Mark 14:1-31 – Anointed, Betrayed, the Last Supper

Mark 14:1 – It floors me that the leaders of the Jews were searching for a way to kill him. I can’t wrap my mind around how you can be in the position of leading God’s people and get to the place where murder seems appropriate. Wow.
Mark 14:7 – I like the ESV translation of this verse: “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them.” Jesus rightfully points out their hypocrisy. Why the sudden concern for the poor? They’ve always been there and always will be, “whenever you want, you can do good for them.” It troubles me that of the plenty that I have, I spend most of it on myself. Just as troubling is that I get the impression that I give away more than most. It’s a cycle we get trapped in and can be very difficult to move out of, but I hope that I can.
Mark 14:13-14 – This is like the donkey thing when he arrived in Jerusalem. “Go find a guy with a water jar and ask him for a room.” Yeah right. I would have made a lousy disciple, because I’m not sure I would have followed through with that. Sooo …. What promises has Jesus made me that I’m dismissing because it just doesn’t make sense to me? The effectiveness of prayer (what ever you ask for in my name …) come to mind, but honestly I can’t think of others. OK, the promise of gain from sacrifice (no one who has given up homes, fields, family, …), that the harvest is plentiful come to mind as well. It’s easy to treat all of these as religious platitudes rather than facts that should shape the way I live. Am I brushing aside the promises of God because they don’t fit my understanding of the world?
Mark 14:22-25 – I wonder what the disciples were thinking here? He’s speaking of this food as his flesh and blood, of a covenant. I don’t think they were yet on board with Jesus’ mission of salvation, they didn’t yet understand and wouldn’t until he was raised. Just look at their actions between this point and then – betrayal, denial, flight, hiding – to see that. So here they are, and Jesus speaks of truths that have to make no sense to them and they eat and drink. Did they just dismiss it as Jesus being Jesus, cryptic and incomprehensable?

God as a Concept

As I was getting ready to eat my homemade Skyline Chili for lunch, I was thinking about blogging and writing and life and what comes next on the blog. It occurred to me that I view God as a concept more than God as a being. I can’t exactly remember the tie in between all of that, but there it is nonetheless.
What I mean is that I think of God as a set of ideas to embrace – truth, integrity, love, grace, respect – rather than God the Father or Jesus my brother. I understand that I do have a relationship with Him and that He is real, but I tend to treat Him abstractly rather than than relationally.
Thinking of God this way isn’t wrong as much as it’s incomplete. He is truth, integrity, love, grace and respect and more, but to leave it at that and forget that He’s both my Father and Brother strips my experience of Him of it’s intimacy. Following Him then becomes cold hard obedience or a philosophical exercise rather than loving submission or respect or … The flip side is to embrace the loving Father and forget that He is ruler and King with authority and, frankly, rules. It’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and.
Any of our relationships can become this way, and I suspect if I psychoanalyzed my relationship with my wife or parents I’d find some parallels here. That’s too much to think about over chili, though.
What are your thoughts?

Mark 13 – Signs

Mark 13:1-2 – I can see myself with Jesus, impressed by the local architecture, especially if I hadn’t been there before. Cool, check that out! I’d be bummed when Jesus threw cold water on my observations. πŸ˜€
Mark 13:5 – Jesus is asked about the future, when the end will come. He begins His response with “See that no one leads you astray.” Yet, even knowing that Jesus told us it will be a surprise, that we don’t know the time, that even He didn’t know the time, folks try to figure it out. They read into the tings happening in the middle east, they study OT prophesies and Revelation to determine what is to come and when. They even make predictions. Why, when Jesus was so clear? I think He’s rather us be concerned with living day to day as he did than trying to discern what is to come.
Mark 13:9-13 – They ask about the future of Jerusalem, perhaps the future of the world, and instead Jesus tells them of their future. The future of Jerusalem is scary enough – no stone left on top of another – but their personal future is scarier. Beatings, divided families, hatred and death.
Mark 13:14 – After “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be” Jesus, or actually it was Mark, says ‘let the reader understand’. I would love to be able to understand that sentence. I guess, since I’m not in Judea (they were the ones told to flee when that happened), I don’t really need to know. πŸ˜€
Mark 13:14-23 – I wonder, is this referring to a time already past, or a time yet to come. I know, million dollar question that everyone wants to know. It’s scary stuff, and it would be nice to know if it has already passed. I guess Jesus’ admonition in verse 23 is the important bit – “be on guard.” We need to always be ready to be tested. Always.
Mark 13:32-36 – Just in case we didn’t get it, he repeats it, and elaborates on it. That’s the challenge for us, especially here in the comfy west where our faith isn’t challenged, at least not physically. We are free. But the culture digs at our faith all day long. We must be vigilant, we must, as Jesus says, ‘stay awake’ spiritually. I’m afraid that all to many in America who claim his name are sleeping. It scares me too that I might be asleep and not even know it.

Wordle

Kansas Bob pointed me to a neat site called Wordle. It uses your RSS feed to generate what it calls “beautiful word clouds” of the text from your site. I plugged in salguod.net Saturday morning and got this:

You know, I have to tell you, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. I’ve not been happy with my blogging of late, so when I saw a big ol’ Jesus, front and center and Maria as the next most prominent … Well, it did my heart some good.
I’ve posted a couple of new things since then, so the cloud has changed since then, but still cool to see God, Jesus, Love, Sacrifice and Maria prominently displayed.

Check out Bob’s post, he’s got Wordles of the ESV New Testament and the entire Bible. Neat.

Jess’ Communion

Back on June 29th, Mat and Jess Richards (you may remember Mat) gave the communion talk. What Jess had to say moved me, because the story she told was months old and hadn’t directly affected her. Yet, she shared with tears how it pointed her, and continued to point her, to Christ. The story had moved me at the time, but I had forgotten it. Jess hadn’t and because of that, God once again can use it to draw us to Him. With her permission, here is what she shared:

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Romans 5:6-11 New Living Translation

Sometimes things happen that cause us to think about God in a different way. One such thing happened to me a couple months ago and it has been on my heart to share since then.
On April 11th the following story was printed in the Columbus Dispatch:

The 8-year-old boy lay in an intensive care unit bed last night, swathed in bandages, hooked to machines and comforted by relatives.
Second-grader Christian Engle, suffering broken bones and a concussion, hardly stirred. He held his mother’s hand with his left hand, the good one. Much of his right side wasn’t so fortunate. The injuries were serious, but he was alive. He has Dianna L. Sharp to thank. Sharp took her role as a Hilliard school crossing guard seriously.
As the crossing guard at Scioto-Darby Elementary School, she would usher her young charges safely across Scioto Darby Road each morning and again each afternoon, parents and neighbors said. And some of those children would take the short walk to Sharp’s home after school, where she would keep them safe until their parents could pick them up, they said.
Yesterday, shortly after 9 a.m., Sharp paid the ultimate price as a protector of those children. Realizing that a dump truck bearing down on her and Christian was not going to stop, Sharp either pushed the second-grader clear or shielded him with her own body as the truck slammed into them in a crosswalk in front of the school, Hilliard Police Chief Rodney Garnett said.
Sharp, 41, was flown to Ohio State University Medical Center with severe head injuries. She died there at 10:20 a.m.
Christian’s condition had improved from critical to poor last night at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“She went to swoop him to break the impact,” parent Ginger Swank said. “I believe she saved that little boy’s life.”

At the time I was working as a tutor at one of the high schools in Hilliard. The district notified all employees by e-mail shortly after the accident. I remember thinking about how awful it was. I remember being in awe of the sacrifice she made to save a little boys life.
I spent the rest of the day thinking about what happened. In the middle of the night that night I woke up very upset. The whole situation really affected me and I didn’t even know the woman.
I have thought about her many times since then. I think about what her family must be going through to lose a wife or a mother or a daughter or a sister.
I think about what the little boy’s parents must feel. Their son is alive because a woman sacrificed her life for him. What would they say to her husband and children?
Another question that comes to mind is “Would I have done the same thing?” I’d like to think I would, but I can’t say for sure. I can’t picture myself jumping out in front of any moving vehicle, especially a dump truck.
Maybe I would for a child. I hope I would for a child. Would I for an adult that is a stranger? Would I do it for an elderly person? Would I do it for a man that I just saw steal a woman’s purse? In what situation would I be willing to risk dying for someone else?
Will the little boy grow up understanding that he is alive because someone died for him? How will his knowledge of her sacrifice affect his life?
Diana Sharp’s sacrifice has been in my thoughts for almost three months now. What she did has caused me to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made for me. I understand in my head that Jesus died for me, but I don’t always understand it in my heart. It doesn’t always seem real. I was so worked up over this woman and her sacrifice, but why don’t I always feel that way about the ultimate sacrifice that was made? The one that was made for me.
I change my questions. How would Jesus’ father feel about losing a son? And then I remember that God sent his Son to die for me.
How do I feel about Jesus dying so that I can live? What do I say to His father?
And then the really hard part to wrap my brain around: the fact that God willingly sent his son to die for me while I was His enemy. I didn’t do anything to deserve it. Will I grow up as a disciple understanding in my heart, and not just my mind, that I am alive because Jesus died for me? How will my understanding of His sacrifice affect my life? I hope that it does.

Wall-E

Brant at Letters from Kamp Krusty, has an eye opening post on Wall-E. Well, at least it was eye opening for me, and judging from the comments it was for others as well. Here’s his take:

Wall-E is not about pollution. It’s about sexuality. And not just any kind.
Unmistakably. From start to finish. I’m not kidding.
Watch it, and you’ll see it. … It is very specifically, and very obviously, about heterosexuality.

Now, the eye opening bit isn’t the sex part. His point is that it’s about gender, not about sex. It’s about a plane old guy (Wall-E) and his self sacrificing love for his girl (Eve) and what that love does to change man kind. It’s the message of the Bible (Mark 12, which I just read, specifically) that love trumps all. Love sacrifices, love trusts, love doesn’t fail.
That’s not just the coincidental message of the movie, it’s the deliberate message. Christianity Today interviewed the writer and director, Andrew Stanton, and he said so:

The greatest commandment is to love one another, and to me, that’s the ultimate purpose of living. So that was the perfect goal for the loneliest robot on earth, to learn the greatest commandment, to learn to love.

Go read the whole interview, it’ll restore a little of your faith in Hollywood.
The eye opening bit was that this Christian message is so plain as day and when I saw the movie, I completely missed it. What I saw was the message that wasn’t there, that I assumed was intended but wasn’t at all. The left leaning environmental message. Humans are selfish, evil polluters. Wall-E is left on Earth to clean up the mess that we made of it. The humans split and are living in space on a giant ship, and have been for 700 years.
I know what you’re saying, he’s from Hollywood, surely he snuck that in too, right? CT asked him about the seeming commentary on our selfishness and lack of concern for the environment. His response (emphasis mine):

That’s your interpretation, but that’s not where I was coming from. I certainly see the parallels, but honestly, all those factors came from very different places. All my choices in the film came from what I needed to amplify the main point, which was the love story between these robots. The theme that I was trying to tap into was that irrational love defeats life’s programmingβ€”that it takes a random act of loving kindness to kick us out of our routines and habit.

“Irrational love defeats life’s programming” – I love that line. Isn’t that why Jesus came?
So I saw the environmental put down and missed God. How often does that happen? We assume we know what people are about and completely miss the truth. Only later do we see the opportunity missed.
Now I need to go see the movie again.

Mark 12 – Tenants, Taxes, Greatest Commandment

Mark 12:1-12 – As I read this, I can’t help but think of this blog. I guess it’s been on my mind lately, as the days go by and there isn’t anything new. I spend plenty of time online and most of that on blog. But I’m a consumer, not a producer. Isn’t that the problem here was? The tenants were consuming themselves instead of producing for others. And when others come, they get nothing.
I started blogging to share my perspective, but, as I’ve lamented recently, I spend too much time taking in what others write and not enough sharing what I’ve learned. These tenants kept the fruit for themselves, and no one else benefited from it.
More over, I ought to think of my life. If God came today, or sent His servant, and asked for some of the fruit, where would it be? What have I produced from what’s been provided to me?
It matters little to realise that this parable is about me if I do nothing different after today. Those who heard Jesus came to the same realization. Their response was to look to kill the messenger. What is mine?
Mark 12:25 – No marriage in Heaven? My marriage has been the blessing of my life, and marriage has been the cornerstone of many societies. It’s hard to imagine this world without it. It makes reproduction possible (at least Godly reproduction). It forms the core of family which provides the foundation for rearing our young. Yet in Heaven, it will be no more.
I have to admit, there are things like this that make me wonder about heaven. I mean, I trust God when He tells us it’s an awesome place and the whole no more crying or pain is a definite selling point, but no marriage? Hmmm.
Mark 12:30-31 – Love. Nothing trumps love. Simple, right? Then why is that so easy to forget?
Mark 12:41-44 – I like this pictuer of Jesus, sitting off to the side, jsut watching the people. I picture him grabbing Peter’s arm or tuggin on John’s tunic saying “Look, look, look, look … right there. Did you see that poor woman?” Oh, that I’d have the simple faith to make Jesus pull the apostles to Him to point it out.

There’s Something Missing

My wife and I have been married for 15.5 years, yet up until this week, I was not the oldest relationship in her life. In fact, the entire time we’ve been married, we’ve shared our bed with another.

Pleiades, a petite, black domestic short hair came into Maria’s life around the time that we began dating. She came with her sister, Eileen who was born with only 3 paws (get it?). When we were married, Eileen went to live with a friend and it was Maria, me, Pleiades and my big dumb boy cat Rusty. Pleiades was one of a little of 7 sisters, hence the name.
Rusty got sick and a couple of other cats have come and gone, but for 15.5 years, Pleiades has been there with us, and for about a year before that with just Maria. She was always there at bed time, ready for some attention as you were ready to sleep. I’d be trying to close my eyes while Maria read a page or two and Pleiades would get up in between us for Maria to scratch her head a bit (and to swish her tail in my face too, I think)
She’d curl up with Maria whenever she wasn’t feeling well. If I came home and Maria was having one of those migraines that drove her to bed with the shades drawn to block out the light, Pleiades would be there, curled up beside her.
Each night, after her head scratching, she’d be there at the end of the bed on Maria’s side (although in recent months, she preferred my side). She spent most of her days there as well, curled up in a neat, shiny black circle, nose to tail.
Lately though, things haven’t been the same. While she was still there, every night in the bed and she still seemed to get around OK, she wasn’t able to eat the hard food anymore and even the canned stuff we bought for her didn’t usually stay down. She had a seizure a while back, too, which was a scary moment for us to watch. Who knows if she had any more when we weren’t there.
It was clear, the time for hard decisions was coming. Neither she or us could go on this way much longer. This was a decision that Maria had to make, though of course I supported her completely in whatever she decided. So, last Monday, Maria and Pleiades made a trip out, but only Maria returned.
It was lonely that night in the bed. We left on Tuesday for a camping trip and came back tonight. Usually, the cats all come (we had four) to greet us in their own time and Pleiades was usually one of the first, purring and chattering at us, welcoming us home. This time, there was something missing. The welcoming committee was a little slow in coming, and didn’t have near as much to say.
And bed time will be missing something again, too.

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