Friday, May 15, 2015

Day 29 -35 The Lazarus Experiment 2015

Day Twenty-Nine Devotional ‪#‎tledevo‬
With a renewed perspective on life, and an altered view of his own time, and a new economy of faith and trust, Lazarus would have become a warrior.
Did he take up martial arts? No. Did he learn to shoot a gun? No. Did he join the Marines? I don't think so. But I do think Lazarus came out of the tomb with a keen and sharpened sense of justice and bravery.
Bravery because the words from Psalms suddenly were real: What can mere man do to me? A raised-up Lazarus was unstoppable in the face of any human resistance.
A sharpened sense of justice because a "death-to-life" perspective softens the heart toward those who are one-down, beaten-up, worn-out, and overwhelmed.
In my years as a pastor I have found this to be true: no one has more tenderness, compassion, and soft-heartedness than people who have teetered on the edge of the Great Chasm of Death and been pulled back from the precipice to live on. And these people, given a heightened sensitivity to injustice, are willing to put their lives, reputations, ego, money, time, energy - whatever - on the line to promote justice and go to battle for those who are helpless and hopeless, but not less.
Which is why it astounds me that Christians, who claim to know Jesus first-hand, and spout off about the change that has happened in their lives, can sometimes be so casual and mindless about justice. I rant about it because I am one of those, far too often.
Listen - If Lazarus added anything to his newly revised and edited bucket list, it was this: I will fight for the dignity of all people, and will place myself in whatever embarrassing, dangerous, costly situation is necessary to defend and provide compassion and justice.
You don't have to look far. It just takes Lazzie eyes. Look around you. Where will you take a stand?
Suggested Scripture For Today: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Suggested Ideas:
1. Open a newspaper and read until a story stirs your compassion. Or, watch the TV news and do the same. Then take some kind of action on that compassion. It may be a note, or a Facebook post, or it may involve a bigger sacrifice. Just don't let it just sit there without action.
2. Before your day starts, ask God to give you a Lazarus heart of compassion. Then make sure you are aware of the people and needs around you, and that you are prepared to take some kind of action. Tell us about it.
3. Go into town or city with $100. In one hour, try to find as many ways possible to give it away in creative ways that make a difference.
Be bold! Be very courageous! The Lord is with YOU!

Day Thirty-One Devotional ‪#‎tledevo‬
Ten steps separated Lazarus from Jesus. That space meant life and death. It meant dreams engaged and dreams crashed. It was ten steps that could change everything.
One thing I've wondered about: How did Laz get out? He was wrapped up tight in grave clothes. Did he hop? Did he get his feet free first, then shuffle the ten steps? Did he float? (I think I like that one best).
Does it matter? Does it matter how you get to Jesus?
What matters is that you move -lean - in his direction when you hear your name. After all, you are dead - unable to move. Anything you do at this point is a miracle; any step you take is because he has given you the strength and energized your bones to take it. Movement is what matters. To move is the miracle.
Ten steps to Jesus. Ten obstacles in the route to his embrace. He will give you what you need to get there.
Are you moving yet?
What's stopping you?
Suggested Scripture For Today: Psalm 1
Suggested Ideas:
1. List ten steps that seem to separate you from Jesus. What do you need to pray about?
2. Buy or make ten cards to take to the library and stick into books for people to pick up at random. If you've got the cash, put a dollar or a fiver in there.
3. Get ten one dollar bills and put them in places they'll be found.
4. Send ten encouraging emails to someone who would be surprised to find you in their inbox. Make them short, but strongly loving.
Ten days left! Let's finish strong!

Day Thirty-Two Devotional ‪#‎tledevo‬
What will you do now?
At some point, Lazarus made a list. New life had gotten into his bones quick. He had no way of knowing how long this thing would last. Did he have another week, or another decade? It's possible, since he experienced death and still had the taste in his mouth, that he felt a sense of urgency to start knocking things off his list.
He called his list: The Desires of My Heart. He got the name from Psalm 37, which connects delighting in the Lord with seeing your heart's desires unfold in reality. After being raised from the dead, Lazarus could not think of anything that would keep him from delighting in God! His heart was full of joy and overwhelming gratitude in a measure he'd never known. His new life also gave him hope that some of the things he had not been able to see happen in his life could now manifest.
So he made a list--nine desires of his heart--springing out of his love for Jesus and his lust for new life. And he presented them in conversation with God, not as demands, but as the dreams of a man who had been given a second-chance to see them happen.
Nine desires of the heart. A new heart. A new list.
What's on yours?
Suggested Scripture For Today: Psalm 37
Suggested Ideas:
1. Make a list! Nine desires! From a new-life heart!
2. Analyze your list. Which ones are totally out of your control? Which ones demand money? Which ones would God share on his list of things he desires for you? Which things can you do something about today?
3. Make a plan to take action on one of your desires today. Tell us about it. We'll pray with you.
4. Arm wrestle with someone you know you'll lose against.
He is able!

Day Thirty-Three Devotional ‪#‎tledevo‬
"Perfect love casts out fear."
Yeah, but . . .
Could there be any proof of love that is more durable, more unquestionable, than giving life where there is only death? I don't think so. That's how God himself has exhibited his own love toward us, because while we were still wicked and raging in stubborn rebellion, Jesus died for us and brought us life.
So you'd think that Lazarus, having been one of the prime exhibits in the display of God's love, would never be afraid again. Right?
God's love is always perfect, but what the enemy sets himself up to do is persuade us that it isn't. It's what he did with Eve in the Garden; it's what he attempts everyday with me and you. And we become afraid.
Like the angry poison tentacles of a lunatic octopus, fear has little sucker parts that slurp onto our relationships, our work, our hobbies, our houses, our whole life with Jesus. They grab with an overwhelming force and they're fierce to remove. They can squeeze and jerk and strangle us, taking our breath away and robbing us of the life Jesus came to provide. The only solution? Haul them into the light of his love. Over and over. Until the grip relaxes and the fear subsides.
Eight fears keep you back. Eight fears take your breath away and make you doubt his love for you. Eight fears steal the abundance of his life in you.
Name them. Expose them. Bring them to him and ask for his love to be shed abroad in your heart, releasing the tentacles and bringing freedom.
Suggested Scripture For Today: John 14
Suggested Ideas:
1. Make a list. Draw an octopus. Post it for us to see, if you're daring.
2. Set aside 30 minutes to communicate with God about your fears. Bring your list and/or your art.
3. Record the specific ways God confirms his love to you after you've talked. I believe that he will do this, either immediately or in the hours after you've brought your list to him. You have to watch for it.
4. Spend the day as a "fear hunter." Look for the signs of fear in people around you and fight to remove that fear with specific acts of love, grace, and honor.
Fear not - be not afraid!

Day Thirty-Four Devotional ‪#‎tledevo‬
Getting a second go at life would mean the opportunity to reverse course, do a 180 degree turn-around, reinvent the reality of your existence. Death has a way of wiping the chalkboard completely clean. There's not a mark on it. How could there be? You're dead.
Jesus' call from the mouth of the tomb welcomes you to a clean slate. And he hands you a piece of chalk. In fact, he hands you a whole pack of colored chalk. And he points you to the board. "It's yours. I'll be here if you want my help."
As Lazarus sat looking at the slate of his life, chalk in hand, what did he resolve? He may have considered the things that he would NEVER want to show up on his slate again. So he may have decided on seven resolves, each one filling the blank: "I will NEVER EVER ________________ again!" Or, he may have made seven resolves that filled the blank a different way: "I will ALWAYS _______________ from this point on!"
Either way, he resolved to capitalize on the chance for a reverse, a blank slate, and a box of chalk. Before he put chalk to board, he would have made boundaries about what would and what would not show up on that slate. Maybe he made seven.
Seven resolves. I will - or I will not.
I know the word "resolutions" is a sour memory. As the traditional season rolls around every January 1, we make all kinds of resolutions. And we're resolved to be resolute on keeping those resolutions until our resolutions become irresolute.
Break down that noun - resolution. Re-Solution. It's looking at a solution, a problem, again. Revisiting a persistent issue. You've done it before, but this time you're looking at it differently, with an all-things-new perspective.
Break down that verb - resolve. Re-Solve. It's solving a problem. Again. With a fresh grasp of life, and a vigor that comes from the voice of Jesus.
Don't be embarrassed to revisit a problem. Don't be shy about tackling that same issue that's always seemed to hang around. Re-solve. Come up with a re-solution.
You have new life in Christ, because of his blood, because that blood has wiped the slate clean.
Here's your board; here's your box of chalk. Don't forget the eraser, because you can have all the do-overs you need. What are your seven resolves?
Suggested Scripture For Today: I Samuel 7
Suggested Ideas:
1. Determine a list of seven resolves, either "I will ALWAYS . . ." or "I will NEVER EVER . . ." Keep them in a place you can refer to them. Don't be afraid to alter them. Don't be concerned if you break them. They're not laws. They're not even rules. They're ways to use the chalk well.
2. Get a box of chalk and find some sidewalk. Write your seven resolves on the sidewalk for anyone to see - the more public, the better. Make it art. Or just temporary graffiti. Or both.
3. Get some poster board, or a chalk board, or one of those giant Post-It stick on posters and put it up in a random public place. Provide chalk or large markers or some other medium for people to use. On the top of the poster(s) write, "To the best of my ability, I resolve to . . ." Then offer the pen/chalk/marker to people around to add to the list. Take a picture for us. (Or you could write, "I wish I had never . . . " Basically the same material, but from a confession point of view.
4. DARING: Ask your spouse or someone who knows you very well this question: What is something I need to remove from my life? Or, What is something I need to add to my life?"
One week. Amazing. Only God knows what could happen.

Day Thirty-Five Devotional ‪#‎tledevo‬ (This was supposed to be yesterday's post - so we're a little off. Sanity may or may not return tomorrow).
Countdown continues!
If you're anything like me, you feel guilty about it. Ashamed, really.
God invented it. On purpose. For us. It's not supposed to make us feel guilty. It's supposed to feel good. We shouldn't blush when it's mentioned. We should find joy in it. We're wired that way.
And he experiences it. And if you never had it, God would not be God, and he would not be good, and life would not be worth it.
But in spite of all that, I can still feel guilty.
Were we created for pleasure? I don't think that is the sole reason why people exist. I'm not a hedonist. We were created to give God glory.
But you don't give God glory when you're sad, mad, bitter, belligerent, or displeased. If you're discouraged, depressed, pissed off, or in pain, is God glorified in that?
Pleasure seems to be built into creation. In the way we experience things and in the way we would like others to experience things, and even in the way God responds to us. God, according to scripture, finds pleasure in us. He looks at you and smiles. He even dances over you. Can you imagine? God dancing. Because of you. Because of me.
We are intended for pleasure. (Interesting: that's the title of a popular book on sex in marriage!). Pleasure, even seeking it out, should not make us feel ashamed. It should make us feel like children of our Father in heaven.
With a four day grave-cation, Lazarus would have emerged with a sharpened sense that being dead is not what God intended for mankind. He, I think, would have been keenly aware that experiencing pleasure is not a sin, but a blessing and a gift. It's not wrong; it's very very right. Can it lead to sin? Of course. Scripture warns against the love of pleasure. Scripture also says that at God's right hand are forever-pleasures. But if you're avoiding anything that could lead to sin, you may as well be--well--dead.
Celebrating life is experiencing pleasure. Lazarus may have identified six pleasures that would be pursued on the living side of the tomb. You might do the same - six pleasures, simple things that you would be able to make a part of your everyday life. Don't feel guilty. Don't be ashamed.
Suggested Scripture For Today: Psalm 16
Suggested Ideas:
1. Make a list of six pleasures that you don't experience now but that you'd like to experience at some point. (I know I don't need to tell you this, but if the pleasure you write down is immoral - I think you know what to do).
2. Pray through your list of six, asking God to lead you and provide for you. This isn't about making you rich, and it isn't at all like the Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin. It is you, communicating with the Lord of Heaven and Earth, your Father, Daddy, in heaven. It's about what you enjoy in his vast creation.
3. What could you do today to enjoy and find pleasure in your Father? What could you do today that would bring delight to him?
4. ICE CREAM! Show us the pictures!

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