Gene Ort's Blog

Archive for September, 2011

Listen Closely – Episode 1

by on Sep.29, 2011, under Gene, Spiritual

The disciples once asked Jesus: “Why do you speak to the people in stories, why not just say it plainly?” He told them.. The stories soften their hardened hearts and prepares them to hear and respond to the truth.

Be ready.. soft hearted.. listen closely

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Matthew 21:33 “Here’s another story. Listen closely. There was once a man, a wealthy farmer, who planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, put up a watchtower, then turned it over to the farmhands and went off on a trip.34 When it was time to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants back to collect his profits.”

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A little musical score if you like..

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So… I am listening.. I love a good story…  ( good movie, etc. ) the scene opens to a lush colorful valley, deep green rolling hills, dotted with exploding bursts of red, orange and yellow flowering trees. It’s springtime in the vineyard. In the distance a man is working in the vineyard. As we move closer we see an older, stately man looking carefully at his vines and branches. He appears pleased with the progress. There is an obvious pride in the work that has been done. It was his own design, built with his own hands. He surveys the vast estate, bordered on all sides with a strong fence, protecting the vineyards from the little foxes and intruders that would destroy the vines. He inspects the winepress where the fruit will be processed and later barreled. He pauses to imagine the festive gatherings, weddings and celebrations where the wine is consumed and joy abounds. He ascends the watchtower where special care is given to oversee all that has and will be done. Satisfied at having made provision for every success, we see him climb aboard  a wagon and with a few words of final instruction he informs his caretakers that he will send some servants soon to collect the profits.  He and his family leave behind his life’s work, really, his pride and joy in the care of  his trusted farmhands which now are as near to him as his own family. He leaves on his quest with peace and confidence envisioning the endless blessings that the future will hold. A few month’s time pass and harvest time is come. With great joy and expectation he sends his servants. He imagines with affection the vineyard and caretakers he left behind as he waits for his servants to return with joyful news and the profits. He anticipates the joy in sharing the blessing with all who labored with him.

THE END.  ( don’t I wish )

Credits:

Wealthy Farmer: God ..aka ( Abba, Father )

Trusted Farmhands: Me and You

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What a difference it makes to read this story with a softened heart. I have read it both ways.  You immediately connect with the wealthy farmer who is sharing his wealth and his trust with his workers and servants. It is a picture of a thoughtful and loving man, a careful man, a planner, protector, provider. Not a hint of greed or selfishness. There were no posted guards to protect his investment from the untrustworthy help. You want to know this man, be a part of his family. Your sure his children want for nothing. Even to work in his fields would be a blessing.

The people Jesus told this story to were no doubt feeling the same thing. He was opening up their hearts to experience a glimpse of their Father God. His warmth, love, trust and generosity. These people were oppressed in multiple directions. The Romans on one side, the Pharisees and religious leaders on the other. They were starving for a word of hope, longing for salvation to come. This picture of the Father was exactly what their hearts needed.

The story continues…

One dark moonless night back at the vineyard.. a farmhand is persuaded to open the gate to a stranger…

TO BE CONTINUED….

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Fig Tree

by on Sep.24, 2011, under Gene, Spiritual

” The Withered Fig Tree”  Matthew 21: 18-20

“18 Early the next morning Jesus was returning to the city. He was hungry.19 Seeing a lone fig tree alongside the road, he approached it anticipating a breakfast of figs. When he got to the tree, there was nothing but fig leaves. He said, “No more figs from this tree-ever!” The fig tree withered on the spot, a dry stick.20 The disciples saw it happen. They rubbed their eyes, saying, “Did we really see this? A leafy tree one minute, a dry stick the next?”

From a distance the fig tree looked healthy and green, but up close it was fruitless. This scares the bajeebees out of me.

The appearance of success can create the same illusion.  For the most part, I am sure I measure things exactly in this way. I cant help it. I have been taught to measure things this way from childhood on.  Worse yet, I started to believe it about myself.  ” I must be right, look at all this success ! ”  Green leaves on a fruitless tree.

It’s a comb-over or a girdle … you the get the picture. Sellin’ one thing, delivering another. One commentary I read said “the story” with ” the fig tree drama” was about Israel and in part I am sure it was. But for me it’s about my own image management ( Gene’s P.R. firm ) and learning how to identify that same spirit in the culture I live in. Both the world’s culture and the church’s culture. Jesus was clearly addressing both.

The Shock !  The disciples were in awe and shock when the tree instantly withered.  Green leaves one second…. whoosh.. dead, dry stick the next. I think Jesus was also dramatizing the judgement. A fore taste. When it happens, we will all be shocked.

We are the fig tree.  From a distance we look pretty green and leafy. This is especially true if we have some worldly stuff to substantiate our claim. Add in some notoriety, physical attractiveness, an education and charisma. Boom .. your in. Everything is in place. You must have a fruitful tree.

There cant be a more dangerous misconception. The violent and instantaneous nature of ” the withering” is dramatic evidence of the outcome of depending on outward appearances as the validation of fruitfulness. This story is just one of many that warn us of making judgements based on outward appearances. It’s a very dangerous game.

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.10 But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.”

The Antidote.

Psalm 139: 23 Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about;24 See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong-then guide me on the road to eternal life.

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