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Mark, Episode 7: When the Disciples Spread the Word

The twelve disciples had a passive role in Jesus’ early ministry. They listened to Jesus, learned from him, and followed him around the countryside and across seas. But Jesus had more planned. He had work for them to do.

Read Mark 6:7-29.

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Credit: Tommy Clark (https://flic.kr/p/gpgfji)

Jesus sent his disciples out to announce his coming. Just like John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, so did his disciples. They were his publicists. They called people to repentance, freed the possessed, and healed the sick. Jesus delegated to them what he was doing already, what people crowded around him for. The people came to Jesus, and now he sent his disciples to the people.

You may note that this story shows Jesus’ power was transferable. He wasn’t some superhero with special powers only he could control. He could actually share his ability to banish demons and heal diseases, perhaps because of the intensive time the disciples had already spent with him.

Power alone wouldn’t guarantee acceptance though. Not everyone accepted Jesus or his teaching, and he knew his disciples would face the same challenge. If they would be welcome everywhere, then why would he give them instructions on what to do when they were not?

John the Baptist was also unwelcome. He criticized Herod for marrying his brother’s wife (Matt. 14:4). He was killed for speaking the truth. Herod was apparently not threatened by John because he “heard him gladly.” He was also afraid of the public backlash if anything happened to John. But Herodias did feel threatened. She wanted John gone. She did not want to repent for marrying her husband’s brother.

Not all good teachers will be respected or treated like they deserve. Some people don’t want to hear the truth because it might mean they are wrong or have to change. They would rather be left alone to do whatever they want, despite the possible consequences. Fun facts: Herod’s domain was later attacked by the kingdom of his ex-wife, whom he left for Herodias. Soon after, Herodias’ mischief led to the Roman emperor banishing Herod to Gaul. Not a wise marriage on Herod’s part.

Jesus knew that his disciples would be rejected, like John and himself, but there was good news too. He sent them with nothing but staffs in their hands and sandals on their feet. Just the minimum tools for their travel. I will be traveling this summer, and I’ve been working on my packing list for months. I can’t imagine leaving with nothing more than a hiking stick and shoes. But leaving with nothing more than a staff and sandals meant they would have to trust God on their journey. It meant there would be people to receive them in their homes and listen to their message.

Some people would ignore, criticize, or chase the disciples out of town. But it would be worth it for those who would listen, repent, and be freed and healed. That gives me hope. No matter how much opposition I might face for my faith and following Jesus, God will open the right doors and provide the opportunities he means me to have.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus, John 16:33

 

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Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Other thoughts

 

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My Life Isn’t What I Thought It’d Be

On Sunday morning, I took the stage at my church. They wanted to hear my story and how I came to pursue missionary service. I told everyone that three years ago I couldn’t have imagined that I would one day be standing in front of them all.

Several of my friends are preparing to graduate college in a few short weeks. I remember being in their shoes three years ago. At the time, I had no idea of the journey God would take me on.

My biggest dream was to be a book editor. I thought that was what I wanted to do with my life. Read other people’s stories and clean them up for the world to enjoy. I thought I would live in the United States with only occasional, brief trips to see the world. I thought I would be the Christian who stayed home, doing quiet good and inviting my neighbors to know God.

But as often happens in one’s early twenties, what I wanted changed. My dreams grew bigger. Beyond what I felt capable of achieving. Beyond what seemed feasible or practical.

Credit: Louis Vest (https://flic.kr/p/obARz7)

Credit: Louis Vest (https://flic.kr/p/obARz7)

I had the 9-to-5 editorial career and it wasn’t enough. I had a blog and enjoyed writing on the side, but I wanted to write more and I wanted it to be meaningful and important. I wanted something to be passionate about and to dedicate all my energy and love to. I wanted to fall into bed at the end of the day exhausted not from boredom but from accomplishing something that mattered.

In short, I felt restless.

Getting laid off gave me the push I needed to do something about it.

Now I’m in the application process of becoming a missionary in a ministry I’ve been privileged to visit and serve before. I told my church how God has placed one step after another to bring me on a great adventure beyond anything I could have planned myself. It’s an adventure that will require all of me, applying everything I’ve learned so far and all the passions that make me come alive. Everything is falling into its place. He is the great storyteller and it’s only in looking back that I can see the genius and grace in the plot line he’s written for me.

“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.” Psalm 77:19

How has God amazed you in writing your story?

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Other thoughts

 

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Back to School: A New Perspective

Seven months after graduating college, I’m back in class. By my free will.

But this isn’t college. It isn’t cooking basics. It isn’t road rage control. No, this class meets at a church and is all about Christian missions. It’s a class that started about 40 years ago and has spread around the world. I will let the class introduce itself with its own promo video:

If you didn’t catch all that (or just skipped the video), Perspectives on the World Christian Movement is a 15-week course with 15 speakers and a whole lot of reading. The Perspectives reader weighs more than most of my college textbooks. It includes 136 articles or essays by Christian leaders around the world. The class also uses a study guide alongside the reader to keep students on track with the reading and lectures.

Since college still feels like yesterday, I decided to opt out of the certificate and credit options for the class registration. I instead signed up for the lowest level of commitment, otherwise know as “key reading.” Of course, I still plan on attending each week’s lecture and keeping up on the reading, but key reading students are not required to read as much, submit lesson reviews, take exams, or create a final project. Key reading students do not receive grades. In other words, I felt lazy.

I look forward to seeing where this class goes, though. From the first, I’ve heard only good things from all corners to recommend the class. Overall, everyone told me this class will change my perspective on the world–and ultimately, it will change my life. So I already had high expectations by the time I showed up for the first lecture last night.

The church hosting the weekly class is on the outskirts of town and is the closest I’ve ever seen to a mega-church. The building looks more like a conference center than a place for worship. Walking inside, I found 40 to 50 people milling around before the start of class. A woman found my registration and directed me to the book table, where a man stocked me with the reader and study guide before sending me on to have my photo taken. Once I made it into the classroom, I realized the class offers dinner. Students were roaming along the tables laden with crock pots, vegetable trays, and plastic boxes of store-bought cookies. I grabbed some apple slices and a chocolate chip cookie and chose my seat.

The three-hour class introduced the course, covered the beginning of God’s story in Genesis, gave time to meet other students in small groups, and instilled in me an eager excitement to begin my reading and go to class next week. Our hilarious first speaker asked us why we chose to take the class and what is our motivation to finish. I chose this class to continue learning about God and his plans. More specifically, I hope God will speak to me through this class, saying what his plans are for me.

It’s already obvious that this class will impact my life and the way I think, although I’m not sure yet in what ways. Who knows who I will be by the end of 15 weeks? Only God.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Other thoughts

 

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