All Posts Tagged: Mark

A Second Touch – Growth to Maturity

Jesus spit on the eyes of the blind man and put His hands on him.
He asked, “Do you see anything?”
The blind man looked up and said, “I see men but they look like trees walking.
Jesus put His hands on the man’s eyes again and told him to look up.
Then he was healed and saw everything well.”

Mark 8:22-26

 

 

About the text above Dr Pritchard wrote: “The text merely relates the story. It doesn’t explain the deeper meaning.”  Confession: I don’t know the deeper meaning. What I’ve asserted is that the two-stage miracle is a perfect symbol of justification and sanctification. Whereas justification is the first stage of the miracle, sanctification is the second. Whereas justification is a one time happening, sanctification is a life long process. More about this later.

A baby is born but once; however, growth is a life long adventure. Just as each baby is totally unique (DNA) so is his growth progression, depending on heredity and environment. Similarly, when one gets connected to Jesus, she is “born again”This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.(1 Corinthians 5:17) This happens but once.  At that point the person is a baby, spiritually speaking, no matter what her chronicle age. Brothers and sisters, when I was there, I could not talk to you the way I talk to people who are led by the Spirit. I had to talk to you like babies in Christ.”  So, to remind the newly born person I suggest that he put on some Depends and look in the mirror. Yes, it’s hilarious; but, it makes the point!

 

 

Parents desire but one thing for their child, that she becomes mature physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, relationally and spiritually. Sanctification is the process whereby baby Christians become mature. “We are not meant to remain as children. But we are meant … to grow up in every way into Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14-16) “To be mature is to be basic Christ! No more, no less.” (Colossians 1:29) In other words, sanctification is the process by which the baby Christian becomes a Jesus-version of their fully matured person. The Creator does not discard His original template of your person.


Interestingly,  an infant begins with milk. So, Peter says: Desire God’s pure word as newborn babies desire milk.” (1 Peter 2:2) Sadly, there are those who are content with milk years beyond infancy.

 

You have become people who need a milk diet and cannot tolerate solid food! Anyone who continues to live on “milk” is obviously immature—he simply has not grown up.” (Hebrews 5:12)

 

 


A Second Touch – Two Stage Miracle

Some people brought a blind man to Jesus. They asked if He would touch him. He took the blind man by the hand out of town. Then He spit on the eyes of the blind man and put His hands on him. He asked, Do you see anything?” The blind man looked up and said, “I see some men. They look like trees, walking.” Jesus put His hands on the man’s eyes again and told him to look up. Then he was healed and saw everything well. Jesus sent him to his home and said, “Do not go into the town, *or tell it to anyone there.”   Mark 8:22-26

Surely, this is one of the more puzzling events of Jesus’ ministry! Heretofore, every healing was “out of the ball park“! Here, however, Jesus appears to be having an “off day“! Famous, Detroit Tiger pitcher Justin Verlander knows about this! Some days you just don’t have “the stuff“! However, in his apparent weakness Jesus seems to use an illegal “spit ball”! OK, enough lightheartedness!

We know this for sure! Given Jesus’ other miracles, He had no lack of power. He always had “the right stuff!” So, what’s going on here? There’s a business / political axiom that says, “Never waste a good crisis!” This event, a crisis of sorts, was primarily orchestrated for the disciples! From the initiation of their calling, “Follow me!”, the disciples SAW! After all they left their families and livelihood! If one is relatively sane, one doesn’t do that on a whim!

Nonetheless, Paul accurately describes the disciples’ condition. “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.” Is there evidence? It began in Gethsemane. The disciples ALL fled the scene! (Matthew 26:54) A few hours later Peter’s actions indicate that he was momentarily blinded. (Matthew 26:74-75) [Excruciating trauma can do this! Ask any VET! Later, all of the disciples huddled behind locked doors for fear of the Jews! And, when Mary brought the news of Jesus’ resurrection, the male disciples thought she had lost her marbles (Luke 24:9-11) [so much for male spirituality!]

This story is for all who, like the original twelve, have heard the call: “Follow me!” Without a doubt we have seen Jesus! Nonetheless, our condition is such that we “see men that look like trees walking.” Our vision of God, ourselves and others is blurred by mist and fog! We see the heart of Father distortedly and dimly! We view ourselves through the perspective of childhood events. For example, childhood abuse blurs our vision with shame and guilt. And then, there are others! When we tenaciously maintain the distorted vision of Father and ourselves, we have little ability to REALLY SEE others. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were like this. They could not SEE the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:1-11).

Imagine! Most likely this man was born blind. For the first time he saw … even though distorted. Jesus asked: “Do you see anything?” What would have been your reply? The man could have settled for his distorted condition. I mean, the difference between total darkness and some light is astronomical! Irregardless, the man was was ruthlessly and unashamedly honest. Though he saw for the first time, he admitted that his vision was less than perfect. (I really like this guy!) This man would settle for nothing less than perfect vision!

There’s the heart of the story! Though he had never seen before, the blind man was not gong to settle for second class. He wanted the whole package, whatever that was! What about you?

To the degree that we SEE
our own brokenness
we are enabled to SEE the heart of Father
for ourselves as
as well as others!
I don’t know your condition.
As for me I need eye care on a regular basis! 

The Manifestation of Life – The community of Jesus

 

You are together the body of Christ, and individually you are members of Him. 
1 Corinthians 12:27

 

The story line of the The Ten Commandments is from the Bible. God miraculously delivered the Jews from 400 years of bondage for one reason: “They’ll realize that I … brought them out of Egypt so that I could live with them  (Exodus 29:46). After liberation the Jews are immediately instructed to build a transportable tent: “The people must make a Tent for Me, so that I may live among them.” (Exodus 25:8When construction was complete, God moved in: “The Glorious Presence of God filled The Dwelling.” (Exodus 40:34) Then God said: “The twelve tribes of Israel are to set up camp around My Tent.” (Number 2:1)

 

Imagine a wagon wheel. There are twelve spokes imbedded in a central hub. The rim unifies the spokes in the hub. The twelve disciples (spokes) were connected to Jesus (hub). The Holy Spirit (outer rim) brought unity by keeping the dissimilar members in alignment. Note: there are no Lone Ranger followers of Jesus! If Peter wanted to follow Jesus, he had to relate to eleven other followers: “You are together the body of Christ, and individually are members of Him.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

What was vaguely illustrated in Exodus was fulfilled in Jesus: “The infinite Life of God took shape before us.” (1 John 1:2) and “fixed His tent of flesh among us; and we saw His glory. (John 1:14) That’s why Jesus was called “Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23) After Jesus “moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14) “He chose twelve  disciples to be with Him” 24/7. (Mark 3:14

You’ve just been introduced to the CHURCH as designed by Jesus! It’s a Community of Life; liberated persons connected to and camped around Jesus 24/7.

Mentor of Life – The Spirit of Jesus

The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, will remind you of everything I have said to you.  John 14:26

 


GPS (Global Positioning System) is a common feature on cell phones. With it you can be guided anywhere. Directions are provided both visually and verbally. And, if you mistakenly or willfully choose the wrong road, the program will immediately reveal your mistake and provide a course correction.

 

We’re all seeking happiness. However, most of us are clueless about the best route, the one that guarantees optimum fulfillment … eternal life. So, we waste time and energy on detours that only lead to increasing levels of disappointment, frustration and emptiness.

Aware of our situation, the Maker designed a Life Guidance System, LGS, called “The Jesus Journey”.

Originally “Jesus recruited a band of twelve to be his traveling companions.” (Mark 3:14)Come, follow ME!”(Matthew 4:19) On this journey Jesus is the North Star, the only point of navigation required.

At the end of his earthly journey Jesus told his followers: “The Father will give you another guidance counselor who will be in you(John 14:16) and “make sense out of all that I have done and said.” (John 14:26) The Spirit of Jesus is an internal LGS app.

The Mentor’s task is to keep you “focusing on Jesus”. (Hebrews 12:2) He receives data from the Father that are meticulously tailored to your journey with Jesus. His primary methods are coaching, counseling and correcting.

 

That’s the Life Guidance System. And, here’s the best news. LGS is a free gift from the Creator! All that’s required is connection to the system. More about that later.

 

Practical points for praying (part 1)

From Making All Things New by Henri Nouwen

nouwenHenri Nouwen’s books are widely read today by Protestants and Catholics alike. The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, The Life of the Beloved, and The Way of the Heart are just a few of the more widely recognized titles. After nearly two decades of teaching at the Menninger Foundation Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, and at the University of Notre Dame, Yale University and Harvard University, he went to share his life with mentally handicapped people at the L’Arche community of Daybreak in Toronto, Canada. After a long period of declining energy, which he chronicled in his final book, Sabbatical Journey, he died in September 1996 from a sudden heart attack.

For the background to this post, please first read Prayer—an inventor’s perspective.

Hard Work

The spiritual life is a gift. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit, Who lifts us up into the kingdom of God’s love. But to say that being lifted up into the kingdom of love is a divine gift does not mean that we wait passively until the gift is offered to us.

Jesus tells us to set our hearts on the kingdom. Setting our hearts on something involves not only serious aspiration but also strong determination. A spiritual life requires human effort. The forces that keep pulling us back into a worry-filled life are far from easy to overcome.

“How hard it is,” Jesus exclaims, “… to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23, JB). And to convince us of the need for hard work, He says, “If anyone wants to be a follower of Mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24, JB).

The Still Small Voice

Here we touch the question of discipline in the spiritual life. A spiritual life without discipline is impossible. Discipline is the other side of discipleship. The practice of a spiritual discipline makes us more sensitive to the small, gentle voice of God.

The prophet Elijah did not encounter God in the mighty wind or in the earthquake or in the fire, but in the small voice (see 1 Kings 19:9-13). Through the practice of a spiritual discipline we become attentive to that small voice and willing to respond when we hear it.

From an Absurd to an Obedient Life

From all that I said about our worried, overfilled lives, it is clear that we are usually surrounded by so much outer noise that it is hard to truly hear our God when He is speaking to us. We have often become deaf, unable to know when God calls us and unable to understand in which direction He calls us.

Thus our lives have become absurd. In the word absurd we find the Latin word surdus, which means “deaf.” A spiritual life requires discipline because we need to learn to listen to God, Who constantly speaks but Whom we seldom hear.

When, however, we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives. The word obedient comes from the Latin word audire, which means “listening.” A spiritual discipline is necessary in order to move slowly from an absurd to an obedient life, from a life filled with noisy worries to a life in which there is some free inner space where we can listen to our God and follow His guidance.

Jesus’ life was a life of obedience. He was always listening to the Father, always attentive to His voice, always alert for His directions. Jesus was “all ears.” That is true prayer: being all ears for God. The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God.

The Concentrated Effort

A spiritual discipline, therefore, is the concentrated effort to create some inner and outer space in our lives, where this obedience can be practiced. Through a spiritual discipline we prevent the world from filling our lives to such an extent that there is no place left to listen. A spiritual discipline sets us free to pray or, to say it better, allows the Spirit of God to pray in us.

A Time and a Space

Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and a place for God, and Him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists but also that He is actively present in our lives—healing, teaching, and guiding—we need to set aside a time and a space to give Him our undivided attention. Jesus says, “Go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to the Father Who is in that secret place” (Matt. 6:6, JB).

Inner Chaos

To bring some solitude into our lives is one of the most necessary but also most difficult disciplines. Even though we may have a deep desire for real solitude, we also experience a certain apprehension as we approach that solitary place and time. As soon as we are alone, without people to talk with, books to read, TV to watch, or phone calls to make, an inner chaos opens up in us.

This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings, and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force.

We often use these outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. It is thus not surprising that we have a difficult time being alone. The confrontation with our inner conflicts can be too painful for us to endure.

This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important. Solitude is not a spontaneous response to an occupied and preoccupied life. There are too many reasons not to be alone. Therefore we must begin by carefully planning some solitude.

Stay tuned for Part 2 from Henri Nouwen coming next week…