Forty Days of Testing

Mark 1:12

The Sun whar in the wilderness fer forty days of testing.

Immediately the Spirit brought (sent) Him out into the wilderness. (Mark 1:12)

Forty days be long spell ter go without food and water. Forty days be long spell ter go without spying another feller or lass who ‘ill offer a kind word or bite ter eat. After forty days a feller might think that Skipper done give up on him.

But Skip ne’er gives up on us.

Ter be sure, we kin give up Skip. We kin harden our hearts ter the place whar we no longer hear his voice or feel his touch. But always Skip be calling ter us—even ter the very end of our days.

Forty Days of Testing

Forty days of testing be a regular thing with Skipper.

Back long ago, when folks seen that Moses whar taking a long time coming down from the mountain, they said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

After they fashioned themselves a whole passel of little gods, they rose early next day and sacrificed burnt offerings ter thar tiny gods. Afterward they sat down ter eat and drink and ter indulge in revelry—which be a fancy way of saying they took drunk and commenced ter ‘aving thar way with one ah nudder in a fashion a body ought not.

That be when Skipper said ter Moses, “You best go down because your people have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them.” (Exodus 32:1-8)

How Long Will You Wait On Skipper?

How long will you wait on Skip befer yer time of testing proves too much?

Four days?

Forty days?

Fer a season and no more?

Our Times of Testing Lead ter Blessings

Our times of testing can lead to cleansing, new vision, purging, deliverance, transition and renewal.

  • Skipper caused it ter rain forty days and forty nights when he washed wickedness from the face of the earth. (Genesis 7:12).
  • The twelve spies examined the Promised Land fer forty days before returning with a report. (Numbers 13:25).
  • Goliath taunted Saul’s army fer forty days befer David stepped forwards ter slay that big giant. (1 Samuel 17:16).
  • Elijah fled from Jezebel, traveling forty days and forty nights befer the Lord delivered him ter Mount Horeb.  (1 Kings 19:8).
  • After the Sun rose from the grave, he stuck around forty days befer going up inter heaven. (Acts 1:3).

In ever case, those who trusted in the Lord received blessings but first they endured forty days of testing.

If you be in a desert wilderness, examine yer circumstances ter see what Skip be trying ter alter. Doth you need ter be made pure, catch a new vision, purge doubters and doubts from yer midst, be set free of a giant, be delivered from an enemy, transition inter a new role?

Skipper ne’er waste a day on ya. If you be in time of testing, thar be a reason.

Look up, look about, and ask Skip ter show you how come you be out in the wild. Then wait upon the Lord fer the answer.

Parroting the Prayers of Skip’s CrewParroting the Prayers of Skip’s Crew

Lord, you be good ter those who hope in you—ter those who seek you. Give me yer strength ter wait quietly fer yer salvation and deliverance. (Lamentations 3:25-26)

Pirate Facts

“Avast! Avast ye!” be Dutch speak fer “pay attention, mates!” In times of testing, avast ye!

Forty Days of Testing

Why Be Baptized?

Start From Whatever Hood You Come From

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.Mark 1:9 (Mark 1:9-13)

Skipper’s Sun grew up in a region always on edge. Centuries of conflict between one sect and ah nudder, between different beliefs, diverse backgrounds and races and loyalties left folks distrustful of one ah nudder. Bandits roamed about. Zealots terrorized folks. Rome ruled, but due ter its distance from seats of power, much of Galilee remained under the control of whatever local militia might ‘ave the most power. Bribes be expected and beatings the punishment fer them who refused. This be the neighborhood the Sun come from.

So it whar a fair question fer Nathanael ter ask, “Can any good thing come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46). It be like asking if anything good kin come from the slums of Bristol.

‘Bout that same time, at age thirty, the son of a carpenter set out from Nazareth with no influence, no followers, and no formal rabbinic teaching. Also, ’em who grew up with him held no expectations that he would amount ter anything.

Only a few know him ter be Skipper’s Sun, fathered as it whar by the Holy Spirit, and most dared not speak of it.

Down ter the Jordan River the Sun walked. Thar he found his cousin, John the Baptizer, calling folks ter repent, and be washed clean of thar sins. Now the Sun didn’ ‘ave ah thing ter be washed clean of. He ne’re committed an infraction. But other folks didn’t’ know this. They seen him as jest another chap clamoring ter fall in step with John the Baptizer.

In order ter set things right from the start, the Sun waded in ter the Jordan ter show that being washed clean of our filthy living be the first step towards turning ter Skipper and following him, his commands, and his character.

Why Be Baptized?

Ter day ah good many folks ‘ill make all manner and excuses fer why they don’ need ter be baptized. Folks bathe. Folks shower. Folks frolic in ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, and sea. But they won’ take a dip fer Skip.

Some claim they had water sprinkled on thar head when they was a tiny tot. Only as a tot we kin not recall such an event. The tiny brain of a tot be not large enough ter hold such memories.

Others claim they whar baptized as a youth, but kin not recall how and whar.

Even more claim being baptized be an out-dated way of showing you be a follower of the Sun. That such a public showing be of no real benefit ter thar faith.

Only think on this a wee little bit. Doctor Luke writes:

Because they had been baptized by John, all the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right.

But because they had not been baptized by John, the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves. (Luke 7:29-30)

Why Was Jesus Baptized?

The Sun knows Skipper’s ways be right, just, and lead ter life. Though it be a mysterious matter, when we be baptized by water, our spirit aligns with Skipper’s Holy Spirit and in doing so we also align with Skip’s ways.

If the Sun, Skipper’s only boy, the one fathered by the Holy Spirit thought it worth his time ter take a dip, could it not be a thing we ought ter do as well? The Sun humbled himself like the common folks gathered on the banks of Jordan. Doth we think ourselves more high and mighty than the Sun?

What Benefits are there from Baptism?

The Sun seen the heavens opening. Now that be an odd thing ter see in it self, but right after the heaven’s split, Skipper’s Holy Spirit of Truth descended upon Son in the way a dove might come ter alight on a branch.

A voice came from the heavens: “You are My beloved Son. In You I am well pleased.”

Would you like ter see inter heaven? Catch a glimpse of the heavenly realm? ‘Ave Skipper’s Holy Spirit of Truth come upon you in such a clear and obvious manner that thar ne’er be any doubt you ‘ave been washed clean of yer sins? Would you like ter receive Skipper’s purpose fer yer life and know his ways?

Would you like ter hear Skipper say ’bout ya, “You are My beloved one. In You I am well pleased.”

Repent and Be Baptized

‘Ave you done the first things first? Or did you head off on yer walk with the Sun without taking the steps he took at the start?

We be called ter follow the Sun, not get ahead of him. If you wish ter walk with the Sun start at the start with repentance and baptism in water and Spirit. Start now from whatever hood you come from. And should ah feller or lass ever say, “you ‘ill ne’er amount ter anything. Yer jest a nobody.” don’ you believe it fer a second. Once you be in the family of Skipper you be his beloved one and always under his care and protection.

Be baptized in ter the Sun and you ‘ill become Skipper’s child. If you ne’re do anything else, that right thar be a right fair accomplishment. Take a dip fer Skip. Then sail on, brothers and sisters and tell others ’bout the Sun and Skipper.

Parroting the Prayers of Skip’s CrewParroting the Prayers of Skip’s Crew

Lord, my Skipper, teach me ter walk in the authority of yer Sun. (Psalm 8:1)

Pirate Fact

“Keelhauling” be a form of punishment whar by a length of rope would be tied ’round and under the ship’s hull. The law breaker of the ship’s rules then be tied ter the rope and tossed in ter the sea. Back and forth, up and down the feller goes ’till he be drowned dead or cut ter shreds by barnacles. Even pirates know thar be punishment fer breaking the captain’s code of conduct and yet a good many think nothing of breaking Skippers Code of Conduct.

Our baptism be a symbolic way of acknowledging we deserved ter be keelhauled fer our offenses—killed fer breaking Skippers Code of Conduct. The Good News is, once we be baptized (keelhauled), we ne’er need fear the sting of death, fer in the Sun we ‘ave life and ‘ave it ter the full.

Why Be Baptized?you

Beginning of the Good News

Mark 1:5 (Mark 1:1-8)

Begin with the Good News That Skipper Loves FolksThe beginning of the good news commences at the start of all things—the words of Skipper. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) Because Skip’s words go out and bring life we find at the beginning of John Mark’s tale that all folks whar flocking ter a strange prophet declaring the good news.

All the country of Judea was going out to John the Baptist, and all the people of Jerusalem. (Mark 1:5)

John Mark appears ter ‘ave spent a goodly amount of time listening ter the preaching of Simon Peter and making notes. Fer a time John Mark ministered with Saul Paul and Barnabas, but then the lad got a bad case of homesickness and jumped ship.

Though at first Saul Paul refused ter take John Mark back, at the end of his life Saul Paul pleads with Timothy ter come quickly and bring Saul Paul’s cloak, parchments (perhaps so Saul Paul could pen more letters), and scrolls (so as ter read more of Skipper’s words) and John Mark, fer he whar helpful in Paul’s ministry.

It might be said of John Mark that he learned under a pair of Skip’s greatest Good Spiel messengers—Old Pete and Saul Paul.

When we read John Mark’s words it be as if through the Holy Spirit of Truth we be transported back ter the first century and enjoy a front row seat of the Sun’s travels, actions, and words.

The Beginning of the Good News

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)

After reading short passages of John Mark’s tale, close yer eyes. Feel the dust on the tops of yer feet, the caked mud ‘tween yer toes. Taste the salt of sweat in yer mouth whilst the sun bakes down on you. Hear the murmuring of others whilst the Sun’s words echo off buildings. Inhale the odor of sheep and cattle being led ter stalls near the perimeter of Jerusalem.

How Will We Respond to this Good News?

If this whar yer first time hearing, how would you respond ter the Sun’s words? This be our challenge: ter hear afresh these loving and hope-filled words of Skipper spoken about his boy.

The Message of John the Baptizer

John the Baptizer appeared preaching a baptism of repentance fer the forgiveness of sins. As folks whar confessing their sins, they whar baptized. While all of ’em in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem whar traipsing out ter hear John, he let ’em know though baptized with water, but the one coming after him would baptize with the Holy Spirit of Truth. The prophet Malachi had promised:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.” (Malachi 3:1)

The prophet Isaiah called folks ter cut a straight path fer the Lord ter come.

“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” (Isaiah 40:3)

Our Response ter This Good News

This be our challenge from John: that we be washed clean in waters of baptism as ah testimony of our filthy spirit—that we repent, and prepare to meet the one Skipper ‘ill send ter take away all our sins.

John preached of how all the wrong we done kin be cleared off Skipper’s ledger when we come in ter the Sun. No matter how bad ah thing you think you done, the Sun kin wash away all filth if only we ‘ill come ter him, confess, and be saved by his nail-scarred hand.

Repentance be our deliberate act of turning away from sin and turning towards Skipper’s righteousness.  Skipper always grants fergiveness when thar be true repentance.

Fact be, the Sun fergave all who came ter him, even ’em who didn’ ask fer fergiveness. Like the free food he served up ter ’em who whar hungry, the Sun doled out fergiveness ter all. Fergiveness be not conditional upon our response. Fergiveness simply be the character of Skipper and his Sun. But livin’ as one fergiven and free from sin flows from a life marked by repentancebaptismand being led by the Holy Spirit of Truth.

This be the theme and message of this tale from John Mark: that we receive the love, grace, mercy and fergiveness of Skipper and his Sun in order that we be counted as one of thar crew.

What says you? Will you cast yer lot with the Sun and sail ter paradise aboard Skip’s good ship of fellership?

Parroting the Prayers of Skip’s CrewParroting the Prayers of Skip’s Crew

Lord, look with favor on me ’cause of yer loving-kindness. ‘Cause of yer great love take away my wrong-doing. Wash me clean of my sins. (Psalm 51:1-2)

Pirate Facts

Although technically not ah rank, Swab be ah sailor who mops the decks using the swab is called ah “swabbie.” The term has come to describe someone who is not held in high regard by the commanders and crew. Many of ’em who came ter hear John the Baptizer whar of the sort held in low regard by religious folk. Praise be Skip looks at our heart, not up our outward appearances.

The beginning of the good newsyou