Tag Archives: Freedom

Bible Bite: Mark 4:41

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Bible Bite: Mark 4:41

A Bible Bite is a little tidbit that I run across that irks me and controls my thoughts until the Holy Spirit helps me to break through the miasmas to teach me some lesson. 

During Paula and my bible study, we were talking about standing stronger by walking in faith (Day 27 of the 28-day study).  I grew increasingly distressed during the scriptures of Mark 4: 35-41.  Jesus had been teaching using several parables (vv. 1-34) at the side of the Sea of Galilee.  As night fell, He told the disciples they were going to go over to the other side of the sea and they all hopped in a boat.

As they sailed, Jesus slept in the aft of the boat and a wind brewed up that whipped up the waves so forcefully that they were crashing over the sides of the boat and threatening to capsize.  Yet, Jesus slept.

The disciples woke Him up concerned that He was going to let them drown and He got up and rebuked the wind and the sea with, “Silence, be still!”  He turned then to the disciples and asked, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?”

What amazed me most was the next verse, Mark 4:41:

“And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Terrified?  Why were they terrified?  I didn’t get it.  The disciples had been with Jesus for a while at this point and had seen miracle after miracle.  What terrified them now?

And they asked each other, “Who is this then?”  How could it be that they forgot who Jesus was?

Part of the keys are in Jesus questions.  First He asks, “Why are you afraid?”  I love being on this side of the situation.  We’re reading about an incident in the Bible and have the benefit of being able to take a global view. Do you (like me) often find yourself shaking your head at what some Biblical one is doing or saying at any given time?  I do that until I realize that in some way I’m just like them … ahem … and then keep reading to learn from these Saints who have gone before.

“Why are you fearful” (my HCSB states)?  Why are they fearful?  Jesus said when they got into the boat that they were going to the other side.  Surely He knew the boat would be caught in a storm, but He wasn’t worried because He fell asleep.  (Another aside: I like to see Jesus’ humanness here – He slept because He’d been teaching all day and was tired.  The Son of God gets tired. I love that little bit of insight.)

But back to the question at hand.  In Warren W. Weirsbe’s Exposition Commentary, he notes, “… for the greatest danger was not the wind or the waves; it was the unbelief in the hearts of the disciples.” Further, “It was their unbelief that caused their fear, and their fear made them question whether Jesus really cared.  “We must aware of an evil heart of unbelief.” (Heb 3:12).1

“Do you still have no faith,” Jesus asks?   Jesus asks these questions as a way to test the disciples.  Just how far have they come?  How much do they or don’t they believe?

How often do we continue to wonder if God is really all that He says He is?  How often are we shown His grace, His mercy, His faithfulness, His very deity, and still we forget the works He has done?  Can we be that stiff-necked?  That hard-hearted?  Nincompoops to the core?  Yep.  And still He loves us!  Still He’s patient with us and He who started a good work in us will carry it on to completion. (Phil 1:6)

It was true that the disciples had seen Jesus’ many miracles. They’d seen him cast out demons, heal people, and forgive sins but now – Weirsbe ends the section this way, “Now they discovered that He even had authority over the wind and the sea.  This meant that they had no reason ever again to be afraid, for their Lord was in constant control of every situation.”2

Is Jesus your Lord?  Then we must understand completely – we have no reason to ever be afraid.  Ever.

That, my friends, is freedom.

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1 Warren W. Weirsbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament Volume 1, 2nd ed, (Colorado, David C. Cook), 125.

2 Weirsbe, 125.

 

Happy Independence Day

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I’ll be back tomorrow with a regular post, but for today … a special holiday ScripturePicture using Galatians 5:13 … don’t worry, you’ll get another on Wednesday too!

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On this Independence Day, let’s remember what it means to be Christian.  To first love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and second; to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37&39)

My love to all of you!

 

It’s Not the Cancer That’s Killing Me

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It’s Not the Cancer That’s Killing Me

I sat in the neurologist’s office the other day and heard myself ask, “Do you think I’ll ever walk properly again?”  I was sitting behind still on the exam table, my feet swinging free because she had needed to tap my knees and watch my reflex.  “Ouch,” I said as she used that baby rubber triangular hammer on my right knee.  She moved on to the other leg, “Yow!” I remarked sharply as the baby hammer fell against my left knee.  It was part of the reason I was here.  I’ve fallen a few times and landed squarely on my knees which is why they sting so much from a baby rubber hammer tap-tap-tapping away.  I’ve fallen because I’m not steady on my feet and I’m experiencing a bit of a foot drop while walking.  I can’t wear flip flops because I can’t grasp with my toes (and believe me that’s a real pain in Florida) and at home, with no shoes on, my feet dully smack the tile floor … I call myself Slappy.

The neurologist, having completed my exam, sat at the computer with her back to me typing her findings into my record.  I do love that about Cleveland Clinic – I can visit any doctor in a multitude of different locations across the state and each office has complete and immediate access to my history.  She stopped typing when I asked the question I knew she really couldn’t answer.  I was essentially asking if I’d ever walk, run, jump, and play again.  I wanted some kind of assurance that one day I’d regain my normalcy.  I realize I want this promise from all of my doctors.  To be told I’ll be normal again.  They can’t do it, at least not yet.

The neurologist says what I expect, “We need more testing.”  She’s very nice, even if her hands are frigid.  I want to hold her hands in mine until they warm up so the next patient won’t be so startled.  Instead I leave with prescriptions for a brain MRI and some sort of orthotic for my shoes and some other type of nerve test.  I sigh.  I was hoping to be able to live through the month of June without having to see a doctor or undergo any sort of test.  I brighten a little.  Perhaps I can get it all done before the end of May!

My feet, and my hands to a much smaller degree, are suffering from neutropenia a type of neuropathy that occurs in varying degrees to most chemotherapy patients.  I’ve known patients that have experienced it in one toe, the left thigh, an entire arm and hand, and some who’ve never had the thrill of it all.  It’s the worst side effect I’ve encountered.

Even though in the early days I had a very hard time grasping anything and my cell phone certainly took a beating, my hands have healed very well since my last infusion (Dec 2015).  I dared not carry a plate across the room if I couldn’t use both hands.  But now they just feel like tiny pins and needles at the tips of my fingers; making it hard to insert earrings or pick up something thin or delicate.  My feet are a whole other story.

I started 2016 with feet that hurt so badly there were times when I couldn’t even walk – each step was excruciating.  Then when I sat in a chair or got into bed, what felt like tiny electrical shocks would bombard my toes and insteps causing my whole leg to jump and me to yell out, “Ow!”  There were even a few nights when I was awake all night due to “the shocks” as I called them.  The shocks have largely abated and just appear now and again.  But perhaps the worst symptom was the stabbing pains. Usually coming at night, it was as if a pint-sized goblin was underneath my sheets sticking a sewing needle under the toenails of my big toes.  It was pretty rough.  I can give glory to God that the stabbing pains have long subsided.

But what drove me to the neurologist, aside from the neuropathy in my feet, is that I get dizzy when I close my eyes.  It only happens when I’m standing – so you say – well don’t close your eyes when you’re standing.  Have you ever tried to take a shower without closing your eyes?  Even when I’m out of the shower and throw a towel over my growing hair, the world starts to go wobbly.

The worst part though is church.  When I sing I’m one of those people with at least one hand up to God in praise and my eyes closed until … you guessed it … I start to teeter and have to grab at the people standing on either side of me so I won’t fall over.  I sometimes wonder if people, who don’t know me, might think I’m being slain in the Spirit.  That would be funny!

The truth is, no one can tell me how long these side effects will last or even if they’ll ever go away.  But I hold out hope that they will fade and I’ll soon regain the strength in my legs and be able to stand surely on my own two feet.

And … maybe even wear flip-flops!

Thanks for hanging in with me!

For the People

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I don’t often turn in a political post but as Election Day grows closer and all sides turn up the heat on their rhetoric, the histrionics I’m hearing are taking their toll trying to erode my usual patient temperament … and it’s still early!

I’m not going to discuss conservative or liberal, republican or democrat, because I believe that this year (and in 2016), parties aren’t going to be as important as the actual people running for particular seats.

What brought this on?  The latest noise came from the Dems as they blasted social media with screaming headlines about how the GOP voted against and doesn’t want equality in pay.  This inflammatory press passed across my FB feed from several friends all with some statement about how “this” was why they couldn’t vote for republicans.

What disturbed me most was that the headline and story was complete BS and yet seemingly intelligent people jumped right on the band wagon and took it for truth.

Listen, technically neither the GOP nor the Dems nor the Indys nor the Green Party nor whoever else I’ve missed can vote against equality in pay. The Equal Pay Act was enacted in 1963 and has been a law for the last 50 years.  What we really need is someone who can figure out a way to enforce it.  It doesn’t matter if you’re Republican or Democrat – no one seems to be able to get it done.

I’m afraid we’re going to see more of these smear campaign tactics than we’ve ever seen before as we move into this very tight election season and again in 2016.   It’s time we got smart about our government and the choices we make.

Some of my favorite words ever come from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and as he said then, “this nation shall have a new birth of freedom” and “a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  The government’s main responsibility is to keep us, as a nation, safe.  Currently we have a government that is all about telling us what to do on any number of issues and no one is listening to what we (the people) want.  If we (the people) enact laws at the ballot box, renegade state judges are now deciding that we (the people) are wrong and literally changing our votes … one person changing the votes of the majority … and getting away with it!

How can we stand for it any longer?

I sometimes have the feeling that the media is laughing at us as we spin our wheels on the foolish drivel they feed us.  If we don’t change the way we read these messages, we’re never going to end this cycle.  We need to be smart.  We need to do our research on the candidates.  Most of all we need to pray for guidance from God and vote according to His principles.

I submit that this year (and in the future) we vote according to the person and not by party lines. Sometimes the right person for the job will be connected to the Democrat party and in some instances the best person for the job will be in the Republican camp and who knows – a few may even be Independent, Libertarian, or Green.  It’s going to take work on our part, but how will we be able to look ourselves in the mirror if we’re still in the same boat, or yet worse off, 2 or 4 years from now?  It’s essential that we vote for who is qualified, who has good ideas, who has not let us down in the past, and who will get the job done regardless of whatever party they’re affiliated with.

Finally, we need to get out and VOTE.  If we throw our hands in the air and think we’re in the minority so our votes don’t count our self-defeating attitude will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Rock the Vote my friends, and be smart!

Felecia

Finding Freedom in Christ

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kickball 2

Sally was pretty sure she was going to get into trouble and that thought made her nervous.  She looked out at her classmates scattered on the field in front of her and then down at the new black patent-leather Mary Jane’s she’d begged her mother to wear this morning and her mother’s warning invaded her thoughts, “Sally, if you wear these new Sunday shoes to school, you better be extra careful, because if they get ruined I don’t know what I’ll do.”  Sally shivered as the open threat found its mark.  She didn’t know what her mom would do either but she looked back at the field full of expectant classmates and knew she had a chance to bring a few kids home with a well-placed kick.

She motioned she was ready to the pitcher and gulped as the large red ball bounced, shuddered, and finally rolled its way toward her.  Sally clenched her fists and moved to kick the ball with all her might but at the last minute, with her mother’s words echoing in her head, she held back and the ball skidded off her right foot and into the bleachers on the right hand side.

Dejected, she turned to walk back to the bench and looked down to see the dull mark made by the ball streaking off the right side of her shoe.  Ruined.  Ruined, she thought as she leaned over and tried to smudge the mark away with her thumb.  Then, as the groans and laughter of the other kids died down, she suddenly had a thought.  Sally shot upright, turned to the field and screamed, “DO-OVER!”

The other kids quieted and one by one looked up at her.  She yelled again, “I WANT A DO-OVER!”

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It was the greatest thing a kid could ever yell.  Everyone would take their original places and the kid doing the over would take his or her place as if nothing had ever happened.  A fresh start.  A clean slate.

Don’t we sometimes wish that we still lived in a world where we could have a do-over?

As adults the stakes get higher. We’re no longer simply playing kickball and scuffing our Sunday shoes in the schoolyard.  We are sinning.  Sin creeps into our lives and drives a wedge between us and our family, us and our friends, us and our God.

Sin not only separates me from God, sin hinders my growth as a Christian.  I cannot continue to develop if I don’t face the truth about myself, own up to it, make the choice to change, and ask for forgiveness.

Wouldn’t you love to look up toward the heavens and yell to God,” I want a do-over!”

The truth is … you can.

When Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in John Chapter 4, He perfectly illustrates the do-over.

… but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

~ John 4:14

In this verse Jesus explains to the Samaritan that His Holy Spirit is the water that leads to eternal life.  The Samaritan isn’t expecting it.  In fact, here she is at the well mid-day, perhaps even after all the other women of the village have come to take what they need for their families.  She hides from them in her shame only to encounter a Jewish man. Do you think she was crestfallen when she saw Him?  Probably.  She only needs to draw some water and waited this long in the day to do it so she wouldn’t be seen and now, not only does she come to find this man here, He addresses her!  He seeks her out.  Is she put at ease because by talking to her He releases her embarrassment?  I think so.  Because by speaking to her, Jesus offers her Himself.  Grace, in the form of living water.

Jesus asks her about herself and when she lies to cover the truth, He exposes it for her but, with no condemnation.  When God holds a mirror up to you “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” (John 4:29a) and even though He sees through your shame and your sorrow, He accepts you for who you are!  What greater freedom can we ask for?  It may be the most profound do-over ever witnessed.

When it comes to life eternal, there may be no greater feeling in this world that that of knowing we have another chance.  No matter what we’ve done.  No matter what we’ve suffered.  No matter the pain we’ve caused.  If we confess it to Jesus and repent, Jesus forgives us and restores us to a place where we can resume our progress to become more like Him.  He redeems us and wipes us clean.

Lord, I need a do-over!


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