Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Lazarus Experiment - Day Seven and Eight

The Lazarus Experiment attempts to define what a person would do, think, feel, say, accomplish, and plan if they had been brought back from death to life. Instead of a bucket list, we have determined to create the opposite. A compilation of abundant living bullet points. 
The phrase, "kick the bucket" has several possible origins. Here's the Roman Catholic version:
After death, when a body had been laid out ... the holy-water bucket was brought from the church and put at the feet of the corpse. When friends came to pray . . . they would sprinkle the body with holy water . . . it is easy to see how such a saying as "kicking the bucket " came about. Many other explanations of this saying have been given by persons who are unacquainted with Catholic custom.—The Right Reverend Abbot Horne, Relics of Popery

The assumption may have been that the bucket was placed prematurely (always be prepared!). This especially makes sense when added with the notion that a person stretches out their legs in the moment of death.  
BAM! Bucket kicked. 
So what is the opposite of kicking the bucket?
Filling the bucket. 
Once Lazarus was unbound and able to speak, I can't imagine anything he'd probably want to do more that say "Thank You!" 
To Jesus, his Lord and close friend, of course. He probably found it hard to stop thanking Jesus.  
But after Jesus somehow pulled away from Lazarus' outrageous expressions of gratitude, I think Laz would have started on his "fill the bucket" list - people he should have thanked before he stretched out his legs and died. 
The way we have the story in John 11, it seems Lazarus' death was fairly sudden. It does not seem that anyone was really prepared for it. So too, Laz himself probably found it a bit of a shock. (Fact is, even if you know way ahead in advance, I think death is still shocking.)
In my mind, I see Lazarus - after taking a long shower, combing his hair, getting dressed - rushing out to the crowd gathered on his lawn. They were there originally for mourning, but now they were waiting in excitement to greet the new man. I think Lazarus would have bounced from one person to another, chatting it up and smiling and saying one thing over and over and over again: THANKS! 
I've got shocking news for you. Are you sitting down? Maybe you should.
I can say that with nearly 100% accuracy. It's just truth. I'm sorry I had to be the one to tell you.  
But you are alive now, and if you've given your formerly sorry, dying self to Jesus, you are now living abundantly. And while it is true that Jesus provides a way to conquer death and give us new life, we will still come to a time when we will be "absent from the body." And when that happens, we will no longer be able to tell people how much they mean to us. 
Shame on me for not telling you how much I appreciate you. Shame on you for not grabbing everyone you know and telling them how thankful you are and what they mean to you. Shame on us for living without gratitude. We have so much to be thankful for - it could fill a bucket.
I don't want to shame you, really. But I'd like to give you - and me - a kick in the butt and say "Go on! Get out there! Tell someone you're thankful for them." 
Mostly, tell God how very thankful you are that he has given you new life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 
Go on, you bucket-fillers. Say thanks. Use words if you must. 
Suggested Scripture For Today: Psalm 107 
Suggested Ideas:  
Express your gratitude to God, but do not use words.
Make a list and a plan to say thank you to ten people who have never heard or read those words from you.
Send a thank-you note that is not digital.
Designate one day this week and say thank you to everyone you possible can, with a smile, looking directly in their eyes, slowly and deliberately so they can't write it off. Tell us on The Experiment how many people you thanked in one day.
 Question of the Day: Do you think Lazarus was happy about coming back to life?
You can do this!

Day Eight 

The Bible describes death as the final enemy to be destroyed.  
But the Bible also says that Jesus Christ has already defeated death, and that his followers can live in freedom from death. 
Nobody knows what this feels like like Lazarus. 
In the years we've been doing The Lazarus Experiment, I've had people suggest that maybe Lazarus was not happy about being brought back to life. Maybe he was miffed. After all - he may have been in heaven, or on his way there, or at least in a holding pattern. Was life on earth better? Factor also that, once the reality of his new life had settled in, Lazarus was facing off with another death. He would join the very exclusive club of those who have died twice. 
As logical as all that sounds, I'm not convinced. The most compelling evidence, I think, is that Lazarus was Jesus' close friend. If raising Lazarus from the grave was something bad to do, and the only reason for doing it was that Jesus would wow the crowd, it seems contrary to the love Jesus had for his friend. 
Plus, it is God's firm stance that life is good. It is very good! And death is an enemy, a beast, born from the pit of wickedness. To reverse death is always a good thing! 
That is why I believe the overwhelming attitude that carried through every day of Lazarus' second life, for as long as that life lasted for Laz - the thing that stuck in his heart and stayed there forever - was joy. 
Laz knew joy from the perspective of one who knew grace. He didn't deserve what happened; it was Jesus' gift. That alone would make you smile for a long time. 
Laz knew joy because he learned the value of family and friends. He realized the marvel of relationships, intimacy, and love. That would set you up with a light in your heart that could not be extinguished. 
Laz knew joy all around him: in the earth and sky, in the stars and clouds. His post-death eyes fairly beamed with the joy of creation and breathing and the pump of adrenaline when you ride a roller coaster. 
OK. He didn't ride a coaster. But he knew the joy of living. Because he got to do it over again. And he would have determined to never practice joylessness again. 
Did he have bad days. Of course he did. But the bad days were always eclipsed by the thought, I am brand new. As bad as it may get, it's still true that he rescued me.

I wonder - do you know joy? 
You've been brought back from death. You have tasted new life in Christ. Behold, everything is brand new. As bad as it may get, it's still true that he rescued you. 
Joy is not passive; it scr 
I love this quote from Octavius Winslow, known as "The Pilgirm's Pastor"  
The religion of Christ is the religion of JOY. Christ came to take away our sins, to roll off our curse, to unbind our chains, to open our prisonhouse, to cancel our debt; in a word, to give us the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Is not this joy? Where can we find a joy so real, so deep, so pure, so lasting? 
There is every element of joy - deep, ecstatic, satisfying, sanctifying joy - in the gospel of Christ. The believer in Jesus is essentially a happy man. The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven of inconceivable, unthought-of, untold, and endless blessedness. With such a God, such a Saviour, and such a hope, is he not, ought he not, to be a joyful man?

Suggested Scripture For Today: Psalm 47 
Suggested Ideas:
Make a joy list. Write out in long hand all the things that are reasons for joy in your life. Post it where you can see it for a week.
Go through one entire day smiling at everyone. Don't just tell us about your resolve to do it. Tell us about what happened after you did it.
Take a slow hike.
Joy is a turn-around emotion; it has the power to turn things around. Find an object that can be a joy trigger. It could be a Bible, a picture, a trinket, a bracelet, a hat. When you encounter things in your day that threaten your joy, use the trigger to remind you of God's immense love for you and your new life in Jesus. 
Question of the Day: How would Lazarus have treated the people in his life differently on the other side of death? 
I can't wait to read what you've experienced tomorrow!

Sometimes life gets in the way of our very best intentions and we have to take some time away.    On this day both Ron and I needed to combine days to allow for some down time.  Here we go for days Seven and Eight:

These days were a little difficult for me because I was participating in a two day Market Event in my little community. Selling my jewelry amongst other vendors selling their hand made goods and others selling darling little farm animals - pygmy goats, regular goats, all different kinds of bunnies, chickens, ducks and piggies.

Saturday I made a point to speak to every single person I saw and compliment them on something they were wearing or their hair styles or shoes or something I heard them say. It's beautiful to watch people's demeanor's change because they got a little "thought" from a perfect stranger - as though a stranger's input somehow means more than someone who loves or cares about us. Then again, perhaps a stranger's notice can help those who are familiar with us notice something new; offer us a new appreciation.

It was so rewarding to watch people and their gratefulness which fed my own heart.

On Sunday I continued my "I really like your..." endeavors and gave out hugs to several people who were kind enough to help me with my canopy and wind blown displays without even being asked!

When I won the raffle (the cutest little home made gift - "Redneck Sippy Cups") I gave out more hugs of thanks. It was a hug fest and it ended up contagious. We were all hugging by the end of the day!

What a blessing! I didn't sell much (and Dalton spent my profits) but it was worth SO MUCH MORE than money!

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