Running Out of the Cage – Video

 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:43-44 ESV

Last week I posted the message, “running out of the cage” which I then gave at one of the nursing homes which I visit. If you missed it, I tell the story of a groundhog I had trapped in our garden and was trying to release him in the woods. It took quite a while, because the animal was so angry at me that he never turned around to see that I had opened his cage door. After giving the message on Friday I asked if anyone needed to run out of the cage of regret, unforgiveness or bitterness, and then we prayed. Then, while visiting with the residents, one man began to share some of the things that kept him in a cage. First, his wife and two daughters had been killed in an automobile accident. Then years later after remarrying, his second wife left him and now with his health deteriorating, he was left with nowhere to live but in a long-term care facility.

Often people who are not involved in nursing home ministry think that everyone there is either a sweet old lady or that they are too far gone to be worth our time. But the truth is that many of our friends in nursing homes are just like us. That unfortunate mindset reminds me of a time I visited a friend who was in jail. While we were just getting ready to end the visit, he said something like, “You know Pete, the only difference between us and the guards, is which side of the bars we are on.” The very same is true in long term care, it is just that their bars look a lot different. They are trapped behind bars of disability, age, neglect and discouragement. They may be invisible, but they can hold a person just as well as any maximum-security prison. The good news is that Jesus still visits graves and prisons. He is well known in hospital corridors and deeply loved nursing homes. But He doesn’t walk in on His own like He did when He was on earth. Are you trapped in a cage today? Jesus gave His life to unlock the door and it is standing wide open. Whenever we just stop biting at the bars and turn around then, just like Lazarus and my groundhog friend we run straight out to Jesus right now!

Come and Dine!

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. Hebrews 2:14-16 NLT

It is just a few days since the election. My wife and I worked 14 hours at the polling place and had the privilege of seeing Democracy in action. People who voted as we did and those who chose the other candidates came in. Folks who were way richer than us and those who had little filled out their ballots. At the end of the day, we went home, had a snack and watched a little of the coverage, hoping for our personal choices to win. This year many of the races are taking a while to be decided, but the best part of it all is that Jesus was not up for reelection. His term will never expire, and He is still on the throne! Since it was Veterans Day today, we took the time to thank the many veterans, now in their twilight years who live at Life Care Center. They gave their best to help protect our freedoms, but there is a Veteran who gave far more. He is the general of the armies of Heaven and His name is Jesus. He gave His life to give us the greatest freedom of all – Freedom from the fear of death! Now, He invites everyone who will put their trust in Him to come and join Him at the victory banquet. Come and Dine – the Master calleth – Come and Dine! I hope you like our little song session today from Life Care Center. If you are a veteran, we give you our thanks and appreciation. Have a blessed weekend all!

Escaping the Cage

When He said these things He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus come forth!” The man who had died came out, His hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth, Jesus said to them, “Unbind him and let him go.” John 11:43-44

Once we had a very active ground hog who had decided to build his home right in the middle of my perennial garden. No amount of filling in the burrow or chasing him off made any impact. Finally I set a large cage trap just outside the entrance to his home and the following morning he was caught.

Then I carefully loaded the cage into the back of my pickup and drove him a mile up the road to a wooded area. Pulling off to the side of the farm road I gently lifted the cage with one very unhappy groundhog in it and placed it on the ground. Next, I undid the catch and opened the door to my little friend’s prison. All the while I was working to free the groundhog, he was angrily lunging at the opposite end of the trap even biting the wires of the cage. No amount of coaxing on my part seemed able to persuade Mr. Groundhog, that all he needed to do was to turn around and run out of the open door. While I still chuckle at the memory of my little furry friend, I wonder how many of us are caught in the same trap. Jesus has paid for the opening of the door to our prison of sin, yet many times we never notice because we are still biting at the walls of the cage trying to get even with folks that have hurt us. But just as Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave, He is calling us to turn away from sin and bitterness and fly free into a new life with Him!

Daddy Pick Me Up

So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.
Psalm 64:4 ESV

While the Bible tells us to lift up our hands, we rarely stop to think of why. Of course, we all would agree that we lift up our hands in praise, but here are a few others to consider. The first, is what we do what our teachers do while taking attendance. They call our name and like Isaiah when he saw the Lord, we cry out, “Lord here I am!”

Another is what we used to witness regularly when we lived in the inner city. This lifting of the hands happened when blue and red lights accompanied by sirens told us that someone was getting arrested on our block. After a shout of “Show me your hands!” another arrest gave assurance that someone had surrendered. Of course, Jesus doesn’t put a gun to our heads. Instead, our surrender is a result of His love breaking through hard hearts. We are glad to be taken into custody because we know that God has way better things in mind for us than we could imagine.

But one reason you might not have considered, is the one I discovered years ago when our children were small. After working a day that began before anyone in the house was even awake, I would wearily climb the stairs to our apartment, put the keys in the lock. Then, I would hear the pounding of little feet as our little two boys came running. As soon as the door opened, they would stretch up their hands shouting, “Daddy pick me up! Daddy pick me up!” How we need to remember this lifting of our hands to God. If we are worn out from carrying a heavy load, remember that Jesus is at our door right now. Or if we have failed miserably and are feeling ashamed, remember we are still in His house and we can always run to Him. He is with us to strengthen, forgive, comfort and light our way. So let’s lift up our hands to Him and cry, “Dady pick me up! Daddy pick me up!”