Monthly Archives: April 2011

Did You Realize? by Gary Ellis

Did I realize?  Did I realize what?

Did you realize that jumping to conclusions is most often based on suspicious illusions.

Your reputation is one of the most valuable and precious commodities you carry around with you. It either values you or devalues you.  It’s worth protecting; both in yourself and in others.

My wife, kids, and myself lived in Mexico for four years.  In that country the presumption of guilt over innocence prevails.  It’s in the very “spirit of the air.”  Being presumed guilty until you are proven innocent is a very uncomfortable emotional climate to live in…especially if you grew up in a system of society where you are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

To navigate daily life in that atmosphere was very unnerving for ourselves and our kids.  Not because we were closet crooks.  Not because we had anything to feel guilty about.  But….life happens.  You can be in the wrong place and the wrong time.  From no fault of your own, you can find yourself behind bars.  Guilty until proven innocent.  Case in point.  A pastor we knew had someone sue him.  He was immediately taken to jail and was behind bars for a week until the charge was cleared up and his innocence was proven.

Innocent until proven guilty is a wonderful fruit of freedom for citizens of the United States of America.  However, within our borders, a different law of the flesh often prevails in many of our churches.  People jumping to conclusions.  Brothers and sisters of the faith suspecting each other without proof.  Jumping to rumored suspicions without clear and present evidence.

Someone once said to me, “Well, I’m not going to judge them, but I’m going to keep my eye on them.”  My response would be, “Are you keeping your eye on them with a heart to find them innocent, or to prove your suspicions of guilt?”  If that’s the case, the “watcher” will always find the guilt whether it’s there or not.

I do not believe in the proverbial “sweeping dirt under the carpet.”  I do not feel that we should turn a blind eye to clear provable suspicious behavior.  I don’t cater to “let’s just play nice” knee jerk philosophies.

However, it’s been my own experience (with myself),  and my experience with many others, that the strong tendency – when jumping to conclusions – is based on speculation and flimsy evidence; And, ninety-nine percent of the time it’s a negative suspicion that devalues the person rather than supports their value.  Add to that…

…passing those suspicions on to others (for “concerned prayer,” of course) becomes a kind of slander that God doesn’t wink at.  Besides the fact that I’ve never experienced abiding in the land of peace and joy when my heart is in the field of negative speculation.

I’ve been writing about this kind of topic a lot lately. Not because I know of something very specific that is going on.  But, as my own heart and mind have been pursing the Presence of Jesus, I’ve become a lot more sensitive to “honoring my neighbor.”  You see, I am instructed by God to love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind – and – my neighbor as myself.  It’s not because God is a love and attention hungry egotist.  It’s because loving Him is singling my focus on Him.  And whatever you focus on, you become like.

My experience:  More and more…I love….I mean really love…people.  I want to support them as innocent until they are proven guilty.

Gary



Obama Birth Certificate – A Distraction? by Gary Ellis

<Be advised…this article is not a political statement>

This article points to a prevalent problem among people.  Distraction.  An attempt to mislead from real core issues.

On the political front, a document has just been released by the White House that supposedly sets to rest the question of President Obama’s citizenship.  Many technical and talented experts declare that the provided birth certificate has been altered and doctored in multiple places.

These experts further state that it’s such an obvious forgery that it causes them to wonder what the real agenda might be….since it will so easily seen through by – even non political – analysts.   What some are saying is that it is a distraction to get everyone fighting for the purpose defocusing from the vital and critical issues of the country that need to be addressed.  It seems to me, personally, that they have a good point.

On a spiritual front, distraction is one of the most effective tools in the devil’s arsenal of weaponry.  He raises scandalous topics that fosters speculation and no end of “in fighting.”

It is so important to spiritual life that we keep it simple (not simplistic) and make the one thing the one thing.

Learn Christ.  Nurture one’s heart relationship with Him.  Practice awareness of His Presence.

Just sayin….

Gary


 

Evangelical Conspiracy Theories by Gary Ellis

Evangelical Conspiracy Theories.

I know.  I know.  That’s a rather scandalous sounding charge isn’t it?

All the same…I’m purposely attempting to grab your attention.  I stopped and started and stopped and started the decision to write this brief article.  I believe most of my readers are very sincere about their faith.  But, I also believe the heart of what I am addressing here is very important in walking in the steps of the Master. When I say “faith,” I mean two things:

  1. The Verb.  The active participation in how one actively responds to the teachings of Scripture.
  2. The Noun.  The system and order of doctrinal convictions and preferences.

Every clear thinking person wants to be right on such important issues.  No one wants to be wrong in what they are believing and basing their lives.

To me, the only safe route is not so much to study theology to get the foundations of your faith straight.  The safe route is to study Jesus.  Anybody can do that by reading His stories in a prayerful attitude asking the Holy Spirit to make it real and tangible for them.  Jesus told the Pharisee’s (the Theologians of His day), “You study the scriptures because you think that in them (the scriptures) you have eternal life.  But, I tell you they (the scriptures) are meant to show you Me.” (John 5:39)

On the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) Jesus, Himself (the best teacher there ever would be) taught the two men from Moses and the Prophets the things concerning Him.   But…even – at best – all they got out of it was a “warm positive feeling.”  They didn’t see Him until their eyes were opened.  And that only happened after they had constrained Him to stay with them that night.

The study of the theology or doctrine – even by the world’s most anointed teacher – was not sufficient.

Do I believe it’s important to be serious about the intentions of the whole counsel of God through His Word, The Scriptures?

A resounding, YES. But in so doing, it must be for the purpose of seeing the whole picture…the entire intent.  Too many times, the academic scholar is embroiled in his theological battles…not with ears to listen, but with the next answer to prove the “disagree-er” wrong.

While I’m at it…let me ask you why Jesus was crucified (from the standpoint of the Pharisees)?

Answer:  They were charging Him with blasphemy.  And…from their perspective on the Scriptures they could prove it.   Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God and that He and the Father were One.  The Pharisees whole believe system was established on the fact there there was only ONE true God. They believed this young “upstart” was attempting to lead the people into heresy.  And…from their understanding, Jesus was blaspheming.  Being good “protectors of the faith of their fathers” they were outraged.  Not to mention the fact that this Jesus also broke their understanding of Sabbath laws….and so much more.

Most of them were wrong.  Many of them converted to become Jesus followers.

So my fellow faith travelersstudy Jesus.

And be very, very slow to charge anyone with blasphemy and heresy.  Be very quick to learn Jesus through nurturing your relationship with Him.

<We’ll talk more later…>

Gary

 


 

False Barrier by Gary Ellis

“I don’t feel Him” <<<<That’s a false barrier.

In the pursuit of being awake to the presence of God on a moment by moment basis in our lives, there are a number of false barriers.
In other words, “mental limitations.”

I’d like to address one of the more common “false barriers” today.  The “I don’t feel Him” roadblock.

It is really cool to enjoy experiences with the Lord that touch our emotions.  And…the truth is…I strongly believe that the potential to do so is astronomically higher than may be expected by a lot of Christians.

But, here is a key that I’ve discovered…

It’s very important as we practice His presence to not “look at” how you are feeling at any given moment.  When a person does that, they are actually putting themselves in a position of being their own center of awareness.

How am I feeling?  What am I feeling? Am I sensing His presence? = Self Awareness

Since I’ve been on a more concentrated focus of continually being awake and aware of the Lord’s presence in my life, I’ve often had “flushes” of positive emotion.  The kind that’s deeper than the surface of things.  Those times are very encouraging, enjoyable <even if very brief>, and confidence building.

However, there are also times I “feel” flat, unaware, insensitive to much of anything but other things that might be going on in my body, or thoughts.  It’s at those times I make a choice to be awake and aware based on His reality Vs. what I’m feeling…or not feeling.

On one of those occasions I had purposely focused on “Him Awareness” and didn’t feel at all inspired.  The thought crossed my consciousness…

“…I’m here.  I’m always here. I’m not dependent on how you feel about things.  Even your doubts don’t drive me away.  They only insulate your awareness of me…”

So, in those moments of practicing awareness, I acknowledge I am just as awake to Him in the real me (spirit) as I am when the moments of chosen awakeness feel more radiant.  Shadows in my soul can’t extinguish the glories of His light….always with me.

Keep Practicing…Keep Practicing….Keep Practicing.

Gary



What’s Normal? A Quote By Bill Johnson

“Jesus Is The Most Normal Christian In The Bible” – Bill Johnson

Just roll that thought around in your noggin for awhile.  It’ll challenge you and refresh you.  Just keep remembering (as you practice the purposeful awareness of His Presence),

“The most normal Christian in the bible is one with you, in you, through you, as you.”

That’ll do something for your day.

I double dog dare you to think about that, seriously, several times today.

Gary

Dismay or Display – by Gary Ellis

Dismay or display?  That’s the million dollar question.

“Wha-? Huh? Come again”? 

Okay, let me ‘splain myself, Lucy. (That reference to the vintage “I Love Lucy” TV show dates me, eh?)

Do your thoughts (the one’s that’ve been plodding down the corridors of your mind the last 30 minutes) dismay you, or display the greatness of God and His potential in your life?

I’m not attempting to get all “Zen” in this article.  It’s not about another pop-psych approach to the power of positive thinking.

Facts are facts about the human frame and how it functions.  The thought life is critical to everything.  Dr. Phil, Oprah, or Gandhi didn’t originate that truth.  God did. (All they may have done is repeat the Great Author).

  • Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
  • Romans 12:2, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
  • Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight…”

Dismaying me in all my weakness and ability to solve my current dilemma? -Or-

Displaying the ability of God and His love for me to save me in and from my current dilemma?

This isn’t one of those “wag my finger disapprovingly” and bring further dismay to each of us by focusing on “shouldas and oughtas.”  Instead it’s a positive reality check that we can think right…and in so doing we can win!  We just need to step beyond theory to practice.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable (Hebrew:  “delightful, pleasurable”) in Your sight…”

The easiest way to open the door to the son-light filled corridor is to practice being aware that Jesus (who is one spirit with His Followers) is submerged in you and you in Him…right now, right here as we read from this computer screen or smart phone.  And, the literal Presence of His Person is sufficient to handle anything, and everything, anywhere, and all the time.

The greatest challenge in learning this really easy practice of “awareness of Him” is not in opening the door to being aware of His Presence, but in remembering to open that “thought door.”

The Good News:  You get better at remembering with practice!

I’ll end today’s article with a previous quote, “It’s surprising how many things disappear when you’re staring at Jesus.”  I’ll add to that this reality. “It’s also amazing how many solutions appear when you’re staring at Jesus.”  :)  He has a way of rubbing off on you.

Gary

 

 





A Splendid Journey by Gary Ellis

I’m on a splendid journey. An expedition. An excursion. An adventure.

It’s not that it’s a new thing.  I’ve trundled down this path for some time;  But, I’m being inwardly drawn from an unseen place deep within myself.  It’s like a magnet pulling me forward in a fresh surge of desire.  Perhaps it would be best explained as a refinement on what has already long begun.

What is this developing mystery?

To practice a consistent life lived awareness and consciously aware of His Presence.

Does that sound mad and impractical…if not impossible?  I don’t think so.  Even if it is…even if I falter and fail…even as I miss the mark…I will develop sharper eyes to see, and keener ears to hear the One of Whom is the center of all joy, peace, love, and power.

But…here’s the thing…

I don’t believe this is a potential isolated and only to the experiences of a select few like, Brother Lawerence, J.-P. de Caussade, or the 20th Century contemporary missionary Frank Laubach.

Am I desiring to be more heavenly minded than earthly good?  Not at all!

In fact, if one reads the stories of men and women who’ve made their aim to practice His Presence, you’ll discover they were men and women with roots in the earth that have produced much practical fruit.

Does it make me more “spiritual?”

In the normal definition of that kind of charge, No.  Not at all!  As a matter of fact, it is my considered humble opinion that the more truly spiritual a person is, the more loving, practical, and powerful is he or she in life.  As Jesus put it in John 15:5, “Without me you can do nothing.”  That isn’t merely the description of a person who has the right belief about Him.  It’s a very earthy, organic, reality.

Will I reach my goal?

I’m actually not trying to reach a  final “goal,” as such.  According to the Scriptures, in this age we only see through a glass dimly.  Even in the age to come, I believe our experience will be an eternal opening of new doors into the vast inner chambers of God’s Person.

But, that “inner magnet” tells me that being aware of His “moment-ly” Presence is so much more possible  than we may have imagined.  If I’ve “deluded” myself with a fairy tale hope…then walk softly.  I don’t want to wake up. :)

My face is fixed like a flint for “the more.”  Anyone can join me, if they wish.

Gary




Seeing With Your Ears by Gary Ellis

I recently pulled up to a busy stoplight on Locust Street.  While waiting for the light to give me permission to proceed, I glanced to my left.

I saw a blind man waiting to cross the street…and he did at just the right moment.  Without doing much thinking about it, my inner voice wondered, “How does he do that?”

As I understand it (not being blind, myself) the biggest reason is that the Blind see with their ears.  That would seem obviously true, but the fascinating part for me was that there was a constant stream of cars passing the blind man as he was waiting to continue his journey…and he “made his move” at just the right moment.

Now, the answer is a little deeper than “He hears with his ears.” He has to also know what he’s listening for…in very subtle increments.  In fact, so subtle that the sounds register – with training and practice – in a kind of intuitive way.

This is overly simplistic.  There’s a lot more to the answer on how the Blind navigate themselves. However, in a nutshell, they “order their steps” in a relationship to the world around them that is much different than sighted people.

Shifting gears to make today’s point:

We all might journey with better judgment if we developed the art of “seeing with our ears.”

There is a voice within each of us.  That voice is whispering instructions and encouragement all the time.  It speaks of greater realities…higher truth.  Too often, we see mostly with our outer eyes.  The visually viewed world is our highest reality.  “What you see is what you get” is our mantra of truth.

Some metaphysical disciplines would say that the realities of the physical world are not realities at all, but instead are illusions.  That’s not what I’m getting ready to say.

Things we see with our eyes are actual, real, authentic in their own right.  But, there is a higher reality.  There is a realm that is unseen to the natural eye that is the dominant reality.

You can’t see love.  You can’t see hate.  You can’t see prejudice.  You can’t see ignorance.  And using one of Jesus’ statements to a rich man, “You can’t see the wind…”  However, you can see the affects of these realities.

In the same way, we can’t see the promises of God.  Oh, yes, we can see the words written on pages, plaques, and note cards.  But, are we training ourselves – like the blind man of our illustration – to hear the words on the inside…to register the subtlety of the sounds in our hearts.

Today, you may be facing the reality that you haven’t got enough to “make ends meet.”  That is a visual natural world reality.  But, the Higher Law Guide Book (the Bible) tells a different story.  It instructs us that the Highest Ruler operates with the Highest Rule of all…the Law of Life in Christ Jesus.

Here’s one of those higher realities found in Ephesians 3, “He is able to do exceeding, abundantly, beyond anything you could ask or think according to the power that is at work within you.”

How do we put that into practice?  <practice…not “tried” once or twice>

A significant part of the solution is to discipline ourselves to – as the blind man – “see with our ears.”

Do you have any experiences to share with us?  How has and is that working out for you?

If you find these posts helpful, please subscribe.  IT’S FREE…and free is good :)

Gary




 

If You Could Ask Jesus One Question…by Gary Ellis

People generally scan the titles of blog posts looking for a creative statement that intrigues them with curios interest.  If the tempting words suggest answers for happiness or some such topic…all the better.

I recently posted on my Facebook status, “Answers are highly overrated…”

You see, to me, genuine questions and searching conversations are what leads me on the quest of my daily conversion.

Yes, you read that right…quest of my daily conversion.

On one hand, when I was a wee lad of 5 years old, I stepped onto the “Jesus path” to God.  In a sense that conversion experience was complete in itself…for it’s purpose.

But, on the other hand, it just began a decades long journey (expedition if you would) up hills, over mountain tops, through valleys, by…(you get my drift).  All these unique daily elements and seasons in my life further “converted me” into the Christ Follower I am today…more seasoned, mature, and – I hope – more genuine.

Questions are never to be feared.  People are asking them all the time. Some sincere Christians live in a kind of fear that there are some questions and conversations with God that are unacceptable to Him.

My experience has been that my best times with Him have been when I am standing (metaphorically) the most buck naked before Him in total honesty and candor.

I don’t have all the answers.  I value that beyond measure.  I’m not afraid of that.  I want a God that is bigger than my brain…and yours, too, for that matter. To minimize Him and all things Christian to the mental and academic certainties would be, to me, like living a life of colorless grays.

There are things black and white about God’s ways.  I’m sure of it.  I’m just not sure of what all those things might be.  The one surety to which I have secured my self  is that Jesus is THE connection to God – and the life He always intended for me and my neighbor to live -  in this age and the age to come.  Because I am so sure of that…I feel totally safe in my excursions of a discovery of His life of faith.  I’m equally sure I don’t have to have definitive answers to everything about God and His ways.  (And WOW is that free-ing).

I take the Apostle’s words at face value where he says, “Nothing shall separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus.”  Therefore, why would I fear asking some of my totally absurd questions.   Especially, since I’ve discovered the freedom of bold conversation with God about the issues that confuse and disturb me seems to have always pointed me to the best path of finding a more complete truth.

I would counsel that a person needs to have trusted mentors and fellow travelers to navigate important Kingdom life issues that affect this age and the age to come.  We were meant to function together, not separately.  As proverbs tell us, “Iron sharpens iron.”  But, in these days of “couch potato-ness do my thinking for me” let’s commit to begin walking on roads that have become less traveled and love the Lord our God with all our minds…

So…what one question would you ask of Jesus…especially if you had the confidence that you didn’t have to quickly sidestep to avoid a lightning bolt?

In my humble opinion…one of the greatest weaknesses of too many Christian mindsets is they think they have to have all the answers, and they’re afraid to pose (or even think about) any new questions.  The second weakness (for me) is like the first:  The meticulous ability of  many to completely “miss the point.”

Thougts? Questions?  Comments?

Gary


Who Gets It Right? by Gary Ellis

“…because they desperately wanted to.”

That’s the last part of an illustration of a true experience Paul Tournier witnessed with his own eyes and ears.

Paul Tournier was a Swiss Physician who was also eminent in the field of pastoral counseling.  On a trip to France, Paul’s attention was caught by an Englishman and a Frenchman struggling to communicate with each other.  And yet…even though neither spoke the other’s language…the Englisman and the Frenchman were connecting with each other.  There was an understanding taking place without the advantage of common languages.  How?

Now, we push the rewind button to the top of our story:

Because, says Tournier, “It was clear that they desperately wanted to.”

How rare a commodity of character these two men exhibited. What a profound lesson in how to walk the pathway of understanding and peace.

What’s more typical is people not really listening to each other…not trying to hear the heart of the other person.  Most listening is done with a prejudice of proving one’s point.  Instead of hearing what the other person is trying to articulate from their heart, our “faux listening” really amounts to us thinking silently about our next comeback in the battle of words.

How much do we care about what the other person is thinking and why they came to that conclusion?  Or, instead, how much are we continuing to frame our words as arrows to penetrate and drive our point home….because….after all…”they need to know I’m right.”

“Cuz, if they have half a brain they will realize I’m right…if they will just listen to what I am saying!

My cry is, “Will you please shut up for just one minute and listen with the ears of your heart to what he or she is really trying to say to you!”  Then perhaps “they” will hear you.

Who gets it right?  The one who intently desires to understand and listens to what the other person is saying.  Not the one with the preconceived notion that they are always right.  You may be right (factually) but wrong in (actually…in attitude).

Gary