Thursday, May 24, 2012

Child of God: Move that Bed!

I enjoy watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition. If you haven't seen it, let me give you a brief synopsis. A family is chosen for a complete home renovation. Normally the family has experienced some sort of difficulty that has left them in great distress- hurricanes, sickness, loss of a job, death of one of the members of the family, etc. The stories are powerful and emotional and I admit they often leave me with watery eyes (although I would blame it on allergies when my wife would ask me if I was crying).

The crew shows up, sends the family on vacation, demolishes the old house and builds a new home for the family- in 7 days! Once the project is compete they bring the family home from vacation and place them behind a huge bus. At just the right time the family and the crowd yell, "Bus driver, move that bus!" The bus slowly pulls away revealing the stunningly beautiful home. The music plays, the crowd cheers and the family breaks down in tears (that's when I "struggle with my allergies"). Sometimes the family falls down in the street: other times they stand in stunned disbelief. But all of them go from distressed to overjoyed in one moment. Their lives will never be the same.

Imagine a slightly different scenario for a moment. Imagine the beautiful home on the other side of the bus, but the bus never moves. The family in distress never sees the house and they continue in their life of struggle even though there's a better life on the other side of the bus.

This describes the reality of people all around us. Their marriage is in distress, they've lost a loved one, they've lost a job, they're struggling with raising their children, or they've lost hope. They need a break and a break through. Jesus had an encounter with such a man in Mark 2. When Jesus first met him he was "sick of the palsy," a condition that left him paralyzed, disctressed and hurting (Mark 2:3). Jesus came into Capernaum and was in a house, teaching.

Word got out that Jesus was in town. Just on the other side of town was a man who could heal him, but the paralyzed man couldn't get there. So his friends came over, picked up his bed and carried him to the house where Jesus was. I don't know how far they went. I don't know if it was 10 blocks or 10 miles. I don't know if they had to put the bed down and rest on the journey. What we know is this: their friend was hurting, they could do something about it, so they did and they weren't going to let any obstacles get in the way.

Their friend couldn't walk, so they carried him. The house was too crowded to get in, so they went around. The roof was in the way so they went through. What matters in the end is they got their friend to Jesus. When they did, they heard God heal their friend- "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee" (Mark 2:5). God healed him spiritually...then he healed him physically- "I say unto thee, 'Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house'" (Mark 2:11).

So he did. "Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw it on this fashion'" (Mark 2:12). In the end, when the bed was moved, the whole crowd was amazed. The music played. The crowd cheered. The tears flowed. They glorified God and said, "I've never seen anything like it."

This story would not have happened if the formerly-paralyzed man's friends didn't care enough to bring him to Jesus. It wouldn't have happened if they let all of the obstacles stop them. Look around you for people who are paralyzed with fear, hurt, despair or disappointment and "move that bed!" Bring them to Jesus.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You Can't Drop Out of the Race

With such a political fervor in the air candidates have spent the last year posturing and positioning themselves for the election year. There is a lot at stake in an election year. There is much to fight over. There is much to debate. There is much to decide...and there are a lot who drop out of the race.

The reasons vary. Some drop out because of a scandal. Others drop out because the pressure is too great on the candidate's family. Some drop out because of political pressure and others stop their race because they feel like they can't win. The term that is used is "unelectable."

Perhaps this mentality has invaded churches. At pastor's conferences I hear pastors say things like, "It's worse today than it's ever been" (which is a gross overstatement) or "People just don't want to hear the truth any longer." You can hear the resignation in their voices and it is sad and discouraging. It's almost as though they are holding their press conference and with cameras clicking and TV cameras rolling they are saying, "I'm dropping out of the race. The gospel of Jesus Christ is unelectable."

The gospel may be unpopular and it may not be the belief system of the majority, but it is still the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). I believe the good news that Jesus died, was buried and rose again for our sins is the only hope for this messed up world in which we live (1 Cor. 15:1-4) we must not drop out of the race. Christians can't quit.

We must stand with courageous faith and proclaim this hope for the world. I'm a young man (35 years old). I realize that I have a lot to learn. But here's one thing I do know: by God's grace, I want to finish the race. I'm not dropping out. I don't care how unpopular the message may be to others. I'm not concerned with whether or not the gospel is politically correct with its exclusive claims. I believe with all my heart it is the way, the truth and the life and hope is impossible without it.

So whether you're facing the workplace, the classroom, the grocery store or your kids today- run the race with patience. There's a lot more at stake than tax rates and social issues. Eternity hangs in the balance.