Beggars Can Be Choosers — Healing of Blind Bartimaeus — Mark 10:46-52

Posted by on Jul 27, 2016 in Christian | 0 comments

Beggars Can Be Choosers — Healing of Blind Bartimaeus — Mark 10:46-52

This story provides a stark contrast to how the rich young ruler approached Jesus in the previous encounter.

  • Man of privilege and distinction vs. the most pitiful creature imaginable = blind beggar
  • Man who claimed obedience vs. wretched sinner crying out for mercy
  • Man who could not lay aside his great wealth vs. man who had no problem casting aside his only possession, a threadbare coat
  • Man who went away sad vs. a man who followed Jesus on the pathway of discipleship with great joy and rejoicing – “Once I was blind, but now I can see .. the light of the world is Jesus”

This story also provides a stark contrast to the interaction with Jesus with James and John in the previous section.  Same question Jesus asked in vs. 36 – but different response

  • Disciples seeking places of prominence and distinction in the kingdom vs. a simple sinner who wants to be healed of his debilitating blindness
  • Disciples who lack the spiritual vision to get the lesson that Jesus has been teaching over and over regarding greatness in the kingdom vs. a humble, bankrupt.lowly sinner whom Jesus blesses with spiritual vision as well as physical vision

Jesus wants each of us to see our self in the story of Bartimaeus.  This is the model of how sinners should approach Jesus by faith and receive His power and blessing.


Let’s learn the 3 LESSONS ABOUT FAITH that Jesus teaches us here:


The Way of the Cross Leads to Exaltation — Mark 10:32-45

Posted by on Jul 18, 2016 in Christian | 0 comments

The Way of the Cross Leads to Exaltation — Mark 10:32-45

Illustration: Brian Billick book — Competitive Leadership: Twelve Principles for Success:

  • Be Values Oriented
  • Be Prepared
  • Be Self Disciplined
  • Be Knowledgeable
  • Be Performance Oriented
  • Be a Communicator
  • Be a Motivator
  • Be a Problem Solver
  • Be a Team Builder
  • Be Opportunistic
  • Be Self Assured
  • Be Courageous

What is missing?  Be a SERVANT!


We are continuing in the same themes as we come to the third of these 3 passion prophecies in the central portion of Mark’s Gospel (8:31, 9:31); Always followed by a response of self-seeking and self-promotion on the part of the apostles; Teaching of Jesus centered around the contrast between the world’s concept of greatness and how to be great in the kingdom of God

MacArthur: The path to greatness is not the world’s way, it’s God’s way. The world’s way works in the world. God’s way works in the Kingdom.



Abundant Rate of Return in Christian Commitment — Mark 10:28-31

Posted by on Jul 16, 2016 in Christian | 0 comments

Abundant Rate of Return in Christian Commitment — Mark 10:28-31

As the summer Olympics rapidly approach, we will be impressed once again with the sacrifices that these young athletes have made to try to achieve Olympic gold.

The path to becoming a champion is paved by great sacrifices.

They say it takes hours and hours of practice to become proficient. Many researchers suggest that it takes 10,000 hours.  If you practiced your art for 2 hours every day it would take you 13.7 years to reach this mark.

Question: “What was one of the biggest sacrifices you had to make in order to get to the top?”

Responses from some of the greatest athletes:

1) Bart Conner – USA Olympic Hall of Famer and World Champion on the Parallel Bars

“The key issue is for me is that I never saw any of it as a sacrifice, just choices.  So, I never felt that I was missing something, only that I chose something else.”

Bart is one of the greatest gymnasts to ever compete in the Olympics. He was a member of the gold medal-winning men’s gymnastics team at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games where he won an individual gold medal on the parallel bars.

2) Kristine Lilly – Professional American Soccer Player and Most Capped Men’s or Women’s Soccer Player In The History Of The Sport

“I’m not sure I would call it sacrifices that I made to be the best I could, or more so just choices to want to play for my country.

I always put my training first.  Whether it was cold outside and snowy, I still found a way to get a work out in.  I always wanted to make sure I was fit enough to be ready to go into training camp with the U.S. national team.  I did miss a lot of family functions and birthdays but my family was so supportive we made up for them in other ways.  Going after your dream takes a commitment and lots of support and hard work.  I had all those pieces to be able to play for the U.S. for over 23 years.  I enjoyed my career and all I put into it and got out of it…”

Rich young ruler came to the conclusion that it was not worth it to him to follow Jesus.



Who Can Enter the Kingdom of God? Mark 10:13-27

Posted by on Jun 20, 2016 in Christian | Comments Off on Who Can Enter the Kingdom of God? Mark 10:13-27

Who Can Enter the Kingdom of God?  Mark 10:13-27

In our circles we are quick to criticize what we have termed “Easy Believism”.  We reject the notion that one can accept Jesus as merely a Get-Out-of-Hell card while refusing to bow the knee to His authority as Lord and God.  So we turn to passages like this one about the rich, young ruler and demonstrate how the evangelistic approach of Jesus is so unlike the approach of those today who would try to sweep all such Seekers into the kingdom indiscriminately.

Yet the value of today’s message is the balance that the teaching of Jesus provides as we set side by side the contrast between these two incidents that are recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke.  This is why I don’t want to preach on these two incidents in separate sermons.  They must be seen together to bring out the contrast that Jesus is presenting.

In some sense entering the kingdom of God can be incredibly easy … while in another sense it can be incredibly difficult.  It all depends on your attitude and orientation in coming to Jesus.

Remember the earlier teaching in Mark 4 ragarding the Parable of the Soils; we have those different types of soil reflected here in Mark 10

Parunak: 10:1-31, three encounters by the way.

These illustrate the soils once again:

a> Roadside: Pharisees seeking to trap him.

b> Good Soil: children with their simple faith.

c> Thorny Soil: rich man clinging to his wealth.  [no rocky soil here —  persecution]

Someone with divided allegiance. The clearest example yet of thorny soil, drawn away by “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things.”

Often the sticking point in presenting the gospel to someone is getting them to honestly and sincerely come to that point of brokenness where they reject the notion of their inherent goodness and come to grips with their own bankruptcy and neediness.  There can be no message of Good News until that sense of a need for a Savior has been established.



What God Has Joined Together Must Stay Together — Mark 10:1-12

Posted by on Jun 16, 2016 in Christian | Comments Off on What God Has Joined Together Must Stay Together — Mark 10:1-12

What God Has Joined Together Must Stay Together — Mark 10:1-12

The importance of this topic cannot be overstated.  We all know people who have been involved in some aspect of divorce and remarriage issues.  It would be far preferable to determine our biblical convictions before we were under the emotional pressure of dealing with specific individuals and specific circumstances that hit close to home.  But regardless, we have come upon the topic at this point in our study in Mark and must address it here.

Statistics:  very disputed

1910 – 10% of US marriages ended in divorce

1948 – percent had grown to 25%

In the United States today, researchers estimate that 40%–50% of all first marriages, and 60% of second marriages, will end in divorce. [ these stats regarded as a myth by others]   There are some well known factors that put people at higher risk for divorce: marrying at a very early age, less education and income, living together before marriage, a premarital pregnancy, no religious affiliation, coming from a divorced family, and feelings of insecurity. The most common reasons people give for their divorce are lack of commitment, too much arguing, infidelity, marrying too young, unrealistic expectations, lack of equality in the relationship, lack of preparation for marriage, and abuse.

How can civilization survive when the most basic unit of the society is so broken???

Now we are redefining gender and redefining the basic composition of marriage – no longer just between one man and one woman.

Then you have the great masses of young people that are rejecting or at least minimizing the institution of marriage altogether and just choosing to cohabit on a long term basis.  They would look at today’s discussion as an antiquated argument.

  • The divorce rate for a third marriage is 73%–When it comes to marriage, practice doesn’t make perfect. In fact, it only seems to make you worse. That’s why the divorce rate continues to get higher for each additional marriage. Nearly 3 out of every 4 adults who are on their third marriage end up divorced again.
  • Christian couples have the same divorce rate as the national average—It seems there’s little truth to the saying “The family that prays together stays together.” Protestant Christian couples are just as likely to get divorced as their secular counterparts. In fact, Atheists have a much lower divorce rate than Christians. [but how do you define Christians?]

Approach: study through this text on its own; but it merits a much wider treatment on a topic level throughout the Scripture to make sure that our interpretation is consistent and holds up against the various objections that could be lodged  (Matt. 19, 1 Cor. 7:15)

Then address the more complicated objections and case study issues that arise and pastoral implications of how to respond in a wide context of situations —

Value of study completed by H. Van Dyke Parunak

Today’s lesson will not fully satisfy you and is not intended to answer all your questions.  But we will start with this simple teaching from Mark’s gospel.  (gave you some homework to dig deeper)



Lesson on Saltiness — Be Pure . . . Be Potent . . . Be Peaceful — Mark 9:43-50

Posted by on Jun 5, 2016 in Christian | Comments Off on Lesson on Saltiness — Be Pure . . . Be Potent . . . Be Peaceful — Mark 9:43-50

Lesson on Saltiness — Be Pure . . . Be Potent . . . Be Peaceful — Mark 9:43-50

Figure it out … Live it out …

Other messages started with the teaching and then moved into illustration and application.  In this lesson, we start with some illustration and application and then get the teaching on the back end.

Vs. 42 we studied with the section above – but it is a transitional verse – just as you need to make sure you don’t cause other Christians to stumble, you must as a priority give heed to your own moral purity

Parunak: Regarding background of usage of salt: For us, salt is a cheap, common substance, used mainly to flavor food, and we are most conscious of it as something that physicians try to get us to avoid. In ancient times, it was much more rare, thus precious. Roman soldiers received part of their pay in salt, a payment called salarium, from which we get our modern word “salary.” In addition, it was more than a seasoning, though it was that (Job 6:6). But it was also important as a medicine and a preservative for food. In this sense the Lord here uses it as a metaphor for something important in the Christian’s life.



Memory Markers in Genesis

Posted by on May 31, 2016 in Christian | Comments Off on Memory Markers in Genesis

Memory Markers in Genesis

Sadly Memorial Day has become just another day devoted to the pursuit of personal entertainment and the maximization of our own pleasure and leisure time.  It has largely lost its significance.  I wonder if most Americans could even distinguish between the purpose for Memorial Day vs. Veterans Day?  Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving to protect our country and our freedoms, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.  Do we even care that people sacrificed their lives so that we could enjoy our way of life?

The Lord who created us understands that we are a forgetful people.

Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons”. (Deut. 4:9)

Beware lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14 then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Deut. 8:11-14)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; 5 Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” (Ps. 103:2-5)

The Lord understands that we need repetition in order to remember.  We also need visible Memory Markers along life’s journey as concrete reminders of important lessons that He has taught us.  Hopefully you have created some of these Memory Markers in your own home with your own children.  What events have been especially significant in your experience.

For us, I can think of the plaque on the wall that commemorates the Lord enabling us to purchase our home by turning the heart of the seller towards us to give us favorable terms.

The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Prov. 21:1)

Or the plaque on the wall in my study above my computer that reminds me of the Lord’s faithfulness when I was looking for work after being booted out the door by Alban Cat.

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; And call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”  (Ps. 50:14-15)

Right from the beginning of Creation, the Lord used this technique of establishing Memory Markers to reinforce important life lessons.  Katie had asked for us to study through Genesis – so we will do that very rapidly this morning as we think of Memorial Day tomorrow.



Lesson on Sectarianism — Mark 9:38-42

Posted by on May 22, 2016 in Christian | Comments Off on Lesson on Sectarianism — Mark 9:38-42

Lesson on Sectarianism — Mark 9:38-42

More important to get the big picture and how it all hangs together in this section

Overall context: Jesus has turned his focus to the Cross

  • Headed to Jerusalem in a physical sense to go to the cross
  • Oriented his teaching to focus on his inner circle of disciples
  • Emphasizing to them the significance of His coming death and resurrection
  • Training his disciples to assume leadership when he departs this earth

Cost of Discipleship

  • Deny self; Take up your cross; Follow Me – what will that involve?
  • Servanthood; Suffering; Persecution

Immediate Context – Issue of Greatness in the Kingdom

Disciples were driven by the motivation of Competition – each wanted to be the best; they wanted their lives to count

Last week we saw how that motivation for competition manifested itself in their relationship with one another as insiders – as members of the inner circle of Christ’s team of Apostles

This week we will see how that motivation for competition manifests itself in their relationship to ones they view as outsiders – ones who do not embrace all of the same distinctives as they do; ones who march to the beat of a different drummer and don’t fall into step with their marching band;

This message is especially important to us as we experience a very segmented denominational structure within the overall Church of Jesus Christ – we have many camps – and we are always in danger of looking with disdain on those who are outside our particular group

  • We hold to certain distinctives – like believer baptism
  • We all have close friends or even family members that hold to infant baptism

How should we relate to one another?

  • We hold to the distinctive of plurality of elder government
  • We are in the minority here; most churches have a Senior Pastor structure with a major differentiation between his role and that of other church leaders

How should we relate to one another?

Have you ever thought how sad it would be if our distinctives were so narrow and confining and even off base that Jesus himself would not be able to join our church and satisfy our membership criteria??  You can’t embrace both infant baptism and believer baptism – they are not both correct

Jesus is not asking us to throw away all distinctives and water down our commitment level to the lowest possible denominator so that we can all be together organizationally in one group – Instead He urges us to study and develop biblical convictions and to live out those convictions

Yet the spirit in which we interact with other genuine believers is very important – this lesson is crucial for people like us that are so zealous for truth; that place such a high priority on our biblical convictions



Greatness in the Kingdom — Mark 9:30-37

Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Christian | Comments Off on Greatness in the Kingdom — Mark 9:30-37

Greatness in the Kingdom — Mark 9:30-37

I wanted to begin this morning by considering some famous quotes on the subject of Greatness – what makes someone attain to Greatness?  What is the pathway or the secret to Greatness?

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”   Greatness comes in various forms; you need to embrace it, not fear it
— William ShakespeareTwelfth Night

“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.”   Be the best YOU  (sounds more like the Joel Osteen self-help approach)
— Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free

“The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.”   Matter of priorities
— Brandon SandersonThe Alloy of Law

“All greatness of character is dependent on individuality. The man who has no other existence than that which he partakes in common with all around him, will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity. “  Be the unique YOU                                                                                                                                              James F. Cooper

Probably closest to the truth – but still not capturing the biblical perspective:                                                                                                                                              “A great man is always willing to be little.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nothing wrong with having ambition and wanting to make a difference with your life – in fact there is something very wrong with not caring about greatness and excellence and just being comfortable with mediocrity

It is a matter of our motivation and whether we are self-centered or God-centered

What does Jesus teach and what did Jesus practice with respect to the Pathway to Greatness?



Dealing with Spiritual Power Failures and Nagging Doubts — Mark 9:14-29

Posted by on May 1, 2016 in Christian | Comments Off on Dealing with Spiritual Power Failures and Nagging Doubts — Mark 9:14-29

Dealing with Spiritual Power Failures and Nagging Doubts — Mark 9:14-29

In my business, people bring us problems all day long.  Their heavy duty truck or their bus is broken-down and won’t function as intended.  They have been counting on that vehicle to make them money and now it has let them down.

Customers have the same set of needs:

– They have a problem they need solved – They can’t solve it themselves because they don’t have their own shop with techs or they don’t have the expertise or time to make this particular repair;

They need us to be Available with the resources they require

– They have a problem they need solved NOW — sense of urgency because the situation is costing them money and productivity – They want to get back on the road as quickly and painlessly as possible;

They need us to Care

            – They have a problem they need solved with finality — need a solution that will fix the problem the first time so that it stays fixed with no comebacks;

They need us to be Skilled

Customers can put up Obstacles to a Good Outcome:

– Usually they are very demanding – not very helpful

– Sometimes they are unrealistic – Want it fixed immediately and don’t want to pay what the repair is worth.

– Sometimes they refuse to accept the diagnosis – We will get another opinion or try to limp along and hope it is not as bad as you say.  As if they were the experts even though they took it to the repair shop in the first place because they were unable to fix it themselves