These are some immediate reflections as I listen (back) on sermons from CBCWLA, often resulting in brain hurting, always accompanied by caffeine. It’s a brain-dump and won’t necessarily be cohesive or coherent, most certainly won’t be exhaustive of all important parts, but will be personal to me. Here are the questions I’ll attempt to answer with each sermon I review:
- What sermon did I listen to today? Title/Link.
- Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.
- What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
- How has it challenged my thinking?
- What practical applications can I take from it?
Before we begin with the reflections, I have to admit this took about 2 months to complete. I’m trying to figure out why it took me so long, but my initial excuse is that the audio cuts off half way through, and that just broke my concentration for the longest time. Then, when I’m having to read through just the sermon notes when I’m not a big reader, it takes me longer to get into it.
It’s not a good reason, but I’ve also been busy or distracted and have had other things to write about that require less brain power. I don’t know how realistic it would be for me to do one reflection per week so maybe if I target myself one every other week, it’d be less daunting and I’ll actually be able to stick to it.
1. What sermon did I listen to? Title/Link.
A Resolved Response – p. Nick Hsieh.
2. Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.
We begin our study of Mark’s Gospel by acknowledging the author’s background and the book’s authenticity and reliability. We also reflect on the major themes of the book, which seems to be the “cost of discipleship” and the “lordship of Jesus Christ”.
3. What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
Most of the below are either direct quotes from the manuscript or summaries of main points.
- Mark’s Gospel seems to closely follow Peter’s life. Indeed, Mark himself was close to Peter.
- This is the same John-Mark that deserted the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas, which eventually caused Paul and Barnabas to go their separate ways in Acts.
- Mark presents a high cost of discipleship to Jesus and calls for a bold and faithful response to follow Christ.
- Mark and Peter knew first hand that it is easy to compromise even strongly held convictions in the face of temptation, so challenges readers to make their life-long commitment of obedience to Jesus after sober-minded consideration.
- “Counting the cost” does not mean “do a cost-benefit analysis”. Jesus Christ is Lord and you desperately need him whether you like it or not. “Counting the cost” means to “be prepared, be intentional, and be willing to submit”.
- Being submitted to the lordship of Christ means surrendering to God’s will and God’s ways, and dying to our plans, preferences and pride.
- God is entirely good, so what he commands, while not always comfortable, is always ultimately what is best.
- If we really take what Jesus says to heart, rather than trying to soften the Scriptures, much of this may make us very uncomfortable. But it’s not about your comfort, it’s about God’s Word. Otherwise you’ll just become a smarter sinner.
- Plead with God to keep you humble and honest, and join with brothers and sisters in the community of faith so that you can plead for them and they can plead for you too.
4. How has it challenged my thinking?
Ugh this is probably the other reason it’s taken so long to post this, because such a sober message is really mentally and emotionally challenging and draining. Given everything that’s happened in the world lately, I probably didn’t have any extra mental capacity to handle more mental challenges.
This was a sobering message for me. Not in a bad way, but it is a powerful reminder of the faithlessness of man and the faithfulness of God. Mark and Peter who were both so close to Jesus both ‘fell away’ in different ways, though they saw the miracles of Jesus with their own eyes and even physically walked with him!
I just so happened to be reading The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias today as we’ll be going through it in small group, and he reminded us that Peter had “the most dramatic disclosure ever given to the human eye […] when he saw the transfiguration of Jesus. […] Yet not long afterwards, when Jesus was arrested and on his way to the cross, Peter denied that he ever knew him.”
I liked to think of myself as a faithful Christian, but if I reflect honestly, I, too, have ‘fallen away’ many times. Not in a serious I’m-not-a-Christian-anymore type of way, but daily, in subtle ways, I do not allow Jesus to be Lord.
I don’t do devotionals or read Bible every day (my bullet journal will attest) — sometimes I didn’t even read for 5 days straight. When our downstairs neighbour complained against us for noise (Chloe’s workouts required jumping), Jacky and I agreed I’d bake banana bread for them to apologise, but it took about a week before I finally picked myself off my lazy butt and actually did it because I just didn’t want to. (God was very gracious in redeeming that relationship. We went downstairs earlier today with banana bread in hand, and our downstairs neighbour was lovely and forgiving.)
When I am complimented, for some reason it takes so much effort to blurt out, “It’s God’s grace,” or, “It’s thanks to God,” and yet I can easily just say, “Thank you,” and accept the glory for myself. My excuse is that it comes across disingenuous or flippant to give such a response… but if I’m honest it’s probably just because I’m not used to giving such a response outside of the church because I’m scared of what other people will say or think of me.
My excuse for not wanting to give an opportunity to have a God-conversation would be because I’m tired and may not represent Him well, but the actual reason is because I’m lazy and again scared of what they’ll think of me and think I’m crazy, and probably at the heart of it, I don’t love them enough to take every opportunity to try and redeem their souls for Christ.
At the heart of it, I am disobedient and unprepared, and probably I don’t have enough faith that God is trying work through me.
Thankfully, God does not leave us where we’re at. Jesus restores Peter, and eventually Paul also holds Mark in high regard. He’s also illuminating these hidden sins within me so that I can recognise and acknowledge them. That’s the first step to resolving a problem… and now that I am more aware of it, I can hopefully be more in tune with the Spirit’s prompting in future interactions with people.
5. What practical applications can I take from it?
At the very minimum, let me make, “It’s all thanks to God,” my default response for any praise and every good thing, and mean it from my heart. Let me be ready in all circumstances to have God-conversations, should He open up opportunities for them. Let me pray that I can have such opportunities. Let me read my Bible daily and spend time in God’s Word and presence.
It’s also important to be honest with my shortcomings before my brothers and sisters, and not try to hide or make excuses for my disobedience to save my pride.
Finally, I will be spending more time in prayer. It’s been on my mind to start a new prayer journal as my previous one ended a few months ago. I think that was a healthy habit I’d like to get back into.