Monday, October 27, 2014

The Lesson of Pilate (Mark 15:1-15)

Mark seems to devote less ink to the trials leading up to the cross than other evangelists, certainly to Pilate. Our familiarity with the whole story of Pilate tends to bleed into our reading here in Mark. That said, how do we evaluate this character?

Sometimes it feels like we give Pilate a pass. It was, after all, the Jewish leaders that twisted his arm. He saw that Jesus wasn’t deserving of death. He even tried to find a way to get Jesus set free. And, it was God’s plan for Jesus to die on the cross. Can Pilate really be held accountable for some wrong doing here? Was Pilate perhaps open to more spiritual truth than the Jews? Mark says that he was amazed with Jesus. He also recognized the jealousy of the Jewish leaders.

No. In the end, and even though it feeds into God’s greater plan, Pilate is guilty of wrong. He sends Jesus to His death. He does so in spite of perceiving what is really happening. He does so in spite of the power he had to prevent sentencing Jesus. He does so for the worst of reasons. He wanted to “satisfy the crowd.”

And, ouch! Isn’t that one of the most common sins amongst “Christians” these days? We let the satisfaction of the crowd dominate our decisions far more than we are influenced by the satisfaction of our Lord and Savior.

It is sobering to think that we believe simple understanding is enough to make us right with God. Pilate was amazed (awed) with Jesus. Pilate understood intellectually what was going on in the trial of Jesus. However, he was led by the desires of the crowd. It is not enough to understand what Jesus did and to be awed by Him to be a follower. You have to obey Him in the face of what the world want to be His disciple. He is not Savior unless HE is Lord.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Real Lies of "Pretty Little Liars"

Those who are sucked into PLL hearing that it is a mixture of creepy mystery, “Mean Girls” and stalker murder story, only need a handful of episodes to see that it is a cheat. The show simply creates new tense situations and “mysteries” to keep the viewers trapped. Yeah, it is a silly little soap. But, what had this viewer stick around was the shock of the messed-up world view and the desire to see if it would ever endorse real-world consequences.

The world of PLL is a teen world. The “adults” in this show have the maturity level of the 15 and 16 year old central characters. Everyone makes terrible decisions in order to protect themselves from the bad things they have brought upon themselves. And, in the PLL world if it is a character we are rooting for, they get away with anything. Rob a bank—never get caught. In fact, the character that is about to expose your crime turns out to be a criminal. The “Lies” in the title have a way of compounding, the way lies do, but in PLL those lies will also save you.

The worst is the way PLL embraces the “go with your feelings” ethic of a Disney movie. It is interesting the way that this show tacitly equates homosexuality with statutory rape. Or perhaps the way that should be worded is that this shows mantra is, no one should ever oppose emotion. If you want to have a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender, it would be wrong for anyone to oppose that desire. If you want to have a sexual relationship with an adult as a minor, it is just as wrong for anyone to object. And all along, the most damning aspect of the show is that these choices are being made by immature, inexperienced, minors.

No, it’s worse. In the PLL world the adults are possibly less mature than the teen-age girls. No danger of real-world consequences in this poison-apple fairy-tale.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


(Poetry Scales 24)

to some the drone of a jet overhead
is more of a siren call
and explorer journals, atlases, even cheesy brochure maps
produce such joy above all

but others do not feel the pull
when they step out their door
to them it is simply banal
an atrophied appetite,
an ignored itch,
un-scratched, un-calloused
they have some sort of glitch

the desire, the need to see over the horizon
to find what’s around the next bend
I for one have it real bad
the wanderlust has me bewitched

Monday, October 20, 2014

Doctor Who 8.9 "Flatline"

The ninth episode of the eighth (or 34th) season begins by exploring a somewhat novel concept. What would an invasion of our reality from another, two dimensional one look like? It could be an interesting philosophical exploration, but that is not the story that is really being told here so that aspect quickly falls apart.

What this episode is really about, as most of this season has been, is exploring the Doctor/Clara relationship. In this story, the Doctor is effectively taken out of commission and Clara has to play his part. She sees things from his perspective and pragmatically comes to accept what she has thus far seen as his underhanded ways. In the end she happily declares, “I was the Doctor and I was good!”

The Doctor’s response gives one pause. “You were an exceptional Doctor, Clara, goodness had nothing to do with it.”

It will be interesting to see where this goes in the next few episodes. We already know that the looming antagonist, “Missy,” was instrumental in Clara meeting the Doctor, and that the Tardis did not initially like her. Whatever the twist is, you can be sure we won’t see it coming.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Trust and Obey

…or how “evangelism” has almost killed discipleship. 

Too many Christians today believe Jesus died for the sins of humanity in the way that one believes that the earth revolves around the sun. It is a fact that has no bearing on their daily lives. That is not saving faith. Biblical faith involves two actions beyond an acceptance of a fact: trust and obedience. Biblical faith involves betting one’s daily life on the truth of the Gospel. Trusting God to do what He has promised and submission to His Lordship over our lives.

The way we have elevated conversion, or “praying the prayer” to the goal of evangelism has missed the mark. True salvation is the result, not of a verbal declaration of a decision, but the real-life proof that follows. Faith that affects. It is a bit like jumping off a 10 meter platform into a pool. Those “praying the prayer” are declaring their intention to jump. They are climbing the ladder. True faith is seen in the trust and surrender of the leap. We have far too many people today claiming to be believers who are simply milling about at the top of the platform, failing to take the plunge.

We need to be sure we are communicating a complete Gospel. Calling people, not to conversion, but to a life of discipleship, of surrender, trusting fully in and obeying God’s will as they discover it in His Word.
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