Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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...

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