Stop! Ask! Perceive! Notice!

 

 

 

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Do you have a favorite Bible story related to different events?  If we want to read a good hero story, we read the story of David and Goliath.  If we want a story that reminds us how important and valuable living life on purpose is, we read about Daniel.  There are many stories while Jesus was on earth that provide inspiration to various areas of our lives.  The one I want to look at today is the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:40-48.

This woman had a bleeding problem for the last twelve years.  We do not know anything about what this bleeding issue was, but we can only imagine the inconvenience of it.  The conveniences of today like a washing machine were not available.  Jesus happened to be on His way to heal a twelve year old who was on the brink of death, when this woman touches Jesus.  With this touch, the woman was healed.

Jesus stops.  He asks, “Who touched Me?”  As He was walking toward the young twelve year old’s house, there were many people pressing against Him. Wherever Jesus went there were crowds following Him. By this time in His ministry, everyone wanted something from Him.

Jesus knew the pressing nature of the task before Him.  Jarius’s twelve year old daughter was dying.  The request was urgent.  The need was urgent.

Jesus stopped.

He did not need to stop.  The woman touched His robe and was healed.  That is all she wanted.  She wanted to be healed.  She did not even feel valuable enough to approach Jesus with her request for healing.  In the midst of the crowd, she had the faith it took to be healed, but not the pride to approach Jesus with her request.

Jesus asked a question. “Who touched Me?”

When the woman was healed, Jesus perceived that power had left Him.

Jesus perceived.

The woman came forward and fell down before Jesus trembling. She did not assume herself worthy of face-to-face interaction with Jesus, rather she showed her humility by bowing before Him.

Jesus noticed her faith. “Your faith has healed you.”

After this short interaction, the pressing matter of Jairus’s daughter returned and Jesus moved on.

What principles can we draw from this story and apply to our lives?

 

  1. Stop
  2. Ask a question
  3. Be perceptive
  4. Notice the positives in another

 

I feel like I am always in a rush to complete whatever task is before me.  This story reminds me that it is not always about the destination, but rather about the journey.  In order to help others, it is important to stop the activity and notice the person.

“The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” (Proverbs 20:5).  A person of understanding knows what good questions to ask.  Most of us do not like to be told what to do.  A man of understanding will not tell us what to do, but will ask good questions in order to help us figure out what to do.

In order to ask good questions, we must be perceptive.  Perception takes spending time studying others and seeking to understand them.  As we spend time actively listening to others, we will be able to perceive the needs they have.  As we perceive these needs, we can then help them with what they need.  They may need a friend to listen.  They may need a word of encouragement.

Lastly, notice the positives in others.  Most people appreciate when we notice their positives.  We live in a society that is consumed with itself and so unsure of itself.  The woman that is forever known as the woman with the issue of blood had faith.  This is the quality Jesus noticed about her.  People want to be noticed, so notice them.  Notice the positives in them and point them out.  The superficial is nice, but what they really need noticed is the positives in their character.

Relationships take time.  Being like Jesus takes time.  In order to be like Jesus, we must spend time with Jesus.

Stop! Ask! Perceive! Notice!

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Friendship

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Friendships…I feel like I am no expert on them, but certainly have come to see the value in them since we have moved.  I needed a friend and familiar surroundings boost, so I drove to Rochester and met some friends for coffee/tea, lunch, and supper.  How good it was to catch up on their lives and see their faces and feel their warm embraces.  I am looking forward to going back again so I can catch up with so many others I wanted to see.

As I am finding it takes time to make new friends.  Everyone has plans and lives and other friendships and families and…

I have a group of college friends who are trying to schedule a week-end together and it seems challenging to schedule with family vacations and other commitments.  I do so value these friends and would love to get together and see how God has worked in our lives over the last 20+ years.  I trust God will work this one out for me as He sees fit.

Do we value friendships or just acquaintances?  Do we value those friends who dig into our lives and try to help us be better people? “As iron sharpens iron so a friend sharpens the countenance of his friends.” (Proverbs 27:17).  Do I diligently work at challenging others to be the best they can be? Am I careful who I spend my time with so that my friendships are with people who challenge me to be the best God has for me?

True friendships take time and energy.  We must be careful not to spread ourselves too thin.  Our jobs take time.  Our families take time.  Our spouses take time.  We need to spend time with God.  Do we prioritize correctly or are we off balance?  There will be times that we spend too much time on one, but as long as we are aware of this and don’t let living off balance be our norm, it is acceptable.  Do you know people who say, “Once I get ‘this’ done, everything will be better.”  What happens?  That one think turns into something else. I have found in my life there is always “one more thing.”  Our friends could be the kind who take lots of time and energy and keep us off balance all the time.  This is not a healthy friendship and should be handled with care and attention to how much time is spent.

Solomon reminds us how valuable friendship is.  “Two are better than one…for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.  Again, if two lie together, they keep warm…and though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him, a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  A true friend is so valuable and helpful.  They provide encouragement when we are down.  They share in our joys.  They comfort us in our sorrows.  In this day of technology, we must remember that it should be a help to our friendships.  Too often we see people with others, but on their phones with someone else.  Be all present.  When we are distracted, we cannot see the hurt someone has or the joy they have.  It is hard to notice the little things when we are paying more attention to the screen if front of us than the real person in our presence.

Friendship has value.  People need each other.  The older I get the more I value friendships and am willing to drive across the state of Michigan in order to catch up with friends.  Don’t get so busy.  Be intentional in how you spend your time.  “Two are better than one…”

Respect

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Respect, honor, esteem, reverence, consideration…in other words to hold in high regard.  This week my daughter emailed one of her professors and addressed her by her first name.  The professor wrote back and answered her question but also told her that she should be addressed as Professor…(last name).  This daughter showed me the email and I reminded her that this professor is in a position of authority and should be addressed with respect.

This topic of how we address people is something that has bothered me for quite some time. When I was growing up, every adult was addressed as Mr. or Mrs.  If they had earned a title, they were addressed with the title before their name.  Our Pastor was always Pastor.

As we were raising our daughters they were taught to address those in authority with the proper title.  Somewhere along the lines it changed.  More commonly now, adults introduce themselves to children by their first name.  From my perspective, we are in positions of authority and not their friends.

Another area in our present day culture that has a seeming level of disparity is the football players in the NFL who have decided that they will kneel during the National Anthem to show their stand against racial oppression and inequality in the United States.

So these players want more respect and yet their actions show a high level of disrespect for our flag, our country, and those who have fought for our freedom.  How does one gain respect by showing disrespect?

How did we get to such a place in our country?  There are those who are in positions of authority that do not deserve respect, yet we are to “be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1).  God has instituted levels of authority “as His servant for our good” (Romans 13:4).

The next verse leaves no questions as to what we are supposed to do. “Honor everyone.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the emperor.” (I Peter 2:17).

There has been much mistreatment of many different human beings in our world and there continues to be mistreatment of people today that do not deserve this mistreatment.  We live in a “me first” world so if someone feels disrespected, rather than return respect they will return more disrespect.  It is a vicious circle that needs to stop.

I wonder if a good place to start would be with our children.  Teaching them that an adult deserves respect and should be addressed with respect.  Teaching our children that no matter who the other person is they were made in God’s image and deserve to be honored and loved.  Jesus challenged His disciples and us with a difficult task, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44).  We are not to show disrespect when disrespected, rather we are to show love.

Rather than showing our country disrespect by kneeling during the National Anthem, what if these football players all across America went to the lowliest of people and showed them respect.  Helped them with their needs.  Worked alongside rebuilding their homes, their communities, and their spirits.  What if they taught boys that being a gentleman is nobler than being a part of a gang?  Finishing school and getting a job to support ones family is nobler than anything illegal.  I wonder what level of respect the rest of the American people would gain for these football players?

What if we as adults introduced ourselves as Mr./Mrs./Professor/Dr./Miss and expected that since we are in positions of authority we should act as role models for those children that are addressing us with respect.

What if our attitude changed from “me” to noticing the needs of others?  What if we tried to be positive role models by behaving in a positive and respectful way?

What if…

Listen and Love Well

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The end of the year and the beginning of the New Year always brings a certain amount of contemplation on the part of most people.  It may not last for long or amount to any major changes in an individual’s life, but a new year does cause most to stop and consider, “How could this year be better?”  What could I do to be a better person, impact others, make more money, lose weight, or get in shape?  What would it take to have a better relationship with my spouse, children, parents, friends, boss, etc.?  Or some may even go as far as to ponder, “What do I need to do to have a better relationship with God?”

I have seen some really catchy ways for people to write out their goals for the new year.  I must say I like lists, and I do feel as though I accomplish more if I have a list of things that need to get done, especially if they are things that I do not particularly want to do.  There is the avenue of writing out the big goals and then making smaller monthly, weekly, or daily goals to accomplish the big goal.  This is a proven method that works very well.

As I consider my new year, I have not listed out a bunch of goals for the year.  I honestly haven’t decided if I am going to or not.  I could write down all the things that everyone else does, but then I wouldn’t have enough time to get them all done.  I could dream big and make action steps to fulfill those big dreams by accomplishing the little ones along the way.  I suppose, in a way, I am writing this to sort out my thoughts that are whirring around in my head, but haven’t settled out onto anything concrete much less a list or a set of action steps that must be accomplished in order to achieve the big goals.

The big things that happened in most people’s lives didn’t happen because they sat around and thought about it, it happened because they made a plan to do it and then they did it.  So the reality of this is if I don’t get off the couch, so to speak, life isn’t going to be different.

So here’s my thoughts.  What if I listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit more?  I spend time daily in God’s Word and in prayer.  Do I sense the Holy Spirit nudging me or pricking my conscience?  Then those seem like actions steps I should follow.

I have been thinking a lot about the tongue.  Easy to understand why since I have read Proverbs every day for the past 1.5 years.  Proverbs 31:26 says that the “…teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”  I cannot very well teach something if I do not know anything about that topic.  I want to be such a student of God’s kindness to me that God’s kindness readily flows from my tongue.

People.  God created us so we must be important.  Am I daily seeking ways to minister to people?  Am I a student of others and their needs?

It’s not a fancy list, but it certainly helped me process a few things.  In the end, according to I Corinthians 13 if I do all that I do and I do it without love, it profits me nothing.  It’s just noise with no melody.  It’s actions with no purpose.  It’s busyness with no activity.  The Holy Spirit and God’s Word can be powerful tools with our tongues and our relationships, the question is – Will we allow that to be the case?  A list without love, is simply some scribbles on a piece of scrap paper. My challenge is this:  Listen and love well.