“Five Hurtles To Radical Faith”

Hurdling is an exciting part of the Olympics. The idea is to run a distance of say 110 yards, and overcome the hurdles that are evenly set and must be cleared without knocking them over or falling, and be the fastest one to finish.
I don’t know where Dad got this outline, but evidently he was listening to a speaker and taking notes. Using a play on words, instead of “hurdles” he used “HURTLES.”
The story of Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter
Text: Mark 5.21-end
“And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet…”
1. DIGNITY: He was a ruler of the Jewish synagogue. While many rulers hated and despised Jesus… while Jairus did not. Jairus was a hurting, disturbed, broken man. Life happens, and when sickness and death comes, it shakes all concerned, even this ruler of the synagogue. In great humility, he falls on his face before the Lord. He did not care what others thought about him. He cared not what other “rulers” thought of him. “Dear Lord, I beg you, please come, I need you now,” was the only thing he could say. Dignity was “out the window” as he approached his only Hope for his daughter. Pride is gone, the hurt and pain humbles the greatest. Dignity disappears in His presence.
2. DELAY: “Hurry up!” “Let’s go right now!” The panic of his voice is easy to hear as you read the text. Yet there are interruptions that always seem to come challenging our patience and faith. In vv 25-34 there is a woman who has trouble of her own. She was bleeding, and not just for a day… this had gone on for twelve years! Doctors could not help… and again Jesus was her only Hope. She interrupts His journey to help Jairus, not meaning to, because she just wanted to touch his garment and be healed and disappear into the crowd. Question: What do you do when God makes you wait? We get angry because we want help NOW! “I’ll go and get another God if you can’t put my needs first!” In our time, we demand fast food, ATMs, Quick Lubes, and Drive-Thru dining. We just don’t want to wait. Even the Lord’s Supper is timed down to five minutes so as to keep us on schedule to get thru services on time to “beat the Baptists” to lunch. What a shame. Remember how Abraham was made to “wait” for the promised son, Isaac. Recall what happened when he didn’t. Remember how Moses had to wait 40 years to be ready to serve. When he was 80 years old, God says, “Ok Moses, it’s time to go see Pharaoh!” Then you have Elijah, Jesus, Paul and others… who experienced this “waiting” period, or call it “the wilderness.” This is a tough “hurtle” when we are hurting.
3. DESPAIR: Men came and told Jairus, “Your daughter has died.” “It’s too late… even Jesus can’t help you now.” “Don’t bother the Lord anymore.” The words of men are full of despair as all hope seems lost. Yet the words of the Son of Man quietly say, “Do not be afraid… only believe.” “JUST BELIEVE!” We get nervous with these words. We are ready for some doctrinal battle. Why does Jesus say this? What if we change this to “JUST TRUST ME!” That’s all He is saying. So many times I see in my life this is what is lacking. In times of trouble, in times of despair, when all seems lost, “JUST TRUST ME.” Jairus saw what GOD was doing.
4. DERISION: Professional mourners were already “doing their job.” The girl was dead inside the house, and everyone knew she was dead. It was now time to mourn the loss of something wonderful in this couple’s life… their daughter. While they cry out and mourn, Jesus tells Jairus, “She is not dead, she is just sleeping.” Everyone laughs and mocks Him. “Are you crazy… she is dead!” The Creator is mocked! The source of life is derided! The world is no different now as it was then when Paul says, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (I Corinthians 1.23). Jesus simply says, “JUST BELIEVE IN ME!”
5. DEATH: “It’s over, she is gone.” When Dad passed away, we were there. My sweet wife saw him take his last breath. She lay across him and cried. It still brings tears to recall. He was so much to us all. BUT…”I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4.13-18).
Jesus breathed his last, was taken from the cross, buried… BUT “death could not keep its prey.” He arose!

1. Does your faith separate you from the crowd?
2. Does your faith operate in the face of trials?
3. Is your faith evident in your home? At work?
“You can trust god to save ALL THOSE IN JESUS”

Grow in grace brethren.

Those of you who are searching for meaning in life, why not explore JESUS. My little study on www.jackexum.com is called “Redeemed,” and is especially for those who are searching for hope in life, in Jesus. Take the opportunity to study. These are short concise lessons that take you through the Bible. Well worth the time. God bless you.





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More Than Just Five Stones

   He is listed as a “Faith’s Hall Of Famer” along with many others in Hebrews 11. He was just a shepherd boy, one of 8 sons, and certainly not the most impressive, although he was “handsome”. The prophet Samuel had been called to come to the house of Jesse and anoint a king for Israel, not because he had killed a lion and a bear while
caring for his sheep. Not because he was the youngest of the brothers… but I am
convinced it was because of his faith. 
    Faith in God is an unusual and powerful thing. For it places the focus on the ability not of self, but on the Almighty. The writer of Hebrew said, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). There are many who laugh and scoff at this faith, claiming it to be nothing more than an emotional
crutch for the weak and stupid. How WRONG they are. The fact is “… without  faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). David had FAITH, not that he wasn’t a confident person… but this is not what stands out in his life. He believed and trusted in God and was not ashamed to speak up about it.
  From this faith came a very special Psalm. One day he wrote “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with
me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in
the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely
your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell
in the house of the LORD forever.”  (Psalm 23).
   How then did David deal with the giant named Goliath? Was there some strategy to outflank, or out run this giant? Was David’s plan to somehow distract so the Israelite soldiers could secretly attack? No. Did David just ‘believe’ and the giant would fall? No. For you see, faith is an active, motivating dynamic of the Christian’s life. It is what comes by hearing and accepting the Word of God as authoritative (Romans 10:17). Without this one dynamic, the stones are just stones… baptism, is just getting wet…
   David said to the Philistine, “…. I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands…the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves;
for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 
    Faith, truly is the victory that overcomes!

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“I Quit” – (Part One)

This article is part 1 of 7 in the series I Quit

Jesus On The CrossHave you ever wondered what Jesus thought when things got difficult? What about when the critics came at him from everywhere? What about when his own disciples complained and argued? What about when His disciples were filled more with fear and doubt, than they were with faith?

What about when people were crying out for his own death, when he had done nothing but good for people?

Well I guess I could go on, but I think the point is made. Obviously, Jesus was not a quitter. He was quite the opposite, he persisted to the completion of his mission, no matter what. Sometimes he had to be blunt with people, (“…get behind me satan…” he said to Peter).

Jesus had to have a special focus about him to deal with everything he had to deal with. He invested time with his disciples, teaching them, correcting them, but never quitting on them. Why? obviously he loved them “to the end”. His eternal mission depended on them as much as it depended on himself. Without his disciples, what would happen to the church after he ascended to be with his Father?

His disciples likewise, had to learn to, ‘not quit’, even to the point of giving their lives for their Master. They had to grow, and mature. They needed some things… let’s take a look at some of these things briefly…

Why do people quit? Various and sundry things happen I suppose. One thing seems to stand out. Loosing perspective.

We surely get discouraged now, just as the disciples did then. Life is hard for sure. Quitting becomes easier when one gets tired, discouraged, upset.

When you consider marriage, it is much the same. Divorce (quitting) seems to come to people’s minds too quickly nowadays because people lose perspective. Little things become ‘big’ and big things become little without perspective.

How can we gain perspective? Well, life has taught (continues to teach) me, that some (perhaps many) things are NO BIG DEAL (NBD). The key is figuring which is a BIG DEAL and which is a BIG DEAL, and worthy of stopping everything, and dealing with it (ie confrontation). How do Christians gain perspective, and the discernment needed to see what is a BIG DEAL? I think, if we will learn to see things from the cross it will really help.

What happened on the cross? Well, Jesus, having been nailed to it, was then raised up, and the cross went into a hole with a sickening thud! Already he was beaten half to death, and mocked, and spit on, and slapped, and was so weak that he could not carry his own cross piece. Now he hangs there. Dying. In deep pain, exposed to the elements, thirsty, and every thing in his body writhing in anguish. Picture this and see him looking at you. Going through this just for you. Through his suffering and stripes, ‘you are healed’. Blood is flowing. He is getting weaker and weaker. All for you and I.

Having this picture in your mind… lay your issue at the foot of the cross. Now, what would he say to you? Answer that, and you are gaining perspective.

Somehow, our problem doesn’t seem so big a deal anymore. Maybe we even feel ashamed for getting so upset, or discouraged over it.

My encouragement is, before saying, “I quit”, think of Jesus on the cross, just you and the Master. Leave the scene with a renewed determination that you will not quit. Determine that foolish pride, petty disagreements, will not ever drive you away from Jesus or His people. Surely, this is part of growing in Jesus. Quitting and divorce should be forever put out of our minds, and has to be in order that we can grow.



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Be A Learner

   Years ago when my brothers, sisters and I were in Ireland with mom and dad, as missionaries, I asked dad if I could learn to drive. I went through the registration process, and took driver’s education, learned the signs, and got used to driving on the opposite side of the road. They gave me a plastic sign for the front window of the van, on one side of the sign was a yellow “R” (meaning ‘restricted’) and one  the other side a red “L” (meaning ‘learner’). We placed the “L” on the window, and started off. I was now an official ‘learner’. Of course dad had to show me all the details of driving the van, clutch, gas, brakes, lights etc… One Sunday, dad decided to drive, and he took the dual carriageway (hi-way). We came to the red light, and we were on our way. All of a sudden, cars were coming at us, lots of cars! Dad realized he had made the mistake of forgetting what country he was in… He was on the wrong side of the road. We came to a screeching halt, and so did the other cars. Now there were several angry Irishmen coming at us, shaking their fists, and yelling some things best not repeated. Then one of the men stopped and pointed to the red “L” on the front window. “Give this man some room here. He is just a learner.” He took over the situation and began to motion to the others, to move back and let dad turn around and get on the right side of the road.
    Years have passed, and dad is gone now, but I still have the red “L”, that dad used from then on in his ministry to teach some special lessons.
    I can think of so many times when I could have used this little sign, just to remind me to be patient with people. Patience is hard to come by, because it usually means difficulties, and stress. When you pray for patience, God may send you a grouchy neighbor or a stubborn child or some difficult situation to ‘stretch your faith’ just a little more than last time. Patience means endurance. Endurance means to stand up under pressure. Pressure… well we don’t like that. We want everything to be peaceful, and calm. Life just isn’t that way. It is unpredictable and things happen. This is where Christianity is put to the test. Usually we react without even thinking. A harsh word slips out and then we remember, “I am a Christian”. The phrase, “What would Jesus do?” comes to mind and we feel shame for failing once again to be patient.
    You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Christians aren’t perfect… just forgiven”. Well it is so true. Christians are not perfect. Righteous – because of the work and blood of the crucified and risen Savior… but not perfect in every situation in life. Others see the imperfections, and think, “You hypocrite”. Well, I don’t think that always fits. You see, Christians are LEARNERS. It takes time and focus and prayer and growth to be like Jesus. Not that we are asking for the world to be patient while Christians grow in Christ. That won’t happen. It will help reach the world for Christ though if those who claim to be followers of Christ will take it seriously.
    Is this growth process a bit frustrating? Sure it is. The Christian’s biggest battle is with himself. That is why the Holy Spirit was given to the Christian, (Acts 2:38-39; Romans 8). As frustrating as it is at times, hard times that come should bring to our minds, God is at work in us, (Philippians 2:12-13), and that is good, real good! Listen to James, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (patience). And let endurance (patience) have it’s perfect (complete) result, that you may be perfect (full grown) and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4.

   The Christian life is an unbelievable adventure. Enjoy it, share it, grow in it, and NEVER STOP BEING A LEARNER.


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