Archive for category #trustandobey

Mark 4:35-41 “Do You Not Care?”

stormy blue sea in sunlight
Photo by Ben Mack on Pexels.com

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” [NRSA: Mark 4:35-41]

The lesson in today’s reading from Mark is that God cares so very much for us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. It is the heart of what Paul shares with the church at Rome.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [NRSA: Romans 8:31-39]

Mark recalls Jesus’ instruction to disciples when they are thinking about themselves more than God.

Here poses our first question: if it comes to the moment of our own death, would you rather be in the boat with Jesus or somewhere else, with someone else? Therefore we hear Jesus using this moment in the storm, a moment of fear and uncertainty, so ask: Are you worried about yourself or God?

The honest answer is, “Me”! [Spiritual ] It’s me, It’s me oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer, not my brother or my sister but it’s me O’ Lord, standing in the need of prayer.

Mark paints a scene that we can all identify, a boat on the sea, in a storm, wind and waves, and the impending doom and death of everyone, (reminds me of the movie 2012 where the cruise ship is facing a tidal wave of exponential proportions, and everyone is in absolute panic mode, except for Jesus who is sleeping on a big pillow, on a fat mattress, a cushion of peaceful rest and sleep.

Unbelievable scene of Jesus and the disciples. From their point of view Jesus has checked out, nodding off on the job, and unaware of the danger, terror, fear, and threat of death that faces the whole boat.

The familiar question we would ask our tour guide:

  • Why are you asleep now?
  • Don’t you see we are in trouble?
  • We are scared; we are afraid, and
  • we believe we are going to die in this storm.  

But the twist in the story is not that Jesus was pretending to sleep, peeking out of one eye to test the disciples. The twist is that core of the believers we do not believe that God was with them.

The Storm looked bigger than God.

  1. I know I’ve let the uncertainty about the church look bigger than God.
  2. I have seen the depth of corruption in government and given up hope of real change.
  3. I have look at the bank account balance and wondered how we would figure out all the spinning plates and responsibilities.
  4. I have looked at a bump in the road and considered giving up on the journey.
  5. I have questions and fears at every appointment and with every new pastor!

We’ve been in storms, jams, crisis, problem, court, debt, sickness, times of under certainty, confusion, and chaos and felt that sinking absence of God.

  • Where are you?
  • Have you forgotten me? Forgotten your promises?
  • Don’t you see where I am?
  • Don’t you know how bad my situation is and has been?
  • How can you have the luxury of peace, sleep, and rest, when my life is filled with fear, doubt, and hopelessness?

Yes, we have lived this moment on the sea with the disciples!

Stop for a moment think of those who find themselves in this boat and they have NO idea or perception that Jesus is on the boat, much less asleep on a cushion?

Point Two: The Disciples finally remembered to turn to Jesus.

Yes, there were still afraid, doubting, questioning, and out of their senses, but they had enough good sense IN the crisis to turn to Jesus.

Point One: Disciples don’t always believe and trust and Point Two: When we come to our senses, we start looking for Jesus.

The Final point, #3, is that Jesus connects our fear, worry, anxiety, pain, loss, emptiness, chaos to our faith, to our belief, to our trust.

There is where we run ahead and turn back to Paul’s offering to the church at Rome:

  • Can political chaos stop God’s love for us? No! So Turn to God instead of the government.
  • Can the money love us? {It can buy use a boat, and truck to pull it, but when the boat is in a storm and payments for the truck are due and the transmission falls out just when the warranty expires, there is no love}
  • Are our family and friends always understanding and strong enough?
  • Will our homes protect us from a category 5 tornado’s full wrath?
  • Will our acts of kindness be enough to curb evil hearts when we are in trouble?
  • Can we simply do our best and count on justice in the world?
  • Are we guaranteed an exact number of days in our life?

Jesus wakes up from his nap, sees the fear, the storm, and begins talking theology when there is a need for physical salvation. Jesus uses this moment of our being our line, out of control, out of sorts, out of our minds, to remind disciples, like us, our number one task is to believe, to trust, to leave the storms of our lives to God.

This story in the boat, reminds me to first give thanks that I’m in Jesus’s boat.

Those who have taken Disciple Bible study will recall that in Rembrandt’s famous painting of Jesus and the disciples on the sea in the storm there are 14 figures in the boat. Jesus, the 12, and Rembrandt himself.

This passage calls me to surrender myself to God’s strength, God’s love, God’s word, God’s power, God’s grace, God’s timing, God’s purpose.

In Wesley’s Covenant Prayer: we find the Nestea-Plunge into the arms of our creator, savior and sustainer.

“I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.” [John Wesley]

This is a challenging prayer to pray. We want to say it with conviction, purpose, and commitment, but we are hesitant to actually carry through with it, and yet it is the safest, strongest, and most affirming prayer to enter in the storm.

  • Lord, have mercy on me,
  • Help my unbelief.
  • Thou art mine, I am thine.

And with the confidence of Jaun-Luc Picard, we add, “Make it so.”

  • So will the church split?
  • Will that world heal?
  • Will our nation be united?
  • Will the change in pastors be a blessing?
  • Will the new churches be a blessing?
  • Will there be enough?
  • Will we be healed, saved, blessed, remade, renewed?
  • Jesus knows our every weakness
  • Jesus sees the waves, knows our pain, experiences our fears, is torn by our lack of belief and faith,

And still calls our to the source of our doubt, fear, chaos, pain, and unbelief and speaks words of salvation, comfort, and life:

“Peace, be still”

  • Pray with me: Lord Jesus we offer our brokenness, fears, and shame, it is worth nothing good to us, but we have come to our senses and come running to you for our hope and salvation.
  • Give power, depth, height, breadth, to our faith that we may go, do, know, ask, speak, listen, stand, kneel, live, die, and be joined with your forever.
  • Send us to reach those who don’t know you are on the boat
  • Help us to see your hand in our hands,
  • Carry your word and kingdom through our feet and words
  • Let nothing stop us from the belief and love you have hoped and dreamed for us all. Amen!

Leave a comment

Advent4 Romans 16:25-27 “Mystery Revealed in Doing”

Tis the Season to be Trusting and love God and not the as the World.

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith — to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen. [NRSA: Romans 16:25-27]

Who knew the conclusion to a letter could be so powerful! Paul’s letter to the church at Rome,

The purpose of Jesus being born and revealing God’s heart, mind, word, and will is for us to clearly see that we would completely trust and obey.

Compare with the introduction to Paul’s letter to the churches at Rome [NRSA: Romans 1:1-5]

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name,

Paul’s opening is basically a repeat of the conclusion. Bookends to hold up a proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What does that have to do with our Advent journey?

What are the bookend in our lives?

I was recently reminded of a Peyton Manning who had shared his perspective about the occasion an athlete retires. Typically on an announcer show, a most recognizable photo of a player during their career and the years of play are shown under their name. Joe Namath, 1965-1985, Hershel Walker, 1985-1997; Peyton Manning, 1988-2015. Peyton’s comment was about the dash between the numbers. The Dash represents the career of success and failures between the two numbers. The bookends are important, but the dash is more important.

Part of Advent has been establishing the bookends, the context, the itinerary of our spiritual journey. This fourth week we best focus on the main thing.

We have reminded one another to praise, to prepare, and to practice maturing our spiritual self. The last leg of this trek is to pause.

Traditionally Advent is the time

  • we hear about John the Baptiser and his call to prepare the way for the Lord,
  • we hear God’s call upon Marry, who is both humble and faithful, to carry and deliver the Son of God.
  • We hear about Joseph and his uncertainty about the unfolding events,
  • And maybe we hear about the shepherds who are both frightened, comforted and compelled by the host of angels.

But this year, I invite you to place those stories in the position of the bookend that help define and refocus us as Christmas is now less than a week away.

Hear Paul’s words to the church as we reflect on 2020 and look forward to the power of God with us in 2021.

  • God who is able — Who is ABLE to overcome pandemics? political strife? fears and even death?
    • to strengthen you — Where will you and I find the strength to overcome these things and more?
      • according to my gospel and — Did we know this promise is in God’s word? Rethem? studied them? shared them?
        • the proclamation of Jesus Christ, — Have we told others about Jesus, his strength? grace?
      • according to the revelation of the mystery — Do we trust what’s been shown to us? experience?
        • that was kept secret for long ages — Can we look back and see God patiently at work?
        • but is now disclosed, and — Can we find God being revealed now?
      • through the prophetic writings is — Have we looked for the pieces and fitting them together?
      • made known to all the Gentiles, — God loves us who love Him but also those who do not.
    • according to the command of the eternal God, — is it an idea, a suggestion, a nudge, or a command?
      • to bring about the obedience of faith — This is the heart of it all — God is seeks our response.
      • to the only wise God, — God who knows what is best for us
    • through Jesus Christ, — Who makes clear, knowing our sin, failures, faults, & weaknesses..died for us.
      • to whom be the glory forever! — God desires an eternal relationship, love, faith, trust, obediance.

The history of God’s work with the world is revealed in the bookends of Paul’s letter:

The heart of the story is fleshed out with us, throughout human history.

We have God’s strength, guidance, word/teaching, grace, hope and life — when we give obedience.

Oh it was going so well until we get to the Trust and Obey part.

God desire good and blessing for all, but we are living in a

  • playground,
  • workplace,
  • homestead,
  • political agreement
  • neighborhood

..where not everyone Trusts and Obey and we wrestle with whom to trust.

What does it mean to Trust and Obey God? Look at the bookends we have discussed the past three weeks.

  1. We are not the potter, we are the clay.
  2. We need to repent of our sins and be made new through Christ
  3. We need to be maturing and growing in spirit.
  4. The Dash – “Dashing through the snow” Calling one another to live like
    1. We are being shaped by God and not the world
    2. Loving our enemies and the lost because it serves Christ and not ourselves
    3. Wake up and get to work growing and sharing Christ with others.

Trusting and Obeying is the DOING these.

This fourth week we gather to invest this next week…

Before any traveling, cooking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, or celebrating: Is what I’m focused on right now something that is drawing me toward God, keeping me stuck where I am, of moving me away from the heart of God.

  1. Actively do, say, and think what draws us to God and not to the world
  2. Intentionally seek out those we need to forgive and seek their forgiveness
  3. Wake up each day with this prayer: “Good Morning God! What do you want me to do today?”

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: