Making the Good News (the Gospel)…News

This last Sunday I was honored to preach at our church, St. Leonard’s Church, here in Eynsham.

I was asked to preach on the gospel of Mark 1:14-20, which reads as follows:

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The Time has come,” he said, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.”

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Now, by itself, this passage suggests that Jesus called these men to follow him without them anticipating any such call. However, I don’t think that is correct. Mark’s gospel presents us with a quick and episodic collection of vignettes without the more expansive material we might find in other gospels. This has led some to suppose and assert that the episodes above should be seen as exemplifying Jesus’s authority, his powerful call. While we have no need to diminish Jesus’s authority, I don’t think that is the point of the passage.

I’ll leave my thoughts for the sermon that is attached below. It is under 20 minutes in length. Perhaps you will find it instructive, encouraging, and motivating.

One regret remains in my mind: I wish I had taken a few minutes to expand on my thoughts about how we might overcome our fears about introducing others to our Savior Jesus. I mentioned that I have found four things to help me: preparation, prayer, practice, and patience. I suppose each of these could merit a sermon all by itself. Even so, I’ll leave off here and leave you with the sermon.

May you be blessed.

Stream it below or download the mp3 here.



Derren Brown, Tricks of the Mind, part 2

Continued from part 1

The Historicity of the Gospels

Here I must quote Derren at length. I wish I could simply reproduce his paragraph without any breaks for commentary and interaction. That simply is not possible since he makes so many revealing or vulnerable assertions.

There are plenty of arguments like this, but all are based on the notion that we can take the New Testament stories as accounts of real events. But to decide that the Bible is history, one must ignore the vast amount of impartial biblical research that shows it really isn’t – in other words, to decide that one’s personal conviction means more than clear evidence. (14, italics added; to be continued below)

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Derren Brown, Tricks of the Mind, Part 1

Derren BrownA few months ago, a friend brought Derren Brown (a well-known British magician) to my attention, noting that a number of “episodes” from his programs could be watched on YouTube. I watched a number of them and found them, overall, to be fun and fascinating, with a few quite stunning and a few less than profound.

For the past fifteen years I’ve read about and into “the New Age movement,” often suspecting that some of the more prominent spokespersons were charlatans, or at least employed the methods and means of charlatans. Thus I’ve had a keen interest in “the debunkers,” those who expose the fakery and deception so often found among claimants to supernatural powers.

Thus I decided to purchase Derren Brown’s book, Tricks of the Mind (Amazon-UK, not available in the U.S. yet) and see if I could pick up some new pointers. I suspect I will, but in the meantime, I’ve been rather disappointed at his naïve and rather sophomoric departure from, and critique of, his former (and my current) Christian faith.

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