Archive for March, 2016

Superheroes

Posted: March 27, 2016 in Faith
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If you could have any single super power in the world, what would it be? Tough question, I know. There are so many good ones out there. Having to choose just one makes it tough. The ability to teleport, fly, or breathe underwater would each be an unbelievable power. Mind reading is one that tends to be longed for too, although personally I think that one would be more of a curse than anything. Super human strength…lightning speed…turning things into gold…the list goes on and on. If you’re someone like me, you’ve put some serious thought into this over the years. Let’s be honest, it’s important. In the slight chance that we encounter a genie, or find ourselves in proximity to some other extraordinary wish granting phenomena, we all need to be prepared to answer this question on the spot.

This past weekend some friends and I met up and gathered around the table to break bread. We enjoyed each other’s company as we talked about life. It was a truly fabulous night. We touched on faith, politics and sports. We shared our hopes and dreams and the cool things that were happening in the world around us. We were hitting all the high notes. Somewhere over the course of dinner the superpower question was thrown into the ring. I think it came into play shortly after the topics of Donald Trump and the early bracket busting upsets in the NCAA March Madness tourney. Since all proper dinner parties should not be concluded until you truly know where your loved one’s stand on the hot topic of “if you could have any superpower in the world”, we ventured down the rabbit hole. Once again my interest was piqued.

It’s strange that we are all attracted to the supernatural in some form or fashion. We love stories of heroes and their supernatural feats. Even when normal people do unbelievable things with their gifting, we want to dub them as “supernatural”. We term sports performances as supernatural, or out of extraordinary. We’ve heard stories of ordinary mothers lifting cars off of their children in moments of distress. We’re left in wonder by shows put on by great magicians. Supernatural things are riddled in the television shows and movies we watch. It’s been penned in the pages of books since the beginning of time. There is something inherent in each of us that yearns to believe in something out of this world.

Diving head first into the question, this particular discussion started shaping up almost exactly the way that I suspected. The superpower of flight gained momentum quickly and took the early lead. Invisibility, breathing under water and super strength all made a cameo appearance in the conversation, but were brushed under the rug rather quickly. Teleportation was introduced onto the scene and, with some strong support from the movie “Jumper”, was starting to gain some popularity around the table. The teleportation movement even included some converts from those in full support of flying. In the height of the conversation, as all of the supporting evidence was being brought to the table, the youngest member of our group chimed in. This bright young lady at the ripe age of 13 introduced a superpower that I had never heard of before. I could tell by the silence that followed that most of us were taken aback.

Whenever your Saturday night dinner party attendees are self-proclaimed professional world problem solvers, myth busters and formidable experts in regards to the superhero realm (just to name a few of the credentials), as most of us around the table were, it’s not often we find ourselves faced with a new scenario that no one had thought of before. Caught off guard by this foreign and original superpower, the natural reaction of the group was to interrogate and dismiss the idea altogether.

At first, the power seemed elementary at best. No true superhero in the history of superherodom would ever want this power! It was way too simple. Not cool or flashy. None of us had even heard of it before. How could it really be a sought after super power if it had never been aired on television or in cinemas? A superpower that has never been written about or spoken of in a story. I know I’m probably building the suspense a little at this point and I apologize if there is any feeling of let down at the grand reveal. Drum roll please…the superpower is…the supernatural ability to “fill things up”.

Crickets. Exactly how we felt. If you’re like our eclectic group of know-it-alls, you are probably left scratching your head at this point. You mean like the ability to fill up a cup with water? Or juice if you’re feeling crazy? I can do that myself, thanks. Or the ability to fill up a hole with dirt? We all have that power already. How about fill up our car with gas…do it several times a week… next. We started to grill this young lady on her not so “super”power and what happened next I won’t soon forget.

She started describing the power. “Yes, you would have the ability to fill all of those things up.” she answered. “Not only that, but you have the power to fill up anything. You can fill up closets with clothes. You can fill up your homes with anything also. Pictures, appliances and anything else. You can fill up your bank account.” At the mention of filling up bank accounts, she started winning over some of the group, including myself. I’m not even going to lie, I would definitely add a couple digits to the account total if this were a power I was entrusted. As she was gaining steam and winning the crowd, what she said next was nothing less than profound for me and everyone else in the room. Her next statements are what forever sealed a spot for the ability to “fill things up” in the super hero hall of fame.

She continued to list the amazing attributes of what shortly became the most remarkable superpower I had ever heard of. “You see, not only can you fill up all of these great things that we all want, but you can also fill up yourself and you can fill up others too. You can fill people up with peace. You can fill people up with hope. You can fill people up with joy. You can fill people up with love.” We were blown away. What a shift. Everyone in the room went from all but scolding the young lady on such a foolish recommendation to congratulating her on her nomination for what we now believed to be the greatest superpower of all time. Marveling at the insight and deep thought I tried to recollect any superheroes to date that had ever possessed this superpower. I could think of none. There were no marvel comic characters, Greek mythological beings or extraterrestrials that came to mind who had ever possessed this power.

Our group couldn’t think of anyone either. We were baffled. Then, in the moments of silence and pondering, there he was. How did we miss him? With all of this searching it’s hard to believe that he didn’t come to mind. The greatest superhero in the history of the universe. The only one ever that was endowed the supernatural power to “fill things up”. His name is Jesus. I was truly humbled in that moment. Here we are in a world where our souls are yearning for something believe in. Something supernatural and out of this world. Searching for something eternal, that is greater than this life on planet Earth itself. In the magnitude of the reality of the quest for truth, here we are, desperately searching for a hero who has the ability to “fill us up”. Someone who can fill us with peace, hope, joy and true love. Someone who can give us purpose and complete the since of fulfillment in us. In the face of all of this searching, we almost missed him.

Jesus said, “ The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

In this Easter season, whether you are a believer or a skeptic, I challenge all of us alike to take a look at what the savior of the universe has done for us. He sacrificed it all so that we could have life and have it to the full. He gave his life on a cross, paid for our sins and rose from the dead three days later so that we may have unity with God himself. As we think about this gift, let’s think about the hole that each of us have in our inner most being. The part of our soul that we often try not to think about. The part of us that knows there is something more. The part of us that we have tried to fill up ourselves with so many things of this world. The part of us that we fill only to find temporary fleeting happiness that it is always fading and never enough. We just don’t have the power.

If you’ve found Jesus and you have found the peace, hope, love, joy and life to the full that he has promised, let’s give praise to the Savior of the universe. Let’s lift up the King of Kings and Lord of Lord in a way that we never have before. Let’s honor the one name above all names. Jesus Christ, the only name that can save, and the only one in heaven and earth with the supernatural power to fill things up!

Only Jesus has the power to make us:

Thankful – Hopeful – Peaceful – JoyfulFull of Purpose – Full of Love – Full of Life

Maybe this is not the case for you. Your life does not feel full. In fact, you feel empty this season. Maybe you are like I was a few years ago. Like we all feel before we find our purpose in Jesus. You are still searching for this fullness of life. If you have been turning to the things that this world has to offer and it is still not working, or you’re only finding temporary happiness, maybe you’ve been missing it? I invite you to open up your hearts to the ultimate healer and redeemer. The one who wants to offer us life and wants to give it to us to the full. The one who wants you to hope again. Dream again. Feel true joy and contentment again. Give your life to Jesus. It doesn’t matter where you are at, or what you have done, he has overcome the world. Trust him. Put your faith in him. Give over your heart to the only one that has the power to truly fill us up. His grace is enough and the life he gives us will change us for forever!

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.”

 

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FullSizeRenderRecently, I found myself trying to give a close friend some sound advice. His dilemma was a tough one.  A journey that I had not yet navigated through myself.  Without much direction and certainly no clear path, how would he ascend the daunting mountain of an obstacle that lay ahead of him?  He was searching for answers and unfortunately, I had none. In my head I started praying and I asked God to bring me some supernatural wisdom to share with my friend in need. Instead of honing in on an epiphany that I could reveal to my friend, I started reaching for some of the colloquial phrases that we probably find surfacing way too often, at least I do. Phrases like “The million mile march starts with the first step”, or “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

I mean, seriously….who thought of these phrases anyway? Who do we know that has marched even close to the tune of a million miles? And an African elephant is a 12,000 pound creature. The average human eats only about 4 pounds worth of food each day. I’m no rocket scientist, but that sounds to me like we’re talking about 3,000 days’ worth of eating elephants. That’s over 8 years!  In the midst of my friend’s completely overwhelming situation, where life seems too tough and almost hopeless all together, here I am wanting to offer up metaphorical advice on eating elephants. Wow.

I don’t really feel like I’m going out on much of a limb hear, but I believe every single person reading this blog can think back to a similar time in their lives – where this life just feels downright overwhelming and every single problem / solution seems hopeless at best. I would even dare to say that a lot of us, if we’re being completely honest, feel that this is describing the season that we are currently in. Many of us have embarked on new journeys and don’t know the destination, or even where to start. Maybe some of us have found ourselves in a situation where we are dissatisfied with a series of decisions we’ve made and we do not even know where to go from here.  It could be that financial struggles are looming over our heads. Maybe relationships that we’ve been fighting for are crumbling beneath our fingertips.  Maybe illness and disease are plaguing loved ones and we feel that we’re at the end of our rope praying for healing. Whatever the giant obstacle we are facing, we just feel stuck. Staring into the face of what feels like a hopeless situation, with no end in sight….is a scary place to be!  If you have ever been here, or maybe you’re here now, the only natural question to ask ourselves is, “What next? Where do I go from here?”

I found myself thinking about my friend’s situation in my quiet time. I found myself reflecting the great obstacles in my own life.  As I the wheels in my head turned, I opened up the word and I ran across a story in the Bible that really shed some light on everything. The story, in John 5:1-15 (read it, it’s good!), recounts the tale of a man who was in dire circumstances. The story tells of a disabled man who was trying to make his way down to a pool of water called Bethesda. You see, this particular pool of water was rumored to have healing powers. The blind, lame and paralyzed came from all over to dip themselves in the pool, searching for some end to their ailments and a new start to the rest of their life.  This particular man in the story had been disabled for 38 years. Can you imagine the size of the elephant this guy was facing? The frustrations and questions he must have had….searching for healing and answers, not knowing what to do next.  I wonder if his buddies ever chimed in, “You know how to eat an elephant, right”?

As the man tries to make it to the pool with no avail, the story pans over to Jesus’ point of view. Jesus asks the man, “Do you want to get well”? Um… let’s stop right here. Why does Jesus ask this guys that question? Of course he wants to get well! He’s been crippled for 38 years.  I’m sure he’s tried everything at this point. The disabled man looks at Jesus and more or less says, “I’m trying man.” “Every time I’m about to try to get in the pool and get healed, someone else goes down ahead of me and I’m left in the same boat. The same situation where I left off.” I can almost feel his pain. The years of heartbreak and disappoint. He’s found himself in the same situation he’s been in since he can remember, trying to do everything in his power and finding himself catching the short end of the stick once again.

Jesus response to the man blows my mind. He tells him “Get up. Pick up your mat and walk”. Wait…that seems too easy. You just want him to pick up his mat and walk? What about all of the struggles he’s had Jesus? What about all of the problems that have been building up over the past 38 years Jesus? The solution is just for him to pick up his mat and walk? ….and then it hit me. In the face of an obstacle that seems bigger than life and impossible to tackle, Jesus told the man to get up. With an elephant in his way, a life that had been getting the best of him, a hopeless situation where there was no end in sight, Jesus told the man to take a bite. He gave him one simple command. Get up. Granted, this simple command seemed like an impossible task, but the man trusted in Christ. He trusted his next step in the hands of the one true healer and redeemer. The one who holds eternity in the palm of his hand. The one who loves us more than we can ever imagine and wants to give us life to the fullest. He listened to Jesus.  He put his faith in the one simple instruction Jesus gave and then responded.

What giants are you facing in your life? What hopeless situation have you been facing and trying to resolve, but you’ve found no relief? Give it to Jesus. Get in the word and seek him with all of your heart. Ask him what your next step should be and listen. No matter how simple, how impossible, how crazy, trust him and he will blow your mind! I trust that in this season of life he’s giving us all a next step, even if it is be patient and wait. Take the first bite. Trust him with your next move and then the one after that.  One day at a time, let the Creator of the Universe who has gone before make our path straight. God promises that He will be a lamp unto our path if we seek Him.  We might not be able to see the end in sight, but this story offers hope and encouragement to faithfully trust in His goodness and take the next step!

 

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

Psalm 16:9