In your first book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, you began teaching about Mary, Martha, and Lazarus 15 years ago. What has held your interest for so long about the three siblings from Bethany?
Well, to be honest, I never dreamed there would be three books! I thought I was done after the first one. Then the second one…and the third! I was all ready to write a completely different book when I was offered the chance to do the companion DVD Bible studies for the books. Lazarus Awakening is the final study of the series and “comes forth!” July 21st.
Though I look forward to writing on a different topic, I never get tired of talking about Mary and Martha and Lazarus. God continues to make their story fresh and alive to me. Just the other day I had an a-ha moment that blessed my heart. (Wish I could remember it because it was really good! J)
A main topic in Lazarus Awakening is living resurrected as Christians – shedding our graveclothes to live fully in our lives with Christ. What are some things that you think hold us back from living fully in our faith?
I’m not sure how it is for other people, but one of the things that consistently held me back as a young Christian was a sense of hopelessness at how far I still had to go. I expected a magic-wand transformation when I was saved – that somehow holiness would just happen to me and I’d suddenly be all I needed to be. More like Jesus and less like me!
But one of the most valuable things I’ve learned is that sanctification is a process. I don’t suddenly become like Jesus overnight – instead I am becoming like Him! And best of all, it’s not all up to me!
Just as Jesus called Lazarus out of his tomb, He’s calling us to leave our halfway living behind and the graveclothe patterns that keep tripping us up, so that, with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can learn how to walk and live truly free.
Another thing that holds many of us back is the enemy’s lie that we’re hopeless and helpless – that true transformation can never be ours on earth. But, he is a liar! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, and that means resurrection life isn’t just for heaven. Jesus wants to make us fully alive, right here and right now!
You write, “If we embrace the process of crucifying our flesh, we’ll find the joy that Lazarus found.” Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?
As you study the New Testament, Christianity really comes down to this: are we willing to “lose” our lives in order to “find” them (Matthew 16:25)? Are we willing to die to self so that Jesus can live in us? I’m afraid that many of us spend our lives walking down the Via Dolorosa, but never allow ourselves to reach Golgotha. But that isn’t what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Follow me.”
I love what Major Ian Thomas says about this necessary crucifixion:
“Willingness to die is the price you must pay if you want to be raised from the dead to live and work and walk in the power of the third morning. Once the willingness to die is there for us, there are no more issues to face, only instructions to obey.”11
Imagine the freedom Lazarus must have felt when he came to the end of himself – literally! After facing humanity’s greatest fear – death – he found Jesus waiting for him there. I’m asking the Lord to help me come to the end of myself so that I can find that kind of freedom. Freedom from fear of man or fear of failure…freedom from fear of any kind! What a joyful, overcoming life that would be.
This new Lazarus Awakening DVD Study was filmed in Israel. What was it like to visit Bethany, the home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus? And why did you decide to film the curriculum there?
After thirty years of ministry, my husband John and I took our first trip to Israel a few years ago. It was incredible to say the least! We spent our first day in Bethany. After so many years of writing, speaking and thinking about Mary, Martha and Lazarus, to actually be in the spot – or very near the spot – where they’d lived brought tears to my eyes.
I had come to the Holy Land fully expecting to see the two sisters everywhere I went. But instead, it was Lazarus that I encountered over and over. Spiritual correlations and teaching points filled my heart as we toured different locations. By the time we came home, I couldn’t imagine filming Lazarus Awakening any other place.
I’m so grateful that WaterBrook Press agreed and made it possible to film in Israel. I sensed a special anointing as we worked on the project, and I’m praying it blesses those who watch it.
Note: For a behind-the-scene peak at “Filming Lazarus,” I’ll be blogging about it June 11-21st over at my website.
You can learn more about Joanna Weaver, her books and DVD studies at her website. The new companion DVD Bible study forLazarus Awakening: Finding Your Place in the Heart of God releases on July 21, 2015. “There’s no tomb so deep or so dark that Jesus cannot open,” Joanna says. “We were made for resurrection life – a heart-pumping, deep-breathing, feet-running vitality that only comes from Jesus Christ.” To view the promo video and learn more about the new DVD Bible study, go to www.JoannaWeaverBooks.com. You can connect with Joanna at www.Facebook.com/BecomingHis