Saturday, June 21, 2014

Where the People Are (Luke 8:1,2)

Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, (Luke 8:1, 2 NASB)

Matthew Henry, the 17th century preacher and theologian, commenting on the itinerant nature of Jesus's ministry, wrote, "He did not confine himself to one place, but diffused the beams of his light." Isn't that a lovely word picture? Some of the flashlights now available are so bright that they illuminate the path nicely. Pointed directly at your eyes, however, they are a harsh and painful, focused beam at which you cannot help but turn away. Contrast that beam with His diffusing. Jesus did not position Himself in one place and use the bully pulpit to harangue and abuse. He went where the people were, and offered truth with love.

Speaking of "where the people were", it is important to note where Jesus went to preach.  "From one city and village to another" is a beautiful phrase for those in the most remote locations. Most evangelists aim for the largest cities, that they might reach the biggest crowds. Jesus, however, stopped at the largest town and the smallest village. He came for everyone, not just the more sophisticated city dweller. He came for those in the smallest hamlet with the simplest lifestyles, as well those in palaces with the most pampered lifestyles. No one was excluded. 

As one who resides in what is a tiny village even by Biblical standards, I can well imagine the great joy with which the people in the villages received Jesus. They had likely been overlooked and ignored by the establishment and treated as of little importance by those who took note. It must have been unbelievable to them that the itinerant preacher and miracle-worker they had heard so much about was coming to their little village!

This going to all should not be surprising to us, for our Lord was very clear about His purpose. Speaking later in Luke's gospel, Jesus said of Zaccheus, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10 NASB) Jesus wasn't just interested in a big crowd. He was seeking for lost people, wherever they might be found. As disciples of Jesus, we, too, should be seeking for lost people and bringing them to the One who loves them most, but are we?  

Pray today that we will have a seeking heart that finds those who need Jesus and brings them to Him. Pray, too, that our loved ones who are far from Jesus will be drawn to our Lord's ever-seeking, prevenient grace. 
Link to last night's post by Mamie the Apprentice Wonder Puppy is here:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Night with Friends: Mamie's Turn: The Surgeration Adventure and the Blessing of Breathing

My nose is so great
I just breathed while I ate!
No struggle to breathe
I can do what I please!

I am Mamie the Apprentice Wonder Puppy and my mama din't like my poem but I'm leavin' it anyway. Because my nose is so great! I am Mamie the soon-to-be Wonder Dog, and even if my mama and my sister Maggie say that's not true, I am so!!  It is true!  Anyway. I am not very old and not very big but I have very big fun and now I can breathe and have more fun!! Fun! Fun! Fun!  I love fun!

Oops!  Sorry.  

I had a surgeration this week and I slept all the way through it.  Naps are good.  It was 'specially good I got a nap for that surgeration, because I found out what Dr. Thomas did to me while I was sleeping. You might not believe this, but he knocked me out.  Thas' why I was sleeping so good.  If you are having trouble sleeping, you might ask him 'bout that knockin' out stuff.  Whew! You can get some sleep with that!  

After he knocked me, he cut my belly open, and cut some stuff out! I mighta needed that stuff one day, but really I don' know. My mama says I'm still a baby, but I'm already a big girl.  But he took one of my tooths out too! I KNOW I need my tooths.  I hafta have them for eatin!  Now that I can breathe, I need tooths to get caught up on my eatin'! Thank goodness he only took one!

My mama just tole me to get to the point, so I better get goin'.  What else he did was give me a chip.  I'll tell you about that another day.  What I like best about Dr. Thomas's knockin' out job was that he gave me a nose job. I don' know so much about nose jobbing.  That seems like a strange job to me, but not as strange as my mama's job.  I'm not even gonna tell you about that!  

Oh... the nose job.  I think he sorta cut my nose holes and put some blue threads in them.  He shoulda used pink.  I AM a GIRL, after all!  Anyway, that thread stuff and that cuttin' stuff has got my nose holes open really good.  I can breathe and breathe and breathe.  It's so fun!  

Now you might be doin' some breathin' and feel like it is not that important, but you should try not breathin' an' you would feel different 'bout it.  I bet Ole Adam could tell you.  He was laid out on the ground and he wadn't breathin' at all.  Finally, God came over and said, "He'll do better with breath." You are not gonna believe what happened next!  It was so exciting!  God (the One that made the world and everything) leaned over and blew some breath into Adam!  Woo Hoo!!! It got him started doing breathin' of his own, and Adam LOVED it! 

Now here is what you might not know, and it is my job as Apprentice Wonder Puppy to tell you. YOU have the breath of God, too! Thas' how you got started breathin', just like Ole Adam. I saw it in my mama's Bible.  Here it is:

"The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4

See.  I tole you.  When you are breathin' nice and easy through those big nose holes of yours, you should remember how you got started in the first place.  God.  The BIG God.  He's the One that started your breathin' and you should be sayin' your thank you's.  Thas' only polite.  My mama makes us say thank you. She makes us sit and stay, too.  

Oh, yeah.  The lesson.

The Apprentice Wonder Puppy Lesson for today is:

I'm little so I make little lessons.  But you should do it.  
That's the end.  By Mamie the Apprentice Wonder Puppy (and Soon to be Wonder Dog, I hope)

Proclaiming and Preaching

Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, (Luke 8:1 NASB)

The events of the previous chapter took place in Capernaum (the healing of the centurion's servant) and in Nain. This chapter begins with the description of His "tour of cities". Soon after the dinner at Simon's house, Jesus began to travel (on foot) from one city and village to another, in order to proclaim and preach the Kingdom of God to them. He was accompanied by His twelve apostles, as well as some others we will consider later.  

When we read that He was both proclaiming and preaching, we may well say, "Oh, He was preaching and preaching," but two different words are used here. The word translated as "proclaiming" is kēryssō and indicates a formal proclamation with authority. It is the equivalent of a king's herald reading a proclamation of law to which adherence is mandatory.  What a perfect description of the work of Jesus, who, as the Son of God, was speaking on behalf of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! His words may have been cushioned with kindness, but they were no less authoritative, and no more optional, than the edicts of King Herod himself. 

The word translated as "preaching" is euaggelizō and simply means to tell the good news. It comes from a root word meaning to do good (as in a charitable act) or to prosper.  This prospering is not necessarily a financial prospering, but a prospering of well being.  

Putting it all together gives us an eye-opening truth. Jesus traveled from city to village to give the good news straight from Almighty God. His words were instructions on how to live a good life and how to prosper in well being. Obedience was not optional. 

Make no mistake about it. Obedience is still not optional. The very wonderful news is that obedience to the teachings of Christ is to our benefit, not our detriment. Not only does obedience yield an eternal reward, it makes life better now. 

Do you want a better life? Do you want peace and freedom for yourself and your loved ones? Turn to the words of Jesus, and simply obey. You will be so glad you did. 
Link to last night's post:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On Life and Light

"In Him was life, and that life was the light of men."  John 1:4

The life of Jesus is the light of our lives.  But how is it that life is light?  And while we're at it, what is life anyway?  Imponderable questions, both of them.

The American Heritage Dictionary lists sixteen definitions for life.  One that stands out is "the property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, response to stimuli, and reproduction."

Add to that a spiritual perspective, and now we've something to ponder.  How is your life in Christ manifested by those four functions of living organisms?

Metabolism:  Are you processing and digesting the Word of God in such a way that you can use it and apply it to your everyday life?

Growth:  Are you becoming stronger in your faith, more patient, kinder, more loving, more like Jesus?

Response to Stimuli:  Are your reactions to the challenges of life different from the world's because of your life in Christ?

Reproduction:  It's a normal part of a mature life.  Are you bringing people to Jesus?  With whom have you shared your faith this week, this month, this year?  Are there more Christians today because of your witness?  

So, how did your faith walk measure up?  Does it look more dead than alive, as if it no longer has life?  Does it simply look inanimate, as if there never was life at all, because none of the functions of a living being were ever manifested?  

Perhaps the most important question is how does Christ view your life?  

Let Him shine His light in your heart today and show you where He wants you to grow and change.  Let His life fill yours with light.
This article first appeared in Physician Magazine, March/April 2002.

Go in peace (Luke 7:50)

And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7:50 NASB)

"Go in peace," Jesus said to the woman. She was well known as a sinner, and scorned by the religious community.  Not welcome in polite company, she found her way to Jesus's feet only by barging in where she was not wanted, and stayed there only by the divine intervention of Christ.  Peace?  It had likely been many years since she had known peace. 

At the feet of Jesus, weeping a river of tears and using her hair as a holy towel, something incredible happened. She let go. She let go of her desire to sin, she let go of that mountain of sin and guilt she had accumulated, she let go of her shame. Giving it all to Jesus, she left it with Him. In that place where all the hurt, guilt, and shame had been was an infilling of faith, hope, and love.  It was more than enough, but Jesus had yet another gift for her. Peace. 

Peace. Isn't that a lovely word?  Webster's Dictionary defines peace as a state of tranquility or quiet, freedom from hostilities, civil disturbances, or emotional unrest. For this woman, it meant freedom from the war between good and evil, sin and holiness that had waged in her for years. The word translated here as peace is eirēnē. This is the same word the angels used when they sang before the shepherds the night Jesus was born. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among men." 

Sometimes used to mean "undisturbed", as well as harmony between men and nations, it can also mean the peace that only God can give. In this instance, I believe it is used with all the richness of intent possible. What Jesus offered this woman was the freedom from disturbance from her past and those who would remind her of it, as well as a freedom from fear for the future. He offered her the quiet assurance of peace with God, and the understanding that He would be with her, whatever her earthly circumstances. 

The richness of this peace can only come through repentance and the forgiveness it brings. Do you long for peace? We can have the same peace the woman with the alabaster vial found at the feet of Jesus. We cannot, however, keep the burden of sin and guilt we have been carrying.  It must be left at the feet of Jesus in exchange for the freedom and peace only He can give. 

If we have had enough of our burdens, then let us leave then with Jesus and accept all the healing He longs to offer. Join with me in accepting his faith, hope, and love, as well as that precious "extra".  Go in peace. 

Go in peace. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Test-taking Fun

As many physicians do in June, just before renewing their medical licenses, we were finishing a few hours of CME (Continuing Medical Education) and printing out certificates for the files. A few months ago, a friend of ours called to tell us he had a CME company he liked to use and had noticed a course that looked like one we would need. I had done the first two of the three part series, when my boss looked at the book. The next thing I knew, he was reading the course material, taking the tests, and printing certificates while I saw patients.

When he returned my book, I laughed and said, "Tomorrow I'm doing the third course while you see patients."  "But you have way more hours than you need already," he replied. "Oh, I know, but I wanted to do this course too. I thought it would be helpful." He laughed and handed me a form. "Then you'll want to do this one, too."  Of course, it seemed like something I just had to know, and added it to the stack for tomorrow's study session. We shared a big laugh about all our courses, realizing that we were just two lifelong students reveling in the joys of learning. My boss said something then that I found truly profound. It might surprise you. "Yeah," he said, "don't you just love taking tests?"  

There is something wonderful about studying the course materials, learning the information well, and excelling on testing, isn't there? Being able to use the information I've studied to help me take better care of patients is a little like taking a test and doing well. My boss is right. I do just love taking tests. The ones I like best, though, are the ones for which I have prepared and on which I can do well. 

I realize that not everyone excels at "book learning", but we all experience the tests and trials of life, and we all have the opportunity to prepare for those tests, or not. I've heard it said that the Bible contains all the information we need to live life successfully. There is information about managing money, raising children, godly marriages, handling conflict and dealing with enemies. If we want to be prepared for life's challenges, those life-tests that come our way, we need to study The Book. If we do, we should have a pretty good idea of what action to take when hard times come our way. 

Some years ago, I experienced one of those life-tests. Looking back, I can see that I had prepared for years. I had a good understanding of what to do, but I sure didn't want to do it.  I knew that no one would blame me a bit for acting just a little like the rest of the world. The problem was that, when you know better, it's a sin if you don't do better, so I didn't really have a choice. I wasn't perfect at doing the right thing, but I gave it my best. This side of the hard times, I'm really glad I did. It has made every other life challenge easier. 

You may not have found test-taking fun while you were in school, but you can enjoy the trials of life that come your way. You can enjoy them, that is, if you prepare ahead of time and trust what you've learned to help you through the test!

Saved by Faith (Luke 7:50)

And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7:50 NASB)

 Saved by faith. What a beautiful truth! sōzō, the Greek word translated here as "saved" is so rich in meaning that it contains a lifetime of truth in this one word alone. Sometimes translated as "healed" or "restored", it conveys the idea that the person has been healed of a deadly condition, restored to a former condition, and saved from certain perishing. It is a complete, full-service salvation. defines sōzō as "to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction".  For this woman, salvation meant that she was healed of the torment her sinful life had caused, washed white as snow and restored to a right relationship with God, and rescued from the certain destruction her lifestyle would have caused. She was saved in this life, but her faith also brought eternal salvation, as well. 

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, later wrote For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9 NASB)

There was nothing this woman had ever done that could bring her the Great Rescue from eternal damnation or the rescue she so desperately needed from herself and her sinful actions and desires. Freedom could not be manufactured by any amount of good deeds. It came by faith alone, in Christ alone, through grace alone, and it still does. Her freedom was born at the feet of Jesus, and it still is. 

There is no sinner so vile, no wrongdoing so heinous that our God cannot forgive, cleanse, heal, save. No one is so far from grace that sōzō is not possible. No one. 

Are you weary with your own sin? Are you exhausted of watching the mistakes of a loved one? There is only one place to go with that weariness. The feet of Jesus is the place where rest, refreshment, and restoration are always available. Don't tarry, dear ones. Go to Jesus with your burdens, and receive the sōzō you so desperately need. 
Link for last night's post:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Maggie's Turn: Loving and Praying

For those who don't know, I am Maggie the Wonder Dog. I'm an eleven pound Shih Tzu, and I live and work on a farm in northeast Mississippi. If you haven't read about my exploits, you really should! I have lots of fun and lots of wild adventure. 

I had a bad time of it a while back, though. You might've heard about it. My mama went to run errands and came back with a surprise. It was not jerky. Oh no! It was a baby sister!  I do not recommend baby sisters. Your mama will not let you eat them and they are too little to play. They also look EXACTLY like GREMLINS!!! It was quite a shock, as you might imagine, but, being a Wonder Dog, I rose to the occasion. 

Well, my mama says I should tell the truth. It was awful. You might not believe this but not only did I have to break in a baby sister, I had to take her on as an Apprentice Wonder Puppy!!!  It has not been easy. Not at all. Mamie only wants to hop and hop. I have told her she is not a rabbit but she says hopping is fun. Kids!

Anyway, after a lot, lot of work, I have taught Mamie (that's my apprentice) to do her pooh outside. What a job that was! She said outside was too far away and when a girl's gotta go, she's just gotta go. Good grief! I don't know if I can make a lady out of her or not!  I have been more successful teaching her tricks. That is only because she gets bits of jerky for tricks. She is not interested in learning. She is just interested in jerky. I taught her about jerky, so I guess that's okay. 

You would not believe all she has learned. She can sit, but she hops the whole time she's sitting. I don't really call it sitting, but mama said it would have to do. She can shake hands AND she has learned to dance like a ballerina. No luck yet with sneaking like a spy though. That's okay, because spies sneak. They do not hop! A hopping spy is a terrible spy! 

You might be able to tell that I have tried hard to be a good trainer for my apprentice, but I have to constantly be on my toes. It is a full time job training an apprentice wonder puppy! 

A surprising thing happened. Last night my mama said, "Maggie, Mamie is going to have surgery tomorrow, so you will be by yourself for a bit, but she will be home soon." Surgery. I didn't know that word, but it had a hissing sound at the start and it didn't sound good. It made me think of the hissing snake that tried to bite Ole Lou. That didn't seem like anything my baby sister needed, and I told my mama so. She said, "Oh Mags, it's an operation. They will knock her out, cut her open, take out her uterus and her ovaries, make her nostrils bigger, pull her baby tooth, sew everything up, and she will be good as new before you know it!" Someone should tell my mama there is such a thing as Too Much Information! That about made me sick!

I do not like this "knocking out" business Mamie is very little. If someone knocks her out, they could smash her head. I hope they don't use a hammer for that! And "cutting open" is as bad as knocking out. If God wanted Mamie's parts out, He would have given her a zipper. That's what I think, but it sure isn't what my mama thinks. She's all about cutting. She loves that kind of gory stuff. Yuck. 

Also, this business of pulling her teeth is just a bad idea. Wonder Dogs need teeth for catching chickens and shaking them. Oops! My mama just saw that. Sorry. Wonder Dogs need teeth for eating their delicious, healthy food that their wonderful, loving mama (who would never spank them for shaking chickens) provides. :) 

Now, my mama said Mamie would be home soon. Soon. That's what she said. I waited all day long, but no Mamie. When Mama got home, she brought groceries, but no Mamie. I ran round and round but I couldn't find Mamie anywhere. First mama leaves and comes back with a sister, then she leaves with my sister and comes back with no sister! I don't know what to think! 

If you know where my sister is, please let me know. We don't have good success lately with leaving and coming back. The barn cat left and when he finally came back, he fell over and got stiff as a board. I don't want Mamie turning into a board. No, I don't!

Anyway, lots of people prayed for me and Mamie today, and I thank you. Dr. Thomas did just fine with the surgery and even though he cut Mamie open, he closed her back. I was dreading her being open, so that is really good! He told my mama that Mamie would be able to breathe good now. Maybe she will be able to sneak like a spy after all!

I know you also prayed for me when Mamie and I were getting started and were having such a hard time. Since I have a little break from teaching my apprentice wonder puppy, I thought I would take the chance to tell you thank you for that, too. When you prayed for God to help us, He did. When you prayed for me to learn to love Mamie and for us to get along, that's what happened. We got "knitted together with strong cords of love." (Colossians 2:2). These love cords are really nice. Except when your baby sister is in the hospital. That's not nice at all. 

Hey, I just thought of something! If you are having trouble with your baby sister, or anybody else for that matter, you just let me know. We will pray for you to get some of these good love cords. They are really nice. You will be so glad you did!

The end. By Maggie the Wonder Dog

PS. I forgot the Wonder Dog lesson of the day, so here it is. 

Love and pray. 
If you can't do that, pray until you love.

And that's really the end. 
By Maggie the Wonder Dog 

Faith and Fidelity (Luke 7:50)

And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7:50 NASB)

The word translated as "faith" in this verse is pistis. This word is sometimes translated as faith, assurance, or fidelity. Translated as faith, it is used to indicate an absolute, unwavering certainty of something. This woman had the absolute certainty that Jesus was the Messiah and that He had the power to both forgive her sins and set her free from her bondage to sin. She staked her life to that truth. 

This word is also sometimes translated as fidelity. It expresses a sense of solidity and constancy. One who has fidelity is unwavering and solid as a rock. That is the kind of faith the woman with the alabaster vial had in Jesus. She was so certain of her faith in Christ that she was through with wavering, through with being tossed about by her sin and her sinful desires. She was a lost sheep who had been found and she was done with her wandering, finally, permanently done with going astray. 

It is the kind of faith in God we should also have. When we, too, have pistis, we will likewise be done with our straying from Christ. That is not to say we will never sin again, but our wandering and our bent toward that sinful lifestyle will be done. Our love for Christ will supersede our love for this world. 

This kind of faith is born in a desperate weariness of sin and the price it exacts. It is found in the same position this weeping penitent woman assumed. When we, like her, willingly and humbly position ourselves at the feet of Jesus, filled with sorrow for our sin and in overwhelming joy at the love and mercy of God, we, too, can have this kind of faith. 

How does our faith compare to the faith of this woman? Do we have a firm, unwavering assurance that brings freedom and life or are we still clinging to some of the vestiges of our old life?

There is freedom in pistis. Pray today that we and our loved ones would embrace this saving, life-changing faith and be done with wavering and wandering astray. 
Link to last night's post:

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Terrorist Prayer List

The morning of 9/11, a patient called to cancel their appointment. "America is under attack," they said.  We quickly set up a television and watched in horror as the Twin Towers began to crumble, our sense of security crumbling right along with it. As the death toll mounted and the news of the terrorist plot unfolded, an interesting thing happened. At the same time that there was a turn towards God, there was an intense anger towards our attackers and a desire for vengeance that was pervasive. 

Like many communities around the country, ours had a prayer service and my church was the host church. People were asked to lead prayer for government leaders, for the injured, the missing, the families of the victims, all those affected. When one of the organizers discussed the program with me, we talked about the importance of praying for our enemies. Someone would have to lead the community in praying for Ossama Ben Ladin and his band of terrorists. 

As it turned out, that someone was me. I don't know what that prayer did for anyone else, but it reminded me that we are not powerless. As disciples of Jesus, we are servants of the Most High God. We can approach Him in prayer with confidence about anything, including terrorists attacks and the terrorists that carry them out. 

Praying for the terrorists did something else. It humanized the terrorists and helped me to see them as sinners in need of mercy and grace, just like I am. As the years have passed, I've prayed for terrorists off and on when a particularly heinous situation occurred. 

Not long ago, my boss said something about praying for the terrorists, and I was surprised. "Aren't you praying for the terrorists?" he asked. "Well, yes. I pray for terrorists, but not every day."  Then, the Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted, and I began to wake up saying, "Lord, have You released your girls yet?" Praying for the terrorist abductors has been a consistent part of praying for those girls.

Today, the subject of terrorists came up again several times. Three Israeli teenaged boys were on the way home for Shabbat when they were abducted by terrorists. Nothing good is likely to come of this, and once again, I find myself praying for terrorists. 

As I've considered the terrorist prayers, I've begun to wonder what would happen if the body of Christ began to pray consistently and regularly for specific terrorists. After 9/11, there were playing cards with the names and pictures of suspected terrorists. What if we had a "worst terrorists in the world" prayer list and prayed for them on a daily basis? Do you think God would move in some way? I do. Scripture tells us He will. If the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, and it does, then we can pray for terrorists, confident that God will intervene in some way. He might even draw them to Jesus so that they become disciples and fishers of men. 

I will never be a soldier or carry a gun and hunt down terrorists. I will never be the one at the front of the line protecting our nation from harm. I can, however, be at the back of the line, on my knees, praying for God's protection and mercy. I can be the one who, through prayer, helps to bring the lost (including the world's terrorists) to Christ.  

As a matter of fact, you can also be the one doing battle in prayer. Who's with me in this? Will you step up and pray for the redemption of the most violent, deadly terrorists in the world?

Start now by praying for the terrorists who have abducted those Israeli boys. Can you make a difference in this? Yes, indeed, so start praying and don't stop. It's a big job but someone needs to do it, and it might as well be us! 

The Power of Position (Luke 7:38,49)

and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.

Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?" (Luke 7:38, 49 NASB)

Real estate agents often say, "Location is everything".  In these verses, we find the importance of location before God as well. 

In the first instance, the repentant, weeping woman positioned herself behind Jesus and at His feet. It was the position of a follower (from behind) and of humility (at His feet). When she dried His feet with her hair, she was not only behind Him, she was kneeling at His feet, a position of penitence. Her physical position wordlessly demonstrated the attitude of her heart toward Christ. She was a repentant, humble disciple and, as she knelt at his feet, her sins were washed away and her eternal destiny was secured. She became a clean, new woman. 

The other guests took a very different position. They were "reclining at the table with Him".  These people chose a position of equality with Christ. They sat beside Him. There was no humility. There was no evidence of penitence or discipleship. In the end, they recognized that the woman, that weeping bundle of brokenness on the floor, had gained something they had not, and wondered about it. Her sins had been forgiven. There seems to have been no doubt about it. "Who is this man?" they wondered. They wondered, but neither their position nor their hearts changed, and their question went unanswered. 

The position, or "location" we choose to assume before God is vitally important, and has eternal consequences. Do we opt for an equal position, expecting that our opinions and desires have equal merit before our righteous and holy God? Do we assume the position of penitence, humility, and brokenness? There is a vast difference of heart accompanying those two positions, and we do well to examine our own position before God. 

Giving our own desires and opinions equal or greater weight in comparison to God's may be the way of our world, but it is not the way of forgiveness and healing. Only one person left the dinner party that night with a soul redeemed by mercy and grace, and it was not one of those sitting at the table. It was the weeping bundle of brokenness on the floor. Her position of humility before Christ may have seemed untenable to those at the table, but it yielded her an eternal reward, and it can do the same before us. 

Pray today that the position we and our loved ones assume before God will be one of humility and penitence. Pray, too, for the brokenness that leads to true discipleship and a life redeemed by mercy and grace. 
Link to last night's post:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

All kinds of knowing

The towering stack on the edge of my desk responded to a whisper of a touch by plummeting to the ground, scattering pieces of stray paper half-way across my office/library. There was nothing to be done but sort through the mess, throw most of it away, and organize the rest. 

As I began to sort papers, I came across a scrap on which I'd written a quote. "It's a shame to have known someone so long, but never know Him".  I have no idea who said it, but he was speaking about rediscovering the object of his faith. 

After accepting Christ as a child, he had continued to be involved in church activities. He had attended Sunday School and worship services every week, along with Sunday evening and mid-week services for years. Attending church services did not make a relationship with God, however. It wasn't that he didn't want to know God better. The problem was that he didn't know it was possible, much less how to begin. 

He had attended a men's retreat designed to build leaders and strengthen the local church. He thought it might make him a better deacon. He had no idea it would transform his life. Over the course of the weekend, he began to understand about discipleship and how to be a disciple. He had know about Jesus all his life. He had finally begin to know Jesus. 

He was right. It is a shame to know everything there is to know about someone, to think you know someone, only to find you've spent a lifetime without ever really getting acquainted. It is tragic when that someone is Almighty God. 

Being a disciple. It's more than church attendance and tithing. It's a relationship that will transform your life as well as the world around you. How well do you know Jesus? 

Who is this Forgiver? (Luke7:48,49)

Then He said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven." Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?" (Luke 7:48, 49 NASB)

This verse is easily overlooked in the midst of the story of the woman with the alabaster vial, but it has an astonishing bit of information. Jesus looked at the woman and spoke a precious gift into her life. "You are forgiven".  How amazing that must have been for the weeping woman at His feet! She had suffered enough because of her sin, and He was banishing that sin, sending it as far as the east is from the west. That is what Our Lord does with the sins of a repentant sinner, and it is a heartbreakingly beautiful gift every single time. 

Those at the table with him heard the exchange, and were, not surprisingly, taken aback. As one person turned to another, they began to ask, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?" This is the amazing tidbit. They were not asking if He had the authority to forgive sin. That was apparently a foregone conclusion derived from watching the exchange between Jesus and the woman. 

How about that? One weeping, worshipping, repentant sinner kneeling at the feet of Jesus and receiving His forgiveness was such a powerful visual testimony that an entire roomful of people recognized with no uncertainty that her sins had been forgiven. They did not doubt that Jesus had forgiven her sins. They simply wondered Who He was that He was able to do it. 

This little verse should be like a knife cutting through our pride and our reserve. If one broken sinner receiving forgiveness is such a powerful tableau that a roomful of people could recognize the power of Jesus, what would He do with our repentance if we allowed Him to use it?

That question bears repeating. What would He do with my repentance if I allowed Him to use it? What would He do with your repentance? How many lives could be changed?  

Oh precious ones, may we stop hiding our brokenness and allow our Healer to touch those sin-scarred places and make them whole. May we allow Him to use our healing in such a way that all those around us cannot help but to believe.