Mark 3 – Much Madness Is Divinest Sense

In 2001, I took a year off to work between high school and college. During that time, my mom introduced me to Michael Card via his “best of” album Joy in the Journey. One track, “God’s Own Fool,” begins with Card singing in an impossibly high register about Jesus’ contemporary reputation as a wise teacher, despite the fact that many who actually witnessed his ministry firsthand regarded him as certified looney tunes:
For even his family said he was mad,
And the priests said a demon’s to blame,
But God in the form of this angry young man
Could not have seemed perfectly sane.

And this is precisely what we see happen smack in the middle of today’s chapter of Mark.

Matthew 21 – No Flashbang

I’ve been noticing something about Jesus’ miracles as we read through Matthew. They tend not to be flashy, like silver-screen superpowers or the special effects for magic in my console RPGs. They lack theatricality and ostentation. They’re subtle, and Jesus often tells the witnesses to keep it quiet about the miracle. (Sometimes the witnesses even comply with his request.) And the only times he pulls out all the stops, like the transfiguration, the only people present are a few of the apostles. But today’s chapter starts off with just such a miracle: Jesus tells his disciples where to find a donkey, they go, and lo and behold, there’s a donkey precisely there.

Reconciliation Defined – Romans 5:1-11, Day 1

Wait, what’s that strange book on the table? Why is the scripture passage a printout from a spiral-bound workbook instead of Jackson’s dad’s well-worn, possibly leather-bound Bible with handwritten notes in the margins? You would be forgiven for having forgotten it, but that’s right, folks: the Triad study is back! Just as a refresher, the Triad study is a program put together by Hope Church, in which three dudes or three ladies go through a curriculum and meet weekly to grow in the Christian faith and be discipled by Jesus together. When they complete the Triad study, the idea is that they each can start a new Triad with two new people, thereby multiplying disciples. And after an intermission of roughly half a stinkin’ year, we are returning to the study to get back on that horse.

Luke 8 – You Still Only Die Twice

In yesterday’s chapter of Luke, we saw–among other things–a resurrection: Jesus raised a widow’s only son from the dead. And today’s chapter contains the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the Lamp, a brief yet eventful boat trip, and the encounter with the Gerasene Demoniac, but it concludes with another resurrection. A synagogue official sends for Jesus, hoping he can heal the official’s fatally-ill daughter, but she dies while Jesus is en route. That’s no deterrent to the Son of God, however; he raises the girl from the dead.

What Makes Us Tick – Psalm 136 [Totally Hip Gratitude]

The psalms repeat themselves. Psalms 118 and 136 begin with the same couplet, word-for-word: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (118:1, 136:1). I could cite more psalms that feature the same line throughout themselves like a chorus or that borrow lines from other psalms like remixes, but I’d be repeating myself. And while Psalm 136 repeats its hook “For His lovingkindness is everlasting” in every single verse, the point of the psalm isn’t repetition. It’s gratitude.

Malachi 4 – Burnt-Up Evildoers and the Winged Healing Calf-Skip-Making Sun

This is the last chapter of Malachi, and, in the canon’s traditional arrangement, the last chapter of the Old Testament. I can’t say for sure whether it’s also last chronologically. Some quick Googling reveals that it’s dated roughly around 500 B.C., give or take sixty years either way (thanks, Bible.org), which puts it somewhere around the Ezra-Nehemiah period. According to Ichthys.com’s chart of Biblical composition, however, it was the last book to be written down. And it ends with a short chapter, clocking in at a mere six verses. What are those verses about? Judgment and restoration.

Zechariah 8 – Open Gates in Jerusalem

It gets better.

That’s God’s message to his people as he continues his monologue from the last chapter. Remember Sharezer and his companions, asking whether to fast, and God’s response criticizing their insincerity? Whether they fast or not in the present, the future holds a time to abstain from fasting–a time to celebrate. Speaking through Zechariah, God declares, “The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace” (19). Whether people formerly fasted out of selfishness or sincerity, they’ll be swapping out fasts for feasts once God completes his work.

Micah 5 – The Remnant

This chapter of Micah has stuck in my mind over the years. Matthew points to it as a prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:6), and I think it may have been Matthew’s reference to Micah that originally brought me here. I remember reading the verses in the lower-left corner of the page in the blue-covered Bible I had at the time, reading the lines, “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (2). That idea struck me as incredibly cool: Jesus Christ’s work in time and space and his involvement in our human world were ancient, primeval, reaching even further back than his appearance on earth two thousand years ago.