Mark: Lesson 11


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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Mark 8:

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider

1. In verses 1-10, what need of the people had Jesus already met (2), and what need was He about to meet (1-3)? How does this passage demonstrate that God cares about and provides for both our material and spiritual needs? How does this passage mesh with, and provide a real life example of the truth of Matthew 6:25-33? Considering verse 4, why do you think none of the disciples seemed to remember Jesus feeding the 5000 and asked Him to provide in the same way? How could this incident have instilled greater trust and dependence on Christ in the disciples and the crowd?

2. Examine verses 11-13. Compare and contrast the crowd’s satisfaction (8) with the dissatisfaction of the Pharisees. How would you apply the following words to the crowd versus the Pharisees as they related to and interacted with Jesus: enough/not enough, content/discontent, not demanding/demanding, humble/proud? What was Jesus’ response to the Pharisees?

3. Jesus’ teaching, compassion, provision, healing, and miracles were sufficient in God’s eyes to provide for the spiritual needs of all people and to fulfill God’s purposes, yet the Pharisees judged God’s ways not to be enough to satisfy them and demanded signs and miracles that were above and beyond God’s ways. Compare the Pharisees and their demands with “churches” today who are not satisfied with God’s sufficient written Word and ways, and demand things like hearing God’s voice, ecstatic utterances (“speaking in tongues”), faith healing, fortune telling-esque “prophecies,” miracles, etc.

4. Read verses 14-21 in light of the miracle the disciples had just witnessed in verses 1-10, the interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees in verses 11-13, and the fact that the disciples had forgotten to bring bread (14,16). Notice how Jesus uses a metaphorical interplay between “bread” (1-10, 14,16) and “leaven” (15). What does this passage teach us about rightly handling God’s word? How did the disciples mess up by taking Jesus’ words literally instead of metaphorically, as He meant them? Compare Jesus’ use of metaphor here to “He said this plainly” in verse 32. What did Jesus’ warning in verse 15 mean? Re-read question 3 above. What teaching(s) of the Pharisees was Jesus warning against?

5. Compare the healing of the blind man in verses 22-26 to healings we’ve seen in previous lessons. How did the man get to Jesus, and who interceded for him? (22) Why did Jesus take him out of the village before healing him (23) and instruct him not to return afterwards (26)? What method did Jesus use for healing the man? (23-25)

6. Examine verses 27-38. Think about what John the Baptist, Elijah, and the Old Testament prophets preached and the miracles they (Elijah and the prophets) performed. Considering what the people had seen Jesus do and heard Him preach, why would they more readily have compared Jesus to John and the prophets than recognizing Him as the Messiah (hint: think about the kind of messiah they were expecting)?

7. Most of Israel, including at least some of the disciples, expected a Messiah like David- one who would free them from Roman tyranny, reestablish Israel as an independent nation, and reign as a literal, political king. Compare Peter’s identification of Jesus as the Messiah (29) with his rebuke of Jesus (32) for saying that He would be crucified. What kind of Messiah do you think Peter was expecting? Why would Peter have been surprised or confused when Jesus said He would suffer, be rejected, and be killed? (31-32)

8. What is the significance of Jesus “turning and seeing His disciples” in verse 33? Compare Jesus’ rebuke of Peter (33) to Jesus’ rebuke (12) and warning (15) about the Pharisees. In what ways were they each believing and spreading “leaven” (false doctrine)? How were each setting their minds on the things of man instead of the things of God? (33)

9. Imagine you’re one of the disciples listening to what Jesus is saying in verses 31-38. What might you be thinking as Jesus dispels the idea that He will reign over Israel as an earthly king (and that you might have a significant position in His court), and teaches the exact opposite: that He will be humiliated, rejected, and murdered, and that the same is in store for His followers? Consider your own service to Christ- do you serve Him hoping for glory and high position, or do you embrace anonymity, suffering, persecution, and humiliation?


Take some time to examine the Open Doors web site. What might Jesus’ words in 34-38 mean to a Christian in North Korea, Somalia, or Afghanistan compared to a Christian in the United States?

Intercede for a different prayer request each day this week, and donate if you’re able.

Suggested Memory Verse

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 
Mark 8:34-35

Biblical Resources on Pornography


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Pornography is a serious sin, and one that increasingly affects Christian families. Ladies, if you, your husband, or your child are viewing pornography, it’s time to stop, repent, and flee from that sin. If you need help and support, set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling, even if you are the only one who will go. Here are some additional biblical resources which may help:

When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography Theology Gals, Episode 22 with Vicki Tiede (be sure to check out all of Vicki’s links under “Episode Resources”)

How to Stop Looking at Porn from When We Understand the Text

When We Understand the Text Q&A on Pornography (23:13 mark) with Gabriel Hughes

Hey, Porn Addict: Stop It by Gabriel Hughes

What Does the Bible Say About Pornography? at Got Questions

Dealing with Private Sins by John MacArthur

Pornography Resources from Wretched Radio

God Over Porn

Should Christian Couples Watch Pornography Together?

Covenant Eyes: Internet Accountability and Filtering

Support Groups Have No Place in the Church at No Compromise Radio
(Not specifically about pornography, but important points to consider if you’re thinking about a church support group or accountability partner related to pornography usage.)

The Mailbag: Female Pastors- False Teachers or Just Sinning?


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Is a woman who is in the position of pastor to be considered a false teacher or merely disobedient to The Word of God? Some churches in my area place pastors’ wives in the position of “co-pastor.” Would she have to be teaching some false doctrine to be considered a false teacher or does the fact that she is in the position in the first place make her a false teacher?

I love it when I hear from women – like the reader who sent in this question – who are thinking deeply and seriously about the things of God. It brings me so much joy to see God working in the hearts and minds of Christian women.

Before we start parsing these ideas out, let’s bottom line this thing. Scripture is both explicitly and implicitly clear that women are not to serve as pastors. Regardless of whether we call what she’s doing sin or false teaching, it is definitely unbiblical for a church to install a woman in the position of pastor, and for the woman to accept the position. So the bottom line is, it’s wrong and nobody should be attending such a church.

Now, onward and upward with the parsing…

The term “false teacher” is generally reserved for people (male or female) who actually teach – via speaking or writing – false doctrine. So if you if you want to get technical about it, if the woman in question simply holds the position of pastor but either does not preach/teach at all or does not preach/teach any sort of false doctrine, she, and the church that installed her, are simply sinning.

But there are a few more things to consider here:

♦ I’m familiar with various churches and denominations (none of which teach sound doctrine, including the specific ones the reader mentioned in her original e-mail) where a husband and wife serve as “co-pastors,” but I’ve never seen one in which the wife doesn’t preach/teach at all. It may not be often, but preaching is seen as part of her duties, otherwise, why would she be considered a co-pastor? (I suppose there could be churches where “co-pastor” is merely an honorific for the pastor’s wife, it’s just that I’ve never seen one.)

♦ Assuming preaching is one of her duties, I find it very difficult to imagine a woman who: sees nothing wrong with female pastors, is married to and pastored by a man who sees nothing wrong with female pastors, and attends a doctrinally unsound church that sees nothing wrong with female pastors, would get up in the pulpit and preach sound doctrine. Again, I suppose it could happen in theory, but how likely is it?

♦ As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, women teaching men and women teaching false doctrine are highly correlated. I have researched scores of women teachers. Every single one of them who unrepentantly teaches men also teaches false doctrine in some other aspect of her theology (usually Word of Faith or New Apostolic Reformation). In other words, if a woman teaches men, you can just about take it to the bank that she also teaches false doctrine.

♦ Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that this woman gets up and preaches sound doctrine every time she’s in the pulpit. So what? She’s still sinning by preaching to men, regardless of the content of her “sermon.” I have known of Reformed male pastors who preach perfectly sound doctrine, yet litter their sermons with foul language. I’ve known of other pastors who delivered biblical sermons every Sunday, but were sleeping with women in their congregations or were addicted to pornography or were molesting their own children. The point is- sound doctrine is not the only qualification for pastors. There are a number of observable and behavioral requirements for pastors listed in 1 Timothy and Titus – one of which is being a man – and violation of any of these requirements disqualifies a person from the role of pastor.

♦ While, technically, we would not label a female pastor a false teacher unless she’s overtly teaching false doctrine, the fact remains that she is teaching something unbiblical every time she stands in the pulpit. She is teaching, via her behavior, that it’s OK for her, her church, the church at large, the women of her congregation, and Christian women everywhere, to live in open rebellion against this portion of Scripture. Any pastor who, by his (her) own behavior, leads people to believe it is OK to ignore or rebel against God’s word has disqualified himself (herself) from the office of pastor.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Guest Post: Has the Bible Changed What You Watch?


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If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at,
and let’s chat about it.

Has the Bible Changed What You Watch?
by Leslie

As a young married couple, my husband and I got in the habit of watching a particular TV show. Almost every week we tuned in to laugh at the antics of its characters for a half hour. We watched it without any conviction or qualms. At that time, it was simply a funny show.

Fast forward about fifteen years when this same show started to air again in re-runs. But now we were a little wiser. We were more grounded in Scripture. And we were more discerning. And so when we tuned in a few times for old times’ sake, we were most uncomfortable. We finally realized that the fornication and other sin that we were subjecting ourselves to for a few laughs was most definitely an offense to our Holy God. We turned it off and haven’t watched it since.

The same thing happened with a very popular 80’s movie. We had fond memories of watching it ourselves as teenagers and so one Sunday afternoon we turned it on for our kids. A few minutes into it–after listening to the characters take our precious Savior’s name in vain with appalling regularity– my husband turned it off.

This is a great example of how the Bible has changed us and what we watch. Has the Bible changed you and what you allow to enter your heart and mind through your television or the movie theater?

There has been a kind of strange dynamic over the past thirty or forty years with Christians and entertainment. This is probably due to a number of factors, including biblical illiteracy and our deep love for the world. But whatever the reason, most Christians have grown extremely comfortable watching sin on a screen with horrifying regularity.

If anyone dares to mention this trend as troublesome, they are immediately labeled a legalist. But is this legalism? Is the gray area of entertainment as gray as we would like to believe?

The more we study the Word, the more we understand that it is truly our grid for all of life. While we often focus on it being the grid through which we run pastors and Christian authors, it should also be what we use to evaluate all things worldly, as well.

God has made it clear in His word what is sinful. Passages like Galatians 5:19-21 help us to understand what God hates—

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If God hates these things, why do we think it is okay to watch things that are filled with them? Sexual immorality and sorcery are two of the most popular things on TV and in movies today and yet many Christians enthusiastically watch them, claiming no conviction in this area.

But if we know God hates it, shouldn’t we hate it, too? Is our claim of having no conviction an honest one?

Inevitably, when this topic of entertainment comes up, the idea of Christian freedom comes up with it. And, yes, how wonderful it is that we are free in Christ! But Paul shows us what this freedom really means in I Corinthians 10:23—

All things are lawful for me,but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

So just because we can do something does not mean we should do it. Is it helpful? Will it edify? These are important questions to ask ourselves regarding entertainment.

And in Romans 6:1-4, Paul explains this idea of Christian freedom for us even further-

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Grace means we walk in new life! Bound to sin no longer, we long to live a life that is pleasing to God.

This is not about a set of rules (legalism) but rather about how we go about pleasing the Lord with the choices we make every day. I Corinthians 10:31 gives us some insight—

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

And Colossians 3:17 says something very similar—

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Whatever we do. All things. Do you notice there is no exception for entertainment? Even our entertainment is to bring God glory.

And so these verses cause us to ask: Are we pleasing the Lord with the things we are watching?

If we are honest with ourselves, we will see that much of what passes as acceptable entertainment for Christians today does not fit under these guidelines.

The more I have studied the Word of God, the more I have come to understand how the Gospel affects all of my life. If we are approaching our Bible Study with a submissive heart and a desire to obey what we read, it should be changing us in a myriad of ways–including our entertainment choices.

While we do have great freedom under Christ, it is not the freedom to sin but instead it’s the freedom to break the chains of sin and to live a life of holiness. Why, as believers, do we long to keep this close contact with the sin that ensnares by putting it in front of our eyes and participating in it vicariously?

This is not a popular topic to write about and I confess that I don’t always like it myself. Honoring God with our entertainment is difficult in this day and age. But it can be done with some careful research of shows and movies before we watch them–along with the fortitude to turn the TV off or to walk out of the movie theater when we should.

May we have boldness and a heart to please God as we seek to honor Him with what we watch!

Leslie has been married to Eric for 29 years. They have four grown kids, three in-law kids, and are now enjoying being grandparents. Leslie’s desire is to develop a love for the Word of God in her readers, along with teaching them to run all of life’s experiences, challenges, and choices through its grid. You will find her at


Throwback Thursday ~ Persecution in the Pew


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Originally published August 7, 2015persecution in the pew

Beheadings of Christians by ISIS. Crosses forcibly torn off churches by the Chinese government. Pastors imprisoned. Believers tortured for leaving Islam or sharing the gospel.

The treatment our brothers and sisters across the globe receive at the hands of pagans is nearly unfathomable. They are made to suffer – simply for claiming the name of Christ – by those who openly hate God and want nothing more than to stamp out Christianity.

This is how we, as the American church, have come to define persecution. Outsiders, non-Christians, and the government, all on the attack against the Bible, our faith, our practices, and other beliefs we have long held dear. It’s a correct definition, but it’s not a complete definition.

While we already see a “light” form of this type of persecution in the U.S. – mainly over the issue of homosexuality – there’s another kind of Christian persecution that is mushrooming right under our noses, which most church members either seem oblivious to, or are actually participating in. It’s the persecution in the pew.

If you’re a Christian who has ever dared to vocally take a stand on the truth of God’s word against the false teaching so prevalent in today’s pop Christianity, you’ve almost certainly experienced this type of persecution at the hands of people who call themselves “Christians.”

Don’t believe me?

Try posting a Facebook status that says the Bible prohibits women from being pastors or teaching men.

Demonstrate from Scripture to a Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, or Joel Osteen groupie that she’s following a false teacher.

Talk to a church member who supports Planned Parenthood because they provide health care.

Explain why Christians ought not attend same sex weddings.

Discuss the Bible’s account of Creation with someone from your church who has embraced Darwinian evolution.

Certainly, there are new and immature Christians who simply don’t know these things are unbiblical and are still struggling to embrace God’s word in these areas. And there are those who know what God’s word says, but rebel against it in these areas, who silently ignore Christians who espouse biblical truth, or can politely discuss why their “Christian” views differ from Scripture. However, the willfully biblically ignorant, “screaming banshee” contingent is growing, both in volume and in number.

Surprised? Me too. I’ve been on the receiving end of verbal abuse (and I do mean abuse – name calling, swearing, mocking, the questioning of my salvation, and any number of other nasty and condescending remarks) from “Christians” defending these and other unbiblical views numerous times and I still can’t get over my shock every time it happens.

Call me crazy, I guess I just expect people who claim to be Christians to believe and defend the Bible, not attack those who uphold it.

But this kind of thing really shouldn’t be cause for wonder and amazement. We should expect it. Persecution of God’s people by those who claim to be God’s people has been happening since the Old Testament.

Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. 2 Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the Lord. Jeremiah 20:1-2

Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words…12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” Amos 7:10, 12-13

For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; 10 who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, 11 leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 30:9-11

Perhaps Jesus had in mind some of these instances of Israel’s persecution of the prophets when He said in the Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12

The balance of the New Testament is rife with examples of Christians, and even Jesus Himself, being persecuted by those who claim to be God’s people:

Stephen was martyred by “the people and the elders and the scribes,” while Paul, “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;” who went on to be a zealous “persecutor of the church” held their coats.

It was the “high priest, the senate of the people of Israel, and the Pharisees” who imprisoned and flogged the apostles and “charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus” in Acts 5:17-42.

Peter and John were arrested by “the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees” and threatened by “Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.”

Even Jesus “came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” He was nearly stoned twice by Jewish leaders. And, even though it was the Romans who actually carried out the crucifixion, it was only because it was illegal, under current Roman law, for the temple authorities to execute their own criminals.

It was one of Jesus’ own followers who betrayed him to the chief priests. It was the “chief priests and the elders” who arrested Jesus. It was “the high priest…scribes and the elders” who presided over the kangaroo court that condemned Jesus to death. And it was “all the chief priests and the elders of the people” who finally handed Jesus over to Rome.

We may think of these people as Jews, scribes, and Pharisees, but they were the “church people” of their day. It was these “church people” – as much, if not, at times, more so than pagans – who were the ones shouting down, threatening, persecuting, and murdering Jesus and Christians who upheld the truth of His word.

Jesus knew this would happen. In John 16:2-4 He warned the disciples:

They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

And so it goes today. Deceived, self-proclaimed “Christians”, those inside the church who are often just as unsaved as the pagans outside the church, those who prove that they don’t belong to Christ by fighting against His word instead of loving and obeying it, these “church people” are the ones viciously attacking Christians who dare to stand on and for the truth of Scripture. And they think they’re doing God a favor by acting this way.

Continue to cling to Christ and His word and you’ll be one of their victims. It’s inevitable. Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” But keep your eyes on Jesus, not on your circumstances, and remember He also said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted…theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When you’re persecuted, even by “Christians” you can “rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven!”

Mark: Review Lesson

Previous Lessons: 123456789, 10

No new lesson in Mark today since I’m still teaching Vacation Bible School at church, so I thought we could use this week to review.

If there are any lessons you already know you’d like to go back and spend more time on, homework assignments you haven’t gotten to yet, or chapters of Mark you’d like to re-read, go for it with a “freestyle” review time. If not, here are a few questions and items to springboard your review time.

Review Questions

What are some of the things you’ve learned about the nature and character of Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit?

Give some examples of how Christ demonstrated His authority, power, compassion, divinity, and identifying with His people.

Imagine you’re one of the disciples – such as Peter, James, or John – who will go on to play an important part in the establishment of the New Testament church. What have you learned thus far, serving with Jesus, that will equip you for later ministry?

Imagine you’re a first century Gentile (with little knowledge of the Old Testament or the promised Messiah) reading Mark’s gospel for the first time. What questions would you have about Jesus? What, in chapters 1-7, is surprising to you? What do you find difficult, or easy, to believe?

What was the scribes’ and Pharisees’ main beef with Jesus? How did Jesus attempt to correct them? What can we learn from them and their beliefs not to do in the church today?

Memory Verse Review

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Mark 1:14-15

And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Mark 2:17

For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 3:35

And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Mark 4:41

And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
Mark 5:19

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
Mark 6:34

There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.
Mark 7:15

The Peterson Predicament and LifeWay’s Peculiar Policies


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Last week, the news broke that Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, (a popular mutilation paraphrase of the Bible) has, for quite some time, held the position that there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality, that he was on staff at a church that considered hiring a homosexual minister of music, and that he would perform a homosexual wedding if asked. (It was quite the kerfuffle. Play by play at the end of this article if you’re interested.)

LifeWay quickly – and rightly – released a statement saying that if they could verify that these are, in fact, Peterson’s beliefs, they would pull “The Message” and all of his other materials from their stores.

The next day, Peterson publicly retracted his statement about being willing to perform a same sex wedding – saying he affirms the biblical view of marriage – and LifeWay said they’d keep his materials on the shelf.

I commend LifeWay for pulling authors who support homosexuality. That’s a good and right thing and I don’t want to minimize it. This is absolutely something they should do, and I’m glad this is their policy.

However, what about the fact that The Message is such a poor and misleading paraphrase that, as many have said, it should never have been on the shelves at LifeWay in the first place?

What about the fact that Eugene Peterson wrote a front cover endorsement for The Shack– a book that teaches the heresies of universalism, patripassianism, and blasphemies regarding the Trinity? Why was that sin not grievous enough, but his endorsement of homosexuality was?

When LifeWay only makes a splash in the media about removing books whose authors endorse homosexuality, they’re sending two very important messages:

1. Things like false doctrine, female authors/celebrities who defy Scripture by preaching to men, and teachers and authors who disobey God’s word by partnering with false teachers, don’t matter. All that matters is if you’re on the right side of homosexuality.

2. It sends the message to homosexuals and the rest of the world – not to mention members of our own SBC churches – that Southern Baptists think homosexuality is the worst sin out there and the only one we really care about people repenting from.

How hypocritical that LifeWay will turn a blind eye to Beth Moore’s sins of teaching false doctrine, preaching to men, and partnering with false teachers, and make her a wealthy celebrity, but will take a stand against other authors (whose materials don’t sell as well as Moore’s) for the sin of endorsing homosexuality.

Sin is sin in God’s eyes, but not in LifeWay’s, apparently.

Play by Play of the Peterson Predicament

Wednesday, July 12:
News breaks that Eugene Peterson has “changed his mind” regarding the biblical view of marriage.
LifeWay announces that if Peterson’s remarks can be confirmed, they will cease selling all of his materials including The Message.

Thursday, July 13:
Peterson retracts his original comments about same sex marriage and says he “affirms a biblical view of marriage.”
LifeWay announces that, due to the retraction, they will continue to carry Peterson’s materials.
♦ The reporter (Jonathan Merritt) who originally broke the Peterson story offers his take and behind the scenes insights on the retraction.
♦ In an additional article, Merritt offers evidence that Peterson made statements affirming homosexuality as recently as 2014.

The Mailbag Guest Post: What is the biblical understanding of spiritual warfare?


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If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at,
and let’s chat about it.


Due to teaching Vacation Bible School at church this week, I’m turning today’s Mailbag over to guest poster, Nikki Campbell. This article was originally published at her blog.

What is the biblical way of understanding exactly what spiritual warfare is? How do we “do” spiritual warfare in a way that lines up with Scripture?

Biblical Spiritual Warfare
by Nikki Campbell

Have you ever prayed for a hedge of protection around someone? Have you ever rebuked Satan in Jesus’ Name? Have you ever walked around your house and prayed in ‘Jesus’ Name’ for the cleansing of each room?

If so, then you may be as surprised as I was a couple of years ago when I found out that none of these are Biblical. I was taken by surprise because these are terms and phrases that are widely taught by many popular teachers in the “Christian” world.
And, so I assumed that they were Biblical.

“Few areas of the Christian life are more misunderstood than that of spiritual warfare”, writes Justin Peters in the forword for the book Truth or Territory.  He goes on to say, “Books and conferences on the subject provide instructions on how to wage this warfare by breaking generational curses, praying hedges of protection, exorcisms, mapping the spiritual realm, rebuking and binding the demonic hierarchy all the way up to Satan himself……Would it surprise you to learn that none of these techniques is necessary or even biblical?”

In fact, some of these superstitious techniques can lead to much fear and bondage. When we believe that we have the power and responsibility to rebuke and bind Satan and his demons, we can often feel trapped in a cycle of feeling the need to do it day after day in order to be safe.

“It is critical to accurately understand and apply what the Bible has to say about overcoming temptation and withstanding the wiles of the devil. If the evil one could convince a large enough percentage of Christians to substitute a superstitious approach to doing battle with him in place of the Biblical model, he would largely neutralize the witness of the church.” (Spiritual warfare- God’s way, Elliot Miller)

So, what is true, Biblical spiritual warfare?

Here are some suggestions of how to dig deeper in the Word regarding this subject.

1) Read Ephesians 6:10-20 several times. Notice that the word “stand” is mentioned four times. Why do you think it is emphasized? What are we standing against? Do a word study on the word “schemes”. Where else is it used in the Bible?

(Blue letter Bible is a great tool where you can find root word definitions, cross references and commentaries)

2) The Bible clearly teaches that our flesh, not the devil is our most influential enemy. Look up how many times the NT refers to the “flesh”, and how many times it refers to “demons”.

(Bible Gateway is a great tool for this)

“We have three enemies-the world, the flesh and the devil. These three work in concert with each other against the believer.  If our focus is only one of these enemies, we will quickly find that we are losing the battle on the other two fronts. Too often attention is focused on the devil and defeating him, while the battle against the world and flesh is neglected. As a result of being so preoccupied with only one phase of the battle, many Christians have suffered great infiltration on the fronts of the world and the flesh” (Jim Osman, Truth or Territory).

Here is an amazing sermon by Voddie Baucham, that addresses how the world the flesh and the devil work together.

Did you see “War Room”, where the main character walked around the house in one scene screaming at the devil to leave and go back to hell where he belongs? This movie, along with many famous preachers and teachers today, falsely teach that Christians have some kind of power and authority to boss Satan around. I encourage you to be wary of women’s Bible studies on spiritual warfare that teach women to ‘speak out loud so that that Satan can hear’, and that ‘we are to put Satan back in his place in Jesus’ Name’.

Ladies, we can’t just add “in Jesus’ Name” to the end of sentences and think that gives us the power and authority to do whatever we want. Other than Jesus Himself and His Apostles who were given Apostleship power, no where else in the New Testament are we told that we have the power to do this kind of thing.

In fact, let’s see what the Bible says about people who boldly and willfully yell at and command demons.

3) Look up 2 Peter 2:10-12 and Jude 8-13. What do these passages say about those who blaspheme the glorious ones (angels and demons)?

Did you notice that even the archangel Micheal would not not pronounce a blasphemous judgement against the devil, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

4) In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul referred to being given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass him. Although the Bible doesn’t specify what this messenger of Satan was, some people believe that it was some kind of demonic harassment.

(Other views are that it could be (1) an inner psychological struggle, or (2) continued persecution from an opponent, or (3) some kind of a physical affliction. I tend to lean toward the physical affliction.)

For the sake of those who take the view point that it was demonic harassment, let’s look further into how Paul handled it. Look at verse 7 to see why it was given him. Did Paul command this messenger of Satan to leave in ‘Jesus’ Name’?  No!  What did he do/who did he turn to about this? (Verse 8).

Paul pleaded with God to remove this thorn, but when God responded with, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9), Paul not only accepted God’s will, but boasted about his weakness so that the power of Christ would rest on him.

5) 2 Corinthians 10:3-6  is one of my favorite passages addressing spiritual warfare.

According to this passage, what do the weapons of our warfare have the divine power to destroy (Verses 4 and 5)?

“The weapons of our warfare are not physical, but spiritual, such as prayer, the Word of God, faith, and the power of the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit we tear down the strongholds of wrong thinking and behavior.” (ESV study Bible notes, pg 2235)

This is a truth war. A battle for the mind. Not a territorial, physical battle against Satan and his demons.

I highly recommend the book Truth or Territory, by Jim Osman. It really gave me great insight in understanding this subject from a Biblical perspective. So good!

I also recommend the 4 part sermon series called, Angels, Demons and Spiritual Warfare, by David Platt. HereHere, and Here are the other three parts.

Nikki Campbell is a Christ-follower, a wife, and a mom of two. She loves spending time in God’s Word, being with her family, and discipling women. She has a passion for learning and encouraging others to walk in truth. Her prayer is that God would be glorified, His kingdom would advance, and women would grow in knowledge, discernment and unity through her blog Unified in Truth.


This Week’s Blog Schedule

This week, I have the honor and responsibility of teaching God’s word to a very important group of people- people who will shape the future direction of the church – the third and fourth graders attending my church’s Vacation Bible School. I would greatly appreciate your prayers as I teach, that the gospel would be clear to these little hearts and minds, and that God would graciously save souls.

If you’ve ever participated in VBS (and if you haven’t, you should!) you know that it takes a lot of time and energy. I’m not going to have much left over for blogging, so the schedule this week will be a bit different. I’ve got some great guest posts and posts from the archives scheduled that I think you will find edifying.

Have a great week!

Guest Post: How to Do Biblical Self-Counseling


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If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at,
and let’s chat about it.

How to do Biblical Self-Counseling
by Lara d’Entremont

I can be far too dependent upon others for growth and change. When a problem, question, decision, or sin becomes apparent in my life, my first step is to run to the comfort of others and seek their help. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this; believers within the body of Christ are meant to support and build one another up. Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (NASB).

However, the book of Galatians doesn’t end there. If we keep reading, we find an interesting exhortation: “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.” (vv. 3-6).

So while fellow believers are to help, support, exhort, and encourage us, there comes a time when we must bear our own load and deal with our own sins. While your fellow sisters in the faith may be able to point sin out to you, give you advice to overcome it, keep you accountable, and pray for you, there comes a point where you need to step up and actually do something. We cannot rely on other people to change us and fix our issues. We need to do biblical self-counseling.

This is what Paul called, “Working out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). In other words, this is our side of sanctification. In realizing all this, I was intimidated. If you are feeling that same overwhelm, don’t panic; I have a few steps to help you.

Step One | Choose an Issue to Work On

It may be tempting to become distressed by all the sins in your life and feel hopeless (at least that’s what I often experience). But we can’t allow that to discourage us. Instead, simply choose ONE issue to attack.

Once you choose your sin or issue, find a journal and write out this problem in detail, explaining what it is, when it shows up, what causes it, and why you should stop it. I would also suggest doing some biblical research and finding a few Bible verses to support your decision and writing them down to memorize in the future.

At this point, you should also be confessing to those who have been effected by this problem, especially God. He’s the one our sin is truly against, and we must own up to it. Remember, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9 NASB).

Step Two | Create a Thought Journal

You will want to create a thought journal in which you track when the problem shows up. Here is a list of things you could include in your thought journal:

  • The temptation/sin/emotional issue
  • The circumstance:
    • What happened?
    • Who was involved? What did they do and/or say?
    • How did you respond? (To the people and/or situation)
  • The unbiblical thought & response
    • What did you want in that situation?
    • What did you get that you didn’t want in that situation?
    • What were your sinful thoughts in this situation?
    • What was sinful about how you responded? (provide Scripture)
  • The biblical thought & reaction: (provide Scripture for each answer)
    • How could you have reacted biblically?
    • How could you have changed your thinking to be biblical?

Answering questions like these will help you to see if there are any common denominators in your problem and help you root out the true root sin. For example, you may realize that your anxiety comes up whenever there’s a financial issue, which then leads you to realize that you love money too much. Knowing that, you can now better attack the sin; rather than managing your anxiety symptoms, you can work on loving money less.

If you would like a journal for your specific issue, you can find a few like that here.

I suggest keeping this journal during the entire process so you can see how you are improving on the issue as you go.

Step Three | Develop a Plan of Action

Now that we have a sin to attack and are learning what the root cause may be, we need to determine a biblical plan of action.

Start with choosing a few Bible verses to memorize. People sometimes undervalue the power of memorizing Scripture, but it is a great tool for overcoming sin. The Psalmist knew this: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11 NASB).

Important Side Note: Please make sure you don’t take a random verse and rip it out of context. Instead, study the passage and make sure it means what you have interpreted it to mean. This will also be helpful in both your memorization and conquering your issue.

Along with the Bible verses, find some biblical material to read on the subject. When I was working at my anxiety, I read Trusting God by Jerry Bridges, which taught me why I did not need to fear but instead trust God wholly. I suggest looking for resources on ACBC’s approved reading list.

Through doing those steps, you should be able to create a put off (sins to stop) and put on (righteous actions to start) list. If you were struggling with anger, your list may look like this:

Put Off:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Impatience
  • Listening to angry music
  • Hitting things
  • Unkind words

Put On:

  • Kindness & patience
  • Trusting God with how people react
  • Praying in moments of anger

Finally, find at least two or three accountability partners to keep you on track. This doesn’t mean confessing to two people who will never bring this up again. Find people who will be intentional and love you enough to ask, “Did you sin today? Did you remember to put on patience?” Find people who will remember you in prayer and are mature in their faith to provide biblical guidance.

Step Four | Rely On God

At this point you’re probably feeling one of two things:

  1. Easy enough! I’ll be on my way to overcoming this sin on my own in no time.
  2. It’s too much! I’ll never be able to do all this on my own.

Neither of these feelings are biblical or helpful to the self-counseling process. Consider Paul’s words to the Philippians: “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (2:12-13 NASB).

To the person who thinks this is easy and will be finished before the end of the week, remember that you are a depraved sinner incapable of change on your own. You are utterly dependent on God in this. That means it’s in His timing and His power. So put off your pride and conquer your sin with reverent “fear and trembling” knowing that it is “God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

To the discouraged person, you are right that you cannot do it on your own! Congrats on humbly recognizing your own inability. Now, find courage and confidence, because you have the Holy Spirit working in you. Consider 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Find your boast in your weakness, realizing that your ability to conquer sin is found in the power of God.

Lara d’Entremont is a child of God, a wife, and Biblical Counselor in training. Having been made new by God and completely transformed by Him, her desire is to point others back to that same gracious Saviour. Find more of Lara’s writing at her blog, Renewed in Truth.