Bearing One Another Up


And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.

Mark 2:3

Sociologists are quick to point out that the healthiest people mentally and physically, are those who are functionally aware of others.  These people often find themselves in “the helping professions” like nurses, counselors, pastors, policemen and many other affiliated occupations.  It seems that there are some who will wade into other people’s lives, try to do what seems right and most importantly, touching others in their needs.

There are some who say that you either got it, or you don’t.  My issue is that Jesus seems to think that His followers would learn how to activate this mentality– this gift.  Each of us are directed to “bear one another’s burdens”.  This really can’t be adjusted in order to fit my selfish personality. Regardless of my personal proclivities,  it seems I am stuck with “the least of these”.  Thankfully Jesus promises me a Helper to help me, and help others who need help.

Carrying a cot for a paralyzed man seems to be indicative of how life is going to go for us, as we surrender to the task and carry our share of the load.  We comply with the need of the moment, to bring this man into the Lord’s presence.  I’m not thinking rewards here, or any special recognition.  Essentially, I’m just the schmuck who has to carry this guy into the presence of Jesus.

“Our society is filled with runaways, dropouts, and quitters. The epidemic of walking away has hit our land with effects as devastating as the bubonic plague, and it has destroyed millions of effective lives and relationships. We are so self-centered that we have ceased to lay down our lives for others.”

Kay Arthur

Making a way for our friends

There is a definitive call to service as His student, His disciple.  You just might say that learning how to forget yourself is the major starting point for a real servant.  It’s like your new Cadillac Escalade, equipped with cameras and a computer on the dash.  You don’t need to ask for these, they just give them to you.  It is part of the package. Serving is part of the package that discipleship has when its delivered to your “apartment door.”

You will learn to serve someone else.  This tutelage takes a long, long time.  In all of these lessons we are free to leave, terminating our relationship with the person we are serving.  But I don’t advise this at all.  Jacob had Laban teaching him, and teaching him, for many years.  Scripture is jammed full of men and women learning by serving. And sometimes, that can take a lot of time– maybe years.

There was four men carrying the paralytic, two would’ve been a strain, and three awkward.  No–four is just right.  Let us be a serious people,  fulfilling our responsibility to our friend lying on the cot and to Jesus.  We are all in this together.  Now– it’s time to take your place and lift.

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The Master of My Panic

“God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
    and the mountains crumble into the sea.”

Psalm 46:1-2, NLT

[David says,] “Fear and trembling overwhelm me,
    and I can’t stop shaking…But I will call on God,
    and the Lord will rescue me.”

Psalm 55:5, 16

Apparently, David understood what we now call a “panic attack.” He sure wasn’t the first, and he won’t be the last. David understands the shaking and fear that wanted to eat him up. He seems to go from “crisis-to-crisis” and very possibly this could of contributed to a deep anxiety.

My own experience with a panic attack is similar to what he must’ve felt. I start to shake and feel a pressing anxiety. The trembling gets very intense, I feel like death is imminent and my heart races. A feeling of doom often accompanies this. When I first started having them they were completely overwhelming; I had no idea what they were. They were quite scary. They seemed to happen once every week, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Mayo Clinic has put out the following list of symptoms:
  • Sense of impending doom or danger
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Feeling of unreality or detachment

Mine typically last for 20-30 minutes. When I finally asked my doctor, she knew exactly what they were. There is no drug; the attack can only be treated by an awareness of what is happening. There is no cure for them and really no way to eliminate them completely. I was stuck with them.

As a believer the panic attack had to be understood as coming under the lordship of Jesus Christ. When an attack occurs it is time for me to “hunker down”and prepare for the coming storm. Since I know he is in charge, I become less anxious. (And that is a good thing.)

Educating myself has helped a lot. Just to know many others experience them is a real encouragement. The panic attack is quite common and much is known about it, the attack can be understood and even managed by understanding its true nature.

I know that all that touches me is the Lord’s concern; of that I have no doubt.

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The Curious Case of Being Job

XIR84999 Job (oil on canvas) by Bonnat, Leon Joseph Florentin (1833-1922) oil on canvas Musee Bonnat, Bayonne, France Lauros / Giraudon French, out of copyright
Image by Bonnat, Leon Joseph Florentin (1833-1922) Musee Bonnat, Bayonne, France French, out of copyright

One of the most intriguing characters in the Bible is Job. Tempted and accused, ignored and maligned– he maintained a faith in God’s goodness when hell wanted to destroy him.

His goodness should not be questioned oe diminished.

“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” Job 1:1

Job becomes an oblivious participant in a cosmic exchange. God and Satan lock horns over Job’s faithfulness. God is sure of his love, while the Adversary thinks Job will fold when repeatedly tempted. But keep in mind, Job hasn’t a clue of who or why. He has to deal with life that is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Job will soon become intimate with pain and suffering.

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who God, and shuns evil.” Job 1:8

Satan is like a pit bull. And God has pointed out the character of Job, and what an enticing “meal” he would make. It’s a bit like slathering bacon grease on him and turning him over to the nearest pack of wolves. Satan now pursues his prey.

Again, Job is completely unaware of this contest. No one has bothered to consult him directly about this. Job knows nothing about this ”wager.” And it’s hard to be kept in the dark. I contend that had Job  known what was going on, this all would’ve been far easier. However, everything would be “unscripted” and  Job would suffer in complete ignorance. And that is doubly hard.

“At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:20-22

But there was no sin! Job will not travel down that road. Yet he loses everything– all of it. And things are going to get even worse for him. He will be visited by three “friends.” However, they won’t help him. They will only make things worse.

The life of Job, and the “total war” on his soul must be our consideration and our precedent to order our lives.

The pain of Job should become the blackboard where we practice our figures. In the New Testament book of James, (5:11) we are told to think about Job. And in our deliberations, to consider the compassion and mercy of God. Ironic, in some wild cosmic way.

We should realize that if you or I are going to come out clean in this, we will need to emulate the faith of Job. I think that this what James meant in 5:10-11. We understand that Jesus absorbed all our sin and pain, completely. When we see that, we can come through just about any nastiness. It won’t make the trials any easier, but it will frame the full goodness of God.

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He Was at Home


“A few days later, when Jesus came back to Capernaum, the news spread that he was at home.” 

Mark 2:1

You can’t hide the presence of Jesus.  There is a ‘built-in’ need for Him in the hearts of men and women.  You can’t keep it quiet, it is an open secret.  Believing people let it out in many ways.  You can see it in their faces, and hear it in their voices.  They become gentle and caring, where once was selfishness and anger.  Peace is present, and a wonderful new thing called joy.  They can’t help but share about their new guest, when they speak it spontaneously spills out.

Spring flowers can’t help their beautiful fragrance.  There is a fragrance that announces that He is present.  You might say that He takes over, just as a bright light takes over the darkness.  When Jesus is present, His brightness pushes through the cracks and shines out every window.  He cannot be contained or hidden.  Love itself is invisible.  But it has an effect on all who take it in.  The very presence of Jesus transforms us.

My heart is now His home.

People travel and gather great works of art.  They collect these things of beauty and culture.  They will go out of their way to search for paintings and statues of grace and elegance, and finding them they will spend a great deal of money to obtain them.  But no one or nothing can compare to having Christ as the honored guest. The poorest farmer can be the wealthiest man. No matter how quietly Jesus enters, His presence will soon make itself known.  Where Christ truly abides, nothing but good will be observed.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”

Ephesians 3:17, NLT

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Riding the Underground with Jesus

“And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.’

Mark 6:31, ESV

Our Savior would never drive us to do things with a whip.  He is not a taskmaster, and he will not insist or impose his will over us.  Nothing about him is brutal or demanding. (He could, really– if he wanted to.)  But no, we learn how to serve him from our loving hearts. It is interesting that it was Jesus that was very careful, and aware of his disciples needs.  No one suggested a break from the work, but Jesus initiated the break from the massive press of the crowds. He knew intensely what his disciples needed.

 “Crowds of people were coming and going so that Jesus and his followers did not even have time to eat. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves, and we will go to a lonely place to get some rest.”

Mark 6:31, NCV

Underground-SymbolThe presence of so many people had put the disciples in a very hard place.  The NCV describes the crowds, as “coming and going.”  If you have ever been on the London Underground you will understand just the sheer number.  Everyday, 2.93 million people ride the trains.  I remember travelling from the backwoods of  Alaska, with just a backpack, and hitting the crowds on “the tube” in London, UK.

The intense masses were way beyond anything I ever imagined.  Talk about a “culture shock!  I saw more people in just 3 minutes than in an entire year of living in Alaska.  It was like an amazing giant ant-hill; I would stop, and just stare. Nothing prepared me for this. But I knew His presence was with me.

Jesus is more concerned about the living freshness of his disciples.  He shuts things down in order to rest with his followers.  Often the tendency will be the opposite, especially when the leader is weak and immature.  “Work harder, and even more hours!”  Jesus did not have the need to be available 24/7.  And he certainly didn’t expect his disciples to.  His heart is committed to his followers.

He “orders” his disciples, come apart and let’s rest!

“But so many people were coming and going that Jesus and the apostles did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go to a place where we can be alone and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31, CEV

I don’t know if you can grasp the sensitivity, or see the nuances of Jesus shepherding his disciples.  He has a deep awareness of them; he doesn’t get lost by people pressing in from every side.  He loves the world of men and women, but his followers are his “specialty.”  He tunes in on their frequency, and knows our spiritual capacity.

What gives his followers strength, is to be close with Jesus, and to separate from the needs that were densely surrounding them.  We can be flattered by being needed, but that can be very corrosive or destructive.  I’m guessing but I believe that a few of the disciples may have been annoyed by this break in the action. They found it hard to remove themselves from the action.  Some may have been frustrated, perhaps maybe even slightly irritated by “Jesus’ retreat.”

When you are pouring out, you will find there is only a certain capacity before you run dry.  You may think this is “noble and praiseworthy” but it is nothing of the sort.  It is a form of arrogance and pride.  In order to really mature as a believer, we must shake this off and not to entertain our seeming indispensability to the cause.

We must keep on following Jesus into the quiet places.

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28, MSG

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Is He Your Friend, or a Doctrine?


“A rule I have had for years is: to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have.”

  ~D.L. Moody

This can be a liberating secret. It releases us from the terrible bondage of religion, with all its negative connotations. Friendship with our Lord will carry us beyond creed or doctrine to the place of true communion.

But we value legalism, and that is precisely what we believe when we bypass the relationship. Doctrine is a good servant, but a poor master. Creeds are necessary, but incapable of bringing either salvation or a fruitful life. This can only come from a living faith in the Lord Jesus.

We evangelicals talk big about “a personal relationship.” That is indeed crucial. But few be the believers that walk in a daily friendship with their Savior. That is truly a tragedy.

 “I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”

John 15:15, NLT

Friendship with Jesus will bring true guidance. He shares secrets and wisdom to his friends. We are brought into a true knowledge of the Kingdom through the relationship of friendship with the King. We are not slaves– or drones, slavishly serving out of slavish fear. We are His friends.

Jesus wants to confide in us; sharing mysteries hidden by time and sin. And his kingdom is full of them! He is looking to bring us into that willingness of a daily communion.

He will heal our wounds, and forgive all our sins. He is truly our savior as well as our friend.

Friendship comes with a price. It means we are now tethered to the Lord. That can get old, especially when I want to do my own thing. I will continually have to lay things down, and choose to follow Him.

But my soul now has a best friend.

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Simply Mary, at Jesus’ Feet


We see Mary three times in the gospels, and each time she is in the same posture — “at Jesus’ feet.” When we have our first glimpse within the Bethany home, we find Martha in her characteristic attitude– working and serving; and Mary we see sitting at the Master’s feet, sitting eagerly and listening to His words.

Our second view of Mary is when Jesus came back to Bethany after the death of Lazarus, and the sisters went out to meet Him. Again, we see her at the feet of Christ. But this time in deep sorrow, seeking comfort. And then we observe her a third time. She has come to anoint the feet of Jesus. We find her again, at Jesus’ feet, and now she is honoring her Lord.

She has this peculiar habit, and that is to be at the feet of Jesus. 

It is her natural posture. I believe that she feels entirely comfortable in this place.  I have personally seen sparrows’ nest on a sheer cliff hundreds of feet straight up, without any apprehension at all. I have been astonished at their daring and simple confidence.  And Mary has this spunk.  She has that certain easy and confident boldness.

Martha, the oldest, obviously has the theology.  We see her taking issue with Jesus, she is questioning, and confronting.  But with Mary it seems, there is a quiet contentment and a rest.  An open readiness to receive. We don’t see that too much, but Mary was a “learner.”  She had become learned in the grace of trusting simply.

The greatness of her love enabled her to kneel.  She was centered on her Master, He was the focus of her attention.  We dare not minimize this, or try to focus on something less “holy.” This is not something we can easily duplicate, because it proceeds out of a heart that is absorbed in love.  It may appear to be unseemly, and we scratch our head with nervous skepticism.  But it seems whenever Mary comes into the presence of Jesus, she works her way to the front– so she can sit with Jesus. (Interestingly, the Orthodox Church regard Mary to be the first real disciple.)

We have so much to learn from Mary.  Our Christian life can be very shallow and seem rather anemic.  We live in a culture that is racked in intellectualism and pride.  When we engage it we may end up with a bit of haughtiness and a lot of selfishness to deal with.  Mary can be our compass, and our example as we crash through these issues into authentic discipleship.  She really does deserve to be esteemed, and recognized for inspiring us to be with Jesus.

Lord Jesus, thank you for Mary.  May I become like her and have you very close. I want to sit at your feet.  I choose you. I choose to be with you.


ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion.