Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Luke 5 Friendship


 
Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Luke 5:18-20

What friends this man had! Although their names are not mentioned, the men referenced in this passage of scripture are an example of what true, Christian friendship should look like. I have listed just a few reasons why I believe they should be an example to us all.

1.        The friends carried the man because he couldn’t make it on his own. Take a look around your world. Sin is rampant in our culture and we all know people within our own realm so beaten down or bound by sinful choices that they may be unable to move towards Jesus. In essence, they are paralyzed by sin as surely as this man was paralyzed physically. For whatever reason, God has allowed us as believers to be used as part of His work. It is our responsibility to pick up and carry those towards the only one who can heal them.

2.       The friends worked as a team. They gathered together, agreed upon what it was he needed for healing, and bore the burden together. Imagine if one friend had tried to carry this man on his own. The physical strength necessary would have been much greater, perhaps resulting in him being more likely to give up when he ran into the obstacle of the crowd. Teamwork provided not only additional physical strength, but also more ideas of how to face the obstacles. The verse doesn’t tell us which of the men came up with the idea of lowering the paralytic through the roof.

3.       The friends didn’t give in when things became difficult. They faced several obstacles in getting this man to Jesus, but they didn’t give up! The text says they could not find a way to lay the man at the feet of Jesus because of the crowd, indicating that they tried and were stopped by the crowd. They could have given up right then, but they didn’t. They searched for another way to reach Jesus. How quick are we to give up when someone does not seem to respond to us despite the fact that we know they need Jesus?  

4.        They made a way. These friends were outside the box thinkers! They could not reach Jesus because of the crowd but they were determined and persistent. They carried the man to the roof and lowered him down on his mat through the tiles. They took drastic measures to make certain this man reached Jesus.

5.        Where did they take him? They didn’t offer him advice of the world. They didn’t try to heal him with the latest fad going around the nation. They knew what he needed—Jesus—and nothing else would do. They didn’t care who scoffed at them or told them to get lost. Their determination to get him to Jesus was proof enough of their knowledge that nothing and no one else could heal him. Even Jesus saw and noticed their faith.

But what does this type of friendship look like in our world today? How do we carry people to Jesus? As believers, we all know Jesus is the great healer, not only physically but spiritually. This week, I challenge you to ask God to open your eyes to the needs of those around you. Ask him to show you the paralyzed needing your help, as well as the faith and determination to carry them to Christ.  

Blessings!
Virginia

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Partial Obedience is Disobedience




I can do this, I thought. Walking around the church building three times seemed like a good workout. Plus, I was being obedient to God’s direction. So I walked and I prayed. Once around the building…twice around the building…three times around the building, praying for each thing mentioned in prayer guide.

As I approached the end of the third lap, I was seriously huffing and puffing. My legs burned from the unfamiliar rigorous exercise, but I felt good. I’d done it! Pride and a sense of accomplishment welled up inside me. Yes, this was a good idea, I thought. God had known just what I needed as He always did.

Then I closed the guide and saw something on the back page that made me shudder…directions for what to pray on the fourth and fifth times around the building.

Five times around the church building! Are you kidding me?

 Suddenly deflated, I limped towards my car. I was already breathing heavy from three times around. No way could I make it five laps. I got into my car and started the engine, fully intent upon leaving. At least I’d done three. That was more than I’d ever done. Surely God would be cool with that. He knew I was out of shape. He knew I couldn’t handle more. He’d understand why I couldn’t complete this task.

Partial obedience is disobedience.

Those words from this week’s Bible study spoke to my spirit. What if Joshua had given up the march around the city after the third lap? What if Moses had given up after speaking to Pharoah once? What if Jesus had gotten to the last supper and declared he’d done enough already in his thirty-three years and wasn’t going to the cross? None of them had given up on the task God had given them.

Didn’t I care about praying for the staff and church leaders? Didn’t I care about praying for missions? But I can do that from my car, my flesh protested. Sit in the car and pray. Driving and praying. Why didn’t we have a ministry for that? Yet those words continued to speak to my spirit—partial obedience is disobedience. Partial obedience is disobedience. I couldn’t deny God had given me this task and to do less than all five laps was only partial obedience to His instructions.

I had to do the other two laps around the church.

Fighting my fleshly laziness and out-of-shape-ness, I got out of the car, reminded God that I would need His strength to do this, then began laps four and five of my prayer walk.

In case you’re wondering, I lived to tell this tale. God gave me the renewed strength and endurance I needed to do what He’d instructed me to do. And I have to admit, I did feel better after completing my task. Getting up early, getting in some exercise and prayer time, that was just what my lazy self had needed today, and God knew that, just as He always knows what is best for me. When I spotted my car this time, I was tired and sweating, but I felt amazing. I was actually smiling.

Even so…I checked that prayer guide one last time, hoping against hope that I hadn’t somehow overlooked another page that instructed me on lap six. And I was thankful there wasn’t.

Partial obedience is disobedience.  

Thank you, Lord, for that reminder today. 





Sunday, October 9, 2011

Vampires, Doctor Who and Eve

When my oldest son was a child, I made the mistake of letting him watch one of my all-time favorite movies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry battling vampires…what could be so wrong with that? He was so frightened he started sleeping with a blanket wrapped around his neck.

With son number two, I tried to be smarter. When he wanted to see his first scary movie, I decided to let him only on the condition that he covered his head with a blanket during the scary parts. He was under that blanket so long that he finally fell asleep and missed the entire movie. 

Yes, I made some dumb young-mother mistakes. But at some point in their lives, both my boys reached an age where we collectively decided they were old enough to watch such movies without worries. After all, if it didn’t frighten them then it must be okay, right?

Wrong again.

As good parents, we try to monitor what our children see. We want to protect their little minds from the violence and sex and inappropriate behaviors that permeate our culture. Yet at some point in our own lives we too made the decision that we were old enough to see and handle such things. Censoring ourselves seemed unnecessary and childish. But lately God has been convicting me about the images and influence I allow into my life, and as I studied Eve, one of the things that jumped out at me was that her fall into sin began with what she saw.

Genesis 3:6 says “when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” She saw the fruit. Seeing led to desiring and desiring led to sinning.

One of my favorite shows now is Doctor Who. I enjoy watching the Doctor and his companions travel through time and space finding trouble and adventures, and while I can’t see any overtly inappropriate things wrong with the show, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have an effect on me. At first, I wasn’t even aware of it, but when I found myself overusing the word “proper”—which they use on the show surprisingly often—I could no longer deny it. I had been influenced by this show without even realizing it. And if a fairly tame production like Doctor Who can have such an influence over me then how can I ever rationalize that other, more graphic shows with all their sex, violence and language have none?

So I challenge you this week to meditate on what you see. Do the shows you watch sway you towards sin of any kind? Envy? Lust? Discontent? Do you shun the culture or do you embrace it? Or do you leave the door cracked just enough to let the world seep in all in the name of entertainment? Guarding what we see and hear should not end when we reach a certain age. It should never end. Because we live in a world and culture that strives to pull us away from God, we must constantly be on alert and aware of the influences we allow into our lives. Guard what you see. To do otherwise is opening the door for the pull of the culture to drag us away from the Lord.  

Serving Him,
Ginger

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

And The Walls Came Crumbling Down

I recently reached the six year mark at my current job. It’s significant because this is the place God provided for me when he pulled me away from a lucrative position with the state in order to focus on my writing. Now I work at a job where I make less money, have a degree I don’t use, and from a worldly perspective have made little notable progress in my writing endeavor. I confess it’s hard to see God at work sometimes when I look at those facts.

How appropriate then that God has led me this week to the book of Joshua and the story about the fall of Jericho. In it, God commanded Joshua to march once around the city with armed men for six days. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times, then blow the trumpets and give a loud shout. If they followed these instructions, God promised the walls of Jericho would collapse. But what if Joshua hadn’t continued to the seventh day? What if he’d given up after the sixth day? Or the sixth circle around the city? If he hadn’t followed God to the very end, he would not have seen the victory.

So as I was preparing this morning to leave for my annual writing conference, some things occurred to me. It’s no coincidence God led me to this passage this week. I hadn’t been studying Joshua—I’ve been focusing my studies lately on women of the bible—but this six thing has gotten my attention because I do feel as if I’ve been circling for the past six years, waiting and searching for a crack in the defense of the publishing world, a way to break through the wall that at times seems so large and impenetrable. But I know God’s plan for me. He wants me on the other side of that wall. So armed with scripture and prayer, I’ve been quietly marching towards that goal. Now I’m into my seventh year. Is it time to blow the trumpets and shout to the Lord? Is this the year I’ll finally see the walls crumble?

I hope so.

“When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when these people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged in, and they took the city.” Joshua 6:20

Blessings,
Ginger

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It all started with a choice.


As Eve stood in the garden eying the fruit from the forbidden tree, do you think she had any idea how far-reaching the consequences of her choice would be? That her disobedience would separate her from God? Or how difficult life would be for her and her husband? Did she realize her children would know sorrow and pain and death? It’s doubtful such thoughts crossed her mind. Who would make such a choice knowing the outcome would be so severe? But the more I study Eve, the more I realize we are the same. Although I will never be the first to plunge humanity into sin, each day I awake to choices and decisions that must be made, and I face the same choice she faced—obey or disobey.

We all live with the results of bad choices—debt, excess weight, strained relationships—but every choice we make has an outcome, good or bad. Becoming a woman on consequence means striving to make decisions that result in consequences that benefit instead of harm, that cause us to move forward instead of being chained to the past. But how can we make this happen when often we’re not even aware of why we do what we do? As with all things, the bible provides the answer. God has given us a wonderful source of lessons from women who’ve made decisions, some good and some bad, that have affected generaations. By studying them and understanding the logic, emotions and outcomes of the choices they made, we can become more aware of our own decisions and the reasons behind them. And, hopefully, the more aware we become, the better choices we will make.

So join me on this journey as we delve into the lives of women of the bible and through their lessons, hopefully become women of consequence.

Blessings,
Ginger

Because you can’t move forward when you’re chained to the past.