Summary: The Apostle Paul and John Mark has a major disagreement which resulted in estrangement. But later, Paul showed mercy on Mark and restored the rela1tionship, as he imitated Christ.

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My Name is Mark

Acts 15:36-41

Matthew 5:7

June 12, 2005

It was during the latter part of the summer of 1978. I was working as the Youth Director at North Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado. The youth group always took a summer rafting trip down the Colorado River. They had their own rafts and all the other equipment. They had been doing this for years and so no longer needed to hire a guide. There were enough men and women in the church who were skilled enough to take a bunch of teenagers down that river.

To be perfectly honest with you, I really messed up…big time. First of all, I am scared to death of wild rides. I don’t do roller coasters or any of the other amusement park rides that everybody else in the world likes. When our kids were younger, we took them every summer to Great America. One summer we took them to Disney World. I sat in the shade sipping coke while they did all the crazy rides.

So anyway, I was with the youth group from Denver after we crossed over the Continental Divide. We got off the interstate and traveled down a state highway far into western Colorado. Mile after mile, the road ran alongside the Colorado river. The snows had been fairly heavy the winter before and the river was running high and fast.

We finally got to the place to put the rafts in the water and I told the other adults that I wasn’t going to go. They needed someone to drive the van down to the end of the ride to pick them up. I said that I would drive the van. Looking back, I should have sucked it up and gone with them, but I was terrified of the river.

Later that night, we sat around the campfire and had devotions. After awhile, the kids drifted off to their tents. One of the adults brought out a case of beer and passed the bottles around to the other adults there.

In my youth, I did a lot of things that got me in trouble with my parents. Drinking was not one of them. But this particular night, I apparently thought that I had to be one of the gang of adults that was drinking. So I took a bottle. Took me forever to get it down. I honestly don’t remember, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I poured some of it out.

The next week back in Denver, Dr. Beach the senior pastor, asked me to come into his office. He said that he had heard reports that one of the adults on the trip had brought beer. Apparently some of the kids told their parents and the parents told the pastor. I told him “yes” the report was true. He then asked me if I drank any. At that moment, I wished for the life of me that I could have said “no.” More than anything in the world, I wanted to tell him that I did not drink any of it. But I had, and I told him so.

I think that he was more saddened than angry. He looked at me and said, “I am terribly disappointed in you.” He was also sorry that I had chosen not to experience the river with the youth. That would have been a bonding experience that would have been very important. For a couple of weeks, our relationship was pretty rocky. We didn’t speak much and when we did, his conversation was tinged with distrust.

Shortly after that, school began and I was faced with a major exam; an exam that I had to pass in order to graduate. I passed. When I got the letter of notification from the school registrar that I had successfully passed the exam, I took it to show to Dr. Beach. He read the letter and I watched this big smile come across his face. He put his arm around my shoulder and said, “I’m proud of you. Congratulations!” From that point on, our relationship was back to where it had been before I disappointed him that summer.

We’ve come down to the fifth sermon in our series on the beatitudes. Matthew 5:7 says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Exodus 34:6 says, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…”

Psalm 25:6 says, “Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.” The author of Psalm 51:1 cries out, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” The prophet Hosea announces God’s message when he says, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6).

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