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Click here to read Mark 5 on BibleGateway.com

campSince it’s summer, it’s only fitting that we talk about camp now and again. After all, it’s the one week a year that young people get away from their parents, spend time with God, and of course try to talk to a pretty girl in the Snack Shop. (“hey baby, i think God’s calling me to ministry. The ministry of smooch.”) Nothing draws a young person closer to God like than freezing showers, reconstituted eggs, and a round of dodge-ball.

In all seriousness, some of the times that many of us felt closest to God were at those summer Bible camps. For whatever reason, be it the focused time, the air of expectation, or just God’s divine Will, He seems to speak often at camp. More than one camper has really felt God’s presence for the first time, and what is the natural reaction? “Let’s have camp all year.”


Wanting to stay on that spiritual high point is not unique to our culture. Several times in the Bible, people experience God’s presence, and they want to just stay in that one place (Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration, for example). In today’s chapter, we meet a demon-possessed man whom Jesus delivers, and his reaction is probably similar to ours: he wants to stay with Jesus.

But Jesus turns him down. Why? Is it because Jesus is leery of having a chain-breaking lunatic in his little club? Not at all. He tells the man “you should stay here and tell people what God has done for you.” It’s more important that the man’s neighbors and friends see the change in his life.


The mountain-top experience that we have God are great, and we should cherish those moments, but we need to be careful not to be so caught up in our time with God that we miss Jesus’ command: Go into the all the world. To focus on our own time with God at the expense of others can be not only immature, but also selfish and self-destructive. If our lives are to be a reflection of Jesus, we should imitate his choices as best we can. Notice that Jesus left his position of sharing in God’s glory (in God’s literal presence) in order to share with us. Should we do any less for our fellows?

How can you share your latest mountain-top experience with someone else today?

sisyphusClick here to read Jermiah 15 on BibleGateway.com

Futility. Such a great word. It almost laughs at our futile attempts at spelling or pronouncing it correctly. How many words can openly mock you with their meaning by their very existence?  It’s so universal, too. How many of us have felt the proverbial wall against our forehead as we try to explain simple concepts to the dunderheads who surround us on a daily basis? (it’s called a “turn-signal, people.)


The lives of the Old Testament prophets are often a study in futility. They try repeatedly to share God’s truth with the Israelites, and time and again the Israelites listen only long enough for God to relieve their immediate suffering before disobeying God once again. CoughSoundsFamiliarcough.  Poor Jeremiah, the futiliest of the futile in the Bible, spends so much time futilely trying to convince his fellows to follow God that we could almost put his picture in the dictionary next to “don’t even bother.”

Many times we may feel the same hopelessness. We pray and pray for that loved one, and they still refuse to come to God. We preach and preach, and the congregation just looks at their watch waiting for the game to start. We give and give, only to have someone mock us for being selfish. How do we deal with it? We may do like Jeremiah, asking God to make them listen, or somehow make Himself more clear to people.


But notice how God answers Jeremiah in verses 19 and 20: “if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them…I will make you a wall to this people… for I am with you.” God turns it back on Jeremiah; He will not make Jeremiah’s listener’s more receptive or his task easier, but He will strengthen Jeremiah.

We often ask the same thing; we want God to make our path through life as easy as possible. We want a nice home, a fun job, well-behaved kids, a church that is enjoyable but not too challenging, and a good retirement package. Yet God repeatedly says in the Bible that an easy life is not his goal for us. Instead, he walks with us through the storms. He makes us strong to stand against mockers. He makes us as stubborn as those who reject him.

Stand firm today; Someone is right beside you.

personalIt’s awfully tempting to take the Gospel personally.  If we preach to a crowd, and a thousand people get saved, we consider that God must really be using us (or that other evangelist). We do a little dance, maybe write an article in the denomination’s magazine, maybe start a tv show.   If we preach, and the people in the pews fall asleep, we think we have failed God.  We go hide in our home, eat a box of donuts, and start looking at truck-driver want ads.


Could is be that whether or not people accept the Gospel is not our responsibility?  After all, not even everybody who listened to Jesus became a follower, and he was probably pretty familiar with the Gospel.  The Bible says several times that “some believed.”  In other words, people heard the same message, and some accepted and some didn’t.

In today’s chapter, we see the apostles also had trouble, despite having a good reputation. Notice that the disciples and believers were held in high regard in the early days, and still people did not “dare” to join them.  Why is that?  If they were so well-regarded, why not join in?  The problem is that the leaders were against Jesus and his followers, and association could be embarrassing or even dangerous.  People were reluctant to give up their lifestyles to become a follower of Christ.

Maybe things aren’t so different now.  There was a recent study showing that professing Christians were less likely to be hired in certain professions.  Would you be wiling to give up your job to publicly declare yourself a Christian, or would it be easier to just stay quiet?  Follow Jesus quietly in your home?  After all, shouldn’t religion be a “private” matter? Isn’t it easier to be “open-minded” than to take a stand?  After all, who wants to be laughed at or yelled at?


Don’t misunderstand, sometimes people have good reason for disliking us, and it’s not always because of Jesus.  Perhaps we’re arrogant, perhaps we’re condescending, perhaps we’re a little disconnected from reality, perhaps we like t0 consider ourselves martyrs or missionaries on par with the heroes of the faith, perhaps we’re just plain ole jerks.  Not every time somebody dislikes us can be traced to Jesus.

However, let’s not completely discount it either.  Jesus was pretty clear that people will hate us because of Him.  In reality, this is a spiritual world, and the darkness can’t stand the light.  It is what it is.  We need to accept that if we proclaim Jesus, certain people will not like us for that very reason, even if they don’t exactly know what the reason is.  Are we ready to give up popularity, a good job, friends, or advancement for Jesus? Are we willing to be made “foolish” in the eyes of the world?  Are we willing to submit our desires, our lifestyles, our every act and thought to the Lord of Creation?

We must never lose sight that it’s really all about Him.

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