Tag Archives: Mark


We are in the middle of a sermon series at church called Faith by the Numbers. We are on number 4, True Friendship, based on the story in Mark 2:1-12 in which the 4 friends lower their paralyzed friend down through the roof to Jesus. During the sermon this poem started to form in my mind. On the theory that it’s better to just write, even if what you write isn’t the best every time, I decided to finish it up and share it here.


Friends go the distance
When friends are in need

Friends find great blessing
When friends each other feed

Friends trust in Jesus
When friends plant a seed

Friends are friends forever
When friends in Christ are freed


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

The Widow’s Offering – A Pantoum

This poem was inspired by the story of the widow’s offering recorded in Mark 12:41-44. I wrote it for an Advent devotional that my church is putting together. Each daily reading from the devotional will be offered for all to read on the church website at www.cofaith.net beginning on December 1.

The Widow’s Offering

You gave all You had to give, You gave me Your life
Like the widow’s offering to the treasury
Through Your great poverty, with love my soul is rife
Blessed by the abundant life, my sin You bury

Like the widows offering to the treasury
I am called to give what truly belongs to You
Blessed by the abundant life, my sin You bury
Now I embrace through You this life that is brand new

I am called to give what truly belongs to You
Without worry that it’s all I have left to give
Now I embrace through You this life that is brand new
And as You forgave me today I will forgive

Without worry that it’s all I have left to give
Even if lowly as the widow I may be
And as You forgave me today I will forgive
Praying others will see You when they look at me

Even if lowly as the widow I may be
Through Your great poverty, with love my soul is rife
Praying others will see You when they look at me
You gave all You had to give, You gave me Your life


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

Advent and the Second Coming

The season of Advent is about anticipating our celebration of the coming of Christ into the world. But it is also about anticipating His second coming into the world at the end of time. For that reason, our pastor gave a sermon yesterday titled “End Times – A Lutheran Perspective.”

It was a very interesting and informative sermon. He talked about the many attempts of mankind and the church to predict the exact time when the end will come, even though Jesus clearly said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32.

He also talked about the various perspectives on the end times and the thousand-year reign of Jesus written about in Revelation. There is the pre-millennial view that the thousand-year reign hasn’t yet started. There is the post-millennial view that the thousand-year reign has already passed. And there is the amillennial view that the thousand years is a figurative timeframe instead of a literal one.

But the most important thing our pastor said during the whole sermon took up only six little words: “This is not a salvation issue.

Whether you believe the rapture and tribulation are still to come, that the church is experiencing the tribulation now, or something else does not affect whether you have salvation in Christ. What matters is if you believe God came to this earth as Emmanuel and then died on a cross to pay for your sins.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life

Enough – A Poem

I like to believe that no matter what happens in this life, Jesus would be enough for me. But having never had that idea truly tested I can’t be sure. But I am thankful that God loves me even when I am not sure because He knows my desire. I am reminded of the father who asked Jesus to heal his son who was possessed by an evil spirit, if Jesus could.

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9:23-24 (NIV).

Yesterday as I pondered my desire for Jesus to be enough and my need for Him to help me overcome my uncertainty, this poem was inspired.

7/17/12 Update: I have linked this poem for dVerse Poets Pub‘s 1st Open Link Night of its second year! Happy Anniversary to dVerse!


Would You be
Enough for me
If You were all I had?

“You are my all in all”
I’ve declared
Many times before

But if all else
Walked out the door
Would I cry for more?

Would I lament
My family lost
My friends who’d gone away?

Would I wail
For vanished possessions
The things I’ve come to love?

Or would I rest
In You alone
Content You stayed with me?

Is Your grace
Your everlasting love
Truly enough for me?

Today, my Lord
I pray You’d be
Forever enough for me


Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, Poetry

Children – A Poem

My son is one of the greatest blessings I have ever known. I often hear parents complain about how terrible their teenagers are, but I really can’t relate because my son is the most generous, kind, and loving person I know. He does sometimes annoy and frustrate me, and raising him poses its challenges, but I love him no matter what. And I know that God loves him even more than I do. I decided to write a poem about the blessing of children for my Thankful Thursday poem.


Children are a blessing
A gift from God above
Children of the One true King
They deserve our care and love

Children are not a burden
A curse from God above
To hold back men and women
From knowing fun and love

Children are our future
Given in trust from God above
Our duty is to help them mature
They need our faith and love

“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:15-16 (NIV).


Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, Poetry, postaday2011

A Busy Week Like No Other

Did you ever have one of those weeks where there was just so much that needed to be done, and it all had to be done before the end of the week? The next week would be too late. There was no time to procrastinate, but you just didn’t know how you would get it all done. Deadlines loomed and the pressed in from all sides.

I think that is how Jesus must have felt during that last festival of the Passover. There was still so much that He needed to do before His arrest and crucifixion. There were so many lessons He needed to teach the disciples before He would be with them no longer.

As I’ve been reading through the Gospels again this Lenten season, I’ve noticed how many of the important events and lessons came between the triumphal entry that we celebrate on Palm Sunday and the betrayal by Judas Iscariot in the Garden of Gethsemane.

  • Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple. Matthew 21:12-17.
  • Jesus told many parables, including the parable of the two sons (Matthew 21:28-32), the parable of the tenants who killed the landowner’s servants and son (Matthew 21:33-46), the parable of the wedding banquet (Matthew 22:1-14), the parable of the ten bridesmaids, only five of whom were ready when the bridegroom arrived (Matthew 25:1-13), and the parable of the servants who were entrusted with talents of silver (Matthew 25:14-30).
  • Jesus answered questions about whether taxes should be paid to Caesar (Matthew 22:15-22), about marriage at the resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33), and about what is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:34-40).
  • Jesus gave His great warning against hypocrisy to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, calling them a brood of vipers (Matthew 23).
  • Jesus taught about the destruction of the Temple and the end times (Matthew 24), and about the final judgment when the goats will be separated from the sheep (Matthew 25:31-46).
  • Jesus shared the last supper, the last Passover meal, with His disciples in the upper room, during which He washed their feet, predicted His betrayal, instituted the sacrament of communion with the bread and the wine, His body and blood (Matthew 26:17-30; John 13).
  • Jesus taught His disciples that He is the way to the Father, and promised the Holy Spirit would come to them after He was gone (John 14).
  • Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him, to which Peter objected (Mark 14:27-31).
  • Jesus prayed at Gethsemane, and submitted to the will of the Father, then found His disciples sleeping (Mark 14:32-42).

When I think about all that Jesus accomplished in this one week, most importantly that He accomplished the ultimate sacrifice for my sins, I realize that even the busiest of my weeks is a piece of cake by comparison. Never have I had to impart so much wisdom and right so many wrongs in all my life, much less in a single week.

I believe Jesus was able to accomplish all that He set out to do because He took time out of this busy schedule to pray and maintain His contact with His Father in Heaven. If God can achieve all that He did during this Holy Week, surely He can help me pull off whatever is on my puny to-do list. All I need to do is trust and pray.

So the next time you are facing a particularly busy week, with deadlines looming and tasks piling up, remember the One who accomplished exceedingly more in a single week than you will have to do in a lifetime. Stop and take a moment to ask Him to help you tackle your to-do list.


Filed under Faith, Jesus, postaday2011

The Widow’s Offering of Encouragement

On my desk at work I have one of those little pocket-sized books; you know the kind that are 3″ x 2½” that you find in the checkout line at the bookstore? The one on my desk is called Daily Prayer. Each page includes a Bible verse from the NIV plus a short prayer suggestion. The other day I opened it up looking for some wisdom and found this:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Malachi 3:10 (NIV).

As you pray today:

Pray about giving a little extra to cover a special request that you know about.

The verse talks about tithing, and we usually think first of money when we read this verse. But it occurred to me when I read this that sometimes the little extra that God calls us to give is not out of our financial resources, but our of our spiritual and emotional resources.

But what if our spiritual and emotional resources are running low? What if we don’t feel like we have any encouragement left to give because we fear we will need all that we have to sustain ourselves? That’s how I’ve been feeling at times lately. And yet there is a need for encouragement that has come to my attention, a “special request that I know about.”

I was reminded of a story recorded in Mark 12. This particular incident in the life of Jesus occurred during Holy Week, as He sat in the temple courts during the great festival of the Passover.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 (NIV).

Those who have received a wealth of encouragement and spiritual strength ought to share what they have received with others. But sometimes it is necessary to give the widow’s offering of encouragement and spiritual strength, though we may have little to give, rather than keep it for ourselves. When we do, not only will others be blessed, but God will pour out to us such a blessing of encouragement and strength that we will not know what to do with it. If we give the widow’s offering, one day we will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21 (NIV).


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, postaday2011

Wacky Advice – Forgiveness

It’s only mid-January, and already I’ve hit a day where I don’t know what to write about, but I committed to posting every day in 2011. So I thought I would check out the ideas at The Daily Post at WordPress.com. Today’s writing prompt was:

Describe the wackiest but most useful advice you’ve ever received.

The best advice I’ve ever received is to forgive others even if they don’t deserve to be forgiven. This idea seems so wacky and counter to all that society teaches us. After all, society says that when people do something wrong we should want to see them get what they deserve. The millions of men and women who are in prison or on probation in the U.S. attest to the fact that we are a nation that desires that justice be served, and justice requires punishment, not forgiveness.

From a societal standpoint, it does make sense that there should be consequences to breaking the law, especially laws designed to protect the citizens of the nation. But from an individual standpoint, the anger and bitterness that goes hand-in-hand with wanting those of have committed some offense against us to be punished is not a good thing. For the individual, forgiveness is the far better option. It’s a wacky idea, to forgive a drunk driver who killed your son or the robbers who murdered your parents or the arson who burned down your house and everything in it or the rapist who violated your very body and soul.

It’s a wacky idea; it’s advice that many refuse to take. Instead, they hang onto the anger and bitterness that eat at their mind and their soul. Partly, I think this is because of a fear that forgiving the transgressor means that you must admit that what they have done is not that bad. But forgiveness requires no such admission. In fact, forgiveness would not be necessary at all if the transgression were not a transgression at all, if it fell within the realm of acceptable behavior.

Rather, forgiveness is the act of giving up our right and desire for vengeance. The ability to forgive starts with the recognition that we ourselves need forgiveness for something we have done. Now most of us have not committed a terrible felony, but we have all done things that have hurt others in some way. And we have all, at some point, turned our backs on God and are in need of His forgiveness.

Jesus said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37. This sounds like pretty wacky advice, but it is the best advice I have ever received.

For many years, I refused to forgive. I held on to anger and bitterness towards someone who had hurt me. My unforgiveness didn’t hurt them in the least because they knew nothing about it. But it only made me more and more unhappy. Though I had a good life, a wonderful husband, a small child who loved me, a nice house, and a terrific family, I was miserable. I was gripped by depression and negative thoughts. But then God revealed to me that the core of my unhappiness was my unwillingness to forgive. It wasn’t easy to forgive and I needed God’s help to do it, but once I made the decision to forgive it was as though a black cloud was lifted from all around me. The world was bright again. I was able to enjoy the wonderful things in my life and my relationship with God began to blossom.

Did my decision to forgive mean that what had been done to me was okay? Certainly not! But it did set me free from a life imprisoned by anger and bitterness. The truth is that vengeance belongs to God and He will deal with the person who hurt me as He deems appropriate. And that truth has set me free.

Is there someone you are holding a grudge against? Take my advice and make the decision to forgive them. As Jesus said,

“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Mark 11:24-25.

God wants to set you free, He wants you to have an abundant life. But to enjoy that life, you must be willing to forgive and let God take care of justice.


Filed under Blogging, Faith, Jesus, Life, postaday2011

Credit Where Credit Is Due

As part of the Post-a-Day 2011 Challenge, The Daily Post at WordPress.com has been providing an optional writing prompt to get bloggers started. Although I won’t use their prompt on most days, I have already found one that I like. It was posted on Jan. 1 for use in Jan. 2 posts, but since I already had plans for Jan. 2 as part of Psalm Sunday, and then decided I wanted to do Music Monday, I decided to save it for a later day. Here is the prompt:

Name someone who deserves more credit than they get. And for bonus points, how to change things so they get more.

The first person I thought of when I read this was the Holy Spirit. Even in the Apostles’ Creed, all we say is “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” The Nicene Creed does have a bit more to say about the Holy Spirit:

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.

The Bible, however, has much to say about the Holy Spirit. Beginning at the beginning, Genesis 1:2 says, “The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” The Holy Spirit of God has always existed and was instrumental in the creation of the earth.

Throughout the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is revealed as powerful and magnificent. Many times, God filled prophets and others with His Spirit, giving them wisdom, expertise, knowledge, and strength beyond their natural abilities.

“Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze.” Exodus 31:2-4.

And the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Then he gave the seventy elders the same Spirit that was upon Moses. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. Numbers 11:25.

At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him [Samson], and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. . . But the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes on his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. Judges 14:6; 15:14.

Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, the leader of the Thirty, and he said,“We are yours, David!We are on your side, son of Jesse.Peace and prosperity be with you,and success to all who help you,for your God is the one who helps you.”So David let them join him, and he made them officers over his troops. 1 Chronicles 12:18.

His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. Job 26:13.

But as for me, I am filled with power—with the Spirit of the Lord. I am filled with justice and strength to boldly declare Israel’s sin and rebellion. Micah 3:8.

The Old Testament also contains the promise, fulfilled in the New Testament, that God will give His Holy Spirit power to all who believe.

“Then, after doing all those things,
      I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
   Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
      Your old men will dream dreams,
      and your young men will see visions.
 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
      even on servants—men and women alike.” Joel 2:28-29.

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit continues to be revealed as powerful, as well as beneficial to the believer. Jesus, the Messiah, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and thus is the Son of God. The Holy Spirit is the giver of life and the source of wisdom, counsel, and more.

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18.

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35.

But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11.

[Jesus said,] “You are witnesses of all these things. And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” Luke 24:48-49.

Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. John 3:6.

The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate [Or Comforter, or Encourager, or Counselor], who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. John 14:16-17.

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26.

That last verse is one of my favorites. I have personally experienced the Holy Spirit reminding me of something Jesus had taught me through my reading of the Word, of His teaching. When I need a verse to help me through a difficult situation, it is the Holy Spirit that brings just the right verse to mind. I may not always remember the Biblical “address” of the verse, or even what book of the Bible it is in, but I know where it comes from and Who has brought it to my attention.

I think that too often even Christians forget to give credit to the Holy Spirit when it is due. All of the charitable acts or service for our fellow man that we do are born out of the power and desire of the Holy Spirit. Even our faith itself is given to us by the Holy Spirit. I have quoted quite a few verses here, but I really haven’t even scratched the surface of the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit.

So that brings me to the second part of the prompt. What can I do to change things so that the Holy Spirit gets the credit He deserves? I will endeavor, with the help of the Holy Spirit Himself, to write about the wonderful things He deserves credit for in my life and as promised in scripture in the weeks and months to come. I’m going to be posting every day, so I’ll certainly have plenty of opportunity.


Filed under Blogging, Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, Service

Lessons from the Mustard Seed

I’m not a big fan of mustard and never have been. I know it’s an important ingredient in things like potato salad and egg salad, but I don’t like the strong taste of mustard on hamburgers, hot dogs, or sandwiches. But even though I don’t like prepared mustard, I know that there is much we can learn from the mustard seed.

I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a bottle of mustard seed. I have a lot of spices in my spice cupboard, but I don’t have ground or whole mustard seed. So when I’ve read passages in scripture where Jesus talks about the mustard seed, I’ve had to really think about it to completely understand the relevance of this particular seed as an illustration. I do know that the mustard seed is very small. I also read somewhere recently, I think on another blog, that the mustard seed is solid all the way through. It doesn’t have a hallow place in the middle.

Jesus uses the mustard seed to illustrate how small our faith can be and still be effective. Perhaps it is the solid nature of the seed of faith that makes it so strong though it is small.

   The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”
   The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you! Luke 17:5-6.

He also used the mustard seed and how it grows into a large tree in spite of its small size to illustrate the Kingdom of God.

Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32.

As I thought about these two illustrations I was reminded of another verse where Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God, and realized the two illustrations are related.

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21.

If we have faith, even a tiny amount of faith the size of a mustard seed, then the Kingdom of God is in our hearts. The potential for becoming a huge tree is within each mustard seed. Just like the mustard seed, faith may start small, but if it is cultivated and watered it will grow to be quite large. Just as the branches of the mustard tree provide shade and a nesting place for birds, our faith when grown can provide encouragement and a place for others of the Kingdom of God to grow.

As we begin 2011, I am looking forward to seeing my own faith grow and hope that I can help others grow in their trust and faith in God as well. I hope that my faith and yours will be like the small but solid mustard seed, and that the potential for the Kingdom of God contained within us, within our faith, be a blessing to others so that the Kingdom of God might be found within them also.


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life