WHAT DO YOU SEE NOW?

When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?” The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.” Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly.

Mark chapter 12, verses 22 thru 25; from the New Living Translation (NLT)

Yesterday I wrote about the need to be unloosed from our grave-clothes. And this morning, my good buddy The Spirit, had me thinking about that. Then He asked me a question that caught me off-guard. He asked, “What do you see now?” And in typical fashion I replied, “Huh???” I just love the patience of The Father! And The Spirit said, “You know. . .there was that facecloth on Lazarus!” Then the lightbulb turned on! We can’t see if that facecloth is still there! And immediately I remember today’s passage.

People were wanting to see Jesus do another miracle. Now mind you, they were not really interested in becoming a follower of Jesus. They just wanted to “see” another miracle. Rather than try to satisfy “their need”, Jesus took this man outside of the town, spit on his eyes and asked, “Can you see anything now?” He could, but not very clearly. He described people like they were “walking trees”. He had vision, but what this man needed was CLARITY! And boy, oh boy, does our culture need clarity!

But this morning I want to speak into my fellow Wesleyan-hearted sisters and brothers who are in the process of discernment or have finished it and are now ready to leave the United Methodist Church. And if you aren’t one of us, there’s a lesson here for you, too. In the last few years, decades of the recalcitrance of our leaders and teachers in many seminaries is now a boiling cauldron of sedition and anger. And like Elisha, we have reached that point of either being faithful to God or to just go back to plowing with that team of oxen. And if, like Elisha, you have decided to be faithful to God, then we need to have a change in focus.

We can continue to complain. But tell me truthfully, What does all this complaining accomplish? I mean, other than keeping us angry or filled with angst, what does this complaining really do to advance the Kingdom Of God? Complaining is just like what that blind man first saw, seeing trees walking around. I want to encourage and challenge my fellow Wesleyan-hearted sisters and brothers to stop complaining and to seek clarity. Clarity reveals that God is on the move redeeming and restoring broken folks!

We are serving the God who makes everything new! We can either talk about The Mess, or we can talk about The Message! Once you can see clearly where God is leading, then we don’t have to or need to talk about “walking trees”! Our Message is profoundly and powerfully simple:

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

2 Corinthians chapter 5, verses 19 and 20; from the NLT

So, just what do you see now? The Mess or The Message? Let’s keep all our talk about The Message! And oh, what a Message we have!!!

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WHAT’S GOT YOU ALL WRAPPED UP?

Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.”

John chapter 11, verse 44; from The Message (Msg)

Well, here I am again, thinking about Lazarus–again. Yesterday I was thinking about him; and today–well here I am again. But The Spirit has me thinking about something different this morning. It’s about how Lazarus looked AFTER Jesus called him out from the grave. I know, today when people are buried their loved ones want either their favorite clothes or something brand new. But that’s not the way they did it back then. It seems the Hebrews brought with them more than Egyptian gold. They brought back some of the Egyptian burial practices–you know–the one of wrapping the body.

I still remember watching as a child “The Mummy” staring Boris Karloff–not the pitiful and pathetic remakes of modern cinema. If it came on today, I might just watch it again. That was quite the scene when The Mummy came back to life. Even in black and white, it was something to see. And this is what got me to thinking–about our culture and the church today. Just as there are brain-dead Zombies walking among us–they are a lot of Mummies walking around in grave clothes, too.

In politics, the Democrats are all wrapped up with Trump. The Republicans are all wrapped up with Biden, Harris, and Pelosi. Some are all wrapped with with the past. And others are all wrapped up with entitlement. And the church? Well, I can only speak for the United Methodist Institution (UMI). The Progressives are all wrapped up with disdain for conservatives. And the Conservatives are all wrapped up with disdain and disgust for Progressives and disobedient Bishops. Wrapped up in how much some Conferences are demanding to release the property.

And the more we rant and rail against another–the more tightly those grave clothes become. And without even realizing it, we become “The Mummy”! All of this vociferation only adds more and more wraps of cloth around us–and it keeps us from being the person Jesus died on the cross for to make possible. Though I wish the Progressives of the UMI would listen to me and stop blaming us for the problems–I doubt they will. So, let me speak to my fellow Conservatives.

Please, please, pretty please! Stop ranting about those disobedient Bishops and Conferences! You’re only beating a dead horse and not accomplishing anything. I challenge you to remember that Jesus is calling us out of the grave. But Jesus doesn’t want us wearing those grave clothes. We need to be unwrapped so that we can be turned loose as followers and servants of Jesus. Remember, not only did Jesus call Lazarus FROM the grave. He also commanded the Lazarus be unwrapped and set loose! Unwrap yourself from all this mishmash and step into this Next Great Awakening! Besides, you just don’t look right wrapped tight as a mummy!