Like Pulling a Pet From a Pit: Healing

I. Healing: Like Pulling a Pet From a Pit

 

Have you fallen in a pit?

Well, God wants you out of it!

It’s an awful place to sit.

So, if you’ve taken a hit,

Read the gospels and you’ll see:

It is God’s will to make you free.

He wants you to be whole

(In spirit, body and soul).

Jesus compares healing to saving a life and to pulling a pet from a pit. See the following examples:

I. The Man With the Withered Hand

One time in a synagogue He saw a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees asked him if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath. They wanted to accuse him. (see Matthew 12:10.

Jesus answered by asking what they’d do if their sheep fell into a pit on the sabbath. Wouldn’t he lift it out? He then adds (in verse 12) that a man is better than a sheep and that it is lawful to do well on the sabbath. Jesus then had the man stretch his hand out and it was made whole.

(In Mark 3:4 Jesus knows their thoughts and equates healing with doing good and saving lives.

 

II. The Man With Dropsy (Edema)

The second time where Jesus compares healing a man to pulling an animal from a pit is in Luke 14:1-5

In this case, a chief Pharisee had invited him to his house to eat bread on the sabbath day. There was a man there who had  “the dropsy” (edema). In this case, Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. They didn’t say anything. Jesus healed the man and let him go. Then he answered his own question concerning the healing by asking what they’d do if their ass or ox fell into a pit on the Sabbath day. Wouldn’t they pull it out right away?

(Methinks the answer be “yes”)

 

So, we see that healing is compared to pulling an animal out of a pit. It is also compared to saving a life, rather than killing it. Jesus is all about saving lives, not killing them.

Do you find yourself in a pit,

(And you know it doesn’t fit)?

Despair may be its name.

Getting out is no game.

But there are steps you can take

To get a faster “break.”

 

To get out of the pit, you must know God wants you out of it. He doesn’t want you depressed, defeated, or gripped with despair. Take a look around and see:

 

I. Recognize That This Pit Does Not Define You

Not much light gets down into the bottom of a pit. You can’t really see much of anything down there. Any reflection bouncing off those bumpy walls is bound to be distorted. This pit is not a magic mirror. It can’t show you who you are. Anything you see in there is bound in misery: a mind set on the flesh and all its failings.

For to be carnally minded (focused on the flesh) is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6).

When you focus on yourself, you tend to see the bad stuff. And focusing on the bad just leads you deeper into that pit. How can you climb out if you’re focused on how bad you are?

That attitude, I believe, is what causes talents to get buried. That’s what happens when you let your pit define you. But Jesus wants you out of that pit, which brings us to the next step:

 

II. Know You Can’t Get Out the Same Way You Got In

People fall and/or get thrown into pits. I doubt that few decide to jump in, but those that do cannot get out that way. The force of gravity makes it easy to slide, fall or leap into a pit. Doubt and discouragement do the pushing. Gravity does the pulling. To get out of the pit requires that you resist all those things. Resistance involves work, a true fight of faith. Are you up for the challenge?

The faith you need to wage that sort of resistance comes from God’s promises, as written in His Word. This brings us to the next step:

 

III. Get a Vision for Overcoming

Proverbs 29:18 tells us that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The best vision we can have, of course, is that of Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 instructs us to keep our eyes on Him who is the author and finisher of our faith.

“For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son (Jesus), that whosoever believes in him (Jesus) should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

I John 5:4-5 For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Our faith in Jesus is the vision that enables us to overcomes the world!

When King Jesus Swoops In

When You’re Born Different: Identity Crisis

I. When You’re Born Different

When you’re born different, people look at you funny – like you’ll never measure up to their perfect standards. I should know. From a young age I struggled with self-worth. At school I had to wear a “pirate’s” patch to correct my lazy eye and plates in my shoes to help flat feet develop arches. Shorter than most of my peers, I had a painful shyness that kept me from telling the so-called “beautician” not to crop my locks to match my height. No other girl in my kindergarten class had a pixie cut. I hated that boyish look and the way my teachers tried to fix me.

“Why don’t you keep a tidy desk like other girls?” they asked.

“What TV programs keep you from getting your homework done?”

“Don’t be afraid. I won’t bite. Why won’t you talk?”

Maybe I clammed up because I felt so messed up inside – identity crisis city. My hair could not grow fast enough to hide the shame I felt. Why didn’t this late bloomer fit in with everybody else? I tried to please them but all I got was frustration. That’s where all this garbled chicken scratch came from: multiple ideas bottled up inside, exploding like warm soda once the cork is popped. Piles of unorganized papers strewn everywhere litter my office space. This makes no sense.

CRINKLE, RIP, SHRED!

II. Identity Crises Caused By Peer Pressure

Tears roll down my cheeks as hours of exhaustive research get flushed down the drain. At least, that’s how it feels sometimes. But perhaps I can salvage this mess. Meanwhile, this is what it feels like:

Pearls before swine. Fruit rotting on the vine plops into a sinkhole for creativity. What a waste of time and ink and trees! Identity crisis. Who am I? Help!

Living to meet others’ expectations is like the Israelites gathering stubble to make bricks. It doesn’t blunt the crack of Pharaoh’s whip. After you’ve been under it a while, you start to wonder, “Who am I anymore?”

Aaron tried to please people, and look what happened. Caving to peer pressure, he cast aside faith more precious than gold in favor or worldly gold. He took wealth plundered from Egyptians – God’s favor so richly poured out on His people – and from it formed a killer calf which caused three thousand deaths – all because they had their eyes fixed on absent Moses. Tired of waiting for his promised return, they sought an excuse to reconnect with old bondages.

Like Esau, they squandered their birthright on temporary feel-good pleasures. Then there’s Samson who was born different – meaning, he had a special purpose. Yet he yielded to Delilah’s badgering. Close-up and personal peer pressure foisted upon him an identity crisis of major proportions.

Snip, snip! There went his locks.

Back to the hair thing again.

I wear it the way I want to know, rather than how others want it styled.

III. Free to Be Different

Because I’m different. I don’t need to wear my hair the way they say I should. Instead of giving in to others, I’ll fight to keep it long. I’m not changing it to fit their mold, or other aspects of my personal appearance for that matter. And when it comes to personality, I’m free to be myself – which means, I’ll gladly be the person God wants me to be. Because that’s what’s it’s all about for the Bible believer – believing who God says you are in Christ.

“For if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. All things have become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)

So, don’t let your identity crisis define you.

I pray that this article blesses someone.

https://atomic-temporary-102676306.wpcomstaging.com/poetry/afraid-to-forgive/

For the Isaac (Laughter) Set Before Him, Jesus Endured

Isaac, who means laughter, was the man-of-faith’s true joy,

For God gave Sarah grace to bear this promised baby boy.

Where faith met grace, the LORD performed a miracle so great,

It gave their friends and family great cause to celebrate.

 

Through Hagar, Abraham had Ishmael, who was very weak.

His mother had to shelter him while water she did seek.

For, like God’s holy law, he lacked the strength to set men free.

His line did not reveal the truth that leads to liberty.

 

His hand would be against all men and they at war with him.

As for escaping Ishmael’s judgment, it seemed less than slim.

Because, like law, he had no strength to save mankind from sin.

Therefore, only Through Isaac (laughter) can we really win.

 

Yet laughter’s dad was told to offer up his only son

Upon an altar to be sacrificed – God’s will be done.

He laid the wood on Isaac’s back as they went up the hill,

In order, this “obedience unto death” he might fulfill.

 

When asked “Where is the lamb?” Abraham said, “God will provide,”

Not knowing that a ram was coming up the mountainside,

Faith laid his Laughter on the wood, prepared to take the knife

And slay his son, believing God could bring him back to life.

 

But then an angel called from heaven, “Do not harm your son!”

“’I know now that you love me,’ says the Lord. The work I’ve done,

Because old Abraham beheld the ram in thick vines caught,

A substitute for Isaac who from death now had been brought.

 

For God so loved the world, we read, His only Son He gave.

To save our joy from perishing. He overcame the grave.

And for the Isaac set before him, Jesus bore the cross

That those of faith like Abraham might escape eternal loss.

 

 

The Problem With Using Reverse Psychology on God

Have you ever used “reverse psychology” to try to get God’s attention? I know I have. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had just gotten used to being around people who would say things like, “It’ll never work” in a way that sounded like, “Now, watch God contradict me. He never gives me what I want and loves to prove me wrong. So I’ll ask for what I don’t want. I told it not to work. Now watch it work.” It was almost as if predicting a bad outcome would make them look humble, thus forcing God to be nice to them.

It’s almost like trying to guilt God into doing something good for you. But you know you can’t make Him feel guilty because He never does anything wrong. Some of us act as if He’s out to get us, however.

In Exodus 34:6 God describes Himself as, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. . .”

Why then, do we tend to act as if He’s out to get us, as if He wants to ruin our lives?

Perhaps a better question is, “What god are we serving?” Is it a god who likes to trick us and kick us when we’re down? Do we need to use reverse psychology on him to get his help?

The baal worshipers described in I Kings 18:26-28 seemed to think so. To get their god to hear them, they cut themselves. It was a mess. They beat themselves up to get their god to send down fire, hoping to bring good out of evil they inflicted on themselves.

I know what that is like. One time someone close to me was acting like a bully. So, I hit myself to try to get him to apologize to me. By means of self-abuse, I try to guilt him into caring. It’s like saying, “There, I beat myself up. That should make you happy.”

But all it did was make him angrier, because bullies don’t respond to reverse psychology – at least, not the way we’d like. Nor can we beat ourselves up and expect God to cheer us on.

“But, wait a minute,” some might say. “What about the man who was beating his chest and saying, “God be merciful to me, a sinner?”

Well, he wasn’t exactly beating himself up, for one thing. For another, there’s a big difference between humbly asking God to “Have mercy on me, a sinner” and saying, “I’m so horrible, you must be mad at me. I don’t believe I can expect anything good from you.”

Asking God for mercy is a humble act of faith, but speaking doubt over a situation to try to make God do the opposite is manipulative. It’s like trying to guilt God into giving you your own way.

God can’t be guilted into doing anything, but Jesus paid the price to cover our guilt and sin. His blood shed on the cross enables us to come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). We don’t need to use reverse psychology in order to find mercy and grace from Him to help in our time of need.

 

 

Cast Out Thieves to Heal the Blind and Lame, Part II

   I. When Prayer Gets Lost in the Shuffle

 

In Jesus’ day, thieves ruled in God’s house.

Prayer got lost in the shuffle like a mouse.

 

“It is written, ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves,” Jesus said as he overthrew the merchandisers’ tables (Matthew 21:12-13).

 

Did they see it coming, I wonder? Or were they too busy selling stuff to notice their blunder? Had “business as usual” blinded their eyes to the needs of the physically blind?  Perhaps the reason they lacked sympathy for the lame in body was due to the holes in their lame souls. They had no true walk with God, and it showed in the way they treated others.

 

The crowd, confused and scattered, couldn’t find their way.

They sacrificed large sums of money to hear men say,

“It’s not enough. You must do more to please the Lord,”

But it was more than any of them could afford.

 

The blind and lame, they longed for peace,

Joy in their hearts, a sweet release

But found no place inside their “church,”

Which had left them in the lurch.

 

The crowd was wandering like sheep with no shepherd, and the blind and lame had to fend for themselves. Why is that?

 

     II. Religious or Righteous?

 

Well, do you remember the story in I Samuel chapter 13 where King Saul prepared to wage war against the Philistines? God’s prophet Samuel had arranged to meet with Saul prior to the battle so he could offer the sacrifice, causing God’s favor to shine down on them. He ordered Saul to wait until he arrived before proceeding, but Samuel was running late and Saul grew impatient.

 

There seemed to be some fear involved, for when Saul saw his army scattering, he took matters into his own hands and offered the burnt offering himself. Like Cain, he went against the grain of what God told him to do and attempted through the fruit of his own efforts to bring a pleasing sacrifice to God.

 

It’s like the leader whose words imply, “Please us,”

Instead of, “Trust fully in Jesus.”

 

Saul’s actions were religious but not righteous, for he didn’t seem to understand the meaning behind the sacrifice.

Prayer got lost in the shuffle.

 

Religious men who lack a true relationship with God see no problem substituting their own procedures for God’s perfect will. As a result, their “flocks” scatter. The “sheep,” abused, become confused and nobody gets healed.

 

   III. Taking Time to Appreciate God’s Perfect Sacrifice

But those who rest in God’s perfect sacrifice for them will throw away their crutches and “rise with wings like eagles.” They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (see Isaiah 40:31) And those who allow the risen Christ to anoint their eyes with His salve will receive new vision to move forward.

 

Unfortunately, our busy lives allow little time for this. To tune out distractions can be hard. If you don’t set them aside in order to pray, however, you’re sure to lose the battle.

 

Before Jesus ascended (to heaven),

Because His word was ended,

He told his followers to wait –

But not on fate,

 

They weren’t to fear being late, but in obedience wait to be filled with the promised Holy Spirit.

 

It’s all about determining to believe God’s Word and meditating on God’s goodness shown through His only begotten Son, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Sometimes you must escape the noise before you can appreciate His sacrifice on your behalf and understand the power of Isaiah 53:5, which states:

 

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

 

“My house shall be called a house of prayer,” Jesus said. We are that house when we surrender our lives to Him.

 

Speed of Sight Book Release

I’m excited to announce that Speed of Sight by C. R. Flamingbush has finally arrived. This young adult fantasy book follows the footsteps of an awkward boy who can’t seem to excel at much of anything. Then one day he enters a different realm and his life is changed forever.

“Twelve-year-old Pete Plain is an ordinary boy with an extraordinary secret who lives in a crazy town called Jericho. On the last day of school, his friend Jack gives him a powerful but illegal comic book—not to read but to hide. That afternoon the school bully shoots Jack with toxic slime. Uncertain how to help him, Pete sneaks a peek at the comic and gets drawn into a different world. There he goes on an unforgettable adventure.

  When Jack discovers what Pete has done, he takes the book from him. Pete wants it back, but the forces of evil that haunt his hometown are determined to keep it from him. When Pete glimpses the ghostly grizzly dividing his family, he knows he must do something to stop it. The author of the forbidden comic books gives Pete special gifts of super sight and super speed, but will the boy from the broken home fully use those gifts or will he let himself be overcome by the bitter malady known as Sadly Absent Dad Syndrome? Much is at stake, for the slime is deadly, and catching the bullies behind it will prove to be no easy task.”

You can preview the first three chapters at Dove Christian Publisher’s website, https://www.dovechristianpublishers.com/catalog/christian-fiction/Speed-of-Sight/

The book is also available through Amazon

Kindle version $2.99 ; https://www.amazon.com/Speed-Sight-Superhero-C-R-Flamingbush-ebook/dp/B07D5HTCHP/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Print version $13.95 ; https://www.amazon.com/Speed-Sight-Superhero-C-R-Flamingbush/dp/0998669067/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528251386&sr=1-1

You can also buy it through Barnes and Noble.

I hope you enjoy the book. If you like it, please feel free to post a review on Amazon.

 

To be Spiritually Minded, Part II

Remember the story of Balaam, whose donkey

Made of that sourpuss a regular monkey?

‘Me first!’ was his motto in everything.

He longed for the riches that money could bring.

 

He saddled the creature one bright sunny day,

And climbed on her back (he fell off right away).

He got on again and was starting to curse

When instead of “fast forward,” she went in reverse!

 

With everyone else moving forward in time,

He found himself literally stuck on “rewind.”

You cannot imagine a funnier sight.

If you could have seen it, you’d roll with delight.

 

But, Lord, that does not sound too spiritual,

Protest I as a serious individual.

To tell jokes goes against everything I’ve been taught,

That by mourning with all those who mourn ‘fish’ are caught.

 

Your intentions are good, He replies, but you see,

You have been confusing your own sympathy

With my fierce compassion that I give for free.

I call you this day to regain clarity.

 

For I laugh at the wicked, it says in the psalms,

Not because I enjoy bringing them down

But because they imagine their plans will succeed

Even when their motivation is greed.

 

But to think that their plans could win out against me

Is perfectly silly, as silly can be.

And so, as you see, it is all right to chuckle,

To giggle, to chortle, let loose your belt buckle

 

And in every way make a humorous rhyme

As long as it honors my name every time.

For when joy like an ocean comes over your soul,

Up springs a faith that will make all things whole.

 

The words that he says go straight into my heart,

Exploding in bubbles that blessings impart.

A fountain of joy welling up from inside

Makes me start to feel giddy. This joy I can’t hide!

 

So, I take His advice and I tell a few jokes.

The man is in stitches. He ‘bad knee’ he pokes.

Then suddenly he rises up from his chair.

It seems to me he is not even aware

 

That no longer does he have any more pain,

Or that, amazingly, he walks again.

He is just as joyful as joyful can be,

His mind on the Spirit. God’s Word set him free.

 

“For to be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

 

“If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you.” Romans 8:11

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22

 

Adventures in Spirit-filled Living (or the lack of it)

Clay Studybaker surveyed the sad remains of his would-be wheat field. He wanted to give up on it because his evil rototiller had run amok the day before and crashed into a tree. Clay hoped no one had seen the way he yelled, screamed, and kicked the blasted thing before flinging it into the town dump. “I know I got a little out of control,” he admitted to himself, “but I sure hope my face doesn’t end up on the nightly news.”

These morbid thoughts were quickly brushed aside as he watched a bedraggled man coming toward him. He looked like he was running from a mad bull. His suit was torn and tattered and his face covered with mud. He must have taken the path that ran through the nearby swamp and carelessly tripped over a log.

“Who is that klutz anyway?” Clay thought.

The ‘klutz’ turned out to be Clay’s best friend Clem. “Hide me, quick!” he yelled.

Clay shook his head. “I’ll try, messy guy.” He looked all around, but all he saw was dirt, grass, and a banged-up tree. The swamp looming in the distance looked spooky. Then he spotted it. “Run!”

An old, white shack with peeling paint awaited the arrival of two paranoid men. Like a bullet, Clem burst through the door and knocked it off its hinges.

With a sigh Clay picked the fallen board off his clumsy friend and set it back upright. “There. Now we’re safe. Any wolf that tries to crash this place will have to knock first.”

Clem’s mud-stained face grew white as a sheet. “No, don’t let the wolf get me! I don’t want to die.”

Clay handed him an old dish rag to wipe off the dirt. “There’s no need to get uptight. Just tell me who the culprit is and I’ll run him out of town – after I pray for him, of course.”

Clem plucked a burr from his hair. “But that’s what scared me – the prayer. It was the church’s grand opening and I thought I’d check it out. As was standing in line at the altar some big dude in overalls pushed me down flat on my back. My head hit the floor with a big bang. They called it ‘being filled with the Holy Ghost.’ Oh, what a headache! As soon as I heard the word ‘ghost,’ I ran out of there as fast as my two legs would carry me. I hope no ghosts followed me here.”

“No, Clem, there aren’t any ghosts with you. That’s just a figment of your imagination.”

“What figment?” Clem yelled. “Do you mean the thing that hijacked your rototiller? (I heard about it on the nightly news). You sure did throw a fit. I mean -”

“No!” Clay exclaimed, his cheeks red with chagrin. “Bad news reporters! If any of them ever show up at my doorstep, I swear I’ll – I mean, wow! I just noticed how swollen your head is.”

The bump was huge. Clay, who had never hugged anything in his life besides a tree (and that was just so he could measure it before chopping it down), threw his arms around his frazzled friend and wept. “The Jesus I know would never whack anybody over the head in order to fill them with the Holy Ghost,” he said. “The purpose of the Holy Ghost – or Holy Spirit, as I like to call Him, is not to spook you or to whack you upside the head, but to comfort you.” Clay went to the refrigerator and got an ice pack to put on Clem’s bump.

“But the pastor in that church said that sometimes Jesus needs to whip his sheep, like he whipped the money changers in the temple,” Clem said.

Clay shook his head. “The money changers in the story weren’t the sheep. They were like wolves, and wolves eat sheep. After Jesus kicked the wolves out of the temple, the sheep came to him and got healed. Jesus is nice, you see, unlike some people who go blabbing about others’ misfortunes over at the local television station. I wish I didn’t have to forgive whoever did it.”

Clem’s eye twitched. “WH – Why?”

“Because if I don’t forgive, I can’t be filled with the Holy Spirit. But oh, the nerve of that good-for-nothing bum who videotaped me. GRR, ERRR!”

Clem could take it no longer. “I’m sorry!” he exclaimed. “Please don’t be mad. I’m the one who filmed the rototiller thing and sent it to the news station.”

Clay’s eyes narrowed. “I knew it was you. You’re always spying on me, waiting for me to do some crazy stunt so you can make money off it.”

“But – but can you forgive me?” Clem asked.

“Of course,” Clay said. “But don’t ever do it again.”

“With the Holy Spirit’s help, I won’t,” Clem answered.

And they both lived happily ever after – well, for the most part, as long as they stayed filled with the Spirit.

Lost in the Deep Woods of Religiosity

Amid a thick wood stood a big tent. Inside was a stage with many chairs, upon which sat a number of prim and proper looking people. A man in a stiff black suit and tie marched up to a microphone, followed by a lady in a fluffy pink dress and pointy red heels.

The man stood like a board as he spoke into the microphone. “Hello, I’m Doug.”

“And I’m Daisy,” said the woman with a plastic-looking smile. “Welcome, perfect pew sitters, to our ‘Chills that Thrill Dance Studio.’ We have come here to your church to teach you how to trick the evil forces in your lives with moves that no one understands, not even us. Now, let’s all stand straight as boards as we hum an introductory hymn. MMM… MMM… MMM.” She stood straight and tall, as if leading everybody in the pledge of allegiance. Shivers ran up and down their spines as they copied her. Then she raised her hand and whistled to get everyone’s attention. Ten seconds of silence followed as the congregation closed their eyes for a moment of silent well wishing.

Doug held up a stiff book with a black cover. “Now, folks, it’s time to get to business. This here is the instruction manual, see? Everybody bow your heads and close your eyes in reverence as I open it. Okay, you can open them now. Isn’t it amazing? I just opened the book to the very first page, which says that the proper way to start the dance service is to leap from your seats and yell ‘Hurray! It’s as you say!’ So, come on. Let’s all stand up and do it together.”

Everyone leapt up and shouted the words in perfect harmony, like good little Christian robots.

Before they finished jumping, Daisy told them to sit down. “The second line says ‘Stand and stretch,’ so that’s what you must do. Follow our instructions to the letter.’”

Most people in the audience didn’t understand what such predictable moves had to do with outwitting evil forces, but they did the stretches obediently as they were told.

Doug and Daisy demonstrated how to do each move, even as they barked orders. “Bend down and touch your toes! Bop your neighbor on the nose. Twist to your left, turn to your right. Now, lock elbows with all your might.”

It was like an old-fashioned square dance foisted on school children to make them suffer.

“Now make sure you memorize all these moves perfectly,” said Daisy, with a click of her red heels. “Because there will be a long, exhaustive quiz at the end.”

“It’s all in the footnotes on the bottom of this page,” said Doug, holding up the book for all to see. “The footnotes teach your feet the proper notes to hit. Now, everybody clap ten times and do a handstand.”

Nobody could see the notes, so they did their best to copy Doug. Not many people could do the handstands, but they tried their best, resulting in many a sprained wrist and bad back. As the instructions droned on, the moves became increasingly complex. The dancers were told to do things like:

“Turn to your partner and bray,” “Turn to your partner and neigh,” and “Turn to your partner and sprinkle him with Old Bay.”

Daisy really got into that last one. Her heels squeaked like rusty hinges as she shouted, “Come on, pew sitters! Shake your hands over each other’s heads as if you just can’t get enough Old Bay on them. Show us dance instructors that you respect our rules. You will be forced to do them until you get it right!”

It took the outdoor church goers an hour to do the motions. Then a bunch of hoops were brought out. Everyone had to line up and jump through the hoops like tigers. In the end, they were exhausted. But hey, they’d done their duty. They came to church, they listened carefully, they did all the moves they were told to do, and now they were ready to forget them all and go about their business, inspired for the week but completely unchanged.

“Now that’s what I call a doggone down-to-earth religious workout,” Doug told Daisy. “I can’t wait to do it all again next week. Can you?”

 

Be of Good Cheer

“My son, I say, be of good cheer. Your sins have been forgiven.”

Oh, what uplifting words to the poor paralyzed man were given!

No more sack cloth or ashes, for God’s strength was found in joy.

God’s grace did not depend upon him being a good boy.

 

His clapping friends above upon the shattered roof were smiling,

The righteous man had seen their faith, though others were reviling.

Their inward thoughts heaped tons of dirt upon the Lord of glory.

What happened next put even more excitement in the story.

 

The startled crowd that stood inside the house began to mumble,

With voices too hushed to be heard, “Our teacher isn’t humble!”

“To think that he can pardon sins! His mind must not be steady.”

Before the words had left their lips, he had his answer ready.

 

“What’s easier? To forgive him or to tell him ‘rise and walk’?”

With confidence and truth, he answered their unspoken talk.

The quiet murmurers drew back in shock. How could this be?

How did he get inside their minds? It came so suddenly!

 

His unexpected “snappy answer” took them by surprise.

They fell off their proverbial chairs and rubbed wide open eyes

To find themselves thrown off their high and mighty babbling tower

As Jesus, with one bold, swift move, made His Word known with power.

 

“Arise, pick up your mat, and go back to your house today,”

He told the man, who saw he had no choice but to obey.

He stood up with a shout, all smiles, jumped up off the floor,

Picked up his mat, sidestepped the cat, and walked straight out the door.

 

To those who say God ruins fun, I beg to disagree.

See how He healed the crippled man and made the blind to see!

For, if the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed.

Or must somebody wreck a roof that you might see your need?