Monthly Archives: August 2012

“The Most Important” – Mark 12:28-34


Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)  How I wish that would be so of me, and all of us.  How wonderful it would be to instantly know that someone is a disciple of Jesus by the way they love others.  Imagine how attractive that would be to those outside the Christian faith.

I did a fair amount of dreaming, this past week, about what the world would look like if everyone obeyed the two most important commandments, cited by Jesus in our passage this week, to love God and others.  We will certainly experience this kind of “dream come true” in heaven, where the perfect love of God in Christ brings us to the throne and we express our love in praise toward God.

But here and now, love is hard and can even crush us.  Unless, that is, we understand the message of Jesus in this week’s passage.  It was a message that the scribe examining Him came so close to grasping.  He was so close to the kingdom of God, yet not close enough to enter in.

Take some time to search out Bible verses that speak of loving God and neighbor, and consider how the two most important commandments are working, or might work out in your own life.  Then join us for our last summer service, at 9 AM on Sunday.

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“Eternal Life” – Mark 12:18-27


We are within a week of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection and, at this point, the Jewish leaders have declared all out war on Him. Their first strategy is to challenge His presumed authority in three different waves using three different interest groups.  This week, we’ll be taking a look at the challenge that came from the Sadducees.

The Sadducees were the party that included the chief priests and had the greatest influence at the temple.  They were the most wealthy, aristocratic and influential of all the sects.  They were extremely conservative and only believed in the authority of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament).  They ignored oral law, traditions, and the regulations prescribed by the Pharisees. They even discounted the authority of the prophetic books of the Old Testament.  Jesus and the Pharisees spoke of a resurrection from the dead, and as far as the Sadducees were concerned, this was not to be found in the Pentateuch.  Such a belief, they thought, was from the imagination of man, not from God.  Hoping to catch Jesus on this matter, they put His belief in the resurrection on trial by a question they assumed would show the absurdity of His belief.  Jesus’ own authority hinged on His response.

The youth group of our past church took a video camera and went out  onto the Boston Common asking adults, “Do you believe in life after death?”  There were almost as many responses, and ideas about what that might look like, as there were interviewees.  I don’t remember any of the responses matching up with what the Bible has to say on the topic.  I imagine it was the same in Jesus’ day and that probably prejudiced the skepticism of the Sadducees.

Please take a few minutes to read this week’s passage and ponder the three questions we’ll be examining on Sunday morning at 9:00.

  • Is there a resurrection from the dead?
  • If so, what kind of resurrection?
  • What difference does it make?

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“Authority” – Mark 11:27-12:12


“Who does He think He is?  What gives Him the right to say and do these things in the temple?”  These are the types of questions the chief priests, scribes and elders were asking about Jesus.  They were infuriated with Him.  Previously Herod had declared himself king of Judea and now the Romans were muscling in militarily and politically.  The Jewish people sure could use a messiah to save them from their oppression, but there had already been so many false messiahs.  Fed up and caught up in a desire to perpetuate their own authority, the religious leaders failed to recognize the rightful King.  Worse yet, they planned to destroy Him.

Yet none of this surprised Jesus (Mark 8:31), and all of it was part of God’s plan to validate Jesus as the true King and ultimate authority.

Please take a few minutes to read this week’s passage and, as you do, try and determine the identities of the various characters in the parable of the vinedressers (or tenants).  Also, give some thought to to the role of Jesus’ authority today.

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Growing Up


“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.”  (Hebrews 5:12–13)

If someone were to call you or your youth age son or daughter a “child,” you would be understandably insulted.  Yet, since the 1930’s, the age of adolescence has steadily increased.  Young adults are waiting longer than ever for marriage and continue to delay their entry into the workforce.  Researchers discovered that these factors and others have resulted in the juvenilization of America even Christianity.

Thomas Bergler in his book, The Juvenilization of American Christianity- We Are All Adolescents Now, is perhaps one of the first to sort through and communicate much of the research on the topic within the church.  To summarize: Changes in the labor market (increase in white collar and industrial jobs) during the 1930’s resulted in the establishment of public high schools to educate a growing number of teens, who were no longer employed in agriculture and family business, as a way to prepare them for new vocations.  As this happened, there was great concern about how to reach and mobilize the group that became known as “teenagers” or “youth.”   The American church sought to entertain them and appeal to their self-esteem, hoping to attract them to Christianity.  It met with initial numerical success, but eventually resulted in spiritual immaturity, consumerism and self-centeredness.  An even greater problem resulted when this population, and those that followed in their footsteps, aged.  Much of the church in America today, not surprisingly, has become conditioned to a church model that seems more like youth group or campus ministry.

Thankfully, it appears that the tide is turning, and it’s our youth and young adults who are leading the way.  Newer research indicates that youth and college students are tired of being entertained (they find entertainment everywhere) and are becoming bored with postmodern culture.  They are beginning to search for something more significant and real.  All of this bodes well for American Christianity, and perhaps our country as a whole.  19 year old twins, Brett and Alex Harris, wrote the book, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. They and many others are combatting the idea that adolescence is a vacation from responsibility and see the teen and college years as a unique time to equip themselves for navigating life and making a difference in world.  That sounds a lot like Hebrews 5:12-13.

Let’s not live like spiritual children, continuing to drink milk when we should be eating solid food.  Let’s strive on, do hard things, and turn back the tide in our own lives, the lives of our children and the lives of others within our church.  Our church is offering over a dozen Christian education classes this fall.  There is literally a class for everyone, no matter the age or level of spiritual maturity.  Each of these classes may not necessarily be entertaining, but they will challenge you and help to grow you into the full measure of Christ.  Please pray and consider not if, but how you will make such a commitment in the next couple of weeks.  I promise you it will be well worth the investment.

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“Authentic” – Mark 11:1-25


Do you wonder if you can ever be a good enough Christian?  Many of us work very hard to do what God expects of us, especially to love Him and our neighbors.  But we all fall far short of the righteous standard that God has set.  The culture around us certainly sees it.   We are often called “hypocrites” when we fall and it seems as though many non-Christians are just waiting to catch us when we do.  Many of us work so hard to make it seem as though we are far better than we are, yet we know if anyone knew what we’ve done in private or the thoughts we’ve had, they would probably be shocked.  It really makes each of us wonder, “Can I be a good enough Christian?”  The answer to that question is both “no” and “yes.”

The Bible tells us that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Each and every one of us is unable to be good enough to merit eternal life.  We just cannot be good enough on our own.  However, we will be considered good enough by God when our faith is in the perfect righteous record of Jesus, His atoning death on the cross and His resurrection.  In fact, there is only one type of Christian, those who have been washed clean and declared “perfect” by the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Thankfully, our not so good track record, which is seen by others, is not what God will look at when we are judged.  He will see that we are justified based on the record of Jesus that has been imputed to us. When we are called a “hypocrite,” we are provided a tremendous opportunity to explain that we are not justified before God on our own pathetic record, and that’s exactly why we’ve decided to become a Christian.

So while we cannot be perfect or even good enough on our own, God has called us to be authentic Christians.  Being an authentic Christian isn’t about keeping up appearances, it’s about a life surrendered to Jesus.  We’ll be looking at what a faithful life surrendered to Jesus looks like on Sunday morning.  We’ll learn it’s not easy, but that we can and will make surprising progress as God works in us.

Please take a few minutes to read this week’s passage and consider the steps you may need to make in order to surrender or more fully surrender your life to Jesus.  Hope to see you on Sunday morning at 9 AM!

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“Kingdom Value” – Mark 10:32-52


If you served or stopped by the church this week, you know that the King is Coming.  In fact, I think every person in the village or driving by knows it.  This church’s vacation Bible school, The King is Coming Kid’s Camp, has been an amazing testimony to God’s presence in the body of Christ here in Goffstown.  There has been singing, dancing, praising, playing, learning, Scripture memorizing, crafting, eating and praying all to the glory of God and for the sake of magnifying Christ this week.  Nearly the entire congregation has been involved up to and during this week.

Rewind nearly two thousand years and we will notice that a similar sort of pilgrimage was unfolding as Jesus and the crowds began to journey up to Jerusalem for the annual Passover festival.  Entire families would embark on the journey traveling 6-8 hours a day (you think it’s tough traveling with kids in the car for 8 hours, try it by foot, horse or camel!).  The kids would often be playing, singing, dancing and eating in the caravan as they traversed the rugged terrain up to the holy city.  All of this was done with triumphant expectation as the looked forward to the day when the King would finally come.  This Sunday’s passage describes a scene in which the King had come and was on His way now to Jerusalem.  But not all would view His arrival as an occasion for praise.  Even His own disciples, despite Jesus’ efforts to prepare them, fell short in their understanding of God’s grand plan for victory.

As you read this week’s passage (above), try and imagine what it would be like to be part of the crowd as they journeyed to Jerusalem with Jesus in their midst.  If you were one of the Apostles or even the blind man, Bartimaeus, how would you feel as Jesus spoke to you?  What would you say and do?

For those of you who like word searches, try and find where Jesus says the exact same thing to two different people in our text.  Why do you suppose He did that?  How are these two instances related?

I suspect there will be much praising, singing, learning, eating (at the Lord’s table) this Sunday as we worship our Lord together at 9AM.  Come join us as we celebrate the King’s coming!

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