Posts Tagged ‘open my mind’

Adam said it was the woman’s fault for giving him the fruit (and maybe a little bit God’s fault for giving the woman in the first place). Eve blamed the Serpent who deceived her. Interesting, though, the Serpent is silent.

Genesis 3:11b-13
Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

I’m assuming the Serpent knew what was up from the beginning. He expected retribution. He had counted the cost. So, however he might have looked in the garden, the Serpent was ever changed, and most interesting, for whatever reason, the relationship between the Serpent and woman would be one of enmity. I find that fascinating. The implication is that the relationship could have been something else had everything gone the other way. But what?

What was the Serpent’s true nature? In the same way that Jesus brought Judas Iscariot into his sphere of influence, so did God bring the Serpent into the garden. There was opportunity for them to choose differently, to want something else, to be reached.

We are quick in this culture to lay blame as well. This week is election week. All media outlets from news programs to Facebook are afire with political mumbo-jumbo. And usually, it’s one side finding fault with the other, somehow thinking if enough aspersions are thrown out there, their own missteps will be ignored.

In reality, we have all eaten the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and as a result, we spend far too much time looking at “not-God” instead of looking for what is good and right. The ancient aphorism speaks well here: Know Thyself. It’s so important to remember that our eyes are corrupted.

Open my eyes to see like you, to understand with Godly wisdom, to bring grace into every situation and conversation, to clearly bring myself to the situation. As a follower of Christ, I bring God to every table, to every discussion, to every contemplation. That’s part of the covenant I made.

I must accept blame for the part I play in my world.

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In the end, there is only one person who can “make room” and that’s the individual herself. If someone else does it for you, it’s usually a violation of space. It’s no different with the heart.

II Corinthians 7:2a, 3
Make room for us in your hearts. . . . I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you.

I’ll never forget the time I moved down to Atlanta from Indianapolis. Mike and I were engaged and although we had hoped to find a temporary living arrangement for me, it turned out I had to move into his house. While packing up, I could tell there was a lot of stuff. I tried to warn him. He would have to “make room” for me and my belongings. It was a small three-bedroom house but I insisted he clean out one of the bedrooms for me.

But, like most men, he couldn’t foresee the amount of boxes I would bring or the chaos that would come from merging two adult households. Did he make room? He did not. So, the very next day, while he was at work, I cleaned out one of the rooms and put all of it in the TV room. I created space for myself.

Needless to say, he was not a happy camper. I thought he would be thrilled. I did all that work. I organized and moved and emptied almost all of the boxes from the living room and dining room and integrated my kitchen stuff into his (he only had 2 knives, 2 forks, and 2 spoons anyway). But I was “creating” room for me instead of allowing him to “make room.”

Friendships are the same way. There comes a point when we have to “make room” for another person in the heart. Sometimes, we have to open the doors and sweep out some of the old stuff to make room. We may have to get rid of things we’ve been holding onto for a long time.

When it comes to the things of God, it’s the same thing. We have to open up. We have to invite. God only takes up as much space in the heart as we allow. Unlike the dark side that creeps and steals and occupies wherever and whenever we’re not minding the space.

Help me today, oh God, to make room for more of You. Help me to make room for others. It’s time to clean house.

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The Roman commander may have saved Paul from the savage crowd but he still mistook him for an Egyptian terrorist! How could that be? Is it possible the commander saw what he wanted to see and not what was actually there?

Acts 21:38
“Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert some time ago?”
[Commander arresting Paul]

Expectations are powerful and can lead us astray easily.

There was little to no evidence for the commander to suspect Paul to be a terrorist. I doubt Paul looked like an Egyptian, nor was he fighting off the crowd, nor did he have followers who were armed and dangerous. The only evidence was the crowd’s reaction to Paul. The commander may have assumed the situation was political. He could not imagine the riot was about differences in religious views. Or, that it was about who could be “in” and who was “out?” Or, who could be a follower and who could not? Or, who should be circumcised and who should not?

To the traditional Jews, it was bad enough that Paul was preaching/teaching about this Jesus as the Messiah, but now word had spread that Paul had embraced the gentiles and was opening the faith to them. He had crossed a line they could tolerate.

One of my favorite musicals is Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye, the father, is faced with constant change as his daughters come of age to marry. The first one challenges the tradition that marriages are arranged and she marries out of love. Tevya begrudgingly complies. His second daughter falls in love with a zealot who is ultimately arrested and sent to Siberia. She decides to follow her love and Tevye, again, allows her to go, but with deep misgivings. But, when the the youngest daughter falls in love with a gentile, it is a line that Tevye cannot and will not cross. She is cast out and “dead to him.” In the end, the Russian pogrom disrupts their entire village. As Tevye’s family members are dispersed and may never see each other again, Tevye relents and speaks a small “God be with you” to his beloved daughter and her gentile husband.

Tevye had expectations. We all do… for our lives and for our children. Sometimes we expect the best and sometimes we expect the worst. Instead, I believe we must be willing to lay aside our expectations. Everyone’s journey is different. We can hope for the best, but we must accept the truth of what is happening in the present as well.

Another set of expectations rise up when we meet people who are different from ourselves. They may be from another country, speak a different language, or just live in a different neighborhood. Their skin may be of a different color. They may practice a different set of religious values or family structure. If we lay down our expectations, we may be surprised by what we discover: a beating heart, a yearning soul, a bright mind.

Keep my heart open today Lord. Help me to seek the heart of others and to see past our differences. Check my spirit when I start thinking that someone might be an “Egyptian terrorist” based on superficial circumstances or appearances.

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Luke 24:45
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Today, I reached the final verses of Luke, in my tortoise-like study of the scriptures. I have intentionally read only 8-16 verses per day, reviewing their intent and seeking an application for me that day. From these daily readings, I have asked the Lord to build these meditations.

But I realized today that we can read and read, we can listen to sermons and teachings, we can write and write about we read and hear or see, but none of it will touch the heart or light a way without the Lord’s opening of our minds for understanding.

In the same way that Jesus opened the eyes of the two disciples He encountered on the road to Emmaus, He opens the mind. It is a healing!

Acknowledging that the mind or the heart or the eyes need to be opened is part of the process. In John 5:6, Jesus asked the invalid who had been lying on a mat for a long time, “Do you want to be well?” I believe Jesus is asking me (and all of us), “Do you want to understand?” Do I really want my mind opened? I do.

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