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On Seeing

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An eye for an eye makes us all blind.

Mohandas Gandhi

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I had wanted it for so long. The T.V ads had completely captured me, this had to be the finest product ever made by man, and my birthday was coming. I implored every saint I could name, and a few that I made up just so that I would impress God, in hopes that heaven might sway my parents into buying me the greatest toy ever invented…the Evil Knievel wind up stunt cycle with the Evil Knievel action figure actually riding his red white and blue motorcycle!

You wound it up…hit the release button, and the imitation burst into life just like the real, and would jump creeks, curbs and small cats! My fingers flexed in anticipation as I slowly began to open the package on the day. First one corner, then the next…with breath held tightly I removed the entire lot of paper, and saints be praised, there was Evil atop his motorcycle in all his daredevil splendor!

Evil
I took that thing everywhere…in fact…I took it to too many places. One day it came to school with me, and by the end of the day I would be faced with a theological issue that was soul deep…vengeance.

At recess you could find me and Evil next to the tether ball pole amazing the onlookers with various stunts and jumps…and then it happened…someone grabbed Evil, and broke it. My heart was crushed, my eyes teared up, and then I was transformed, but not in a good way.

It amazes me how quickly the human heart can move from joy to retribution. Evil was broken, and somebody had to pay! Perhaps this is what Darwin was aiming at when he was postulating the "Survival of the Fittest." That we humans have a way of protecting what is ours at all costs, even if that means inflicting pain on another.

In truth, this is base level behavior yes? This is living "an eye for an eye" and "if you hit me I hit you" kind of life. This is how animals live…and humans who have been hurt.

You don’t have to practice it…you don’t need a class in it…there is no DVD curriculum to help you master it, no, we all have a natural tendency to be judge and jury, to meet out justice…to return evil for evil.

Even as we grow, mature, and begin to live above a base-level existence, we have countless opportunities to practice the transforming act of moving beyond an eye for an eye life. I like what Gandhi said, "an eye for an eye makes us all blind." Powerful…True…Profound.

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The lifestyle of an eye for an eye not only makes us all blind physically, but spiritually as well. You see, this kind of blindness is a blindness to everything and everyone else, yet complete sight  for self. This blindness has an uncanny ability to have 20/20 vision when it comes to seeing what it desires, wants, covets, or thinks is important, which is generally something that feeds the self, ego, or pride…and that is the most blinding combination in the world.

This blindness breaks up marriages, families, and relationships because there are no eyes looking into the heart and soul of the other…instead the gaze is to the mistakes, blunders, and areas of un-beauty. These things are magnified, and the spiritual eye shrivels into oblivion. This blindness is never empathetic, sympathetic, nor grace filled…but instead it demands its own rights, blind to the rights of the other.

This is really the mantra of our culture and society, and the mantra is embedded deeply into the fabric even of the church…sons and daughters of the king walking around in self-blindness, angry at another blind wanderer for bumping into them and disturbing their darkness which they believe to be light.

Self deception is a trademark of this blindness, but self deception is a sly enemy. You are never really sure if he has you, and when you figure it out, there is generally a trail of brokenness. Men and women wonder why life isn’t working…why they struggle even though they go to church…why all these people are causing them so much pain and frustration…all the while never seeing.

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The beauty of Christ is that He longs to warm his hands in slow circular motions, then with love, mercy, and grace, place them over our myopic state, and invite us to experience sight.

They way to see is really not that perplexing. It is to take the words of the master and do with them something more than believe them…to live them out even when someone has broken your Evil Knievel Stunt jumper.

God’s truth is that every relationship can be healed, resurrected, restored and given  new sight, but the hard work is in laying aside our old nature of vengeance and self-vision, and ask Christ to infuse us with His holy sight that sees others as He does, even when they wrong or hurt us. Isn’t that the miracle of salvation? That even when we were still stuck in the blindness of our sinful life, Jesus died for us…even though we treated Him with the opposite of love.

You should be screaming, "I can’t do that!" You are right, you can’t. But since you have the creative force of the universe dwelling inside of you, you have the ability to choose to let Him empower you to do the impossible…live a life of grace and truth.

When we demand our rights above all else, we miss the whole gospel, and we miss the keys to the abundant life, they are found in giving up our rights even as Christ did (Phil 2) and choosing commitment over convenience or perhaps human justice.

God has your back, He will deal with those who wrong you. The example of Christ is to live above the natural human tendency to blind each other. What relationship are you demanding your rights in without also sacrificially giving your life too? Perhaps this is the time to mirror Christ in that relationship, allowing His kindness and grace to bring about repentance, restoration, and resurrection.

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As the recess bell rang I had an option, blind my friend, thus blinding myself, or grieving my loss,and talk to my friend in such a way that we remained friends even though I was angry, hurt, and experiencing loss. Now when you are 8 years old, these are not the exact thoughts that roll through your mind, as your thinking is not yet so refined, but the thought patters are similar…I chose the friend over the toy.

Amazingly, the things we want are always much shorter lived than the relationship that risks mutual blinding…God calls us to choose the relationship over the injustice, the heart over the heart-ache…in this we find life and sight.

Illuminate Deo,

Monty

 


Random Thoughts

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Well…out of the city of Moscow, a couple flights, a train ride and a bus ride has placed me in the middle of a scene from Heidi. Amy and I are staring wide eyed at the Swiss Alps from a little village called Adelboden…surreal comes to mind…beauty saturates my eyes.

It is almost such a dichotomist reality I have lived the last week, my mind wonders if it is true. Moscow…wow, where to begin, while it has changed dramatically over the last 15 years as the nation has moved into a post Soviet reality…many things have not changed.

I am a watcher of people, and riding around under the city with millions of other riders gave me ample opportunities to watch people…up close…very close. Man, the trains were just packed as they rocked along, station after station.

I watched, and looked, and prayed, and wondered, and prayed some more. The eyes are a window to the soul, as they say…I believe the eyes are the pathway to the heart…you see in a persons eyes the state of their heart very clearly…most of the eyes I looked into were very dim, hazy, and downcast…they seemed to match the gray which enshrouds the city.

Imagine a nation and a people rich with life, history, and faith…and then a revolution which eliminates all of that, and all of the things that make you, well, you. Then imagine another change where those things are allowed again…you might wonder what truth is, what is real, when will the next change happen…will this change last…how do I live in the present in light of the past…is it really okay for me to step out an be noticed in a land where that was previously frowned upon, and prohibited, and could give you an all expense paid pass to Siberia…

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I thought about such a rich history as Amy and I walked through and meditated upon the beauty I found in the churches inside the Kremlin. There are seven beautiful churches inside the Kremlin, one housed the remains of the Tzar’s and the royals, others houses ancient works of art that made your jaw drop.

I pondered how could all the politicians who worked in the government buildings inside the Kremlin for so many years, walk by these churches that silently spoke of the God that the nation once had central to their way of life…Day after day, walking around a spiritual symbol while trying to eliminate religion from the heart and conscious of a nation…I really can’t fathom that.

Perhaps that is they way we apprehend God in the church though…He becomes so familiar that the beauty that stands before becomes nothing more than wood, paint, and windows to another world. So much beauty…so much Godly tradition…

One of the crypts I was looking at entombed an early prince who had came to Moscow to claim his throne, the year was about 1246ish…As the nation was a meld of Asiatic tribes and Slavic area tribes there were some rituals the Asiatic rulers asked the prince to perform some rituals that went against his Christian beliefs so he refused and was murdered for his Christian faith.

Amazing that early on, the rulers were willing to die for Christianity, and later they would outlaw the same. After we left the Kremlin we were able to meet the president of the ECMU (Evangelical Christian and Missionary Union) and his team in Mosc ow. They have a plan to launch 12 church plants that become 144 church plants at key locations in the city. They have a great vision, but are not yet sure how they will get there, and that is where our missionaries are coming alongside to help equip, train, and mentor.

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As Amy and I entered the church building to meet this team, we were met (for the first time) with smiles of hope…that spoke volumes to me. There is only one thing that can transform that which is hopeless and downcast into brightness that radiates out of the eyes, and that is a person, Jesus Christ. What can change Moscow? A sharp team with a ready plan? or a mountain of missionaries? No…only Jesus alive inside the heart of believers across the city will change the hearts that desperately need Him, but that is the passion that I see in the faces of these men with a heart for Moscow…okay enough for this entry for tonight , I’ll try to find a live wi-fi corner tomorrow!

Illuminate Deo
Monty

 

Random Thoughts

100_0031
Well…out of the city of Moscow, a couple flights, a train ride and a bus ride has placed me in the middle of a scene from Heidi. Amy and I are staring wide eyed at the Swiss Alps from a little village called Adelboden…surreal comes to mind…beauty saturates my eyes.

It is almost such a dichotomist reality I have lived the last week, my mind wonders if it is true. Moscow…wow, where to begin, while it has changed dramatically over the last 15 years as the nation has moved into a post Soviet reality…many things have not changed.

I am a watcher of people, and riding around under the city with millions of other riders gave me ample opportunities to watch people…up close…very close. Man, the trains were just packed as they rocked along, station after station.

I watched, and looked, and prayed, and wondered, and prayed some more. The eyes are a window to the soul, as they say…I believe the eyes are the pathway to the heart…you see in a persons eyes the state of their heart very clearly…most of the eyes I looked into were very dim, hazy, and downcast…they seemed to match the gray which enshrouds the city.

Imagine a nation and a people rich with life, history, and faith…and then a revolution which eliminates all of that, and all of the things that make you, well, you. Then imagine another change where those things are allowed again…you might wonder what truth is, what is real, when will the next change happen…will this change last…how do I live in the present in light of the past…is it really okay for me to step out an be noticed in a land where that was previously frowned upon, and prohibited, and could give you an all expense paid pass to Siberia…

100_0045
I thought about such a rich history as Amy and I walked through and meditated upon the beauty I found in the churches inside the Kremlin. There are seven beautiful churches inside the Kremlin, one housed the remains of the Tzar’s and the royals, others houses ancient works of art that made your jaw drop.

I pondered how could all the politicians who worked in the government buildings inside the Kremlin for so many years, walk by these churches that silently spoke of the God that the nation once had central to their way of life…Day after day, walking around a spiritual symbol while trying to eliminate religion from the heart and conscious of a nation…I really can’t fathom that.

Perhaps that is they way we apprehend God in the church though…He becomes so familiar that the beauty that stands before becomes nothing more than wood, paint, and windows to another world. So much beauty…so much Godly tradition…

One of the crypts I was looking at entombed an early prince who had came to Moscow to claim his throne, the year was about 1246ish…As the nation was a meld of Asiatic tribes and Slavic area tribes there were some rituals the Asiatic rulers asked the prince to perform some rituals that went against his Christian beliefs so he refused and was murdered for his Christian faith.

Amazing that early on, the rulers were willing to die for Christianity, and later they would outlaw the same. After we left the Kremlin we were able to meet the president of the ECMU (Evangelical Christian and Missionary Union) and his team in Mosc ow. They have a plan to launch 12 church plants that become 144 church plants at key locations in the city. They have a great vision, but are not yet sure how they will get there, and that is where our missionaries are coming alongside to help equip, train, and mentor.

100_0072
As Amy and I entered the church building to meet this team, we were met (for the first time) with smiles of hope…that spoke volumes to me. There is only one thing that can transform that which is hopeless and downcast into brightness that radiates out of the eyes, and that is a person, Jesus Christ. What can change Moscow? A sharp team with a ready plan? or a mountain of missionaries? No…only Jesus alive inside the heart of believers across the city will change the hearts that desperately need Him, but that is the passion that I see in the faces of these men with a heart for Moscow…okay enough for this entry for tonight , I’ll try to find a live wi-fi corner tomorrow!

Illuminate Deo
Monty