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When the "If" prevents the ask

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  “A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him.  “I am willing,”  he said.  “Be healed!”     Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. -Mark 1:40-42   Sometimes the “if” gets in our way. There is a great deal behind that word “if” in this verse. The man doesn’t simply ask Jesus to heal him. There is an air of doubt in the word “If”.   What it tells us is that the man wasn’t sure that Jesus would. It wasn’t that he wasn’t sure if Jesus “could”. In that case he would have said “If you are able…”. This man is not sure if Jesus is willing. How many times have we held back from our prayers simply because we weren’t sure if God was “willing” to help us; our presumed reasons for His assumed unwillingness usually being a long laundry list of our inadequacies’ and/or shortcomings. It’s an internal dialogue we somet

Dear God

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  One day many years ago I found myself consumed in my thoughts. I was thinking about all the things going on in my life and those around me. I tried to compose a prayer request in my mind, but as each thought came to mind the “prayer” became more like a “compilation of worried thoughts”.  These are those thoughts that keep you up at night. These are those thoughts that seem to go through the mind in a repetitive way, never resting or pausing; the kind of thoughts that just don’t seem to have anywhere to rest. They constantly revolve like a never ending carousel ride that you can’t get off of. On this particular day of revolving thoughts I decided to do something I hadn’t tried before. I sat down and wrote all of these thoughts (aka worries) out on a piece of paper. I then took the peace of paper in my hand and said to God … “Lord, there’s so much going on that I just can’t control. My mind has become consumed with worry and I just can’t carry all these burdens around, so I’m givin

Pushing Through the Pain

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  Have you ever had to go through physical therapy? I know several people who have as well as having to go through it myself. PT is a funny thing. Your goal is to heal, yet the experience is often times painful. I was recently talking to a friend who had shoulder surgery. I asked how physical therapy was going and he said “Hard and painful at times!” He went on to explain that he thought that he was just about done with his physical therapy. He had thought that his last visit was going to be just that….his LAST visit. After his therapy session he met with his doctor who explained that therapy was going to have to keep going. My friend, feeling discouraged protested. “Doc, I think I’m done…I don’t want to go through PT anymore…it’s too painful.”  My friend added to his rebuttal that he would continue his stretches and exercises on his own at home….he promised. He paused and I curiously waited to hear how the doctor had responded to him. At that my friend let out a sigh and said “Well, t

Restore

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We look around the world and we wonder, “Will we ever be able to get along?” Sometimes what follows is a long laundry list of all the reasons we don’t get along. We focus on our differences, points of view, placement, and politics. Before we realize it, the people around us don’t even look like people anymore. They become the enemy; someone to fear, hate or be angry with. Before we know it, we’ve deconstructed everything God has told us about ourselves and others. When we deconstruct others in our minds and hearts, we then usually live our lives avoiding the very people that God created us to love. Matthew was a tax collector and Simon was a Zealot. Two people on two different sides of the political arena in their day. If we look at historical records, we’ll learn that Zealots despised tax collectors even more than Romans! Why you might wonder? Well, because tax collectors made their living collecting taxes from the Jews for Rome; many times, charging more than what was due, in order

Connected

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I was recently watching a documentary on trees. Yes, you read that correctly….tree’s.   Those tall, bold structures we walk by, sit under and sometimes clean up after, when struck by a wind filled storm. What intrigued me about this program was the title, which implied that tree’s communicate with each other. As the narrator explained the inner workings of these gentle giants, she began to also reveal how this understood “communication” works. Moving beyond the leaves, branches and bark, there is a system affectionately referred to as the “Wood Wide Web”. This system is underground in what we know to be the root systems of the tree. Now, most of us know that the roots help to supply trees and other greenery with water and nutrients from the soil. The assumption, I think for most of us, is that each tree takes care of itself. What I learned about this vast root system under the ground was that it wasn’t simply meant to sustain the tree it grew from. Each tree’s root system has a

Dividing Lines

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  The other day I jumped on social media for a moment and was overwhelmed by what I saw. I was bombarded by angry voices. People demonizing each other for their choices and opinions. Everything from politics, to education, to masks, to health care choices. Angry, accusing voices pointing fingers across a dividing line. The pointing came from both sides. Each opinion condemning the other. Each perspective casting anger and disgust for the other. These were voices of my brothers and sisters in Christ.   People I knew. People that love Jesus. My heart became heavier and heavier as I scrolled. Some comments were bold and some were passive aggressive. It was when I saw the final line that I closed my computer and let the tears of sadness come. A person shared that they felt someone else had “deserved” to die because of healthcare choices that they had made. As Christians, as believers, as Children of The Most High we may not always agree with each other; but we are told to love

The Labyrinth of Faith

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  What do we know about a Labyrinth?   Sometimes we use the terms “Maze” and “Labyrinth synonymously, but there is a difference in the two. A maze has been described as a complex, branching, multicursal puzzle with choices of path and direction , while a unicursal labyrinth has only a single path to the center.   So as adjectives the difference between  multicursal  and  unicursal  is that  multicursal  is having more than one possible route between the center and the outside, while  unicursal  is being composed entirely of a single continuous path or line. If we use the analogy of walking through a maze or labyrinth to talk about the way we move through life, we can learn a few things. When our lives are not focused on God they can become very much like a maze. We find ourselves moving through this multicursal place of multiple directions and dead ends. There is confusion and a great deal of moving backwards in strife. When we look at a labyrinth we see that the path has o