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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Speak Up!

On any given day, on a main road in the town next to mine, there is a young man who pulls his car onto the shoulder of the road, unloads a sound system, and then preaches to the rush hour traffic as loud as he possibly can. He's been doing this for close to 20 years that I know of. I've never heard an entire sermon because I'm usually enroute somewhere and just passing by, but the jist of it is, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!" Lots of people think he's crazy. Many would say that he does not have the most effective witnessing technique. Possibly....but what he does have...is boldness.

One tends to think in our oh so proper culture that screaming the message of God from the side of the road is just not how it's done. I bet he is in good company, though. Jonah, for instance, or Jeremiah or even John the Baptist...Men called of God who went through the countryside proclaiming His message with boldness. Men who didn't fit the proper religious picture of the day. Men who weren't politically correct. Men who weren't liked very much and some who were killed for their effort. Men who were BOLD.

Over the past three days, I have been sitting under some of the most phenomenal preachers and speakers the country has to offer. I have listened to them lament about the decline of Christian belief and values in our country. I have heard them talk of how Christians need to be more proactive with sharing their faith. I have come away convicted because I know that I have lacked that kind of boldness. It's easy to sit here and type out a rosy little devotional. It's hard to engage someone I never laid eyes on before in the checkout line at the grocery store. But if God will help me (and He will), I want to change that. I want to be the bold one reaching out to the lost wherever I encounter them. I want to learn to Speak Up!

So my message is to me today - I need to speak out with boldness for Jesus and spread His good news. Anyone with me?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lost In The Crowd

Okay, so today is one of those days where we just have to get personal and have one of those "girls only" kind of chats...

Do you ever REALLY think about what life was like for women in Jesus' day? How the culture REALLY treated women? All of us have had to deal with that wonderful hormonal cycle we share on a monthly basis. For many, it is not the most pleasant time of the month...but can you imagine being hormonal and PMSing and being ostracized at the same time? Talk about depression!

The book of Leviticus (chap 15) describes how a woman who is bleeding is to be treated and makes it clear that she is unclean for a period of days. Because of the potential of accidentally becoming unclean by touching a menstruating woman, most men just avoided women in public altogether. I know that God created these laws for the health of the people, but, for me, this would have been a hard pill to swallow.

I say all of this because tonight I read the story of the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. Luke 8:43 says she had been to many doctors but no one could help her. The things in this story that always strike me are that for twelve years she was an outcast. For twelve years no one had touched her. For twelve years she had been desperate for a cure. Lonely, sick, depressed, desperate.... How many people do we know that this could describe?

Tonight another phrase jumped out... After she reached out to Jesus and He turned to confront her it says in verse 47 of the NIV that she saw "she could not go unnoticed." Other versions said she could not remain hidden. Wait - wasn't she in the middle of a crowd pressing around Jesus? Ever feel lost and alone in a crowd? It's almost lonelier than being alone and lonely...

It does not matter how "unnoticed" we feel, how outcast, how lonely. If we reach out to Jesus, we CANNOT go unnoticed. Jesus notices, He stops in the midst of important business, like healing the sick and raising the dead, to notice us. She was not unclean and worthless to Him. She was the most important person in that crowd at that moment.

Feeling lost, lonely, depressed, desperate? Reach out... He's already noticed - He's just waiting to show you.