Search:
test
 

Smartphones

How much power do our smartphones hold? What if we took the time to ask ourselves how much power the devices that we hold in our hands truly have? What purposes do they, should they, and can they serve in our lives? Are they changing us? Or are we changing them?[1] Are smartphones simply organizational, communicational, social, and professional toolboxes on the go? Or are they re-defining culture itself? How does their use change the way we think, work, and interact with others? Can they be used for gospel influence and kingdom purposes? Or do they do more harm than help? Like many things in this world, smartphones provide several tremendous advantages. Like cars are used to get us from place to place more efficiently, smartphones have the capacity to increase our efficiency quotient immensely in numerous areas of life. But also like cars, smartphones do not come packaged without their dangers. Tony Reinke, senior writer for...

Continue Reading

May 23, 2017: The Curtain of the Temple

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 20-21, Psalm 116, Mark 15:33-41, Galatians 5:1-12 Mark 15:33-41: Every part of this final ultimate moment is filled with significance. The darkness all over the land signifies the momentous event about to take place—the disturbance in the heavens, the wrath of God being displayed against the sin of man, and the atoning sacrifice that Christ is making. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" (15:34) indicates the separation from God that, in the mystery of eternity, Christ is experiencing as he takes the suffering and sin of humanity upon himself and suffers the wrath of God. God’s “forsaking” of Jesus happens as he turns his approval away from him as he takes our sin. He himself became sin that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As Jesus died, the curtain of the temple is torn in two (15:38). The curtain that divided the Holy of Holies from the rest...

Continue Reading

May 22, 2017: King of the Jews

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 18-19, Psalm 115, Mark 15:16-32, Galatians 3:15-21 Mark 15:16-32: This familiar passage never ceases to shock—and amaze; amazing love, what love is this that thou should give thy life for ours? The soldiers mock him. They dress him in purple, the color of royalty, put a pretend crown on his head, a crown of thorns—long dagger, painful thorns—and pretend to pay him homage. The bitterness of the pain and anguish of the physical torment is heightened by the emotional taunting. Then they lead him out to crucify him. They compel Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross. Perhaps Jesus’ scourging has been so severe that he cannot do it himself. They crucify him. The inscription above his head continues to mock him (“The king of the Jews”), though once again it speaks far more truly than it intends. The passersby also mock him: you who said you would rebuild the temple in three...

Continue Reading

May 21, 2017: The Prince of Life They Slay

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 16-17, Psalm 114, Mark 15:1-15, Galatians 4:1-20 Mark 15:1-15: The evil of the religious leaders’ treatment of Jesus is made apparent not only in the hideous, vicious, spiritually malevolent act itself, but also in all the little details. “As soon as it was morning” (15:1): that is, the so-called “trial” had been held at night. A jumped up kangaroo court not following any proper procedures with only one purpose: to provide spurious pseudo-legal covering for screaming consciences. They hand him over to Pilate, after they debate with the whole council. They want the death penalty. Under the power of Rome, they no longer had that power and so need to find him guilty, not only of violation of their own religious laws, spuriously so, but also to make sure that before the eyes of Rome he was viewed as a dangerous insurrectionist and rebel. Evidently, then, they claim that Jesus...

Continue Reading

May 20, 2017: Denying Jesus

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 14-15, Psalm 113, Mark 14:66-72, Galatians 3:15-29 Mark 14:66-72: “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” Pressure does strange things to people, and Peter, so loyal, so bold, is exposed in his weakness as being willing to deny the Lord who a few moments ago he was fighting to protect. Such is fallen humanity, such are we all, such was Peter. Note the boldness of Peter to follow Jesus so closely at all. Peter is warming himself by the fire. A servant girl appears to recognize him as one of the disciples of Jesus, but he denies it. But his denial is, as Shakespeare would say, suspect for it appears that “he protesteth too much”: “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” He goes out into the gateway to escape from the potential exposure, but the servant girl starts saying to the other people around, “This...

Continue Reading

May 19, 2017: Spit on Him

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 13, Psalm 112, Mark 14:53-65, Galatians 3:1-14 Mark 14:53-65: Jesus is brought before the Council. The religious leaders are all gathered together. It is a kangaroo court—not following proper procedure, brought together for the sole purpose of giving a spurious legal rationale for condemning Jesus. Peter has followed “at a distance.” So far, so good for Peter, but (as we shall see tomorrow) his “at a distance” following is the first step towards his denial. False witnesses brought to condemn Jesus do not even agree in their fake testimony. So the high priest asks him directly, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus replies, “I am,” and rather than considering whether Jesus is telling the truth, the high priest immediately is moved to condemn Jesus for so-called “blasphemy.” When we come face to face with the claims of Jesus, it leaves us with a choice: either we...

Continue Reading

The Power of Like

Big Brother is watching you. That creepy idea has sparked movies, books, and conspiracy theories galore: someone, somewhere, knows what you like, whom you vote for, what you ate for breakfast. Marketing companies analyze your online habits and tailor-make ads to snare you, even varying the cost of potential products depending on your socio-economic status. “Like-farming” is a spammer’s delight. When companies can pinpoint a prospective customer’s vulnerable moments and pounce with confidence-boosting ad campaigns, or a candidate’s campaign can spin out fake news to lure new voters, we really have sunk to a new low. According to Cambridge University, just clicking 10 likes on Facebook allows advertisers to “know” you as well as a co-worker would. Keep “liking” stuff, and marketers’ predictive ability concerning your purchases and preferences rises accordingly. What you like, in other words, reveals an awful lot about you. But truthfully, the power of like is nothing new. The power of...

Continue Reading

May 18, 2017: Judas

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 11-12, Psalm 111, Mark 14:43-52, Galatians 2 Mark 14:43-52: Judas arrives. And as if to tell us how deep was the betrayal, we are reminded that he was one of the twelve. To be betrayed is one thing; to be betrayed by a companion is another; to be betrayed by one sworn to loyalty to you is a terrible, terrible wound. Judas comes with a rabble with clubs and swords, as if for battle, and with the religious along for the ride too. The betrayer’s signal is woeful: a kiss. No doubt this was their usual greeting, as it often is in the Eastern world among friends. Judas, perhaps not wanting to be given up as the double agent who has betrayed Jesus, greets Jesus in the normal way; but by doing so he indicates to the authorities who this Jesus is. Did they not recognize Jesus? Perhaps they had...

Continue Reading

May 17, 2017: God’s Will

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 8-10, Psalm 110, Mark 14:32-42, Galatians 1 Mark 14:32-42: Gethsemane. Was ever any more mournful prospect, and yet, beyond all hopes, great salvation? Unlike all human-made religions, at the heart of biblical Christianity is the cross, and that means Gethsemane. Other religions must deny suffering, pretend it does not exist like the cults, rise to a philosophical distance mentally from suffering, or view suffering as failure. All such messages are ultimately hopeless because we all suffer, and it cannot be denied, nor long pretended it does not exist. Only in Christianity is there a crucified Savior, only is there grace, only is there a Messiah who came to bear our sufferings. It did not come at no cost. Jesus goes to pray. He instructs the disciples to sit while he goes on with Peter and James and John—the inner core—to pray. They come with him so far, and then he...

Continue Reading

May 16, 2017: Being Faithful

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 5-7, Psalm 109, Mark 14:12-31, 2 Corinthians 13 Mark 14:12-31: The Feast of Unleavened Bread becomes the occasion for a momentous new event. The arrangements are made according to Jesus’ command and prearrangement, and over the meal a prediction is made that was sure to raise the alarm in everyone’s mind: one of them will betray him. Even one of the twelve. This is all part of the plan, and it is God’s plan for saving sinners, but for the man who betrays Jesus, “it would have been better if he had not been born.” Let us make sure that we do not betray Jesus, but stay faithful to him. Nothing is worse than turning our back on the One and Only Savior. Who else has the Words of Eternal Life? The Lord’s Supper is instituted (14:22-25). It has two elements to it: the bread and the cup. A new covenant...

Continue Reading