Psalm 131

Lord, my heart has stopped needing to compulsively make everything about me.

My ego has stopped needing to compulsively prop me up by putting others down.

I have stopped needing to compulsively get myself all tangled up in matters that are too complicated for me or too far above me.

Instead, I choose to become quiet and calm in Your presence like a small, contented, weaned child being held in the arms of a loving Mother.

Because I am Your weaned and resting child, my soul is deeply content to be held in Your arms.

People of God, let us rest our trust and our hope in the Lord now and from now on.

(Psalm 131 from a variety of translations and Hebrew word studies)

 

Productive Suffering (Psalm 116:10)

I believed in You and I trusted You, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, Lord.” (Psalm 116:10)

The best news from Psalm 116:10 is the fact that this anonymous psalmist expresses it in the past tense. In fact, please take time to read the entire psalm and observe the psalmist moving effortlessly between past tense, present tense, and future tense. But verse 10 stands alone in the psalm as evidence that faith and suffering are not mutually exclusive. People who trust in God suffer, but people who trust in God do not have to pretend it’s all good when it isn’t. God knows us inside and out, knows us far better than we know ourselves. God knows what we are thinking and feeling, but it is still vital to the relationship that we say to God what we are thinking and feeling. Once we are willing to speak our hearts and our minds, then the content is “out.” We can choose to be in God’s presence with holy honesty which leads to productive suffering. Because God has total access to us, God can start doing what God alone can do – wasting nothing and shaping us in the image of our suffering Servant Savior, Jesus Christ.

What does your hurting heart need to say to God right now?

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)

 

When Life Becomes Moment-by-Moment (Psalm 31:14-15)

In the Model Prayer, Jesus prays, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah affirms that God’s mercies are new every morning.

These passages help us live in a day-to-day reliance on God in Christ. But what about those seasons in life when we are simply trying to somehow make it moment-by-moment?

In Psalm 31:14-15 David says this. “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in your hands….’”

My times are in Your hands.

No matter what time increment best fits our journey, God’s immediate presence is available. Day-to-day or hour-to-hour or minute-to-minute or second-to-second…God has us. God has us when we are clinging. God has us when we have let go for a while.

God, our times are in Your Hands.

God, this moment is in Your Hands.

God, this breath is in Your Hands.

God, I choose to be in Your Hands.

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com

 

The Jesus Who will put us through whatever it takes (John 9)

Reading the Gospel of John chapter 9, I am stunned as I watch everything Jesus put that blind beggar through.

Jesus spat on the ground next to the man, which was something Jewish people commonly did to disabled beggars to convey their disgust and to communicate their opinion that God had cursed the person with the affliction because of something the beggar’s parents did or something the beggar did. In the case of this man born blind, we would be talking about prenatal sin – like perhaps the embryonic baby had a porn stash in his mother’s womb.

THEN Jesus smeared muddy spit paste over the man’s blind eyes and told him to grope his way to the pool of Siloam. Jesus didn’t even guide him there! What abuse must the man have endured from people as he crawled or stumbled to the pool?

After the beggar’s eyes were opened, Jesus vanished from the scene, leaving the man to tell his story repeatedly to religious leaders whose interrogation intensified until finally those leaders barred him from the synagogue because he had the audacity to let some controversial Rabbi miraculously heal him on the Sabbath, committing two code violations the leaders had added to the laws in the Hebrew Scriptures.

But by the end of John’s Gospel chapter 9, the formerly blind former beggar could physically AND spiritually see! Notice how the man’s courage grew and his perceptions about Jesus brightened each time he repeated his story.

Is it possible Jesus knows what He is doing? Can it be that Jesus will stop at nothing to open our eyes and develop our faith? Can it be that Jesus will put us through whatever it takes to open our eyes and develop our faith?

I emphatically believe so.

When I measure these truths about Jesus alongside my prayer life, I wonder how often I ask God to take me the easy way through (or give me the easy way out). That path-of-least-resistance praying comes up short when compared to the formidable dimensions of John 9. God must know that, if God took us the easy way through, we might arrive sooner. However, that version of ourselves showing up at the destination would not be up to the challenge or that version of ourselves would not see clearly enough with the eyes of faith to trust and obey vigorously. So maybe our prayer lives need a new gear. The new gear might sound like this – “God, please put me through whatever it takes to open my eyes and develop my faith. Thank You for not taking me the easy way. Thank you for loving me enough and dignifying my journey enough to be as hard on me as you were on that guy back in John 9.”

I am reading an article from the Sojourner’s website about Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head). He discovered CTE while examining Mike Webster, the NFL center whose life ended tragically because of multiple concussions. In the interview with Sojourner’s Bradford William Davis, Omalu says this – “I let the Spirit of God percolate into my being. Everything I do, I do through the eyes of faith.”

WOW.

May you and I become people who let God’s Spirit percolate into our beings so thoroughly that we do everything through the eyes of faith – no matter what it takes.

In Jesus’ name,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)

 

An Inductive Study Guide for John 9

We don’t see things the way they are as much as we see things the way we are.

We don’t see people the way they are as much as we see people the way we are.

We can have physical or spiritual or social or emotional blind spots. John chapter 9 is full of eyes that are opening and eyes that are closing. It contrasts light and darkness.

Bible study questions:

  • How did the disciples see the blind man?
  • What was wrong with the disciples’ questions about the blind man? In what direction did their questions take the conversation?
  • How did Jesus change the direction of their thinking? What is the difference between “why?” and “so that?”
  • Because poor blind beggars were considered cursed, Jewish people walking by them would sometimes spit on the ground beside the beggars to shame them and communicate their disgust with them. This man born blind would be conditioned to the sound of human spit splashing the ground and he would know what it meant. Why did Jesus choose to use a mixture of spit and mud on the man? How did Jesus change the act of spitting on the ground from a curse to a blessing?
  • Why did Jesus require this man to grope his way to the pool of Siloam with muddy spit paste all over his face? How would the people he walked by react to him? Why didn’t Jesus just zap him like He zapped others? What does this teach us about God’s role and our role in relationship?
  • Where do you see evidence that Jesus not only set the man free from his condition but also set him free from what he used to do because of his condition?
  • This newly healed man had to tell his story several times, mostly under the duress of interrogation. How do you see his view of Jesus expanding with each narration? What does this teach us about the potency of our faith story? How much expertise do we need about Jesus in order to start telling our story?
  • How did the religious leaders view the man?
  • How did the religious leaders view God?
  • Legalism is the elevation of rules and regulations over God. How did the religious legalism of the Pharisees cause them to bury the lead? What were they unwilling to see and appreciate?
  • How do you interpret the response of the parents to the religious leaders’ questions? Why would they throw their son under the bus? What does this say about the power of legalism?
  • Verse 34 indicates the religious leaders still viewed the man as cursed even though he had been miraculously healed. What does that tell you about the way religious rigidity affects how we see other people?
  • How do you interpret Jesus’ disappearance? Why didn’t Jesus stick with the man during the interrogations or at least show His face so the man would know what his new Eye Doctor looked like? Why did Jesus wait until the man had been kicked out of Jewish worship life before finding him? Does their encounter at the end of the chapter give you any clues about Jesus’ curious behavior? What do you think of the idea that Jesus is faithful but not predictable?
  • The fact remains, Jesus DID look him up. What does this teach us about God’s heart?
  • Jesus was the only One who viewed and treated this man like a human being and like a child of God. What are the evidences of this in the chapter?                                                                   
  • This man experienced two miracles in one day, and he got to participate in both of them. What was the second miracle?
  • How could you use this man’s story to help somebody understand what it looks like to follow Jesus?
  • How did Jesus view the religious leaders? What does this teach us about God’s heart?

C.S. Lewis “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” (from The Weight of Glory)

Application questions:

  • Scotosis is the technical name for a hardening of the mind or heart against unwanted wisdom. Scotosis is an unwillingness to see. There are four forms of scotosis in this chapter. Where do you see the blindness of desensitization to the plight of other people? Where do you see the blindness of legalism? Where do you see the blindness of prejudice? Where do you see the blindness of self-preservation?
  • What is the role of Jesus in your story?
  • What is your version of the two most important words in John 9 (v.1 – “He saw…”)? How does Jesus see you differently than anybody else sees you?
  • What is your version of Jesus changing a curse into a blessing, sometimes using the same physical or emotional or relational material?
  • When in your journey have you experienced Jesus being faithful not NOT predictable? When have you thought Jesus was being too hard on you? Have you reached the end of that story yet? If you are in the middle of that story, what keeps you going?
  • When / how has God in Christ opened your eyes? What is your version of the man’s “so I went there” statement of obedience in verse 11?
  • What is your story of how you used to be one way and now you are becoming another way (v. 25)?
  • What is your version of the statement “When Jesus found the man” in verse 35? When/where/how has Jesus intentionally found you in order to open your faith-eyes and change your identity?
  • To whom are you telling your story?
  • The Pharisees were blind to Jesus’ identity because He did not do things their way. What are some current examples of this same form of blindness, a blindness that says God can only be God if God does things our way?
  • In what ways are your eyes still closed, especially when it comes to how you view certain individuals or people groups? What are your blind spots and how did you acquire those blind spots?
  • Are you willing to do whatever it takes to have your eyes opened by Jesus?
  • When Jesus heals us from forms of blindness He also sets us free from whatever lifestyles we engaged in because of that condition. Are you willing for Jesus to set you free not only from your blindness but also from what you have been doing because of your blindness?
  • How is the Holy Spirit using John 9 to give you new reality checks or insights about the life of faith? Are you willing to let Jesus do whatever it takes to grow your faith?

God in Christ – Please open our eyes to see what You see. Please open our ears to hear what You hear. Please open our minds to receive what You know. Please open our hearts to trust where You lead, especially when You are being faithful and unpredictable. Please transform us into people who love like You love. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)

 

Faith Coaches (Psalm 59:9,17)

Two of my faith coaches are a married couple named Dick and Barb. Dick is a paraplegic because of a vehicular accident approximately twenty years ago. He accepted his wheelchair and his limitations as a new assignment from God. He is constantly on the lookout for the signs of God’s presence, and he is constantly on the lookout for ways to build people up. Today he said to me, “You have to look for things to celebrate, and then you have to decide you will celebrate those things.” Barb is so jam-packed with life that it jumps out of her. She takes care of her husband with seemingly untiring devotion. Barb chooses to be engaged in faith and in life full-throttle. Of course they are not perfect, but their lives teach me. They remind me of a quote and a Scripture passage. The anonymous quote is, “Faith is the decision to keep your eyes open.” The Scripture passage is from Psalm 59:9 and 17. “O my Strength, I will watch for You, for You, O God, are my Fortress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to You, for You, O God, are my Fortress, the God Who shows me steadfast love.”

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)

“A Curiouser Life” (an original song by Rick Jordan)

We posted another song, called “A Curiouser Life,” on our YouTube channel. Thanks in advance for clicking on the “Like” icon below the video (if you do like it of course) and thank you for subscribing to the channel – subscribing really helps! Here is the song. https://youtu.be/vQCoQWbYgbM