These scars are beautiful!

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When I was a young boy I received a bicycle for Christmas, it was blue.  I rode that bike all over the place.  I loved that bike.  There is something freeing about those moments as a young kid riding a bike around town and facing new adventures with that new found freedom.  That freedom took me to the scene of my accident…that sounds more dramatic than it really was.  I fell off of my bike and in the process I gashed my knee open.  The “accident” wasn’t very traumatic or memorable with the exception that there was a lot of blood localized around a cut on my knee.  Upon further review I probably should have had stitches but it was bandaged and wrapped and slowly it healed.  In the healing process it itched, occasionally it burned, but over time it formed into a white lined scar right across my right kneecap.  It is still there to this day, though smaller just as that young boy was so long ago.  

We all have scars.  

Some scars are there to remind us of how foolish or negligent we’ve been in our lives while others were inflicted on us by an outside source.  Regardless of how they were formed they have become part of our identities now.  

Some scars though,  have not marked us on our bodies but rather our hearts and our minds through hurtful experiences inflicted by others around us.  These scars too are long lasting, some we carry with us to this very day and they mark us and are a part of our current identity.  

What kinds of scars do you have?  I would be willing to guess most of us carry with us both types of scars.  We have known the pain of physical afflictions and accidents which have left their marks on us, and we have also known the psychological and harming pain of scars of words slung our way and even the pain of losing a family member to death.  These scars cut us deep and leave their impression on us…sometimes for life.  

Can you recognize the beauty in your scars?   

We have lived.  We have not come through this life (thus far) unscathed.  We have experiences to share with others.  Wisdom to convey.   We have knowledge that we wouldn’t have possessed before earning (or falling victim to) these scars.  

Could I ever relate to a parent in mourning at the loss of their child?  No absolutely not.  I can empathize.  I can weep with them, but I cannot completely understand the heart-wrenching pain involved in that scar.   Although I cannot relate, other parents who have lost children along the way can share their wisdom and understanding during such a time of heart-wrecked agony.  These scars carry with them beauty.  Not because life is lost but because hope can be conveyed.  

I don’t wish to imply any of these scars are lovely when inflicted on us.  They burn.  They hurt…sometimes severely.  Sometimes they maim and disfigure us either physically or emotionally…but there is beauty on the other side of our healing.  There is knowledge and understanding…there is opportunity to relate with others and to help in their healing.  

From our scars to His…

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“The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” by Caravaggio

Jesus held out His hands towards Thomas.  We call him “doubting Thomas”…I think we all can relate to him.  Jesus had died.  He had suffered horribly.  His agony had been witnessed, and there was no way to come back from that.  How could the other disciples say Jesus was now alive again?  How could they make Thomas’ soon to be scar in his heart hurt any more?  It was like salt on a fresh wound.  And so He doubted their accounts of a risen teacher.  He vehemently drew the line and was unwilling to cross it until (as if it would ever happen) He physically touched Jesus’ wounded body.  So the scars came to Thomas.  The wounded hands and feet of Jesus suddenly appeared to the disciples in a hide out along with the rest of their Savior.  He stood before them and Thomas had to place his hands into those nail scared hands and a spear pierced side…then He believed.  

Scars are beautiful…

I don’t mean to say that in a masochistic sort of way or idle fascination in pain and maiming, I mean that in relational love and experience.  Thomas placed his inexperienced hands in the nail scarred hands of the Savior and was forever changed.  Jesus knew what it was like to suffer.  Jesus knew what it was like to carry these scars with Him…and His beauty marked the hearts and left a sacred scar on His disciples.  

What was meant to be evil and  damaging in totality had become beautiful and life-giving.  What was meant to destroy and cruelly maim had become healing and salvation to all the world.  These scars are beautiful!  

Do you have scars like these that you can share with the world around you?  These are the scars of experience and understanding.  These are the sacred scars of healing and restoration.  These scars say “I understand and I can relate to what you are going through!”  God doesn’t bring these scars upon us, but He can bring something marvelous out of our trials and experiences.  The damaging things that this life and even Satan himself can throw at us God can turn into victories.  

The scars of a recovering alcoholic who has beaten the odds and stayed sober can lead other alcoholics to find Hope.  The scars of an abused woman who has turned her life around and escaped that wounding lifestyle of physical abuse can bring hope to another woman who is still stuck and imprisoned in that life of hell.  

Do you have scars?  
Can you bring hope?  
Do you have a story to share with one who needs to hear it?  
There is victory in the scars.  
There is hope in the nail scarred hands of a Savior who understands.  

These scars are beautiful!  

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Finding Hope

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Sometimes it’s a hopeless world around us and all anyone can seem to do is just survive.

                                                             I don’t want to merely survive,

I want to bloom and grow and thrive in the place(s) that God has placed me.

                                                            Sometimes though I think that we all can just sort of settle for the “just good enoughs”.

I’m not talking about materialism or stuff but about our life circumstances and our hopes and dreams….

you see

 

when we were just kids

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We dreamed.  We welcomed imagination.  We hoped to become, and in that becoming the sky was the limit.  

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We weren’t weighed down by endless doubts, or the “not good enoughs” or the “I can’ts”…

 

 

we just imagined and dreamed big dreams…

 

 

 

                                                                                          but

 

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over time…

 

we started to believe what others thought about us.

 

over time…

we bought into the lies that this world told us.

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over time…

we accepting the truths of the fallen, instead of the truths of the risen.

 

So, for just a second, will you accepted this breath?

Will you accept this gift of hope again?  

 

Will you take these written words to heart…

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and believe again? 

 

 

 

Here is the hope that I have for you for me, for us 

 

today…

 

 

 

 

This is what I know HOPE to be: 

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H.elping us

 

O.pen our eyes to the 

 

P.ower of 

 

E.ternity 

 

 

This isn’t something readily accepted.  This isn’t something generally practiced…even though flowery speeches and whole sections of bookstores are devoted to “self-help”…they can fall short.  

Hope lifts our eyes.

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Helps us see beyond what this earth

has taught us to know.  

When we can begin to look up, accept divine help…

our eyes can become truly open to the possibilities again.

The power

God’s power, brings us closer, 

                        so much closer 

to the way things were created to be 

                               in the first place. 

Don’t be limited by your hopes and dreams…find hope…

                                                                                         and….

 

                                                                                                     let it….

                                                                                                                  set…

 

                                                                                                                           you…

 

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The Original ‘300’

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The movie 300 is about to get a sequel.  According to IMDb 300 ‘Rise Of An Empire’ will hit theaters in 2014.  Like its predecessor this new installment will undoubtedly be a total macho movie with frequent action sequences and lots of blood and gore.  But before anyone ever yelled out “For Sparta” another army of just 300 soldiers fought insurmountable odds and completely decimated their enemy.  Although the Bible doesn’t specifically say how many Midianites Gideon and his band of 300 hundred defeated, they had to have numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

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Gideon’s name means ‘Destroyer’ or ‘Mighty Warrior’, and yet the first time we encounter Gideon in the Bible he is threshing wheat in hiding so that the Midianites don’t find him.  Our first impression of this ‘Mighty Warrior’ isn’t exactly encouraging.  Yet an Angel of the Lord comes and pays Gideon a visit, and uses his name’s meaning by saying, ‘Mighty Warrior’ the Lord God is with you!  Gideon isn’t exactly full of confidence and even challenges the Angel’s announcement by essentially saying, ‘how can God be with us when we are being oppressed?’  Still the Angel is unfazed by Gideon’s doubt and commands him to go with the strength that he has and save Israel from the clutches of the Midianites.

If doubt and shock wasn’t enough, Gideon’s next statement puts things into perspective, he says; “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest…and I’m the least in my family?” Has Gideon lived up to his name ‘Might Warrior’ yet?  No, he hasn’t, in fact far from it.  But can you blame the guy?  He has seen the devastation caused by Israel’s enemy and he also recognizes that his family is the smallest and weakest in all of Israel.  Why would God possibly choose him?  Fast forward nearly a hundred and fifty years later and God appoints another ‘least of these’ to be King of Israel, a guy by the name of David.

I think God’s plan for Gideon and even David had less to do with human might and more to do with His awesome power!

Gideon had a tough time believing that he was indeed called by God.  He even tested God numerous times just to be sure, and finally after Gideon had his requests met by God, He puts together an army that’s boasted 22,000 soldiers.  Wow, what a force of might by Israel!  But that wasn’t how the Lord planned to defeat their enemies.  Gideon’s forces are dwindled down to 10,000…but that was still too many soldiers for what God had in mind.  Finally after one more soldier ‘thinning’ episode at the banks of a body of water only 300 soldiers remained.   This battle wasn’t ‘for Sparta’ either, this was for the Lord!

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I don’t know about you but that math just doesn’t seem to add up.  How could an army of only three hundred ever defeat the vast and ferocious forces of the Midianites?   Enter God’s power, might and perfect battle plan.  He gives Gideon the battle plan and it’s unorthodox yet totally effective.  Isn’t that how God seems to work?  He uses the least of these for His purposes and when the battle is won there could be no doubt who it was that provided the victory!   So it was with Gideon and his army of 300.  Against all odds and an unorthodox battle plan, God brought a mighty army to its knees in defeat!

Still to this day, God can use us, the ‘least of these’ to win mighty victories in this world!  Our God can lead us against all odds and bring mighty foes to their knees.  Sometimes we may have doubts like Gideon did and faith just doesn’t come easy, but we serve a God who always keeps His promises and He will be there for us in the midst of our toughest battles.  Trust Him, He won’t let us down, and He calls us ‘Mighty Warrior’ even when we feel much less than mighty.

Burn the Ships!

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The smell of smoke fills the nostrils and tears up the eyes.  The view on the beach is disturbing, the ships are on fire as the smoke coats the air and blocks out the sun at mid-day.  A sense of panic strikes at the heart of the sailors now marooned on this foreign soil.  Soon, realization will set in.  To find their way home, they have to move forward. 

 

Infamous conquistador Hernando Corte’s is well known for his brutality when conquering and claiming the Aztec lands for Spain.  He will forever go down in the annals of history as a conqueror that nearly wiped out an entire civilization in his day, but there is one saving act of leadership that begs to be examined.  When Cortes’ ships landed in the new world, to prevent mutiny he ordered his ships burned and sunk.  Imagine for a second being a sailor on one of those vessels and upon landing in this foreign environment your leader burns the only mode of transportation home.  Your world comes crashing in, and the only way home is forward without retreat.  It’s forward and never backward.

 

In a very practical sense, we ought to consider burning the vessels of doubt that reside within our faith in God.  These modes of transportation will only move us backwards into our old sinful lives instead of transporting us forward into a deeper relationship with our Father in Heaven.   Burning the ships of doubt has a motivational value that boldly declares that our purpose and our faith is all or nothing.   As an Ambassador for Christ in this world, there is no escape route or exit plan to abandon the cause of Christ!  We are either all or nothing; doubt can’t exist in the same place as our faith. 

 

If we have doubt and fear present, perhaps it’s time to burn the ships.  One might argue that fear is a part of our faith, rightly so…but it ought to be the fear (reverence) of the Lord not the fear of what the world might do to us within this cause for Christ!  These two types of fear are different.  Doubt on the other hand is something Jesus even confronts His disciples on… “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 8:26)   

 

Burn the ships…move forward in your faith and trust in the Lord for guidance, protection and strength!  He will never leave us or forsake us! (Deut. 31:6) 

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