Do You or I or Anyone Know?

“Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley grow. Do you, or I, or anyone know, how oats, peas, beans and barley grows?”

This Sunday we’ll be having our Surf-N-Grill Sunday – which means we will have a shorter than normal service, and then head down to St Andrews State Park for a beach day. The weather looks pretty good for that!

If you haven’t been baptized and would like to, you can still sign up online: Baptism Sign Up

We’ll also be continuing our study in Mark, reading 4:26-34 which contains two parables about seeds. I drew a coloring page for the kids to work on during our teaching – and it may give you something to talk about afterwards.

As you read the first parable in v 26-29, we should take our cues from the previous parable about what the seed stands for: the news of God’s kingdom advancing in this world. In this story, what does the emphasis seem to be on? What impact does human agency have in the growing of the crops? How would you correlate scattering seeds and gathering a harvest with our activity as the church? What lessons do you believe Jesus is intending to teach us with this imagery?

The second parable about the small mustard seed seems pretty straightforward. What would you say constitutes those seemingly insignificant ways in which God’s Kingdom grows in this world?

I’m looking forward to a family day at Eastgate! Hope to see you there!

Who Defines You?

One of my favorite types of humor is mistaken identity, like the Flight of the Conchords song above. The confusion and delightful misdirection as the mis-identified man tries to sort through the woman’s description of their relationship. I never get tired of that video. Mistaken identity like that can be fun – but usually when someone defines our identity improperly, it takes a heavy toll.

We’ll be reading about people mis-identifying Jesus in our text this week as we continue our study in Mark’s gospel. We’ll be reading 3:20-35, which will finish up the chapter.

In this section, Jesus’ family and the religious leaders from Jerusalem define Jesus as either crazy or demonic. The two groups of people who were most qualified to identify who Jesus is completely fail to do so.

This passage has a chiastic structure and is an example of Mark’s way of framing one episode with another…in other words, we will be enjoying a Markian sandwich this Sunday!

Here is how the text is structured:

verse 20  Crowd
verse 21  Family
verse 22  Scribes (accusation)
verses 23-27  The parable of plundering the satan’s possesions
verses 28-30  Scribes (warned about their accusation)
verse 31  Family
verse 32  Crowd

Why do you think Jesus’ family were so concerned about his behavior? Why do you suppose that they didn’t understand his mission? What do you think was motivating the religious leaders in their opposition to him? How significant do you think Jesus’ redefinition of family is in v35?

All of this will provide us with some insights about how we see ourselves and how it is that our own identity is defined.  Plus, we’ll have a talk about v28-30 and alleviate any unnecessary fears about the U.P.S. (un-pardonable sin). Hope to see you on Sunday!

The Risk of Love

Back in 1993 Meatloaf crooned a song that declared in it’s title “I’d do anything for love (but I won’t do that)”. Of course, people largely missed the point trying to speculate on what “that” was. The humor is the self-contradictory nature of the words – I’d do anything, but then a qualifier is added which nullifies the prior statement.

Um…is this a Bible study Rob?

Yes, it is. I’m getting to my topic. There is a risk that must be taken if we are really going to know and certainly if we are going to express love…real love…sacrificial love…God’s love. A risk that really doesn’t allow for prior qualifications or exceptions beforehand.

We’ll see that as a case in point in the section we’ll read in Mark’s gospel as we continue that study. We’ll be reading ch 3:7-19.

In this section Jesus has suddenly become very popular. It’s understandable, considering all that he is able to do and provide for people. In the narrative, Jesus and his disciples seem to be in danger of being crushed. There hardly seems to be any concern for Jesus, only what can be gained from Jesus. Yet Jesus continues serving the people as they come to him.

What risk can we see evident in the crowd’s treatment of Jesus? Did it seem to deter Jesus from a mission like this?

Why do you think Jesus ordered a getaway boat? What can we learn about love’s application from this?

Later on Jesus tags 12 guys to be his close disciples who will represent him to the world. I like how only three of them get nicknames. I wonder how the other guys felt when they were waiting for their nickname and it never got spoken. “My name’s Andrew but you can call me D-ROO!” “Shut up Andrew, it doesn’t count if you make it up yourself! We’re NOT calling you that!”

That’s some of the stuff I think about.

But, the one name that vividly jumps off the page is Judas. The name associated with treachery from that time forward. Why did Jesus choose him? Why did he allow him such close access? Those are great questions I hope to ask him someday. They go along with questions about why God even had a forbidden tree in the Garden. Maybe it has to do with the nature of real love.

What risk do we see that love takes when we look at this list of disciples? Jesus doesn’t seem to back away from the risks. What can that teach us about how we are called to express this Jesus kind of love? In what ways do we find ourselves challenged by these risks? How can we find the courage to take these risks for the Kingdom of God?

Hope to see you Sunday!

 

Easter Sunday

This Sunday we’ll be having very special gatherings where we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus! Our first meeting will be held on the beach at 6 am at the Pineapple Willie’s restaurant beach access. Pineapple Willie’s has been very gracious to Eastgate over the years and we are excited about partnering with them for this event! Bring a chair or blanket, and think about dressing in layers since the starting temperature will be in the lower 60’s.

We will be handing out papers which have the order of service, lyrics to the songs and prayers. However, we are also providing a PDF version of this which you can view on your phone. Download it before you come at this link: Easter Sunrise with Eastgate

Later on, at 10 am, we’ll gather in the courtyard in front of the Eastgate building and have a time of celebration with worship songs, a Kidsgate performance and more! Afterwards we’ll have a potluck lunch and hang out as God’s kids, enjoying the day! Bring a lawn chair and some sunscreen…and bring a dish to share!  We have a PDF to download for that service as well – courtyard service 2019

Easter is the centerpiece of our faith! Let’s get stoked, HE’S ALIVE!

The Heart of God vs the Hardened Heart

There’s a scene from the first Incredibles movie that reminds me of the text we’ll be reading this Sunday. Mr. Incredible is a superhero forced into retirement who had taken on a job as an insurance salesman. He keeps looking after his customers best interests, which gets him called into his boss’s office. Rather than describe the scene to you – let me just put it here for you to watch:

This Sunday we’ll be reading Mark 3:1-6 in our study of this gospel.
Do you see the parallels between a puny and petty boss trying to exert authority over a superhero?

As you read this passage, think about the contrasts. Who is Jesus looking at? Who are the religious leaders looking at? Following that, contemplate this question: what is the main concern of the religious leaders and what is the main concern of Jesus?

Answering those questions will unlock the lessons of this text.

What is it about the religious leaders that made Jesus both angry and sad? How does Jesus’ reaction to this help us to identify the priorities God intends for us to live by?

In a fast changing world we, as followers of Christ, often struggle to know how we interface our Christian values with this morally fluid society. Sometimes we’ve fallen into the same snare that the Pharisees did. In what ways has the church been blinded by a commitment to what might be considered necessary rules that we miss God’s overarching value of compassion? How can we keep that from happening while still holding to a conviction?

Those are the topics we’ll consider – it should be a thought provoking text to explore!

Priorities

There is a strange tension between the letter and the spirit of a law.

The “letter of the law” refers to how a law is spelled out in the penal code, vehicle code etc. The “spirit of the law” is the reasoning behind why the law was enacted; the original intent for its institution. It is possible to violate the “letter of the law” but not the “spirit of the law”. In such cases, law enforcement and prosecutors hopefully use discretion and don’t usually enforce violations of the “letter of the law” as long as the “spirit” wasn’t violated.

A sign may be posted in the park which says “no vehicles allowed”. That’s the letter of the law. The intent, however, is to prohibit large, motorized vehicles from entering. If a person in a wheelchair wants to enter the park, it may technically violate the letter of the law, but not the spirit.

Something along those lines is happening in our text for this Sunday as we continue our study in Mark. We’ll be finishing chapter 2, reading v 23-28.

Why do you think the Pharisees accused the disciples of “harvesting” on the Sabbath? Apply the letter versus the spirit of the law principle here. Do you think it was God’s original intent to keep people hungry on the day of rest?

The story Jesus references in his rebuke is found in 1 Sam 21. It’s an interesting story because it’s filled with all sorts of ethically disconcerting stuff, the least of which was the showbread (to me anyway). What do you believe Jesus’ point to the Pharisees is? What seems to be God’s priority when it comes to his intent behind any commandment?

How can we keep God’s priority in view as we attend to our own life of faith and the values that stem from that?

It will be a thought provoking study, hope to see you there!

The Joyful New

I’m back from vacation! I had a great trip to the Great Northwest – but I’m also glad to be back.

This Sunday we’ll be reading Mark 2:18-22. This text is in the midst of a grouping of religious controversies that confront Jesus in his early ministry. Jesus, from the get go, was upending religious expectations left and right.

Israel’s expectation for who the messiah would be judging and what the messiah would be doing were pretty straightforward. Messiah will come to dispense judgement to the Roman Empire, to condemn those who didn’t adhere to the law of Moses and command righteousness without reserve.

And then there was Jesus. What were they to make of this rabbi? He hangs out with the wrong crowd, he seems to only condemn religious people while giving the riff-raff a new start. He just didn’t meet people’s expectations.

That was true of our text on Sunday. The disciples of John the Baptist fasted regularly while awaiting the arrival of God’s kingdom. The Pharisees fasted regularly to show how sincerely they longed for the end of exile…and it didn’t hurt that it made them look really religiously pious.

When Jesus is asked why he and his disciples don’t fast (a question posed right after Jesus was at a dinner party with disreputable people), the people are merely expressing that he is not meeting their spiritual standards. Fasting was only required in the Old Testament for the Day of Atonement. This wan’t about Mosaic commands, this was about religious expectations.

  • Why do you think Jesus answered their question about fasting with the imagery of a wedding? How does v 20 help us understand that Jesus isn’t opposed to fasting? What religious standards have you felt pressured by? How have you found yourself pressuring others to meet a standard you have set?

The two further explanations by way of parable are the new cloth and new wine-skin pictures. New cloth, in shrinking, would tear away from old, pre-shrunken fabric. An old leather, brittle wine-skin would tear open during the expansion of fermentation.

Jesus’ point is straightforward – he didn’t come to reform something old but to establish something new.

  • What does this mean to our relationship with the Old Testament Law? How do we understand the purpose and value of the Old Testament?

Anyway – hope to see you on Sunday!