To touch His garment.

Mark 5:25-34

25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— 27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” 29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” 31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this.33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

We have been studying Mark in church the past few weeks. And in small group this last week we were talking about this passage among others. A young lady in our group posed the question “Would I have enough faith to touch His garment?” And her question has been on my mind all week.
Would I have enough faith to believe that if I could just touch Him I would be made well. Jesus had been healing people all week. He had thousands of people following Him, people pressing in on Him so hard that He had to retreat to a boat to teach. No doubt people touching Him all the time, surrounding Him, wanting to see a miracle. Yet the woman in the story had enough faith to believe that if she just touched Him, the hem of His garment she would be healed. I wonder how long she pushed through the crowds to get close enough, how many times she was shoved out of the way and yet she persisted. And she finally got there…she just reached out and touched Him.
And she was healed. IMMEDIATELY she was healed. And Jesus tells her “Woman, your faith has made you well.”
And then the question came…”Would I have enough faith to reach out and touch His garment?”
I think we’d all like to think that “Of course I would…Of course if I lived when Jesus lived I would believe and I would have enough faith” But I too, wonder…would I…really?
Faith is sometimes so hard. It means that we trust in Him and what He has in store for us even when we don’t see a purpose or reason for the trial we are wading through. It means that we willingly obey without hesitation when what He is asking us to do doesn’t make a bit of sense. Sometimes it means that we are hurt again or that we find indescribable joy on the other side of the valley. And having faith enough to reach out and touch Him means we are willing to lay down our lives, our desires and our mess to follow Him.
It’s so easy to trust, follow and reach out to Him when things make sense, when they’re going our way and when we’re sure of the path. Not so much when we can’t see around the bend ahead of us or when we’re wallowing in hurt, self doubt and fear.
I remember this struggle when Knox and Lily died. Especially after Knox. I remember the daily struggle to trust God with what lay ahead. I would pray one day “Lord, if you are going to call me to lose another baby…please don’t ever let me get pregnant again.” And the next I would pray “Lord, please bless my womb and I will surrender to what You call me to walk through.” When we got pregnant with Lily, and found out she had Turner syndrome and her 1% chance of survival, I fully expected, believed and felt deep down that she would survive. Kerry and I both did. We both totally expected that this past November we would welcome a baby girl to our family. And then she died too. Strangely enough though, it was much easier to surrender to what God was asking us to walk through emotionally. Not easy to do, but we had faith He would walk with us, He was in control and that He would heal us.
Yet there are days when I fall prey to worry for this new baby. When I wonder if He calls me to again, mourn the loss of a child, if I could do it…if I could survive. I am not in control, no matter how much I like to think I am.
In doing HIS will, I surrender mine. I reach out and touch His garment and cling to Him because HE will rescue me. I know He will, because He is a God who loves me. I know that even when it doesn’t make sense, when it hurts so much I think I’ll break into pieces that He knows, He heals and He loves. The woman sought Jesus, she pursued Him and she fought the throngs of people to just get close enough. If I just reach for Him, seek Him, He will answer me. But I also know, that the healing I seek and envision, isn’t always what He has planned for me. It doesn’t look like I want it to and sometimes it hurts more than I think it should.
I have come to realize, it’s not so much about how much faith I have. It’s about whether am I willing to recognize Jesus for who He is. The woman in the story touched Him like so many others, but is it possible that she is the only one of all of them who recognized Jesus as someone more than just healer…that she recognized Him to be the Son of God? That He was the only one who could save her?

Be Quiet

I was thumbing through my Bible this week and stopped in the book of Luke. In chapter 1 it talks about Zacharias being made mute because he didn’t believe that his wife (Elizabeth) would have a child. But the interesting thing to me wasn’t so much that he couldn’t speak, but that he still couldn’t speak right after the birth…his mouth wasn’t opened for 8 days until after his son (John the Baptist) was born (on the day his some was circumcised).

Can you imagine going 10 months without talking? And back then it’s not like he could just type out his thoughts quickly on a keyboard. The time he must have had to think. Not only that but the time his wife must have had to think, I mean the house would have been pretty quiet. (She also kept herself in seclusion for 5 months after becoming pregnant).

What do you think the first words you would say be after not talking for 10 months and after witnessing the birth of your first child? Zacharias had time to think about what he was going to say. He could have been making a list of all the people he wanted to set straight, or he could have wanted to tell his wife and son how much he loved them. But he didn’t. He praised God. Seriously. After being made mute by God, he praised him right after he got his voice back.

Luke 1:59-64
 59 And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father. 60 But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. 63 And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. 64 And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God.

I’m not sure why, but as I read and it hit me. I started to think about being quiet. Are there times when God is just telling me to be quiet? Be still and listen, think, pray. I’m not the quietest person, but I’m learning to be. I tend to be a verbal processor when it comes to big decisions or even thinking about big decisions. I have to talk about it, and sometimes I have to talk it to death.

But it seems like God has been teaching me lately to be quiet. To just bite my tongue, sometimes literally, listen and wait. There are times when I’ll bring an issue up to Kerry and God will tell me “okay, you’ve said your piece now be quiet”. My mouth comes open to say something and I’m reminded again “shhh. You’ve already said that.” So I keep it to myself. It’s been interesting to watch how God works when I’m willing to be quiet. Often times He’ll resolve the situation without me ever having to say another word.

The other thing about the story of Zacharias though, is that when he could speak again he PRAISED God. Interesting. It struck me, how quick am I to praise God? When I pray, do I praise Him or do I just go right into my list of wants, concerns and worries? When those issues that I’ve been so quiet about are resolved or prayers are answered…do I immediately praise Him? I might say “thank you”, but praise is so much more than that I think. Praise is reflected not only in our prayers and with our mouths, but is also reflected in our lives a
nd actions.

The story also reminded me that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). And convicted me that I should be more thankful for those things that come from Him. When I open my mouth, I should open it with praise for my God, even when things are difficult.

Leave and Cleave : Respect – Heart matters

Respect begins in the heart.

Proverbs 4:23

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.

The thoughts we have about our husband overflow into our “real life” and into our actions, our words and our relationships. Respect for our husbands is no different. If we don’t respect him in our hearts, we’re not going to be able to fool anyone into believing that we respect him either.

What if he hasn’t done anything worthy of respect? I can hear the indignant questions from angry wives everywhere. My husband doesn’t deserve my respect. My first question to those women is “what have you done worthy of his love?” I hate to tell you ladies (and myself sometimes) that nowhere does it say to “wait until he deserves it to show him respect” We’re supposed to do it right out of the shoot. Our husbands will answer to God for their actions and choices, we don’t get to say when he’s “good enough”.

Second, I would suggest that we should respect our husbands not because he is *worthy* of our respect, but because we are commanded by God to respect him. Who is your master? Whom are you serving when you’re respectful and obedient to your husband (I’ll give you a clue…it’s not your husband).

Very few human beings aren’t worthy of at least some respect.

I would also encourage you to examine by whose standard are you judging your husband and his worthiness? Are you looking to the world to tell you how a many “earns” respect or are you looking at the biblical standard of what a husband is to be?

One of the first ways we can begin to show respect and be respectful in our hearts is to stop trying to control our husbands. Stop trying to make him fit into a mold that the world tells us he should fit in to. Stop trying to “reform” him.

Many ladies I know seem to think that the man they were dating will magically change to the man they want them to be after the wedding. You know what? Same guy. The best we can do is to grow with our husbands, mature with them. And we can help him grow, we can share our ideas and thoughts with him, but we shouldn’t be critical of his every move and decision.

Our hearts are where respect for our husbands begin. It’s like planting a seed. If we can plant one or two seeds of respect there and nurture them they will spill over into the other areas of our lives.

I encourage you this week to find one or two things you can respect about your husband. You don’t have to say anything to him about those things if you don’t want to. But begin and end each day praising him in your heart. Praise God for those things about your husband. When you want to just smack your man upside the head or roll your eyes at him or say something hurtful…stop. Think about your “respect seeds” start cultivating that attitude towards him from the roots up.

Leave and Cleave R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Ephesians 5:33

English Standard Version (ESV)

33However,(A) let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she(B) respects her husband

To tell you the truth when I first thought about respect and why it’s so important to my husband…I didn’t get it. I mean sure, who doesn’t like to be respected and valued, but it is integral in making your husband feel loved. It’s what makes him feel like he’s the man, your mate…your hero.

Over the next few weeks my plan is to talk about respect and how to respect your husband. It starts in your heart, your home and in public. So first let’s talk about what respect is and why it’s important.

By definition respect means to hold someone in esteem, defer to them, to show regard or honor for someone or something. I don’t know about you but I winced just a little when I read that. I know that I certainly haven’t always deferred to my husband or shown him the highest esteem. Ouch.

But why does the Bible command us to respect our husbands? He’s supposed to love us, but we’re to respect him. A lot of women are going to say, “but they’re one and the same…I can’t feel loved unless I’m respected” But they are different.

To esteem your husband means you hold him in high regard. In some ways respect can also be tied to admiration and appreciation of your husband. Kerry (my husband) tells me that in a way respect is the outward expression of our inward submission to him. I’ll get to the submission posts after this series, because I know that’s a tough pill for a lot of women to swallow.

Respect speaks to the heart of a man. Respect lets him know that he is valued and he is admired by someone else. In showing respect to our husbands we are also showing that we believe they are the head of our household and we believe they are totally capable in this role. Respect doesn’t just mean that we hold him in high esteem, but that we care about his thoughts and his feelings.

If a man doesn’t feel he is worthy (or getting) his wife’s respect, he will be dejected, depressed and may seek that respect elsewhere. It doesn’t make it right, but it does make it easier.

I challenge you this week to think about how you can show more esteem and respect for your husband. Ask him what makes him feel respected or honored. You might be surprised to hear the answers.

A good place to start would be pay attention to how you talk about and to your husband. How do you represent him to others? How do you talk about him in front of your children or your co-workers?

Out of the mud…into the sun

Have you ever had one of those moments when you went “this was so meant for me”?  I had one of those the other morning when doing our morning devotional with the boys. We were reading through the Proverb of the day and came across this passage:

Proverbs 22:24-25 (English Standard Version)

24Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
   nor go with a wrathful man,
25lest you learn his ways
   and entangle yourself in a snare.
Those 2 verses really spoke to me. They hit my right where it hurts in a sense. I have to confess sometimes I like to just stew in being angry. I feel justified to be mean, to be short with those around me and in general just be a big gray cloud over everyone’s head. When I start to get in a funk I like to surround myself with others who are also in a funk. We just sit in our funkiness and sulk.
I was in a funk a few weeks ago. The thing about sulking with others is that when you’re done and you leave them in the mud puddle alone and you hang out again…you realize just how toxic that attitude is. This is where I am. I am out of that rainy cloud and my friends aren’t. There are some of my friends that are never out of it…they are perpetually negative, grumpy and wronged in one way or another. I am seeing and feeling just how weighty that kind of friendship is.
I try to be positive and point out the good side of the situation, but this friend can always find a bit of gloom and dwells on that. She is a real true to life Eeyore.
What to do with Eeyore. What to do? What do I do with myself? I am so thankful that I have hope in Christ and the assurance that God is in control. He holds my future, He knows my heart and hurt. He cares. It is only by His grace that I am ever able to pull out of that funk that sometimes grabs and holds so very tight I wonder if I’ll ever see the sun again. But I do, and God always sees me through. I’ve noticed that when I’m on the other side of my funk I have done the most growing in my relationship with Him and with others.
Back to Eeyore. What do you do with a friend like that? I can find a thousand ways that eeyore can look at life differently, a thousand things to be thankful for and a thousand solutions, but it’s never the right one or one that is agreeable. I think my friend enjoys playing in the mud and being the rain cloud too much. When I’m around her my mood sinks, my outlook darkens and I feel rotten. I’ve seen that attitude spread to others. My Eeyore isn’t just negative and down about everything, but she’s angry. She always feel those around her are out to get her, she looks continuously for a fight or conflict with others. There is always some kind of turmoil and conflict, a reason she can’t work with someone, a reason she doesn’t like someone and a reason she is the victim. It’s tedious and tiring to be around her, but yet I feel the need to be her friend. I feel the need to try to “fix it”, to make it better, to make her happier. (I’m a fixer by nature, by the way). I’m Christopher Robin and she’s Eeyore.
These verses convicted me this last week about the time I spend in conversation with my own Eeyore, the time I spend sulking and participating in that whole “funk” process. I need to make a conscious decision not to be negative and not participate in “Eeyore” behavior. It also means to me that I have to be willing to stop conversation and get out of the mud puddle.