Keeping Your Priorities Straight While Changing the World – The Fourth Priority- Leave Each Place Better Than You Found It

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“And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.”

Mark‬ ‭1:29-45‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There was a lot that Jesus did during the course of His ministry that may not have fit right into His mission of delivering us from the spiritual bondage we were held under. For example, Mark tells us that the second challenge He faced in His ministry, after facing down the evil spirits that approached Him, was helping relieve the physical sickness and injury that the people faced.

Physical brokenness often seemed to go hand in hand with spiritual brokenness, and many people believed that they were intrinsically linked. If you were sick, it was because you were a sinner. If you got hurt, it was because you were not good enough for the blessing of God. This has been a perennial belief that keeps coming back like a bad patch of weeds. Jesus had healing for the asking and He rarely gave any behavioral stipulations to those He healed. On and individualistic level, it may seem perplexing and contradictory to say that spiritual problems and physical problems are closely related, but one does not necessarily cause the other. If they do not share a causal relationship, how are they related?

The truth is, they do share a causal relationship, but not on and individualistic level. We live in a world full of billions of other people and their spiritual problems reach out and touch us causing us problems as well, both spiritual and physical. Likewise, our own sins have consequences for more than just us. They touch everyone. We all live in the same mess, no matter who or where we are in this world. So, when you look at the big picture, across the entire world, and across all of time, then yes, there is a causal relationship between sin and physical brokenness – but it’s all wound up like a wad of string the size of our world that we will never be able to fully unravel.

Jesus didn’t try to unravel it all. He started at the heart of that mess, dealing with the spiritual malady we all are affected by, and then He began to untangle one small piece at a time. Jesus did not finish the job, nor did He intend to. Instead, He showed us how we too, once we find the origin of our own sin problem, can begin unraveling the consequences around us, in the lives of those whose own lives connect with ours. Like the old Boy Scout motto, Jesus taught us to leave each place a little better than we found it.

We rarely can find the root sin cause of suffering in the lives of those around us, but we can be a witness to our own, when we find those links… But even then, our own sin is the the root cause of our suffering. The root cause originated in the Garden of Eden and had multiplied and compounded over time, long before it ever reached us. Again, it is not our job to unravel the whole thing. Jesus has dealt with the root cause and as we receive healing in our lives from the consequences of sin (whether or not that sin was of our own doing or not) we can pass that healing along to those around us. Jesus didn’t heal everyone and neither does He expect us to, but I think He will hold us responsible for those He brings into our lives. Our fourth priority is to work to clean up this collateral damage that sin has caused in our world, wherever we find it, and leave this world better than we found it.

An Acrostic on Two Roads –

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(The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost)

 

This world opens

roads of all diverse sincerities

dubious insights vying, each road granting entry differently,

inspired not

altogether,

yet each letting loose over wild

whimsies of opened dreams.

 

All new dreams

seep over rustic rushes, yielding

into

clammy, orphaned, understated life, despairing

nothing other than

tents removed and vaulted, each leaving

brothers of the heart.

 

Another never discovered

better ether

or never explored

the rest and vexing, entered long enchanting rivets

left over night grown

in

saline tongues of old dishes.

 

Anytime night dries

lying open, out knocking

differences over wishes now,

owning no expense

and setting

faces as rigid

as stone

in

cold ordered undercurrents left dissident.

 

The other,

winding, here ending riches, ended

in taste

before each necessary trio

in nonconforming

tangles, heaping eagerly

up near dear eternity rests, glowing round with tempered heats.

 

Then having each new

trade of open kindness,

this here establishes

our true humors, entered restlessly,

and singing

jollies uncertain – still this

aching sore

finds an inner repose.

 

As never dreamt,

here a value is newly given,

paid enough respect, having a penchant surreal,

to have elated

bright, eagerly tried, tear-eaten ruts

cut long across inner masks.

 

But enough cause and use seems evaded

in tow

with a song

guiding rains and singing salted yeast,

(a northern delicacy)

whipped and nostril-tied, each dear

weapon edged and ready.

 

This has our undercurrent going heavy

and silent,

fanning out radials

that have a track

that heavens escape,

preoccupied and sent sailing in newer grasses

to hail each reticent end.

 

However, a doe

wears out relatively new

trails here, entering mildly,

rueful ever about latent lions yelling

and boring on under the

tempered haven encamped

silently amidst mowed entrenchments.

 

A nibbled dent

between our touching hands

that hold a treat

meant only, reflecting not, in nails gained,

escorted quite unevenly and left laying yonder

looking at you.

 

I note:

love ever after vows each step

not only

secretly – there each promise

has a destiny

that reaches our delayed death, ending naively

before love actually comes knightly.

 

One hope

I

know either providence trusts,

though half-edged

forward, I rest securely tonight,

fearless, or retiring

and never opening this heart enjoined repose

deep and yearning.

 

Yearning effectually, this

keeling nonsense of ways ingrain new guesses

having out with

ways after your

lessoning erupts and deals softly

on negligent

trails of

wakening and yielding.

 

Instead

deafly ordered underlings buy tents enfleshed, dispirited

into flames

ired

sickly heavy or unconsciously laid down

ever vied, ever ready,

calling out mistaken encouragement

before a child kneeling.

 

I

surrender here a lowing lull

by entering

this election, logic left in neutral guess

to his unswerving season,

while I take hold,

again

stayed in great hesitation.

 

Symbols of my eternity were heard ‘ere rising, enthroned

against grace’s eager succor

and new deliveries

although glaring ensigns still

herald each new choice encountered.

 

They will observe

rich offerings ahead, down steady,

draped in veracity entered red, growing each day

in nobility,

and

wearing out ourselves deploring

all naive doubts

interrupting.

 

I

traded out our knife,

the hard escape

of no earnest

left ended, set sadly,

tolled ribs and veiled eyes lying eastward, dimly

breaking yesterday.

 

A new direction,

taking hand and toe,

has already set

my attitude: desperately encouraged,

and living love

through holy enchantment –

dearly, I found friendship eternal reaching each new chosen engagement.

 

 

The Mason

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The morning mist rose up and over

from the banks of the yellow river,

and He who was a Mason,

brother to the Carpenter

moved under the low branch

to the Wall.

He knew not

what manner of stories

were uttered one time inside

what questions echoed; withdrew

on the other side of the wall.

The crack – traced in stone by some great hand;

spoke only a single word: ‘Eden’.

Your Godless Utopia

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What is a god?

Bright-eyed sprouts,

their clumsy dissertations

in primitive dialects

striking profoundly;

Tell’s arrows

plunged deep into

the heart not there

moments before.

Such fragile fingers

whose snowflake touch

emasculates all darkness

fear and loneliness –

Who can stand against

their innocence?

 

Only the dead

remain unscathed;

untouched.

No light to burst

a dry husk;

unbreathing,

ghastly grips

and warm steel

still smash sprouts –

But…

 

Sprouts will see

roots will grow

blooming fire

sharp hard hate

traded innocence

for killing cold

to see you burn.

 

This is your Godless Utopia