Tuesday, May 29, 2012

YOUR SPEECH IN THE STORM




Mark 4:35-41 records the story of the disciples waking up Jesus in their boat as it was being overtaken and swamped by a storm. The disciples were in a panic and angry with Jesus for fear of dying. Jesus stands up and rebukes the storm bringing instant calm.



Now they realize how foolish their anger must have sounded. It wasn’t the power of the sea that they needed to fear; it was Jesus. He deserved their respect more than the storm.

Often when we are anxious and afraid, we might question and doubt God. Is there another way for us to live? Can we learn to trust God in spite of the storm or the fiery furnace? Can we trust Jesus whether we get healed or not? Can we die with a brave heart?

What about people who lose faith and become the critics of God? Have you heard their angry tirades and proud speeches? There are people who have listened to the howl of chaos and picked up its accent. They speak knowingly and lovingly about their conclusions as if there were no higher truth. Their worship and service is to the created order and not to the Creator.

Maybe the same disciples that rebuked Jesus had previously sung the Psalms that declare God’s power over the sea.


Psalms 9:
Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
    You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
You rule over the surging sea;
    when its waves mount up, you still them.


Their songs and Scriptures taught them the incomparable power of God. Their God can calm angry waves and redirect the wind.


Psalms 93:
The seas have lifted up, Lord,
    the seas have lifted up their voice;
    the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
    mightier than the breakers of the sea—
    the Lord on high is mighty.


They were part of a faith community that said God was mightier than the worst storm. Sometimes you do not really believe what you say until you’ve experienced it yourself.

What storm are you in today? Most of us have both private and public fears of bad things happening. What will you do when things do take a turn for the worse? Will you curse God and die or bury yourself in the faithfulness of God?

Job had it worse than almost anyone and was able to open his mouth and say, “Though God slay me, I will still trust Him.” What will be your speech in the storm?



Saturday, May 26, 2012

THE VOICE CREATION HEARS



Mark 4:
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”


Earlier that day Jesus had taught the crowds with parables. The reoccurring theme was the Kingdom of God. These stories were word pictures to open the imagination and heart to a greater reality than they knew. Jesus would teach his closest companions about the meaning of these stories.

Stories are good, but sometimes you need to know that truth works in the real world. The calming of the storm ushered in a series of encounters where Jesus would demonstrate God’s power over all kinds of chaos, both natural and demonic.


When Jesus rebukes the storm, he speaks sternly and in language that intimates personality. Do wind and waves have the capacity to hear? He speaks to them as if they can hear and respond. He speaks to the wind and waves the same way that he would address demons.

This was the same voice in Genesis.


Genesis 1:
And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so.


Jesus was the same Creator voice that spoke to the elements and they took form. From their chaotic state, they emerged in an orderly and stable expression of God’s will. Jesus can still speak to all Creation, from the basic elements of nature to every being in the Created realm—angels, demons, fish and humans.

You cannot read the Old Testament and believe the miracles unless you accept that God’s voice has power to change everything.

It is the same Jesus who calls you from the surrounding chaos into a new creation. It is the voice of Jesus who speaks to the storm in your head and says, “Peace! Be Still!”
Jesus asks them why they were so afraid in the storm. Didn’t they have faith? They had a little faith to wake Jesus up and rebuke him for not caring. Now that Jesus calms the storm, their fear of the storm changes to a fear of the storm-stiller.

Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WAKING UP TO THE CHAOS DRAGON


It’s good to be well rested because you never know when your strength will be tested. Consider the disciples with Jesus in the midst of a brutal storm. With their strength being exhausted bailing a swamped boat, their sense of peace was gone.


Mark 4:
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”


Tom Boomershine is a Bible scholar who gives us an interesting perspective on this story. The fear of the fisherman may have had a spiritual twist to it.

The chaos dragon lived in the sea and a common belief in the ancient world was that storms in the sea were caused by the sudden rising of the chaos dragon. 


Storms were a kind of tidal wave caused by the great dragon, a symbol for the cosmic powers of evil.
The chaos dragon is in the background of stories in the Old Testament and some of the Psalms. The story of the flood in Genesis reflects the Ancient Near Eastern myths of the chaos dragon. It is a sign of the powers against God. Contemporary movies have developed a large repertoire of signs of the powers of evil.[i]

Even though they were with Jesus, these fishermen grew up on stories from many sources about the dangers of the sea. What evil power was at work seeking to destroy them?

Were they thinking about Jonah who was awakened by the sailors when a violent storm threatened to destroy them? They were not spared until Jonah confessed his wrongdoing and had the men throw him overboard into the frothing chaos.

The disciples waken Jesus and frantically yell over the howl of the storm, “Don’t you care if we drown?”

Have you ever prayed like that? You are facing a life storm that has the capacity to destroy you and you cry out to God asking if He cares. Sometimes there is faith enough to believe that God is with you, but not enough faith to believe that God cares about the fearful circumstance. God may be nearby, but you are going down and cannot understand why God is sleeping.

“Don’t you care if we drown?”

The truth is that Jesus does care. It is God’s preference that none would perish. But in the threat of destruction we lose our ability to see love. How can a loving God allow this to happen? Fear and anger howl like the storm drowning out the quiet-natured presence of peace. Jesus is here, but why is sleeping at a time like this?

“Don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus cares.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

THE SABBATH VIRTUE OF SUNDAY AFTERNOON NAPS


After our Urban Cry[i] students spoke on Mother’s Day, I pulled a couple of them aside and told them not to be surprised if they get home and find that they are fatigued and need a nap. They each prepared and spoke for ten to fifteen minutes.

Standing in front of a microphone for an extended period of time can be quite tiring. After leading worship and/or preaching twice on a Sunday morning, I am ready to lie down for a nap. In fact, it is my afternoon nap that starts my Sabbath. I take Mondays off because Sunday morning is the climax of my working week.

Mark Driscoll in his book ‘Real Marriage’ [ii]talks about the fatigue he experienced from having multiple services from morning until evening. He found himself nodding off backstage while the worship band played their set. He jacked himself up with caffeine and energy drinks.

When the gospels tell us that Jesus was fast asleep in a boat during a violent storm, I’m not surprised. He had been preaching to crowds all day and needed his nap.

We all need rest and Sabbath because the toil will soon return. It’s normal to get tired when you exert yourself, but are you generally well rested? Do you find yourself nodding off because life’s demands are wearing you down? Do you daily depend on caffeine, sugar and adrenaline boosts to keep going?

For me, catnaps and dog walking are essential activities to maintain my daily stamina.



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