Tuesday, July 30, 2019

According to Mark: Looking for Provision

As you may know, chapter and verse numbers are not an original part of the Bible. It is not as if Mark included them while writing his gospel, which is why we get a bit of an odd start to this week’s entry of our “According to Mark” study. The first half of Mark 6:6 completes the thought of the preceding verses in the chapter, while the second half begins what follows. So today, we are looking at Mark 6:6b–56. At least we are staying inside one chapter this time.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Morality Apart from God

I’ve noticed a recurring thread in atheistic thought that deserves some attention. Oftentimes, you will hear them express a fear of religious people, and particularly of Christians. It is not a fear that we will do them any harm. What they’re afraid of is the basis of our morality. They find it frightening when we say that it is impossible to be moral without the commandments of God. Christians, they believe, only try to live rightly because we are afraid. If biblical morality is a restraint on what we want to do, and what we would do without it, then that expresses a great darkness within us.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

According to Mark: Fear, Faith, and Wonder

Welcome back to the Quest Forums “According to Mark” study. As we have seen so far, there is a simple purity to Mark’s gospel. His primary goal is to make it so that we can see Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). However, we have also seen that this was not always easy for the people at the time of Jesus’ ministry to recognize, and many were opposed to Him as a result. Those themes continue with our passage for today, Mark 4:35–6:6a.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Justice and Reparations: Personal Responsibility vs. Inherited Guilt

While not one of the biggest stories in America, the contentious issue of reparations for the enslavement of people of African descent has been receiving some attention this year. The concept has been explored a number of times in the past but has never served as anything more than a way to attack opponents as being racist. It has never had a hope of being seriously considered or passed into law, and it stands no chance now, either. It did not happen when Barack Obama was President and the Democrats had near supermajorities in both houses of Congress in 2009-2010. Why it should be successful in 2019, with Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of the Senate, is something none of its proponents can explain. They do not seek to explain it. It is a club for hitting enemies with, not a policy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

According to Mark: The Purpose of Parables

The heart of Jesus’ teaching is found in His parables. These stories use mundane elements to tell spiritual truths, but not usually so that the connection is obvious. It takes work to understand them, and a willingness to seek out the answers. This is the primary lesson to discover in Mark 4:1–34, one of the largest blocks of the Lord’s teaching in this gospel. We want to be sure we have “ears to hear” (Mark 4:9, 23).

Friday, July 12, 2019

Finding Repair: A Life Lesson in Auto Care

Have you ever had a leaky tire plugged? I had that done a few weeks ago and was struck by the imagery of it. A short while beforehand, I had noticed that one of my tires was looking a little flat. It wasn’t by much, not as if I was riding on the rims, but enough that I could see that bit of widening at the bottom.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

According to Mark: The Family of God

Diving right into our continuing study in the Gospel of Mark, this entry focuses on Mark 3:7–35. Mark begins this particular passage by recapitulating the Lord’s power to heal and liberate the suffering. He is still attracting a large following, which has grown to include people from a wide geographical extent. And this, most likely, explains why He decides to introduce a leadership structure into His movement.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

American Freedom and Christian Liberty

I’m taking a break from my normal publication schedule to make sure this article gets out on Independence Day itself. I have made a habit of saying that for Americans, Thanksgiving is our most religious holiday. That is certainly true, but we must never forget that today is also closely tied to faith. Christians who live in this country should be mindful of how our beliefs have shaped this nation and its liberties. We should also appreciate how those liberties protect our right to believe.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

According to Mark: Religion vs. Grace

In this portion of our study on the gospel of Mark, we will be looking at Mark 2:1–3:6. That’s a good bit of ground to cover, but we will be paring it down to the theme that unites the five stories told here. As always, of course, the first thing to keep in mind is that we are being presented with Jesus Christ. The most important element is seeing Him for who He is. But in these passages in particular, that means learning about Him through the ways that He confronted the religious authorities of His day.