Friday, March 25, 2016

Don't Race Ahead

What would it have been like for Jesus' disciples to through the Passover meal, His arrest and crucifixion?

We approach it knowing the end and I wonder if we sometimes miss some of what they must have felt. Some of their confusion and the pain and shock of it all. We miss it because we want to hurry past what's uncomfortable for us.

Looking back, it's easy to see how it all fits together. History allows us to see the whole picture. But, the disciples didn't have that advantage. They had prophecy of the coming Messiah, but they didn't understand how it was all going to work.

Some of Jesus' words would have been shocking to hear in those moments . . .
          . . . one of them would betray Him.
          . . . Peter would deny knowing Him three times.
Yes, we can see that these things did happen.

Some of Jesus' words would have been confusing . . .
          . . . breaking the bread and telling them to eat it because it was His body.
          . . . talking about His blood being poured out for many.
We see the symbolism in this and have Paul's explanations to help us understand.

And what of the pain and sorrow of seeing Jesus beaten and crucified. Their friend. Their teacher. The One for Whom they had given up everything to follow for the last three years.
                          Buried in a borrowed tomb.

But, I also wonder if their excitement at Jesus' resurrection wasn't somehow more because of it all. If their joy wasn't deeper because they experienced the depths of the sorrow and pain they did. If there was something important borne in them out of sitting in that in-between time.

Because we know the end of the story - we know what's coming - I wonder if we too easily race ahead to the resurrection. We want to get to the hope and the joy, so we hurry past Good Friday and the uncomfortableness of it all. But, in doing so, I think we miss out on the depths of the joy of the resurrection.

We call if Good Friday for a reason. Maybe we need to stop and being willing to sit where it's sometimes uncomfortable, because in the middle of that pain and sorrow God was doing the most amazing thing in all of history. And when we really stop to remember the cost, we celebrate the victory of the resurrection in a way we never could have otherwise.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Faith to Boldly Ask

Will you break the social rules to ask Jesus for healing?

Will you risk it all to ask Jesus for what you need most?

Mark 5:21-43 records the stories of two people who could say yes to those questions. It's what they did.

Usually I read this whole passage together, but today I want to focus on just the first eight verses. We'll look at the rest in the next post.

Mark 5:21-29 says:
When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around Him while He was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he sawJeus, he fell at His feet. He pleaded earnestly with Him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will live." So Jesus when with him.
A large crowd followed and pressed around Him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

I'm struck by the faith of both of these people. From completely opposite places in the Jewish social system. But, both had a faith that resulted in them taking bold action.

Jairus, a synagogue leader, came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his daughter. A member of the religious elite in Israel had a faith in Jesus that was stronger than what anyone else was saying about Jesus. Jairus believed Jesus could heal his daughter and he boldly asked Jesus to.

The woman who had been bleeding for twelve years and was a social outcast because of it, believed that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus' cloak she would be healed. She risked public shame and scorn to get to Jesus for healing.

The faith example of both of these people is challenging. They risked it all for their bold ask of Jesus. Their faith was enough to push past what anyone else might think of them, just to get to Jesus.

Are we like this in our faith?

Are we willing to risk our reputations to get to Jesus?

Are we allowing anything to hinder our running to Jesus with our own bold ask?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Root Need for Security

I was sitting in a Bible study recently when the teacher said something that really struck me. I've been thinking about it ever since. It was Beth Moore' study on the book of Proverbs, called "Wising Up."

In her session on "Wising up with Our Money," Beth made the statement that one reason we're driven to seeking more money is because of a root need for security, especially as women.

I've been thinking a lot about our need for security since then. Money is just one of the ways we try to satisfy this need in our lives, but the ways we try is not limited to that. We turn to many things in seeking that security . . . a relationship with someone, a better job, a better education, more power, more money, more stuff, and many other things.

The problem is that those things never really satisfy our need for security. They just pull us into an endless cycle of seeking the next thing to be secure, and when that fails, we go on to the next thing.

Deep down, we know that  these won't really satisfy that need. And when we're seeking security in these things we know we could loose in an instant, we'll never really feel secure.

I think I really resonated with Beth Moore's words in her study, because I know I've done that. I've sought security in having what I deemed to be enough money in the bank. I often called it just being smart with my money and I think it started out that way. But, I knew it had become something I was placing too much on when I was so focused on there always being more there that I couldn't even spend it on what I had put it there for in the first place because it would mean I had less.

God meant for us to satisfy our need for security in Him, because He will never fail us. When we place our trust in Him, He will completely fill that need for security in a way that nothing on earth ever will. And through it, we'll be free to really live the life we've been offered.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Never Too Far Gone

If you haven't noticed by now, I've been spending time in the Gospel of Mark lately. I have no idea how many posts will come from this, but right now this is what God is teaching me, And that's what I write about.

Mark 5:1-20 is an account of Jesus restoring a demon-possessed man. A man with a legion of impure spirits who control him. He lives among the tombs. And nothing can control him.

I've read this so many times it can become easy for it to just become normal. Except it was anything but normal to those who witnessed it.

First, the impure spirits in this man know who Jesus is and identify Him. Then, to free the man from them, Jesus sends these impure spirits into a herd of pigs who run off the hillside and drown in the lake. When news gets back to the town about this, they come and see the man Jesus had driven the spirits out of sitting before Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.

What would the disciples have thought while they witnessed all of this?

What would the town people have thought when they arrived and saw the change in the man? What about it made them afraid (Mark 5:15)?

The more I reflect on this, the more I realize just how powerful Jesus is. He can change any life, no matter how far gone we may think it is. It's never too far gone for Jesus.

I'm sure most people had written off this man. They saw him as too far gone. Deemed him to be someone no one could help.

But not Jesus. Jesus saw someone who needed help. Someone He could help. Someone He could free. And, most importantly, He had the power to do it.

Someone may be beyond our ability, as humans, to help, but they are never beyond God's. No person is ever too far gone for Jesus to rescue and free them.

Our job, when feel like someone is too far gone, is to pray for them. To bring them to Jesus, so He can do the work.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Calming the Storm

That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowds behind, they took Him along just as He was in the boat. There was also other boats with Him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to His disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him."
                                                                                                                 -Mark 4:35-41

I can find it hard to imagine what it would be like to be in the boat when Jesus calmed the storm. One minute you're in the middle of a violent storm and the next everything is completely calm. All because of Jesus' words. I get the disciples' reaction to it.

This isn't just a thing of the time when Jesus was on earth. His words still have the same power to calm the storm today. It's not always a physical storm, in terms of wind and waves and danger of drowning. The storm can be the circumstances around us, the emotions of a situation. All sorts of things can be the storms of our lives.

When we're listening for His voice, we hear Him speaking to the storm.

When we cry out to Jesus, as the disciples did, we can hear Jesus' voice speaking.

. . . Speaking peace when worry, anxiety, and fear over things we can't control is raging.

. . . Speaking truth when lies are dragging us down a dangerous path.

. . . Speaking encouragement when it feels like too much for us to keep on going.

. . . Speaking guidance when the path to take is obscured.

. . . Speaking courage when fear of the storm has pushed us into hiding.

Jesus continues to speak to the storms in our lives to calm them. Even if the storm continues to rage around us, His words can be the calm that keeps us persevering and clinging to Him.

What storm in your life do you need Jesus to speak to right now?

Will you take the time to listen for His voice speaking to it?