If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
I’m around a person quite a bit who seems to complain a bunch about her with poor health. And I feel bad for her because she is obviously suffering miserably much of the time.
She struggles with keeping weight on and every day talks about her headaches, lack of energy, and sinus issues. And I suspect she may have some more serious things going on that I don’t know about.
She also smokes multiple packs of cigarettes a day. I don’t know how many but to me it seems like a lot.
Now I suspect that there is a strong correlation there. I’m no health expert. And I’m not really anti-smoking from a regulatory sense. But I do know that every time she lights up on her way outside to smoke my own sinuses react as they try to purge the junk I just breathed in from my body. It’s spooky how fast it happens to me. Wham! Before the door even closes behind her I’m having trouble breathing. By the end of the day my contact lenses feel all crudded up too. And sometimes I’ll get headaches myself from it.
If the tiny little bit of smoke I get makes me feel so cruddy, I can’t imagine what the mass quantities she is throwing at her body are doing to her.
I asked her if the doctors ever said anything about her smoking being related to her health issues.
“Oh, yea.” was all she said.
So I gently probed a little further by asking her what she thought about it.
“Well, there’s a big difference between knowing you should quit and being able to actually do it.”
And that is when my heart really ached for her.
You see she genuinely doesn’t believe she can quit.
And that is a lie from the pit of hell designed to keep her suffering until her life is cut short from some entirely preventable disease that she’d never encounter if she never was exposed to the smoke.
The truth is thousands of people successfully quit smoking every day. I know it isn’t easy. But it is possible. For her too.
I’m not sure any amount of talking on my part would convince her to make a change that would have such a significant positive impact on her life because she seems determined in her choice to believe a lie.
What we choose to believe determines our reality.
Read that sentence again. In fact I’m going to change it to big bold words so no one can miss it.
My smoker friend believes she can’t quit smoking. And you know what? She’s right. She can’t. Even though she seems to really want to, as long as she continues to believe that way she’ll never be able to.
But if she was to change the way she thought about it and began to believe that, yes she could quit smoking, she’d find something amazing happen. That belief would likely change over time to thoughts about how she would quit smoking and eventually get to the point where she started to believe “I will quit smoking.” Not long after that she’d put the cigarettes down.
The Bible has a lot to say about believing. There are nearly 300 references to the various forms of the word believe and just about as many references to faith. The vast majority of those references are in the New Testament when Jesus came on the scene.
Here’s how the Bible defines faith:
What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.
Faith and belief go hand in hand. There was an incident in the life of Jesus that prompted him to explain how powerful belief really is.
In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs on it, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.
The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”
Then Jesus told them, “I assure you, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, `May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,’ and it will happen. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
What we choose to believe determines our reality. Some may ask where the limits are on that principle. I really don’t know. My subjective self says, “Come on! Make sure you are realistic about the things you choose to believe.”
But how realistic is it for a mountain to be thrown into the sea? Not exactly something rational to believe, is it?
Yet that is the example Jesus chose to make his point. I think as humans we draw the line waaaay too far over to the rational side limiting side of our willingness to believe.
What do you believe about belief?
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You ever walk into something and have your expectations overwhelmingly exceeded by the experience? I did just last night.
Gorgeous and I went to the Savannah Arts Academy for their first student film festival to support Emily who is a student there and one of the key members of our tech team at church. Now Gorgeous and I donâ€™t have any kids, but I remember school plays and band concerts from when I was in high school. I remember them being the kinds of things that, if you didnâ€™t have a connection with someone directly involved, youâ€™d rather be somewhere else, anywhere else, maybe even the dentist.
Boy was I wrong. My first clue could have been that the school has its own Wikipedia entry. Or maybe I should have noticed when I walked up that I was a tad underdressed with my khakiâ€™s and a polo shirt. The school did a great job making the kids feel honored and important, giving them the whole red-carpet treatment. It was nice, and fun, but Iâ€™m not about the hype. I go for substance, baby.
Well when the thing got started, the school had arranged the evening to be emceed by pairs of local news anchors from no less than three different stations. Cool. Then again, Iâ€™m not about the hype.
But when they started showing the film clips these kids put together I was completely blown away. The categories were commercials, public service announcements (PSAâ€™s), and music videos. With the commercials and PSAâ€™s the kids only had 30 second of film time to get a message across. And man did they deliver.
Some of the best work was in the PSA category. The imagination poured into the creative ways the kids told stories to get their message across was incredible. You could tell they were passionate about the causes they chose to represent. And the best of them had a hook at the end that either wrenched your heart or made you burst out laughing.
These kids may not have put together something as technically polished as what you see on TV (it was real close though), but Iâ€™m telling you the stories they told in those 30 second spots were more powerful than anything you see put together by the Ad Council. Someone there should get a copy of the DVD and take some lessons from these kids. Or maybe hire some of them.
What made their work so good?
Gorgeous and I were talking about that on the drive home last night. I think that the best ones were where the kids took a really ambitious idea and went for it. The higher they reached the better the results.
So many of us are obsessed with our limitations. It’s almost as though we can see nothing but the reasons we can’t do, or be, or achieve what we aspire to.
What if we flipped that on its head? What if, instead of our limitations, we focused on the amazing potential and possibility that stretches far beyond what we can see from where we stand in the moment?
Man, those are great questions. It is something Gorgeous and I both struggle with. It is so much easier for us to look at all the reasons why something canâ€™t work rather than putting our energies into reasons and ways that it could work and work big.
Maybe lack of faith is really a failure of imagination?
Jesus put a high value on belief. He said, â€œIf you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.â€
Whatâ€™s the take-away? Learn from the kids at Savannah Arts Academy.
Ask â€œHow can I make that happen?â€ and stop worrying about why an idea might not work.
Use your imagination.
Exercise your flabby faith.
Change the world.