The death and resurrection of Lazarus is recorded in the Gospel of John. It’s one of many extraordinary miracles performed by Jesus during his three year ministry. And has important lessons for us today.
The death and resurrection of Lazarus teaches that God’s timing is always perfect
Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany are mentioned several times in the New Testament. And it’s clear they had a special relationship with Jesus. So it seems odd when a messenger rushes to tell Jesus that Lazarus is critically ill, Jesus didn’t leave immediately and go to him.
Instead, he stays where he is and shows up in Bethany four days later!
A possible reason is because there was a common belief that when someone died, their soul hovered over the body for three days hoping to re-enter it. But finally left for good when decomposition started. Martha confirmed this had started when Jesus arrived and asked them to open the tomb. She warned that by now there would be a bad odor.
This means when Jesus brought Lazarus back to life, no one could claim a hovering soul managed successful re-entry. But rather, the resurrection of Lazarus was solely by God’s miraculous power. It shows that God’s timing is perfect. And we can trust his timing in our lives today.
The death and resurrection of Lazarus teaches that God’s miracles are not about your faith but his power
We all have moments when we struggle in our faith. Implore God for a miracle. Ask him why? And even though Mary and Martha both believed in Jesus, this was a moment they struggled too. They fully believed Jesus could have healed Lazarus while he was alive and sick. But weren’t so sure when Jesus talked about raising him from the dead.
Martha deferred to the end of time when God would raise all believers. But Jesus talked about the present.
And what further complicates the matter is we have this tendency to mistakenly believe God works based on our level of faith. He will answer our prayers if we just have enough of it.
But Jesus didn’t require a certain level of belief in this Bible story. Or chastise Martha for lacking it. He simply affirmed her belief in him. And in this case–whatever that amount– was enough.
Because it’s not the level of our faith that is important. But God’s omnipotent power.
The death and resurrection of Lazarus teaches God uses our circumstances to Glorify his name
In John 11:14, Jesus appears to demonstrate divine knowledge because he knows Lazarus already died. And perhaps it helps explain why he was not in a hurry to leave. And in John 11:4, he reveals the purpose for it: So the Son of God may be glorified through it.
In other words, God had a plan and was already working to carry it out. Although it didn’t look like it, considering Jesus’ lack of action.
Mary and Martha had a plan too. Get Jesus to Lazarus before he died. Because they knew Jesus could heal him. But God’s plan was even better. Because it glorified him in a spectacular manner. And led even more people to believe in Jesus.
Sure. It’s easy to read of a miracle like this and claim to trust God. Much harder when you’re actually struggling through difficult circumstances. But this story should gives us hope. Because it says God always has a plan. He’s working even when you can’t see it. Only asks you to trust and believe in him. And he will cause all things to work together for good. And his glory.
A Biblical worldview of planet earth care agrees with the secular worldview on an important point. Mankind should exercise responsible care for the earth. But it differs radically on the root cause of the earth’s problems, solution and future outlook.
A Biblical worldview of planet Earth care says mankind is responsible for stewardship of the world and its resources
A Biblical worldview begins in the first chapter of Genesis with a sovereign God who spoke the universe into existence. And after creating the earth along with plants and animals, he saw that it was “good.”
He then formed mankind in his “image” and his “likeness.” And gave us dominion over the earth. To rule over the animals and to work and keep the garden. In other words, God created the earth for our benefit and welfare. And put us in charge of it.
But since we are created in God’s image, we are to imitate his goodness. And our dominion over the earth is a benevolent rule. To use the earth’s resources for sustenance. And responsibly care for them too.
This calls for a balance between using and preserving resources. Along with the understanding that God created the world for us and not the other way around. In other words, human welfare is God’s priority and should be ours too.
However, long before climate change became a thing, something changed. Creating chaos in the cosmos.
A Biblical worldview of planet Earth care says the world has been corrupted by sin
Everything was perfect right after creation. The climate was ideal. Man and animals lived harmoniously. Everyone had all the natural resources needed. Life was good.
But that changed when Adam and Eve ate fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that God said was forbidden. That disobedience introduced sin, which corrupted human nature. We became naturally self-centered and disobedient to God.
And the sin spread like a cancer to all of mankind and corrupted the planet’s nature too. Paul talks about this in Romans and says the earth “groans” under the weight of it. As it waits for the redemption of God’s children.
Because of sin, the harmonious relationship between planet, mankind and animals changed into an adversarial one. The climate became extreme and more hostile. Man and animals preyed on one another. Dominion became less about benevolence and more about mastery and survival.
And the earth cannot be fully restored until mankind is fully restored. Because we’re both afflicted by the same problem.
A Biblical worldview of planet Earth care saysGod offers the solution
The Bible views sin as THAT PROBLEM. And it’s so pervasive, so deeply woven into the fabric of all creation, we can’t fix it. Only God can.
And while that redemption involves an amazing, spiritual transformation on earth. Along with a purposeful, joyful life. It is not completed until final glorification. Or Christ returns to earth and establishes his kingdom.
So what does that mean for a Biblical worldview of earth care?
Well, the Biblical mandate in Genesis has not changed. We are to care for the earth as best we can. But with the understanding that we are both broken at a level beyond our repair. We can’t fix ourselves or the earth.
But God can and has an eternal plan for both of us. That ultimately, he will redeem his children. And remake the world.
Until then, we carry on in faith. Empowered by this hope.
The Bible story of Jonah and the whale presents an amazing miracle. And it’s not about the whale. In fact, we’re not certain it was a whale. But that’s another story. Here are four things the Bible story teaches us today.
The Bible story of Jonah and the whale teaches the importance of obedience
Obedience to God is consistently taught throughout the Bible. Scripture tells us to trust God. Exercise faith. And obey his commands. Usually presented as a choice we can follow or reject.
But the Bible story of Jonah and the whale is different.
God tells Jonah to go and preach to the city of Nineveh. Warn them to repent from their wicked ways. But Jonah doesn’t want to. And he tries to run away…or in this case sail away on a ship.
Typically when we choose not to speak up for God, that’s all there is to it. God finds someone else or other means to achieve his will. But in this story, God is insistent. He’s really serious about Jonah delivering his message to the people of Nineveh.
So God gently persuades Jonah to change his mind by sending a violent storm. And the sailors on the ship throw him overboard to save themselves.
The Bible story of Jonah and the whale teaches that God often takes unexpected measures
Enter the whale. The big fish. Massive, life form, ocean transport. Who saves Jonah from drowning by swallowing him and spitting him up on land three days later.
It’s a good reminder there is no place beyond God’s reach. Whether you’re running from him. Or feel lost and forgotten.
There’s no pit too deep. No place too remote. Sin too horrible.
And God will take unexpected measures to spread this news. He’ll use unlikely people, unusual circumstances, and unconventional methods. The whale, I’m sure you’ll agree, was pretty unconventional. And surprised both Jonah and the whale.
The point is, God is sovereign. He doesn’t have to use us in serving his purpose. He wants to. And we don’t have to obey. We get to.
It was an important lesson for Jonah. One we should learn too.
The Bible story of Jonah and the whale teaches about God’s mercy
Jonah finally obeys. Goes to Nineveh, travels through the city and preaches. Although it’s not a message of love and forgiveness. But of doom. Turn to God or face his wrath!
Not a message that would go over well today. And yet, the people of Nineveh repented and turned to God. Even the king who issued a proclamation for everyone to turn to God.
Therefore, God relented on sending a disaster on the city
And this makes Jonah mad! He even admits it’s why he didn’t want to go in the first place. Because he knew God was merciful and would forgive the people of Nineveh if they repented.
Seriously? Aren’t we supposed to celebrate when sinners repent? Welcome them into the kingdom of God?
And yet, perhaps there’s a little bit of Jonah in all of us. A tiny bit of satisfaction to see others get what’s coming to them. But thanks be to God he is not like us. Slow to anger and quick to forgive. His compassion never fails. And his mercies are new every day.
The Bible story of Jonah and the whale teaches that people are God’s priority
The amazing miracle in the story is not that a whale swallowed Jonah. That he survived it for three days. Or even that Jonah’s message pierced the hearts of a city’s entire population.
Rather, it’s the grace, mercy and love of an almighty God. Who takes extreme measures to reach a lost world with the gospel message. That all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
If you are a pastor or church leader, planning church events is a regular part of what you do.
Fellowship events. Mission events. Seasonal events around Christmas and Easter. And more.
Because you have a mission. A message. And you want to engage as many people as possible.
But planning church events that engage people is a challenge for many reasons.
For example. You’re planning an event during a busy time of year. The event competes against community, school and TV events going on the same time. Or perhaps, there’s not much interest in what your particular event is about.
But there is a secret ingredient in planning church events that fuels high attendance.
It lurks beneath your congregational landscape like a giant underground spring. Awaiting gold mind. Gushing oil field. But just like other speculative ventures, you must prospect for it.
And you can’t always know for sure when you will hit pay dirt. You observe. Evaluate the landscape. Look for signs. Make educated guesses. And finally, pick a spot and dig. Sometimes it’s a dry well. But you might hit a gusher.
And what is the secret ingredient in planning church events that I’m talking about?
Although felt needs vary specifically from person to person they are generally represented in areas like career, relationships, health, kids, and finances to name a few. Church events planned around these areas often attract interest.
For example, every church study I’ve ever planned on the topic of relationships has drawn a crowd. Especially single adults.
So let’s get psychoanalytical for a moment.
It’s important to understand that felt needs are not always what people really need, but what they think they need.
Of course you know that. So do Advertisers and Marketers. And they exploit it by convincing you that you absolutely do need something… the product/service they’re selling.
Think Beanie Babies, Energy drinks, Pet Rocks, Low Carb Diet, and the Hula Hoop.
Advertisers sold consumers on the idea their lives would improve with these products. People bought it…literally. And pay attention to how advertisers elicit emotion in their ads. Why?
Because when emotions are ramped up, rational decision-making shuts down. People buy on impulse because it feels right and good. Not because it is right or is good.
How many times have you bought something and later asked yourself: What was I thinking? And the answer is, you weren’t. You acted on impulse.
And the biggest area of felt need?
It affects every area of our lives and drives how we spend our time and money. Because it’s important to have the right…
It motivates people that sign-up for church programs and events too. Yes, I know. They should sign-up because they want to engage spiritually, but that’s not the reality.
More likely, they expect or hope to get something from the event. Maybe a spiritual blessing?
So when planning church events, focus your marketing message on benefits. Because you need to convince the reader it will add something positive to their life.
But wait, you say. What about when people serve from altruistic motives?
Even that can be about giving back to feel good about yourself rather than out of sacrificial love.
So keep this in mind when forming your promotional message.
Of course, felt needs can be exactly what they appear on the surface. The person buying exercise equipment simply wants to promote better health. At the same time, felt needs can be symptoms of a deeper problem.
Someone registering for an exercise class struggles with gluttony. And the gluttony is due to anxiety… caused by stress… related to problems at work. I know, don’t over analyze everything.
But the reality is we are complex beings with layers of life experiences-both good and bad- that influence and shape us. So be aware that felt needs can be the symptom you see on the surface and the real issue is buried under layers you have to peel away.
So the next time you’re planning a church event, ask yourself what felt need it addresses. And if attendance skyrockets, it’s likely you hit the mother lode.
The more you make this a conscious part of your planning process, the more success you will achieve in gaining high attendance at your church events.
If you want to write a comedy church skit, you should create funny characters.
And with an all amateur cast you can create funny characters and humorous drama that is entertaining, but still delivers a powerful message.
Here are some skit writing techniques to create funny characters and humorous church dramas.
To Create Funny Characters Form Skit Characters Around Your Actors
A Hollywood script creates a character and then the director finds an actor to play that part. But that’s Hollywood. And those actors are professionals. They dedicate themselves to learning how to play a variety of characters.
Using amateurs doesn’t mean your actors lack of talent. But they won’t be as versatile as a professional. So instead of making them adapt to a part in your skit, fit the part to them. In other words, create a character that complements their natural personality and talents.
Is your actor naturally gregarious? Make their skit character gregarious. Or in real life, thoughtful and analytical? Do the same with their character. And if they can talk with a French accent or impersonate Elvis, incorporate it into the skit.
By forming the characters of your drama around the actual personalities and talents of your actors, you create a part that is easier for them to naturally play and a character the church audience will enjoy.
Use Stereotypes To Create Funny Characters
A 3-5 minute skit does not allow enough time for much character development. So using common stereotypes makes it easy for your actors to assume a part and your church audience to understand the essence of the character.
The dumb blonde
The computer geek
The insensitive jock
The power hungry executive
These are all familiar characters that are easy for actors to play and easy to form into a humorous skit. When you think about the funny characters of movies and sitcoms you’ve watched, they are often built around a stereotype. I’m sure as you engage in your skit writing, you’ll think of many others.
Use Exaggeration To Create Funny Characters
Don’t just make the blonde in your church skit a little dumb. Make her really dumb. Your insensitive jock, completely oblivious to any life outside of sports. The computer geek unable to hold a conversation with an actual human being. Someone not just afraid of heights, but paralyzed in fear on the second step of a ladder. The more you exaggerate, the funnier it is and the less likely the actor in the skit will resemble an actual person in the church.
Use Contrast To Form Characters
Even a person in your church with minimal acting ability will have your church audience laughing by simply putting them into a skit character that is the opposite of who they are in real life. And you may be surprised by that person’s willingness, not only to accept the part, but to ham it up on stage.
Is there a solemn usher who always wears a suit to church? Put him in a long wig and a rock band outfit. Let your children’s pastor portray a spoiled, bratty kid. Your most talented vocalist play an American Idol contestant that sings way off key.
By using familiar people in your church with known traits and talents and putting them into a role that is the complete opposite of who they are in real life, you create instant humor for any skit.
Use these techniques to create funny characters and comedy skits. Your church audience will laugh while you also present a spiritual message.
To maintain professional balance requires diligence and intentionality on your part. Here are four principles to help you stay focused on what is important both professionally and personally. To maintain professional balance be thankful for the...
Likeable people are the ones you want to be around. And while virtually everyone wants to be liked, it seems many people never consider how to be likeable. Our digital interconnectedness keeps growing, along with our anxiety, depression, and loneliness. How can...
The death and resurrection of Lazarus is recorded in the Gospel of John. It's one of many extraordinary miracles performed by Jesus during his three year ministry. And has important lessons for us today. The death and resurrection of Lazarus teaches that God’s timing...
A Biblical worldview of planet earth care agrees with the secular worldview on an important point. Mankind should exercise responsible care for the earth. But it differs radically on the root cause of the earth's problems, solution and future outlook. A Biblical...
The Bible story of Jonah and the whale presents an amazing miracle. And it's not about the whale. In fact, we're not certain it was a whale. But that's another story. Here are four things the Bible story teaches us today. The Bible story of Jonah and the whale teaches...