The Best Location

In my last post, I was thinking about how location matters. In business, it’s been said that the three most important factors to consider are location, location, location. Spiritually speaking, it would have been way better if you had been born on one of the planets that didn’t fall under the influence of the Great Deceiver. Imagine being born into a world without sin?  How would your relationships be different? How would your view of God be different? 

The Bible has two exciting things to tell us. First, as far as God is concerned, sin has been taken care of. Yes, sin still happens and it still affects us but because of Jesus, no one is born lost in sin. Romans 5 announces the Good News this way:

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. Romans 5:18 NRSV

The second exciting thing the Bible tells us is that this sin soaked planet will be redeemed, too. Eden, when everything was good, will be restored, made new again.  Revelation 21 begins by announcing:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. Revelation 21:1 NRSV

What this tells me is that the best location we can be in is the one that puts our lives into the hands of God; into the stream of his love and grace.

Location, Location, Location

There’s a saying that the three most important things in business are location, location, location. Could the same be said about life in general? 

Consider that where (and often when) a person is born opens up or closes opportunities to all sorts of things and those opportunities usually impact the choices and life outcomes of a life. Certainly, there are people who have “overcome all odds” but most of us are deeply affected by many factors that were out of our control. 

How does this work in the area of heavenly things? What if you had been born on any of the other created worlds that had not fallen under the enemy of life’s sway? Let’s say that you’ve never been affected by the lies about God’s love, character, acceptance. How would your life be right now? What choices would have been different?

Benefits of Shacking Up

Shacking up has taken a lot of hits lately. First, there was all the data that shows married couples tend to be healthier, live longer, and report being more happier and contented than shacking up couples. Then it has been revealed couples who live together before engagement have higher divorce rates than those who wait.

However, I believe that all these studies overlook the most important benefit of shacking up. You see, when a couple decides to make a life long commitment to each other, in public, before family and friends, there is accountability. Public declarations put our character and integrity on the line. Marriage reveals whether we are truly a person who keeps promises; who is trustworthy and reliable.

Shacking up lets us avoid all that nonsense, especially when the break up comes. Shacking up gives us the benefit of being able to say, “We wanted to see if we were compatible and we’ve decided to go our separate ways.” We can say it’s not big deal because it’s not like we were married, we were just shacking up. Sure, if we shack up and then split it’s still a little death, still just damaging if kids are involved, still a huge hit financially but we don’t have to acknowledge before family and friends the pain and shame of divorce. We never have to face the reality that one or both partners focused on self gratification rather than surrendered, unconditional love.

Shacking up means never have to put your character on the line; with no accountability there’s not challenge to our integrity.

Deceptive Practices

One time, Jesus spoke very bluntly about Satan.

“He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 NLT

The Bible makes it clear that this fallen angel has deceptive practices. What I have noticed is that we usually think of these deceptive practices in terms of theology – “the truth.” Certainly Satan has distorted the things of God, turning heaven’s blessings into things that lead to self-righteousness, confusion, and despair.

But is that it?

The first lies recorded (although we know he was already telling them in heaven) are the the lies about God’s character. He lied to Adam and Eve about God’s love and care for them. The lies were relational.

What if Satan’s deceptive practices begin with or are grounded in lies about others? It would be in his best interests if we think the worst about others – their beliefs, their practices, their intentions and character. I also suspect that we reveal our acceptance of the lies and our culpability in spreading them when we say, “All (insert person or group) are (insert belief, practice, intention).”

It makes it way more easily to demonize, pigeonhole, segregate, ignore, those who we deem to be one dimensionally evil. The end result is fear, mistrust, hate – poison to our Father’s Kingdom.

Bread Enough For All

I invite you on a journey through Mark’s Good News about Jesus Christ. We are thinking about what Mark wants to tell us through bread. If you missed where we started, click here. Now, I invite you to consider Mark 8:1-10.

We began our journey watching Jesus feed thousands of people, an event in Jewish territory that told the Jews that God has come and he is feeding his people with bread! Then Jesus takes his disciples to the other side, a bad place with pigs and demons and unclean people. Sure enough, they run into a Syrophoenician woman. What does she get from Jesus? Bread!*

Now we are in Mark 8 and we are going to watch Jesus feed another group of people. Seems like a repeat of the event in Mark 6 but there are subtle but critically important difference. Please read the passage because I have some questions for you.

Who said the people had to be fed?
How many loaves of bread did they have?
How was the crowd arranged when they sat down?
What did Jesus do with the bread?
How many baskets of bread did they gather?
Did anybody go hungry?

Everything in this passage shouts Gentile. How many loves of bread? Seven.
How many baskets of bread left over? Seven. There are no five books of the law here; no twelve tribes of Israel. Seven tells us this is Gentile territory. There were seven nations in Canaan that were sent packing by the Jews. Even their baskets are wrong – spuris baskets, not kophinos, the Jewish word for bread baskets.

This time around, the people need to eat but it’s not the disciples who point this out, it’s Jesus. Back in Jewish territory, the disciples told Jesus their people needed to eat. Now they are silent. Why wouldn’t they want to give them something to eat? These are not God’s people! They don’t know Moses, they don’t keep the commandments! No bread for them!

And yet, did anyone go hungry? No, they all ate and were satisfied.

Are you understanding yet?

*Symbolically speaking

Bread Even for Them?

I invite you on a journey through Mark’s Good News about Jesus Christ. We are thinking about what Mark wants to tell us through bread. If you missed where we started, click here. Now, I invite you to consider Mark 8:1-10.

We began our journey watching Jesus feed thousands of people, an event in Jewish territory that told the Jews that God has come and he is feeding his people with bread! Then Jesus takes his disciples to the other side, a bad place with pigs and demons and unclean people. Sure enough, they run into a Syrophoenician woman. What does she get from Jesus? Bread!*

Now we are in Mark 8 and we are going to watch Jesus feed another group of people. Seems like a repeat of the event in Mark 6 but there are subtle but critically important difference. Please read the passage because I have some questions for you.

Who said the people had to be fed?
How many loaves of bread did they have?
How was the crowd arranged when they sat down?
What did Jesus do with the bread?
How many baskets of bread did they gather?
Did anybody go hungry?

Everything in this passage shouts Gentile. How many loves of bread? Seven.
How many baskets of bread left over? Seven. There are no five books of the law here; no twelve tribes of Israel. Seven tells us this is Gentile territory. There were seven nations in Canaan that were sent packing by the Jews. Even their baskets are wrong – spuris baskets, not kophinos, the Jewish word for bread baskets.

This time around, the people need to eat but it’s not the disciples who point this out, it’s Jesus. Back in Jewish territory, the disciples told Jesus their people needed to eat. Now they are silent. Why wouldn’t they want to give them something to eat? These are not God’s people! They don’t know Moses, they don’t keep the commandments! No bread for them!

And yet, did anyone go hungry? No, they all ate and were satisfied.

Are you understanding yet?

*Symbolically speaking

Enough Bread Even for Dogs

I invite you on a journey through Mark’s Good News about Jesus Christ. We are thinking about what Mark wants to tell us through bread. If you missed where we started, click here. Now, I invite you to consider Mark 7:24-30.

We began our journey watching Jesus feed thousands of people, an event in Jewish territory that told the Jews that God has come and he is feeding his people with bread! Then Jesus takes his disciples to the other side, a bad place with pigs and demons and unclean people. There’s no way God is on the other side. And Yet, Mark tells us the disciples didn’t understand. Now, in Mark 7:24-30, we watch Jesus as he encounters a woman who wants his help.

I’ve heard this woman described as a crescendo of demerit! She’s a woman, an unclean gentile, and she’s of the Syrophoenician race, from Tyre and Sidon. Do you know what means? She comes from the land of Jezebel who almost took all of Israel away from God! A crescendo of demerit.

Can you imagine what the disciples were thinking when Jesus responded to this woman? Jesus says, “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
I suspect they were thinking, “Yes Jesus, you got it! The bread is for your children; for God’s children, and not this Jezebel woman!”

There’s some wordplay in this passage that we can’t get into now but Jesus is giving this woman a riddle, he’s engaging her. Even though the disciples don’t understand and maybe we don’t understand, the woman understands. Check out verse 28 – she calls Jesus Lord. This is the only time someone addresses Jesus directly as Lord in Mark.

This underserving, morally suspect, pagan woman wants to know if there’s enough bread for her.

Is there?