FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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In a Flash

Summer, one of my favorite seasons, is almost here!  Already it is hot enough to be summer; today the temperature climbed into the upper 80s, but that’s a good thing because I like to stretch summer out as long as possible.  When the hot days come early and linger well past the official end date on the calendar, I consider ALL those days SUMMER.  But even when I do that – milk out a few extra days or weeks, summer is still just too short.  Always, it seems, I am left wondering, “What happened?  Where did it go?  I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to!”  For example, last year, we never made it to the ocean.  Not even once.

This summer will be different, or so I have promised myself.  I am making plans – plans that include time at the ocean, time walking on the beach, time sailing, time fishing, time watching the dolphins, time eating freshly caught seafood and time hot air ballooning!  Yes, summer seems to come and go in a flash, but I have a plan to milk everything out of it that I can.

Life comes and goes in a flash, too!  Never thought I would say that.  Remember being a child and waiting for your birthday?  Or Christmas?  Or recess?  Or the last day of school?  Time drug.  Time crawled.  Time slept.  My mother used to tell me to just wait, though.  She said, “When you get older, time will fly.”  “Just get to be 30 years old,” she said, “and you will see the years coming in multiples of five, possibly ten.”  She was right.  You go to bed one night and you’re 29, but you wake up 40.  You roll over for another snooze, and you wake up 50.  After 50?  Well, I won’t depress you “young’uns,” and those of you who are over 50?  Well, you already know.

The funny thing, though, is that we make plans for summer, and for Christmas, and birthdays and even for recess – who we will play with, what games we will play, which boys we want to walk past, which girls we will talk to…   But are you making plans for the most important time?  Where you will spend eternity!  Are you planning to go to Heaven?  If you answer, “Yes,” what exactly is your plan?  If it isn’t relying on Christ alone, you need another plan.  Works, good looks and being nice aren’t enough.  John 6:44 (NIV) teaches that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day,”  and John 14:6 (NIV) makes it clear that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through” Him.

Even our best laid plans for the beach may go awry.  Life happens.  Things come up.  Plans have to change.  But we can have every confidence in God and the plan that He has laid for our salvation.  Instead of trusting our goodness and crossing our fingers and hoping we go to Heaven, we can trust Jesus and His goodness because He alone is God’s way of salvation.  When we place absolute faith and trust in Him, turn from our sinful way and follow Him, we know that we will live with Him in Heaven.  And not just for a summer.  Forever!

Now while some Christians would disagree, as I read and understand the Scriptures especially the teaching of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8, at death we immediately – in a flash – enter the presence of the Lord.  Paul led a life full of danger, and he knew that at any moment his life on earth could end. But he faced death with hope that we can share: “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord”  He further declared, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23).

One last thought.  Summer is always best when shared – with family, friends, special loves.  I’m thinking Heaven will be extra special when shared, so don’t just plan on going alone.  Plan for others to meet you there.

THIS WEEK share the Gospel (click the tab above to visit our Salvation page) with others – friends, family members, absolute strangers!  Let’s plan for a heavenly crowd!


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Defined by an Issue

“And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.

And Jesus said, “Who touched me?” When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, “Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, ‘Who touched me?’”

And Jesus said, “Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”

And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.

And he said unto her, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” Luke 8:43-48 (KJV)

I think no woman can even begin to imagine having “an issue of blood” for twelve years! Twelve months would be unbearable; twelve days alone is debilitating, but twelve years?! Try to imagine this woman’s life. The Law made it clear that unless her bleeding ceased for at least seven days, everyone and everything she touched would be deemed unclean and cursed, just as she was.

I imagine her as the subject of idle gossip and ill-intended chitchat because everyone knew about her issue. I suspect some didn’t even know her name; she was defined by her issue. And I picture her isolated, outcast, alone and lonely yearning not just for healing but for companionship and friendship.

What “issue” is defining you?

Be honest with yourself.

Do people know you as an adulterer? Do co-workers raise their eyebrows when you speak because you are a liar? Has the PTA and playground crowd tagged you as a bad mother? Is the Bridge Club whispering in the corner because you’ve been an unfaithful wife? Have your friends labeled you as wishy-washy? Or narcissistic? Maybe unreliable? Possibly bossy? Does your employer consider you incompetent? Lazy? Unproductive? Are you a troublemaker? A quitter?

Has your “issue” isolated you?

Do people avoid you, make excuses to shorten their conversations with you and always seem to have somewhere to go when you appear on the scene?  Or does shame make you keep to yourself?  Might you be afraid to show your real self because of your “issue?”

That’s how it was for Luke’s woman. For twelve years the woman in Luke’s story was identified and isolated by her issue.

Mark shares this same story in his Gospel with a few more details. A key one is found in Mark 5:27-28 (KJV) which says, “When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.’”

Therein lies the secret to our “issues.” Jesus.

The context of this story conveys another important point for us. Jesus was not alone. He was in a crowd. The woman touched Jesus, and He asked, “Who touched me?” Peter and the other disciples don’t believe their ears. “Who touched You? You have to be kidding? Who, in this crowd, didn’t touch You? People are everywhere.”

But Jesus knew there had been a special touch, a seeking touch, a believing touch, a power-filled touch. Jesus knew the woman needed a touch, and He knew the exact moment when she had touched His garment.

And He knows that you need His touch as well!

Make note of three quick points. Jesus asks, “Who touched me” then, according to Mark, “looked round about to see her that had done this thing.” This woman had broken the Law, and here is Jesus putting her on blast. If anyone hadn’t seen her, they saw her then. Mark and Luke tell us that the woman fell at Jesus’ feet. Luke says the woman “declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.” Mark concludes this story with Jesus telling the woman to “go in peace and be healed.”

In calling attention to the woman, Jesus brought glory to God identifying Him as the Healer. Point One – Your “issue” is not just about you. Lay it at Jesus’ feet and permit Him to heal you and to bring glory to God. Point Two – Healing requires boldness to overcome the fear of what others may say about you and your “issue.”

Jesus told the woman to go and be healed. Wasn’t she healed when she touched His garment? The bleeding stopped, but the healing was incomplete. Sheila Walsh suggests the woman needed healing from shame, disappointment, self-hatred and the burden that the “issue” had been. Jesus knew that the woman needed to be made whole; she needed salvation. Point Three – Christ works in our lives well beyond the point at which we first come to faith.  He desires that we become whole in Him.

“Issues” of blood are draining. After extensive bleeding, anemia is likely. The Mayo Clinic tells us that as the body becomes increasingly deficient in iron, anemia worsens and signs and symptoms intensify. Symptoms vary but may include extreme fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, dizziness or lightheadedness and, eventually, death.

“Issues” of the heart are no different. Isn’t it time for you to lay yours at Jesus’ feet?

Read Mark 5:27-34 this week and ponder the daily questions for reflection.

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse. When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, “If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.” And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said unto him, “Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, ‘Who touched me?’”

 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.

And he said unto her, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”

 

Monday Questions for Reflection:   What is your “issue?” How has it caused you to suffer? How is it defining you?

Tuesday Questions for Reflection:   The Law prohibited the woman from touching others no doubt leaving her feeling isolated, abandoned and lonely. How does your “issue” isolate you from others?  Are you choosing to isolate yourself – your REAL self?

Wednesday Questions for Reflection:   The woman risked breaking the Purity Law and pressed through a crowd to touch Jesus’ garment. What risks must you take to be free of your “issue?” What or whom is keeping you from Jesus?

Thursday Questions for Reflection:   Jesus told the woman her faith had made her whole. Do you have the faith necessary to experience God’s miracle in your own life? Are there areas in your life that you do not yet trust to God? What are they? What keeps you from trusting?

Friday Questions for Reflection:   The woman, fearing and trembling, fell at Jesus’ feet and, before the crowd, told Jesus everything. Testimony of healing is powerful. Will you lay your “issue” at Jesus’ feet, be healed and share your testimony with others?  Who needs to hear your testimony?


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Inextricably Linked

This semester I asked my college seniors to unplug for one weekend.  No cell phone.  No laptop, iPad, desktop, etc.  No Twitter.  No Facebook.  No Instagram.  No Internet.

“No way!” they said.

But they did.

And they shared their stories which were hilarious – the reaching for the phone that was not there, the lost “don’t know what to do with myself” feelings, the disconnect, the struggle to get anything done without the Internet.

People are more connected to one another than ever before because ours is an Internet and Social Networking world.  When we are not talking, we are texting or instant-messaging or Skyping or tweeting or something. We are connected, and yet we are not.

Michael Price writes in his work, Alone in the Crowd, that we are “more lonely and distant from one another” in our “unplugged lives.”  It’s true.  Most any teenager will tell you that they’d rather text than talk.  And while a lot of adults won’t readily admit it, they, too, would rather email than talk.

We live in neighborhoods but don’t know our neighbors.  We work in offices but don’t know our cubicle mates.  We go to churches but don’t know our fellow parishioners.  Sometimes we live in houses and don’t know our family members!  Not really.

We were made to be social creatures.  In Genesis 2, God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone and created for him a mate.  So why do we retreat behind locked doors, shut blinds and closed minds?  Well, probably for one – it’s just easier.  Less drama and less headache.  Admittedly, I’ve had my days when I have longed for an island.  But, again, we weren’t designed for long-term island living.  At least not in the sense that I mean – ALONE!

Like it or not, our lives are inextricably linked.  The choices we make affect others. Deuteronomy 30:19 (NASB) says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants…” Every day you are choosing for yourself but also for your descendants. You must make decisions today with tomorrow’s impact in mind, and you must consider current choices in light of future generations.

Are you choosing wisely?  Someone’s life is inextricably linked with yours and the choices you make!  Ponder that this week along with the following Scriptures and questions.

Monday: Joshua 24:15 (NASB)

“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Questions for Reflection:  Whom or what have you chosen to serve? What is the impact of your choice on your descendants – immediate (now) and later?  You may say, “I haven’t chosen.” Did you know that by not choosing you are choosing?

Tuesday: 1 Peter 2:9 (NASB)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”

Questions for Reflection: Make note of the choices you make today – what to wear, how to drive, whether to speak to someone you pass on the street or in the hallway at work, what to eat for dinner, etc. How many choices did you make? They may seem insignificant, but what is the impact of each decision – for you, for those around you – immediate (now) and later? Do your choices reflect well on you? On your Lord?

Wednesday: Romans 2:6-8 (NASB)

“who will render to each person according to his deeds:  to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;  but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”

Questions for Reflection: Consider two choices you have made in the past – one selfless, one selfish. What has been the return on those choices – for you? For those you love? What, if anything, do you need to change as you go forward?

Thursday: Proverbs 14:12 (ESV)

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

Questions for Reflection: How do you make choices? Do you do what you think seems right, or do you pray for wisdom and direction?

Friday: Biblical Principles for Making Wise Decisions

www.watermark.org/blog/decision-making-principles/

Questions for Reflection: After reading the given Scriptures, reflect on each of the 10 questions found at this site.