A Deep Dive Into the Gospel Of Mark with Rev. Karen Bruins

 

Welcome to “Running with Mark,” a 16-week deep dive into the Gospel of Mark.

This series will ask the question that is central to Mark’s Gospel, “Who do people say I am?” (Mark 8:27).  Hopefully after spending these next few months discovering Jesus, his life, ministry, teaching and miracles, you will be able to answer that question for yourself.

 

There are daily readings that begin December 29. Pick up a bookmark at church of the daily readings or download one here.  Each week’s readings include the reading for Sunday, plus some supplemental reading in the Psalms or other books from the Hebrew (Old Testament) Bible. The Psalms are a collection of prayers in the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus, as a first century Jew, was deeply steeped in the Psalms and we hear him quoting and interpreting the Psalms throughout the Gospels. 

Each day I will post a reflection on the assigned passage of the day. It may be a written reflection, a video, a piece of art or poetry. There will be places for you to interact with me and with the Bible text in the comments section. Please note that the comments section will be monitored to ensure positive and productive conversation, and to ensure no trolls take over the site.

 

Here are tools and resources to make your study of Mark more impactful:

1. A good Study Bible. If you are still using the Bible you received in 3rd grade, or you’ve never had a good study Bible, consider making this important investment. Study Bibles typically include maps, a concordance, topical index and commentary. It’s important to remember that the commentary is just one author’s or authors’ perspective on the Bible. Commentators are all along the spectrum from very conservative to very progressive in their theological interpretation of Scripture.

Here are a few options to consider:

Wesley Study Bible

New Revised Standard Version ©2017 Abingdon Press

Joel B. Green, (Editor) and William Willimon, (Editor)

 

CEB Women’s Study Bible

©2016 Common English Bible, publisher

Jaime Clark-Soles (Editor), Judy Fentress-Williams (Editor), Ginger Gaines-Cirelli (Editor), Christine Chakoian (Editor), Rachel Baughman (Editor)

 

2. Bible Dictionary is an alphabetical listing of major topics, people, and places found in the Bible. Here are two helpful dictionaries:

Crazy Book: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Biblical Terms

The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary

 

This book has maps and color illustrations.

 

Nan Merrill has re-written the Psalms into prayers in contemporary language. This is a great tool for personal devotions.

 

You may wish to purchase a new notebook or journal to record your thoughts and reflections on the daily readings, sermons, group discussions etc. 

 

I look forward to beginning this journey with you!

 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Karen Bruins

 

Running With Mark 41

Day Forty-One – February 7, 2020  

Read:

Luke 14:1-6 New Revised Standard Version

Jesus had been invited for a meal at the home of a prominent Pharisee.  Jesus likely had been teaching in the Pharisee’s synagogue. 

 

Why would a Pharisee invite him for a meal when Jesus had been quite critical of them? There isn’t enough context here to ascertain with any certainty the Pharisee’s motive. 

  • He may have been genuinely interested in knowing Jesus
  • He may have invited Jesus for a meal because that was custom
  • He may have invited Jesus because Jesus was “being carefully watched” LK 14:1

 

A man was there who had a condition called Dropsy.  Today we might call it Edema.  Edema is swelling in the soft tissues of the body. Excess water accumulates in the tissues.  Depending on the severity, edema can be very painful.

 

Jesus asks the Pharisees if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath, but they won’t answer.  Jewish teaching was that whatever one could do before the Sabbath, should not be done on the Sabbath.  Exceptions were made for life-saving procedures.  Other medical treatments on the Sabbath were debated.[1]

 

Jesus healed the man and sent him on his way.  Then he questions the Pharisees.  If a child or an ox fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you immediately get them out?  Pharisees did try to help their animals out of pits on the Sabbath.

Baby Jessica

You may recall the story of “Baby Jessica” from 1987.  Jessica, who was 18 months old at the time, fell into a well casing that was 8 inches wide and 22 feet deep, in the backyard of her aunt in Midland, Texas.  The nation was captivated as an all-out effort was made to rescue the toddler who had become stuck in the well.  No one ever questioned whether they should keep working on the Sabbath.  It took rescue workers 56 hours to free her.

In 2010, a massive cave-in caused 33 Chilean miners became trapped 2300 feet underground and 3 miles from the mine’s entrance.  The world watched and prayed for 69 days until the miners were finally rescued. 

 

Two closing thoughts:

  • The Pharisees got stuck on carrying out the letter of the law, and often missed the spirit and intent behind the law. We can be that way too.  Social media has made it very easy to comment, attack, or to be a Pharisee online.  Pay attention today to your own tendency to judge or critique others.  Even if we agree with 90% of what someone writes or says, we’ll still go after and point out the 10% where we disagree, or where someone was in error.  Sometimes it is necessary to point out an error or disagreement, but often we do it so that we can feel better about ourselves and our beliefs.  There are no prefect people, organizations, churches, families, neighborhoods or workplaces, especially when we are a part of them! 
  • The rescue workers in both of these stories reminds me of the tenacity of God in seeking and going to any length to save us.

 

Music:

You’ve Got a Friend in Me –  from Toy Story

Lord I Lift Your Name on High –  Trey Mclaughlin and SOZ

 

 

Prayer Focus:

Talk with God about your propensity to judge and critique others.

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

[1] NIV, CULTURAL BACKGROUNDS STUDY BIBLE: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture. Place of publication not identified: ZONDERVAN, 2017.p.1776

 

 


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Running With Mark 40

 

Day Forty – February 6, 2020  

 

Read: Luke 8:40-52 New Revised Standard Version

“The Touch” by Twin Hicks https://www.twinhicks.com/  Learn more about these twin brothers at Meet the Twins

Today we read another account of the story of the healing of the woman with the bleeding and the healing of Jairus’ daughter.  Today as we look at this story we will use a spiritual practice called Visio Divina. 

Visio divina invites the viewer into “divine seeing.” Visio divina shares roots with the ancient practice of lectio divina. (Lectio divina calls for a slow, careful interaction with scripture through meditation and prayer, allowing a word or phrase to rise in one’s consciousness, a holy word to be savored and examined.) Similarly, visio divina invites one to encounter the divine through images. A prayerful consideration of and interaction with a photograph in the magazine, icon, piece of art, or other visual representation allows the viewer to experience the divine in a unique and powerful way.

Visio divina can be practiced individually or with a group in a small group or worship setting by using a piece of art as a focal point for prayer. Scripture can also be paired with the image in order for the viewer to reflect on the scripture through the art.[1]

 

The Upper Room gives the following suggestions for experiencing Visio Divina:

Try Visio Divina

  1. Pick out an image from a website, a photograph, painting, or icon.
  2. Look at the image and let your eyes stay with the very first thing that you see. Keep your attention on that one part of the image that first catches your eye. Try to keep your eyes from wandering to other parts of the picture. Breathe deeply and let yourself gaze at that part of the image for a minute or so.
  3. Now, let your eyes gaze at the whole image. Take your time and look at every part of the photograph. See it all. Reflect on the image for a minute or so.
  4. Consider the following questions:
    • What emotions does this image evoke in you?
    • What does the image stir up in you, bring forth in you?
    • Does this image lead you into an attitude of prayer? If so, let these prayers take form in you. Write them down if you desire.
  5. Now, offer your prayers to God in a final time of silence.

 

 

Music:

It Is Well by Horatio Gates Spafford | Kristene DiMarco | Philip Paul Bliss

O Lord Hear My Prayer – Taize

 

Prayer Focus:

Talk with God about what the image stirred up in you.

[1] https://www.upperroom.org/resources/visio-divina

 


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Running With Mark 39

Day Thirty-Nine – February 5, 2020  

Read: Luke 7:2-12 New Revised Standard Version

Listen to this song by Gungor.  What does it say about “the other”?

Us for Them by Gungor

In this reading Jesus continues to be approached by unexpected people.  Who was the Centurion? A Centurion was a Roman army officer in charge of 100 soldiers.  He represents all that oppressed the Jewish people, namely being under control of a foreign army.  This Centurion, the disciples say, loves our people and even built a synagogue for us.  The Centurion is not seeking healing for himself, but for one of his servants.  He recognizes the humanity of his servant, at a time when most regarded servants as “less than”.  What a mix of descriptors this Centurion has. 

 

Yet, it is this seemingly unlikely Centurion, who approaches Jesus in faith.  He recognizes the power Jesus has to command things.  I’m a soldier, he says, I order troops and they obey my command. The Centurion says that Jesus can do the same thing, to only speak the word, and the Centurion’s servant will be healed. 

 

The Centurion’s faith is remarkable because he had not been brought up in the faith.  Jesus sees the man’s faith.  “Not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 

 

Jesus does not say anything about healing the Centurion’s servant.  Yet, when the Centurion returned to his house, he found the servant in good health.

 

What do you think is the relationship between faith and healing?

 

Jesus’ reputation precedes him.  What was his reputation?

  • What is your reputation?
  • What do you do when someone you love falls ill? Are you calm? Do you panic? Are you the person in the family that holds things together?  To whom do you turn when you are scared?

 

Music:

Us for Them by Gungor

 

As you listen to this hymn, for whom are you called to pray?

O Christ the Healer We Have Come

 

Prayer Focus:

Pray for your friends who need healing.

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

 

 


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Running With Mark 38

Day Thirty-Eight – February 4, 2020  

Read: Matthew 15:21-32

Here are a few pieces of background information that give the historical and social context for the story. 
  • Jesus has walked to Tyre and Sidon. It is a long walk of 25 and 50 miles to get to these towns.  Why would he go all that way?
  • The woman is described as a Canaanite woman, which means that her ancient ancestors were enemies of Israel. Remember that Matthew’s audience was a Jewish audience.  They would immediately have understood why it was so significant that Jesus helped this woman.  It would be similar to a Sunni Muslim helping at Shia Muslim.  Their conflict goes back all the way to the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
  • Dog was a term that was often used to describe Gentiles. Why would Jesus use this term that seems so derogatory? He used it to contrast the way he would respond to the woman from the way others used it to condemn Gentiles.
  • The woman is bold and tenacious in seeking help for her daughter. She calls Jesus “Lord” and “Son of David”, both of which are terms a Jewish person would use to refer to the Messiah.   
  • Compare her words to that of the Pharisees earlier in Matthew 15. They criticized Jesus’ disciples for eating without doing the appropriate ritual cleansing.  
  • Why do you think the disciples wanted to shoo her away? Was it because she was a Canaanite?  Was it because she would distract him from the tasks at hand?  Was it because she was loud and assertive at a time when women were to be quiet and compliant?
  • Jesus says in verse 24, “I was sent only to help the lost sheep of the House of Israel”. Jesus’ words confuse our modern ears.  Remember that Matthew is writing for a Jewish audience. He wants to show that Jesus came first for the nation of Israel, and is now expanding his reach to the Gentiles and to the ends of the earth.
  • I wonder, if after being rejected by so many, Jesus finds this woman’s faith refreshing? How do you think Jesus felt and responded when people came to faith?

Music:

Your Great Name by Krissy Nordhoff | Michael Neale

Shout to the Lord by Darlene Zschech

 

Prayer Focus:

Talk to God about those whom you keep at arm’s length because they are different from you.

 

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

 


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Running With Mark 37

Day Thirty-Seven – February 3, 2020  

 

Begin today’s devotion by listening to this song:

Nearer, My God, to Thee – BYU Vocal Point Men’s Chorus

Read: Psalm 131

Song of Quiet Trust

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
    my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
    too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
    from this time on and forevermore.

 
 

Music:

Be Still My Soul – recorded by Eclipse 6

 

Prayer Focus:

Sit and rest in the presence of God.

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

 


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Running With Mark 36

Day Thirty-Five – February 2, 2020  

Read: Mark 5:21-43 New Revised Standard Version

Today’s devotion comes from a book called Seasons of Your Heart: Prayers and Reflections, Revised and Expanded by Macrina Wiederkehr

That woman is you!  I don’t know what your hemorrhage looks like, but I have little doubt that something in you is bleeding.  I don’t know what your faith looks like, but I have little doubt that something in you is believing.  And so really, that’s enough.  All you need do is to approach Jesus, bleeding and believing.  The hem will be enough for touching.  Power like that, moving through you will help you understand your wound.  Once you understand a wound, it loses its power to destroy you. I know.  That woman is me! I’ve been to the hem of God’s garment.  Let me tell you a story.

 

Once there was a wound

It was no ordinary wound.  It was my wound

We had lived together long.

 

I yearned to be free of this wound

I wanted the bleeding to stop

Yet if the truth be known

I felt a strange kind of gratitude

    for this wound

It made me

    tremendously open to grace

    vulnerable to God’s mercy.

 

A beautiful believing in me

    that I have named Faith

    kept growing, daring me

    to reach for what I could not see.

 

This wound had made me open.

I was ready for grace

 

And so one day, I reached.

 

There I was thick in the crowd

    bleeding and believing

    and I reached.

 

At first I reached

    for what I could see

    the fringe of a garment,

 

But my reaching didn’t stop there

    for Someone reached back into

    me.

 

A grace I couldn’t see

    flowed through me.

 

A power I didn’t understand

    began to fill the depths of me.

 

Trembling I was called forth

    to claim my wholeness.

 

The bleeding had left me.

 

The believing remained

 

And strange as this may sound

 

I have never lost my gratitude

    for the wound

    that made me so open

    to grace.[1]

Music:

There is a Balm in Gilead

Impossible Things by Chris Tomlin

 

Prayer Focus:

What would you say to your 12-year old self?  What advice would you give?

Talk to God about reaching out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.  What are you reaching for?  What is your wound?

 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Karen Bruins

[1] Wiederkehr, Macrina. Seasons of Your Heart: Prayers and Reflections, Revised and Expanded. New York: HarperOne, 2012.

 

 


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Running With Mark 35

Day Thirty-Five – February 1, 2020  

Read: Acts 14:1-14 New Revised Standard Version

 

Are you willing to risk being wrong about Jesus?  Can you be neutral about Jesus?

 

Check out this video about being willing to risk being wrong by Rachel Held Evans.  She was a gifted writer who wrote about her journey toward a more inclusive faith.  Held Evans carefully and thoughtfully dissected the faith she had learned as a child in order to arrive at faith that made sense as an adult.  Jesus continued to compel her and shape her life.  She died in 2019 at the age of 37.                    Recognizing the Story – Rachel Held Evans

  

This chapter is part of Paul’s first missionary journey.  Locate the towns of Iconium, Lystra and Derbe.  That’s where Acts 14 takes place.

Saul, who had been a persecutor of the followers of Jesus, had a powerful conversion experience while walking on the road to Damascus. Read Acts 9 to learn more.  Saul is now called Paul.  Because he had been such a zealous and violent persecutor of the Christians, most people were afraid of him.  It was hard for them to accept him as a new follower of Jesus.  They thought he was trying to trick them and arrest them.  Paul is known as an Apostle.  Apostle means “one who is sent”. 

 

Barnabas was a Levite.  Levites were the Jewish tribe that was responsible for the temple.   When Paul arrived in Jerusalem, after his conversion experience, Barnabas was one of the few or only people willing to reach out to Paul and welcome him.  Barnabas saw that Paul was no longer an enemy, but a fully devoted follower of God.  Barnabas was also a great mentor to the young man named Mark (John Mark).  Barnabas was one of the first believers to sell all his possession to help with spreading the gospel.  Barnabas, like Paul, is called an apostle.  Like Paul, he was not one of the original twelve disciples. 

 

Paul and Barnabas went into synagogues teaching about Jesus.  Both Jewish and Gentile people came to faith.  Acts 14 tells us that there were other Jewish people who did not believe Paul and Barnabas, and these people stirred up trouble.

 

Soon after this the mission changes, with Paul and Barnabas preaching primarily now to Gentiles.

 

Do you think it is possible to be neutral about Jesus?  Clearly the people of Iconium, Lystra and Derbe did not feel neutral.  Many believed and many did not.  It’s not unlike today.

 

It is rare to find someone who feels neutral about Jesus.

 

In 2015 the Barna Research asked, “What Do Americans Believe about Jesus?”.  Here is what they learned.

  • The vast majority of Americans believe Jesus was a real person
  • Younger generations are increasingly less likely to believe Jesus was God

“Millennials are the only generation among whom fewer than half believe Jesus was God (48%). About one-third of young adults (35%) say instead that Jesus was merely a religious or spiritual leader, while 17 percent aren’t sure what he was. In each older generation, the belief in Jesus as divine is more common—55 percent of Gen-Xers, 58 percent of Boomers and nearly two-thirds of Elders (62%) believe Jesus was God.”

 

  • Americans are divided on whether Jesus was sinless
  • Most Americans say they have made a commitment to Jesus Christ
  • People are conflicted between “Jesus” and “Good Deeds” as the way to Heaven[1]

 

If someone were to ask you today who Jesus was, what would you say?  How would you describe Jesus to someone who had never heard anything about him?  How would you describe him to a person of another culture? another faith? 

Why do you think people have such strong reactions to the person of Jesus?

Are you willing to risk being wrong about Jesus?

 

 

Music:

What a Beautiful Name by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood

What Child is This – Celtic Women

 

Prayer Focus:

What questions do you have about Jesus?  Bring them to God and talk about them.

 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Karen Bruins

[1] https://www.barna.com/research/what-do-americans-believe-about-jesus-5-popular-beliefs/

 

 


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Running With Mark 34

 

 

Day Thirty-Four – January 31, 2020  

Read: Luke 9:37-47 New Revised Standard Version

“Let these words sink into your ears:

The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.”

Luke 9:44

Jesus often refers to himself as the “Son of Man”.  To learn more about what that means, check out this video from the Bible Project Son of Man – The Bible Project

Jesus, in Luke 9:44, is already telling the disciples what was going to happen to him.  They do not understand what he means.  To them the idea of him not being a victorious ruler, not striking down their Roman oppressors, does not make sense.  They still do not see him as a different kind of king, a different Son of Man.  They love Jesus so much, that the thought of him dying breaks their hearts.

 

If we had been there would we have understood?  I don’t think we would.  God’s plan is so beyond anything humans with our finite minds can understand.

 

The way of Jesus is countercultural, and goes so against our human instincts, that we could easily have missed what he meant.

Whose were the human hands into which Jesus would be betrayed?
  • Religious leaders who preferred legalism to the spirit of the law
  • Roman authorities who felt threatened by Jesus’ growing popularity
  • Peter, who will 3 times deny even knowing Jesus
  • The disciples who flee after Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane
  • The disciple who drew his sword when soldiers came to arrest Jesus. Matthew’s gospel does not name the disciple.  John’s gospel says it was Simon Peter

 

Do you think you and I betray Jesus?  I think that we do whenever we:

  • Put others down in order to feel better about ourselves
  • When we gossip
  • When we resort to violence (in speech or in deed) rather than peacemaking
  • When we put idols before God (careers, money, status, power)
  • When we fail to love God and love our neighbor

If you are willing, would you reply in the comments section or send me an email with your thoughts on if and when we betray Jesus.

 

Music:

Ride on King Jesus This song is an African American spiritual. 

Create in Me a Clean Heart -The Acapella Company

 

Prayer Focus:

Talk to God about times, places, situations in which you deny Jesus.

How do our actions of not loving God and loving neighbor betray Jesus?

 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Karen Bruins

 


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Running With Mark 33

Day Thirty-Three – January 30, 2020  

Read: Luke 16:13-19

“No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other,

or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Luke 16:13

 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

 

To start off today’s blog, please watch this old, very funny, and very true video from Saturday Night Live.  Don’t Buy Stuff – SNL

 

A wise spiritual mentor once suggested that my calendar and my checkbook are a good indication of my values.  They show the things I choose to invest in with my time and my resources. 

 

I took a look at my checkbook.  Right away a couple of things stood out.  The first thing that stood out was the number of checks/debit transactions for restaurants.  I had a lot of excuses.  I’m working full-time.  I have a lot of evening meetings so I can’t cook.  Restaurants had become a convenience, and maybe even a crutch for me.
 
There is something spiritual about taking time to prepare healthy meals.  The chopping of the vegetables, preparing the meat/protein, smelling those delicious smells as things cook, setting the table, all of these are ways that God can use to slow us down and to make us aware.  Sharing a meal with someone is a great way to get to know a new neighbor, co-worker, family member or congregational member.   

 

Jesus spent a lot of time eating meals with people.  The meals were times for connection.  The meals were a way to show that the guests mattered.  Feeding people, whether that was just a few around a table, or 5,000 hungry souls, was a practical and a spiritual experience.

The second thing that stood out was how I use my money.  There were lots of checkbook/debit entries for Target runs, because, let’s be honest, it’s hard to go into Target for just one item, and leave with just that one item.  There were more orders from online websites like Amazon and Lands End than I would care to admit.

 

I also noticed that we have grown in our generosity.  When we were young and raising a family, finances were always tight.  But early on in our marriage, we made a commitment to support the local church with our tithes and our offerings.  It took us a couple of years from giving 3% of our take home pay to where we were giving 10%.  It seemed daunting to go from 3-10% overnight.  So, each year we took the next step, adding another percentage to our giving.  For many years now the first thing that comes out of my checking account after payday, is an automatic deduction for my tithe to the church.  Tithing has become a spiritual practice and discipline.  I’ve learned to budget based on the money that is left over after my tithe.

 

There’s still a whole lot God needs to help me with surrounding finances and resources.  I can find myself grumpy and envious when friends go on trips overseas, or when they seem to have resources to do interesting things.  Sometimes I need an attitude check. 

 

Lorrie Sandelin is the Director of the Joyce Uptown Foodshelf.  She shares stories of clients who use the services of the food shelf.  They are just trying to feed their families.  It is a good reminder that most of us have way more resources than we will ever need.  We are merely conduits through which the resources of God can flow.  What a joy to be able to freely and generously share the good gifts that God has given us.

 

  • What would your calendar reveal about your values? Are you making time for worship? For a small group? For service?
  • How much of your time can get eaten up by Netflix, surfing the web on your computer, or playing games on your phone?
  • What opportunities do you miss because of those time-suckers?
  • What are your feelings about your finances? Do you struggle with debt? Impulse buying?
  • Are you generous in your giving? Do you have room to grow?

 

Music:

Money, Money, Money by Abba

Seasons of Love from Rent

 

Prayer Focus:

Bring your finances to God.  Ask God to help you make wise decisions about spending, saving and giving.

Talk to God about your calendar.  Could you block off 30 minutes a day on your calendar to read Scripture, devotions, listen to music and pray? 

 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Karen Bruins

 


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Running With Mark 32

Day Thirty-Two – January 29, 2020  

Read: Luke 8:31-41 New Revised Standard Version

Verse 38 says, “The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.”

The Twelve Steps have been an avenue to sobriety, community and faith for many people suffering from addictions.  I have seen lives and families transformed as the person (and the family) gets healthy. 

As their pastor, people have sometimes shared their story, shown me their chip, and shared how God has helped them gain sobriety. 

 

There are some slight variations of Step 12 depending on the type of group it is, but generally it reads much like this:  “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we try to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” This is the step in which sober individuals begin helping those who are still struggling with addiction. This may come in the form of sponsoring other people, taking service commitments, or participating in things like twelve step calls.  In a 12 Step Call the person makes themselves available to help others get sober.

 

Folks for whom I have been pastor have come to me to live out their 12th step saying, “If you hear of someone in the church who needs someone to talk to about their addiction , or they need someone walk with them into their first A.A. or Al-anon meeting, please give them my name.”  Indeed, I watched how one person steered and accompanied another toward sobriety.  

 

There’s much we can learn from those in recovery, and from the man from whom Jesus had driven out an unclean spirit.  They have discovered how to pay it forward. 

Jesus invites us into wholeness and healing in community.  It can be new experience, and even a little scary, to let others see our struggles, faults and failings.  It can feel vulnerable, but it also can bring incredible freedom.  It takes a lot of work to keep up the façade of having your stuff together.  Letting go of that façade, is a lot like a butterfly letting go of the cocoon. Something new and beautiful emerges.

 

  • Do you have someone with whom you can share your most vulnerable and true self?
  • Are you part of a small group at church? Small groups can be a great way to get to know others and be known by them.  Small groups can encourage, comfort, console and challenge their members. 
  • What story of struggle would you share? What story of healing would you share?

 

 

Music:

Waymaker – Voices of Lee

Softly and Tenderly – sung by Audrey Assad

 

Prayer Focus:

Talk to God about the 12th step.  Are you in need of someone to walk with you into sobriety?  Are you at a place to help others?  Ask God to make you ready to share your story.

 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Karen Bruins

 


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Running With Mark 31

Day Thirty-One – January 28, 2020  

Read: Matthew 8:23-33

Another storm story.  Last week we read Mark 4:35-41 with Jesus calming a storm.  Today we are looking at the story in Matthew’s gospel.  What do you suppose is the different lesson to take from the story today?  Does a different word or image come to you out of this story?

 

Remember the setting on the Sea of Galilee which was surrounded by mountains.  Storms could pop up very quickly.  Several of the disciples were fishermen.  They knew the waters well and they had likely seen many storms.  What was it about this storm that frightened them so much?  Was it the intensity?  The suddenness?  Perhaps they knew some fishers who had drowned on the Sea of Galilee in a storm.

 

For me, the word that speaks in this second storm story is the word faith.  I think faith is a lot like a muscle, that is strengthened with exercise and practice.  

 

 

  • Did the disciples’ fear overtake their faith?
  • Does fear ever overtake your faith?  What would help you break that cycle?

 

Music:

Peace Be Still – sung by Lauren DaigleLet this song wash over you.  Hear the chorus, “Peace, be still”.

 

It Is Well – sung by Audrey Assad

Prayer Focus:

Talk to God about where you are in the boat.  Tell God about the wind and the waves that are crashing into your life and making you feel afraid.   Ask God for the peace to rest like Jesus rested, resting in faith.

 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Karen Bruins

 


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Running With Mark 30

Day Thirty – January 27, 2020  

Read: Psalm 89:1-4

Psalm 89 talks about God’s steadfast, faithful nature.  Think back over your life, especially over difficult times.  How was God faithful to you during adversity? God being faithful doesn’t mean that everything we want will happen. God’s faithfulness means that we do not face our challenges alone.

 

A spiritual practice that has been very helpful to me, is the practice of memorizing Scripture.  The words get into my heart and my head.  Reciting them, reminding myself of these truths about God, faith and love, bring me courage, strength and peace.  From time to time in this blog, I will suggest some verses that you may want to memorize.

 

These verses from the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) book of Lamentations 3:22-23 are good verses to memorize and to have in your heart to pull out in difficult times.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases]
   God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

 

Visual Liturgy

 

Music:

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Always Been Faithful To Me – Sara Groves

 

Prayer Focus:

Talk to God about the things in your life that cause you to be afraid, and remind yourself that God has always been and will always be faithful.

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

 


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