Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Relying on God: The Healing of Naaman

Today is our first-ever Video Bible Study at Evenglow Lodge.  Even though I can't be with the Evenglow residents today, I am still able to share through the miracle of technology.  Not only can I engage in Bible Study with residents of Evenglow, but anyone at First United Methodist Church in Pontiac, or, really, anyone in the world can take part in this ministry with us.  How cool is that?

First, Carrie and I wanted to share a couple of updates.  First, you are invited to click here to read a blog with the latest update on my tumor; written by my wife, Carrie.  Secondly, we would like to share a video from last Sunday with an update about my recovery, a testimony from my mother, and an update from my wife:

The scripture for Bible Study, today, comes from 2 Kings 5 and is the story of Naaman being healed by Elisha.  As you read along with me be on the look-out for expectations.  As we read about each character ask yourself, "how does this character look at the world?" and "What outcome does this character expect?"

2 Kings 5:1-14 

 1 Naaman, a general for the king of Aram, was a great man and highly regarded by his master, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. This man was a mighty warrior, but he had a skin disease. 2Now Aramean raiding parties had gone out and captured a young girl from the land of Israel. She served Naaman’s wife.  3 She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master could come before the prophet who lives in Samaria. He would cure him of his skin disease.” 4 So Naaman went and told his master what the young girl from the land of Israel had said.
 5 Then Aram’s king said, “Go ahead. I will send a letter to Israel’s king.”
   So Naaman left. He took along ten kikkars of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 6 He brought the letter to Israel’s king. It read, “Along with this letter I’m sending you my servant Naaman so you can cure him of his skin disease.”
 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he ripped his clothes. He said, “What? Am I God to hand out death and life? But this king writes me, asking me to cure someone of his skin disease! You must realize that he wants to start a fight with me.”
 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that Israel’s king had ripped his clothes, he sent word to the king: “Why did you rip your clothes? Let the man come to me. Then he’ll know that there’s a prophet in Israel.”
 9 Naaman arrived with his horses and chariots. He stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent out a messenger who said, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored and become clean.”
 11 But Naaman went away in anger. He said, “I thought for sure that he’d come out, stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the bad spot, and cure the skin disease. 12 Aren’t the rivers in Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all Israel’s waters? Couldn’t I wash in them and get clean?” So he turned away and proceeded to leave in anger.
 13 Naaman’s servants came up to him and spoke to him: “Our father, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? All he said to you was, ‘Wash and become clean.’” 14 So Naaman went down and bathed in the Jordan seven times, just as the man of God had said. His skin was restored like that of a young boy, and he became clean. 

Scott's Thoughts
And, now, if you haven't fallen asleep yet, click on this video to hear some reflections on this intriguing scripture:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Getting Started with 2 Kings

Before my new Video Bible Study goes live tomorrow afternoon, I thought I'd give you all a little bit of a head-start on 2 Kings.  Sorry I drone on a bit.  Next time I'll try to be better.  Remember, this is my first try at on-line Bible Teaching.  In the meantime, I hope you learn a little something about this fascinating book of the Bible.

Rich Woman of Shunem

I wanted to offer you a taste of what we will be discussing in Bible Study on Tuesday with another scripture from 2 Kings.  Our theme on Tuesday will be:  What it means when we can't do things for ourselves.  So between now and then, you are invited to read the scripture below and a few words from me.

2 Kings 4:8-17

One day Elisha went to Shunem. A rich woman lived there. She urged him to eat something, so whenever he passed by, he would stop in to eat some food.  She said to her husband, “Look, I know that he is a holy man of God and he passes by regularly. Let’s make a small room on the roof. We’ll set up a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp for him there. Then when he comes to us, he can stay there.”

So one day Elisha came there, headed to the room on the roof, and lay down.  He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call this Shunammite woman.” Gehazi called her, and she stood before him. Elisha then said to Gehazi, “Say to her, ‘Look, you’ve gone to all this trouble for us. What can I do for you? Is there anything I can say on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’”

She said, “I’m content to live at home with my own people.”

Elisha asked, “So what can be done for her?”

Gehazi said, “Well, she doesn’t have a son, and her husband is old.”

Elisha said, “Call her.” So Gehazi called her, and she stood at the door. Elisha said, “About this time next year, you will be holding a son in your arms.”

But she said, “No, man of God, sir; don’t lie to your servant.”

But the woman conceived and gave birth to a son at about the same time the next year. This was what Elisha had promised her.

Scott's Thoughts

Elisha comes by and, just on his own accord, wants to help her.  He seems to want to "pay her back" for her hospitality, but the woman won't hear of it.  She tells Elisha (who is also often referred to as 'the man of God') that she needs no more wealth or power.  Apparently she has all that she needs.  Elisha keeps 'sniffing around,' though, doesn't he?  He wants to do something nice and realizes that he could use his powers to give them the gift of a child.

If you read my journal entry (online we call it a 'blog'),  you will know that I've been struggling with what it means to have physical limitations. I think that many of us can relate to this woman of Shunem.  I think that, young or old, many of us find times in our lives when we become painfully aware that our bodies, minds or spirits just won't let us do the things that we would really like most.

In fact, how does this woman respond to Elisha when he tells her of the gift he has planned?

She replies, "No, my Lord, O man of God; do not deceive your servant."

This is a woman who is resigned to her fate of having no male heir.  She is a woman who is very aware of her bodily limitations and those of her husband.  If you are a resident of Evenglow reading this in preparation for Tuesday, then I have no doubt that you would respond the very same way to such a bizarre promise, wouldn't you?

The funny thing about us humans is that we often don't want to talk about our own limitations, even when we are convinced of them.  We want to ignore that there are things we can't do for ourselves.  I don't know if it is pride, hope, or simply stubbornness.  For my part:  the other night I tried to get up and go to the bathroom without my walker because I thought, "I can do this and I don't need help from Carrie," but instead found myself fallen on the floor, still waking her up, because I physically couldn't do it on my own.

The woman of this story is well aware of her problems.  She probably didn't appreciate having them thrown in her face, especially since she doesn't really believe Elisha is going to be able to follow through.  She tells him that the last thing she needs is to get a false sense of hope!  She knows that she and her husband's physical bodies are not capable of producing a son.  She is aware and resigned.

Yet, it is about one year later that she conceived and bore a son just as Elisha has declared.  Sometimes we are reluctant to talk about our problems.  Sometimes we are reluctant to accept offers of help.  Most often, we simply don't believe that there is help available to us.

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not a messiah and I'm certainly no Elisha, but I don't think it takes the supernatural force of a great prophet or the physical presence of Jesus in sandals to do Holy works in this world.

When God formed communities of Hebrew peoples; when Christ commissioned and sent out the disciples; when the Holy Spirit came upon the new Christian-Jews at Pentecost something happened with humanity.  I believe that God does touch and heal in very real ways today.  This week as we prepare for Bible Study, let us be pondering a couple of questions:

  1. When have I needed something that I couldn't do for myself? 
  2. How do I respond when people offer me help?  
  3. Do I have people around me who may be waiting for my help --or waiting for me to accept their help?

Tuesday Bible Study
(Evenglow Lodge Chapel)

Join Us In-Person
For Bible Study at the Evenglow Chapel
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 at 1:30 p.m!

We will look at 2 Kings chapter 5 as we discuss
another person who needed help from Elisha!