Tony grabbed the wheel: “No, no! That was your blind spot, your blind spot, Ed! You have got to remember to check your blind spot, because blind spots cause accidents!” Tony was right. Blind spots do cause accidents, don’t they? A blind spot is any area in our lives that we don’t see. And I think the greatest blind spot facing the Christian community is concerning the words “physical authenticity”. We talk about addiction, sexual immorality, and violence. Yet, while we are discussing these topics, we are slowly and methodically tearing our bodies apart with junk food and lack of exercise. Historically, Christians have emphasized the soul, and the soul is important and eternal. But we’ve so emphasized the soul that we’ve neglected what the Bible teaches about our physical domain. And God loves us too much not be concerned with how we treat our bodies.
Lisa and I have been married for thirty-four years, and I have only had sex with one woman! If I committed adultery, would God forgive me? Yes—but I cannot even fathom looking into Lisa’s eyes, the girl I met at fifteen, and saying, “I’ve been unfaithful to you”. I cannot imagine facing our four kids and saying, “I had sex with someone other than your mom”. I cannot conceive of relaying such shameful behavior to those within our accountability structure or the overseers of the board at Fellowship Church. And I cannot imagine walking on stage in the worship center and admitting to such an offense before the church. Bottom line—I am fearful because I know God wants me to live a life of purity and holiness. If you lack a healthy fear of God within the framework of your life, it is time to redefine your relationship with the Lord. Only you can choose to reestablish this foundational emotion, which leads to reverence. Simply say, “God, I bow before you in surrender. I give my life to You, tax, title, and license. Let not my will be done, but Your will”. Remember, whenever we think we run the show, our lives become inverted and everything gets perverted.
Names are unique. Think about it. What if we didn’t have names? Instead of saying, “Bill”, we would say, “Hey short bald guy who lives down the street”. Our names set us apart and distinguish us from others. Caitlyn Jenner, LeBron James, Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian, Jerry Jones—at the mention of these names, reflexively we think about certain qualities and characteristics. When you think about the name of God, what comes to mind? Do you envision a detached deity? Maybe you see a sequestered God with a long white flowing beard tweaking the dials on the universe. Or, maybe you view God as confined and defined by denominational parameters. Maybe you think He is a cosmic killjoy, raining on your fun, and putting a damper on your life. Who is God? Do you know His character and the essence of who He is? Psalm 148:13 states, “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens”. The name of God was so precious to the Israelites they could not even articulate it or write it. The Bible says to worship God because of His name. To know God is to know Him by name and the weight it carries.
I’ve been fortunate enough to do a lot of traveling, and Lisa and I have been to the Caribbean many times. In years past, we traveled with friends who loved to go diving while we stayed back and simply snorkeled. Our friends had wet suits, tanks, and knives strapped to their calves, like Lloyd Bridges used to sport in Sea Hunt. They would return from diving and always tell us how we were missing out on the real thing; the closeness, the colors, the plants, the sea life—the total experience. Since then we have learned to dive. Relationally, God is telling Christians the same thing. He is saying, “Quit splashing around on the surface snorkeling. Get out of the water, put on a wetsuit, strap a tank on your back, and dive deep relationally”. It is time to take the plunge! Do you want to become a relational peace diver?
The Spiritual Spotters
What does 1 Thessalonians 5:11 say? We need some spiritual spotters. We need people to come along side of us and help us, encourage us, motivate us and spot us. Because there are going to be times in your life and mine where we can’t lift the weight. People can help us and say, “I’ve been there before. I’ll help you with the weights.” One of the things that just whips me as a pastor is talking to people about relationships.
Follow Pastor Ed Young as he discusses Spiritual Spotters on http://winningwalk.org/
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Those are valid questions, good questions, and biblical at that. Before we get into faith healing, I think it’s important for us to understand how Jesus performed miracles. Jesus performed dozens and dozens of miracles throughout the Gospels. Whenever I say Gospels, I am talking about Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
I want to lift out one miracle that Christ performed in the book of Luke, chapter five. Now, here is the situation. Back in biblical times, leprosy, which is called Hansen’s disease today, was a horrible situation. The person who had leprosy could not receive healing through conventional means. There was no medication, no help whatsoever.
Leprosy caused nerve endings in the body to die, which particularly affected the extremities. Fingers, hands, feet, and faces fell off, because the person no longer had the benefit of pain receptors to keep from injuring and maiming their extremities.
Today, we are going to talk about one of the most controversial subjects in Christianity, divine healing. I know for many of you, this subject hits close to home. It kind of kicks you a little bit, because maybe you are dealing with a chronic illness. Or maybe you have a family member who is very sick. Or maybe you have prayed for someone to get well. Maybe you have prayed for their healing, yet, they are still sick or maybe they died.
Let’s face it, we live in the belt buckle of the Bible belt, Dallas/Ft. Worth, the hotbed for faith healers, the Mecca for miracle workers. All we have to do is scan the dial, skim the headlines and surf the channels, and, chances are, we are going to run into a man or a woman that claims to be a faith healer.
Now, if you are like me, you ask several questions. You lob questions God’s way like, “God, what do you think about this situation?” Or, you might say, “God, are these people for real?” Do you ask things like this, when a person comes across the stage and the faith healer whacks them on the head, “Is that person really a different person, have they been changed?”
She was scheduled to go see the doctor the following Thursday for a chemo treatment and blood work. Her doctor would take the usual blood sample to see how fast the cancer was progressing before administering the chemo treatment.
He took the blood and sent it to the lab. She would always wait for the lab to send its report back to the doctor, who would then talk to her about the results and then administer the chemo. When the doctor came in this time, he wanted to take more samples of blood and to send to the lab. He came back a second time and told her that the lab could not find any evidence of leukemia. The doctor then scheduled her to have a bone marrow biopsy done the following week. The bone marrow biopsy showed that there was no leukemia and no cancer. She was cancer free and still is today.
Two similar situations. In one, God seemed strangely silent and, in the other, he showed up big time.
It does not take a rocket scientist to say, “I think those people have great commitments. I think they love the Lord. I think I had better go there and develop friendships there.” Are you going to do that or wallow with the same people who mess you up and drop the weights on you? Come on, we have got to wake up here.
Let me tell you something that really encourages me. Let me tell you something that really caffeinates me. It is when I see people make these changes, when I see people, and I am talking about students, single adults and married couples, change and move away from their old friendships, who are dragging them down and tripping them up, and gravitate toward new encouraging friendships.
In our small group, we had a Home Team party, like I told you, because a couple in our small group is moving to another state.
I’ll just vent for a second. I sit down and talk to people, and they will talk and talk and I’ll say, “Wait a minute man. Wait a minute. Change your friendships. Don’t you get it? They are tearing you apart.” “Well, you know, dude, I can hang with the guy. He’s not pulling me down. He’s not messing me up.” Have you lost your mind?
I talked to a woman, “Well, you know, I don’t want to hurt their feelings and they are my friends. Yes, even though they mess around and drag me down, I can help them.”
Have you lost your mind? I’m not saying to dis your friends or to turn you back, but the Bible will tell you and me that we have to turn from people who are dragging us down and hook up with people who will lift us up. It’s not like we don’t have a zillion opportunities to build great relationships here at Fellowship Church.