Let me say up front, the muddy part is my imagination.
On two separate occasions, Jesus healed men with leprosy. Once, it was a single man, and the other time, it was ten men. We will spend some time with the former today and the latter next week. But first…
The New Testament term, leprosy, comes from a Greek word that refers to any type of skin disease. I worked in our backyard a couple of weeks ago, and as I write, I still have poison ivy on my arms. That’s one type of leprosy. The serious medical condition we typically associate with leprosy, however, is now called Hansen’s disease. It’s a bacterial infection that leads to nerve damage. The person doesn’t feel injuries to his/her extremities, resulting in disfigurement and sometimes death.
Here’s the CDC clarification:
The “leprosy” found in historical and religious texts described a variety of skin conditions from rashes and patchy skin to swelling. They were noted to be very contagious, which is not true for Hansen’s disease and also did not have some of the most obvious signs of Hansen’s disease, like disfigurement, blindness, and loss of pain sensation.
The Old Testament established regulations and purification rituals for those with leprosy (see Leviticus 13-14), which turned the priests into pseudo dermatologists. Glad I’m not them!
Now. Let’s get into the Scriptures.
A Muddy Man in the Road
Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-44, Luke 5:12-14.
What kind of expectations did the church in Antioch have about Barnabas and Paul’s first “missionary journey” back in AD46? I bet they didn’t expect the two men to be chased out of almost every city they entered! Check this out.
Acts 13:13-14:26. Continue reading
I’ve found myself grappling with surges of ambition for the past few months, and I haven’t known what to do with it. At times, I’ve been frustrated, almost angry, because I know I could accomplish so much more, were I free to do it. At other times, I’ve been despondent, wanting to give up, because my efforts appear futile without the potential for real accomplishment.
Ambition is a dragon: hard to manage and never completely understood.
In 1960, no one had gone to the moon. What made people want to do it? Sure President Kennedy declared the goal, but the desire went beyond making a name for the scientists, astronauts, or country (Encyclopedia Britannica). I believe it was about seeing just how far humanity could go…about achieving something astounding primarily for the sake of achieving it.
Does ambition exist for its own sake? I don’t think so.
When I finally confronted my own ambition, I started by pushing and pulling on a definition for ambition, trying to understand this dragon that has awakened. Continue reading
This will be our second Christmas without my father. Hopefully, this one will be easier than last year. My father was a good man, and a good father, but he wasn’t perfect. And while his soul is everlasting (Praise God, I know my dad is in heaven!), his presence with me was not.
As the nation of Judah trudged into Babylonian captivity, many had lost their fathers, grandfathers, husbands, and sons to the war in which Judah was defeated. Perhaps some of the survivors barely had time to bury their loved ones, much less mourn, before the forced march began. Isaiah’s prophecy promised a time when they would no longer fight, when “every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire” (Isaiah 9:5). But in the moment, they knew the sorrow of great loss.
Did their hearts sting when they remembered the prophecy? Continue reading
Last week, we dug into the relationship between humility and generosity. We receive both worldly/tangible gifts and spiritual gifts from God so we can bless others.
But what about the gifts other believers receive to bless us? There’s a flip side to generosity. Continue reading
About twenty-five years after Jesus’ ascension, the small band of believers in Jerusalem faced big trouble. They were persecuted and oppressed in every way, and they were completely out of money. Things were desperate.
2 Corinthians 8:1-7.
When the apostle Paul heard about their situation, he responded out of the depth of his relationships. He called upon fledgling churches throughout the region to help their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. The Corinthian church—one that excelled in everything (2 Cor 8:7)—was among the first to raise their hands. Paul wasn’t surprised.
But something else did surprise him: Continue reading
One lone knight riding off to battle? Well, that’s just sad. But a squadron of knights riding off under the banner of a tried-and-true leader? That’s inspiring!
In this guest post for Heather Bock, I dig into what it means to “walk worthy” of the gospel (Philippians 1:27). I geek out just a little on word definitions, but there’s also lots of imagery, including a measuring stick, me at sixteen years old, and some knights in shining armor. Intrigued? Click on over.
The Standard of Our Name: of knights and measuring sticks and surnames. A #NotAboutMe guest post for @heatherbethbock via @Carole_Sparks. #WalkWorthy (click to tweet)
How long did it take Joseph to fall asleep that night, after he decided to divorce Mary? I imagine his conscience was clear, but I wonder if his heart still hesitated. Then, in the middle of the night, an angel came, saying, “Don’t do what you were planning to do. Do the exact opposite instead” (my paraphrase). Continue reading
Some of us like to finish things. By “some of us,” I mean Type-A personalities like myself! We like to mark things off lists, close back covers of books, follow schedules, and meet goals before deadlines. We get impatient when the drive takes longer than planned; we like to arrive.
Because of my Type-A personality, certain gospel scenes challenge me. Like when Jesus and the disciples are heading off for some much-needed downtime but end up serving a big meal to a huge crowd (Mark 6:30-44). Or when a couple of disciples Continue reading
This month on PastorsWives.com, I talk about a challenging time in our ministry lives when God was preparing something new but we had to wait on it. There were some restless nights.
It starts like this…
Sometimes an indefinable restlessness comes upon a Christ-follower…a dissatisfaction with life even though nothing has changed. We’ve learned to call it holy discontent.
When God called us to move to a difficult, distant location, we hung contentment on the wall like a plaque. We memorized Philippians 4:11, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances,” and we determined to choose contentment regardless of what happened. Because really, contentment (the flipside of gratefulness) is a choice. Will I focus on the difficulties, troubles, and inconveniences in my life, or will I focus on God’s blessings?