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So I thought I’d get into blogging when it was trendy, but then life just kinda took over. Maybe I’ll get back into it, but until then this remains a testament to a bygone era of work that I did a while ago.

Oh well, at least there’s some useful stuff on here to peruse!Image

Written by two5two

September 25, 2012 at 11:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Why Youth Ministry is so Important

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“Youth are the future of the church.” If you believe this to be the motivation for youth work; we have already lost the battle of youth ministry. They are no more the ‘future’ of the church than you or I are the ‘past’ of the church. To treat us as merely the church’s history would be dismissive to the point of being rude. Moreover, it would be untrue. As we live, love and grow as a community of believers; we experience full participation in what it is to be ‘church.’ That the youth are the future of the church is true as a statement of fact; but only with adequate investment. When we invest in youth now, we need to do it as recognition that it is part of the life of the church in a wider context.

 For those still tempted to dismiss our young people as simply the ‘future’ of the church; allow me to remind you of all of the worship-leading, prayers, bible reading and even preaching they can be engaged in when asked. The church can certainly be enriched by what our young people have to bring to it; and if we are serious about cultivating the best possible worship and teaching, we must be serious about our investment into our young people for the here and now. Perhaps you are feeling a stretching call into doing more in the church, but have never considered youth work. If I ask people if they’re interested in youth ministry, some responses would suggest that it’s a world just too alien to them to consider.

“That’s not my thing…”

“I don’t know anything about teenagers…”

“I’m not sure what I’d have to offer to them…”

But let me ask a slightly different question. What can you bring to the church? What gifts and talents do you have to bring to the whole community of church? If you can teach, you can do youth work. If you can worship, you can do youth work. If you can make a cup of tea and chat, you can do youth work! If you have been thinking up until now that youth work is not your thing, but have been involved in the life of the church – then please accept my thanks for your unacknowledged contribution to our youth. If you are involved in church life, you have already been instrumental in youth ministry.

 

Now you and I, whilst being the church of the past, are also the church of today along with the young people. The difference is that they can also be the church of the future. The young people in our congregation will be able to use the ceilings we build as the floors for their own lives. By investing fully in whatever area we are called to, we can build up the body of believers in this place to attain things that would otherwise just not be possible. A recent survey by a youth and student ministry organisation indicated that 90% of any church’s young people will drop away from church between the ages of 16 and 20; many never to return. As adolescents grow into young adults they (rightly) question everything that makes them who they are. When they leave home they are given brand new opportunities to be entirely in control of how they spend their time, money, etc. If the church has only offered them some clubs to pass time with as teenagers, it would be obvious that they would quickly outgrow that as adults. How can we expect to hold our young people right through into eternity if we offer them little of eternal value now? Only if we, as a whole church, can nurture our young people and grow them spiritually, emotionally and socially, can we truly say we have invested in them and expect any return from that investment. If church has not succeeded in sharing with them authentic, life-altering faith; how can we expect them to continue on to being the ‘future of the church’? If you are serious about your Christian faith amongst a community of believers you must be serious about the upbuilding of every member of our church family. I know that I’m challenging nobody more than I am challenging myself with this statement!

The survey mentioned above also showed something very interesting. The drop-off rates of 90% were fairly consistent across the board. Youth who leave churches with well staffed and vibrant youth ministries still experience drop off rates close to this figure (although perhaps youth stay a bit longer before leaving). The only statistically significant group that buck this trend are those young people who have had some real, personal and committed discipling. Young people from family units in which the parents have deeply committed to the spiritual development of their own children and at least one other significant adult has devoted their time and self to the young person. The ‘rate of retention’ of young adults who have grown from this background is closer, according to this survey, to 60% (as opposed 10% from the prevailing group). It is also statistically significant that of the 40% who drop off from church from this group, a much higher proportion will return to church in the future. If statistics alone could prove anything, it would be that investment for the young people now is the only way we can grow church. If our young people are not the church of today, they will certainly not be the church of the future!

But what more can you share? Could you invest in discipling some of our spiritually hungry teens? Would you give an evening every couple of months to the service of the community in helping run a youth club? Youth ministry in your church needs you. Every church can be proud of its young people, and the amount they put back into the church; but needs you to be able to nurture and grow all that they are doing. As I am only one man, it would be negligent for me to try and singularly invest in all of our young people. If I did, I’d be letting them down, I’d be letting my employers down, and I’d be under-investing in the future of the church!

 In whatever the coming year brings for us as a community bringing God’s kingdom forward; let’s move together encouraged by all that God is doing in and through our young people.

two5two

Written by two5two

February 9, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Christmas Mags

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Here’s a couple of magazine articles I have used over Christmasses past. Stuck for an idea? It’s not plagiarism if you change a few words… Incidentally, I have been called a bit of a scrooge, but I guess Christmas needs such people to make it seem better for everyone else.

Mag ’10

In the run up to Christmas it is difficult to escape the many, varied, and even conflicting traditions surrounding this special season. I recently surveyed some fifty teenagers about what the most important thing about Christmas is and there were all sorts of answers: family time, food, celebrating, giving presents, receiving presents one even said “probably something about Jesus.” Of course one would expect somebody who works for the church to become preachy about bringing the nativity back into a corporate and secular Christmas; but I’d like to furnish you with some Christmas-related numbers instead.

$96,824 is what it will cost a US citizen in 2010 to buy all of the gifts from the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ according to PNC’s Christmas price index (up just over 10% on last year). If you weren’t willing to splash out nearly 100k, you could always just get one of each item for a mere $23,439 (after all, nobody wants twelve drummers drumming). The gold rings experienced the largest single price-hike from last year, with a 30% rise in the price of gold.

£4,000 is the amount of money spent online by UK consumers on Christmas presents per second. This is roughly the same as last year, but it is interesting to note that whilst 93% of consumers polled said they would do some Christmas shopping online, only 3% thought they would do all of it online. (Data from IMRG).

80kg is the amount added to each Briton’s carbon footprint by unwanted gifts. This represents a national figure of £86,000,000 spent on unappreciated gifts – an average of £36 per person will be spent on those gifts that at best head for ebay and at worst head for the bin. (London Evening Standard online)

2.3mil people in the UK have not yet paid off their debts from Christmas 2009 (consumer intelligence). 30% of 18-24 yr olds will use credit to pay for Christmas 2010, and the average Briton will pay off their Christmas credit card bills in 5 months time (ING direct).

£868 is what the average UK adult will spend on Christmas. This includes £345 on gifts (although 35% will spend over £500). The Scots come out most generous with gifts – averaging at a £413 spend (who’d have thought?!) Food, drink, decorations, cards, postage, accessories will come to just under £230; the rest spent on transport, parties and hospitality. 33% will spend most on a present for a child, 16% on their wives and 7% on their husbands! (mail online)

£57.8billion is the expected total UK spend on Christmas 2010 (v3.co.uk)

637 people arrested in Wales over Christmas 2009 for driving under the influence of alcohol (North Wales Police).

1:100,000,000,000,000,000 the probability of Jesus fulfilling eight of the Old Testament’s messianic prophecies (depending on how you read scripture, there are around 350 that Jesus fulfilled!) This probability is equivalent to covering the entire state of Texas with silver dollars two feet deep, marking one of them, mixing them all up and having a blind-folded person select the marked one at random at the first attempt (Josh McDowell).

220% increase in church attendance expected during the festive season (the mirror online).

9:58am the average first family argument on Christmas day will arise (the mirror online).

7/2 the odds of a white Christmas (paddy power, at time of writing).

36% The proportion of 18-24 year olds that don’t know the Christmas story (Cardiff nativity group).

Clearly Christmas is big business. Retailers rely on it, and have little time left in the financial year if seasonal spending is slow. Families invest in each other; it is a time when people pull out all of the stops to be with loved ones. It’s big business for churches too, a great time to reach our arms out to the communities we’re serving and extend our welcome. I leave you with three final Christmas numbers. 3 – the number of gifts brought by the wise men (look closely at the nativity story; we don’t know how many wise men there were). 1 – the only Son of God; who came that first Christmas. And 0 – the number of countries outside of the UK that eat Christmas pudding.

Wishing you every blessing this Christmas,

two5two

Link ’08

In 1986 Cardinal Josef Ratzinger wrote on the topic of advent in the run up to Christmas. “Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope… It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.”

In the years since that piece was written, lots has happened. The author himself has been somewhat significantly promoted; you would now refer to him as Pope Benedict XVI. His life has changed considerably in that time, as have (I’m sure) all of ours. With life in a constant state of change, our roles in life must also adapt. When more and more happens, it becomes easy to lose a sense of place in the ever-changing world around us. At this stage, our memories become important.

If memory serves it gives us the ability to store, retain and retrieve information – it is the tool that underpins the process of learning. Perhaps as memories become more and more distant, we have a tendency to blur them, we have a tendency to lose their meanings; we have a tendency to forget. If we do not remember, how can we hope to learn? We paused on 11th November to remember and reflect on the suffering caused by war; this was not simply an act of gratitude, but also an act of healing, of reconciliation, of learning, of hope.

The Church’s message this advent too is one of hope. In reconnecting with the Christmas story in amongst all of the business of the holiday season, we want to enjoy rediscovering its true message. It is the wonderful story of the birth of a Child and a beautiful tale of a father’s love for his children. It is the chronicle of a family that stands the tests of controversy and slander, even of death threats, and survives. It is a narrative that we may all engage with and feel different emotions – all of which are valid. Perhaps you will be attending a nativity and watching your children perform will evoke the same pride in you that Mary felt for her baby son. Maybe you will spend time with family that you do not see as often as you would like and share in the same joy that Jesus’ own family felt many years ago. You may spend Christmas surrounded by those whom you would not choose for company – this is not far from the mark in the original Christmas story either! In all of this we celebrate the gift of new life. As we remember that Jesus came, a helpless baby, into our world; we remember his promise of new life. As we remember, we learn. As we learn, we hope. As we hope, we go out determined to live that new life for the benefit of us and of those around us.

We warmly invite you to join us for as much, or as little, of this advent season as you please. We hope that this Christmas our church will provide a space in which you can celebrate “memories of goodness and thus open doors of hope.”

two5two

Written by two5two

December 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Posted in Blog / Reblog

Mark study 3

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Mark 1:28-45

Where we left the story, Jesus had just performed a miraculous spiritual healing on the back of some incredible teaching. His fame, from this moment on, had really started to spread all around the region of Galilee. Obviously he was going to get noticed a bit for the great wisdom of his teaching and being able to back it up with miracles; but the interesting thing to notice is not that Jesus was getting famous, but where it was happening. Verse 28 explains that his fame was spreading throughout Galilee. This is unremarkable in that it is where he was at the time, but remarkable in that it was where Jesus had grown up, since returning from Egypt as a small boy. This is where Jesus had always been, but had never before been famous. At best guess he was in his early thirties by this point, which means he had spent some twenty five years in Galilee unnoticed up until now. Fame, it seems, was quite different then than it is today. Jesus became famous when he started saying and doing things that set him apart from others – he lived out the Kingdom and that appealed to people. He was becoming famous because what he said and did was important. In society today, we seem to glorify people and then start taking note of what they say and do. This is the opposite way round; what they say and do is important because they are famous. This has led to some very strange ideas in modern culture. We seem to put people up on pedestals and assume that they are positive role models because they are rich and famous; but the reality is that these people sell magazines because they have lives which are often, sadly, far from reputable. If it is your desire to live out the Kingdom life, it’s a hard road and one on which you’ll not get noticed that much – but will you quietly stand, while those around you fall for the lures of the world around them?

 vv29-31

If you read the last study, you’ll remember that Mark is keen on recounting everything happening in quick succession. It’s no surprise then to read of Jesus ‘immediately’ leaving the synagogue. It seems not to indicate that Jesus wanted to get out of there straight after driving out the demon, but that it is just one of the ways that Mark likes to progress the story. This is why the disciples ‘immediately’ tell Jesus about Simon’s mother-in-law and her illness. Mark again doesn’t go into much detail about the healing – there are notes in the previous studies about Mark’s lack of intricate detail, so I won’t go over it again! But I ask you to think on two points that Mark does make. The first is that it is Simon’s mother in law. Mark doesn’t tend to name people who aren’t key players in his book (as we will go on to see, if they’re extras; they don’t get speaking parts or name credits). Alright, he doesn’t name this woman either, but he does make it clear who she is. He must find it important to do so, otherwise he wouldn’t bother. So why does he do it?

I’ve gone to a new paragraph so that you will have had time to answer for yourself. I have a theory, but it’s just my theory, so don’t assume it is correct. Remember what we know about Simon so far? All we know is he was a fisherman and he dropped everything to follow Jesus. Now we also know that he’s married and that his wife’s mum is sick. In his preparedness to follow Jesus, Jesus displayed an equal preparedness to honour him by healing his family members. How cool is that? No sooner had Simon given everything to Jesus than Jesus had paid his family back with the healing that they wanted for mum-in-law! It was in Simon’s faithful response to Jesus that the blessing was poured out in return. Making that faith decision paid off for Simon, because he actually entrusted to God his family’s future the day he gave Jesus his everything. For anyone who has been challenged to drop stuff for God; this story is here to encourage you – the blessings can roll in in real and unexpected ways!

Point two is that Jesus took her by the hand and lifted her. Bear that in mind as we go into the third section of the bible study. As she gets up, she serves the others in her house. This may be reflective of the thankful response she has towards Jesus. This is the fitting response – when Jesus saves a life, that life should then be lived out serving him.

 vv32-39

Your bible probably separates this section into two. It probably inserts a new heading before verse 35. When you read the passage through, you probably stopped and moved into a new section, because that is what the bible translators wanted you to do. It is sometimes useful to remember that the original manuscripts of the biblical texts don’t have these little headings. Read it again but ignore the heading. The passage changes when you do this, and we get a better idea of the point Mark is making here. With the heading in place, one day ends, another begins with Jesus praying; you safely assume everyone had a good night’s sleep. Without the heading, Jesus seems to have been up almost all night healing people, and takes a moment out (whilst the disciples are just too shattered to stay awake) to pray to his father. This is a more accurate picture of what Mark was originally writing about. We should note obviously that Jesus went out to a place where he was alone to pray. He built his ministry in prayer. It was the time he spent with his father that charged him for what he needed to do; and also directed him into what he needed to do. A healthy prayer life was essential to Jesus, and is so much more essential to us.

Next we get to the bit where this passage shocks the disciples, and should impact us most. The disciples find Jesus and say “everyone is looking for you.” I used to work in a toy shop, and we got occasional coffee breaks down in the basement. Once the boss thought you’d had long enough to make and drink half a cup of coffee, the next person would come down and say “everyone’s looking for you upstairs.” What they’re saying is “you’ve had your break, now get back to work” and this is what the disciples meant when they were talking to Jesus. Jesus’ response must have knocked the disciples for six – “let’s go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also…” Having just witnessed Jesus pretty much pulling an all-nighter of healing people and casting out demons, they’re jonesing to see what miracles he’s going to perform today. But Jesus responds more like a teenager who’s seen everything on TV and is forced to find some other activity. “Let’s go somewhere (‘anywhere’) else…” They think he’s just warming up and are completely underwhelmed by the response; but hold on, have they horribly misjudged the situation? Jesus explains “… that is what I came for.”

The disciples know that they have let themselves in for a ride, but aren’t even sure what sort of a ride it will be! Like they got to Alton Towers and joined a queue without looking. In the end, it turns out that they were queuing up for ‘Oblivion’ (insert the name of your favourite ride here) so no worries; but they spend the entire time in the queue unaware of just what it was going to be for. The whole way through Mark’s gospel, they just don’t get it! They think they know when Jesus starts casting out demons, then when he starts doing miraculous healings, but they don’t understand Jesus’ clear purpose is to preach the Kingdom. Jesus is focussed on this mission, as he receives his instructions straight from God in prayer. So we reach the debunk which I so dearly love to share with anyone who will listen.

Francis of Assisi said this: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Debunk #1: Francis of Assisi has had this quote attributed to him, it is doubtful that it is actually a quote of him, link here to look at some evidence. Either way, whether he said it or not, it is unimportant as it is a philosophy that people hold very dear. Debunk #2: this statement is useless. Ray Comfort rephrases it this way: “Feed starving children; where necessary, use food.” Preaching the gospel was Jesus’ ministry. He used miracles of healing and cast out demons because it served the afflicted people so to do. So tied up was this act with simply serving people that Jesus, we read in verse 34, would not let the demons acknowledge him as the Son of the Most High God. This is a big part of the Messianic Secret that we started to explore last time. Jesus ministers to people in order to embody the kingdom – to put flesh on the bones of the words that he had preached to them! Please if you only take one thing from this bible study let it be this: “preach the gospel at all times; it is necessary to use words!!!”

vv 40-45

 Nearly there; just a little bit more mental athletics, and some bible surfing left. You’ll notice that verse 40 introduces a ‘leper.’ This is a term used in the New Testament for many different skin afflictions, more information can be seen in Leviticus 13.

You skipped past that bit, didn’t you? You thought about it, and then you went “Leviticus? I can’t be bothered reading that!” I would have done the same. But it is important that you read it, or you won’t understand what happens next. So here’s the link again, you’re welcome!

 So now you understand that this guy was unclean. He was religiously unclean. This meant he was socially unclean. He was shunned by society, unable to come into contact with anybody physically, verbally (except to inform people that he was unclean), mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Your bible probably says Jesus was moved by pity, or filled with compassion; the original Greek manuscripts tell us that Jesus’ emotion was ὀργισθεὶς (orgistheis) which means angry. Jesus was moved by anger to help this man. Was he angry at the man, or at being interrupted? Or is it more likely that anger burned inside of him at the contemptible and shameful way he had been treated because the religious leaders had ensured it, and society followed. So aware of his own ‘uncleanness’ was the man that he even doubted that Jesus would want to heal him. Of course Jesus wanted to heal him, but so much more. Jesus “stretched out his hand and touched him,” which is important in so many ways. Firstly, you’ll remember Simon’s mother-in-law received healing with the loving application of touch, and Jesus too does it for this man. Secondly, for the man himself, it is the first contact he has had with anybody for years, in the one touch Jesus heals so much more than just the obvious skin disease. Thirdly, Jesus did not care for the rules that had caused this man to be treated so inhumanely. To him, the rules had been used terribly, and Jesus could see beyond that – and he loved him. That is not to say that Jesus did away with the law; he asks the man after healing to go and make the appropriate sacrifices. But it is clear from Jesus that to love is greater than to keep the rules and regulations.

Some points to ponder:

 What examples do you follow? Think about your role models and why they are important to you.

What can you learn from Simon’s faith experience and God’s provision for his family after he’d committed to Jesus?

Does your prayer life get you the answers you need to be focussed on what God has for you? If not, it’s time to get thinking and talking about how to improve it!

Do you preach the gospel? If you don’t use words, you’re just a nice (but maybe a bit ‘boring’) person…

What can you do to treat those around you, especially the afflicted and downtrodden, better?

laters,

two5two

Written by two5two

August 12, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Bible Studies

just a thought…

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This occurred to me last night on my way home. Just sayin’…

Man is too busy consoling himself with the fallibility of man to realise the holiness of God.

two5two

Written by two5two

July 1, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Posted in Blog / Reblog

Blue in the Face?

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Just come across this one online. Compassion do great work, and now have opened the opportunity to sponsor a child up to youth.
Love it?
Let me know…
http://www.blueintheface.org.uk/

Written by two5two

June 25, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Blog / Reblog

Mark 2

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Where we left off, Jesus has just gone off into the desert. We can see from the other synoptic gospels how that turned out. Mark doesn’t go into too much detail – don’t worry; as we go through Mark’s gospel, you’ll certainly get used to that! There is almost a degree of accepted understanding in the way that Mark writes the gospel. Like when he brings up a story, his readers already know that story. He only dedicates two verses to Jesus’ temptation in the desert. This does not indicate that it is not important; if it weren’t important he wouldn’t mention it at all! We all know how it pans out for Jesus during those forty days in the wilderness because we are familiar with the story from the other gospels. Mark was writing for people similarly in the know, so he doesn’t need to insert any detail; this makes what detail he does go into very important. (I hope you’re following my logic so far! :))

If Mark’s readers know the story, whatever Mark points out in the story to them is done for a good reason. In what he says, he highlights that temptation is from Satan, that he lived with wild animals, and that he was ministered to (and supported by) angels (all from verse 13). I’m not going to insult your intelligence by commenting on Jesus’ temptation being from the devil, or the fact that if Jesus can be ministered to by angels of the spiritual realms then we can so much more expect God to send all the spiritual protection we need if we ask Him for it. I’m simply going to direct you to the amazing Hebrews 2: 5-18 to let you draw your own conclusions. But I’m interested in this: Mark doesn’t give us much detail, but he’s the only gospel writer to mention Jesus with the wild animals. Why? Read this, I dare you to make it to page 22. Or come up with your own reasons and leave a comment on the blog!

Anyway anyway; we’ve got through two verses from the last study so far, so let’s get cracking.

vv14-15

Mark gives reference to John (the Baptist)’s arrest. This gives us a point in time for the following stuff, but also shows us how unpopular his message of repentance was. Jesus was preaching the same message about the Kingdom of God. Much like today, this message was not met favourably by many – and when you understand the story of John the Baptist’s arrest, you’ll understand that it was a dangerous thing to preach this message, and to associate yourself with the ‘Kingdom of God’ teaching. These facts that are laid out here make what follows all the more incredible.

vv16-20 

Mark explains that Simon and Andrew cast a net into the sea as they were fishermen. It escapes me what they would have been doing other than trying to catch fish, but it explains the hilarious pun which comes up. Jokes, in my experience, are never that good if they need explanation. However, this is a very funny joke. “I will make you fishers… of men!” I think ancient Hebrew jokes are a bit lost on us as they are not very funny. But Jesus was having a bit of a laugh with them. I remove the sarcasm from the comment now – it is an important part of the way that Jesus communicates with people that he is natural and at ease with them. Jesus communicates the Kingdom in a very amenable way. That’s not to say he was always joking, or that he was always popular; but I certainly think it challenges the over-spiritual holier-than-thou way with we can approach outreach (and, let’s face it, we’re all guilty of doing that). Communicating the gospel can be simply in the way we laugh with our mates when they’re laughing; cry when they’re crying; and just being ourselves the way God made us, and is shaping us, around them.

Verse 18 has always astounded me. Read it again. Let it impact you. “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Is that true of your walk of faith? Meeting Jesus for them had such a profound impact that they dropped everything – their nets being their source of income, their jobs, what they did all day, their investment in the futures of themselves and their families – and followed Jesus. It was an all or nothing choice, and they weighed it up in an instant and gave their all. My question is why do I not give my all? They met the same Jesus that I know, who gives me the same command, but I don’t give my all. If Mark were writing about me as a fisherman called by Jesus, he’d write that I dropped my nets but took along a sneaky fishing rod just in case.

I write this question to me, and invite you to answer it for yourself too: Jesus asks me to drop everything and follow him; what have I kept hold of and why do I not entrust it to God?

I expect that if you have attempted to answer this question seriously, that you may have reached a difficult or even painful conclusion and need a decent amount of prayer. My advice is to seek out the support of someone you trust and spend some time in prayer with them. If this isn’t something you’re into, give it a go and I guarantee you’ll love it pretty much instantly!

The next two lads were mending their nets, and also (presumably) fishermen. But it was probably a bit to soon to use the “fishers of men” joke again. The last thing you want is to tell a joke that most people have already heard! Anyways…

vv21-28

You’ll notice you’ve read the word ‘immediately’ (Greek: εὐθύς euthys) several times already in Mark’s gospel (if you’re using a fairly accurate translation). This word appears in Mark’s gospel some 40 times; almost as many as in the entire rest of the New Testament combined. Mark has a story which unfolds at pace. As soon as one moment in or opportunity for ministry has passed, another reveals itself. Life often feels like it is lived at a hectic pace. What I can take from this gospel is that Jesus lived at just the same pace as us, but he never wasted a single opportunity to minister the Kingdom of God to people.

 Next we come to something a bit tricky. Jesus is speaking in church, and somebody interrupts. The sermon seems to be going down nicely, and people are really learning stuff about God. But the unclean spirits driving this heckler want the people to know that Jesus is “the Holy One of God.” Jesus silences the unclean spirit, and casts it out of the man. Firstly I’d like you to picture this as a regular Sunday in church. You’re managing not to nod off because the sermon seems to be really speaking truth to you. You’re well into it. Then the serenity of the atmosphere is shattered by a crazy heckler. He’s shouting and screaming, and you’re thinking, really annoying the preacher. Now you’re starting to interact with the story. You need to do this in order to understand what happens next. You’d think that right from the outset of his ministry, Jesus would want it to be known that He is the Chosen One of God. But Jesus does not want people to know this fact. Mark’s gospel maintains most of the way through that Jesus doesn’t want this fact to be known.

If you’re posh, you call this the Messianic Secret. There could be many reasons for this, and we’ll explore it a bit more as the bible studies progress, but in this circumstance – as with all of the similar incidents – there are good reasons why Jesus silences those in the know. Think about it; the man who has just interrupted the best sermon you’ve heard is clearly possessed by a bad spirit. He has intention to harm and destroy. Does Jesus want his fame to be associated with the proclamations of such a man? Jesus heals the man who is possessed and people are left to marvel not only at the authority of his preaching, but his ability to heal those who are afflicted. The words and actions speak for themselves. Jesus does not want to be left open to misinterpretation. In a world where the Israelites expected all sorts of varying things of a messiah, the proof that Jesus was that man would not come by people saying he was, but by Jesus saying I AM. Jesus’ fame does grow throughout the entire region, but in a way that’s clear and factual rather than based on rumour and interpretation. There is authority in God’s word, and authority in works done in His name. If we are all about spreading Jesus’ fame, we need to be all about doing the work that proves what we have to say about Him.

Cool, let’s call it quits there. A few things to deliberate and pray through:

How can we be encouraged by the fact that Jesus has suffered all that we can suffer?

How can we encourage others in this way? Can we walk in the shoes of those around us too?

If the gospel isn’t popular, is it still worth us living it out?

Have you ‘dropped your nets’?

In today’s hectic world, are we utilising all of the opportunities to minister an authentic gospel to all people at all times?

Give yourselves a pat on the back, and relax with this and this.

 two5two

Written by two5two

June 24, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Posted in Bible Studies