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Pastor Kenneth Ulmer envisions the animating, life-fulfilling power of the Holy Spirit like the transformation that comes over the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon figures when they're inflated. Without any air, these huge balloons lay flat on the floor, limp and featureless figures. But when the wind starts whipping up inside those balloons, they begin to rise, stand up and stand tall. They become individuals, people and creatures that we recognize and love. Once on the parade route, these balloons take on even more life, for they're animated not just by the air within them, but by the winds that buffet and bolster them down the street.

In the story of Lazarus, Jesus doesn't appear before Martha and Mary -- who are in agony over the death of their brother -- just to bring them a casserole. Jesus doesn't cluck his tongue and concedes that Lazarus' death is a tragedy.

Jesus goes to his best friend's tomb and calls out, "Lazarus, come forth!" As experienced by Ezekiel and the psalmist, once again the animating spirit of God moves with power and precision, and brings a dead man walking right out of his tomb! This is what God settles for; miracle, rebirth, deliverance from the pit, and eternal redemption. God doesn't define winning as not losing. God doesn't settle for anything less than joy unbounded, and glory-filled dreams fulfilled.

Have a blessed and joy-filled week.



Pastor James "Skip" French is the pastor of Highland Christian Church, 1500 Forest Hills Blvd., Bella Vista. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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