Away from the Crowd

Mark 7:31-37

Jesus Heals a Deaf and Mute Man

31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.[a] 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.

33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

So many times I find myself serving others and seeking recognition of some sort. I pour myself out, dedicate years of my life to help in a specific area, and I feel gratitude is lacking from others.

But, that idea comes from Satan! For the Bible and Jesus teach me quite the opposite.

In Mark 7:33 specifically, Jesus takes a deaf and mute man “away from the crowd” to heal him. Why? Because Jesus wasn’t showy.

Right, what about the time he turned water into wine or healed others in front of crowds or cast demons into pigs? Well, I have an answer for those as well.

Even when Jesus was being “showy”, He wasn’t doing it for Himself! His father, God, willed Him to reveal His powers. He only followed God’s plans for Him. So in Mark 7 He doesn’t want the man to tell anyone about what He did because it was not in God’s timing for Him to do so.

What can I or we learn from this?

Firstly, Jesus often did His greatest works, His most memorable acts of kindness and healing, far away from most eyes. So, if you do everything simply to please God and no one else, then you’re on the right track.

Secondly, always seek God’s will in your acts of service. Is this a moment to glorify God by telling others about it? Many times you may have done something that is an encouragement for others to hear or see, but always credit God for it! Or do you need to simply give it to God and allow Him and only Him to acknowledge it?

I won’t be satisfied with anything ordinary

In the midst of the Syrian refugees and the ISIS attacks, I have found a change in myself!

First of all, everyone who is suffering right now is much more important than what I am going through, but it is these events that God has partly used to tug on my heart.

I am a slight chicken, as well as a home body. Thus, being away from home for too long usually ends with me crying my eyes out and being without some of the comforts of the American world (toilets, microwave, ice, etc.) leaves me pretty uncomfortable and miserable so perhaps take what I am about to say with a grain of salt.

That being said, you wouldn’t think of me as someone who could go live in another country far away from friends and family, and honestly, I might not be. But in the words of a truly wonderful woman of Christ (my mentor and friend) there has started to be a stirring within me.

It’s almost impossible to explain it to anyone. Essentially through my process of raising financial support and depending on God more than ever (His doing, not mine), I have found myself abandoning all my own hopes, dreams, and ideas. I don’t want to live this life doing what I want to do, but what He wants! And because I think, many people do not fully feel this way yet, I feel called to and obligated to do something BIG, or should I say challenging for Him.

How does this connect with Syria and ISIS? Simply this, God placed me in a missionary family, God provided me with international friends, God called me to mission work…. could He not be preparing me for something else?

 

Here comes a possibly offensive statement. I’m tired of living in the American bubble. Its not that America is bad, or that others are living in this bubble, but that I feel like I can’t sit around doing an office job for the rest of my life while SO many suffer.

 

I want to sell out to Christ. I want people to look at me like I’m crazy.

And now for the title of this post. These are words from the song, Open Up the Sky by Deluge. I won’t be satisfied with anything ordinary, not for you Lord.

Human Traditions

Mark 7:8 That which defiles

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[b]

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

I am going to simply focus on verse 8, not because the rest of the passage is unimportant or confusing, but because when I read this passage this time, insight came to me in verse 8.

The verse” You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. This makes me wonder, how often we are simly living out human traditions, especially in America. We do to school, to college, graduate with a degree, get a job, get married, buy a house, have children. We live the “American dream”, the tradition. But, what does God call us to?

I’m not saying anything from the “American dream” is bad or wrong, but truly, what does He call us to do?

In the bible, He calls those who are faithful to sell out to a life for Christ, meaning nothing is theirs and everything is His.

We can be used by Him anywhere because HE IS GOD. But, are we ignoring His commands for us and following human traditions?

I hope I am not! Though I know I do.

Jesus Walks on Water

Mark 6:45-56

45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Could it be that we are like the disciples in our daily life? What we too do not recognize Jesus walking on water because we are afraid or our hearts are hardened?

Truly, how often do you doubt the Lord’s power? Oh, yes, I’ll pray for this thing, but I doubt He’ll give it to me, I doubt He can. Either you truly doubt His power and like the disciples you need to remind yourself of all the miraculous things He has done in your life, or you have forgotten the way our Lord answers our prayers.

In your prayer, have faith for what you ask for! You may not recognize the answer, as the disciples did not recognize Jesus, but it will be miraculous all the same. If you lack the faith ,you might miss it.

Personally, I ask Him ever so often to help bring me financial supporters, or just enthusiastic people to be a part of the ministry I am involved with. I ask Him ever so often for a spouse, a family. I ask Him ever so often for peace and health. But, I do it with an empty heart much of the time. I believe in the Bible stories, I believe He did all those miraculous things, but now, in my prayer life, I know He can do it… but I don’t fully trust He will. I’m discovering that, I need to pray with conviction and belief, whether or not He will answer it in an obvious way because HE  IS POWERFUL. He will answer it, no matter what.

And, I know if I become more aware… I might just catch Jesus walking on water.

Should we wake Him up?

Mark 4:35-41

This is the story of Jesus calming the storm. One I have read over and over again, learned about as a child in Sunday school class, and honestly, could recite back to you fairly accurately (which is saying a lot because I ain’t very good at memorizing things!).

In the midst of raising financial support for the ministry I am involved with, God has continued to teach me so much more than I could ever imagine. I no longer feel the need to fulfill all the desires and dreams of my heart. My dreams…. are His dreams. Unfortunately, I am not really sure what His dreams are for me right now. So… meanwhile, I am stuck in a limbo waiting for Him to show me a way. FORTUNATELY, I still get to spend all that time learning more about Him.

Back to the passage…..

I read this again the other day and was struck by the way Jesus responds to the disciples. I know, if I were in that boat, in a chaotic storm… that would most likely kill me and all the men in the boat with me, I would probably wake Jesus up too and be deathly afraid.

How do you live out this passage? What else should the disciples have done?

Again, I would wake Him up! Crazy Jesus, sleeping in a boat that is about to flip over most likely! But when they wake Him up… He responds with this: “Have you no faith? Why are you afraid?”

 

So, what does this mean in our day to day life?

I guess it means that when things are really bad, to the point that we are sure things will fall a part, whether it is our emotions, our family, our job. We should not respond with such fear, that we believe God will not leave us.

This doesn’t necessarily mean God will snap His finger and our problems will disappear, but that He will save us in what way He knows is best for us.

 

Thus, in the midst of troubles, do not always respond with crying out to God in fear, worrying that the waves will wash over you, but trust God’s will and timing.

I talked to my lovely mentor about this passage the other day, wondering what her take was on how Jesus responded to the disciples actions.

She reminded me that before they had gotten into the boat, Jesus had said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” So, they knew they would make it there, Jesus said so. BUT, they assumed the journey would be smooth, they would be in no danger. Doesn’t that remind you of something? LIFE, perhaps!!

He tells us, if we have faith in Him, then we will make it to heaven. Will we live eternity with Him in peace and paradise. He never says that the journey to that will be easy. And, even if He seems like He is sleeping… well, honestly, take that as comfort. Because if He isn’t worried, then you shouldn’t be either.

Why do we want chivalry?

I found myself, as I did my daily tumblr check up, seeing photos from a particular television series, wondering why it is exactly that there is a longing in every girl’s heart for those days when men were men and chivalry was not so hard to find.

It does seem odd, doesn’t it? That girls wish themselves back in the 1800’s or before when those times were hard for women. Women’s rights were non existent, you very often had to marry for money not love, and all in all, you were the lower of sexes. And, it isn’t just because of characters like Mr. Darcy and Gilbert Blythe that women wish they lived in those days, though I can’t deny the draw of those two characters, but there is something else that is drawing them towards that time period.

I can only speak for myself, because every woman is so different and unique in their heart’s desires. So, personally, I will explain why I like and long for a chivalrous man.

It’s not the fashion that draws me to the 1800’s, nor the balls and carriages. I enjoy driving a car and honestly would prefer to stay home and watch netflix most nights. But, as I scrolled through pictures of a character from When Calls the Heart, I couldn’t help but wish in my heart that I could find someone like him. Daniel Lissing’s character is polite, strong, heroic, patient, loving, and much much more. I know he sounds perfect, right? And no one is perfect! But, it’s not perfection that I want.

What I desire and I honestly believe God intended it this way, is a purity of some sorts. I am a very strong independent woman who knows what she wants and I do believe I could never marry anyone and I would be okay on my own. Despite my independent woman feelings and views, I long for a man who can LEAD me, who can be the head of the house. God made men that way, he made it so women desire protection and love, and thus a man’s strong guidance. Unfortunately, this world as twisted that into something bad. Letting the man be the head of the house means that you, as a woman, are giving up your identity, you are allowing the man to control your life, you are less of a person. This is not true! And the 1800’s exemplifies this!

The men of those times were considered the heads of the family, this was a given, no question about that. Just because they were the strong ones, the leader, the head, didn’t mean that the woman was less of a person (granted sometimes I know it did, but that is not the point to this post). Being the leader meant this for a man: He gently and respectfully pursued a woman that he knew he was interested in marrying. OH MY GOODNESS! I know… crazy, right? Before a man made a move, he had to truly figure out if he wanted to marry the woman or not. He made sure his feelings and intentions were true and pure. Man oh man could we use more of that today. So many men awaken feelings in a woman only to turn around and walk away. Being the leader meant this for a man: He considered how his actions affected her and his reputations. You didn’t just make out on the spot, or go over to the girl’s house and not come home until morning without a second thought. You would think through your actions. If I kiss you, am I going to hurt you in any way, emotionally, socially, physically, etc. Men these days could certainly learn from that, think over things before you do them.  Being the leader meant this for a man: you protected and provided for her, as well as appreciated her part in your marriage. In some circumstances, I believe women back then were more equals in a marriage than they are. Divorce rates are so high because I believe both sides of a marriage forget they are in a partnership. Man and wife should share each other’s burdens, should discuss all BIG decisions. The man should be the provider, should make the house a safe place, and yes, a woman is the nurturer of the house. It’s okay for the wife to cook, but not okay for her to cook without gratitude. The man would work hard to provide for his family and that is why a wife was not upset and bitter about providing him a meal in thanks.

I could keep going, but my point is… chivalry is underrated. The world thinks women like chivalry because of a bunch of fictional characters from Austen novels. But, it’s a little more complex than that. We simply desire leadership, respect, thoughtfulness,  and a kind heart.