Photo courtesy of http://www.upfrontministries.com/Jesus.html
Why do I like Nicodemus? He was, after all, a Pharisee. You know, the snobs of the Bible. They knew it all already. They wore their fancy outfits, said their fancy prayers, and heck they even wore a little box on their forehead that had a scripture in it. They wanted to be seen. Now they were a smart group of people. You didn’t just become a Pharisee. It was work. They were very particular in following the laws exactly. I’m not sure if Nicodemus rejected Jesus at first or not. But I do know that he did what each of us should do; ask questions.
He had questions in his heart that needed answers. Following the law all of those years wasn’t satisfying him on the inside. When he saw Jesus, he saw something different. He felt something different. He knew something was different. He could have ignored it and continued his strict stance of the laws, but he didn’t. He snuck by night and found where Jesus was. Then, he started asking questions.
“Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him”. (John 3:2).
He started with a statement but then Jesus blew his mind
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. (John 3:3).
This must have confused the law abiding Nicodemus. “How can I go back into my mothers womb. This makes no sense at all.” For a moment, he may have even doubted why he came asking questions. But he didn’t get mad and walk off. He didn’t say “That’s stupid”. No, he asked a question.
“How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4)
Jesus must have loved this. A Pharisee, that supposedly already knows all the answers, coming to him like a child with tons of questions. Instead of asking “Why is the sky blue” or “Why do birds peck the ground”, he was asking deep spiritual questions. Jesus didn’t waste any time. He answered again.
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8).
Nicodemus could have stopped there. He could have said “I’ve heard enough”, but he didn’t he kept asking question. He then asked:
“How can these things be?” (John 3:9)
Jesus kept answering the questions. One of his answers to Nicodemus is kind of well known, you know, it’s in John 3:16.
This is how we should approach Jesus. He loves it. He’s a teacher. He wants us to ask questions. It shows we’re interested. It shows we want to learn. It shows we want to draw closer. Nicodemus gave us the perfect example to follow. He was unsure and kind of afraid (he came at night so he wouldn’t be seen), but he needed answers. He couldn’t stand it any longer.
Try and copy Nicodemus. Come to Jesus and ask some questions. Ask him whatever you would like. Be genuine. Ask for guidance, ask for understanding. But remember this, he may answer you any number of ways. You should be open to his response.
What questions do you have for Jesus today?
One. It’s the simplest of all numbers. If you look at it there is nothing lower, except zero, and infinite past it. For all the wise ones out there, yes, you can have less than one in numeric values but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about whole numbers. I know, I know, you’re wondering where I’m going with this. I’m kind of wondering that myself. So let’s try this.
Let’s say someone you really love gave you one of something. Not two, three or even four. One. This person is someone you really care about and you really like that one thing they gave you. What would you do with it? Would you throw it away? Would you give it to someone else and let them decide what happens to it? You’re not going to get this one thing ever again. Would it be worth something to you? Would you hate it or cherish it?
I’m gonna give you a curve ball and change directions, slightly. I’ve been thinking alot lately about how fast things are going by. It seems like yesterday that I was running around in the yard throwing a football or riding my bike down the street looking for a curb to jump. I’m now in my late thirties. It’s not old by any means but it’s not young either. I’m sure you sometimes think the same thing. Where have the years went? Another thing I think about is ‘what have I done with those years’? I’ve done some good and I’ve made some mistakes. Sometimes it feels like more mistakes than good. But a thought kept coming to my mind. In fact, a number kept coming to my mind. One. I have one life and only one life. When it ends, it ends. I have one chance to leave an impression on the world. Only one. When I die people will come to the funeral, say a few things and then they’ll put me in the ground and cover me up. Then they’ll go on with their lives. It’s the way it is. The same will happen to you. I’m not trying to be sad or anything, but it’s the way it is.
I’m going to shock you now and go slightly away from the one theory. You ready?
You’ve been given two gifts, not just one. The first gift you’ve been given is life. When you were born you gasped air in for the first time and have been breathing ever since. You’ve lived for a number of years, had many good and sometimes bad experiences, but you’re alive. You’re breathing the breath of life this very second.
The second gift you’ve been given is different, or maybe not too different, than everyone else. When you were designed you were placed with a talent. That talent is deep inside of you. Every so often it tries to get your attention, but if you’re like the rest of us you feel you’re not good enough and you quiet it down. This second gift was given to you by a higher power. This gift was given to you to share with others and to help others. You already know this. You may not have discovered your gift yet or you may know what it is and are afraid to act on it. Either way, you have to use it. If you don’t know what it is, you have to find it. You have one life and one gift. Some have more than one gift, but everyone has at least one.
Will you use your gift or will it be buried with you? People are waiting for your help.
Pretty catchy title, huh? At least I got you to click on the link and read. You already know that sparks lead to fire. If you’ve seen the mascot for national parks, Smokey the Bear, you know that the smallest of sparks can turn into big forest fires. That’s not exactly what I’m referring to here. I’m referring to something a little different.
We each have a talent we’ve been given. It’s not bragging to admit that you’re actually kind of good at something. It’s not saying your better than anyone else by no means, it’s simply stating that you’ve been given a purpose and the tools to accomplish that purpose. I had trouble reading when I was in the second grade. So much so that I had to go to summer school to keep from being held back. It helped me in the coming years to get through school and my reading assignments. I discovered that I liked books and started reading some. Now when I say some, I mean some. I’m not an avid reader that reads twenty books a year. It’s more like three or four, maybe. I’ve also discovered that I love to write. There were these small moments that sparked an interest in writing. One of those moments was a song and the other was a movie. I took those sparks and built it into what is now a first draft for a book I will get published. I’m working on fine tuning it and will then find a literary agent to help me get it published.
Why did I tell you this, to brag?? Absolutely not. In fact, It’s been VERY hard for me to get to a point where I felt I could even talk about this. But now I know why I must. I’ve discovered that each of us have a talent given to us by God. We were put here for a reason. We must discover our talent and then use it. However, we often go through dry periods where we feel drained and that are talents are not in fact talents at all. That is when we need a spark. For me it was recently watching a movie that was based on a book. I’ve read the book, but to see the characters in action on screen sent all kinds of creative sparks through my mind. In fact, it reminded me of the sparks I’ve received in the past. This is my question to you. What sparks lead to a fire within you? It is a long walk listening to the sounds of nature that God created? Is it listening to a song that places a seed of joy in your heart? It is talking to loved one that needs a helping hand and you’re able to speak the words that they need to hear? What is it that sparks a fire in your heart and wants you to fulfill your purpose for being here? Please submit yourself to those moments. Let the sparks rise and cause a fire in you to go forward. We each need each other. We all have different gifts. Each of those gifts work together to keep us all going. Each gift is like a piece of a puzzle that makes up the big picture. We need to find our piece and put it on the table.
Are you going to listen to this message or let the spark fizzle away?
That’s an interesting title, No Excuses. Is that something we do on a daily basis – give excuses? We can’t accomplish our goals because they’re too hard. I can’t help people because I need help myself. I can’t do this, I can’t do that. We are full of excuses. Our mind is often our biggest obstacle.
I’m going to make a bet with you. It’s simple and to the point. It’s kind of extreme. Are you ready?
I bet that if a human with no feet could run track in the Olympics, than you could accomplish your goals as well. I know, I know…that seems a little out there. If I stop to think about it, it seems impossible – Someone with no feet competing in a race with the top athletes in the world. I guess you have no worries with my bet, or do you?
I would like to introduce you to Oscar Pistorius. He is a runner from South Africa representing his country in the 2012 London Olympics. He’s a fantastic runner. He often wins his competitions. Oh yeah, he doesn’t have any feet. He was born without the fibula bone. That’s the main bone that connects below the knee to the ankle. His legs were amputated below the knee before the age that he would learn to walk.
Today, Saturday August the 4th, 2012, I watched Oscar compete against able bodies humans in the 400m race. I know what you’re thinking. “It’s great they let him compete. To let him feel as part of the group is nice”. Well, think again. He came in second. He didn’t come there for a pity part or to get preferential treatment he came to win. He still has more races to come.
Now, lets get back to you. If you took me up on my bet, then I guess you lose. Since you lost, you have to pay me. Here’s what I ask…
“Change your way of thinking”
Too many times we let our own mental limitations get in the way of us accomplishing our goals. We let it control our life. Sometimes we let what others think stop us. We have to get away from that. We were each born with a purpose and we must fulfill it. There are going to be obstacles in the way, but we must overcome them. What good is the journey if it’s always easy? It’s when we accomplish our goals and look back at what we had to overcome that we feel the most joy. Go out and do what you’re supposed to be doing. We need you!!
As they say, pictures are often more valuable than words. Watch Oscar in action for yourself.
See him in action in the 2012 London Olympics – http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/track-and-field/highlights-mens-400m-rounds-heat-1-oscar-pistorius.html
The little boy held the freshly wrapped present in his arms. It was wrapped in a beautiful white box with a red bow. The instructions were clear and the little boy knew exactly what to do. He could open the present and have whatever was inside, but he had to do it before noon.
It was about eight in the morning when the boy sat down in front of the tall grandfather clock. The short hand sat on the eight and the long hand was on the twelve. The countdown began.
The little boy picked up the box and shook it. He heard a clinking sound and his eyes glistened and his lips turned into a smile. His mind began to wonder as to what all he could do with his present. Was it a toy? Was it a whistle? Maybe it was a little car? His eyes looked at the box and then at the clock. Maybe it’s a leash for a dog? He began to think about how great it would be to walk his dog around the neighborhood and how all the other boys and girls would want to be like him with his beautiful dog.
He played with the bow and slightly pulled on it but stopped when another gift suddenly came to mind. Maybe it’s a yo-yo. He put his hand way up in the air and then down as if playing with a yo-yo. His eye caught the clock. The small hand was closer to the nine and the long hand was as well. He had plenty of time so he went back to wandering.
He put the box on the floor and placed his head on the floor beside it. Maybe it was some toy soldiers. Maybe the toy soldiers have guns and can have battle. He closes all his fingers on his right hand except his thumb and pointing finger. He closes one eye and aims his imaginary gun. With a loud “pow” he awakes himself back to reality.
The bow on the box has glitter that falls from it with each shake from the boy. Maybe it’s a snow globe. Maybe there’s a snowman in the snow globe and when he shakes it, the snow begins to fall. The boy looks up at the clock. The long hand is on the six and the short hand is on the eleven. Time sure has passed quickly. He has just a few more minutes to dream about what’s in the box and he will open it before noon.
He picks up the box and shakes it again. This time the sound is different but he’s not sure what it sounds like. Maybe it’s a book with a story about a little boy. Maybe it’s a stuffed pet tiger that he can roar and pounce through the house. Maybe, just maybe.
The boy places the box on the floor and lies down beside it. His big eyes stare at it with dreams that could only be imagined. Dreams of what he could do with whatever is in the box. His eyelids get heavy and eventually close as he dreams what his gift could be. It’s five minutes after noon and the beautiful box with the red bow is still wrapped and the little boys dreams continue.
Will we open the gift God has given us to do with our lives, or will we dream about it and never act? When we awake, will the present now be the past?
Will you open your gift and share it with the world?
Copyright © 2012 – Chris W. Lawson
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When the sun rises Saturday morning, devastation will be only a whisper away. As people go through their normal routines that morning, they won’t be aware of what is actually happening in the world outside their home. As they start their car and head to town, they will be blinded by a sight they never thought they would actually see. When they pull into the Chick-fil-A to get their normal breakfast item, they will see words that will send chills to their bones.
Closed For Remodel July 14
Could there be any more dire words in the english language? Could there be a more devastating moment as that? As people run to the doors and look inside, they will see nothing but darkness. As they sit in their cars at the drive-thru speaker, they will hear nothing but silence. People will be in shock at first and then desperation will set in. The sweet tea junkies and milkshake minions won’t be able to take it anymore. Riots will break out in the streets and protest signs hoisted into the air. Little children will stand at the entrance holding their kids meal story books waiting to trade it for ice cream. All of humanity will be lost.
As the evening settles on the first day and the wounds of war begin to make stomachs ache, people will realize that there isn’t any “chikin”. There will be no sound of mooing in the air and no “may I help you please” ringing through the car windows. People will be at a loss for words. “The end has arrived” will be spoken by every man and woman alike. The realization of the moment will sink in. They will realize that for several weeks, there will be no Chick-fil-A.
Unless they visit one of the convenient other East Tennessee locations until the Oak Ridge site reopens in August.
Did you enjoy the story? If so, it was my pleasure.
What is your favorite Chick-fil-A item on the menu?
Copyright © 2012 – Chris W. Lawson
One of my favorite memories of the Andy Griffith show was the stories that Andy used to tell. He could bring excitement that was unimaginable. When Andy would start “Ohh, you should have seen the look on that little bird’s face” or some other exciting story, he would draw out the words so that they seemed to last forever. It was so enjoyable to hear his soothing voice.
With his passing, I began to think. What if Andy could come back and tell us what heaven looked like? I wonder how that story would go, how it would sound, and which words would he draw out that seemed to last forever? I would love to hear. In fact, let’s try this. I want you to stop and think about your favorite moment of Andy telling a story; how it captured your ears as you sat there like a little kid listening to every word. Remember his soothing voice and animated eyes. Take a moment and let his voice take over. When you’re ready, read below what he may have said…
“Boy, oh boy. I’m glad you took a chance to hear me today. I’ve been seeing things that would make your eyes ’bout pop out of their sockets. I was at home, sick, taking my final breaths and was real real sad that I was ’bout to leave this place that’s been my home. But just as i was feelin’ real sad, this strong angel show’d up. He had this pearly white housecoat lookin’ thing on and had one of the prettiest swords you have ever seen. He looked at me real straight and said “It’s time to go home”, and I said “I’m fine rightchere, this is my home”, and he looked at me again, with those big strong wings ready to go and said “No, your forever home”.
After he said that, he picked me up and we flew up into the clouds right into the purtiest sunset I’ve ever have seen. The clouds were like cotton candy and looked like big fluffy pillows floating all around us. We were going real fast. I didn’t feel sad at all. Next thing I know, we were at this biiiiiig gate. It had all kinds of beautiful rare stones like you’d see in those fancy jewelry stores, ‘cept these were much bigger. He set me down and we walked right in like we owned the place. I looked down and under my feet was the purtiest yellow gold I’ve ever have seen. It looked like a sidewalk that went in all kinds of directions. We started walkin’ and we came up on this city that was way bigger that Mt. Pilot.
The buildings were tall and looked like somethin’ out of a Hollywood movie. There were people everywhere, walkin’ round and happy as could be. The angel led me down that yellow sidewalk and through all of those beautiful buildings, and then we come up on a real tall tree. Oh, it was tall and green and had birds singin’ like you wouldn’t believe. There was the purtiest river beside that tree and there were fish bigger than I’ve ever caught when we went fishin’. I turned around and saw a big ‘ol chair and a man was walking from it up to me. He had brown hair and a beard and had a fancy outfit that looked like it was from one of those ‘ole movies when they rode chariots and fought each other. He come up to me and started talkin’. His voice was as smooth as a mountain creek but as powerful as one of those mountain lions. I knew who it was and I bowed my head in reverence to him. He was the King so I had to pay him his proper respects. He said “Welcome to the city, my good and faithful servant”. I tried to not to tear up but I just couldn’t help it. He put his arm around my shoulder and we went for a walk.
He told me all ’bout the city and what all he had done to prepare for me and all the others that would be comin’. When he talked it grabbed my entire attention and I loved every minute of it. He was the best storyteller I’ve ever heard. There were little boys and girls runnin’ round and laughing, there were people hugging’ and talkin’. It was the purtiest place I’ve ever seen. I thought throwin’ rocks and fishin’ was the best thing ever, but it didn’t compare to this. I could go on and on, but I’ve got to keep a little mystery to it. Because, one day you’ll get to see it yourself.
If you’d say “I’ve died and gone to heaven”, well, you’d pretty much got it right.
What was your favorite story that Andy told? Share it below…
Copyright © 2012 – Chris W. Lawson