Posts Tagged ‘luke’


One of the great tragedies of the modern church is the belief that many hold that Christ followers have it all together. There is almost a stigma attached to those who are stuck within the grief cycle. There are well-meaning believers who look at others who are struggling and place judgement on them because they perceive that Christ’s joy is not in their brother or sister’s life. This drives many who are struggling into a life of make believe. They create a persona of joy and happiness that not only fails to mirror their soul but is an outright lie of where they truly are. They then often question their own spirituality secretly believing that what they feel or don’t feel is directly attached to their lack of spirituality.

We must divorce ourselves of these two mindsets.
The mindset that says, others must be wearing a happy face if they truly are a Christian is one that is removed far from reality. It paints an unhealthy and unbiblical expectation that is unfairly placed upon those who are experiencing grief. It forces many to unnecessarily live underneath the watchful eye of judgement. Quite frankly this bizarre view that seeks to force others to live as though they are untouched by the painful realities of life is a big reason many won’t get near organized religion and often label Christians as hypocrites. Let’s face it, who can blame them. If Jesus came for the sick, why are the sick and grief stricken often treated by Christ-followers as though they are spawn’s of Satan? Sounds pretty hypocritical to me.

The mindset that is created due to being victimized by other’s views is a dangerous one. It declares that I do not measure up because I am stuck in the cycle of grief. It says, I am not spiritual because I do not appear to be joyful. The problem is that while one chooses to live underneath the microscope of other’s judgements they rarely heal properly. Rather, they live to present the appearance of healing to those who judge them. They walk around as wounded souls all the while wearing a mask that declares I am ok knowing full well that they are living a lie.

So what do we do to overcome these two mindsets?

I would propose that those who find themselves within Christian circles must begin by validating grief. Grief is not abnormal. It is not something to be feared. It most certainly does not warrant condescension. Grief is not sinful. It is natural.

Part of the reason grief makes us so uncomfortable and it is often not dealt with properly is because all grief is unique to it’s own circumstance. Therefore, one rarely knows how to handle the grief another. It is not just birthed from a unique circumstance but grief is also manifested uniquely by all individuals. Therefore we cannot treat all individuals the same and cannot expect them to all handle grief in the same manner. The most comprehensive workbook on grief is guaranteed to fall short because of the unique way all individuals respond to grief.

If the uniqueness of grief is indeed a true statement then one must not begin by pointing to a solution but rather begin by accepting the reality of the grief. Grief must be validated.

One Scripture that validates grief and the many manifestations of grief is found in the 102nd Psalm. The first eleven verses say this:

1Hear my prayer, O Lord!

And let my cry for help come to You.

2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress;

Incline Your ear to me;

In the day when I call answer me quickly.

3 For my days have been consumed in smoke,

And my bones have been scorched like a hearth.

4 My heart has been smitten like grass and has withered away,

Indeed, I forget to eat my bread.

5 Because of the loudness of my groaning

My bones cling to my flesh.

6 I resemble a pelican of the wilderness;

I have become like an owl of the waste places.

7 I lie awake,

I have become like a lonely bird on a housetop.

8 My enemies have reproached me all day long;

Those who deride me have used my name as a curse.

9 For I have eaten ashes like bread

And mingled my drink with weeping

10 Because of Your indignation and Your wrath,

For You have lifted me up and cast me away.

11 My days are like a lengthened shadow,

And I wither away like grass.

One has to believe that if the inspired word of God acknowledges the reality of grief without condemning it that we too can do the same. Consider the eleven verses that a mentioned here. (1) The author desires to be heard. (2) He feels like he can’t see God. It is as though God’s face is hidden. (3) Feels like he is living in a dirty cloud that hurts his sight and feels consuming. Smoke overwhelms all the senses. (4) Feels like his soul is dying a slow death and times does not even remember to eat. (5) Groaning flesh clinging.  He is no longer living but rather is dwelling in survival mode. (6) He looks like a starving bird. In other words, his grief is worn. Others can see the affects of grief in his appearance. (7) Is within a cycle of sleeplessness where he is often consumed with a deep sense of loneliness. (8) He feels like the whole world is against him. (9) Food no longer brings him joy or comfort. (10) Feels like God has forgotten him and is angry at him. (11) Feels as though his days are clouded from anything that is good and feels as though he is dying slowly inside.

This is a depressing chunk of Scripture but points out a valuable truth. Before the author of this Psalm can ever deal with the truth of who God is he must first deal with where he is. He devotes a large portion of his writing to the painful grief filled existence that he is living within. He does not put on the Sunday morning smile and tell everyone he is blessed simply say “I’m well” when asked how he is doing.

I would submit that if one is ever to truly deal with the reality of grief that they must first start by embracing it’s reality. Grief must be validated. It is real therefore it must not be ignored. Playing pretend will never foster an environment where healing can be promoted or can happen. Healing does not happen by accident.

It is ok to admit that healing is required. We read of many who cried out to Jesus declaring their need of a healer. What we never read is of Jesus silencing them. He encouraged those who cried out and discouraged their discouragers.

Cry out to Jesus. Crying out to Jesus was not relegated to those who were blind, mute and in need of physical healing. It was made available to all. The model prayer of the blind man, Bartimaeus, who said, “Jesus have mercy on me” (Luke 18.38) is a prayer that does not need to end in the Gospels but is a prayer that should still be prayed by the dispirited, the grieving and the hurting hearts. Make that your prayer today. Shed the facade that declares I am ok. If you hurt, cry out to Jesus.

In Luke 17 we find a narrative regarding 10 lepers that Jesus healed.  We find the story begins by telling us that Jesus was traveling on His way to Jerusalem when these lepers from far off cried out to Him and asked Him to heal them.  Jesus responded by telling these men to go and see the priests who would examine them and determine whether or not these men were truly healed. 

In the past when I had read this story I failed to notice a key statement that is found in Luke 17.14.  It says “And as they were going, they were cleansed.”  Meaning: the healing did not occur right away. 

These men possessed the faith to cry out to Jesus.  To implore Him to heal their malady that would ultimately lead to their deaths.  Jesus possessed the power to heal these men.  In fact the reason these men knew to cry to Jesus was probably due to the fact that they had heard stories of His great healings and miracles.  Yet the healing wasn’t instantaneous.  Jesus did not go lay hands on them.  He told them to leave and go see the priests. 

You see the point I have almost always overlooked when reading this chunk of Scripture was not that these men had faith or that Jesus had power but what I missed was a simple fact:  ACTION WAS REQUIRED!

These men did not get healed until they began their journey to see the priests.  Then and only then did they realize healing had occured.

I have to wonder how many times in my life have I asked a question out of great faith, knowing that my God had the power to answer my prayers.  Yet the reason they went unaswered was because I lacked action. 

So the question I would pose to you today is this: what action does God require of you?  I have to wonder as I evaluate my life, how many blessings have missed out on that God wanted to give me;  all because I failed to act.

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday.  My family and I worshipped at the church that my wife grew up in and that we shared our wedding vows in.  We enjoyed a beautiful Palm Sunday service along with a rather convicting message.

I did what I normally do during a service.  I took meticulous notes of the message and kept an extra piece of paper handy for notes that had nothing to do with the sermon.  I am constantly scribbling thoughts to myself regarding the passage of Scripture that I hear read and preached about on any given Sunday.  Sometimes these random thoughts spring into full fledged ideas that will be birthed into a sermon or a lesson for a later date.

In order to properly convey the thought process I headed down, during the message, and that I am headed down now I must first lay down the context of the Scripture that Pastor White read prior to his sermon.   The Scripture read was Luke 19.28-47.  It is often referred to as the triumphal entry.  Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey.  Palm branches are laid down and praises are sung.  He is at an all time high in His popularity.  The people love Him and they praise Him.  This is followed by Jesus crying over the city and dialoguing with the Pharisees.  The chapter ends with Jesus (once again) driving the money changers and profiteers out of the temple courtyard.

Typically the message one will hear in regards to this chapter has to do with worshipping Jesus.  Yet Pastor White instead preached on verse 45 and 46 and talked about the need for purity both in the temple of Jerusalem but in the purity of the Holy Spirit’s temple.

My brain traveled down another path.  It travelled down the path of leadership.  I am nearly always reading a book on leadership; I am currently pursuing a graduate degree in leadership, and quite often write articles about leadership for my own personal development. 

Here is the thought that hit me.  It is nothing new.  In fact it can be found in almost all literature that deals with the how to’s of effective leadership.  It was this: maximize your influence.  Jesus had the perfect opportunity here to build an even larger following.  The masses were praising Him.  They were proclaiming His greatness to all who would hear.  He held in His hand the perfect opportunity to build a positive view of Himself that could radically influence all who were in the city of Jerusalem at that time. 

In a corporate setting a strategic meeting would have been called.  Perhaps something like this would have been asked.  Now that we have effectively gained a large group of constituents how are we going continue to (1) keep their faithfulness to Jesus and at the same time continue to (2) increase our sphere of influence?  These are two reasonable questions that should be asked by non-profit and for profit organizations alike.  Simply put, all organizations want to keep what they have and at the same time expand their boundaries.  In and of itself, there are is nothing wrong with that concept.  Yet this is not the methodology that Jesus followed.

 Several years ago Bill Hybels wrote a little book entitled “When Leadership and Discipleship Collide”.  This is a prime example of what one of these collisions look like.  There will come a time for all who are in leadership when they must make the hard choice.  I can guarantee that there will come a day when all who lead will be asked in some form the following question: What is more important, purity or popularity?

At the height of His popularity Jesus chose to rebuke sin rather than embrace praise.  He stormed into the temple and drove people out like cattle.  Scripture does not say that Jesus acted calmly and submitted a request.  He did not hold a meeting with His advisors about what to do.  In fact the Greek word used here means that He literally expelled them from the temple court.  It is same word used in Acts 13.50 when Paul and Barnabas were kicked out the city of Antioch by an irate mob. 

Jesus sends a profound message to all who are in leadership in the end of Luke 19.  Purity should always take precedence to popularity and praise!  If sin is in the camp, Jesus is not happy! 

I would like to end with simple thought that we all need hear on a regular basis.  Pursue truth: not pats on the back!