One of my favorite scripture passages comes from Mark chapter 9:14-29. In the passage Jesus and his disciples enter a scene where scribes are arguing with a man. Jesus asks what they are arguing about and enters into a dialogue with the man. The man is a father who believes his son is possessed by a spirit that causes him to have seizures. The father brought the son to the disciples to be healed, but they were unable. In what follows Jesus gets frustrated, human doubt bubbles up, Jesus gets more frustrated, and then beautiful testament of belief is shared by the father that I think speaks to the heart of all of our own faith and doubt struggles. I encourage you to read the entire passage, but I will share the climax.
Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:21-24).
Continue reading “Doubt”
One of God’s greatest gifts is the people that are placed in our lives, may we never take them for granted.
In my first calling out of seminary, I served a congregation in Scottsdale, AZ as an Associate Pastor. In that call, I was blessed to work along side a handful of other faithful clergy. I learned from them, was challenged by them, and am still inspired by their faith. It wasn’t too long after my work there began, that I new there was something special about one of the other pastors on staff. His name was Rev. Fran Park. He was 50 years my senior, yet that didn’t keep us from quickly becoming great friends. He was sarcastic, faithful, reflective, sarcastic, thoughtful, loving, sarcastic… we were kindred spirits off the bat. Many of my favorite moments in the office were spent alongside Fran. He was a man of great presence- he had a background in radio ministry on the East Coast, he had moderated our denomination, taught at seminaries, and any time there was a need of “the voice of God” in theatrical presentations everyone knew Fran was the man for the job. Fran was one of the greatest mentors in my life, but never viewed himself as such, he was my friend and a great support through the ups and downs of ministry and the milestones of parenthood.
Continue reading “Dependence”
Growing up in Arizona, I have a good visual of the word “desert”. I know the barrenness that holds, the dryness, the scarcity and solitude. I remember warnings from teachers and other adults when I was a child about the dangers of being along in the desert, the threats of venomous creatures, heat stroke, dehydration. For most people, this is where the image ends- the desert represents sure death. But, again, growing up in the desert I also saw the life that sprung forth from that dry breaking ground. I saw the beautiful creatures that made their homes in the most unusual places, I saw the rain come and bring life.
The desert plays an important part in our scripture. The hebrew and greeks words that are translated into desert can also be translated into “wilderness”. For those ancient near east cultures, the wilderness was the desert. And the wilderness was a central setting for the people of God. Moses, after running away from his early life in Egypt, hid in solitude as a shepherd grazing his sheep in the wilderness. After the Exodus, Moses led God’s people to the promised land. When God realized their hearts weren’t ready, God sent them to wander the wilderness for some 40 years. Jesus after being baptized but before beginning his ministry, fasted for 40 days while in the wilderness, all the while being tempted by the devil. We see the wilderness in these narratives being a place of scarcity, of solitude, of confusion.
Continue reading “Wilderness”