“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” Mark 7:8


It’s true what they say, that history repeats itself. When Jesus came, he was hated by the religious authority of the day because he was calling them out on their empty and vain worship. Worship had become more about traditions and less about God. Traditions set these leaders high on a pedestal of self-made importance that they certainly didn’t want to see toppled.

Fifteen hundred years later, the church—originally formed in response to the Holy Spirit moving to bring the saving grace of Jesus Christ to all people—had again turned to man-made traditions. And, once again, people were honoring God with their lips, though their hearts were far from him. They were worshiping in vain, following teachings that were merely rules taught by men.

Scripture was all but forgotten. God’s authority was unceremoniously stolen from him and doled out to the leaders of the church who—once again—sat high on self-made pedestals. According to these leaders, salvation came—not through faith in Christ alone—but instead through works and the unearned favor of purchased good merits. Merits that had supposedly been performed in abundance by Jesus, the apostles and the church-recognized saints, and which were held in reserve—to be distributed by the self-claimed authority of the church…for the right price. These merits (called indulgences), once purchased, gave people the unfounded security of their salvation and the salvation of their departed loved ones. How tragic!

But—where a hedge of tradition had grown up to block the path of truth—God found someone with an axe to chop it down and reveal his way once again, with Jesus always being the ultimate example. In the sixteenth century, it was Martin Luther, through whom God chose to reveal his narrow path once again.

Luther fully gave himself over to the authority of God and his Word, and came to this revelatory conclusion: “Without faith, the sacraments and the church were empty and must no longer pretend otherwise. It was faith in Christ that was the foundation for the church, and this faith did not come from us, who were all broken sinners, but was a free gift from God” *

Using Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) he hacked his way through the bramble of man-made tradition and was able to rediscover the heart of God and his will for men.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”
2 Timothy 3:16

Jesus was the ultimate example of pointing to scripture to reveal God’s desire for man. When he taught with his own authority, and not the authority of previous rabbis, he was in essence kicking aside the stumbling blocks of man-made traditions to stand on God’s word alone. And, “just as Jesus had called upon the Pharisees to stop their outward obedience to God and go far deeper, to inward obedience, so Luther called upon every Christian to cease the petty obedience to church that was nothing when compared to the freedom and joy of actually obeying God.”*

Let us thank God for the provision of his word, and test everything against it, for it is a sure foundation.

“Test everything. Hold on to the good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14

by Siara Borning

Martin Luther
by Eric Metaxas

How Do You See Him?

How Do You See Him?

“Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage! I am here.’ Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.” Mark 6:47-52


This week the Thursday morning Bible study has focused on Chapter six of the gospel of Mark. Our teacher, Connie Grosse, has caused us to look at how Jesus was preparing his disciples for service. As they walked with him through the events recorded in this chapter, he exposed them to rejection, living dependent upon the unseen God to meet their needs, counting the cost of following him, and developing mind-blowing faith—all to come into a place of true worship of God and his perfect sacrifice.

I was considering the reactions of the disciples and the people, then the Lord made it personal.

He asked, “How do you see Jesus in the circumstances of your life?”

I wondered…

Am I like the people of Nazareth, so familiar with the person of Jesus that I fail to recognize the fullness of his diety, his power to work miracles on my behalf? Do I limit the supernatural, settling for contentment that comes from being comfortable?

Am I willing to be publicly identified with Jesus? Stand for what is right no matter the consequences? Serve God in the midst of hatred? Love my enemies and pray for them?

Am I willing to endure loss, trusting that God will provide for every need?

When faced with a new obstacle have I forgotten the power that resides in Sovereign God? That it is his nature to bless his children?

Or, like the disciples at the end of the chapter, am I caught up in a storm that overwhelms me? Am I so busy fighting fear and trying to figure out how to survive that I miss Jesus showing up, until he gets my attention and says, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.”

Do you ask yourself similar questions?

The scriptural accounts of the lives of those who encounter God encourage me. They shed light on the struggles we all encounter on the path with Jesus. We spend years learning to trust in ourselves. Then Jesus enters in and says, “Follow me. Trust me. You can’t see what is coming, but I’ve got this. The wind will stop and you will get to your destination. Do not harden your heart. Only believe.”

“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve the victory through our faith.” 1 John 5:4

by Marilyn Allison

Thought Life

Thought Life

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthian 10:5


How do we do that? How do we stop ourselves from having negative thoughts, especially when sometimes bad thoughts come unbidden?

The scripture isn’t saying just bad thoughts, but Every thought. Let me give you something to think about. God Almighty is omniscient. In other words God knows our thoughts. Not only does He know them, but also knows the intention of our hearts. If the tongue is a fiery dart, then our thoughts are the gasoline for the fire.

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” James 3:6

Our Lord Jesus said it’s not only the action that causes us to sin, but the thought—the intention.

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

So what can we do?

Wash our minds with the word of God. The more time we spend with Jesus—praying and reading the Bible—what we put in our minds is God honoring. We need to stay away from things that cause us to trip, whether it’s a movie, magazine, book or that friend who loves to ‘share’ about others.

When I read the Bible I keep a piece of paper and a pen nearby. When a distracting or unbidden thought comes, I write it down for later attention and refocus on the Word. Believe me, distractions happen... often. But, by taking every thought captive (exercise control), we become aware of how sin can creep in.

“Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22

Let’s make spending time with Jesus, in His word and in prayer, a priority—taking our thoughts captive and thinking before we speak about another person. And above all, love the way God loves us—unconditionally and with grace.

“Above all love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

by Eve Montano

This is the Day

This is the Day

“At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’” Mark 6:25


One Saturday morning several years ago, my neighbors—who also happen to be Jehovah’s Witnesses—came knocking on my door. During the course of our hour long conversation, and out of curiosity, I asked why it was that they didn’t celebrate birthdays. The answer they gave was given as such: There are two birthday parties mentioned in the Bible, and both of them include a death.

In Genesis 40 we read about Pharoah’s birthday feast at which he hung the chief baker who had been imprisoned with Joseph. And then, of course, we read from our text here in Mark, that King Herod—during his birthday celebration—makes an oath which results in the beheading of John the Baptist.

Isn’t it true that we have to be so careful with how we interpret scripture? Taking the examples of two ungodly men and putting a period on the end of the sentence that says “Birthdays equal death and so God must hate birthdays,” seems to me to be a whole lot of legalism and not much grace. This is what Paul says:

“One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; And he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.” Romans 14:5-6

Whatever we do, we should do to the glory of God alone. If we read scripture through the lens of this truth, we can see how Jesus’ perfect grace fulfills the law in perfect righteousness. says this, “True service and holiness are simply the outworking of the Spirit, the overflowing of a life dedicated to the glory of God. When our focus is on loving God rather than simply serving Him, we end up doing both.”

In His grace, God gives us a spirit of discernment to know how to live a life focused on bringing Him glory. And to those who don’t know Him, He has revealed Himself, and His truth. Even King Herod recognized that John was a righteous and holy man. He knew in his heart that killing John would be an act of defiance toward God Himself.

By reading into every story in the Bible and committing ourselves to flesh out any perceived disgrace or error on the part of others—with the intent of working to be better than the other guy and self-made righteous—we put ourselves right back under the burdensome yoke of the old covenant.

Jesus has given us freedom. So whether you celebrate a birthday by thanking God for another year, or you choose to overlook that day in order to lift Him up—do it with your whole heart—with your eyes set firmly on the goal of bringing Him glory.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

by Siara Borning



“Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.” Psalm 25:4


I am so inexpressibly thankful that in May of last year, I graduated high school.

Now, I cannot express the mix of anticipation and apprehension I’ve felt as I prepared to start college this new semester.

I know…I know. Maybe it’s not that big of a deal. But it’s a whole new experience that I’m excited to have the privilege to gain. So—honestly—it’s a big deal to me. 😊

Since I graduated 9 months ago, I’ve learned you have to make what seem like huge decisions, even when you don’t feel “ready.”

Whether that’s deciding (which I did) not to start college right away or deciding it’s time to start (which I’ve done now), it requires looking past the uncertainties, the unknowns, the “what ifs,” and simply just begin—somewhere—trusting God to carry you…trusting that He’s equipped you to do your best.

It’s been a hard lesson for this stubborn child, but God is ever gracious, loving, and kind to me. He has brought me this far, and I’m excited to see where we go next.

Here’s to the beginning of college life! 🥴

by Kaylee Kissack