Mark was actually preaching that Sunday, and he said some profound things that I've been thinking about all week. At one point, he was talking about Hebrews 4:12, which says, "For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." And he had this to say about that passage: "Far too often we try to dissect the Word of God instead of allowing it to dissect us. We try to get through the reading of the Word instead of allowing it to get through us." That really hit me, and I've been pondering on it ever since. We try to dissect the Word of God instead of allowing it to dissect us.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with studying the Word, analyzing it deeply, considering it from every angle that we can. But when we are more focused on tearing apart every little nuance of the Word, even arguing and nitpicking about minor disagreements on Scripture, than we are on allowing the Word to penetrate us and expose us for who we really are--then there can be a problem. The Word is powerful enough to expose our deepest motivations and conditions of the heart, and we have to be willing to allow that exposure to happen. We are all in need of that point of conviction that drives us toward repentance and the grace found in Christ alone.
And on another note . . . as I promised, here are some pictures from our adventures in the nation's capital: