Your story is not over; there are still chapters unwritten. You may not be able to change the past, but you can change your future.
Your story is not over; there are still chapters unwritten. You may not be able to change the past, but you can change your future.
My dear friend Kathy Collard Miller's new book Pure Hearted has just released. Here is a blog post from her below. Enjoy!
Woman with Issue of Blood Mark 5:24b-34
by Kathy Collard Miller
This nameless woman had no hope. During twelve long years, she had taken every possible step to become well. Her bloody discharge made her ceremonially unclean, unable to enter the temple and worship her God. Her husband must have left her long ago because he couldn’t touch her without becoming unclean himself.
She had spent every cent she had. She had put her hope in numerous doctors. In fact, Mark 5:26 says, who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. Had doctors taken advantage of her? Had they offered hope when there was no hope? Had they promised a cure and taken her money, yet had no clue what to do?
Regardless of all her efforts, she was still an outcast. She must have felt distressed walking the street looking for any sign of hope.
We don’t know when she first heard of Jesus. Was there a rumor about what he was doing—healing people—or as she walked did she notice he was there? Hope must have filled her heart. Or did the renewed hope quickly drain out of her. There is no hope. Why even try? Yet try I must. Jesus is my last hope.
She stealthily looked around her. When no one was watching, she reached out and touched the hem of his garment, possibly terrified of being called out for public humiliation. She risked making this godly man unclean. Yet her distress was so great, she had to try.
And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:30-34
I hear concern in Jesus’ voice, not anger. Of course, he knows who touched him; he’s omniscient God. Yet he knows it will be healthy for her to express her distress and publicly acknowledge his provision.
The disciples on the other hand were most likely hassled and frustrated. Their attempts at crowd control were futile. They may have been distressed feeling responsible to protect their teacher. Now someone was not only interrupting their next appointment— slowing them down—someone had touched him without their knowing. Were they placing him in danger?
After her touch, knowing she was well, she approached with “fear and trembling.” What will happen now? Will he only dismiss her with cruel words or call for the priests to take away an unclean woman who polluted others? She feels prompted to tell him the whole truth publicly, so great was her relief. I’m healed! I know it. I feel it! Oh Jesus, thank you. What she longed and prayed for twelve years had been fulfilled.
Her fears are alleviated as Jesus calls her Daughter and acknowledges her courage in reaching out. His voice had to have been tender and inviting, understanding and gentle. Then he assures her of complete healing, not just the cessation of her discharge. She’ll never have to feel hopeless or unclean again.
Because of her deliverance and healing, Jesus is glorified.
Kathy Collard Miller is an award-winning author of over 50 books that include Christian living topics, women’s Bible studies, and Bible commentaries. She is a speaker who has shared in 8 foreign countries and over 30 US states. Kathy and Larry have been married for 47 years and are the parents of 2 and grandparents of 2. They live in Southern California and often write and speak together. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com. She would love to hear from you.
This guest blog is adapted from Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory
Order Pure-Hearted at: http://amzn.to/2jzYdWi
These may seem like random names, but to fans of the TV show This Is Us, they are the names of characters that are redefining what quality drama looks like on television. As the show just premiered its second season (can I get an amen?), we are just as enthralled with these ordinary people this season as we were last season.
When I tuned into the first episode, I never expected to watch such well-written storylines and captivating characters. As I waited with anticipation week after week as the season unfolded, I quickly realized that this was no ordinary show, but rather a phenomenon. Although not written from a Christian perspective, it became apparent there were some common themes that parallel the commands stated to us in the bible. As I listed all of the themes I found in the show, I found there was enough to write about them each day for one month.
So I decided to dedicate this year’s “31 Days” blog series to the themes and characters I noticed in this show. For those of you that don’t know, 31 Days is a blog challenge that Myquillan Smith began as a way to connect bloggers and encourage them to write for thirty-one consecutive days on a specific theme while giving them the exposure they need to get their writing out to the world. I am participating this year and using This Is us as the theme.
If you are a big of a fan as I am, please feel free to comment below as each day posts. Let me know what you think about this series and if there have been any new revelations you have gleaned as a result of it.
“And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.”- 2 Thessalonians 3:12
Jack is a good guy. He has been dutiful servant of his country, loving husband and a fantastic father. Despite the fact he is a good guy, he can never seem to get a break in life. He tells his friend this in a monologue when he wants to win back the life and money he thinks he is owed after he is robbed of his winnings after a poker game:
You know, I watched them over the years, my father, and whenever he had the choice between doing the right thing and doing the wrong thing he always broke the wrong way, like clockwork, wrong, wrong, wrong, every single time. For me, you know I tried to go the other way. Be respectful to women, do my part in ‘Nam, be a good man, and look where it’s gotten me. When am I going to get my break, Darryl? When? The punks, they make this too hard, man, just too damn hard. Next week we re going back to that bar and we are going to win our money back, and I’m going to take the life that I was supposed to have instead of it waiting to come find me.”
Can you relate to this? Have you ever felt like taking back what you feel is rightfully yours? Have you ever felt like you can never get a break in life?
I know I can. Sometimes no matter hoe hard I try, no matter how good I am, life always seems to bless some people and not others. But the bible is clear: I need to do good at all times, in every situation. No matter what life hands me, I have to believe that being good will pay off in the end.
Because I believe in the One from whom all blessings flow, and eventually I will be blessed for it. Maybe not in this life but definitely the next.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”- Matthew 6:20-21
In the episode titled Memphis, William takes Randall on a trip to see his hometown of Memphis Tennessee. Having just had a nervous breakdown, Randall is more than ready to spend some much needed time with his father. As William shows Randall his childhood home, he asks if eh can see the inside. Boldly, they knock on the door and the owners of the home agree to let him in. William rushes to the fireplace and removes a loose brick in the top right corner of the fireplace. He takes out a couple of small toys. “My treasure!” he exclaims. What looked like trash to any other person was William’s treasure.
At my church’s women’s retreat, ministry group Friends of the heart presented their retreat theme as “If our closets could talk.” Shirley Brosius spoke about the things in our life that we can give away as a way to bless others. In other words, if we recognize the true treasures in life, we can learn to appreciate what we have and not be in constant pursuit for more.
William understood that. In the last days of his life, he recognizes what his treasure is. In the scene where he is in the hospital bed he tells Randall, “my son,” the first time we as an audience has ever heard William refer to him as this. William knows who (and what) are the treasures in his life, and he is recognizing that.
Where does your treasure lie? Does it lie in possessions and wealth? Or do you recognize that the best things in life are actually the relationships with the people you love the most?
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.- Ephesians 5:15-17
As we all know, Kate has struggled with her weight her entire life. From girls writing her letters saying “you embarrass us” at the community pool to people looking at her with snickers and jeers, weight has always been at the forefront of her mind. Grappling with making a life altering decision and getting bypass surgery, she boards a plane to meet her family for the holidays and a bout with turbulence makes her reevaluate her priorities. With a new lease on life, she decides to get the surgery.
Kevin also lets life pass him by. Taking meaningless job as the Manny, he wastes years in a fluff TV show to build his acting credentials and give his fan base a few laughs. Additionally, he chases after all the wrong things that he things will make him happy but in fact does not—meaningless relationships, money and possessions that the thinks will satisfy but in the end leave him empty. He too watches his life pass him by as he could work to reconcile his relationship with his ex- wife Sophie, but chooses not to until twelve years after the relationship has cooled.
With the day-to-day demands of life it is easy to let life pass you by. Perhaps you believe your dreams are too far out of your reach to strive to achieve. Maybe you have relationships in your life where they have left more tension than you desire. Whatever it may be, there is always another day. As long as you have breath left in your lungs, you always have a chance to make a change in your life.
What one thing can you do to make a change in your life and help you make the most of every opportunity God presents to you?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12
One of the elements of this TV show that I love the most is that it is a model for what a good (yet flawed) marriage can look like when two people to commit to each other like their vows indicate. She often refers to her husband as a “superhero” and “as close to a perfect father as it can get.“ But Jack and Rebecca certainly don’t have an easy marriage, as their story unfolds. Addictions, bitterness and sins of the past plague both Jack and Rebecca’s lives. Yet they see their meeting as a “big break” and they see each other as the loves of their lives. They do their best to stay together, even when their world crumbles around them.
Marriage is not easy. It takes hard work and perseverance. And even when you have done everything you can on your end to make your marriage work, sometimes love just isn’t enough (as Jack and Rebecca’s marriage begins to unravel.) But I do believe that a marriage that centers itself around Christ is the part of a marriage that keeps it strong through the ups and downs of life.
If you are reading this and you were once married but are now no longer, there is hope. Jesus can be your Groom and you can cling to Him during times of difficulty and strife. If you are someone who is married and has a good marriage good for you! Bask in this season of fruitfulness in your life. Seek to counsel or help others who may be struggling in their marriage. When you encounter difficult times in your marriage (and they will come) you will wish someone lent a hand to help you when you need it most. If you are struggling, seek the help of someone who can speak life and help you work out the issues you are currently facing. A pastor or a leader can help you work out the issues and help you decide if your marriage is worthy of reconciliation. Most of the time it is worthy of saving. An opportunity to work towards unity may help being peace to your life, while division will only bring strife and tension to an already difficult situation.
Whether Jack and Rebecca’s marriage remains strong or dissolves before Jack’s passing is yet to be revealed. But the saying is true: A marriage hemmed in Christ seldom unravels.
When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:6
Are you really sick?
Beth blindsides William with this question after he first learns Randall had opened his home to his biological father whom she has just met. It seems like a harsh question however, we as audience members question what William’s motives are as well. When William enters their home, she steps in to protect her husband and children. Although it seems like she should just open her home with no questions asked, she launches into an explanation as to why she is protective of her husband:
Eight years ago, I was pregnant for the first time. And Randall was vying for partner at his firm. We just bought this house on faith, even though it needed a lot of work. Even though we couldn’t afford it whatsoever. Randall made partner, he did all the work on the house himself so that we didn’t have to spend a penny and he made sure I didn’t lift a finger during my pregnancy. The problem is he stopped sleeping, and one morning when I was in the bathroom he called out to me and he was confused, you know? He was confused because he couldn’t see anything. My mountain of a man could no longer literally see anything through his eyes. His twenty-eight years of being perfect finally caught up to him that morning and he pulled himself out of it. He self corrected, because that’s what my man does. Randall is not free of vice. His vice is his goodness. It is his compulsive drive to be perfect. That’s why I love him, but that is also why I have to protect him sometimes.”
This is why we love Beth. She completes Randall in a way no other woman can.
Jesus asked hard questions too. In John 5, Jesus heals a man who has been lying on a mat at the pool of Bethseda for thirty-eight years. Jesus asks a peculiar question to the man before he heals him:
Do you want to get well?
Considering the man offers nothing but excuses when Jesus asks this question, the reality is he was so busy justifying why he hadn’t done what he needed to do, that he never did what he was supposed to do. Often, we say we want to do something (lose weight, build a savings, get organized,) but we waste our time making so many excuses we don’t do what we set out to do.
Beth asks the hard questions. Jesus asks the hard questions. The hard questions make the difference between staying sick and getting well.
The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15
Are you a Rebecca, fine on the outside but harboring a deep secret on the inside?
Are you a Jack, trying to live up to the expectations of an abusive father and doing everything you can to make your family happy, but never seeming to get anywhere?
Are you a Kevin who has made so many mistakes he doesn’t think he deserves a different life?
Are you a Kevin wanting to make a difference in others’ lives and have the true intimacy we all crave?
Are you a Randall, seeking your worth in your successful job and wealth, but still wanting the love and approval of a parent?
Are you a Toby, in love with someone but that person has other people that he/she puts first?
We all have areas in our lives we wish we could change. But with God it is possible. It is possible to achieve the intimacy and love we deeply desire. We can confess our sins and take off the masks that make us phonies to others. We can get rid of the possessions and wealth and live for something more. We don’t need to compete for the love and approval of a father, because our Heavenly Father already approves.
This is us is such a hit because they really are us.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way. A new life is possible.
All we have to do is believe.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”- 2 Corinthians 12:9
In a poignant scene, Randall is shaking because he is afraid he won’t get the best grade in his class on a project. This led to him shaking and crying coming to his parents. His father, Jack, held his head in his hands and tells him to breathe (a technique he uses with his father before his death).
All of his anxiety, however, is self-imposed. Randall always felt like he needed to prove himself to his parents. Adopted as a baby, he never felt like he fit. When his teachers tell his parents he is gifted, they put him in a special private school so he can reach his potential. However, the academic pressure is tough on him. This affects him as an adult. Proving he is the best at his company, he has to compete against a new member of the company, who has a reputation to be the best in the business. This compounded with his father’s failing health and Beth’s mom’s fall at her home culminates in another nervous breakdown. His pursuit of perfection proves destructive to his mental, physical and emotional state.
I have been someone who has tried to prove my worth by being perfect. Striving to get straight A’s I tried to earn my parents’ and others’ approval. It wasn’t until the years when I got my Masters that God stripped away my need to hide behind my intelligence and accept God’s approval of me. When I could do this, I was set free.
Randall has a ticket to freedom, too. It lies in his acceptance of who he is and God’s approval of him. He just has to break up with perfect.
What about you? Do you need to break up with perfect? Does your idea of needing to be perfect rob you of the freedom you desire in Christ?
From the episode where the Pierson’s take a trip to the local swimming pool, Kevin has wanted his dad’s full attention. He begs his dad to watch him as he ventures into the deep end to try to swim. When he realizes his parents’ attention is on his siblings, he goes into the deep end himself, only to begin to drown. He struggles for air, bobbing up and down in fear. When he finds his way to the edge he looks up only to see his parents had never seen him drown. Ever since then, he has been competing for his dad’s attention. This might possibly be why he becomes an actor – so he has everyone’s undivided attention.
This causes him to be insecure about his acting ability. When he gets ready to debut his new play in front of an audience, he panics and seeks the encouragement of his family. Looking for his mom, he instead runs into Miguel, whom he dislikes. However, it is what Miguel says that increases Kevin’s abilities:
“You remind me so much of Jack that sometimes when I see you the hair goes up on my arms, because for a moment it is like getting my best friend back. You are Jack Pearson's son. You have him inside of you. And when you're nervous or at your most nerve-wracking moment, the curtain's about to go up, all you have to do is remind yourself of that, and you'll be fine.”
As he struggles with creating meaningful art and making a difference in people’s lives, he has always been jealous of Randall and the attention Randall received from his parents. While the rift is evident for many years, instead of Kevin needing Randall’s help, it is Randall who now needs him as Randall is paralyzed with fear. Kevin, when the curtain goes up, remembers these words and instead of going on stage, helps his brother.
We all have choices to make in life. Will you do the right thing, or think only of yourself? Will you sacrifice my credibility to help a friend in need?
Jack Pierson’s son did the right thing. Be Jack Pierson’s son.
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