Gene Ort's Blog

Spiritual

Good Friday Tradition

by on Apr.04, 2015, under Spiritual

IMG_5005

For several years now, weather permitting I try to take Good Friday off from work and break the rhythm of normal daily living. My favorite way to do this is to find a woods somewhere and hike a little. I look for a decent place to set and read the bible account of Jesus last days coming up to and including the crucifixion.

I am following the example Jesus gave us when He would often leave His disciples, family and ministry behind and go off and find a deserted place to talk to God in solitude. Most often, I look for places that are nearly void of human construction. Just nature.  Although a well placed bench is always a plus.

This year I hiked a 3.3 mile trail in Lawless park near Jones Michigan. The weather was nearly perfect. Just cold enough to discourage any other hikers from doing the same thing. I saw only one man with a pair of collies. There was a pair of Cranes who’s trumpeting sounded pre-historic as it echoed through the woods and added a little drama to the walk. Nearing the end of my walk, I came across a little area that had a cabin and some picnic shelters and fire pits.  It was a little like wandering into a village and no ones home.

I did not come away from my time alone with God with any stone tablets or conscience revelation, but I did have a solid sense that I had chosen to spend time alone with Him. What He’s does with it, I am not always sure. I am sure of this, there are some things that God wants to give us personally. We take these gifts directly from His hand when we chose to spend time alone with Him.

Luke 5:16     But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

 

2 Comments more...

On the way to Jerusalem with the bros zebedee

by on Mar.22, 2015, under Common Man Commentary, Spiritual

On the way to Jerusalem ….

In Matthew 20:17  .. Jesus sets his disciples down just off to the side of the road and with great detail tells them what is about to happen to him in the city.  Mocking, torture and crucifixion.  Shortly thereafter the mother of the Zebedee brothers approaches Jesus with a request to promote her boys to the highest ranking office in his coming kingdom.

It would be like me walking up to my children and saying:  I’m on Fire ! and there response being : What are you making me for lunch ?

This is a very clear picture for much of the disguised human condition.  Its insanity and by definition an unknown condition to those infected with the disease.

As all the disciples grapple for position, it’s clear that this seems completely normal to them. It’s the world they live in.

In our own culture today, we give tribute to selflessness and sacrifice in books and movies and give out awards of all kinds for extraordinarily unselfish behavior. But somehow this unselfish characteristic seems like it’s for some of those ” special” people. The talented, generous and gifted. But not for me. I don’t think i’m alone in feeling this way. In this picture the power of self importance was able to rise up right in the middle of a close friends disclosure of eminent and immediate mortality.

Jesus is not surprised.  He tells them they don’t know what they are asking for…. referring to the specific honor they are requesting. He then moves forward quickly to show them the contrasting perspective.

For me, this is the ah hah moment : It’s crucial that we see ourselves in a “real” light.  As painful as that is. Awareness of our own reality is the first step toward sanity. It destroys our pride and breaks our heart and …. we avoid this at nearly all cost.

Jesus has to resort to reminding them of the way godless rulers misuse power and how quickly even the smallest amount of power goes to their heads. ( as true today as then ) He has to teach them using these examples because he knows that they cannot be confronted directly for their own craving for importance. Direct confrontation results in defensiveness and nearly always ends in relational damage of some kind. The disciples are left to come to their life altering conclusions with a picture of correct Godly characteristics to be exhibited in Kingdom life. This is extremely patient.  This is a beautifully painted picture, and Jesus is the artist. God’s way : Become a servant.

When I look at how I fit into this story, I am a bit shaken. I have had a history of service orientation, especially as it relates to organized church. There is a paradox here. I was serving out of impaired motives and yet it was in the midst of serving that I was in contact with other Christ followers that had begun their own journeys out of self centeredness. In recent years I have come to understand even more that my motives were far from selfless. Sparing everyone the details of my painful childhood I can safely jump forward to confessing that I had become a self-important, type A driver, image manager with all the baggage that comes in tow with it. I am pretty sure I was unaware of my condition and was able to defend my position fiercely. Not unlike the bros Zebedee and the other disciples.

As awareness of my “condition” grew I experienced a good deal of fear and internal pressure. If I give up my need to feel important, what will be left? What if my own broken soul hates feeling small and insignificant. My identity was completely wrapped up in my need to be important and my self perception of superiority. The “condition” was given a name when I read a book by Brennan Manning called: Abba’s Child. He called it ” The Imposter”.  When I read of Brennan’s coming aware, it was like l was reading my own life story.

The bros Zebedee made their move, the other guys were furious..  they proclaimed .. “line jumpers”!  They cut in line.. with their Momma’s help. They asked “the boss over to dinner”… fill in the blank.. ______________.. foul play …

Serving was a powerful mechanism I used to make myself feel important. It worked pretty well in many ways but had very costly consequences on a lot of relationships. Now I am more “motive-aware” but its a fight. Without self-importance as a motivator I have to ask the real question. What does God want me to do?  This question presumes that I have a close enough relationship to ask the question and hear the answer. This has become of prime importance to me.  Is this not what Jesus was talking about when He said : “Man shall not live by bread alone.. but by every word that is spoken by God!”  Wether it be the written word or the word of God whispered to your heart. Jesus said:  “I only say what the Father tells me to say and I only do what the Father tells me to do.”  Obedience is an act of love and a throttle control. There is plenty of work to do and lots of instruction about what that work looks like, see Matthew 25. But it appears to me the intimate relationship with God has to come first.. and foremost. Jesus modeled this behavior as well as taught about it. He would regularly leave all human relationships and service opportunities behind and go off to be with God by himself. In solitude. Jesus also stressed knowing the scriptures. It’s a spirit lead life we are to lead. Hearing and doing what the Father says. The answer and antidote for self-importance becomes awareness of who God says we are. We are His children. We are loved, even in our present self centered state.

This can sound kinda mystical .. “Hearing from God ” but its what what we are called too. I think it starts with those prayers in the closet Jesus talked about. In front of no one, serving no one. Just communing with God. I think it’s there where we learn to hear His voice and His true call to serve.

For me, I hear His voice say : “Love Me. Love yourself. Love the next person I put in front of you. Keep doing that”.

 

 

 

2 Comments more...

Within Himself.. he was thinking

by on Sep.07, 2014, under Common Man Commentary, Spiritual

IMG_0740.JPG
I wonder what he is thinking..
___

Hezekiah replied to Isaiah, “Good. If GOD says so, it’s good.” Within himself he was thinking, “But surely nothing bad will happen in my lifetime. I’ll enjoy peace and stability as long as I live.” (‭Isaiah‬ ‭39‬:‭8‬ MSG)

Isaiah had just told “Heze” that some pretty terrible things were going to happen in the future to his kingdom and his family.

“Within Himself”… Here is where a good deal of our problems lie. To see it so graphically here makes me shudder a bit, for this is the way most of humanity operates. It’s displayed in nearly every form of news media availble.. 24/7.

Unfortunately I recognize this same kind of wrong thinking within myself at times. The self centered .. ” I’ll be fine as long as I have mine ” mindset. Just plain ugly!

The realization drives me to prayer: Oh Father, only You can root this out of me ( and the rest of my human-kind family). I don’t have the tools to extract this kind of deeply twisted thinking from my soul and mind. I do draw comfort from knowing these kinds of thoughts are clearly in God’s view. Nothing is hidden from Him. If I were not aware of that fact then I am afraid the problem would be even more desperate.

Paul identifies this same issue in this famous passage:

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. (‭Romans‬ ‭7‬:‭24-25‬ MSG)

This is wonderfully good news. If we are honest with oursleves, we “within oursleves” consciously or unconsciously have some pretty ugly junk floating around in there. Having access to Jesus through prayer, starts with exposing the junk and bringing it in truth to Him for healing. It’s what He does and who He is. It is a fact that being able to recognize the diseased thinking is a gift from Him in the first place. Even though it wont feel like it.

“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (‭Hebrews‬ ‭4‬:‭14-16‬ MSG)

1 Comment more...

” He Woke Up “

by on Jan.23, 2014, under Common Man Commentary, Spiritual

Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus. (Matthew 1:24, 25 MSG)

Joseph woke up ! He had heard from God ( through a messenger )… in the midst of the chaos.. he has clarity and perspective giving him wisdom and understanding. The results: confidence to move, to act even in the face of turmoil..

As Christ followers we have this same kind of ” God direction ” living in us in the form of the Holy Spirit. He is giving us direction and comfort with the same results: wisdom and understanding.. and the perspective we need to proceed through the chaos. We can have hope and confidence because of The Holy Spirits leading.

How do you hear from God like that ? Time… spending time in heartfelt prayer.. talking to God like the best father you can imagine.. and listening.. for a good long while… He whispers to us.. in what He calls “His still small voice “. These are lost practices in the ” modern church ” but vital to a life of Godly wisdom and understanding. Next is extended time with a bible in your hands.. searching for God in the stories.. He will reveal Himself there.. and you will be blown away.

Sure, Joseph was ” freaked” ! but he was not paralyzed. He moved ! So can we.

Comments Off on ” He Woke Up “ more...

Was Jesus a leader ? — Part 1

by on Nov.21, 2013, under Common Man Commentary, Gene, On my mind, Spiritual

gene rowing boat

Leadership Training : Boat Rowing, Ludington MI, 1967. Thanks Grandpa.

I’ve heard it said that a sign of leadership is “you have followers” or something close to that. So in that regard,  Jesus is a leader but so is Miley Cryus and the late Osama Bin laden. So I guess there are a lot of leaders, maybe everyone is a leader in some way. Even children lead each other.

I have a lot of leadership books on my book shelves. I have attended many conferences that were in large part leadership oriented. There is a lot of good practical direction in most of them.  I have a goodly number of “catchy quotes” highlighted in the training materials associated with the books I purchased setting right beside each other on those shelves.

About 33 years ago or so I started a little business that with God’s blessing has kept our family fed. Somewhere in the middle of that I enjoyed a brief time of “successfulness”. People wanted to hear what I had to say. I built buildings.. hired people, fired people, flew around on jet airplanes …etc. It went straight to my head. In hindsight I’m not surprised. I was following the model of leadership presented to me my entire life. Which brings me to beginning point and reason for this little blog.

We are all leaders… we are all followers… so the real questions are ” who are you leading ?”   and  “who are you following ? ” and why…?

More to follow very soon..

 

 

 

Comments Off on Was Jesus a leader ? — Part 1 more...

Clean House – Common Man Commentary

by on Nov.10, 2013, under Common Man Commentary, Gene, On my mind, Spiritual

broom

 

“Clean House ” 1 Peter 2:1-3

When I was a child, my mother had a practice on Saturday mornings of opening up the house.. doors and windows and “air it out “.  This was a terrible way to wake up in January.  She was a cleaner. I awoke early to the sound of a vacuum cleaner banging into my bedroom door.  She would open my door and the flood of cold air would fill my room. I would retreat and hide under the covers.

So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God. (1 Peter 2:1-3 MSG)

At first glance, this looks a lot like a self help, motivational proclamation. I have shelves full of self help books I’ve collected over the years. Most of them do little more than help me put better language to describing my weakness’s.

This is different.

When I read this passage in “The Message bible ”  I paused and asked God ” so what does this really mean ?”  I believe He unpacked this for me a bit.

“So”    Here is what proceeded the “So “: Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said, The old life is a grass life, its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers; Grass dries up, flowers droop, God’s Word goes on and on forever. This is the Word that conceived the new life in you. (1 Peter 1:22-25 MSG)

Peter is talking to new Christ followers.  In relative terms.. I think thats all of us.

” So clean house ! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. ”

Malice – The desire or intention to do evil or ill will..

Pretense – An attempt to make something that is not the case appear true..

Envy – A resentful longing aroused by someones else’s property or qualities…

Hurtful talk – Causing distress to someones feelings and reputation with words…

My mental image of the clean house starts with opening the curtains, windows and doors allowing both light and air into the room… Now you can see what you are dealing with.. A much clearer picture of the “task at hand”. Move the furniture around and an even more detailed picture comes into view.   This is where things start to get ugly.  I think Peter is assisting his readers  by providing them ( and us ) with “the list “of what they are likely to find under the rug that hasn’t been moved in some time.

I remember a line from a Dan Fogelberg song in the 70’s: “When faced with the past, even the strongest man cries”.

“The list” is not how we want to see in ourselves… in the glaring sunlight we are exposed.. we want to do the exact same thing Adam and Eve did… run and hide!

Peter wisely doesn’t belabor the point. He quickly reminds them of a very important truth.. lest they lose heart in condemnation. And to coax them out from hiding.

“You’ve had a taste of God ! ”

Could there be a more reassuring word ?  When you have been forced to see yourself.. naked and vulnerable internally.. Peter is introducing the solution to their dilemma in the same breath.

Yes, your house is filthy.. but their is someone who will help you clean it. And not just a surface ” sponge bath ” but a complete renovation !  Peter is acknowledging that his readers have just begun. They’ve had  ” A taste “..  Just a sip..

Now Peter introduces the 12 step plan with guaranteed results for 6 payments of $29.95. Just kidding 🙂 Kinda.. This is often what people get told / sold .. it’s not true. ( another topic for another day )

What Peter tells them is the core of discipleship and relationship with God !!!

“Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.”

I am hard-pressed to find more intimate imagery in the bible. We are like infants nursing at our mothers breast. Infants are completely dependent and helpless. I think women get this image quicker than men do. Most men I know hate to appear weak in any way, much less to be as as vulnerable as an infant. They also find it difficult to receive God in such a clearly feminine depiction even though the bible clearly teaches that He created  ” man and woman ” in His image.  Male and female.

The life giving instruction continues… “drink deep “. This is surely said to contrast his earlier comment ” you’ve had a taste “. Peter is telling them.. there is more .. much more !

“Drink Deep of God’s pure kindness”.   This should bring pause to all of us…   This is the core.  Peter knew his readers lives were a mess just like he knows our lives are a mess in some way or another.  He also knows their is only one solution and it’s a person. God is a person. He proved it when He showed up in person form as Jesus. Babies nurse from their mother. We are meant to be nurtured in relationship.. which means continual communication with our Heavenly Father. In this context.. it’s one on one.. “as a baby at the breast “.. receiving from Him who is “pure kindness “. Peter wanted his readers to know something about this God he is calling them to be intimate with. He is safe and so much more !  His readers had grown up under oppressive religion ( we have our own version ) and it was important that they begin to have that false image of the angry God, eager for judgment dispelled.

And then, the promise:  “Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.”

Peter abandons the metaphor..  He tells his readers what they are longing to hear.. you will finally be healed of the diseases displayed in ”  the list  “. The ones that plague us all. The disease no program or course can ever conquer.  Only He who created us knows us well enough to recreate us. He recreates us at His breast.. and nowhere else.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.

Comments Off on Clean House – Common Man Commentary more...

Drift

by on Oct.06, 2013, under Common Man Commentary, Spiritual

shutterstock_127079894

Hebrews 2:1-4  ” It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off. ”  The message bible..

Paul knew what God knows about us. We tend to drift. It’s seems to be an inherent weakness and often assisted by external forces. The instructions: “keep a firm grip”, my reply: how? If by nature I drift, then where will I find this “firm grip”. The instructions in themselves creates a little irony but does correctly identify our condition. My heart tells me the answer. The Holy Spirit does in us what we cannot do for ourselves. Empowering us, enabling us to stand when we would otherwise fall.

Practically speaking, prayer.. turning our hearts toward God, seeking Him in ernest humility as a person and not an institution. It’s the cry of our hearts: Jesus save me and keep saving me. The “firm grip” looks a lot more like the outstretched arms of a child who is begging to be picked up.  A bowed head and heart in a quiet room or lonely woods. It’s says: I cannot do this myself. I cannot stand by myself. This is the truest cry of faith. Father help me.

Paul goes on to identify ” what we’ve heard “, “the magnificent salvation” that was delivered “In Person” by Jesus. He is reminding the readers to rehearse what they have heard. Essentially to preach The Gospel of Christ to themselves. Be in a constant state of remembrance of this incredible story. When we obey these instructions and rehearse these truths they become an antidote to the steady stream of poisonous insanity that is ever present in the world we live in.

“Neglect”. Paul warns us not to neglect the message. “Neglect” brings to mind a once adored object of affection and attention that now has become just another thing buried in the closet and later to end up on the garage sale table being sold for twenty five cents. In the beginning the item may have been expensive and captivating but now it’s ignored and possibly viewed as “out of date -out of style”.  Human nature.. our affections peak and fade. We look for something new.

“In Person”. A disturbing reality every person faces is change. Nearly everyone has been a part of something exciting and felt like this is it, I have finally found “it”. “It” being a group of friends, a club, a hobby, a church, a team, a family, a location.. the list is endless… We want to freeze time and space and say.. “I don’t ever want this to change “. You try and hold on. Then, slowly or abruptly something changes. It happens to everyone. Loss. We hate to experience loss.

Jesus, shows up “In Person” with a different message for humanity. He says ” I am the same yesterday, today and tomorrow !” “I never change”.  It’s not a new club to sign up for. No tuition. No private invite to an elite social group.  He shows up “In Person” which can mean: present now and also in our human form, with the best story ever.  This story never ends ! It’s so against the normal human experience that it’s nearly impossible to believe. It’s outrageous. Then He validates His own message with historical evidence thats impossible to deny. The blind see. The deaf hear. The lame walk. All who come to Him are healed. And finally He rises from the dead!

This is the story we all want to believe, and anyone who wants in the story, is in.  There is little wonder why all those people who said yes to “the story” first were people of great loss. Those who’s hopes and dreams were dashed into pieces by devastating circumstances and irrevocable human loss. Jesus brought them hope. That life could be life again. That sorrow could become joy. That sadness would be driven to extinction. That unmet hunger for lasting love and relationships full of meaning would be eternally satisfied.

Yes, hold on with a firm grip to the story Jesus is telling us. Don’t drift. This is the only story without end.

Comments Off on Drift more...

Children of the King – Common Man Commentary – Matthew 17:24-27

by on Jan.05, 2013, under Common Man Commentary, Gene, On my mind, Spiritual

shutterstock_90321388

“A Thought”  … on Matthew 17:24-27. This is the story of the Temple Tax where Jesus sends Peter off to fish for their taxes.  I most often think of this story and apply it to God’s incredible provision for us. He can make what ever we need appear when exactly we need it. This is certainly true but not the only message.

The story has two tax gathering men asking Peter if Jesus pays taxes.. they were there to collect the annual Temple Tax..  Peter says yes he does.. Inside the house, Jesus pulls Peter aside.. my guess is Peter is getting used to being “pulled aside”. Jesus asks Peter…who pays the kings taxes.. his subjects or his children ? Peter answers.. “his subjects”. Ding Ding Ding..  Peter gets it right. So Jesus establishes the point again.. “Then the children get off free.. right ?” But to be nice.. and cooperative..  we will pay the tax..

Now Jesus sends him fishing… for a coin.   That should either make you laugh or scratch your head. That last thought Jesus plants in Peter’s mind is.. “the children get off free “.. now, fast forward.. he is setting by the lake.. fishing… thinking..  my guess is pondering..  Peter was completely aware of his own culture and religion. The Jewish law was what he had been taught from childhood. A strong dose of religion. What Jesus was introducing to him was revolutionary. Peter knew exactly how to be a “subject  of the King”.. that was well known. Obey the laws ! or maybe better put.. pay the tax !.. What was new to him was the idea of being “A Child of the King”.

This may be the first time Peter has been faced with this truth. Jesus is forcing the hand.  Forcing Peter to recognize his position  as a child of God. This is a very powerful realization. The law makes subjects out of all of us. Love makes children… by birth or by adoption. Jesus is making this distinction.  It’s important.

Imagine Peter.. pondering this new thought… fishing by the lake.

As a child and young man I spent a lot of time fishing. I was born into a family of fishermen. I have sat in boats and dockside for hours on end. My favorite type was steelhead fishing.  I would wade out into the water about waist deep and feel the power of the current pressing against me. Then the thrill of a 20 lb Steelhead or Salmon strike. The adrenaline flows and your heart pumps. Even after decades have past, I can still remember some of those strikes just like it was yesterday.

It’s easy for me to see myself fishing like Peter. In solitude. Waiting. Thinking. “I am a child of the king”..?   He doesn’t feel like the child of the king … His identity is … ?  ________________ ( fill in the blank )

I hear and read discussions all the time about identity. Where you find it… how you lose it… your real one.. your fake one.. Every season of life has an impact on your identity. The question of  identity, who am I,  is central to how we live our life. Jesus knew that was true then just as it’s true now.

I have struggled with identity issues most of my life. Ranging from crippling insecurity and poor self image to over achieving, self important approval addict. I brought all of my identity issues with me when I entered the Christian community. They did not just fall off the day I accepted Christ.  And just like Peter, Jesus is pointing me toward a new realization: “I am a Child of The King”.

And there Peter sets.. fishing… my guess is he had a good long time to think about this before the moment… the strike!  Even if you been fishing your whole life, its still exciting.. I know many grown men who spend countless amounts of time and money to get that little thrill.  It’s a rush.. an adrenaline rush.. bam!  Fish on !

Jesus knows a fact or two about of us humans. We tend to remember things better when the adrenaline is flowing. This is not a fishing trip that Peter will ever forget.  With heart pumping, he remembers Jesus instructions for the first fish he catches ” Open it’s mouth and you will find a coin, take it and give it to the tax men. It will be enough for both of us.”

As Peter handed the coing to the tax men, he had to be moved by the power of this emerging message. It changes everything. He was beginning to see himself as a child of the king. The contrast being the “subjects” he was giving the coin too.

Jesus knew it would take more than a mere proclamation, “we are children of the king” to “print” this seed of truth in Peter’s heart. We are no different. The obstacles that shield this truth and the power that comes from embracing it are many. I don’t think coming to the full realization of this truth is doable on our own steam. We need the same kind of personal miracle, a word from God that Peter had. That’s the picture of Jesus pulling Peter aside. We are dependent on Jesus for this. You cannot muster this up on your own. The picture is you and Jesus, together. Alone. You asking the question: Jesus, who am I ?  And listening for His answer. He will tell you. You are a Child of the King ! Loved in a perfect way. When you hear it for yourself, in your heart, you will never forget it. You will never be the same.

My prayer at the end of this was: Abba, Father.. Let my heart forever settle in the love you have for me and my status as Your Child. A Child of the King !

 

Comments Off on Children of the King – Common Man Commentary – Matthew 17:24-27 more...

Seeing is Believing

by on Nov.24, 2012, under Gene, On my mind, Spiritual

As Jesus left the house, he was followed by two blind men crying out, “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us!” When Jesus got home, the blind men went in with him. Jesus said to them, “Do you really believe I can do this?” They said, “Why, yes, Master!” He touched their eyes and said, “Become what you believe.” It happened. They saw. Then Jesus became very stern. “Don’t let a soul know how this happened.” But they were hardly out the door before they started blabbing it to everyone they met. Right after that, as the blind men were leaving, a man who had been struck speechless by an evil spirit was brought to Jesus. As soon as Jesus threw the evil tormenting spirit out, the man talked away just as if he’d been talking all his life. The people were up on their feet applauding: “There’s never been anything like this in Israel!” The Pharisees were left sputtering, “Hocus-pocus. It’s nothing but hocus-pocus. He’s probably made a pact with the Devil.” (Matthew 9:27-34 MSG)

If ever there was a “bigger picture”  view of the Kingdom of God, this passage is it.  The blind men came “crying out ” .. they knew who He was.  Son of David !.. The coming one.. They had heard the stories.. miracles. People were talking.  They hear the crowd, they follow along.. stumbling along is probably more accurate… crying out for mercy. They have  heard He can heal blindness.. but will He heal them?  Why cry for mercy ? Mercy is what you ask for when you don’t want what you deserve.  Why not “heal me!” Maybe they knew instinctively that mercy is what they really needed. Something more than eyesight.   In other stories like this, Jesus would stop in the street, right where they were and heal the inflicted person. But not these men. He leads them to his home, invites them in. I don’t think thats an accident.

Blindness is a terrible disease. Blindness from birth carries a certain  unique characteristic.  Explain light and color to one who has never experienced either.  True blindness like this does not know its blind until someone tells them.  To have seen and then become blind is a torture all its own. But you do  have memory of the places and faces which either bless you with joy or curse you with regret. To those unfortunate souls born blind, they are left with others trying to describe a dimension of their senses that they are lacking.  I think it’s entirely feasible for the born blind to resist this knowledge, depending on who is doing the informing.  When your eyesight is fine and you are accused of being blind, it takes on a completely new dimension.

Before Jesus heals them.. He asked them ” Do you believe I can do this ?” .  He did not ask everybody He healed this question.  Why them.. was it a trick question, baiting them to doubt or encouraging them to believe? In a very real way I think Jesus asks us this same question everyday.

What a picture of life.. we stumble along.. following the crowds.. only slightly aware of our blind state..spiritually blind… and then we hear the testimony of others saying ” Jesus heals blind people”.  In our culture today as it was in theirs, people who don’t think they are sick, aren’t looking for a cure.

Paul said ” Now, we see through a glass, darkly. But then we will see face to face “. It’s this impaired vision that has my attention. I say,  as many others who are Christ followers also say ” I was blind, but now I see ” and I think we do see to a degree. I now see enough to know that my vision is severely impaired. I don’t even know what I don’t know. Another verse says ” when the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness “. When you think you’re right ( when you’re not ) you’re confidence in your own ” rightness”  becomes your hindrance to seeing the truth !

When the healed blind guys leave ( which is crazy in itself ) a “dumb” guy shows up. It’s possible he has never spoken a word. Every now and then I say something that makes everyone think I’m stupid. With a little luck I can repair the damage and resume my position as “averagely intelligent “. But this man was assumed “stupid” everyday of his life. Not an easy burden to bear. Trapped in his own prison of speechless thought and endless judgement. Jesus wastes no time with “small talk”, He throws out the evil spirit and the healed man starts talking up a storm.  He hears his own voice for the very first time.  The Kingdom comes: Grace, Mercy, Healing & Forgiveness. Where death was reigning, Life begins again.  Jesus gets a standing ovation ! The crowd proclaims  “never before has anything like this happened in Israel ! ” He also leaves Jesus.. and against instruction tells everyone what has happened to Him.  Of course he does. If he went back to his home and his people and didn’t say a word that would truly be outside the realm of human understanding. When we are truly healed, we proclaim it.

Its strikes me in this whole story that the greatest detour-ant to being healed of blindness and dumbness in our culture and times is a complete lack of awareness to our own disease. I think how in my own life as a “Christian ”   I lived for decades in a self deceived state of ” I am not perfect, but I am ok “. The inner fruitlessness of my life in so many ways should have been the clue to me that something was wrong.  I couldn’t see it. Blind and dumb.  Here is what I think is happening all the time.  We hear or over hear that there is ” something ” going on. Something great is happening. People are being healed !! But most of us don’t think we are sick, so we blow it off. Most of this is going on at the sub-conscience level. We classify ourselves and others.  We do so to our own peril. It’s this unrecognized impaired vision that I want healed. But it’s a costly procedure. The first part of the treatment requires earnestly asking God to show you who you really are. A scary and painful request.   A deep look in the mirror and choosing not to look away. Without fail, you will see your disease. But at the same time you will see your Healer…. Jesus. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance. The heartbreaking reality of seeing your disease is the first step into the light. Its the staying in and walking in that light that brings you to the healer….Jesus. Yes, you will see yourself as you really are and that will indeed be painful.. but with this “eye opening awareness” of your true current state you will see the beauty of His forgiveness and Love for you. This kind of forgiveness is pictured in the living example of Mary Magdalene ( the once demon possessed prostitute )   clinging to Jesus after He was resurrected. Her sin exposed, her demons removed, relationship to God restored, her heart and mind healed and the resulting expression of true adoration.  Mary M. kneeling at Jesus feet is the picture of 20/20 vision in a world blind to it’s own disease. This kind of living visual representation of healing and clinging seems to be missing in our modern western church. It exists,  but its hidden from view. But the truth remains the same. I believe Jesus is still healing blind and dumb people everyday, everywhere. He is healing me.  Anyone who hears the crowd and follows.. stumbling along and into the home of Jesus saying “Jesus, I am blind, will You heal me ?”  will hear Him respond:  Yes !

 

If you wish to comment.. please do so via facebook..  thanks,

Gene

 

Comments Off on Seeing is Believing more...

The Vineyard CD is released on iTunes!

by on Aug.11, 2012, under Music, Rachel, Spiritual

People who know me well know that I have been writing music since I was very young. I took classical piano lessons at 6 years old and later on drum lessons and toyed with the guitar a little. I was in band and orchestra in school. I played in rock and roll bands and contemporary Christian music bands and then 20 some years on church worship teams. A big part of my musical life has been in the field of production music. In my twenties.. God blessed me with a little home studio and soon I was writing music for little video projects.. that blossomed into my little music company called GMP MUSIC ( Gene Michael Productions ). Gene Michael is what my mom called me when I was in trouble. I heard it a lot.

For as long as I can remember, I could write music every time I sat down with an instrument. That is until my daughter Rachel died. Words that catch in my throat and send a wave of grief through my body every time I say them or write them down.

For two years after Rachel died, I could not write music. What ever that thing is that lets you create something that was never there before was gone. God used that time to create something completely new in me. If you have read any of my earlier blog ramblings, you know what I am talking about.

Then one fall evening, Mary and I were preparing to watch a movie entitled ” Under The Tuscan Sun ” when she was called away to help her sister, leaving me to watch it by myself..  By the end of the movie I was completely aware of the the notion ” I can do that again ” I can write.. I felt completely inspired..

The music on this CD was written like a score to a movie God put in my head. I saw scenes of  vineyards and beautiful valleys and a young women who was recovering from an un-named tragedy.  She was broken hearted and lost. The music seemed to follow a course of her personal healing and restoration. My personal healing from my own loss no doubt being reflected along the way.

The movie I watched that evening also became a part of the inspiration to get me started… I have always loved movie scores.. The music is written specifically to assist in telling the story. As you can guess, this music is no different. It was helping me express my own story.

When Jesus told his disciples ” I am the vine, you are the branches, you can do nothing without Me ” it resonated in the deepest place possible within me. I spent many hours wandering around Tabor Hill vineyards with my camera, letting God speak to my heart and speak healing into me. So for me, the metaphor continued into this music. I do believe art can capture and release emotion. I am hoping some people will “capture” a little of that healing and restoration through this music.

If you are inclined toward this sort of thing.. here is the link on iTunes. I hope it blesses you.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-vineyard-original-score/id552588700

Leave a Comment more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Blogroll

A few highly recommended websites...