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My Life Has a Plan

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Psalm 80

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they “slept like a baby” when babies wake up like every two hours?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

If money doesn’t grow on trees then why do banks have branches?j

These are funny…and I’ll bet you can come up with more. Do you ever think about the questions Mary, the mother of Jesus, asked? ……..we’re making a quick transition now.

There’s no direct writings about this, but I’m sure she knew of the Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah. I’m sure she realized the importance of the child she was carrying when escaping to Egypt when the local leader wanted all baby boys murdered. I’m sure she was asking questions knowing that the two year old she was potty training was REALLY the Son of God. When He was actually teaching the rabbis in temple school, I’m sure she was wondering about the rumors of what He would become. Joseph had to be looking into the Scriptures to see what this boy under his care was all about. I would guess there wasn’t much talk about it when the “subject” came up.

I wonder what Mary thought of when she would hear Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist calling Him the Lamb of God. She knew what a “Lamb of God” was. It was the sacrifice for the sins of a family! I’m sure she was asking questions.

I wonder if she ever thought of the story of Abraham and Isaac. I’m positive she knew the story of her ancestor Abraham. I wonder if she ever thought she might be in a similar place to Abraham…she wasn’t the Father…but she was the momma. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. Was she going to have to see her son Jesus in the same position? I’m sure she and her husband asked those questions.

There was a ‘plan of life’ that Jesus was following. I’m sure there were logical people who were following Jesus…some were disciples. Others may have been the women who were following. One might have been Mary. If God’s son was here with us, among us, then there must be a purpose and an ‘end game.’ What was it? I’m sure Mary knew in her heart where this was going. He was the Lamb. Lambs are killed for the purpose of forgiveness. He was perfect. He was unlike any child she was familiar with. He didn’t back down to danger or high risk. He was making those in authority upset. There were rumors of arrest and death to shut this person, her son, up.

We see so many people in this life lost as if without purpose or a plan. I just watched a John Maxwell video clip about successful people. He said that the first thing he notices about successful people is that they know what they’re here for. He said that there are two important days in a successful person’s life. One…when they were born. Two…when they figured out why.

Follow me here…we’re going to use a line of logic. If Jesus was born to die for us so we could live and be servants in a great Kingdom, then what’s that say about us? If we are servants in God’s Kingdom, then what’s that say about our daily life? If God provides us a daily life, do you think there are things, everyday, that He wants us to pray about or do? If there are things that God wants us to do every day, do we have purpose? I’m starting to let that sink into my being. Where ever I am or whatever I’m doing, I have a purpose. It might be the little thing I said to the telemarketer on the phone. It might have been the smile I gave to the gal in the Taco Bell drive through. It might be the sincere asking of “How has your day been?” to my daughter when she gets off the bus. It might be the prayer I said during lunch time for a friend.

I’m convinced that Life is not random. Do random things happen in life? Yes, but my plan of my life is not random. I have the purpose and plan of living a daily life so God is seen by many people.

Mary, I personally believe, knew this about her son Jesus. Yes, I believe it broke her heart. Yes, I believe she stayed awake at night with nightmares about what ‘might’ happen to her son. Yes, I believe that she was torn apart when the arrest took place. But I also think that Mary might be running around Heaven pointing to Jesus and telling people, “That’s my son…I’m so proud of Him. He’s also my savior.” When she was finally face to face before God, I’m sure that God said, “Well done servant.”

A leader has plans for followers. God is our leader and He really wants to say to us, “Well done servant.” As leaders, can we point to our Leader everyday so that other people see their plan in the story?

For Kids – I would just continue to tell the Easter story as we head into the big week. Next week is Palm Sunday…when Jesus entered Jerusalem with a huge party that drove the authorities nuts. Here are some different links I found that might help you with this one.

Parents will be watching the video which will take them from the beating of Jesus up to just before the cross is raised with Him on it. The focus is on how Mary felt through all of this…realizing that Jesus’ life really did have a plan and the plan was for all of us.

My Pain is Understood

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

****

A young woman went to her doctor complaining of pain.
“Where are you hurting?” asked the doctor.
“You have to help me, I hurt all over”, said the woman.
“What do you mean, all over?” asked the doctor, “be a little more specific.”

The woman touched her right knee with her index finger and yelled, “Ow, that hurts.” Then she touched her left cheek and again yelled, “Ouch! That hurts, too.” Then she touched her right earlobe, “Ow, even THAT hurts”, she cried.

The doctor checked her thoughtfully for a moment and told her his diagnosis, “You have a broken finger.”

****

Pain stinks. I’m just putting that out there. I’m sure you will all agree. If we all had the choice between no pain and having pain, I think we would choose for none of it. There are many sorts of pain. Headaches, guilty pains, broken bone pains, bee sting pains, pains of emotional abuse, pains of relationship problems, stress pain, stubbing your toe on the doorframe pain, speck of dust in your eye pain, touching the hot pan pain, pain of forgetfulness, pain of loss/grief, splinter pain, sunburn pain, your kids say “I hate you” pain, fingers caught in the door pain, chronic back pain, coffee too hot on the tongue pain, ….the list could go on and on.

Pain stinks. Some pains are for our good though. We are creatures of choice. We can choose to do right or wrong. Pain reminds us wrong things…or push us on to better things as well. Maybe pain isn’t so bad after all. I mean it’s bad, but it takes us to hopefully new places.

Being a runner (once a runner always a runner…I need to start again), I remember my coach first telling me that I need to distinguish between good pain and bad pain. I remember thinking, “Yeah, right!” But his words came true the first time I started cramping in my abdomen. I was doubled over on Central Ave. and coach kept on yelling, “Run through it Ed! Run through it! It will be over soon and you’ll be better off.” I also remember the first time my knees started hurting. I remember the coach saying, “Walk it off. Go home and ice it. Lifting tomorrow, no running for you.” Some pain you need to go through. Other pains say, “STOP!”

Pain started in the Garden of Eden simultaneously between 3 entities. God, Adam and Eve all experienced pain at the site of the forbidden tree. Everything was perfect…pain did not exist. Then all of the sudden, Eve felt naked and embarrassed, Adam felt vulnerable and hid from God. God felt loss and grief. That’s where it all started! From there we see pain throughout the world…all sorts of pain between people, in each person’s body, between friends, between enemies, between nations, within nations.

Pain stinks because it is the opposite of what God wants us to feel. Sometimes we don’t understand why there is pain…but it is simply because of sin. And God has to allow us to go through it. Remember, He had to go through it with us. He felt that loss first in the Garden, and then daily over thousands of years as His creation sinned each and every moment all over the planet. He also watched as His son Jesus willingly put Himself in the hands of those who would beat Him and murder Him.

Pain stinks, but it reminds us how far we are from God…but how close we can get if we just “run through it” or “stop” when necessary. Pain happens. Sometimes pain happens because of us. We need to figure out the difference between the two and live life to the fullest. That’s what Jesus did…even through His incredible pain as Creator (John 1:1) and as the Sacrifice (Matthew 27:45-46).

Categories: Grace, Jesus Tags: , , , , ,

No Pain No Gain

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Pain in the Side

At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam’s ribs. Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and said, Johnny what is the matter? Little Johnny responded, “I have a pain in my side. I think I’m going to have a wife.”

Ok, that was more a cute one than a belly laugh-er. But it does bring out a point that we are going to work through this week. Sometimes we misunderstand pain and suffering. The little boy just put two and two together and got a wife. Often times, we humans tend to put pain and suffering up there with most unwanted things in life. It’s natural to do that. My knee doesn’t like to be bent backwards. My finger doesn’t like it when I’m less than accurate with a stapler. When my toe rams itself into the table leg, I scream…and maybe say some other things in my brain. When I have a headache, I take aspirin. When my acid reflux boils, I remember to take my little purple pill. When I slam my hand in a door…I remove it quickly.

We don’t like pain. We pull away from it. We take stuff for it. We yell out at it. Pain is sometimes useful, as in when a splinter is in our heel, but it still hurts. We want it gone.

This brings up a problem. Sometimes it hurts living Christ-like. Sometimes it feels as though the world is against us…not tolerating Jesus followers (pressed on every side). Sometimes we don’t understand why God is allowing us to go through something (perplexed). Sometimes we’re made fun of or taken lightly or threatened when we live out Godly morals and values (persecuted). Sometimes we here of Christians in the world who are imprisoned, beaten, and killed (struck down). By a human standard, Christianity is not too appealing. Through the eyes of God, our pain is our gain…and Jesus’ gain as well.

The more we’re able to withstand pain, confusion and suffering, the more the light of Jesus shines through us. Some people will not see Christ in us. Some people refuse to see it. Some will shut us out. Some will jump on board with both feet! We take that risk. Chapter 4 verse 4 says that the god of this world has closed the eyes and ears of unbelievers. With this Biblical revelation, we see that we’re not fighting against people. Our pain is not coming from people. Ephesians 6:12 and following says that we’re in a spiritual battle. It is a battle for souls, and with that knowledge, my understanding of pain changes. Pain is worth it. Through my pain and suffering Jesus can shine…maybe bright enough and loud enough to get through to those Satan has influenced.

As leaders, our followers need to hear of our pain and suffering for Jesus, and they need to see it. They need to see that it is OK and worthwhile. We are the church. The gates of Hell cannot stand against the church. Therefore we need to live like that. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that God did not give us a spirit of timidity. God gave us His spirit…which is a spirit of power.

I often think of sports illustrations. I used to run a lot. Running down a road for 5 miles at a time…not listening to anything, not talking to anyone…taught me a lot about life. There are safe pains and not so safe pains in athletics. Most cramps are not debilitating, you just need to run through them. If you don’t, they clamp down stronger. Some leg cramps are debilitating. You need to stop immediately and let it run its course. When running cross country and track, the mindset was to blow through a shoulder or abdomen cramp. You pushed through and actually came out better. It spurred you on.

Jesus went through a lot of false accusations. He walked through a lot of criticism. He was captured, beaten and then killed on a public cross. He died. I think my pain is worth it. His pain was. What are you willing to go through to get the Truth to someone’s heart?

Teaching it: This lesson lends itself well to discussion groups or pairs. People could share their personal times of hardship for Jesus. Not all hardships are because of the Gospel, though, so one needs to be able to separate these things. Focusing on what is growing in us…the spirit of Life, Christ himself, is a skill to be passed on and talked about so that when that growth begins in other, we can help them recognize it and nurture it.

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