Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Baltimore protests and the increasing violence of the past 24 months

The late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew a thing or 2 about hate, violence, injustice, protests.
He also knew that Love that can not exist without the transcending peace that surpasses All understanding found only Jesus Christ.
With all that he endured, with the evil he was up against, here are his words:

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Gospel Challenge: the book of Mark

We're now starting book 2, Mark, in our Gospel Challenge!

The completion date set for Mark is May 10th (3 weeks)

Now, before we get into the reading, here's some information on Mark:

Mark is the shortest of the 4 Gospels:
·         16 chapters
·         678 verses
·         42 verses a chapter
·         11,304 words

Mark, or “John Mark”, was only a teenager the first time he would have heard Jesus speak (at his mother’s house which was a haven for the apostles).  He later traveled with Paul for a bit before becoming Peter’s disciple – he served as Peter’s translator (oral and written).  Mark’s book could almost be known as “The Gospel according to Peter” and it focuses on Jesus being for the Gentiles-for Everyone.

Where Matthew started out with genealogy and then went into the birth of Jesus, Mark jumps right to when John and Jesus would have been about 30 years old and Jesus is preparing to kick off his ministry (in Mark 1:9).

Mark was, more than likely, penned first of the four Gospels and (presumably therefore) over 90% of what's found in Mark is also referenced in at least 1 of the other Gospels.  

So, with that in mind, here's a little bonus challenge, just for fun:
There are 3 things/events in Mark that are not mentioned in any of the other Gospels - can you find what they are?


For those looking for a reading plan, here are a few things to think about:

If you started April 19th, you have 21 days to read only 16 chapters.  

For a 33 "moments" reading plan (so Fri, Sat, Sun would have 1 reading and Mon-Thurs would have a morning and an evening reading) would look like this:
1:1-1:34, 1:35-2:12, 2:13-2:22, 2:23-3.19, 3:20-3:35, 4:1-4:34, 4:35-5:43, 6:1-6:13, 6:14-6:29, 6:30-6:56, 7:1-7:23, 7:24-7:30, 7:31-8:21, 8:22-8:33, 8:34-9:13, 9:14, 9:37, 9:38-9:50, 10:1-10:34, 10:35-10:52, 11:1-11:11, 11:12-11:33, 12:1-12:12, 12:13-12:27, 12:28-12:44, 13:1-13:37, 14:1-14:26, 14:27-14:42, 14:43-14:65, 14:66-15:15, 15:16-15:41, 15:42-16:8, 16:9-16:20

For a 21 day reading plan: 
1:1-1:34, 1:35-2:12, 2:13-3:19, 3:20-3:35, 4:1-4:34, 4:35-5:43, 6:1-6:29, 6:30-6:56, 7:1-7:30, 7:31-8:21, 8:22-9:37, 9:38-9:50, 10:1-10:34, 10:35-10:52, 11:1-11:35, 12:1-12:27, 12:28-12:44, 13:1-14:26, 14:27-14:65, 14:66-15:41, 15:42-16:20 

For a 16 day reading plan:  
Pick any 16 days and read 1 chapter each of those days

Example of a 16 day reading plan:  
Read Chapter 1 on April 19th then you could simply read 1 chapter a day, Monday-Friday, taking Sat. & Sun "off" and be done in time.

For a 10 day reading plan:  
1, 2-3, 4, 5-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12, 13-14, 15, 16

For a 6 day reading plan:  
1-3, 4-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-14, 15-16

For a 3 day reading plan:
1-3, 4-10, 11-16

For a 2 day reading plan:
1-10, 11-16

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Gospel Challenge: Introduction and the book of Matthew

Alright everyone, here's a new challenge for you.  I started this with the teenagers, then rolled it out to everyone who attended our annual Family Retreat, then to the rest of the congregation, and now to Everyone!

The idea is simple.  Take ~3 months and read through the 4 Gospels:  
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

Around the start date of each book I'll share information about the book itself, the author, things to look for, possible reading plans, etc.

What I want everyone to focus on the entire time is taking a deep examination of the "red letters", looking for several things:

  • What did Jesus say that shocks you, that you didn't Know he said. 
  • What did you "know" Jesus said that he did Not. 
  • Remember that we learn who people Really are through their interactions with other people.  In these Gospels we see Jesus interact with those who loved him, were indifferent, hated him-rich and poor - "clean and unclean", etc. 
  • Learn who Jesus IS, learn his character, his "heart" 

Gospel Challenge book completion dates are as follows:

Matthew:  April 19th (9 days from Now!)

Mark: May 10th (3 weeks from its April 19th start date)

Luke: June 7th   (4 weeks from its May 10th start date)

John: June 28th (3 weeks from its June 7th start date)

Remember!  Matthew has 28 chapters and _could_ be read in one day, if need be.  
There are 9 days left and at the end of this blog post I will give you a 9 day reading schedule to complete the book - get started today!


First up is Matthew, the first book of the New Testament.

Matthew consists of
·         28 chapters
·         1,071 verses
·         38 verses a chapter
·         18,345 words

  • “Levi” 
  • 1 of the 12 Apostles
  • a tax-collector
  • probably well educated
  • probably on a (possible) political track.  
  • Focuses on Jesus as the Jewish Messiah come to fulfill OT prophecy. 
  • Starts off with Jesus genealogy, and goes into the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus.
  • Matthew 3:13 begins the account of Jesus’ ministry

Matthew 9 Day Reading Schedule:
  1. Matthew 1-4
  2. Matthew 5-7
  3. Matthew 8-9
  4. Matthew 10-12
  5. Matthew 13-16
  6. Matthew 17-18
  7. Matthew 19-22
  8. Matthew 23-25
  9. Matthew 26-28