Every once in a while, you have a weekend where God’s all about showing you His plans and patterns. This was one of those weekends.
First off, Janet McClure had been in the hospital for a while, but was prevented from being discharged on Friday to go to rehab at her new home in South Carolina because of a bedsore that she’d developed -- and on Saturday morning, her son and I discussed how that bedsore seemed to be God’s provision to get her to the right place where He wanted her, when He wanted her there. And then, while she was chatting with the hospital chaplain on Saturday evening, she stopped talking mid-sentence... and quietly passed away... exactly 18 years to the day that her first husband had died. As her son and I discussed on Sunday afternoon, the bedsore really was God’s provision to get her to where He wanted her, when He wanted her there... So please do keep Janet’s family in your prayers this week.
In the service this Sunday, we dedicated little Philip Thomas Andrews, named after the Biblical deacon with a heart for evangelism and the Biblical disciple with an eminently practical perspective on following Christ -- exactly the sorts of examples worth emulating. Big sister Olivia was a little squirmy, but Philip handled the dedication like a pro...
In our message this week, we continued looking at way too many verses in the Gospel of Mark.
Okay, so that’s not quite fair. It wasn’t that we covered too much territory, but rather that we covered more than you usually would in a sermon, but we did it for the same reason that we did it that way last week -- to show another overarching pattern to what Jesus was doing.
There was a lot of famous stuff in these sections -- Jesus teaching on “a house divided,” Jesus teaching about the only unforgivable sin, Jesus teaching about the parable of the sower and the seed, etc. But when you look at all of them in rapid succession (much like we did last week), you can see that Jesus called His twelve potentially contentious disciples together, only to be confronted by His mother and family who told people that He was out of His mind... and then to face Pharisees who accused Him of performing His miracles by the power of Satan.
In response, Jesus taught about the importance of not being divided in your commitments and faithfulness, of not dismissing the works of God as the works of Satan, of not thinking that you can ignore the will of God and still be part of His family, etc. It’s in this context of calling people to stop and think about how well -- or how poorly -- they’re choosing to follow God that Jesus shares the famous parable about a farmer sowing seed. But you’ll notice that the parable isn’t really about the sower or the seed, ’cuz neither of those variables changes one bit in the parable. Nope, the whole parable is all about what kind of soil you choose to be when the seed hits you. Jesus purposely even teaches the message obliquely, hoping to force those who were looking for foolishness from Him to reflexively dismiss His teaching, and those who are listening for wisdom from Him truly to digest His teaching.
The whole section ultimately comes down to this: are you and I actually doing what God has told us to do, being what God has sculpted us to be... or are we second-guessing, hedging, judging, worrying, and withering? What kind of house, what kind of family, what kind of soil are we really being?
Jesus promised that a house divided against itself can never stand... but He also promised that even the gates of Hell can never overcome His faithful church. So on which side of those promises do you wish to find yourself?