Mark's Memos

Where's Your Focus?

September 27, 2020

Picture in your mind two little boys standing on the shore of lake watching the first water skier they had ever seen.  As the man speeds across the lake behind the boat, Bobby said to the other boy, “Why does that boat go so fast?”

His companion gave a logical answer: “I guess the man on the rope is chasin’ it.” 

What kind of relationship does a water skier have to the boat he or she follows?  A good water skier gives total attention to the boat.  Any distraction preventing the water skier from seeing where the boat is going and following must be rejected.  This is not because the distractions are bad in and of themselves, but because they could make the skier fall.  If a skier waves too long at a friend on the beach, then turns around to see that the boat turned right a long way back, the skier might end up face-to-face with a tree on a sandbar.

This is our struggle as Christians, too.  We are tempted to proclaim Christ as Lord and Savior.  Like proclaiming to be a water skier and being pulled by a skier boat.  Then like a distracted skier we promptly substitute something else as most important in lives.  Then we run into a tree or go astray from the path that Christ is leading us on as his disciple.  Tithing is a disciplined way of giving that helps us keep our focus on that which is most important in our lives, Jesus Christ. 

This Sunday I will be preaching a sermon titled, “God or Mammon."  I hope you will join me as I share the importance of this spiritual discipline and how to use it as a way to keep us focused on Christ.

 See you Sunday!

 

Grace & Peace,

Mark

God First

September 20, 2020

For some reason, pigs and money go together.  As in piggy-bank.  As in bring home the bacon.  As in living high on the hog.  And even though you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, your mind's eye will picture a pigskin pocketbook the rest of the afternoon once you've heard that porcine proverb.  Even in the life of the church, pork meets penny. The term STEWARD traces back to the medieval English STY-WARD.  Yep, a pig-keeper.

Jesus talked a lot about stewards and stewardship.  Unfortunately for the purposes of this article, the Hebrew word for steward had nothing to do with pig farming.  And, the one encounter Jesus had with a pig farmer wasn't exactly good stewardship (all that deviled ham and nobody got to eat it -- Luke 8:32-35).  Never mind the pigs, stewardship of money was a very important topic to Jesus.  If you get the Bible out and do a little figuring of your own, you will find that one-sixth of Jesus' words have to do with money -- the only subject he talks about more is the kingdom of God.

Maybe the reason why pastors don't like preaching about stewardship and congregations don't like listening about it.  It's so ... so ... confessional.  Well, if that is our problem then these next three weeks are going to be confessional for all of us.  So I invite you to commit yourselves to joining with me these next three weeks as we search our hearts and pocketbooks for a better understanding of Christian gift giving.  While we are on our journey reflect how Christ gave all for us and that together we have committed to share our gifts with others by putting God First.

 

See you in church this Sunday!

 

Grace & Peace,

Mark

Forgiving the

Unforgivable

September 13, 2020

Amy Biehl, straight-A college student and diving champion, was a vital, young Christian woman who went off to support the cause of justice in South Africa. Her life ended tragically in 1994, when she was stoned and stabbed to death by a mob of angry black militants.

To them, she was just a white person, an oppressor. They had no idea they were killing a friend of their own cause.

It was one of those tragic, senseless events. Amy’s parents were devastated by the news. But instead of lashing out in anger, they decided to try to do what their daughter would have wanted. They learned as much as they could about the struggle for freedom in South Africa, eventually traveling there themselves.

They visited the squatter camps of Guguletu, the black township where Amy’s killers had grown up. Seeing the terrible conditions, they began to understand the frustrations that drove some of them to violence.  Amy's mother, Linda, even visited the home of one of the murderers and met with his mother. She told her she forgave the woman’s son for what he had done. Later she told a reporter from TV’s 60 Minutes what she felt after hugging the woman:

“I walked out of that home. There was a rainbow in the sky. My heart was very light. I felt I had come to terms. And if that is forgiveness, I felt it. And I felt — you know, I felt — I feel at peace with myself. So to me, that’s forgiveness.” 

When they returned to the States, the Biehls established the Amy Biehl Foundation to fund 15 different social programs serving thousands of young people. Among the children who first enrolled in the after-school program was the 12-year-old sister of one of the murderers. When her brother and the other two murderers applied for amnesty after serving four years in jail, the authorities told Peter and Linda they could block the men’s release, if they wished. The Biehls decided not to object, and the men were freed.

What is justice and what does it look like in the Bible and today?  I think the Biehls have a pretty good idea, but what does it mean to you?   I hope you will join me Sunday as I share my thoughts from the Biblical perspective in a sermon titles “All I Want Is Justice”. 

 

Grace & Peace,

Mark

Rev. Mark Jardine is the Senior Pastor at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. Born and raised in Bartlesville, he is a graduate of Oklahoma City University and hold his Master in Divinity from the Candler School of Theology of Emory University.
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