Sunday, April 24, 2005

Misplaced Hope

© 2005 Lisa Biggs Crum

John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies.’”

Where is your hope? Is it in Jesus or in the event of the resurrection?

In John 11, Jesus’ good friend Lazarus dies. Martha meets Jesus with “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

This seems to indicate that she believed Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead. However, when Jesus states that Lazarus will rise again, Martha assumes he is referring to the final resurrection of all the dead. That’s where Jesus responds in verse 25 with “I am the resurrection….”

The second part of Jesus’ response is what caught my eye today. “He who believes in me will live” is a significant statement. He does not say he who believes in eternal life will live. How many “Christ followers” are “believers” because they want to live forever? Is our focus on Jesus or on the reward?

Matthew 16:25 (NLT) “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.”

To understand this concept a little better, think about children. It is my desire to teach my children to be responsible whether I am standing over them or not. If I give them a reward for every good thing they do, will they learn to be responsible or will they seek rewards? Those who believe doing “good” is the way to eternal life have missed the point of the reward.

Consider employees. What is a “brown-noser?” It is one who is more interested in the power of the boss than in the purpose of the boss.

Where is your hope? Are you following Christ because you believe in him? When something doesn’t go your way, do you still believe in Him?

Matthew 6:33
(NLT) “and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.”

Luke 17:20-21 (The Message) Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, "The kingdom of God doesn't come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, "Look here!' or, "There it is!' And why? Because God's kingdom is already among you."

Eternity is here. Believe in Him and live.

Monday, April 11, 2005


© 2005 Lisa Biggs Crum

The current message series at the church I attend is “Living Beyond Myself.” Pinocchio came to mind this morning as I was pondering this weekend’s message – “The Great Gamble.” It wasn’t until after I read the story at that I connected Pinocchio with the “Living Beyond Myself” series.

Geppetto created his wooden son from a discarded lump of wood. As Pinocchio groaned and behaved with disrespect even as he was being shaped into a real boy.

Geppetto’s response could be God’s response to his creation. “You naughty boy! I haven't even finished making you, yet you've no respect for your father!"

Romans 5:8 (MSG) “But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.”

Even though Pinocchio had no respect for his creator/father, Geppetto cared enough for him to begin to teach him to walk. Pinocchio was so excited about his ability to walk that he wanted to learn more. Geppetto gave up something of great value so that he could provide a way to be in a real relationship with Pinocchio. God, Our Father, gave up his only son, Jesus, so that we could be in relationship with Him.

God gives us spiritual gifts and talents to enhance that relationship. Just as Pinocchio, we too set out with good intentions and easily get distracted by what the world has to offer in exchange for our talents. It provides enjoyment for a while. Then we remember our intentions and attempt to get back on track only to find ourselves distracted again.

With plans and determination, Pinocchio sets off again on his original quest. Deceived by crooks who tell him a better way to please his father, Pinocchio gambles his second chance away. He finds himself in the same position I have found myself – hanging by a rope on a tree. His words, "Father, help me!"

How often do I set off with good intentions to achieve a deeper relationship with God in a “better way” than He has offered only to find myself hanging? God hears my plea and provides help. Pinocchio appreciated the help but he left out a few details of why he was in that predicament.

I am still amazed at the wiser Christ follower who can listen to lies and continue to offer assistance. I’m still in training in that area. Pinocchio did not have a poker face. He couldn’t get by with a lie. Do we really think that God doesn’t see our nose grow? If we are seeking assistance from someone who is gifted with Godly wisdom and discernment, they can see the nose grow too. Will we heed their warnings and words of wisdom or, as Pinocchio did, repeat our same mistakes?

Pinocchio sets out again refreshed with good intentions. His self-centered desires lure him into his “dream” world. This world of all play and no work turns him into a jackass. Ok, the author uses the term donkey. Pinocchio is male, so the more specific description is appropriate. It seems to provide a better description of our life when we attempt to live for nothing more than self-pleasure.

Eventually, Pinocchio “gets it.” He begins to view life from a different perspective. His good intentions no longer center on the benefits of self-pleasure. He begins to understand the message of “Living Beyond Myself.” He becomes a real boy with a loving relationship.

Living beyond myself requires a view of life that goes beyond the simplicity of doing so that I will enjoy. Yet, it is not complicated. It is simply being the you God created you to be. God desires to be in a real relationship with you. He provides the only way to do that. There is no “better way.”

Do you feel life has left you hanging? Is your dream world not quite what you expected? Do you want to be real or continue performing as a puppet in hopes of looking good for others?

You are here to be in relationship. Not just relationships for your pleasure but for the pleasure of others. Yes, you are equipped to be a pleasure to someone else. Even to God, your creator, the Father who never gives up on you. Stop viewing life as a place to have all your pleasures satisfied. Try viewing life as a place where you can participate with God in providing pleasure for others.

Accept God’s way of life and you will experience real life.

Want to know more about a relationship with God? Check out these sites.

Another great blog on Pinocchio
the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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