Posted tagged ‘Acts 5’

The People Who Carry You

July 9, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           July 9, 2017

                                   

    “Some men came, bringing to him (Jesus) a paralytic, carried by four of them.” (Mark 2:3, NIV)

There are certain times in each of our lives where we struggle, are helpless, and have to be carried. They are episodes in the midst of our struggles where we are simply paralyzed by circumstances and situations.

When I was five I playfully rolled down a hill at Jenny Wiley State Park outside of Prestonsburg, Kentucky. The problem was that there was a glass bottle that my head hit in the midst of the roll. I’m unclear whether the bottle was broken or not, all I know is that when my head hit it the bottle sliced into the back of my head and the blood started pouring out. My dad picked me up and carried me back up the hill, a cloth was put on my cut, and off to the Emergency Room we went. A few stitches later, and with a throbbing noggin, we headed back to the park. In the moment of need my father had carried me to where I received treatment.

I remember that episode…and besides making me wary of rolling down hills…it stands out as one of those childhood moments of being picked up by my dad.

In my decades of pastoring there were a few times when people picked me up and got me through chaos moments of ministry. If not for those people I would have exited the ministry at various points along the journey.

When I read the story in Mark 2 about the paralyzed man the question that runs through my mind is “what would he have done if there weren’t the four men who picked him up and carried him?” How would the story have played out? As the story goes, there was no way for him to get to Jesus. There isn’t even an indication that he wanted to be taken to Jesus. It was his carriers who knew he needed to be brought to Jesus. They sensed the urgency of the situation and the opportunity of the moment and go so far as to cut a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus is located, lower him down on the mat he’s been laying on, and wait. (Worrying Baptist Mom Moment: “What if you would have dropped him? He could have been seriously hurt!”)

Jesus is taken back by the faith of the carriers, and the rest of the story, besides his being healed, revolves around some rigidly religious folk who were only willing to carry on a conversation, never a person.

All of us need carriers from time to time, as well as people in our life who may rely on us to carry them. Who might that be for you?

I’m not talking about people who will carry you out, like the young men who carried out both Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 after they dropped dead right after an episode of deception. I’m talking about people who will carry you away from destruction, carry you away from danger, carry you away from what could be your own demise…and people who are committed to carrying you to healing and safety. Who would that be for you?

Here’s what I’ve learned about those times of being in a valley! The people who carry you in the midst of the storms are never forgotten. You will always remember them. Sometimes it’s a parent who picks you up at the bottom of a hill, and sometimes it’s friends who pick you up out of a bottom moment of life. In either situation you remember the help and concern in your moments of helplessness.

Momentum Church

October 20, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           October 20, 2014

                                        

Momentum is not a scriptural word…unless you go to The Message paraphrase, and then it appears once in Matthew 4:25. Other than that there is no momentum in the Bible.

And yet we talk about momentum quite a bit in the ministry of the church. Perhaps it’s an offshoot of our over-zealous sports world mindset. There’s hardly a game that can be viewed on TV without “The Big Mo” word used during it. Teams have the momentum, grab the momentum, make a play that changes the momentum, can sense the momentum shifting…and on and on.

And so we hold it up in the church as a key part of our success…or failure. There’s a couple of problems with momentum. One is we try to make it a spiritual concept. Or on the other hand, we translate a spiritual revival or awakening as a sign of building momentum. Increased attendance at worship is seen as meaning there is momentum. An increase in baptisms, or those wanting to become members of the church, or financial giving, or a building project…all of those are viewed as spiritual indications of momentum building. We crave it. We even idolize it.

But where as the Spirit is steady, momentum is fickle. It can come and go at a “moment’s” notice. The hardest Sunday of the year for a pastor is the Sunday after Easter. Easter is a spark of momentum. The Sunday after Easter things go back to the way they were. It’s almost like Jesus goes back into the tomb. So much for momentum!

There’s been a few years where the excited momentum of Easter was quickly followed by the depressed loss of life.

Which brings me to a final question that I don’t necessarily have an answer to, but I want to ask it! What is the difference between the moving of the Spirit and momentum? The early church experienced both. I love the Acts 2 and 4 passages where the believers met daily in the temple courts, praised and prayed, took care of one another. The difference between the moving of the Spirit and momentum is that transformed lives are the result of the Spirit’s moving. People who are changed are left in the trail of the Spirit’s wind. Ananias and Sapphira’s “special gift” mentioned in Acts 5 was an indication of being caught up in the momentum of the times. They weren’t moved by the Spirit, but rather by their greed and need for recognition.

So…any time there is a sense of momentum there will always be the anger of false acts of spiritual devotion. It’s the Christian version of “fifteen minutes of fame!”

How do we know what is of God and what is of our own creation? I don’t entirely know, but I am taken back by the story in the gospels where Jesus notices the gift of a poor widow that everyone else has discounted as meaningless.

Something to think about!