Tag Archives: 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Most Important Question

There are some questions that are life-changing, they take our lives from one course and head them into another.  When Mr Pamspermbulation asked me to me to marry him was one of those occasions.  I had to make a fundamental decision about what I thought of him.  Did I love him, trust him, could I spend the rest of my life with him, working together with one purpose, growing and nurturing the life ahead we were committing to?  Important questions.

Our relationship with God is a similarly life-changing question.  The answer a life-long commitment.

What I think of Jesus, who and what I believe him to be is The Most Important Question, because my answer to that should effect my whole life.  If I believe he is God, and come to show God and his ways to us, then that should inform every part of my life – how I act, how I treat others, what I say and do, where I see God, how I listen and respond to him.  All are founded in and on what I believe about Jesus – and through him God.

Jesus asks, not what others are saying, what they think, what we’ve heard, but what I think, what I believe, and perhaps more importantly – what I am going to do about it.

Jesus is inviting the disciples to a journey of commitment and all that involves.  He makes the same invitation to you and I.  There will be some astoundingly awesome mountain top experiences, but there will be some dark and difficult times too.  That is what walking with someone else involves.  Jesus knew more than most about suffering.  Following him was not, and is not, the easy choice, the soft option; it has elements of pain, despair and rejection.  There will be some very dark times, Jesus wants all who may join him to be clear about what they are getting in to.

Choosing God is not about having your own way, it is about having his way and looking out for the good of others, putting them before ourselves, that the world may flourish.  But what we will get back if we live that way will be immense.  In God’s ways, we will always get back waaaaaay more than we give.

But it’s a choice.

What do you think about God?  What do I?

And how is the answer to that question going to affect my life, the way I look at others and the way I live.

you ask me what I think of you
and you wait
for my answer,
as I work out
what you mean in my life,
if I can trust,
and work with you.

But you are not looking for empty words,
a vague commitment,
an empty promise,
you want to see how my decision
works out in my life,
in my dealings with others,
and my love of you.

You invite me on a journey,
a journey of life,
of ups and downs,
of cost and commitment,
of promise and hope.

So today,
I come before you
and give you my answer
to The Most Important Question,
follow you
and invite you
to work through my life

You are the Christ

Mark 8:27-38 (CEV)

Who Is Jesus?

27 Jesus and his disciples went to the villages near the town of Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “What do people say about me?”

28 The disciples answered, “Some say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah. Others say you are one of the prophets.”

29 Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

“You are the Messiah!” Peter replied.

30 Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone about him.

Jesus Speaks about His Suffering and Death

31 Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, “The nation’s leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life.” 32 Then Jesus explained clearly what he meant.

Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. 33 But when Jesus turned and saw the disciples, he corrected Peter. He said to him, “Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God.”

34 Jesus then told the crowd and the disciples to come closer, and he said:

If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. 35 If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me and for the good news, you will save it. 36 What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? 37 What could you give to get back your soul?

38 Don’t be ashamed of me and my message among these unfaithful and sinful people! If you are, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Be Careful What You Say

By Wiki Roxor (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0
What trouble our mouths can get us in to.  The damage that the words that come out of them can cause…

Words of criticism, of rejection, of questioning – enough to hurt and crush people, to make them turn around and leave, feel worthless, decide it’s not worth doing or saying anything.  One word in the wrong place or at the wrong time can have a cataclysmic effect.  So much pain caused by our thoughtless words.  And it’s not always what is said, but how it is said…

Sadly, the church is guilty of this too often.  For some reason, we feel we have a moral high ground.  Individually and corporately we feel we have the right to say things that are so hurtful, because we feel God had given us the right.  When actually what God has done is asked us to love – not destroy.  Clearly this has long been a problem for the church, as James was addressing it so long ago, but we have not learnt.  Why do we feel the need to cause so much pain, when we should be sharing love?

I have to look at my part in that, and so does each one of us.  Am I too quick to say what is better left unsaid?

But our mouths are only saying what is in our heart, so perhaps the problem starts there.  It’s ok saying, ‘be careful what you say’, but if we weren’t thinking it in the first place, we wouldn’t be tempted to say it.  Why are these thoughts even happening in my heart?

That is something for each of us to contemplate before God.  Why do I need to be right?  Why do I need to say that?  Why do I want to be boss, the law-maker?  Why do I need to keep others in their place?  Who gave me that right?  What makes me feel so bad that I want others to feel bad too?

These are scary questions, but ones we need to face if we are ever even going to begin to tame our tongue – and the broken hearts that cause the problems.

Of course, there is another side to our mouths.  What beautiful, encouraging, helpful, and building-up things we can also say.  We can use our speech to do good – that should be our focus.

So perhaps, before we speak, we can think – is this what God would like to hear me say?  Is it going to build or destroy – both God’s work and people’s lives?  Am I being helpful, encouraging, supportive – or cruel, hurtful and destructive?  Would I like this to be said to me?

Our voice is powerful – we need to be careful whether we harness that power for good, or for harm.

O Thou Who Camest From Above

Forgive me Lord
the time I have said
when I have cause pain,
by the things I have said.

Forgive me for even
thinking those things.

Heal me Lord,
fill me with your love,
and purpose,
that I speak
and feel from that,
not my place of pain.

Heal those I have hurt
by lashing out,
may my words
not drive them from you.

Help me always
to think
and speak
for you

James 3:1-12 (CEV)

The Tongue

My friends, we should not all try to become teachers. In fact, teachers will be judged more strictly than others. All of us do many wrong things. But if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body.

By putting a bit into the mouth of a horse, we can turn the horse in different directions. It takes strong winds to move a large sailing ship, but the captain uses only a small rudder to make it go in any direction. Our tongues are small too, and yet they brag about big things.

It takes only a spark to start a forest fire! The tongue is like a spark. It is an evil power that dirties the rest of the body and sets a person’s entire life on fire with flames that come from hell itself. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures can be tamed and have been tamed. But our tongues get out of control. They are restless and evil, and always spreading deadly poison.

9-10 My dear friends, with our tongues we speak both praises and curses. We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn’t right. 11 Can clean water and dirty water both flow from the same spring? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives or a grapevine produce figs? Does fresh water come from a well full of salt water?

The Wonders of God

Psalm 19 (CEV)

(A psalm by David for the music leader.)

The Wonders of God and the Goodness of His Law

19 The heavens keep telling
    the wonders of God,
    and the skies declare
    what he has done.

2012-08-26 20.13.03

Each day informs
    the following day;
    each night announces
    to the next.
They don’t speak a word,
    and there is never
    the sound of a voice.
Yet their message reaches
    all the earth,
    and it travels
    around the world.

In the heavens a tent
    is set up for the sun.
It rises like a bridegroom
    and gets ready like a hero
    eager to run a race.

2015-04-24 07.34.25
It travels all the way
across the sky.
    Nothing hides from its heat.

The Law of the Lord is perfect;
    it gives us new life.
His teachings last forever,
    and they give wisdom
    to ordinary people.
The Lord’s instruction is right;
    it makes our hearts glad.
His commands shine brightly,
    and they give us light.


Worshiping the Lord is sacred;
    he will always be worshiped.

All of his decisions
    are correct and fair.
10 They are worth more
    than the finest gold

    and are sweeter than honey
    from a honeycomb.

11 By your teachings, Lord,
    I am warned;
    by obeying them,
    I am greatly rewarded.
12 None of us know our faults.
    Forgive me when I sin
    without knowing it.

13 Don’t let me do wrong
    on purpose, Lord,
    or let sin have control
    over my life.
Then I will be innocent,
    and not guilty
    of some terrible fault.

14 Let my words and my thoughts
    be pleasing to you, Lord,
    because you are my mighty rock

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    and my protector.

Psalm 19a

Psalm 19b