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Lazarus Story

‭‭John‬ ‭12:9-11‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.”

It is always good to be in the house of the Lord. Yesterday was no exception. 

Lazarus. He was the dead man that Jesus brought back to life. He was the brother of Mary and Martha, the infamous sisters with two different viewpoints. Yet, he was one that loved Jesus and Jesus loved him. In fact, when he was dead, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). 

Lazarus had a story. He had a story of friendship. He had a story of love. He had a story of learning from Jesus. He had a story that made other people perk up and take notice. They wanted to come and see this man that had once been dead and in the grave, yet now here he was, sitting at a table eating with Jesus. How could this be?

As followers of Christ, we all have a Lazarus story. We all have a story of walking in darkness and then walking in the Light. The people we are around might know that we are followers of Christ, but do they know how we got there? Do they know why we stay there?

This was the question posed to me during the message last night at church. It really struck a chord with me. People know that I go to church and read my Bible and try to live like the Lord wants me to live. I don’t curse. I don’t drink. I try to treat people with respect even when I disagree with them. But do I make an effort to tell them my Lazarus story?

Just so it is out there, here it is –

I was just a girl, maybe 9 or 10, when I heard Jesus whispering to my heart. I had been to church my whole life. I knew the stories. I had heard the sermons. I knew Jesus. But I had never invited Him to be the Lord of my life and Savior of my soul. My uncle was a pastor. One night, my mom, brother, grandma and I were visiting him and the family. It was a Wednesday night. I don’t remember the message at all. I just remember that I couldn’t sit still and something wasn’t right. I remember going back to my aunt and uncle’s house and going into the bathroom with my mom and telling her, “Momma, I think Jesus is speaking to my heart.” She said, “Let’s go find your uncle.” And we did. And he took me down the road to salvation. I prayed and asked Jesus into my heart that night. I remember that feeling in my heart so very well. I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I remember how excited I was and how excited everyone around me was. It was a good night. And every since that day, I try my hardest to treasure that feeling of being completely and totally loved no matter what circumstance I find myself in that day. Looking back on my life, I can truly and honestly say that making that decision that night was the best thing I have ever done. I have never been alone since. I have had struggles and challenges and trials, joy and laughter and friendships, tears and questions and ponderings – but never have I doubted God’s love for me and His acceptance of my repentance. 

I didn’t live a life of deep, dark sin before I was saved. My Lazarus story happened pretty early in life. But my Lazarus story is one of life long love and faithfulness. Mine is a story of walking. Jesus and I have been walking together for well over 30 years. He has been working on me for that long. He has a lot to do. Have you ever heard that song “He’s still working on me”? Well, that pretty much sums up my life. 

You see, each Lazarus story is different. Each one has a different starting point and a unique set of circumstances that led that person to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And every person who has made that decision has a different path that has brought him/her this far. Yet, despite the differences, we are all headed to the same place – a eternity with Jesus. 

The purpose and goal of telling our Lazarus story should be to bring along as many people as we can. Ours is a story of redemption and love and relationship that provides others with the opportunity to experience the same thing, no matter their backstory. 

So I want to encourage you this week to share your Lazarus story. People may know that you are a follower of Christ and that you are not like everyone else around them. But do they know how you got there and why you stay there? Tell them! Listen, this is just as much for me as it is for you. 

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Lessons from Sunday morning

Psalms‬ ‭46:1-11‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”‭‭

This was our passage for the Sunday morning message. The preacher titled the message “Think About It”. Let me give you what I took away from the message.

The first thing I saw was the three “Selah”. Now then, what does that word mean? It means “to rest, ponder”. However, you can make an acronym out of it: S – Stop, E – Everyone, L – Listen, A – And, H – Hear. “Stop Everyone. Listen And Hear.” 

How often do we hear but not listen? I know I do it from time to time. I will hear someone speaking to me, but I am doing something else at the time and I don’t listen to them. How often do we read the Word of God and not listen to it? Ohhhh….that one hurt. I am the first in line to admit to reading dutifully but not listening dutifully. It is sad, really. I miss so much in the Word of God by simply not paying attention. I need to stop, listen and hear. 

Another thing I found in these verses is the reoccurant theme of “refuge”. 

Have you ever needed refuge? There was one time that we were at a theme park and it began to rain. No, the heavens opened up and we were caught in the midst of a deluge. We were seeking refuge from the storm. We found it under a bridge. It was kinda fun but also very humbling. We got to the point that we knew that we couldn’t handle the situation and we needed some protection.

We are bombarded out in the world with all kinds of yuck. We see it in the news, hear it on the radio, see it on the streets – yuck is everywhere. We need some place to get away, to escape. We need somewhere where the problems and issues of the world are taken away and dealt with. 

We need Jesus. He is our refuge. He is our strength. He is our strong tower. And when we decide to go to Him, He tells us to “be still”. Not my strong point. I’m always busy. Always doing something. Rarely do I give myself the opportunity to be still. But this is exactly where God wants us to be. We need to allow ourself to be still sometimes. 

Being still means that we make the choice to let Someone else handle things. We give over our perceived control to the One who is truly in control. And when we do this, we can find peace – that elusive peace we all desire. But it really isn’t elusive. It just requires us to return whatever control we thought we had to it’s original owner. It is attainable. 

Stop. Listen and hear. Seek refuge in Christ. 

Psalm 46 is one of encouragement. It is one that reminds us that stopping the chaos around us to listen to the Word of God provides more than just information. It provides peace. And if there is anything this world needs more of, it is the peace of God. 

Back Handsprings

1 Samuel 16:1-4 – “And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD. And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee. And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem.”

My daughter is trying to learn to do a standing back handspring. She almost has it, but she just needs to have the confidence in herself to get the task done. Yesterday, I took her to a private lesson to help her overcome. The coach was great. He encouraged her. He instructed her. He led her through a series of exercises to warm up. Yet at the end of the session, she still didn’t have the confidence to do the back handspring. It is hard seeing your child face these challenges. But I know, this is more than just learning to do a back handspring. This is about life. This is about believing in yourself. This is about trusting what you know. 

Samuel was faced with a difficult task. God had told him to go and anoint another king while one was still on the throne. Now then, put yourself in Samuel’s sandals for just a moment. Samuel was watching the one that God had chosen to be the first king in Israel fail. Saul was walking away from God and His statutes at an alarming rate. Samuel was sad. He was hurt. God said to Samuel, “Enough with the mourning. Get yourself up and go anoint the new king.” And Samuel responded just like I would, “But God, Saul could kill me for this!” Yet, does God coddle Samuel and act like the warm, squishy God that society today makes him out to be? Nope. God offers no words of encouragement, no sentiments of comfort – God says, “Take your heifer and go do what I told you to do.” Now, to us, that may seem harsh and unkind. But you know what, sometimes we have to face reality and get out of our pity party and do what God has called us to do. 

God didn’t need to tell Samuel that He would protect him. God didn’t need to tell Samuel that everything would be okay. No, Samuel already knew that. Samuel had experiences in his life to remind him that God was already at the end of the situation. Samuel had the knowledge that God had already seen this thing through and knew how it would turn out. All Samuel had to do was follow it through, do what he knew to do. 

My daughter knows how to do a back handspring. She has been spotted while completing a beautiful back handspring so many times that I have lost count. She has the knowledge. She has the experience. Now all she has to do is follow through and do what she knows to do. 

I know that very soon she will stand up and flip right over safely and beautifully. But until then, I just have to support and encourage her. That is my job. That is my part. It is my turn to be the cheerleader for my cheerleader. 

This week, you may or may not face something of extreme difficulty in your life, but you might know someone who is. Either way, remember, use your experiences to apply what you know. Trust that God knows what He is doing. Don’t be afraid to face the new and difficult challenges. Sometimes you just have to pull up your pants and get the job done. 

Contentment

Philippians 4:11 -“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Last night while driving to soccer practice, I witnessed a man driving a minivan like a sports car on a raceway. Thankfully, I don’t think there was anyone else in the car but him. However, it reminded me of this – be content.

Contentment is something unfamiliar to us in our society of want. Ask anyone, I’m sure they have a want list. I know I do. We look around us and see things that we want or think that we need. And we typically won’t be (temporarily) satisfied until we get it. 

Contentment is being satisfied with what is around you and being satisfied in the circumstances you find yourself in. Contentment is NOT laziness. Contentment is not always wanting more. Contentment is the absence of restlessness. 

So, if you are content, does that mean that you shouldn’t want to improve your life or make things better around you? I don’t believe so. But there is a difference in making your situation better and wanting things that other people have – that is coveting. For example, we have decided to do some work around the house to get rid of the weeds growing too close to our home. The neighbors all have bushes around their house to keep the weeds away. We thought about getting bushes but decided that with the sprinklers running so close to the house that installing bushes would be too much of a hassle. So we are going another direction. For me, this is an example of being content with changing the improvements. Coveting would be desiring those bushes around my house just so we can be like everyone else. Like I have said before, it is all about your attitude.

Contentment is hugely impacted by your attitude. That is why it is so important for Christ to have control of your attitude. Jesus keeps your thoughts and actions regulated so that you don’t feel the need to drive that minivan like a sports car. Jesus reminds you that it is okay that this person in front of you is driving just a bit slower than you want. That person will get out of the way in just a bit. Hold your horses. Jesus reminds you that you don’t really need those bushes around the house. You are allowed to be different. You don’t always have to fit into the mold the world has made. 

Contentment is being okay with being different. It is being okay with having a different viewpoint. It is allowing God to mellow you out to the point that people say, “Hmm, this person is different. What is it about them?” Contentment is an oddity in our world, and that is a good thing. 

So on this long weekend, be content. Don’t be lazy, be content. Be satisfied where God has placed you and what He has placed you with. Be different. Be weird, according to the world’s standard – but be God’s. Happy Friday.

Revisit :Make some noise, cheerleader

Tonight is the first football game of the year. A new school year has started. For those of us with children, it is an opportunity to begin again – a fresh slate toward the end of the calendar year. This is an opportunity to do things different and to live life louder. I hope you enjoy this revisit. Happy Friday.

Acts 18:9-10 – “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.”

I find comfort in knowing that Bible “greats”, such as Paul, got a little scared sometimes about spreading the Gospel. I don’t think that we truly appreciate the danger these guys would sometimes find themselves in. There are missionaries around the world that put their life on the line each and every day to tell someone about Jesus Christ. And I get nervous talking to someone at the gas pump. Not my best moment.

Yet, here we find Jesus speaking to Paul in a vision saying, “Be not afraid”. Paul was afraid. He was afraid of rejection. But this rejection from the ones he was telling could very well lead to the end of his life. My fear of rejection is just that – rejection. Chances are that no one is going to kill me because I tell them about Jesus at the grocery store. I don’t like to think that people are mad at me, even if I don’t know them. I like to be liked. But I don’t like to be afraid.

Moses wanted us to learn to number our days (Psalm 90:12). In that learning, we understand that we really don’t have that much time. And for someone like me who is a stickler for time management, I do a pretty crummy job when it comes to managing my spiritual time for the Lord and telling others about Him. I am the BIGGEST procrastinator EVER in regards to that! And I hate that. And it’s due mostly to fear. I need to “Be not afraid”.

I’m not a shy person. I can talk to pretty much anyone about anything when it comes to my work. For lands sake, I go in on a first meeting and ask that person about their ability to go to the bathroom by themself. And yet I can’t talk to someone about Jesus.

I have this Light inside of me that needs to be let out. I need to plug in and let it go!

My daughter is a cheerleader. It is her job at football games to encourage the crowd to encourage the team. She is the one down by the field shouting and waving and jumping around trying to get the crowd’s attention and the football players motivated to score a touchdown. She can’t do it for them, but she can encourage everyone else, and them, to make some noise and get the job done.

That’s what we need to do. That’s what God was telling Paul to do here. We need to make some noise. We can’t save the people. But we can encourage them to seek out the One who can. And we need to encourage the crowd. We need to reach out to those around us and encourage them to share with others. We need to make some noise. We have to get over being afraid.

Being a cheerleader requires a lack of fear. You can’t be afraid of what others think about your cheering. You can’t be afraid to complete some of the stunts they do to get everyone’s attention. You can’t be afraid to do the cheer wrong. You can’t be afraid to make some noise.

Now, I’m not saying we should all grab some pompoms and go down the nearest corner and cheer for Jesus. No, that might  be a bit weird, but we can apply the same principles to our life.

Don’t be afraid of what others may think. Chances are your life isn’t in danger. Don’t be afraid to do what God asks you to do. He will give you what you need. Don’t be afraid about doing it wrong. God’s word never returns void. Don’t be afraid to make some noise. God is ready to stir things up – He just needs us to be the spoon.

Extra Icing

John 10:27,28 – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

I had an amazing experience yesterday.

I was seeing a client and this client told me, out of the blue, that they thought their death was close. This client has multiple medical issues but seems to be functioning fairly well. I probed a bit and found out more information but nothing that would necessarily substantiate the fears that were expressed. 

Yet, I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my heart that I needed to confirm and/or present the plan of salvation to this person. And I did. It was amazing. I told my client very bluntly and candidly about what it takes to KNOW that death is not the end. And my client confirmed that they had the free gift of salvation in their heart. 

I’m a nobody. I love what I do. I love being in contact with people and helping them and walking through all sorts of situations and problems with them. But when I get the opportunity to speak to someone I have grown close to about Jesus and His free gift of salvation- well, that’s just extra icing on the cupcake. I don’t push it but I don’t hide it. And when God was speaking to my heart yesterday, for once, I listened. And it was beautiful!

So I want to encourage you to live it out. We never know how long we have or how long the person across from us has. Yesterday, I heard His voice and I followed and it was truly a blessing in my life. I encourage you to do the same. Happy Wednesday. 

Revisit – Good Monday Morning 

This was posted July 27, 2015. It made me chuckle because it is as true today as it was then. Enjoy. 

Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
Good Monday morning. 
I just returned home from visiting family this last week. We had a long drive yesterday and I really didn’t get much sleep while traveling. So, this morning I was stumbling around my kitchen trying to remember how to make coffee and put away a few things, when I dropped a can of root beer. It goes to spewing all over their floor. I tried to put my finger over the hole enough to get it to the sink. This worked somewhat but not enough to save me from having to spot mop the floor. 
Good Monday morning. 
What does this have to do with walking through the shadow of death you might ask? Perspective and attitude. Surprisingly, I handled the situation quite well. No harsh words uttered. No bad thoughts passing through my brain. Just “well, I have to clean this up.” Maybe it’s because I’m so tired that I can’t muster up the energy to get mad. Maybe though, God used this moment to remind me that it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is how I choose to respond to it. And I feel like I chose well. “Very good, young patawon!” (I told you I’m not quite all here this morning!)
Good Monday morning. 
Let me encourage you today to let it roll. Let perspective and attitude be what keeps you afloat today. Don’t let Satan drag you down with mishaps and upsets. Show him that God is on your side by choosing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear.