Mark's Blog

Mark's Blog

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Off the Shelf and Into the Self

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A father shared an experience he and his wife had with their young children. They began as a family to memorize Scripture, one verse a week. They kept the verses on cards in the middle of the table, and discussed their meanings when they recited them. One evening he and his wife heard their 2 young daughters fighting down the hall. "I hate you!" one yelled, and the other responded in kind. Not wishing to jump into the argument, he called out, "Kara?"

She replied, "Yes!"

"What is our verse for this week?" he asked, hoping to quiet the argument by implication.

Quickly the daughter answered in her most pious voice, "Dear friends, since God so loved us as much as that, we surely ought to love each other too." And then she resumed the fight!

So he tried the same tactic with the other daughter, Dana -- with the same results. So he had to go and intervene.

He shared the lesson he learned: "What a beautiful example of how most of us apply Scripture! We memorize it and even repeat it flawlessly, but seldom does it change our lives. And yet Christianity is not so much about knowing facts as about living. We must get the Bible off the shelf and into the self."

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The Trouble with Tattle-Tales

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

          Don’t you love tattle-tales?  Oh, you don’t?  You don’t care for people who slink around in secret stirring up trouble?  Well, I’m not surprised.  Most of us never cared for people like that.

          One Bible story of a tattle-tale occurs in Numbers chapter 11.  Not surprisingly, it is a chapter full of complaining – tattle-tales are often big complainers.  As the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, there was, as you know, lots of complaining going on!  Even Moses, the leader, the man of God, falls prey to the temptation of complaining – Numbers 11:21-23.

          God puts His Spirit upon Moses and upon 70 of the elders of Israel.  At once, they begin to prophesy – to speak God’s message.  The great majority of them – 68 of them – do so at the Tabernacle, where the presence of God normally was accessed.  Two of them, however, go into the camp and prophesy there.  We do not know why.  All we know is that by the Spirit of God, they prophesied.  Their names were Eldad and Medad (verses 24-27).

          A young tattle-tale for some reason runs and tells Moses that these two obvious trouble-makers are prophesying not at the Tabernacle but in the camp – HORRORS!  Joshua is even persuaded and calls upon Moses to put a stop to this unruly behavior – verse 28.  You can almost hear the breathless conversation now – “No one has ever prophesied in the camp!  Everybody else prophesies at the Tabernacle!  DO SOMETHING!”

          Moses, apparently recovered from his own sin of complaining before the Lord earlier in the chapter, shows true wisdom in his response in verse 29-30.  Read it, and see what he says.

          Moses’ response puts me in mind of a gospel story recorded in Mark chapter 9.  Jesus’ disciples are arguing amongst themselves, something else characteristic of tattle-tales.  John tells Jesus in Mark 9:38ff that they saw someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name, but they weren’t a part of their disciple group.  HORRORS!  Jesus responds “Whoever is not against us is for us” – verse 40.

          And then comes the kicker – the rest of Mark chapter 9.  A series of warnings from Jesus to tattle-tales, trouble-makers and disciples who like to argue.  I will only mention the first (verse 42), but encourage you to study the rest (verses 43-50).  The first is this:  whoever causes little ones who believe in Jesus to fall away from faith in Jesus because of their stubborn and selfish behavior, it would be better for them to suffer death by drowning in the deepest seas than to face what awaits them in eternity.

          That tells you what the Lord of life thinks of tattle-tales.


Enormously Gorgeous

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


The following insightful piece appears in "Chicken Soup For the Kids' Soul":


My dad says I am ENORMOUSLY GORGEOUS.  I wonder if I really am.

Sarah says you need to have beautiful long, curly hair like she has.  I don't.

Justin says you must have perfectly straight white teeth like he has. I don't.

Jessica says you can't have any of those little brown dots on your face called freckles. I do.

Mark says you have to be the smartest kid in the seventh-grade class.  I'm not.

Stephen says you have to be able to tell the funniest jokes in the school.  I don't.

Lauren says you need to live in the nicest neighborhood in town and in the prettiest house.  I don't.

Matthew says you can only wear the coolest clothes and the most popular shoes.  I don't.

Samantha says you need to come from a perfect family.  I don't.

But every night at bedtime my dad gives me a big hug and says, "You are ENORMOUSLY GORGEOUS, and I love you."

My dad must know something my friends don't.

                                   --Carla O'Brien

A Purse Full of Holes

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

     A pilot always looked down intently on a certain valley in the Appalachians. "What’s so interesting about that spot?" Asked a fellow pilot. "See that stream? Well, when I was a kid I used to sit down there on a log and fish. Every time an airplane flew over, I would look up and wish I were flying... Now I look down and wish I were fishing."

     That is pretty well the way it is, isn’t it? - sometimes even though we do get what we want - we still can’t be satisfied. Everyone wants more. A little child wants more toys and more TV time; A teenager wants more clothes, more freedom, more popularity. Most adults want more also; a nicer house, a newer car a better job, more prestige.

     And often we do get more – we get a new car and we are content...for a while. We buy a new home - it’s the home of our dreams and we are content...for a while. The job we always wanted comes knocking at our door - great pay, incredible benefits - and we are content...for a while. One of God’s prophets wrote the following words to God’s people about 2,500 years ago:


"You have planted much but have harvested little. You eat, but you do not become full. You drink, but you are still thirsty. You put on clothes but you are not warm enough. You earn money, but then you lose it all as if you had put it into a purse full of holes...You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little."
                                                                                - Haggai 1:2-6


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All I Need To Know About Life I Learned From Trees

Thursday, July 06, 2017

"All I Need To Know About Life I Learned From Trees"

(author unknown)

  *  It's important to have roots.
  *  In today's complex world, it pays to branch out.
  *  If you really believe in something, don't be afraid to go out on a limb.
  *  Be flexible so you don't break when a harsh wind blows.
  *  Sometimes you have to shed your old bark in order to grow.
  *  Grow where you're planted.
  *  It's perfectly okay to be a late bloomer.
  *  Avoid people who would like to cut you down.
  *  Get all spruced up when you have a hot date.
  *  If the party gets boring, just leaf.
  *  You can't hide your true colors as you approach the autumn of your life.
  *  It's more important to be honest than poplar.

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