Saturday, January 31, 2015

the gospel

Who is Jesus?  What does He ask of His followers? What does it mean to be a Christian?

These are the kinds of questions people were asking in the 1st century. They are the questions people continue to ask today.

This is precisely why Mark wrote his Gospel – to answer these questions and to help second generation Christians being persecuted know how their faith began, know the truth of what they believed, and find comfort and strength in the midst of their sufferings.

Mark writes his Gospel to remind his fellow Christians that it's all true. It really happened, just as God planned, just as Jesus said, just as you have been taught. And it's not only true, it's true for you, and it's something worth living, suffering, and even dying for.

Up until the time the Gospels were written and the New Testament was completed, Christians came together to gather and worship without a complete Bible. They did not yet have the entire written Word. They relied on the oral tradition, on sermons, teachings, and stories told them by other believers to learn about Jesus.

That’s where Mark’s Gospel comes in. Mark writes his Gospel to chronicle the origin of the Christian faith. Most scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was written somewhere around 60 AD, which puts it at about thirty years after Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Mark was not an eyewitness to Jesus, so he writes himself as a second generation Christian. But ancient sources tell us that Mark based his story on the recollections of the apostle Peter. Mark was Peter’s personal assistant, so he was familiar with the sermons and stories Peter told. And Peter was an eyewitness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Mark begins with these words - "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

In other words, this is what its all about. This is what's important, the foundation, the standard, the primary stuff of the gospel. And its not just the first sentence, or the first chapter, but really the entire book of Mark can be seen as the "beginning of the Gospel".  For this book is only the beginning of the gospel. There is much more still to come. The end has not yet here. The story continues ... and goes on and on as the good news of Jesus is proclaimed to all nations.

"The kingdom of God is here - repent and believe the good news."


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

baptism site

Pictured above is the section of the Jordan River where nearly all tourists of the Holy Land go to visit. You can see why by the picture - it's beautiful, green, lush - a lovely section of the Jordan River. It's also touted as the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Well ... not so much. While it is indeed a wonderful place to visit, it is definitely not the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

The reason? This area is in the northern part of the country just south of the Sea of Galilee, whereas the actual section of the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized would have been in the southern part of the country just north of the Dead Sea. Below is a picture of the more likely site that hardly anyone visits today. (The river used to be wider, of course, but the water upstream has been diverted over the years for irrigation and agriculture.)

So why are there two dueling sites for the Baptism of Jesus? Tourism dollars. The above site is in Israel - and the site below is in Jordan.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Friday, January 9, 2015


A tiny version of Hubble’s panorama image of the Andromeda galaxy, two million light years away.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky above proclaims His handiwork" - Psalm 19

Monday, January 5, 2015

the work of christmas begins

"when the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the king and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of christmas begins:
to find the lost, to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nation, to bring peace to the people,
to make music in the heart."

- howard thurman

Thursday, January 1, 2015

jesus name of wondrous love

Jesus! Name of wondrous love!
Name all other names above!
Unto which must every knee
Bow in deep humility.

Jesus! Name of priceless worth
To the fallen sons of earth,
For the promise that it gave—
“Jesus shall His people save.”

Jesus! Name decreed of old,
To the maiden mother told—
Kneeling in her lowly cell—
By the angel Gabriel.

Jesus! Name of mercy mild,
Given to the holy Child,
When the cup of human woe
First He tasted here below.

Jesus! Only name that’s given
Under all the mighty heaven,
Whereby man, to sin enslaved,
Bursts his fetters, and is saved.

Jesus! Name of wondrous love,
Human name of God above!
Pleading only this, we flee,
Helpless, O our God, to Thee.