Friday, May 15, 2015

Day 36 - 40 The Lazarus Experiment 2015

Day Thirty-Six Devotional ‪#‎tledevo‬
Countdown continues!
When I was about nine years old, my brother and I started a grass fire that threatened to burn our town to the ground.
We had an incinerator--a place where we burned the refuse we produced. Bob and I had a chore: to take the trash out to the incinerator. It was not our job to burn the trash -- that was Dad's deal.
One night we carried it out, and the coals from the day before were still hot, and a little of the trash caught on fire. This happened every once in a while. But being nine and seven, we thought it was pretty cool, and a little of the fire escaped the firebox and caught a little of the dry Southern California grass around the outside. We thought this was pretty cool, so we helped some of the paper trash in our hands to light up. It was all fun until the grass started to catch all around us. We started stamping it out, which we thought was pretty cool, and it looked liked we were dancing, but it soon got beyond us. My brother ran for the house while I continued to stomp. I was panicked. I thought I was going to burn our town to the ground.
My dad came out, got the hose, and put out the fire. It had only spread about a yard around the incinerator, not nearly a threat to the whole town, but it sure felt like it.
Life presents these little fires. Relationships smolder. Ill health sparks and scares. Financial coals glow red hot with the potential to flare up. Family issues cast fiery cinders into the dry tinder of our lives. Addictions flicker and lick at the edges of our endurance. And sometimes it gets a little scary. And sometimes it threatens to burn our town to the ground.
What were the fires that Lazarus would have wanted put out? What hot coals were fanned into inferno because he came back to life?
Don't say none. Any major life change carries the dry grass and hot flame that could create damage. It's part of the territory. And there's probably not much bigger a life change that being dead and returning to life after four days.
It's possible that you have fires threatening. You, like Lazarus, don't want them around now that you've come back to life. New life gives you the eyes to see the fires for what they are. Time to put them out.
Yeah. It's daunting. You stomp and scream and worry you're going to burn your town to the ground. But your Father is waiting to help, and he has the means to put those fires out.
Five fires. Threatening to gain momentum. Name them. Run and ask your Dad for help.
Suggested Scripture For Today: Philippians 4
Suggested Ideas:
1. What fires are threatening? List five of them. Even if they're not blazing, put them on the list. Smoky Bear says that even the coals can create a forest fire.
2. Take some time to talk to your Father about the fires. If you need to, admit your role in not using the incinerator properly. Also spend time running to him for help.
3. You may want to pick one fire and come up with a game plan. Pick the most urgent issue and work with God on some steps. Bring in other people who love you and who you trust to help with the fire.
4. OK. So you're the "Special One" who has no fires. Lucky you. Please understand: this will not last long. You may want to look at some fire prevention possibilities so that, when fires do raise their flickering danger, you'll have a plan. What steps can you take to prevent forest fires in your life? Come up with a prevention plan.
Firefighters unite!

Day Thirty-Seven Devotional ‪#‎tledevo‬
Countdown continues!
Below are some what-ifs about Lazarus' first death experience. None of them are fact; all of them are possibilities. Take a moment to ponder each one. How does it change your perception of the event?
* What if Lazarus died at the hands of another?
* What if Lazarus died on account of someone's negligence?
* What if Lazarus died because he was exposed to someone's illness?
* What if Lazarus died while he was attempting to help someone else?
Unless you live on the moon, you live among injustice. You may even die because of injustice. The world we live in is not right. Its brokenness seeps into everything we do, and rightness is often difficult to find. Unless you live on the moon, you have personal, painful experience with injustice. Some of it has been perpetrated on you directly. Some of it you have been forced to witness with your own eyes. Some of it has happened away from you, but you are painfully aware of its cost and its damage. Not sure about this? Pick up a newspaper or watch the news or listen to the radio. How many stories of injustice do you absorb without even thinking every single day?
Once again, a death-to-life traverse would have provided a fresh and vivid perspective to Lazarus, and he would have come out of the tomb energized and motivated to set things to rights. Our experience with new life in Jesus often has the same effect, and we must be careful to list to its pressure. This is not some new guilt trip. This is action motivated by pure grace. Grace has a way of doing that.
Because we have received what we don't deserve, we are urgent about other people who are experiencing pain that is undeserved.
Some injustices are very close, and in the power of Jesus' new life, you can do something personal, direct, and important to make things right. Some are not as close, and it may be necessary to do the loving work of justice from a distance. Either way, this is new-life activity, and flows from the second chance we've received because of Jesus and his love and grace.
Here are four possible ways to handle injustice:
1. Forgive, if the injustice is personal.
2. Fight, if the injustice needs an warrior.
3. Forge, if the injustice needs a path to rightness.
4. Fly, if the injustice has no solution but to provide a quick way out for anyone involved.
New life. New chances. New energy. A window of opportunity to let God use you to set things to rights.
What four injustices can you see? What can you do in the power of life?
Suggested Scripture For Today: Micah 6:6-8
Suggested Ideas:
1. What is on your list of four injustices? What can you begin to do? Which of the possible suggestions will you pursue? Tell the group about it.
2. If you have nothing on your own list, do some research and find some areas where you can make a difference working with another agency or church.
3. Not all injustice is big stuff. Find one or two little things you can do to set something to rights, even if it's small.
4. Buy some really fresh fruit or vegetables and before you eat half of them, give the other half away.
Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God,

Day Thirty-Eight Devotional ‪#‎tledevo‬
Countdown continues!
Deep, wrenching experiences that push the edges of normal tend to break down our inhibitions and defenses. Such drama can open our hearts to vulnerability, to intimacy, to openness. Or we can choose instead to close up, shut down, and cocoon into ourselves as a means of protection.
Lazarus-living is a response to the life-change that Jesus brings, a change that changes everything. It is the reaction to His action, the call from outside the dark, challenging us to take a step of trust in him. Deep drama, indeed. Living out that change involves a choice between intimacy and protection.
The choice, friend, is yours.
But if Lazarus knew anything after the grave, it was that Jesus had his back. Jesus was watching and helping and protecting. Jesus could be trusted with anything, including his vulnerability.
Madeleine L'Engle wisely writes about the issue: “When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. . . To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
To be alive is to be vulnerable. Is the opposite equally true? If we remove vulnerability, are we dead?
Push yourself and trust Jesus with three intimacies. Three friends you could bring closer. Three relatives you could trust more. Three secrets you could tell your spouse. Three pains that someone needs to know about. Three intimacies to break down the walls of fear and exchange them for the power of vulnerability. Do you trust Jesus with your heart? If so, he will take care with it and will guide you to share it with someone else. They may need it as much as you do.
Three intimacies. Share them with us. You may not want to be specific -- that's OK. But intimacy is a breath of fresh air; air that you need.
Suggested Scripture For Today: I John 4:7-21
Suggested Ideas:
1. Write down your three intimacies. Share one of them with someone else. Share your plan with us here.
2. If you're not ready to take the next step with your list, take the list to God. The most important intimacy we have is the one with him. Bare your secrets to him. He loves you. There's no reason to be afraid.
3. Spend some time with a close friend and set an agenda for being vulnerable with them.
4. Dance in the rain, or splash in a puddle, or stop whatever you're doing right now and tell the person standing closest to you that they're good or smart or beautiful or wise or all of the above.
You are all so brave and courageous. You've inspired and encouraged me.

Day Thirty-Nine Devotional ‪#‎tledevo‬
Countdown continues!
Lazarus had a life. We don't know much about it. It was Life A. Like any life, Life A had a story. We know that the story included Jesus; Lazarus had met him, dined with him, became his friend, maybe even a close one. Perhaps, outside of the circle of disciples, Lazarus was Jesus' closest friend. For Lazarus, Life A came with that story.
Lazarus had a second life. We don't know much about it. It was Life B. Unlike any other life, Life B was layered onto Life A. It was extra; a bonus life Lazarus was not counting on. Like any life, Life B had a story.
Two lives. Two stories.
One life - Life A - included Jesus but did not include the power of resurrection. Life A was the old one, the normal one, the average one, the typical one, the one that everyone has. Jesus was a friend. An acquaintance of consequence, and a friendship of great devotion, perhaps. Jesus was someone who came to visit, but not a permanent fixture. Jesus was invited to be entertained and to entertain, but not necessarily worshiped. Jesus was a friend. But as with any friendship, there were boundaries.
Another life - Life B - was completely dependent on Jesus. It was his gift, and it was grace in Lazarus' heart and lungs and brain. Life B was the new one, the abnormal one, the abundant one, the strange and exciting one, the one that is rare and miraculous. And the relationship with Jesus was like nothing Lazarus had ever experienced. You could call it love, but it was on another plane than any love he'd known in Life A. There were no boundaries here, because this love removed fear. This love became energy. That energy gave Lazarus courage and power and confidence, even more than the simple fact that he had been brought back from the dead. Being alive now meant something completely different. This was a new story - a story of Jesus.
Two lives. Two stories. A contrast between what was and what is. A before-and-after picture, with Jesus' gift of new life being the pivot point. Two perspectives. Two conditions of existence. Two ways to approach every day, every week, every year. A choice.
Which story is yours? Which story do you tell? Which story do you live? Which story do people see you live out?
Suggested Scripture For Today: Matthew 16:13-28
Suggested Ideas:
1. Sit a spell and take a long look at which life you're living - Life A or Life B? Discuss the evidence with God.
2. Ask someone close to you, someone who is safe and you can trust, which of the lives they see you living. Do something with the answer.
3. Tell both stories to two people who may need to know. Ask God to show you the two people who will benefit from your telling the stories.
4. Tell us the story - one or both - on TLE. The power of your story can never be underestimated!
You don't need a forty-day experiment to keep you going, you know. You can live this Lazzie life on Friday. And Saturday. And all next week. And for the next year.
You can.

Day Forty Devotional ‪#‎tledevo‬
Happy Ascension Day! You have officially arrived at the finish line.
All the little decisions matter. All the choices to do the right thing, make a difference, smile when you don't have to, dance when you're tired, sing when you're out of tune, run when you're weary - all those choices produce an impact that reverberates across the world, around to eternal places, and then back to you again, landing squarely in your own heart with a powerful thump. And BOOM! The steps you've taken not only have altered heaven and earth, they've changed you at the core of who you are.
All these things Lazarus would have decided to do differently - they're important. But they're not THE importance. They all spring from one source. This single-moment-in-time encounter hatched a thousand decisions. One instance of profound love and power gave birth to the ripples of grace that are still felt today.
Do you get it that because of Jesus love for Lazarus, and his gift of life, we are still reaping the benefits of that one grace-event?! Right here. Right now. The waves that kicked off way-back-when wash over us and cause us to live more fully.
No - THE IMPORTANCE was not the changes, not the decisions, not even the life, as abundant as it was. THE IMPORTANCE was a person. It was Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
After forty days, I hope your life is different. I think it would be wonderful for you to keep this up. Keep journaling. Keep seeing. Keep making provocative, life-living choices. Rock someone's world with life and generosity and love. Be outrageous. Be intentional. (Of course, you see what's happened now - the little Lazarus-trick: after forty days, some of this might be sinking in, and you may have made a wonderful habit of Lazzy living!)
I'd be thrilled to know that tomorrow - or six months from tomorrow - you did something to live like Laz. But only on one condition: that it springs from THE IMPORTANCE. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
This whole thing right here? This Lazarus-living experiment? This joining of hearts and minds and souls across continents and oceans and time zones? There is only one reason, motivation, and wellspring of love. Jesus. THE IMPORTANCE.
Today, on the last day of The Lazarus Experiment for 2015, only one suggestion. Don't attempt to pull off that one big thing you were planning to do but never got around to. No lists today. No jumping or hollering or singing or leaving big tips or paying for someone's mocha. Just one thing.
One thing.
Ironically, it was Lazarus' sister, Mary, who nailed the reality of THE IMPORTANCE.
Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
One thing is needful. Sit at his feet. Listen to what he says. Pour out your love.
There is no more Lazzie thing you can ever do.
It's been a joy to spend these days with all of you.

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