Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Lazarus Experiment Day 10

For most of us, the Lazarus account is a very profound analogy of our new lives in Christ Jesus. Hardly any of us have really been brought back to life after four days of being dead. (If you have, I'd like to come and talk to you!)
I know I haven't. So I can only begin to imagine Lazarus' reactions and emotions. How did he feel when he heard his name? What was his reaction to being loosed from the strips of cloth that held him tight? And this question keeps coming to me: What happened when those who were tending to Lazarus finally began to unwrap his his neck, his head, his mouth, his eyes.
That moment right there.
The moment when the final wrap, perhaps with some padding, was undone from around his head, and his eyelids fluttered, and his pupils went ballistic at the daylight, and the blur of morbid sight cleared, and his eyes adjusted to life, and . . .
Eye to eye. Face to face. Jesus staring right into his brain, into his heart, into the core of him--now alive. Is that a smile on Jesus' face? Are those tears streaking his cheeks? Is that forgiveness in his features? Is that love--right there--in his eyes?
If Jesus had brought Lazarus out of the grave and then left before the rags were removed, I think Lazarus would have been changed. He would have lived differently, and would have made the most out of his second-chance life.
But I think Lazarus was changed more by that one look than anything else that happened to him that day.
That look is powerful. Why do you think so many gospel songs talk about seeing Jesus? Having him look into our eyes. Telling us to look into his?
Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in his wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.
It's a nice analogy. But I think it's more than that.
We have spiritual eyes that allow us to see him. And that sight can change us forever.
Whatever this Experiment does--whatever changes you make, habits you start, alterations in attitude that result--the one thing that supersedes all else is seeing Jesus.
If it does anything, I want it to reacquaint me to that moment. I was blind, but now I see. I was in a pit, and he rescued me. I was poor and helpless and wounded and dead, and he called my name and brought me out. And I have looked him in the eyes, and I can never be the same.
Everything we do as a part of this exercise springs from that moment. What difference will it make to you?
Suggested Scripture For Today: Revelation 22:1-5 (Ask yourself - what does this picture remind you of?)
Suggested Ideas:
1. If Jesus were your sibling, or husband/wife, or very close friend, and he wasn't with us physically, we'd probably write him a letter, and part of the letter would include telling him how much we would love to see him in person. Write that letter.
2. Spend ten minutes with your eyes closed and imagine being Lazarus and opening your eyes to the wonder of Jesus' gaze. How would that change you? What would be different?
3. Someone helped get Lazarus out of the rags and into the presence of Jesus. Someone helped you, too, to see Jesus clearly. Have you thanked them lately?
4. If you're artistic (and even if you're not), can you draw a picture, or take a photo, or write a poem, or a song, describing and illustrating looking into the eyes of Jesus? If you do, POST IT SO WE CAN SEE IT!
We are 25% into this thing! Don't get discouraged - you're doing great. Keep up your spirits, look to Jesus, and tell us about what's going on. The best way to get the most benefit from this endeavor is to interact with each other online. Don't worry about missing some days, just jump in when you can. AND TOMORROW IS CRAZY PICTURE DAY! HAVE YOU PICKED OUT YOUR PICTURE?

My Day 10 response:

Day 10 - I did what Ron suggested and sketched the first time Jesus revealed himself to me but it's so flat. It can't come close to glory of Him. I looked long and hard at the various times He has come to me and the circumstances, the differences in the revelations, the people who came with him. Each time He has come to me it has been at a crossroads. It was a time when things could potentially go very bad or had gone very bad (in earthly terms). It was always a time where I had to just trust.... to just let go and keep the faith no matter how heartbroken I was. the first time I was 14 and had just escaped being molested for 5 years. (*coincidentally, I was having my first vision of the most beautiful thing I have ever seen at the same time my darling husband was being born... how's that for God writing your story?!!) I was with several other people and all of us were wrestling with some life changing moments that would determine a lot in our futures. One of us was struggling with sexuality. One of us was struggling with his place in his family, and there were more stories. There were 6 of us in all. He came to us when we needed him most to show us His love and comfort - and help us renew and keep our faith.
He has come to me, surrounded me with such joy, such love, such comfort that I have come to be hopeful that He will come to me more often but I sure don't want to "wear out my welcome". And I REALLY don't want to keep experiencing these moments in my life where my heart takes another hit.
So I drew my picture of the magnificent Lord... but it pales so much in comparison with His true glory that I just put it in my prayer journal... A reminder of the first time when I was just a little girl and a reminder of this day, when I chose to compare and contrast all the times I have been graced by His presence and I learned two really big things.
1) I have had my fair share of trauma and I really could use a break but for whatever reason, I know I'm being prepared for something...
2) Each time, it's been following a trauma and it has made my faith even stronger. I'm firmly rooted and I know that - an unshakeable foundation but these visits, these amazing reveals that I've been blessed to see, have cemented my feet firmly in Christ. His Glory and Magnificence are huge and I feel the need to honor Him by my life and living the way He would want me to, being the person He would want me to, being the mother, daughter, sister and friend He would want me to. I want to live in the Glorious place. I want to know it in my eternity and it fuels me to do better and better.
That being said it makes me quite a basket case when I falter. It brings on self deprecation that is my giant. I've hit that giant so many times with that same old Rock..... and yet I know I've never used the one rock that would truly slay it.... I've never once said, NO! In Jesus' name I will NOT do that to myself. I have no idea what's holding me back.

The Lazarus Experiment - Day 9

Let's say Lazarus started a diary.
Day One. Hello diary. Today, Jesus called me out of that hole! After I got unwrapped I went around to everyone gathered for my funeral and hugged them. Lots of good food and good friends. We danced, partied, and generally had a great time until about 3:00 a.m. I'm beat!
Day Two. Dear diary: I love being alive! Today I couldn't wait to get out of the house! Me, Mary and Martha, and a small group of friends took a long hike with a picnic around Galilee. (Peter could barely stand not being able to cast a net!). After we got back I dug up about a half acre of dirt in the backyard. I'm going to put in a garden!
Day Three. Dear Diary: Went sightseeing in Jerusalem - preparing for the festival. Jesus has plans to head down there - not sure that's a great idea. Worked all day doing errands for him, just to make sure he'll be safe. Haven't been to the city for a long time. Whew! Glad I went, but I'll sleep good tonight.
Day Four. Dear Diary: Decided to get up early and exercise an hour. Got to get this dead old body in shape! Don't want to die (again!) too soon! Had to finally get some work done, since somebody has to pay the bills now that I'm around.
Day Five. Dear Diary: A couple friends decided to pay me a visit and we went hunting. The old bow still performed amazing - I can take out a antelope from 50 years out! Felt more alive than ever. But I need to sleep.
Day Six. Dear Diary. What a day! The air was crisp and cool, and it just demanded that I get some work done. So I finally went down to the crypt to clean things out. Scrubbed the walls with vinegar (oh man - the smell I left in there!) and cleaned up some of the spices and stuff that was left around. (Not sure that stuff works all that well!). Gotta get the place ready, just in case, I guess. My arms feel like they're going to drop off.
You get the picture.
Lazarus, I'm sure, was eager to live life. But somewhere during the first week or two, life reached up and smacked him around. His energy drained. His feet got sore. His back was stiff. It was time to rest.
At some point, Lazarus realized that his new body still needed respite care. After several days of pushing it - testing the very edges of the endurance of his new life - I think Lazarus crashed.
Our Lazarus Experiment needs to factor in some rest. Some of you have already written about naps. That's great. But maybe a whole day of Sabbath is in order.
Since I'm a pastor, Sundays are not ideal for any kind of Sabbath-keeping. I sometimes have to force myself away from work and busyness to get quiet rest.
Lazarus would have realized, as we all must, that there will always - ALWAYS - be something on your to-do list that is urgent, necessary, and vital to your well-being and the happiness of those around you.
After the first week, Laz may have put his to-do list on hold, recognizing that life is too short to burn it out all at once.
Rest, friend.
Suggested Scripture For Today: Matthew 11:25-30
Suggested Ideas:
1. Schedule a day, soon, and attempt to accomplish nothing.
2. Take a day off from The Lazarus Experiment.
3. Turn off all electronic devises for one 24 hour period. No TV. No computer. No cell phone. No radio. No video games. Go tech-cold-turkey.
4. Spend half a day with God alone. Take only a Bible, a pen/pencil, a notebook. Get as far away from other people as you can. Make it your goal not to see another person except God for at least four hours.
Well, we're a week in, and already the relationships and connections and encouragement and practical love is ALIVE and GROWING at TLE 2014. Every year I sit back and watch with awe how God knits and molds this group into existence, and then the Spirit begins to make us move in response to His new life in us. Who knows what will be the result?
Wednesday is Crazy Pic Day! It commemorates the 25% mark in The Experiment. Things get serious sometimes, so let's have a little fun. Post your pictures on Wednesday.

My response to day 9

Day 9 I think this embodies all Lazarus felt he could and should embrace when he woke up. I hope to live up to half as much. Today I talked at great length with a young lady who wants to give up. She wants to seriously pack it all in. She attempted three weeks ago and had 5 days of inpatient therapy. Do I think I can suffice? Oh heck no - but I do have a lot of experience with PTSD and that's her giant. Maybe I can help my own giants (remember - I do to avoid - but I'm trying to face head on) in the process. Today, she's calm for a while. Today some one talked with her for a while that helped her feel like she's not alone and there are people who understand. And maybe that's enough for today.
This guys right here puts it all into perspective. With God ANYTHING is possible!

The Lazarus Experiment Day 8

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 screams action. What action will you take out of the sheer joy of being alive in Christ?
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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Take a slow hike.
4. 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.

My response to day 8

Day 8 - Church was amazing. I am an Episcopalian and I adore my Episcopal church family but the service doesn't offer my not so little boy what he needs in the way of feeding his heart and soul. So I have been taking us to a new church that is positively ON FIRE for God. It's wonderful and five Sunday's ago, my not so little boy accepted Jesus. I cried for days for the love. You see, for years now not so little boy has been angry with God for taking his daddy. He still questions why but knows that God has wisdom beyond all of us etc. I'm so delighted forhim. So, even though he wasn't with me yesterday (he had a sleep over birthday party Saturday night) I went on to church yesterday.
And spent the rest of the day waffling between tears and thought. I'm going to have to spend a good bit of time this week determining what my giants are and realizing I do have all the tools I ever needed to battle it all! (Well I thought long enough yesterday I know what they are truthfully but denial is fierce sometimes.)
I pray I have the heart to combat the giant - I'm no David.... I wish sometimes I could just approach things with the faith of a child. Too much life...

The Lazarus Experiment Day 7

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 to, 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 for mourning, now 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:
1. Express your gratitude to God, but do not use words.
2. Make a list and a plan to say thank you to ten people who have never heard or read those words from you.
3. Send a thank-you note that is not digital.
4. 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.

My response to Day 7

Dau 7 - I have tried to find Lazzy things to do today while I pampered myself. I'm exhausted from the pain of the betrayal I call my body. I don't sleep, I can't exercise, the simplest things wear me out. While my doctor visits say I'm incredibly healthy my body betrays me at every turn. So today, while I;m thinking of lazzy things to do I realized I already was.
My son has a Big Brother - like Big Brother, Big Sisters Big Brother. He's been away on a trip to Spain and just returned and he and little boy saw each other today for the first time in a month. Little boy was ecstatic. It was good to see his excitement.
I slept while he was gone. When he returned another friend stopped by with whom little boy is supposed to spend the day tomorrow. Instead, they asked if he could spend the night with them. Little boy was truly excited and of course I said yes.
What did I do? I sat here and have dozed off and on all afternoon and evening. I don't remember the last time I slept so much. then I thought - well, maybe I'm gearing up for something BIG! Maybe I was supposed to rest, maybe it was exactly what Laz might have done after a busy week of "awakenings". So I forgave myself for not being more mobile today and just enjoying the fact that I slept.

The Lazarus Experiment - Day 6

So much of what we do is just a lot of flim-flam.
You drive like a maniac until your mother is in the car, then it's speed-limit city.
You talk like a sailor at work (sorry, sailors), using swear words with the skill and agility of a master artist, but tidy up your mouth before you step into your living room.
You have wonderful things to say about that pastor when you're at church, but you rehearse a whole repertoire of slams and criticisms in the car as you pull out of the church parking lot.
You go to a party, pick at the food like you were a bird, then hit McD's on the way home for a Double Quarter Pounder Meal - Going Large, of course.
You flirt with that guy at the office and entertain a little fantasy-world in your head, but you never, ever tell anyone else how close you are to falling off the marital edge.
A flim-flam life. It's hard to know who you really are.
Along with all the grave-clothes that Lazarus lost that day, I imagine he also lost any reason whatsoever to play games. And we're not talking tennis or Uno or Monopoly or Super Mario Bros.
Just think hard on this: You're sick. You're dead. You're naked, and they wrap you up. You're somewhere (???!) for four days. And then Jesus calls your name and tells you to reverse course and come back.
You're alive again, and come stumbling out. And Jesus tells them to unwrap you. "Take the grave clothes off and let him go." Right there, in front of the crowd that has gathered. Unwrapped and naked. Vulnerable. I picture Jesus holding Lazarus' hand.
Do you think it mattered to Lazarus? Do you think he cared a whit that he was naked? I don't think so. He was alive. He had nothing to lose. He had no reason to play hide-and-seek anymore. Exposure, freedom, life, Jesus. I imagine it all came rushing in and stuck in his heart and his throat.
And later - maybe that night, or the next day - as he sat quietly (Martha - "Just take a seat right here on the porch, Lazzie; I'll get you anything you need; you just rest. Do you need anything? Here's some lemonade and cookies. I can get more.") As he sat quietly, sipping lemonade and munching oatmeal raisin cookies, Lazarus determined that he would never hide behind grave-clothes again.
I wonder if he thought about how many hours he had wasted pretending to be someone he wasn't? I wonder if he felt released from all the various parts he had played in his life-performance? I wonder if he decided that there would be no more drama, no more pretense, no more fake living, no more hiding and bargaining and self-protection. Why take up the time? Why go through all the hassle? Why spend all the energy to be someone you're not?
Jesus had given him a second chance. There was no reason to play games anymore.
Want to live like Laz? Drop the games. No more flim-flam. Strip off the grave-clothes. You can be vulnerable. Jesus will be holding your hand.
Suggested Scripture For Today: Psalm 103
Suggested Ideas:
1. Tell your closest friend or your spouse a secret you've never told anyone else.
2. Try something you know you're not good at, but something you've always wanted to do.
3. Clean out a closet that's been gathering junk. Pretend it's your life.
4. Confess a sin to God that you've never been honest about before.

My Day 6 response:

Day 6 - I tried to let go. I had something on my heart that was dragging me down and I tried to tell that person and be honest and fair and I couldn't. Telling my bestie like Ron suggested wouldn't have helped because she already knows (she's actually related to this person). I just couldn't come clean to the person because they are oblivious. They turn everything around, no matter how tragic and it becomes their tragedy. No matter when has happened. what's going on with them is always worse (no matter how small). But I realized that size is irrelevant. Pain is pain, ache is ache. Who is to say my heartache is more fierce than hers? The pain she felt was sincere and, to her, tragic.
So, instead of being "barely there" when she called yesterday, I tried to be more attentive, understand her hurt and help her through it. It wouldn't have done any good to harp on why I have been upset for3 years. the only good that would have served would have been to unload my burden, which I recognize I need to do to move forward in my relationship with her but yesterday wasn't the day. I let it go. Right after I hung up with her bestie invited me to a friends for a game night and was happy to go. (Imagine me being spontaneous two days in a row?!!) Imagine my surprise when they gave me an early birthday party!
I feel like God had a big hand in all that and Laz would have approved. Just let it go and move on. I forgave her in my heart and that's all there is to that at this point.

The Lazarus Experiment Day 5

When you have extra anything to play with, it's worth having some fun.
If you have a little extra money at the end of the month, it makes sense to enjoy yourself.
If you have a little extra snow in the yard (and almost any snow is extra snow) it makes sense to throw it at somebody.
If you have a little extra water - a river or a lake or a pond or a pool - it makes sense to dive in.
Spontaneity is seizing extra time and having some fun.
I know what you just thought: Extra time?! Yeah, sure! Show me some of that! I don't have "extra time" - can you find some for me?
Here's something to ponder: all the time Lazarus had once he came out of the hole he was in was extra time.
Extra time gives us time to play with, time to do something silly, outrageous, fun. Extra time provides the space for something unexpected to happen. Extra time gives a big fat green light to spontaneity.
But you're still back there, looking at your watch, wondering when I'm going to finish up this little rant so you can get on with all the stuff on your precious to-do list today. Right? Right.
If you claim to have new life because of Jesus, the terminus (end) of your life has been removed. "Where, O death, is your sting?" Death no longer has power. The end of our lives is not the end. Jesus brings this to you, in his wonderful package of salvation bennies: eternal life.
Do you understand what that means? You have extra time.
Something tells me Lazarus would not have fished his DayTimer out of the trash can and begun filling it with appointments and lists. I think he would have left it alone. Or burned it in effigy. Lazarus would have considered every moment a gift, and he would have jumped at the chance to do something wild - for and with Jesus.
Spontaneity means jumping on the bed without asking. Rolling down the windows without worrying about your hair. Grabbing your husband and skipping across the yard. Or grabbing a shopping cart and riding it across the Walmart parking lot. (Yes - it's been done! We want pictures, Cyn!)
What keeps us from spontaneity? The feeling that we just don't have the time. But Lazarus-types have all the time in the universe. It's a gift.
And yet - you're still reading this instead of playing with the time you have.
Go do something!
Suggested Scripture For Today: Matthew 6:25-36
Suggested Ideas:
1. Ask Cyn about how to ride a shopping cart!
2. Combine yesterday's note and today's and plan some intentional spontaneity.
3. Do something you haven't done since you were ten years old.
4. Call a friend out of the blue, pick them up in ten minutes, and head out without a plan. Tell us about it!

My day 5 response
Day 5 in search of sponteneity - never been my strong suit despite years of attempts by my sweet late husband to get me to be more "spur of the moment" and less "planned everything out". Problem was when ever i tried to be spontaneous I got suspicious looks and distrust so you see, sponteneity is not my strong suit.

That being said, my day was to be a quiet one. I'm not feeling great and I had planned a quiet day. Then things got a little topsy turvy and suddenly the phone rang. My beautiful daughter in law calling to see if I wanted to come play with her and my sweet grandson. I'd only get to share a precious 30 minutes but it would be a PRECIOUS 30 minutes. So I went. Into the public, which is not my friend lately, by car, that I didn't want to drive (and I love driving) using my cane (that I seem to be attached to like a dang siamese twin growing from my right arm like an appendage I've never really been without it's so comfortable there now). I've not done anythng spontaneously in a long while - does this count? I sure hope so. I don't have much else today ... lol sometimes you just take it as you go along... enjoying what you have and making the best of it all.

The Lazarus Experiment - Day 4

Devo 4
Here at TLE, we strive to do things Laz would have done as a direct response to Jesus and his shouting us out of the tomb. Five words characterize our actions for forty days, Easter to Ascension Day. The actions we take are because of Jesus, for Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus. The five words that help frame our actions are:
Let's take these up in order the next five days.
Intentionality is not just making plans. Not just dreaming about doing something. Not just intending. Intentionality is doing, acting, making plans happen.
Planning is definitely a part of it. Dreaming and scheming and plotting and conspiring, too. But if that's all you ever do, it's not being intentional. It's just being lazy.
If I was Lazarus - (this is, after all, the game we're playing) - I know one of the things I would stop doing is planning on doing something without doing something to do something. See what I'm doing there?
I have way too many roads slathered with good intentions. If I died and then four days later got called out, I know beyond any doubt that after kissing Jesus and kissing my wife, I would take action on all the dreams and ideas and goals and determinations and really good thoughts I'd had before I kicked the bucket.
I'll come clean here: I go to bed every night with a list of things I'd intended to do. While some of them may be morally "iffy" (eat some donuts), others are really noble and good (call my cancer-fighting friend, read my Bible, write my novel, take a walk, paint the house, tell my neighbor about Jesus, yada, yada, yada).
And - get this - I pat myself on my back and commend myself for my Godly list of good intentions. It's really quite stupid. Is it really the thought that counts? No, it is not.
Getting my head into Lazarus', I'm convinced he would have no more of those feeble, empty, "well-intentioned" but poorly executed lists.
Intentional new-life living involves plans made and carried out.
Try this: one plan, one goal, no list.
For The Lazarus Experiment, here's a suggestion: every night before going to bed, pray for one clear idea or plan for the next day. If God gives it to you right then, write it down and don't keep thinking about it. If he doesn't spring one into your heart at that time, sleep on it, with a pen and a pad near your bed. You'll find that you wake up with an idea. Write it down, and then determine to do it. Then do it. Don't shrink from the idea - chances are it will be outrageous and crazy and way beyond your comfort zone. Do it anyway.
If you don't do it that day? Don't ask for another idea. Don't keep asking if you're not going to do it anyway. When you accomplish the plan, go to him for another one.
Some of us have already made a list of things we might do on The Experiment. That's OK. But there are no holy brownie points for the list. Pick one thing on that list and do it.
New life, intentionally. That's what we're after.
Suggested Scripture For Today: Matthew 25
Suggested Ideas:
1. Ask your spouse to give you an idea.
2. Write a note and send it to someone without a real reason.
3. Dance. (Pictures!)
4. Break a cultural rule in Jesus' name.
We have quite a group! You are all in my prayers. Don't feel like you have to comment on every post. Just respond as God directs.
This is getting exciting.

My day 4

Day 4 was well hmmm... I'm not sure what day 4 was. I seem to have a problem with lawn mowers. I bought a rider in 2011. It worked 3 times and pooped out. *small engine shop says the motor needs to be replaced... however, because I couldn't find my purchase information, I was beyond my warranty date when I discovered that so I have this rider lawnmower here that needs an engine and I can't get rid of it.
anyhow, the summer of 2012 a dear friend who was moving gave me her lawnmower. Blessing! I used it a few times, loaned it to my son and bam! - Broken. So I borrowed mowers all summer to get my grass done.
2013, bought a push mower and had my sons taking turns mowing the grass (bless them). In late November, bought a riding mower off a local group. Worked fine, (we had an unusually warm fall so I needed to mow the side yards) and set up for winter.
Got it out two weekends ago and it wouldn't start. Besties husband came over yesterday to help me start it and it started then suddenly stopped about 3 swipes into mowing. Um... okay. Gas was good, oil fine, air filter clean, battery okay - the starter seized up. So, my now 13 yo has mown my lawn with the push mower and it looks wonderful and he did work so hard (he's still a little guy - he weighs only 78 pounds soaking wet and my yard is anything but level) and I am SO proud of him. I made him anything he wanted for dinner. I have some nice things in the freezer and he had free reign.
Now, I'm kind of a picky mom. Dinner has to consist of a protein, at least one usually two veggies and a starch. nope.... last night dinner was a hamburger and a bowl of ramen. Seriously - all he wanted was ramen and I made the burger and slathered it up with about 30 pickles (he had a little burger with his pickles) and he at about half of it but all he really wanted was the ramen. Laz would have said, "Give him what he wants for a job well done!" I think so I did. I still think Laz would have thought about his health but I suppose one day won't hurt anything.

The Lazarus Experiment - Day 3

Devo - Day 3
Oh how we love to divide up our lives into different categories, activities, attitudes, relationships. We love to organize them, arrange them, store them, like that drawer in your kitchen that holds all the gadgets and spatulas and whisks and knives. But, just like the drawer, things can get a little messy and sometimes dangerous. So we separate it all out again, in the attempt to control and manage. Sometimes we get ambitious and bring in some help - like one ofthose plastic organizers - to bring some sense to it.
And in one of those partitions we place the holy things. This is the Christian part of our lives. This is the church stuff, faith stuff, religious stuff. All tidy and organized in one part of the broad range of things which make up our life.
Except there's a problem.
Everything's spiritual.
Nothing wakes you up to that reality, I suppose, like being dead and then coming back to life. The new vision Lazarus would have enjoyed post-death saw everything - EVERYTHING - as part of the whole, the complete banana, the entire realm of God's activity. After all, if Jesus can reach down into Sheol and pull you out, ain't nowhere he can't reach. And if he can reach it, it's his.
When Paul described our new lives in Christ, he didn't say "Your spiritual life will become like new!" He didn't say, "Your church involvement will have new vitality!" He said, "Look! ALL THINGS NEW!"
Everything's spiritual.
That doesn't mean that sin doesn't exist. In fact, it's spiritual. It's not good, not holy, not advisable, not healthy. But it's still under the umbrella of life. Truth: we like to take sin out of the spiritual slot in our organizational system because that makes it seem less sinful. "This is just a habit. Just something that I have to live with." No. It's spiritual. It's wrong - but it's spiritual.
Take the partitions down. Stop trying in vain to control your life by saying, "This is what is Christian about my life, and this is what is not." Don't say that one activity is more spiritual or Christianly than another. Driving your car? Spiritual. Eating your toast? Spiritual. Making love to your wife? Spiritual. Washing the dishes? Spiritual. Doing something outrageously fun and spontaneously crazy? Spiritual.
Go be spiritual. God is in this.
Suggested Scripture For Today: Colossians 3
Suggested Ideas: Remember! Be intentional. Don't just "plan" on doing something, and don't just come to the end of your day and "find" something you did.
1. Offer ten compliments to random people.
2. Give a tip in the restaurant that takes the server's breath away. (Don't forget to leave a Laz Card!)
3. Smile at someone until they smile back.
4. Go to a clean joke site and memorize three jokes. Then make sure you tell them to three people you've never met before.
It's going to be a great day!

My day 3 response

Day 3
dropped off a card for a lady in the neighborhood who is not a very nice person but I've noticed doesn't have a lot of company. Her husband died about 6 months after mine and her only son lives about 3 hours away with a busy career. She's a bitter mean lady and she talks behind everyone's back (no one is exempt, including her "friends") but loneliness can make people bitter. I hope she takes my card with the love with which it was offered.

the Lazarus Experiment Day 2

Devo Day 2
You don't have to wait.
In the story about Lazarus' death-changing experience, waiting is a central theme. The air is thick with it.
Jesus is contacted to come to the aid of his friend, since he is on his deathbed. The family knows that Jesus can stop that morbid process. But Jesus hangs back. Tension builds.
Jesus finally makes his way to Bethany, but it's too late. Lazarus is dead. And the implication is that Jesus is at fault. Martha meets Jesus on the road to tell him the news, and to inquire - gently - about his tardiness. Jesus tells Martha that her brother, Laz,will rise again.
"I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Martha affirmed truth. It's nice to hope. Good to have something to get us through the dark times, the dead zones. It doesn't stop the mourning, but it may dull the sting.
But . . .
Jesus does not intend for Martha to wait. He does not intend for Lazarus, his dear friend, to languish in death. Jesus intends to shout into the nether-regions and bring Laz out. Not then, not in the sweet-by-and-by. Not "on the last day." Now. NOW. RIGHT NOW!
II Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
You don't have to wait.
Suggested Scripture For Today: Psalm 30
Suggested Ideas:
1. Take a walk in the rain.
2. Hold someone's hand for an almost inappropriately long time.
3. Print out, cut out, and hand out the Lazarus Cards in the attached file. They're great to let people know what you're doing in the next four weeks.
4. Message five people who you don't contact very often and tell them something great about them.
Hope your day is alive.

My Day 2

Day 2 has been dfifficult. As I mentioned in Day one, my bestie passed over on 3/28. On Saturday 4/12 my backdoor neighbor suddenly passed away (turned out to be a torn aorta  ). Today, despite the fact I've never met this lady, only spoken hellos over the fences, I offered myself to her and gave her a card. I told her even if it was to just talk, to cry, to scream, to just be still, I was here. It's simply horrific to wake up one day and suddenly everything you knew in your world is upside down and forever changed without your permission or consent.
Bless her, she was genuine and sweet and said, "thank you, I just might."
I hope she does.

2014 Lazarus Experiment - Day One

Each day I'll be posting a little devotional piece to help us focus on living like Lazarus. (Some of you may have read these before). Each will give a thought, a scripture to read, and some Lazarus suggestions. Feel free to read or not - it's just to assist us in these forty days. Here's the first one:
John 11:40
"Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?' ”
It's all a matter of perspective.
I know you may not believe this, my being a pastor and all, but sometimes my wife and I have disagreements. When that happens, it is always - ALWAYS - an issue of perspective. We see things differently, from different angles. In order to resolve the situation, we have to see through one another's eyes. We have to merge our perspectives.
Perspective is the direction, condition, health, and quality of your vision.
How do you think Lazarus' vision changed once the bandages were unwrapped and his eyes adjusted to the light? How did he see differently? What did he change about his approach to life, his approach to people, his approach to Jesus? How did being brought back from death alter his perspective?
This is the question we will spend the next forty days answering. We will dig through all of our lives to discover how new life in Christ Jesus changes the way we look at things and people and God.
It's just this simple: Putting trust in Jesus means you have a brand new life - all things have become new. Death is finished. Life is offered abundantly. Don't you think that should leak into every part of us to bring light and vitality? Of course.
Pray today that God would open the eyes of your heart, starting right now, today - Resurrection Day - to see life with Lazarus-eyes.
And do something today - just one little thing - that dramatically, intentionally, reflects your new vision.
Suggested Scripture For Today: John 11 - the story of Lazarus' new life.
Suggested Ideas:
1. Go outside and sing an Easter hymn loud enough for the neighbors to hear.
2. Tell three people why you're smiling so much.
3. Read John 11 out loud to your spouse and/or kids.
4. Invite ten friends to join our group with you.
Welcome to The Lazarus Experiment! I'm praying your perspective will never be the same again!

My day 1 response

Day one was bittersweet. My older boys weren't able to come for church or Easter Dinner but we were fortunate to be accompanied. My bff (one of two) passed away on March 28th from a very heroic battle with lung cancer. Her husband, who is like my brother, came to church with us. It was a blessing to have him with us as he hasn't been to church in about 20 years or more (for a service - that doesn't include weddings or funerals). God was gracious enough to share some of heavens great inhabitants with me during the service and it was phenomenal to see my sweet bff standing with her mom, my parents and my husband. Her smile was positively radiant as were the smiles of all my loved ones but what was so extra special was the way she appeared to be looking at her dear husband standing with us. It was truly truly ethereal and I don't think I'll be able to get that vision out of my heart for a very very long time. We ended up spending the day together and I don't think it would have been as fine an Easter had we not spent it together.
Then my little grandson came to see Grammie after seeing his out of town relatives for a special Kraven Only Easter Egg Hunt. His very first! He was precious!
I am so very blessed!