I know that you are all more mature than I am. Or at least more mature than I used to be. When I was younger, I had embarrassing friends! I'm not sure if you know what that means or not, so let me explain. I had my church friends and I had my school friends. They were my embarrassing friends. When I was at church, I did not want my school friends to show up. When I was at school and a church friends walked by me in the hall, I wanted to crawl under a desk.
I know, I know. Real mature. Well done sir! Yes, I am human. I am fully man. Flawed man! This was me. On this Valentine's Day, I hope that none of you have would say that your significant other is your embarrassing valentine! That would make today very awkward for us all. You take her to a restaurant so far away that you are sure no you know will show up!
I am old enough, or rather my kids are old enough now, that I am their embarrassing friend! Unfortunately for them, I have been waiting for this moment my whole life! Dance wildly when their friends are around. Talk about embarrassing things. Share fun baby stories to their friends. My kids with their actions and responses say something like this, "Yes, I really like you and care about you, but only in a certain context."
We watch plenty of movies and tv shows that portray that phrase. The fact that I see this played out, even in the shows my kids watch, let's me know that I, in fact, am not alone. I am not the only one who has played this game...the Embarrassing Friend game!
So, to all of you getting ready to take that special someone out tonight, walk with them proudly! Enjoy their company, regardless of who is around. Be proud to be seen with them. If you are not able to do that, why are you with them?
Let's abruptly shift gears to Jesus, our embarrassing friend! Yes, I went there!
Don't get mad at me for setting you up for this! You had to know a plot twist was around the corner. If you would allow me, I want to pose three simple questions, so you can find out if Jesus would fit the bill for your embarrassing friend! Here we go...
Question #1 for 10 points: Do I publicly pray before a meal?
I know this seems elementary, but when I was in elementary school, this was a BIG deal for me. Could I bow my head and close my eyes and say a quick prayer before a meal...in front of my classmates! What would they say? How would they react? What will happen if they find out I am one of those Christians?!
Unfortunately, I don't believe that we think too much differently now, than we did then. We tend to continue to worry about the same things over and over again. And if you can't do something basic like this, the signs might be saying, Jesus is your embarrassing friend.
Question #2 for 751 points: Do I post anything "Christian" on my social media?
Again, maybe a basic question. But a very telling one. I love seeing your family photos! I appreciate your political views and that you are willing to take a stand for something. Sometimes I wonder if if you are as proud of God as you are your party?! And please, in no way am I referencing the "If you love Jesus pass this along" posts!
I wouldn't mind seeing your story though. Tell me what God has done in your life. Share with me the times that He has been good to you. Our testimony is a powerful thing, in that, scripture is very clear. If you scroll through your own timeline and don't see anything, maybe Jesus is your embarrassing friend.
Question #3 for 1,342 points: Do I bring up Jesus in everyday conversations?
I work at a church, so I cannot always speak to this one as much. Jesus being in my conversation seems to be my job. But that was not always the case. Before I moved to Memphis, I was pastoring at a church that could not support me full-time. I worked a 40+ hour a week job with unbelievers. I spent a lot of time with people who had completely different views than I did.
Did I only mention God after someone sneezed?! God bless you is a good start, but let's bring Jesus out of His box we have put Him in. If He is enough to save us, He should be enough to get us through everyday. He is enough to put our eternal trust and hope in, then He should be enough to bring up when a co-worker is going through a tough time. If He is our hope, perhaps He can be theirs too. If you don't believe that, maybe Jesus is your embarrassing friend.
Question #4 for 1 million points: Do I worship freely at my place of worship?
We call it "a place of worship" because you are supposed to worship there, correct? I am not calling anyone or any church out on this. I know very well that within every church there are those that worship more freely and those that are more reserved. I know that there are those that have been forgiven much and therefore love much.
I also know how "reserved" people can be while watching their favorite team play in a game. I am thankful that God saw us in our mess and was not embarrassed of us. That He was even willing to embarrass Himself all the way to the cross for us. He was proud of us and fought for us in those moments and still does. We are his Valentine that He is proud to be seen with.
Needless to say, if you can't be proud of your God in a place that it is expected from you, maybe Jesus is your embarrassing friend.
I hope and pray that this post was not seen as condemning but rather encouraging and convicting. We are His ambassadors, set up apart, called to Himself to reach the lost. So walk around proudly with HIM! Show Him off. Let Him be seen in and through you life!
But how can they call on Him if they have not put their trust in Him? And how can they put their trust in Him if they have not heard of Him? And how can they hear of Him unless someone tells them? Romans 10:14
If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. Luke 9:26
There are a lot of self-help articles, blogs and books out there. This may very well end up like many of those. I do want to go about it a bit differently though.
Our youth ministry is going through a series entitled, “Happily Never After.” The title of my talk was “4 Ways to Ruin Your Life.”
Sounds encouraging and uplifting, right?! Maybe a bit of reverse psychology is involved. Either way, I felt it worth while to share with everyone, even if you weren’t there to witness it. So here we go...4 ways to ruin your life!
(Side note: this point, although not in whole, was taken from a sermon preached by Steven Furtick entitled “The Power of Potential.”)
Look for potential in people rather than patterns.
Did you read that wrong? Nope. Potential is not the end game. I am glad that my wife saw the potential in me when she started dating this young 19 year old with nothing to offer. On the other side, I would say she is now glad that she married someone with the right patterns and habits more so than potential. That person you enjoy being around, the one you may want to start a relationship with, or even that co-worker you have started spending a lot of time with may have the potential to become a good friend. But be warned! Watch their patterns.
They may be Solomon in wisdom or David in praise or Abraham in faith or Joshua in war. But if they are not Joseph in discipline they will end up like Samson in destruction!
Choose patterns over potential every time.
Spend it all and give nothing!
That’s right. Go ahead, ruin your life. It’s not like you have just one!
“The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
Money is not evil, the love of money is. The love of possessions is. The love of stuff is. The love of the American dream is. I can show you very quickly what you love by looking at your checkbook, if those are even a thing anymore!
I wrote a post a while back, that you can read here, talking about finding out what you love most by what makes you angry. Do you value possessions over people? It’s time to do an inventory of our resources. God has given everything to us: talents and money. And He has allowed us to keep 90%. That sounds like a great deal!
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ”
Luke 6:38 NLT
Live entitled, not humble.
Entitled: to give yourself a title; to think you deserve more than you actually do.
We live in a country very much like this. If I’m honest, I can be very much like this. Having a feeling that somehow I am owed something. Let me let you in on a secret: I am not and neither are you.
In a world of people screaming what rights they have and are entitled to, don’t forget that the only right Jesus ever paraded around was His right to die.
He gave all of them up for you and for me. And I for one, am thankful that He did. A little humility and thankfulness could go a long way. People who do things that count in this life usually don’t stop to count them.
This is all about how, or rather how much, you think of yourself. I had to learn a long time ago that my insecurities were in fact selfish. When I walked into a room of people my thoughts were, “what do they think of me?!” The focus of my thoughts? Me!
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” - C. S. Lewis
4. Your Soul
This one is easy: Sin more. Repent less.
All have sinned. - Paul
Sin is fun. - Moses
Conclusion: All like to have fun!
In all seriousness, I hope you fully understand that this Christian life is not a checklist or a bunch of “Do’s and Dont’s.” On the other side, something as simple as saying don’t sin, is not to be taken lightly. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “I don’t condemn you, but stop sinning!”
When I see numbers and statistics on Christians who are addicted to pornography, and even the number of pastors addicted, it creates a panic in me. This is why it is important to have good patterns over potential. To give rather than spend. And to live humble rather than entitled.
Satan plays his game well. To us, it shouldn’t be a game. He creates weapons specifically with you in mind. He knows what entices you. Let’s be honest for a moment. It wouldn’t entice you if you didn’t desire it?!
Our prayer cannot be: “God, help me not sin.”
Our prayer should be: “God, change what I desire.”
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
The trick to this verse is when you delight yourself in the Lord, your desires change. You begin to desire what He desires.
In conclusion: Please don’t ruin your life. You only have one, and it determines your eternity.
We have all had that embarrassing moment in life. You are going about a normal task that you have done a million times and this time it’s a fail! Maybe you have literally fallen down in public. Perhaps you overslept and missed that important meeting! All the while you think, “how could I have done this!”
I have my fair shares of embarrassing moments. I have been standing at the free throw line in a basketball game dribbling the ball. This is something we do at the end of every practice. Before I shoot the free throw the ball somehow hits the front of my foot and bounces away...and I step into the lane after it!
“What was I thinking!”
The worst moment for me was the night my two oldest, Israel and Camille, were getting baptized. I had the privilege of baptizing them as their father. This was supposed to be such a great moment for them and especially for me. Any parent should be thrilled that their children are making the decision to follow Christ. Just before I head down the few steps into the baptismal, one of our pastors was heading up. I decided to let them have the rail and I would walk down on the other side. I guess I didn’t realize how slippery the steps were. Needless to say, our congregation saw two feet go up in the air. I’m not sure anyone sitting knew it was me at that point. I had a decision to make. Meet my daughter in the tank and baptize her or run! I’ll admit it, I almost ran!
Sometimes stumbling or messing up makes people get defensive. It backs them into a corner. It makes you want to prove that what you just saw isn’t who I really am. I have to protect myself. I have to protect my name, my honor, my integrity and even my motives. This is the way we all were with Christ before accepting Him. The Bible says we are “enemies,” and even “hostile” towards God.
If we aren’t careful, He becomes the stumbling block in our life. And why wouldn’t He be just that. He is unattainable and we could never measure up. I believe that is the reason the people shouted for Barabbas! When I put myself next to him I look good. But Jesus? I feel exposed. I could never be good enough. How could I ever live that way? Get Him as far away as possible!
So we don’t even try. We get defensive of our own “goodness” and push away.
I love that the Bible doesn’t end in our demise. Jesus isn’t just a stumbling block. He is also referred to as a cornerstone. The main stone that was used as the foundation for a house or building. A good place to start. The thing to find before beginning any construction project. For me, He is what I have chosen to build my entire life on. I’ve made Him so important to the structure of my life, that if Jesus were ever removed, everything would crumble.
So here you see two sides. Two tales. As Moses once said to the people of Israel, “I set before you life and death.” We can view Jesus as an unattainable goal, or someone we can build our life on.
The choice is yours. Choose wisely!
I’m not sure about you, but laying in bed is a great time to contemplate anything and everything. It’s when I decide I can solve all the world’s problems. It also seems to be a time I think about things in life that just don’t make sense. You know what I’m talking about. The things we see, do, or encounter that have no explanation. And then that great and mighty question arises: Why?!
One of my favorite ‘why’ questions is this, “Why is this here?!” I say that a lot, especially when I read the Bible. Here is one of my favorite ‘why’ passages:
“Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.”
Mark 14:51-52 NKJV
Why is this here?! What is it’s purpose? To all my pastor friends, how do you preach on this and what is the application for life?!
I have looked at a lot of commentary on this passage. I have seen a lot of assumptions. The only thing that we know for certain is that it left an impression on Mark (or rather Peter, as this is likely his gospel perspective)!
Here is the reality: there are some things that don’t need an explanation. (And now you’re saying, “why not?!”)
It used to bother me that I didn’t understand everything. I have that type of personality. I want to figure it out. But God is not one that can be figured out so easily. The apostle Paul calls it a ‘mystery.’ In regards to Sodom and Gomorrah God said, “should we let Abraham in on this?”
This list of passages in scripture and experiences in life could go on. I, for one, am thankful that I serve a God whose ways are greater and thoughts are higher! If I could figure out everything about God, what kind of a God would I be serving?!
Be thankful that He knows how to keep your lungs working when you don’t. That your heart beats because He designed it that way. Thank God that He wakes you up every morning, and that at some point you will fall asleep tonight (hopefully sooner rather than later!).
Lastly, be thankful that He sent His son Jesus to save us when we could not save ourselves. Maybe some of you tonight should be asking what the jailer in Acts asked the apostle Paul, “what must I do to be saved?!” And God did not hide his answer from us! Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you and your family will be saved!
Until we arrive in heaven to get all our questions answered, think about that! Because that is something to be thankful for!
This is the day I am on in my read through the Bible plan. Sounds strange. I have asked myself, “I am not too far in to this thing, why not start over and start it on January 1 like everyone else?” I sure could, and would probably benefit from reading these portions again. It would also put off reading through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy for a time!
But I won’t.
When I started this plan 53 days ago, I set out to accomplish something. Not something I haven’t done before or will never do again, but nonetheless I was going to see it through. I made up my mind that this particular day would be January 1 for me. I determined in my heart to begin and finish what I set out to do.
We so often get caught up with starting or ending things on particular days. “I will start over on Monday.” “This year will be a new year.” And it’s true. Do it. Start or end something that has been on your heart for awhile and you haven’t had the courage, strength or reason to until now.
For me, on that particular day 53 days ago, I decided that every day could be Monday (that may sound awful to many of you that hate Monday’s, and for that I’m sorry!). Every day could be January 1. I don’t have to wait. I can end the habit today or start a new one. I am in control of my future not the calendar.
If we were to take hold of this thought, imagine the impact it could have on each person individually, but also on a collective group as well. So please, begin what you have dreamed up. Fight to break the habit that has controlled you until now. Start that resolution with determination and grit. Not because it is January 1. Start it because it’s today, and you are in control of it.
For you it may be day 1 while I’m on day 53. I hope others of you are on day 100 or 250. Whatever the case, do what you know is necessary to live your best life. To be the best version of who you can be. Who God has called you to be. And do it all for His glory.
‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Except for a mouse,
and a goat,
and some sheep.
Definitely some shepherds and angels.
Don’t forget about a nervous Joseph
and a young mother named Mary in labor!
Christmas Eve, the “night before,” has always been a magical time for my family. As a kid we opened Christmas Pjs and slept by the Christmas tree. Today, sleeping by the tree on the hard floor does not sound appealing at all! We put out cookies and milk, understanding the truth about Santa but enjoying the tradition none the less.
Today, nostalgia still fills the air. Cookies and pies are being made as we speak. Christmas Pjs will be opened. Dinner by candlelight will be had. Our kids won’t sleep well, and mom and dad will be busy attempting to put together the toys that say, “Assembly required.”
Why do all this? Why continue to stress over traditions making sure everything looks and feels just right when it is really about a baby?
I think there is is something special about a father working diligently to surprise his children. Something special about a father creating moments and opportunities for his children to look back on with fondness. Something special about a father giving good gifts to his children, just because! Let’s be honest...the kids weren’t always on the “nice” list this year! And still we pass the presents out as if they were angels all year! Hopefully, we can do all this without going into debt, but even if we do, it is out of great love and a desire to create a moment and a memory that may last a lifetime.
In the same same manner I feel our Father treats us, His children. He creates moments and memories that may very well last an eternity. He lavishes gifts on us as if we were on the ‘nice’ list all year! We have a Father who loves to surprise us and provide for us when we need it the most and deserve it the least.
So maybe Christmas is more about the stockings and gifts, traditions and memories than we first thought. We are made in the likeness of Christ mirroring His love through our love we give to our own. Through gift giving we represent His great Gift to us. In our receiving of gifts we didn’t earn or deserve we are teaching our kids how to receive His free Gift for us.
So whether you are giving or receiving gifts this Christmas; making cookies and memories, enjoy it all. Enjoy the look on that special someone’s face as they open the gift you gave! Enjoy the tradition and holiday fun! Through it all this season, I believe our Father is looking down on us smiling. He is watching with enjoyment as His children are perhaps acting more like Him on this day than any other!
Merry Christmas Eve!
We did it! We finally put up our Christmas! Our new house has a different layout from our previous one, so it looks like Christmas may have thrown up when you walk in our front door! We forced ourselves to watch some Christmas movies to try and get in the 'spirit' of Christmas. Sometimes it is okay to force yourself into doing what you know you ought even if you don't feel like it! Do it for the children!
Now it is finally beginning to look like Christmas around our house. The song that Johnny Mathis sang states that we should see "candy canes and silver lanes aglow." There should be toys in every store, a tree in the Grand Hotel, bells, carols and Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again! Sound at all familiar to anyone?! This is what my house looks like, and I do really love it. I'm ready to get lights on the house and build a snowman in the front yard (hurry up snow!).
All of this "Christmas Look and Feel" has me thinking what the very first Christmas looked like? Not just the Nativity that becomes another piece of decoration. What that time leading up to Jesus' birth and after really looked like? Obviously, it wasn't called Christmas. In fact it wasn't called that until the year 336 by Emperor Constantine. Without arguing about the time of year Jesus was born or if the wise men were really there, I would love to look at that first night.
Angels singing on high and scaring shepherds out in the field!
The shepherds going to the manger and then sharing the good news!
We love these two aspects of Christmas, and they let us know that it was definitely not a Silent Night. In fact it ended up being a very noisy time for Bethlehem.
Travelers filling up rooms because of a census.
Mary and Joseph traveling over 80 miles for the same reason.
The birth of a baby (not a silent event!).
After the birth we see the shepherds and eventually a caravan of wise men bearing gifts. What a celebration that must have been!
The celebration quickly turns dark as Joseph is warned to flee to Egypt.
Herod orders the death of every boy under the age of two.
This was not a Silent Night. This was far from a Holy Night.
This moment in history brought reality to the spiritual war that had begun. Things are getting real and Satan is pulling out all the stops to shut it down. We see God sending His Son to earth for our salvation. As we are born for "such a time as this" and for a purpose, Jesus on the other hand, was born to die. That was His purpose. It puts this season into perspective for me and I hope for you as well.
In the midst of all things Christmas this season, let us not forget the reason for it. Yes, enjoy your family and friends. Open the presents and stockings. Eat a lot of food and save room for dessert. But, let us also give thanks for the Prince of Peace. Let us worship together the one who laid down His life so that we could take up ours. O come let us adore the One who humbled Himself and paid it all, for you and for me.
For unto is a child is born, and He is what Christmas is all about.
We are all familiar with Alvin and the Chipmunks singing “Christmas Don’t Be Late!” This year I’m hoping it will be! I haven’t bought the hoola-hoop yet! Not to mention it’s not even Thanksgiving! I thought the tree went up after Thanksgiving?! Is that not a thing anymore? What about waiting on Christmas music until Dec. 1?! The rule in my house growing up was no Christmas music until after Thanksgiving or the first snow, whichever one came first. Now you can listen to it on the radio as soon as Halloween is over! And why is every store, every parking lot, and every road full of people?! It’s been this way since the beginning of November!
I’m Not Ready!
Maybe it’s because I have gone back to school? Maybe it’s being in between homes for a part of this year? Perhaps it’s my incredibly busy schedule lately? Whatever the reason, it’s too early and everyone needs to slow down a bit!
I know it’s coming but want it to wait. There is so much to still do, see and accomplish before that day arrives! If you read anything I wrote from this time last year, you know I was in a much better place. I was “feeling” it. Ready, set, let’s Christmas. This year? Not so much.
If I’m honest, and maybe you can be honest with me, I feel the same way about the return of Christ. (There you go getting spiritual on us!) Think about it though. Don’t you want to live a little first? We have to get our affairs in order still. And there is so much I want to do, see and accomplish before that day arrives. I still love God. I still want Him to come back. But can You wait a few more years?!
I know you have thought it too. There are moments that I am ready. Take me now Lord! There are as many moments that I would prefer to see my kids grow up. To accomplish what I have set out to accomplish. To enjoy retirement! There is still so much potential inside me that has yet to be realized.
There is a big difference between potential and purpose though. Jesus dies without living to his potential. His potential was to rule the world, literally! But purpose always trumps potential. Purpose always trumps passion. So now what? “How then should we live?”
I think we can have both. We are told to eagerly await His return. His return is worth waiting for, I can promise you that! We are not to worry about tomorrow. That thought comes with the understood notion that we are allowed to enjoy today though. We are encouraged to live in the moment. Embrace where you are in life! Enjoy Christmas, absolutely! But don’t forget to enjoy November 26th as well!
The summer before each new school year, and this will be my 7th in Memphis, I pray for a thought or theme to carry into the year. It doesn't have to be impressive or stand out. And I don't always publicize it beyond key leaders and some students with ears to hear. This year has a different sense to it for me. It may not be a theme for a school year, but something that resounds in life for me:
The Best Is Yet To Come
It is a common thread among my journaling. It seems to be present in many of the conversations I have. It is not always said exactly like this. Sometimes I hear things like:
"I cannot wait to see God move again."
"There is something stirring and beginning to happen."
"Just wait until the Spirit of God moves."
All of them can be put into this phrase: The best is yet to come. I wanted to spend a few moments to highlight what is behind this for me. More than a mantra, there is a depth and weight that comes when I hear this phrase run through my head.
This is not a knock at the past, rather a tipping of the hat towards it. There is a thankfulness for the foundation that has been laid that we can now build on. Since this phrase is almost always in a future tense, the past can go back to the disciples, the early church or even just several years ago in which we see great awakenings here in America. I am extremely grateful in my own family, the heritage that has been passed down. I am a fifth generation minister, starting with my great-great-grandfather who was radically saved and became one of the first missionaries to the country of Bolivia. I am who I am today because his son decided to follow the same calling and not turn away. My grandmother continued this great legacy by marrying my grandfather who has been recognized in the Foursquare church for over 50 years in ministry. This continued on to my dad, who is living out the call of God in Knoxville at a church plant, and now to me. I am thankful that it won't end there either. That the best is still yet to come! Even if your past does not look like this, it doesn't have to define you. Instead, let it refine you!
"These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." Hebrews 11:39-40
Today is a gift, that is why it is called the Present! Stop looking behind and don't put too much stock in what is ahead. Tomorrow is only a product of our small disciplines and choices today. If this statement is to become true for us, we need to make the most of every moment here and now. I love this idea that I can have some control of what happens tomorrow. I know that if I plant a certain type of tree, I will grow a certain type of fruit. The same is true spiritually. You can read more about that in my post, Bear Fruit. This means that everything I do today, I must do it as unto the Lord! Even the small things matter, because they are the building blocks for tomorrow. Enjoy today! Enjoy the moments! Embrace the grind.
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." Luke 16:10
The best is yet to come. I am going to continue to say this over and over because I believe it is true. I believe that God is not finished. I believe that better days are ahead. I believe that God can still use you. I believe that God can still redeem lives, cities, and nations. I believe that we have not come close to seeing what is available in His Kingdom for those who believe.
There is a passage of scripture in the book of Haggai. In the second chapter and ninth verse it says, "The glory of this present house will be greater than the flory of the former house, declares the Lord Almighty." I understand that this is a passage of scripture declaring truths over the rebuilt temple, but we would be missing something if we did not stop to consider the new place in which God really lives. For we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are the place in which God resides. And I truly believe that we will see "greater things," as Jesus told us, because He gives His "Spirit without measure!"
This should certainly be encouraging to all that are "waiting" for that day. While you are waiting, embrace where you are now. There is revival coming, but I think one day we will look up and realize that we are already in it! The Best is Yet to Come!
I don’t know if you are anything like me. I suppose I grew up a picky eater. My wife says that I need to learn to enjoy other foods other than just meat and potatoes. In my defense, I like fruits and vegetables, just not all of them. I am trying to branch out and try new foods. When trying a new food, I rarely struggle with the taste but rather with, you guessed it, the texture!
Texture is what makes something great or unbearable. Without texture, life would be boring and bland. Imagine if you knew exactly what would happen day in and day out. No surprises. No changing it up. Same thing. For some of you that sounds exciting, but for most of us, we needed a little bit of “texture” in our life.
For an example of this, let’s look at the life of Lazarus. He is a normal everyday guy who is a good friend to Jesus. Sounds like someone we should be like! He has two sisters. One likes to work diligently and the other likes to learn diligently. You know them as Mary and Martha!
One day Lazarus gets sick and is on the verge of death. If you have ever been in this position, seeing a family member struggling for their life, you can understand why these sisters immediately sent word to their friend Jesus.
He is called the Great Physician, but in this moment He doesn’t act much like one. Instead of heading to his friend Lazarus, He continues with what he is doing. He makes a statement that “this sickness is not unto death.” Shortly after, He receives another message that He is too late. Lazarus is dead. Don’t bother.
How do we as believers cope and wrestle with what our circumstance is and what Jesus has said? When our dreams seem dead but we know God gave them to us?
In this story, as with every story in the Bible, we know the outcome. Jesus comes too late but still raises Lazarus to life. When all seemed lost, Jesus stepped in and resurrected the dream. He raised to life the lost soul. But in our life, we don’t always know the outcome, so how do we live in the texture.
Here is where our faith and our circumstances collide. And whenever this happens, God’s Word will always win. Before Lazarus was in the grave, Jesus said, this sickness is not unto death. His Word spoke, and so all of nature and science has to follow His voice. The same Word that spoke and their was light. The same Word that spoke and life was created. This Word will always have the final say.
He is the alpha and omega.
He is the beginning and the end.
He is the author and the finisher.
We know the end of the story. Therefore, everything that happens in the middle is just...texture. What good is a movie without the conflict? What good is that book you are engrossed in without the struggle? This is what makes our life worth living. Not that we struggle, but waiting with expectation for how God is going to resurrect something out of our struggle.
There is one more story that has always given me pause. At the end of Mark 6, Jesus sends his disciples across the lake in a boat. He stays behind and tells them He will meet them on the other side. During the night, the disciples are struggling with the wind and waves, and Jesus is about to walk right by! It literally says, “he would have walked right by.” Why would He do this? They are in trouble, struggling with the storm.
Because He told them He would meet them on the other side. And when He says something, it will happen. There isn’t a storm big enough that can hinder the Word if God. It doesn’t matter what happens in the middle, because we know what will happen in the end.
And even if your circumstance does end in death, it is not the end, but the beginning of an eternal life greater than we could imagine. Death then, is just one more layer of texture in this story where God has the final say. As heartbreaking as death is, we know the victory is ours. Hold on to that today!