Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mark 1: 16-20

Walk before me ... Follow me

Late tomatoes ripening inside. Toy Box Suburban Farm
A journey of faith. My legs felt like lead was slugging through my veins instead of blood. Ten more steps, then I can stop if I want to. One; the tiny day pack was hot on my back. Two; just up to the next switch-back and then you can rest if you want to. Three; every step was a climb. Every thought was on moving forward one more step. Mount Pilchuck in Robe Valley is not very tall. The trail to the Fire Lookout is only two miles long and gains only 2,000 feet of altitude from the old ski lodge parking lot. People bring their toddlers up this cattle run of a path. But here I was struggling to not give up. At 9:30 AM fellow hikers were already coming back down the trail, encouraging me, you are almost there, keep going. When I finally reached the base of the old Fire Look Out I could see that the building sat on top of a tall stack of boulders that I would need to scramble to get to the Look Out. NO WAY. I can hardly put one foot in front of the other, I cannot scramble up 20 feet of boulders. That is when Hans and Frans showed up.

I do not know their actual names. To my untrained ears their accent was Austrian  They wore white tee shirts and white shorts. There was not a drop of sweat on either of them. With voices that sounded like the former governor of California, they told me I could not stop here I had to go to the top! As I attempted to wave them off with what I hoped was a smile, Frans slipped the day pack from my shoulders and stepped up the the first bolder. His foot was level with my head. When he reached out for my hand I gave it to him and was nearly lifted up on the bolder. Hans kept placing my feet in secure positions. I did not have time to die of embarrassment. I was at the top and they were gone as fast as they showed up.

Faith is a journey up a steep and narrow path.There are different companions along the way, there is encouragement by strangers who are really fellow pilgrims. There is dramatic help when you feel like you have nothing left. But for the most part, it is one foot in front of the other.

And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men."  And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zeb'edee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.  And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zeb'edee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.   Mark 1:16-20  RSV
It seems that "in the beginning" the walk of faith was meant to be an easy stroll through the garden. YHVH/God walked with Adam in the cool of the day. That didn't last. King David of Israel wrote that his walk of faith was a walk through the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23) Y'shua/Jesus spoke of a narrow, hard way (Mathew 7 :13-14). Whatever description is given to the path, it starts with an invitation. Abram was told to "walk before Me" (Genesis 17:1) In our passage, four men are invited to "follow Me" (Y'shua)" on their faith journey. With very little drama, they begin. We are filled with questions about their families, their work, even why they suddenly decided to follow this man. But the bottom line is that they began their journey of faith. Did they know how hard it would be? Did they know that there would be times when they wanted to give up or did they keep their eyes on the goal and keep putting one foot in front of the other? If you have read their testimony you know how the journey ends. You have read of triumph and difficulty, very much like you encounter in your journey of faith.

Speaking of our journey, how do we follow Y'shua whom we cannot see? First, we have the Spirit of God.
John 14:26  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 15:26-27  But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me;  and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. 
John 20:21-22  Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. RSV
We also have the fellowship of fellow pilgrims on the path. Paul encouraged us to, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1 

Heb 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful;  and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 
If you choose to follow Y'shua/Jesus, you will be on the journey of your life. No one will carry you even though we are here to encourage you. There is great reward. It is the joy of YHVH that gives us strength. There is help along the way but you are the one who must choose to follow. You are the one who has to decide to take just a few more steps when you feel as if you cannot take even one more step. The view is amazing, the fellowship and the joy are beyond description. But the love of the Lord is the prize that keeps me going.

Repent, believe and face what comes with faith.
MsH 10/30/12

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Gospel (according to Mark)

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,  and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."    Mark 1:14-15 RSV

ma-basar-et is the ancient Hebrew word for the message that we translate "gospel."

Good Tidings The root word basar speaks of a fresh and full revelation. It is to make glad with good news. (bet-shin-resh) A prefix and a suffix have been added to this root word. The prefix is the letter mem; it indicates something revealed. The suffix is a tav; this letter is a sign, the original cross. Here, the tav suffix indicates truth of YHVH.

Long before the "New Testament" YHVH spoke of a message that we refer to as, "the gospel." What is that message? Mark gives it to us in one verse. "....the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel." To the best of my knowledge, this is the only time Mark will specifically tell his readers what the message of Y'shua / Jesus is. The rest of his Gospel will spell out what our commitment to the gospel is. Therefore it is of highest importance that we do not miss the message given here.

The kingdom of God is at hand... Would you be shocked to learn that the simple phrase  "at hand" causes more argument than agreement? My attempt to keep this phrase as simple as possible will be a frustration to many. I apologize in advance. There is nothing automatic about the privilege of entering the kingdom of YHVH. It does come near, so close to our souls that we can nearly swim in the joy of it. The kingdom, really the realm, of YHVH is not a definable plot of real-estate (not yet) but a spirit place. Mark 1:10 told us, "the heavens opened and the spirit came down." I understand this to be a hint, a revelation of the type of "kingdom" that is heaven. 

Y'shua has told us what is required of us. "Repent, and believe." The price he must pay will be much higher, but for this moment we are only asked to observe our part.

Repent In the simplest terms, repent is to turn around. If you are heading north and you repent then you will turn and head or face south. We are speaking of an invisible kingdom or realm so our repentance is not facing any physical direction. We will not be looking east toward Jerusalem. Instead, we stop pursuing our own goals, our desire for revenge or entertainment, or even our ideals of piety and righteousness and begin the journey to follow Y'shua

Believe Both believe and faith (in their Greek transliteration) are words that attempt to translate the idea of the Hebrew word a'men (stand firm). Faith is a noun that communicates the idea of trust (in the foundation) but believe is from a verb, an action. Believe is to make a commitment and take a stand. We are to "believe in the gospel." Stand firm, commit yourself to the message, the gospel.

I wish I had a great photo of a sunrise with beams of light streaming through the storm clouds of night. That is the mental picture I have of the presentation of the gospel. The light is shinning through darkness that cannot overcome it. The glory of the light is "at hand" and beautiful in its brilliant contrast to the dark night. How do we enter it (because this light does not simply over take us as the morning light does)? Repent, give up everything for the glory of the kingdom. Believe, commit to following Y'shua / Jesus.

The rest is learning how we should live.
Mrs Hagerty October 21, 2012
Updated Dec. 31, 2015 MsH

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mark 1:9

Cinderella pumpkins from the Toy Box suburban farm
Every time a window opens I see old friends with fresh eyes. For as long as I have been reading the Gospel of Mark I have treated his story of Y'shua's immersion and time in the wilderness as if they were simply the Reader's Digest version of the full story as told by the other Gospel authors. The suggestion of RT France that perhaps only the setting is the same but the message is different, richer, more complex then the surface story told by Matthew, Luke and even John, was a small revelation to me.

My perception of Marks telling of Yochannan's immersion of Y'shua (John the Baptist's baptism of Jesus if you are still new at dabbling in Hebrew) will now and forever be seen by me as the changing of the guard. At this very moment in history the world of men said good-by to dependence on prophets (and from judgement of their integrity) to faith in the son of God / ben YHVH). It happened so quickly that I must have blinked.....I missed it until just this week.

 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;  and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."
Mark 1: 9-11   RSV
I have a hand penned note in the crowded margin of my Bible that proclaims  "God spoke in a day without a prophet." I wish I had written that note in pencil so I could erase it. It is not true. Yochannan the Immerser was the last prophet of YHVH and the people of Jerusalem and Judea flocked to him. The other gospels tell their readers that John was conceived and born to be a prophet of YHVH. That ministry came to an end as Y'shua came up out of the waters of his immersion. Before he returns from his forty days in the wilderness, Yochannan will apparently have been arrested. Ready or not, the king, the arm of The Lord, will speak to a people who must still repent but must act not out of duty but faith. The heavens opened, the Kingdom of God came near. A whole new world.

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Hebrews 1: 1-2   RSV
Repent and believe.
MsH 10/19/12

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Gospel of Mark, a beginning

I have committed to the study of Mark for the school year. I've started it once before, there is even a label for Mark on my blog but I am easily distracted. This time I have a "class" of three Junior High girls who come to "devotions class" because it is required. Hows that for an exciting start?
Mark has a nice introduction, good stuff about the baptizer and his connection to the original testament or prophecies of YHVH. But there is something that Mark doesn't have. There is no Christmas in his Gospel. I have read the opening paragraph carefully, no Christmas, no babe, no manger, no Mary, Joseph or any evidence of an inn keeper. If you care to look there is an event that is of far greater importance then the "Christianizing" of a pagan winter holiday.

The event is also spoken of in the opening chapter of Hebrews.
In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.     Hebrews 1:1-2 RSV
The creator of the world speaks. The torch is passed from the last prophet to the Son of YHVH. An earthshaking event that we foolish people do not memorialize with cards, gifts, and twinkle lights. Maybe I have been distracted by the Spirit like a dove. Maybe by the voice or the idea of heaven's doors coming open for just a moment in history. I know me well enough to realize it could be something as petty as Mark's first use of the word "immediately". Get a Thesaurus brother Mark. (sorry, I do think such nonsense). What ever it was, I missed the huge event that changed the world for eternity. The Microphone of God passed from  the last prophet, Yochannan/John to the only begotten Son of God, at the edge of a river, in a crowd of the religious. That one moment changed forever how YHVH speaks to those who will hear.

It is going to be an amazing year!
Deborah (a.k.a MsH)