Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Hope of Being Blind

Dear Readers,

Blindness took on a new meaning for me and my family in 2001 when my brother was shot by an intruder in his workplace, was hospitalized for many months, and was 100% blind when he finally came to consciousness.

I remember one time when my family was visiting Columbus we took my brother home to the condo where he lives with my sister. She was visiting out of state so was not there to greet us.

I guided my brother up the sidewalk and inside. I was immediately struck by the darkness of the condo. In my ignorance I naturally offered to turn on the lights. My brother simply laughed and said, “Arlen, I don’t need lights.”

I immediately recalled the oppressive nature of darkness in a cave in Missouri when they turned out the lights. I should not admit it as a macho man, but I was very full of fear for those few moments.

Did my brother feel the same fear when he awoke to total darkness for the first time? Does he still feel fear from time to time?

Recently while reading Isaiah I was struck by his many references to blindness. I thought he would talk about the hopelessness of being blind. In several cases he did talk negatively about the blindness of religious leaders. But mostly he talked about the hope of being blind.

Isaiah wrote the following:
“I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.” Isaiah 42:16 (NKJV)

“In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.” Isaiah 29:18 (NKJV)

Verses like these give me great hope every time I read them. They give great hope for my brother, whom to my knowledge has not yet accepted Christ as his Savior. Maybe out of his physical blindness he will look to the One who gives true sight.

Isaiah also gives great hope to those of us who had spiritual blindness and our spiritual eyes were healed. I pray for readers of this blog that desire healing from being blind. 

See you next time,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Are Men Wearing Veils?

Dear Readers,

Growing up in a Mennonite family and having Amish grandparents I am very familiar with head coverings, or in many religious circles called a “veil”. My Amish grandmother wore a head covering/veil almost every day of her life. My mother and her mother wore head coverings/veils at all church events.

Recently in conservative Protestantism many movements are revisiting the use of veils for women as a means of showing submission to their husbands and leaders in the church. The proponents of veil usage revere the Amish and Mennonite culture for never caving into peer pressure to abandon its usage.

Many persons debate whether the veil is relevant in today’s society. Each camp uses scripture to make their points. The debate becomes heated at times.

This post is not meant to debate the merits, or demerits, of women wearing veils. I think there is a much more important debate to take up. The debate is the following: Are men wearing veils?

I think sometimes we become so busy debating external appearance, that we forget the internal appearance of a man, or if you will, “mankind”. Several questions are of vital importance if we believe the Bible to be true. They are literally a matter of bondage or freedom, life or death.

The first question is: Does mankind wear a veil?

The second question: Where is the veil?

Thirdly: Is the veil desired?

Lastly: What happens if the veil is removed?

The answers to the above questions are revealed in II Corinthians 3:14-17:

“But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (NKJV)

Below are the answers to those life and death questions listed above:

Does mankind wear a veil? “But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains…”

Where is the veil? “…a veil covers their hearts.” 

Is the veil desired? “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." and "It has been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away."

What happens if the veil is removed? “Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

I pray that the veil is removed from many of my family members, friends, and the readers of this blog that they may find true freedom in Christ.

See you next time,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Religiously Preoccupied

Dear Readers,

I experienced several persons with mental illness in my many years of mental health work state with fairly certain conviction, “I am God”. They then went on to talk about having divine power over events and other persons.

It did no good to try to dissuade them of their belief. They usually looked at me intently, perhaps trying to read my response, and most times they smiled wryly knowing that I did not believe them.

Also, there were some clients that began reading their Bible incessantly. They would carry their Bible wherever they went to show their devotion.

In the mental health community there is a common conception when a person makes assertions about their own Godhood, or reads the Bible and talks about the Bible frequently that he or she is becoming “religiously preoccupied”. This religious preoccupation is usually a warning sign that the person with Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder is becoming psychotic.

What is it about a person, any person, who begins to have thoughts about God and the Bible? Is it a bad thing? Are they religiously preoccupied? Or is it their way of trying to fill a missing part of their lives?

I sometimes tell the young men in the Saturday morning Bible study at my house that the Bible is packed with good things in every corner of it, and they cannot go wrong by reading it repeatedly. I tell them not to worry about other people’s perception that scripture might be taken out of context if they do not always read it systematically.

Also, I love the persons with whom I work. They are very interesting. I never became upset when someone told me their thoughts about knowing they were God. I also never worried excessively when one of them began reading their Bible frequently. In fact, I actually want to be more like them in being "religiously preoccupied".

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

See you next time,  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Real Terminator

“I know that you do not understand it now, but I have been sent to protect you! It is vital that you listen to every word I say or else he will destroy you."

“I don’t understand what you are saying. How do I know that I can trust you? Everything you are telling me seems like a far-fetched sci-fi movie.”

“You have to believe me! He has been programmed to seek you out with all resources at his disposal. He knows that if he lets you live his future is in jeopardy.”

“I’m just a regular person. I have no power. Why would anyone be assigned to destroy such an insignificant person as me?”

“But you are not insignificant! That is the point. He would like you to feel insignificant to render you ineffective. But he understands that you have the potential to set into motion a series of events to the point where many people follow you.”

“People follow me? You have the wrong person. I am beginning to question your sanity!”

“I know it is difficult to understand now, but in time you will. He feels very powerful now and almost indestructible, but he is paranoid. He understands there is power in numbers, and that the more people that follow you in the resistance the better chance there is of thwarting his efforts. That is why he is so persistent.”

“You are beginning to frighten me! How will I recognize this powerful person you are talking about?”

“It will be very difficult because he blends himself into society and cannot be readily distinguished from a regular human being. But I will help you. I have experience with these things. Just listen to me. It is my job to make sure that he doesn’t ‘terminate’ you.”

Dear Readers,

You might surmise from reading the above story what movie I watched last night. I had heard much about “Terminator” and many people in the 80’s were saying with their best Arnold imitation, “I’ll be back”.

I’m not an advocate of violent movies, but being a fairly average guy who is drawn toward things like sports and action I was drawn into this action movie. Hopefully you will forgive me for my indulgence.

When I saw the dogged persistence of the Terminator, a cyborg designed by Skynet to fulfill the mission to destroy Sarah Conner because of her future role in the “resistance” movement against Skynet, I drew the comparison to a much more diabolical enemy than the Terminator can ever be.

You probably already know where I am going with this. The protector in the story above is Jesus, or any of us that He sends to another person to warn them of the evil scheme laid for that person.

The main character is you and me. We may feel insignificant, but there is a person that sees each of us as a potential threat if others begin to follow us and our love for Jesus.

The diabolical character, of course, is Satan.

But do not be afraid. Jesus has been sent to protect you... from the real terminator!

“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10:28-29 (NKJV)

“…snatch others from the fire and save them;… Jude 1:23 (NIV)

See you next time,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cedar Point Joy

Dear Readers,

Over the Labor Day weekend my family went to Cedar Point. We enjoyed the many rides, experiences, and family time. We also walked, and we walked, and walked, and walked, and walked. But no matter the distance, and pain, we walked together. Also, the servers at the Johnny Rocket restaurant broke out in dance to “Celebration”. Dee and Joseph almost had to hold me back from joining.

Taking after my mom in being a people watcher (she used to go the grocery store and sit in the car just to “watch the people”) I watched the myriads of people that lined the walkways. I watched them curiously wondering what their home life, work life, and life in general was like for them. Seems strange doesn’t it?

I was fascinated by body builder types that could break me like a pretzel if they had a mind to do so. They walked around, mostly in groups, almost daring anyone to cross them, this perhaps a figment of my wild imagination. I even developed plans of action what I would do if any of them got angry with me when I accidentally bumped into one of them. (I decided I would profusely apologize!)

Handsome men strutted around proudly with their model-like girlfriends. Harley riders advertised their passion with expensive Harley clothing. Innumerable guys wore t-shirts with various skull figures emblazoned on them. (What’s up with all the skulls?) Even these skull promoters were smiling and seemed to be having a joyful, good time.

“Leave it To Beaver” type families were in abundance. Little children laughed with their parents as they tried to jolt each other into oblivion on the bumper car ride. For a moment at least, all was right with the world.

I found myself hoping and praying that all these people, like my wife, son, and I, when they go back to their homes and lives, find the real JOY of life.

See you next time,

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Waiting for the Bus

Dear Readers,

The other morning I was enjoying the drive on the Old Lincoln Highway toward the home of a client near Mifflin, Ohio. I love that drive past Charles Mill Lake, the Appleseed Amphitheatre, the Copus Monument, and through a “tunnel of trees”, as my wife and son often quote when we drive under a forest canopy.

But this day the beautiful scenery took second place to another image. School was back in session and children lined the roadway awaiting their bus coming around the corner. Most children waited with friends. But some smaller ones, perhaps attending school for the first time, waited with parents.

One young girl, perhaps upset that her summer routine was abruptly interrupted, had the companionship of her father. He was crouched down with his arm around her. Obviously I could not hear the conversation from my car, and can only surmise what he was saying. But the father’s posture showed that he cared about what his daughter was saying, or feeling.

At that moment I felt a longing in my heart for someone to crouch down, put his arm around me, and offer comfort as I await my bus (the future) coming around the corner to take me to unknown places. I want someone to offer encouragement and reassure me that everything will be alright.

II Corinthians 1:3-4 tells of someone that was sent to crouch down beside us, put his arm around us, and give us comfort and encouragement.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (NIV)

See you next time,