Gene Ort's Blog

Archive for July, 2009

Perspective: If these Eyes could See.

by on Jul.28, 2009, under Spiritual

Colossians 3:1 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides.2 Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.3 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life.4 When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. ( the message )

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Perspective is everything! Everyday, every moment can be viewed from a different angle. I am constantly being made aware of differing opinions on even the simplest of topics. Very few can agree on anything. What’s up with that ?

I work in a small office with six or seven people and have witnessed the benefits of getting multiple opinions on even what appears like a basic situation. What’s funny about that is once you ask somebody their opinion and you choose to do it differently you are inadvertently sending a message.. your idea is not the best one. When my thinking is clearest, I preface my inquiry with something like..” i am gathering some different ideas to help me make a better decision and may not, in the end do it exactly the way you think is best”. I think this helps a little.. or at least makes me feel better.

In my Message bible, there is a chapter title ” He Is Your Life ” before chapter 3. I don’t think that was there in the original letter.  But I like it..

Paul starts this out by saying.. “So… if your serious..” I can see him peering over his spectacles ( wait.. no glasses in those days I think ).. either way.. he is qualifying the listener. He loses a few for sure. ( you still here ?) We all know what seriousness implies. Its way more than a casual interest or hobby. Get serious.. and you will lose followers and friends as well.  But a few people will dare to engage.  He is speaking to Christ followers here about their new life “In Christ”.  Then he says it.. plain as day.. “Act Like It! ”   I am baffled by my own ability to be distracted. Paul says “Pursue the things over which Christ presides”, I respond and run a few feet and then like a dog seeing a squirrel, I tear off into the middle of the highway completely oblivious to 5 lanes of on coming traffic in both ways at 55 miles an hour. Then I marvel at the resulting pain as though being run over should be painless.

I have spent much of my life, “looking down, consumed with the things right in front of me”. My life, my perspective. This appears to be the natural way of living for most people. Even as a Christ follower, I just transfered my appetite for self importance right over into my new Christian life style. Sure.. I left the habits that were unacceptable to church folks behind but held on firmly for my need to “feel like somebody”. Not consciously, but effectively.  I can’t overstate the damage that can result from incompatible world views.

“Look Up, Be Alert” !  To look up is to see Christ, who He is first and embrace Him and then what He is doing. To look down is to rejoin the masses of the world starring at their feet, stumbling along consumed with what’s right in front of them.  This is the tricky part for me. Much of my downward looking, self important behavior was dressed up in two very normal appearing venues. Business: Mr. recording studio owner / music producer guy brought me money, a bunch of people I didn’t even know treating me like I was important, my picture in a couple magazines, stuff that impressed people, going places that impressed people etc.   Venue #2, Church: hyper-service church work as a volunteer, gets you: High fives ! .. you are awesome !… great job!.. your the best!  etc., but in reality, for me it was a severe case of  “approval addiction” and confused motives. Now the darker side, the consequences: when will dad be home?.. are you gone again tonight? .. why are they more important than us? .. and many, many more painful realities. It’s not that everything I did was wrong and completely void of any good motives but without the clear vision to see where I was going and what were the consequences, I was left with the default view, the worldly view. I ran at this as hard as I could and defended it ferociously. I, after all was sure I was right. Sarcasm in case you missed it…

Then Paul says it: “See things from His perspective!” This truly is “the good stuff”. The paradigm shift.  This is recent news for me. To see things from His perspective, requires His eyes, His ears. Remember the scriptures: ” To him who has ears to hear and eyes to see”. To see what Jesus sees, we need “Jesus eyes”!   I don’t think we can just decide, from now on, I will “See things from His perspective!”  How can we be expected to see things from Jesus’ perspective?   I think Paul points that out next. “You are dead!”   Your new sight (Jesus eyes) comes with your new life. “He is your life!”  That’s it. It’s Christ. You can’t trick and dance your way to this kind of heart and life transformation. This is 100% completely reserved for those who die. (Luke 9: 24 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”) You cant get “Jesus eyes” any other way. You will remain hopelessly tethered to this fallen worlds perspective until you die and “He is your life”.

Life Preservation vs Self preservation:   Every one feels that jolt of adrenaline when they start to pull out unto the highway and realize in a split second that you did not see a car speeding your way and nearly end up in a serious accident. The moments after experiences like that often give cause to pause and reflect on what might have happened. Your pulse races, you ponder your own mortality. Pretty normal. Thats self preservation, God’s design to help keep us from doing harm to ourselves. Life preservation is where we run amuck. Even as Christ followers, we hold on with white knuckles to our  own ideals even if we have know idea where they originated.  “It’s just the way I am” we proclaim with fervor. The problem: we are holding on to the wrong life ! The wrong life and the wrong perspective. The only way to get the right perspective is to truly let your old life die and embrace your new life in Christ.  Get serious. Pursue Christ. Look Up. Be Alert. Open your Jesus Eyes. Die to yourself. Embrace your new life. And finally, “Be content with obscurity like Christ”.

There will be opportunities to choose to see with Jesus eyes, the eternal perspective, the Kingdom of God, or with eyes of the world. One is surely the path to righteousness, joy, peace, holiness and love, the other, frustration, anger, un-forgiveness, sin and hatred. It’s perspective. I believe we get to choose. The pull from the world view is strong, but He has overcome the world!

He is our Life!  He is my Life!

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The Details…

by on Jul.19, 2009, under Spiritual

img_0095I write down a lot of details in my journals….

Ephesians  3: 7-8 This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details.

8 When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.
And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.

This is me… pretty much… surprised… in over my head, limited natural abilities.. needing God to handle all the details.. and in awe of grace, mercy and the beauty of Christ.

Details, Details.. God is in the details

I am pretty sure I have spent most of my life trying to chart my own course. My goals were pretty in line with most of my fellow travelers: Accomplish! Make plans, tweak them, tweak them again, “rinse and repeat”.  OK so far. It’s pretty much what our educational system and society in general promotes. Values are sort of sprinkled in along the way to give the appearance that we are not devouring each other in the name of progress. Not always very effective. Competition thrives in every area of human existence. Cradle to grave.   I like competition…. when I am on the winning side.

In recent days “I surrender”  has been the words most often found on my lips. Not exactly the terms true competitors are heard quoting. You never see a bunch of NFL types all jumping up and down, slamming they’re chests and slapping they’re butts shouting ” I SURRENDER, I SURRENDER!”.

Yet, for me “I surrender” may have been the most powerful words to ever escape my mouth. For reasons I don’t fully understand, I had never been able to fully embrace this “element” of Christ following. I did not have eyes to see & ears to hear.  On this side of  “I surrender” it seems obvious that this is exactly what God is expecting of all of us. One of the things I am grappling with regarding “I surrender” is how I got there. Intense brokenness. I am reasonably sure not everyone has to come to this awareness with the same degree of severity, but many do.

By no means have I mastered surrender. I surrender and un-surrender multiple times everyday. But what I have found “on the other side” has profoundly changed me forever. The more surrendered I am to my heavenly Father, the more I am able to embrace Him as my Father. That makes sense to me as well.  I have children and grand children of my own and when they “stiff arm” me, it creates distance and impedes intimacy. Not that I pull away from them in some kind of offended recoil, it’s just a bi-product of resistance. I am sure they feel the distance, even if they cannot define it.

I think a lot about what I am doing now… what I am going to do next. Sometimes I get a little fixated on “the next thing”.  It’s in part a control issue to be sure. I think I want it, control that is. When I force my objectives, manipulate circumstances, scheme, over plan without prayer and consideration of God’s objectives,  I reap accordingly. When I choose the path of surrender, the pace goes down, the peace factor goes up and best of all, I retain that intimate connection with my heavenly Father. Why in the world would I ever revert back to “my way” as Frank Sinatra is known to have proclaimed?

God is in the details. He controls the outcomes. I am to surrender and be responsive to His leading, poised and ready for service at my Fathers call. It’s pretty hard to be ready for service to our God if we are off doing our own thing.

I am in need of God centered ambition not self centered ambition.

I am convinced I cannot maintain my own agenda and find myself in the center of my Father’s will.


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Caught Between Two Sunsets

by on Jul.17, 2009, under Spiritual

A close friend asked recently “Where is your favorite Sunset?”. I hope I have not seen it yet.  But this one is way up there in the running.

img_0374Mullin Lake in Cassopolis, Michigan

My Aunt Kay and Uncle Ron live there. It fits them. I have been visiting there little chunk of paradise since I was a teenager. It’s just like traveling back in time.

In the last week or so I have been there, cutting and stacking firewood. It’s something I love to do. It’s a long way from my day job.

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I like contrasts. I get a lot of it.  In the recent past, I can remember the sites, sounds and smells of Kalavai, India. The Westminster Abby in London, Chocolate Ice Cream on the miracle mile in Chicago and the smell of oil and gas from my chain saw.

The contrast that really has my attention now is the Kingdom of God.

You see. I love Mullin Lake. It’s a vacation I get to go on only 20 minutes away. But now it’s complicated.

To get to Mullin lake, I have to turn off M60 north unto County hospital road. This is the road my baby girl, Rachel died on last Christmas Eve. She was on the way to Mullin lake for our family Christmas Eve party. I have to drive right into full view of the accident site to get there. It rips my heart out every time.

I know that Rachel is with Jesus, right now in His paradise. I am comforted by that.  This new reality in my life has created the contrast that has truly changed my life. I like the Mullin Lake paradise here on earth, but I long for the real paradise just beyond my view. Jesus is there. He holds what I am really looking for. There will be sunsets there that will make the current earthly efforts of our sun bow in humble respect.

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The Invitation – Stop Waiting for “it”. Just Dance.

by on Jul.03, 2009, under Spiritual

 

Rachel showing off her dancing dress for Bethel dance team

Rachel showing off her dancing dress for Bethel dance team

I remember junior high school dances like they were yesterday. Guys usually hanging together, poking, punching and flicking each other. The girls huddled together, giggling. Except for the truly brave souls who actually danced.   In those days, the music was almost always a live band instead of a DJ. It was the emergence of the garage band era. I could ride my bike through my neighborhood almost any evening and hear some guys jamming away, garage door wide open to the world. I used to listen to Tommy James & the Shondell’s right next door to me. My cousin, Larry Wright was the bass player and he dated my neighbor’s sister, blah, blah, blah…. It was a great time for music.  Tommy was a local hero.  http://www.tommyjames.com/

Meanwhile, back at the dance, the not so brave would wait…. and wait… and wait some more… for someone to “ask” them to dance. On more than one occasion, I remember girls walking straight up to me and taking my hand and dragging me out on the dance floor without even asking. I always felt relieved. That little bit of ice breaker was just enough. From then on I could be brave and face the powerful and intimidating forces of the 13 year old girl.

Most people overcome their fears as it relates to finding a mate, compelling forces are in place to nearly guarantee it.

I am often surprised to uncover yet another area of my own life that is impacted by an irrational fear. A couple years ago when faced with the opportunity to visit India for the first time, I was pretty nervous. The food, the shots, the exposure to disease, the toilets ( or lack of them ) the hard work, the unknown. If I would have waited to stop being nervous about it before signing on, I would have never gone. Now I have been to India a second time and can honestly say I was not nervous at all. What a difference a little experience can make. I am keenly aware that nearly everything purposeful I have done, I have done it afraid.

In recent days I have been pondering why people resist spiritual growth. I think a lot of people are afraid they will be losing something of themselves if they really surrender to God.

God is calling us all to dance. A very personal and intimate dance with Him. It is the dance of surrender. It is a dance of transformation. It is a dance of holiness. A dance of obedience and love. I spent decades of my Christian life pretending to be surrendered. Oh, I showed up to the dance alright, but was unwilling to give up my self importance, my control. I stood around, huddled up with my other scared pretenders on the parameter. Close enough to feel the beat, and maybe shuffle my feet a little, but never let myself risk real surrender.

Now that the thing which I had feared most has happened, that being the death of my daughter Rachel, I again have been pulled out onto the dance floor. This time, truly a dance of surrender. And there is a cost, my own death of self. Self importance, self sufficiency, self righteousness. I was not afraid, I was terrified. The event itself so horrible that it shakes you to the core of your soul, a burning pain that refused to be extinguished. 

Then, the rescue. 

I have much to learn about the rescue. I am living it everyday. The heartbreaking fires of the loss of Rachel still burn brightly, but I am in the dance. God is leading, I am following. 

James 3:22 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener ( dancer ) when you are anything but, letting the Word ( each song ) go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! ( join in the dance ) 23 Those who hear and don’t act ( dance ) are like those who glance in the mirror,24 walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.25 But whoever catches a glimpse ( hears the invitation ) of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action . That person ( dancer ) will find delight and affirmation in the action.26 Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” ( pretends to dance ) by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air.

27 Real religion, the kind ( dance ) that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
The Royal Rule ( dance ) of Love

( Dance till your socks fall down…  Jane Kelly Williams)

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