Sunday, March 13, 2016

Missed Lesson

Ministry is harder than anyone thinks.  It’s a 24/7 operation, without enough time to eat or sleep properly.  “It’s time to take a break, guys,” Jesus said to his disciples.  He knew of a campground he could use in the woods, so they headed off there.  Unfortunately, some of the crowd heard where they were going, so they drove there ahead of Jesus’ ministers.   A lot of them.  Frankly, the campground was filled with people.

“Damn,” said Philip.  “There goes our break.”

Jesus saw their need, and they were so desperate for some guidance.  So he mingled through the crowd, speaking to some, praying for others.  After a day of this, Jesus’ ministers caught up to him, “Hey, Jesus.  These folks must be hungry, huh?  Let’s send them home so they can eat.”

Jesus looked at his group and said, “It’s our responsibility to make sure they eat.”

They said, “But we only have what we brought for the retreat!  Just some bread and meat for sandwiches!  To feed them would require thousands of dollars!”

Jesus sighed.  “Remember when the children of Israel were in a remote place, without food?”  Jesus stopped and looked at their blank faces.  “Here, give me the bread and meat.”  And Jesus began making sandwiches.  After he put together a hundred of them, he gave them to John, “Here, you give these to that group over there.”  He kept handing sandwiches to the student ministers to hand them out until everyone had eaten.    Then Jesus gave a teaching to the crowd and sent them away.

During the teaching time, the students counted the crowd and there were about five thousand there.  When they collected the leftover sandwiches, there was enough for each student to take one tub home.


Another day, after Jesus had argued with a council of preachers, Jesus told his students, “Beware of the byproducts of the preachers that infect the good bread.”

The students discussed what Jesus meant by this.  Some speculated that it was because they hadn’t brought enough food with them.  They should have bought more.

Jesus’ mouth was agape.  “How could you not get this?  How many lessons must I teach you?  You are sometimes so dense! When you counted five thousand people, how many sandwiches were left?”

“Twelve tubs.”

“And when you counted four thousand, how much food was left?”

“Seven tubs.”

“Don’t you  get it?  Food isn’t the issue!  God will always provide food!  He’ll make sure that everyone is fed, even through us, no matter how little food we seem to have.  That should be the least of our worries.  Rather, we should be concerned about the leadership of the church that teaches hate and judges the people God called them to serve!  Don’t be like them—claiming to be of God but lacking the love of God!”

Then they understood that he was talking about the leadership of the church, and not about sandwiches.

Mark 6:31-44; 8:11-21

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Scripture Reading

In a local church, a travelling preacher was given a Bible passage to read to the congregation.

He said, “Isaiah 61, beginning at verse one.”  He cleared his throat and said,

“God has granted me his Spirit of power and authority
To encourage the poor with news of their victory:
Let the prisoners free from their cells!
Let victims of illness be given healing!
Let the abused be delivered from their oppressors!
Let every debt be wiped off the books!
Let the celebrating begin!”

He closed the book and then stood before the congregation, gazing at them.  “Today,” he said, “this passage is happening.  Right here.  Right now. “

-Luke 4:17-21

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Embezzler

Recently, an attorney at Debt Masters, a local collection agency, found out that one of his managers was cheating the business. Of course, the manager was fired, but he was given to the end of the day when he would be given his final check.

The manager considered quickly, recognizing that he would soon be without a job and homeless, because it would be difficult for him to find another job. He refused to live on the streets, so he quickly came up with a plan.

He looked up all his clients who were living in Portland and gave them a call. His conversation went like this:

"Hi! This is Jed from Debt Masters and I have good news! The company is cutting your debt in half! The only requirement is this: The company may ask you to house a clean, polite man for a week sometime in the future. If you agree to this we can take thousands off of our debt!"

Although some hesitated, most leaped at the opportunity to reduce their bill. The attorney who supervised him found out about his scheme and he couldn't help but shake his head in admiration at the manager's ingenuity, so he gave him a job in his law office instead.

"Even so," said Jesus at the end of his story, "have ingenuity like this manager. If you have resources or money, give them to people who act mercifully to the poor so they will reserve a room for you in heaven. Some of you will never get there otherwise."

-Luke 16:1-9 (SKV) (really, if you know your Bible, look it up, that's what he said!)