Monthly Archives: September 2018

Peter & John — Mark 9:2-8

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials —one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them.

Mark 9:2-8

Dear God, as I try to compare the differences between Peter and John, as I can discern them from the New Testament, I notice in this passage that “they were all terrified,” and yet Peter was the one to speak. In this case, we aren’t told if they were part of the conversation or were observing them from a distance, but in the moment Peter broke and just could sit with his fear.

I’m a subscriber to the Mark Twain saying, “Better to remain silent and appear foolish than to open your mouth and remove all doubt,” but I can still tend to talk too much in a group setting. I can also talk too much in a one-on-one conversation. My listening skills can be very poor. I really admire my wife’s listening skills. People feel comfortable with her and they are able to open up to her. She will allow for silent moments. She will ask a question and wait for the answer. She will draw people out and make them feel heard. Had she been there with Jesus that day, I am sure she would have been terrified, but also taking it all in, learning, and trying to figure out what it means.

Father, I give you my thanks for giving me such a great friend in my wife. I worship you in this silent moment. Help me to hear you today. Help me to be a great listener for those we will see today. Make me better than I am for the sake of your kingdom and others.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


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Posted by on September 30, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John


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Peter & John — Mark 8:27-32

27 Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

28 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.”

29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”

30 But Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. 32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.

33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”


Dear God, the telling of this story is almost verbatim from Matthew’s telling (Matthew 16:13-28). We often get similar stories told similarly, but this one really hit the radar because it is strikingly similar.

It’s always a good lesson to learn: “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” I journaled about this a couple of weeks ago, but it’s still a good message for me today. Everything I see is usually from my point of view. I rarely try to stop and look at things from your point of view. I can see you move is certain situations. I can look back on the last three months as some of the most blessed with good things (from my “human point of view”) as I’ve ever experienced. But what if these last three months weren’t the most blessed from your point of view? What if the hellacious year of 2013 was the year when you were really working?

My wife and I are about to have some time off together. We need this. We need to get in the boat and go to the other side of the lake—to another village. To a secluded place. I think this is one of the concepts upon which my heart needs to meditate. How can I get myself to start seeing the world—even tragedies and hardships—from your point of view? 

Father, I’m here to offer myself to you. Be glorified through me. Thank you for everything. Really. Thank you. Thank you for what you’ve been doing lately and what you continue to do. And I don’t want to be insensitive to those around me. I know some who have been through big life transitions over the last few months. Some have been hard transitions for them. I’m so sorry for them. Please strongly support and help them. Love them. Encourage them. Provide for them. Give them rest. Help them to see all of this from your point of view. Be on the move in their lives. 

In Jesus’ name I pray, 


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Posted by on September 29, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John


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Mark 8:14-21

But the disciples had forgotten to bring any food. They had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?” “Twelve,” they said. “And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” “Seven,” they said. “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.

Mark 8:14-21

Dear God, these poor guys. I’ve said before that I’m not sure I would have liked hanging out with Jesus because I know I’m as slow on the uptake as they are, if not slower. The questions he sometimes asked them were hard because he was ripping apart paradigms. “Don’t you understand yet?” No. No, I don’t.

There is still so much I don’t understand. I don’t understand my children and how to parent them at this stage of their lives. I don’t understand everything I’m supposed to do at work. I don’t know how to help family members. I’m sure I must exasperate you. I suppose if I have anything going for me it’s the fact that I am at least able to confess these weaknesses to you and seek you presence (at least sometimes).

Father, I have a lot to do today, and I need your wisdom to know how to do it well. Be glorified in my thoughts and words. Be glorified in my actions. You have ordained my steps. Help me to walk in your ordained path.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


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Posted by on September 28, 2018 in Mark


Peter & John — Mark 6:45-52

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.

Mark 6:45-52

Dear God, it’s this last sentence that stopped me here today. It gives us some insight not into Jesus, but into what it was like to be with him through this experience. From the story right before this about the feeding miracle, we learned they were tired. Now, even though they went out in pairs and did all of these miraculous things, their fatigue was hardening them.

This is a fascinating time for me because I’m as tired at work as I’ve ever been. I have two more days to go before my vacation starts, but I can see how my responses to people are a little different over the last couple of days than they normally are. Examples:

  • I snapped at a volunteer Tuesday afternoon in a manner that I never would have otherwise.
  • I had an office manager from a medical specialist to who our clinic sends referrals call to complain about the behavior of a patient. This patient had offended me earlier in the week, so I called the patient and tersely laid down the law in a way I normally don’t.
  • I have a colleague who can sometimes be abrasive who came at me with some unwelcome suggestions, and I didn’t handle them or her nearly as well as I should have.
  • I had to be blunt with a dear, honorable, well-intentioned man who is doing something that needed to be stopped. I think I handled that as well as I could, but I still know I wasn’t at my best in my interactions with him.

And these are just the examples I’m aware of. I’m sure my heart has hardened in many way I cannot see. In fact, I had an employee come and ask if I was mad at them because of something I had said and the way I said it. So yeah, my heart is hard.

Father, I have two more days ahead of me that require the best out of me, and the only way for me to deliver it is to let go. I’ve got to stop trying to get all of the work ahead of me done in my power, but trust that you, working through me, will accomplish your will. I’m sorry for my fussiness. Please forgive my failure to rest in you and for trying to hit the finish line with my own strength. Help me to do better today.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


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Posted by on September 27, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John


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Peter & John — Mark 6:30-39

The apostles *gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He *said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves. The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “ This place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they *said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” And He *said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they *said, “Five, and two fish.” And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass.

Mark 6:30-39

Dear God, I remember journaling on this story years ago when it occurred to me that the disciples were exhausted, Jesus was trying to give them some rest, but when the crowds didn’t let them Jesus withdrew the rest. It was time to press on through their fatigue and meet a human need in a supernatural way.

Father, I’m pretty tired right now. Yesterday was stressful and I have three more days of hard work before my vacation starts this weekend. Help me to look to you to do the work you have for me to do, and not to feel sorry for myself. In the midst of the great things you’ve done lately that I’ve been witnessing, help me to see and fall into your glory. Don’t let my selfishness cause me to miss the opportunity to be part of how you would have me to love others.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


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Posted by on September 26, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John


Peter & John — Mark 6:7-13

And He *summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt— but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.” And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” They went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.

Mark 6:7-13

Dear God, I must confess that I’ve always thought I would have hated this assignment given to the disciples by Jesus. At least he sent them out in pairs.

It leaves me wondering about how Jesus buddies them up. Did he keep Peter and Andrew and James and John together as brothers or did he mix it up. Maybe Peter and John went together. And who was Judas’ partner. And did everyone exhibit the power to heal and cast out demons, or just one in the pair?

Finally, I wonder what their conversations were like as they walked along. “Can you believe what’s going on?” Can you believe we just healed that lady,” or, “cast out that demon?” To quote the musical “Hamilton,” “Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”

I’m trying to put myself in their shoes. I suppose that as a believer in you now, I am on a journey—and you have given me fellow sojourners. First, there is my wife. You have linked us together until death do us part. And then I have the people in my church and the things that we do together. There are my coworkers and the board of directors. In fact, I have a couple of committee meetings of the board this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of us in this context before, but I guess we are.

Father, give me the courage I need to have to do the job you have given me to do. Love through me. Draw others to yourself through me. Help me to lean into you for the strength I need to do what you have called me to do.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


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Posted by on September 25, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John


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Mark 5:22-43

One of the synagogue officials named Jairus *came up, and on seeing Him, *fell at His feet and *implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.” And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him. A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” While He was still speaking, they *came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?” But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, *said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.” And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They *came to the house of the synagogue official; and He *saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. And entering in, He *said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He *took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and *entered the room where the child was. Taking the child by the hand, He *said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” ). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.

Mark 5:22-43

Dear God, according to this telling of the story, he didn’t even let anyone else go to Jairus’ house with him besides Peter, James and John. I’ve never had this thought before, but I wonder if he left the other nine disciples behind to keep everyone else from following him. Why did he take three of them? Why these three? I suppose he needed witnesses and maybe even a little bit of physical presence beyond being alone against mourners who were about to get angry with him.

Of course, I’m completely guessing on all of this. What I do know is that Peter, James and John had front row seats to this miracle. I wonder how they reacted internally when this happened. I suppose witnessing something like this would either inspire me and completely affirm my decision to follow Jesus or it would scare me and I would take off. Why do I get the feeling that it would have scared me?

Father, these three men were put into a unique situation. I cannot imagine seeing what they saw and then being asked to do what the were asked to do. I’m grateful for all of them. These events shaped who they became in the early church. You are shaping me too. Please shape me into the man you need me to be.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


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Posted by on September 24, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John


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Peter & John — Mark 3:7-19

Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples, and a large crowd followed him. They came from all over Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far north as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him. Jesus instructed his disciples to have a boat ready so the crowd would not crush him. He had healed many people that day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him. And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was. Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, giving them authority to cast out demons. These are the twelve he chose: Simon (whom he named Peter), James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder” ), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot ), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).

Mark 3:7-19

Dear God, is it bad that I never have learned the names of all 12 disciples? If pressed I could probably name nearly all of them, but I’d have probably missed that there were two names James.

I wonder why Jesus referred to James and John as the sons of thunder. Was that a comment on their personalities or on their father’s. Since we don’t really get an indication that John was a very intense or even angry person, I’m guessing this was a reference to their father (or maybe even their mother).

This list is obviously in a specific order that ranks them since Andrew and SImon (a.k.a. Peter) are separated by James and John. If Mark is writing this, then this is the specific order he gave them. Traditionally, I think that Mark’s gospel is thought to be Peter’s telling of the story to Mark, so that might be a reason that Simon comes first. I don’t suppose any of this makes a difference in the grand scheme of things. It’s just interesting.

The thing that really hits me about this passage, I suppose, is that these were the 12 that were picked. There were others hanging around, but there was something that Jesus saw in these 12. He took the time to teach them a little extra. He equipped them. He sent them out. He spent more time with them. There was something about each of them that Jesus needed and that the beginning church needed.

Father, I’m in my late 40s and I am still learning what all you need from me. I am about to go and lead a Bible study/Home Church for some strangers. I am acquainted with a couple of them, but, for all intents and purposes, we are strangers. But they are coming together to worship you. Use me tonight. Use me to speak to them. Help me to be loving and merciful. Help me to be pastoral and what they need. Give me your words for them. Give me your eyes so that I can see them as you see them. Be very present with all of us tonight. Enter the world through this home and let your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven through what you do among and in us tonight.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


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Posted by on September 23, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John


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Peter & John — Mark 1:35-39

35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.

Mark 1:35-39


Dear God, it looks like Simon was already showing his propensity for leadership among the group, even at this early stage. Some people are just built that way.  

One thing that I suppose your grace does is it enables you to look beyond the actions and see the natural gifts and talents below. For example, Saul (of the New Testament) did some awful things. He was zealously hateful of Christians, to the point of arresting and killing them. He had blood of your faithful on his hands. But Jesus’ death and resurrection allows you to look beyond the killing and the hate, and see what you can use for your kingdom. In Saul’s case, you could use his zeal and tenacity to spread your message to Rome and set the stage for Christianity’s growth throughout the world.

Simon is the same way. He was an obvious leader. Even in this early story, he led the others outside to find Jesus. He had a lot to learn. He was arrogant and brash. He was also very impetuous. But you refined that out of him. You built the foundation of the church through him. He might not have had as much to do with its growth as Saul would eventually do as Paul, but Paul could never have done what Simon later did as Peter.

Father, help me to play the role you have me to play as well as I can. Use my strengths for your kingdom while you take my weaknesses and shape my ministry through them. You have given me an audience tomorrow night for some of the things you have taught me through my weakness. Help me to tell them what you would want them to hear, but help me to do it through the humility of acknowledging my failures and embracing the grace given to me and the lessons I have learned. And I pray the same thing over my children. They are adults, but they are still maturing, as am I. My temptation is to evaluate them through their weaknesses, but they both have so many strengths. Help me to look at them the way you look at them. Take who they are and use them for your kingdom’s glory.

In Jesus’ name I pray,



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Posted by on September 22, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John


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Peter & John — Mark 1:29-31

After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.

Mark 1:29-31

Dear God, this was quite a day for James and John. Not only did they see Jesus authoritatively rebuke a demon at the synagogue, but then they saw Jesus heal Simon’s mother-in-law. What was this new world they had gotten themselves into?

I also kind of wonder what this home was like and who all loved in it. Mark indicates that it was both Simon’s and Andrew’s home. Since Peter had a mother-in-law we can infer that he had a wife—possibly children too?

There is so much we think we know about the Bible, but the truth is that our knowledge is limited and flawed. We have incomplete pictures is these people and their lives. We are just left to try to learn what we can from what we do have.

Father, it’s obvious that These first four disciples were key. After all, both Matthew and Mark specifically refer to their recruitments. Help me gain insights into myself by learning from them. Be glorified in my life so that others might see you and follow you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


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Posted by on September 21, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John


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