Listening With Humility


23rd Sunday after Pentecost: Mark 12:28-34

The Gospel of Mark shows us the perspective of the teachers and religious leaders through this interaction. We can see some of what they thought about Jesus. They’re vetting this grass roots teacher. Jesus didn’t have the lifelong education and training they had. He didn’t go to seminary, he wasn’t affiliated with a mega-church, and the fringe people in society were drawn to his teaching. The religious leaders needed to check out his theology because their people were listening to Jesus. Continue reading

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Will You Be There When I’m in Pain?


How are you doing? Fine?

Of course the answer is “fine.” When people ask us how we’re doing, the automatic response is fine. Sometimes when discussing this sociological phenomena, people say they actually want the honest answer. I never know if I should believe them. In the past I’ve given a more honest answer and found myself in a really awkward moment realizing that I’ve just overshared. I’ve also had very real, impromptu conversations about real pain that left me feeling more connected to my friends. Continue reading

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Jesus, Have Mercy on Me!

Have mercy!

22nd Sunday after Pentecost: Mark 10:46-52

The sad truth is, often you have to be your own advocate. Even when people can see the issue you’re facing, even when they can see the turmoil you’re in, they still might not care. The good news is, we can all approach God with our need. As I wrote in Approach the Throne of Grace with Boldness, God welcomes us. People might not take the time to know our struggle, and some people, once they know, might not care. Sometimes, as we see in this story, the powerful try to silence those in need.

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Seize the Day or Who’s the Greatest Remix


21st Sunday after Pentecost: Mark 10:35-45

The disciples are once again discussing who gets to be the greatest. Not long before this, Mark 9 describes a conversation where Jesus is telling the disciples about the persecution he will face and at that time the disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest. Right before this interaction, Jesus tells them he will be handed over to be killed. This request is their response.

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Approach the Throne of Grace with Boldness


20th Sunday after Pentecost; Hebrews 4:12-16

This book is aptly named Hebrews because it draws comparisons between this new life of following Jesus and the faith of the ancient Hebrews. This chapter recalls the exodus where Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. It talks about those who walked in the wilderness on their way to the promised land. They didn’t all make it. We know the exodus story is a story of grace, but it seems grace wasn’t part of everyone’s story. Some were killed and some died before they crossed over to the promised land. Some turned away from God, some made up their own rules, and some doubted—those are the people who didn’t enter God’s rest. Continue reading

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More than Active Listening, God Was One of Us


19th Sunday after Pentecost: Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12

We live in a time when we are aware of the suffering that people outside of our region or circles experience. This awareness is important because often our ease and comfort is at the expense of someone else whether we know it or not. The discomfort of awareness sometimes makes us talk more. We want to say the right things, but it’s important to listen. It’s only through listening that we can understand, to not be a part of the problem. We might even be able to be a part of the solution. However, no amount of listening will ever convey to us what another people group’s suffering is like to them. Continue reading

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