Day Fifty with Mark: Mark 13

A few housekeeping notes.  I’ll be doing this studies through Wednesday this week, with a special Christmas Eve one on Thursday. And next week will look (mostly) normal, but then there won’t be one for a few weeks, I’ll be on a trip to Israel with a group, but while in Israel I’m going to share updates about what we’ve seen.  Just wanted to let you know where things are going the next few weeks.

The next few days we’ll be looking at Chapter 13.  Click here to read it.

Mark 13 121This is one of the apocalyptic parts of Mark’s Gospel. Some of what is happening in this passage is referring to the destruction fo the Temple in 70 AD while other parts of the text are talking about the second coming. Which parts are which? That’s a great question. . . .

That’s one of the things with apocalyptic works, is that it’s not always clear which is which. That’s why there is so much debate of what passages like this mean, because no one really is sure about timeline and when things will happen. Jesus actually makes this point today in this passage.

So today, I want to make a few observations from this text that may be helpful for our daily living. For me, that’s the tool I use the most with passages like this. Let’s look at the big picture, what can we see from a big perspective, what makes sense on a big level. Here are some big points to understand within this text.

First, we are told several times, don’t be afraid. You’ll see things that are happening that worry you; that scare you. Don’t be afraid. Over and over in scripture that is one of the primary messages of the Bible. Don’t be afraid. Even when things are bad or scary or worrisome. Don’t be afraid. God has this. God is at work. Good things are coming. No matter how dark and bleak it may look, don’t lose hope. God is at work. Things will get better.

The second thing is the reason number one is important. There will be troubles. In this passage Jesus says several times, it will be tough. It will. There will be troubles. The Christian life is not a life of protection from harm. The Christian life is not a life of protection from trouble. There will be trials and troubles and fears and worries. The Christian life is a something that magically keeps this way. In fact, sometimes quite the opposite. The more faithful you may be the more troubles you may face.

But remember point one. Don’t be afraid. God has this. God is at work. Don’t be afraid. God is with us. All will be well. Don’t be afraid.

The third observation is this – be alert. Jesus tells us to pay attention in life. I think this means not just to things concerning His return, but to all of life. Don’t sleepwalk through life. Look around. Pay attention. Where is God at work? Where is God moving? What is God doing? Where does God want you to plug into His works? Let’s pay attention today!

And last, in regards to His return, He says no one knows the hour or date. Only the Father. For me, this renders any group or organization that says – it’s going to happen on _______ invalid because Jesus plainly say, no one will know. Are we closer to His return? Yes, every day we live we are a day closer. And for us a believers, His return is a good thing, a place with no more death, fear, sin, sickness, none of the destructive things of this world.

So, going back to point one – do not be afraid!

We’ll look a little more in depth tomorrow at Chapter 13.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

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Not For You to Worry

There are so many questions that we would like for God to answers, wouldn’t we?

We’ve probably got a long list of things we can’t wait to ask Him when we get to heaven, huh? Some of them are probably personal, why did this happen? What were you doing in this? Probably the kind of thing I talked about yesterday.

Some will be about passages of the Bible that we don’t understand or theologically questions. We’ve all got questions that we wonder about.

We aren’t the first The folks that walked daily with Jesus were the same way. Look what happens in Acts 1: 6-8:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

second-coming-cloudsThe disciples are asking a question that so many folks have asked. When is the Lord coming back? When will it be? What is the date? What is the time?

That’s a question that so many of us would like to know.

And look at what Jesus said. I’m going paraphrase. Don’t worry about it.

He says it is not for you to know the times or places. Don’t worry about it.

But you know what you can do? Instead of spending time worrying about this, spend time being busy for the gospel. Spend time taking the good news to the world. Spend time living, loving, preaching, serving.

There are a lot of things that we don’t know and may never know. But we know this. There are folks that need to know Jesus, folks that need grace.

And we can use our time worrying about things that we will never know, or we can spend out time, taking the good news of Jesus to a world that needs to know.

There are things we will never know. But we know this. WE are loved by an amazing God. And we need to take that love with us everywhere that we God.

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Be Ready!

I don’t know what today holds. I’m sure that it will hold problems that I can’t anticipate right now. Emails will fill my inbox. There will be phone calls I can’t get to immediately. There will be visits, there will be planning, there will be conversations, there will be lots of stuff happening today that I don’t even know are possible.

And as important as those things are, they are the thing that I need to prepared for.

Listen to what Jesus says in Luke 12:39-40:

But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, het would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

As Jesus said today in this text, He will return, and at an hour that none of us expect. To me this verse is a comfort, and a challenge.

It’s comfort because all those folks on TV and selling books that can tell you for sure that they know when it’s going to happen? They are wrong. No one knows the hour or the day. No one.

Now, sure, each day we are here is a day that we are closer to his return, but all the folks that claim to have inside info, or have figured it out, they are wrong. Jesus said His return will be a time no one expects.

So, pay these people no attention.

But, it is a challenge to me to live in a way that if He does return today, I’ll be giving Him honor. I want to live my life in such a way that when He returns He’ll find me being faithful.

So today, don’t worry about the end of the world. Don’t spend time thinking about the false prophets and the people that claim to have figured it out.

Because they haven’t.

But do seek to live your life in a way that will honor Him, if He returns today. Or a 1000 years from now.

May every moment of our lives, may we seek to give Him glory and honor! Let’s be ready to do that!

My Take on May 21, 2011 Not Being the End of the World

It looks like the world will not end today.  Jesus told us that no one knows the hour or day, but for some reason that doesn’t “sell” as much as guessing about when it will all happen.

Now, I’ve had as much fun as the rest of you with laughing at the claims that the world was going to end today, May 21, 2011.

I’m not going to work on a sermon, since we won’t be here!  I’m going to go and load up the credit cards!  Start trouble!  All the same jokes.

I’ve retweeted some of the funnier statements today. I’ve laughed, I’ve smirked, I’ve poked and I’ve prodded. It’s been kind of funny.

But as I was reading about how the world didn’t end today, something happened. I got a little sad. And a little angry.  I was thinking about how the church has been portrayed by all this the past few days, and it’s not been pretty.

Now, first, why do I say “the church?”  This is why. Inside the church, we make distinctions.  You’re Baptist.  You’re Methodist.  You’re evangelical.  You’re liberal.  You’re whatever label we put on each other.

To the world, though, that’s not the case.  We are all a mass of Christianity. They don’t see our “labels.” They simply see us as Christians. And while we can make distinction amongst ourselves, they don’t.  And when something like this happens, it shames all of us.  It makes us all look foolish in the eyes of the world.

But Andy, doesn’t the Bible say that God uses the foolish to shame the wisdom of the world.

Yes it does.  But, this is not what it’s talking about.  The foolishness of God is that we are saved not be “being” good or by “doing” anything. We are saved by grace through faith, so that no one can boast. And then that belief and that faith MUST change our life.

It is foolish to love and forgive and to charge into the darkness unafraid. That is the foolishness of God.  Not what we’ve seen in the past few days.  I believe that the work of Harold Camping has greatly harmed the cause of Christ because:

1.  Mockery of the church.  We will be scorned; our beliefs may be seen as out of step.  Sure, that’s fine, that’s ok.  But, that’s not what this is. All through out scripture, the people of God were not seen as embarrassing or as jokes. Radical yes.  Passionate, sure.  But, never as a joke. Paul was beaten and thrown out of town. But He was respected.  Jesus taught with authority and people followed Him.  David, while not “looking” like a king was a man after God’s own heart. The people of God, while always being different and scorned, they lived lives above reproach and were respected for the integrity by which they lived their lives.

That has not been the case with this situation.

Now the opinion of the world, is not my primary concern. But, it does matter.

On one hand I don’t care what the world thinks of me. I don’t. But on the other, I must use everything at my power, all that I am, all that have I have to live, love, and proclaim the grace of God to all that I meet.  I want to honor Jesus with all that am.

So, all of this, did it honor Jesus?  Did it bring glory to His name?  Did it draw people to Him?


And because of that, His cause in the world was harmed.

2. Harm caused to people.  People sold all that they had.  Not to follow Jesus, but to follow Harold Camping. And he let them.  He didn’t stop them.  That is wrong.

Families were separated. Not to follow Jesus, but to follow a man.

This is wrong.

John Wesley had General Rules for Methodists in his day, and they were: “do no harm, do good, stay in love with God.”  The first rule was “do no harm.”  This movement did not abide by this rule.  Harm was done.  To well meaning people that just wanted to do what they felt like God wanted.

As a pastor, I have to do right by my people. What bothers me about Harold Camping was that people followed him. And he didn’t have their best interest at heart.

And that hurts the cause of Christ.

We, as Christians, and as the church, exist to draw people to Christ and let them know His great love for them.  This entire episode damaged the cause of Christ by focusing on something that we have no control over. I long for the return of Christ. I long for God’s kingdom to be completed. I long for our redemption.

I believe in the return of Christ. But that’s out of my hands. I have no control over it.

You know what I do have control over?  Loving my enemies.  Praying for those that curse me.  Helping the poor, the least, the lost.  Growing closer to Jesus.  Falling in love with Him. Teaching others of His love.

And that, more than guessing about the end of the world, gives honor to Christ.

That’s what Harold Camping didn’t focus on. That’s what we, as the church, must focus on.

Whether Jesus returns today, or a 1000 years from now. We need to live, love, serve, and worship until He calls us home. All in His due time.

What You Were Made For

Yesterday in a Bible Study, we were talking about the weather that’s come through the area recently, talking about the flooding thats hit Nashville and Memphis, talking about the river of oil rushing towards the Gulf Coast, talking Coal Mine disasters, talking about earthquakes, talking about Icelandic Volcanos, talking about all that’s been happening in the world.

And then a question was asked that didn’t really expect.

Is the world coming to an end? It was not asked in a wild-eyed, conspiracy laden way, but in a calm, sober voice. One that looked around at all that’s been happening and wondered, wow, what are we to make of all this.

I responded with the assurance, yes, each day we live, we are closer to the return of our Lord. Now is the return to be today?  Tomorrow? The day after?  That I don’t know, and that I leave in God’s hands. Because even Jesus said no on knows the hour or day.

I was thinking about when I read a passage from 1 Thessalonians this morning:

9 For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Paul was writing to the people there about the Second Coming. He writes about all that is to happen, about all these mysteries. But then He begins chapter 5 with this passage about being faithful and reminds them – you were made for salvation.

You were created not for wrath, but for salvation.

God is not out to get you.

God is not out to punish you.

God is not out to crush you.

We were not made for that.

We were made for salvation, for life, for love, for grace, for hope, for all that is good and noble and peaceful.

In the storms of life, the storms of this world, the storms of our soul, never forget that. Never forget what you were made for. Never forget God’s purpose for you.

To be loved.

Never let your fears outweigh the love that God has for you.  You were made to be loved.

By God, and by others.

Today, may we live as we were made to be. May we live in that awesome love and life of God.