Monthly Archives: January 2022

Trouble? Check your course.

After feeding the 4,000 hungry people – probably in northern Galilee – Jesus and the boys head up north to the foot of Mount Hermon, to Caesarea Philippi.

He quizzes them about what people are saying and asks them who they say he is. Peter – ever quick to speak – affirms that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus tells them to keep this quiet. (Jesus understood the Father’s plan and that there was timing in the plan. He had been saying the time wasn’t right since his first miracle in Cana.)

Then, Jesus is pretty straightforward with the twelve about what is going to happen to him: suffering, death, and resurrection.

Peter – a well meaning, action oriented guy who often stepped out without thinking – took Jesus aside and criticized him (rebuked) for this teaching about the plan. I imagine Peter and Jesus may have had their backs to the others during this disagreement. Scripture says…

“But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭8:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus, ever the master teacher, uses this teachable moment and teaches not only the twelve but the gathered crowd. This begins one of those times where Jesus describes the high cost of being his disciple. (The emphasis on this hard teaching caused many to turn away from Jesus.)

Practically speaking, we can learn much from this. First, Peter was quick with opinion and criticism.

This is a common problem.

Jesus knew it was a common problem so he shares the teaching with all the listeners present.

Second, if we read the verse carefully, we can see that Jesus is saying that we should set our sights on God, not the world – which we may conclude is under the influence of the enemy.

“But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭8:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The good news is that, though Peter’s quick (and thoughtless) actions and words would continue to get him in trouble, Jesus still chose and used him in awesome ways.


Just as Peter rebuked Jesus, you and I sometimes speak and act too quick. There are times we don’t like certain aspects of teachings in the Bible. (See Buffet Christianity in an earlier post.)

But Paul reminds us not to think of ourselves too highly.

When, like Peter, I’m free with reaction and criticism, that’s a pretty sure sign that I’m off course and need to reset my heart and mind to God, to the throne of grace. And, just like Peter received forgiveness and reconciliation for his too quick mouth and actions, I can too.

Much later, after describing his own wretchedness, Paul exclaimed “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! There is NO CONDEMNATION for we who are IN Christ.

In trouble? Reset your course and run with boldness to the throne of Grace! There we find forgiveness, grace, and course correction.

Thanks be to God!

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Sure footing

If you love a hike in the forest, you’ll not let some snow and ice keep you home. But you must keep your footing sure. Proper shoes and sticks can give you sure footing.

In these slippery times with lots of things to distract us from our footing, let’s remember to keep our eye on the Lord. And like proper shoes and gear for the icy path, let’s use the disciplines to keep our focus on him. That way…

“You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip;”
‭‭(2 Samuel‬ ‭22:37‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

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Swirling storms of circumstance…

Around us and those we love, it appears that there is a never ending train of bad news chugging through our awareness. This morning I was so relieved not to hear the word Ukraine in the 5 minute news wrap up.

Sometimes we feel small against the wind and waves of life.

A new variant is now spreading and a dear friend is still struggling with the lingering effects of Covid and the price of gas and bread keep rising. Sigh.

It’s no wonder people are struggling emotionally and even mentally.

My focus is wrong.

I’m looking around when I should be looking up.

Be reminded with me:

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark‬ ‭4:37-40‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

To our hearts and minds he says…

“Peace! Be still!”

One would do well to read Psalm 121.

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Our answer to trouble…

Trouble is not new, is not seldom, is not far away. No, in its many forms, it is present with us.

Our answer?

Focus on God, he is always there, turn to him, always faithful, always with us.

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;

I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”

Psalm‬ ‭9:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭117:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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“panic is a bad helper”

A friend in Ukraine used these profound words in a brief discussion.

When asked if they believed their president, the answer was “I believe God.”

In what followed were these helpful words: “panic is a bad helper”.

When we are growing in our trust in God it becomes easier to face trouble. When we’re facing the unknown, we don’t need to panic because we can boldly run to the throne of Grace where we know we are heard by the all knowing, all living God.

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the good news

Our wickedness shall not overpower the unspeakable goodness and mercy of God; our dullness shall not overpower God’s wisdom, nor our infirmity God’s omnipotence. (St. John of Kronstadt)

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