The Family

The Family
Justice, Logan, Jacy Klaire, Joy, Josie Kate, Luke, Megan, Judah, Kerry, Jaxon

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Physician Heal Yourself

Sunday morning before the message at church I had a young lady come up to me and ask about Luke chapter 4.  Specifically she wanted to know about verses 23-24:
23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
She asked what was meant by "physician heal yourself." I explained that the people were having trouble accepting Jesus for the messiah since they knew him already as Joseph the carpenter's son in his home town.  The people wanted him to do miracles like he had done in Capernaum.  They did not feel he was authorized to correct them.  As one commentator put it "deal with your own defects before telling someone else to deal with their defects".  Some say it was a foreshadow of Jesus being called to come down off of the cross.

Sunday night I played Satan in a drama at church and so I had bought some white contact lenses to wear to add to my effect.  As soon as I took the contacts out on Sunday night I knew there was a problem.  My vision was very blurry in my right eye.  All day Monday things kept getting worse so I had a colleague look at it and started medication.

On Monday night, the epithelium of my cornea completely peeled away.  In other words my eye got messed up!  Extreme pain.  I spent the whole night hurting and thinking about all of the worse cases I had ever seen in my 15 years of practicing optometry.  It hurt too badly to sleep at all.All the worse case scenarios were playing out in my late night imagination.  In the middle of the night, this verse came to mind; "Physician heal thyself".  Easier said than done!

Early this morning I got Dr. Berg to check things out and we started some new medications and put in a type of bandage contact lens.  My eye is red, swollen, and ugly.  I have a booked schedule and it is not contagious so I am suffering through seeing patients.  I've tried to keep the lights low so the patients can't see exactly how ugly my eye is.  I can just hear them all thinking "Physician heal thyself" before you come trying to take care of me.

The experience has been good for me though.  I had forgotten how badly those drops burn when your eye is so inflamed.  Patients tell me all the time, but now I have more compassion.  I forget what it is like to spend the night in extreme pain just waiting for morning to get to the office for relief.  Patients come in that way all the time.  But now I can better relate.

It helped me see that verse in a different light too.  Jesus was the physician and he did heal himself. He had just left the desert being tempted by Satan- the real one not the one with the fake white contacts.  He had decided to leave the applause and the approval of Capernaum to take his ministry to the people that needed it instead of enjoying the fame and letting the people come to him.  He had broken away from family and loved ones to fulfill his destiny for the Father's kingdom.

So when I am tempted, He's been there.  When I struggle with decisions about ministry or family or where to go, He's been there.  He's made the tough decisions.  He's sacrificed to experience the Kingdom first hand.  He's been the physician and know's what I need.

I have decided that I would much rather spend my days imitating Jesus than running around acting like satan.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Three Rocks

Twa Men- Three Hands Monument in Port-Au-Prince
For those of you that have been to Haiti, the odds are you have seen the monument of three hands in the circle leaving the airport.  The monument was built during the Aristide regime.  The meaning of the monument depends on who you are talking to.

If you ask a guide that frequently brings in Christian tourists- I mean mission groups- they will tell you that the hands represent the Father, Son, and Holy spirit holding up the world and even Haiti.

If you are talking to an activist Haitian living in PAP they will tell you that it represents two hands from a Haitian and one from government, the other hand of the government is in your pocket.

The average Haitian though will tell you it has three hands because you can't do it alone.  We all need someone else to help us.  The saying in Haiti is "ou paka kwit diri sou de wo'ch"- You can't cook rice on two rocks.  It takes three rocks together to hold up the pot.  That is the way life is viewed in most societies besides ours.

In America, we believe we can do it all on our own.  We are so proud that we do not want to ask others for help or ever admit that we need it.  We base our success and achievements on our abilities and hard work. It's the "I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps" mentality.  Now I am a committed advocate of hard work and independence.  I hate entitlement and hand outs.  I am talking about something more basic yet essential than that.  I am talking about realizing that we were made by God to interconnect and help each other reach our full created potential.  When we arrogantly feel like we don't need others to reach our full potential, then any attempt by us to reach out to others to help them reach their potential will be condescending and superficial.

To be rich, I don't need you.  To be powerful, "I got this".  To achieve the American dream, "I am my own man".  To be successful I can rely on my intelligence, education, heritage, networking skills, communication ability, and inner drive.  To be what society says I should be, I don't need you.

But to reach my created potential as a Kingdom child, I need you.  I need people to speak truth to me in love.  I need people to help me be stronger in my faith.  I need people to keep me accountable as a father and husband.  I need people to encourage me on my down days.  I need people to celebrate my victories with me.  I need people to go into battle with me.  I need people to sit around and talk about nothing sometimes.  I need you.

By recognizing MY need for people, I am equipped to BE that person for others.  That is the key to humility being the basic foundation on which God builds us up.  Let's throw off the pride and self sufficiency that this society tries to encumber us with.  Let's commit to acknowledging our need of others so that we can help others reach their full created potential as Kingdom children.  It really does take three hands- and I only have two.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Day That Ruined Me

Part of it was finding myself in what appeared to be a war zone.  Smoke, smoldering fires, destroyed buildings, and dead bodies.  The bodies.  Lines of dead, uncovered, mangled bodies.  Nameless.  Lifeless.  Futureless.  

Part of it was the eyes.  I look into people's eyes for a living but I will never forget the look in the eyes of the people in Port Au Prince that morning.  Fear.  Hopelessness.  Confusion.  They had spent the night hoping not to die.  Most had stood huddled in the streets away from any buildings as the aftershocks continued.  For hours they stood.  Eyes wide.  Nerves on end.  Even as we arrived after sunrise to search for friends, the people still stood.  The ones not digging through the rubble or holding dying loved ones stood with eyes that will both haunt me and drive me for the rest of my life. 

Part was the realization that had I remained in the comfort and security of my job, and home, and family, and future, and church, and ministry in the U.S. I would not be the one God would use to help a people heal from the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual wounds of losing over 250,000 lives in 43 seconds.  

Part of it was the word.  As we put up makeshift clinics in the streets- far enough away from any buildings to keep people at ease- we tried to clean wounds, stitch people up, dig out shards of metal and concrete.  We carried the mortally wounded on doors through the streets to clinics.  We comforted the dying and their loved ones.  And in the midst of the desperation and overwhelming chaos I kept telling God I was an optometrist.  I kept reminding God that this was not what I signed up for.  Then I got a word.  Not an audible word.  But a clear word in my spirit.  As I said I am just an optometrist, God said "no you are a Christian.  And THIS is what Christians do." 

I was ruined.  I can never go back.  I can never go back to being ok with what's happening around us while we play church and act like we are doing what Christians do.  I can never go back to being content with chasing the American dream and giving God a token nod as I pursue wealth, comfort, security, and honor.  I am ruined.  I don't necessarily like it.  At times I wish I didn't weep over the condition of the church.  I wish it didn't break my heart knowing that there are enough Christians to care for every orphan in orphanages around the world but we don't.  At times I hate being angry about the prejudice and racism that is allowed to fester in the hearts of friends.  I wish I could just be content.  Good job.  Nice house.  Pickup truck and fishing poles.  Retirement account and people that like me.  

But I can't.  I am ruined.  Ruined to mediocrity and temporal thinking.  All I can see is me standing before God and wanting to have something to give back to him.  Some gold. A little silver.  A few precious stones.  I dread the thought of standing on a pile of wood, hay, and stubble and trying to explain to my Jesus that I went to church every Sunday.  I gave my tithe- of my gross even. I was good.  Better than some anyway.  "It was just so busy Jesus."  Work.  Church.  Ball games.  Civic clubs.  I did the best I could.  Come on Jesus, you know how it is.