1

complete joy Jn. 15:11

overcoming peace Jn. 16:33

truth and freedom Jn. 8:32, 36

healing for broken hearts Luke 4:18

and bodies Matt. 10:8

significance Luke 12:7

empowerment Acts 1:8

fearless belief Mark 5:36

every possibility Mark 9:23

His own glory Jn. 17:22

Thank you, Lord, for giving me these gifts.  Show me how to fully realize them in my life.



Last minute adjustments

October 9th, 2015 by Maureen

Jesus said, “Come away to some deserted place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31

Earlier in Mark 6 Jesus sends the disciples out without Him. In vs. 31 they just get back together and everybody is tired and little stressed. Then, before Jesus and the disciples can get in the boat a bunch of people show up. Jesus realizes that they need to hear from Him and gets back out of the boat to minister to them. Right after this is the part about the loaves and fishes. Then they finally get some rest. Plans get interrupted for very valid reasons. It can be disappointing, but if we roll with it cool things can happen.

Lord, my plans are yours to adjust. Help me remember I said that when things go awry.


Peace, be still

January 29th, 2015 by Maureen

He rebuked the wind and said to the ocean “peace, be still.” Mark 4:39

If Jesus has power and authority over the forces of nature, He also has power and authority over the forces that cause us to be afraid, to feel overwhelmed, or to feel overpowered. As human beings we find ourselves in situations in which we feel we are completely outmatched and all we can do is manage the day to day associated issues. Jesus, on the other hand, is never outmatched. As we work through the daily frustrations, we can have peace because He already has ultimate victory.

Lord, I surrender my measly techniques for managing to Your real authority to defeat even wind and oceans.


Wine skins and resolutions

December 31st, 2014 by Maureen

No one puts new wine in old wine skins. The wine will burst the skins and both the wine and the skins are lost. One puts new wine into fresh wine skins. Mark 2:22

The web is full of articles about the pros and cons of making New Year’s resolutions and some alternatives to resolutions as well. Most of us have things in our lives that we want to do differently but fear, laziness, social obligations, cultural mores, self-comforting behaviors, physical addictions, habits entrenched in the neural pathways of our brains are like old wine skins that just won’t accommodate the changes we try to make. When we try to do things differently we might not even feel like our authentic selves. Perhaps this New Year, instead of focusing so much on trying to make the wine go in the skin, we might just get comfortable in the new skin that Christ has wrapped us in by His grace. If we happen to pour in old wine, nothing’s going to explode, but as we embrace who we already are in Him, through Him, and because of Him, the new wine becomes a more natural fit for the new skin.

Happy New Year. Lord, thanks for 2014 and 2015. Let Your will be done in my life on earth as You’ve already accomplished it in heaven.

P.S. This is a longer than normal post and I promise it’s not a trend.

Rocking boats and shipwrecks

October 14th, 2014 by Maureen

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39

When the winds of trouble blow in our lives He is still here to say “Peace! Be still!” When emotional storms brew in our hearts He is still here to say “Peace! Be still!”  The great calm of His presence and the great power of His voice bring peace into whatever circumstances are rocking our boats, even the ones that already look like shipwrecks.

Lord, give me Your peace, stillness, and calm.

The mystery of belief

September 21st, 2014 by Maureen

To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God but to those outside everything is in parables so that when “they look they may see yet not perceive, and when they listen, they might hear yet not understand;” lest they repent and be forgiven . Mark 4:11

This scripture gets bandied about a lot. Does it mean God only wants to save some? Did Jesus simply want to withhold understanding until after He completed His mission? Could Jesus’ reference to Is. 6:8 be a commentary on how dense His audience is? Or could it be that He didn’t want His words bandied about to prove what we think we understand to people who first need to believe. Perhaps His point is that belief needs to come first: “Blessed are those who have not seen yet believe.”

Lord, thank You for the mysteries You’ve revealed to me and for everything that remains a mystery. I believe, help my unbelief.

Honestly praying all wrong

July 6th, 2014 by Maureen

Jesus: If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.

Desperate man: Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. Mark 9:23-24

The man did it all wrong. He didn’t pretend to believe or try to meditate himself into a state of faith. He didn’t pray scripture. He didn’t confess his sins or list his righteous deeds. He didn’t enlist friends to pool their faith on his behalf. He just recognized that, beyond all his doubts and fears, Jesus was enough even if He wasn’t. Jesus healed his kid anyway.

Lord, in all my unbelieving, broken ways I acknowledge You, trust You, and depend on You to hear my prayers and respond to the needs I bring to You.


Vacay, Staycay, Yes-way!

June 2nd, 2014 by Maureen

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to the desert so we can find a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. Mark 6:31

Whether its a vacay or a staycay, we all need to carve out some time to get away from the comings and goings of our life routines for some quiet and rest. In fact, the busier we are, the more in demand we are, the more we need a break.

Jesus, let’s go off by ourselves…

Squander your snow day

January 28th, 2014 by Maureen

Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31a

Snow days create an unexpected, unplanned day to rest.  The concept that we are always supposed to be contributing, improving and producing can causes exhaustion and guilt. If today is a snow day for you,  take a little bit of this oasis of time to so something you like to do just because you like to to it. Do something you liked to do as a kid. Play scrabble or Mario. Shamelessly watch cat videos. Pull out the crayons and color.

Lord, thanks for a snow day!


Crazy visionary Jesus

January 26th, 2014 by Maureen

Jesus said to them, `Come after me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Mark 1:17 (TMB)

It may have sounded like crazy talk to a couple of fishermen but Peter and Andrew were in. Their vision for their lives was limited to what they could imagine: decent careers, fulfilling family life, and being good little law-abiding Jews. Jesus presented them with a bigger, more radical vision for who they were and what they would do. They spent the rest of their lives being the fishermen He envisioned.

Lord, forget my vision, make me become whatever You envision for me.


I believe, help my unbelief

January 18th, 2014 by Maureen

Desperate parent: Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.
Jesus: What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Anything is possible if a person believes.”
Desperate parent: I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!  Mark 9: 23-24

We doubt based on past experiences when things didn’t work out the way we prayed…based on our own internal dialog about God or the need itself…based on our theological leanings regarding what God expects from us in return for His answers. We doubt because… (fill in the blank)____. God is not only the One who supplies the need; He’s also the one who supplies the faith.

Lord, I have no faith in my own belief, but I believe in You, so here goes…

Pour one out for Jesus

January 10th, 2014 by Maureen

While [Jesus] was eating a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume…and poured the perfume over his head. When some at the table asked “Why waste such expensive perfume when we could have sold it and given the money to poor?” Jesus answered “She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial…wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed. Mark 14:6-9

It is not up to us to judge one another’s unique responses to Jesus. He receives our expressions of love for Him with grace and pleasure.

Lord, thank you for loving the worship I bring You.

Speakers and receivers

January 7th, 2014 by Maureen

Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. Mark 4:24

It amazing how much we can receive when we listen. Learning to actively listen to what is said and receive that information into our lives is a skill that takes effort and practice. Too often we are busy thinking about how we are going to answer or supplying our own contexts to what is being said instead of giving our full attention to the speaker.

Lord, help me to listen and learn.