Blind Bartimaeus

Friday, August 23, 2013

How strong is your desire to draw closer to Christ? Are you willing to break through barriers to be close to him? How strong is your faith when barriers are between you and Jesus?
The story of Blind Bartimaeus is one of the greatest lessons on faith in all Scripture. This story of Jesus healing a blind man takes place on the outskirts of Jericho as Jesus was passing through on His way to Jerusalem. His thoughts were set on the city where He knew He would be arrested and crucified in a few days. He must not have noticed the man sitting on the side of the road as He passed through Jericho one final time. But something got his attention and he stopped. Bartimaeus, the blind beggar sitting in the dirt at the rear of the large crowd, began to cry out with a loud voice.

“And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”  (Mark 10:47)

Bartimaeus had certainly heard the stories of Jesus healing other blind men and how He had caused the lame to walk and the deaf to hear. I imagine that he desired the same type of miracle to be performed on him. So, when he realized that it was Jesus who was passing by that day, he cried out with all his might, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. Now!” But the crowd of onlookers became angry at his cries for help and tried to silence him. 

 “...many rebuked him...” (ASV)
“And many severely censured and reproved him, telling him to keep still...” (Amplified)
 “...many were sternly telling him to be quiet.” (NASB)

The onlookers became the barrier between Bartimaeus and Jesus. The fact that the blind man called Jesus by the title Son of David shows that he recognized Jesus as the Messiah so perhaps the crowd feared he was a rabble rouser. Maybe they thought he would create too much of a commotion.  Maybe the cries of the blind beggar made them uncomfortable.  Maybe they wanted Jesus’ attention all for themselves.
The longer the protests, the louder Bartimaeus cried out, “Have mercy on me! Now!”

Bartemaaues was trying to silence the objectors.
His desire was greater than the objections.
His desire was greater than the barriers.

Is your desire affected by your barriers? Do barriers get in the way of your desire? Do you have people barriers?
Do people try to prevent you from growing in your faith? Do people want to keep you the same? Are they afraid that if you draw closer to Christ, you’ll grow further away from them? Are there people who want to keep you defeated? Do people want to keep you comfortable and living in your status quo? Are there people who want to keep you blind?
Do people label you, put you in a category and not want you to change? Do others get upset if you want to move forward and make changes when they want you to stay the same?

What are other kinds of barriers are between you and Jesus? Are distractions keeping you from a full relationship with Christ? Time? Lack of desire? Overload?

Jesus stopped, responded to the man’s cry for help, and called Bartimaeus to come to him. Jesus made a way for the man to break through the barriers. Would Bartimaeus have the faith to respond? Could he cross the barriers of negativity to get to Jesus? Would his desire overcome the barriers?

Mark 10:50 says, “And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.”

The cloak was used for many purposes: a blanket for sleeping, a covering against the sun and weather, and a blanket to sit on. The cloak was Bartimaeus’ only protection and only possession. In a sign of faith, he was able to cast aside his security and moved through the barriers. Bartimaeus left his past behind.
Then Jesus asked Bartimaeus, “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” (Mark 10:51 KJV).
Why would Jesus ask a question with such an obvious answer? Everyone could clearly see that the man was blind and that he would want to see. The word “wilt” is the Greek verb “etheleo” and literally means desire  or purpose. Jesus was asking, “What do you desire? What is your purpose here?” Jesus wanted the man to claim out loud what he desired on that very day. Jesus wanted to hear Bartimaeus express his faith, his desire.
The blind man said unto him, “Lord, let me receive my sight.

Have you ever been so desirous of something that you could taste it? You could feel it? You wanted it so badly that you were willing to do anything to get it? Can you imagine Batimaeus sitting on the side of the road day after day hearing passersby talk about Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of David? He must have pondered the possibility that Jesus could wander by him. He must have imagined himself approaching Jesus and sharing his desire to be made whole. Maybe this thought gave him his passion, his purpose for living. So when Jesus arrived, Bartimaeus was ready. He leapt at the chance to talk with Jesus.

2013 PGA Champion Jason Dufner was asked what his thoughts were he faced his final hole. He said he practiced shots like that one over and over. He said he practiced so that when the time came to hit the shots, he was reacting with experience. He could focus on the shot because that’s what he had prepared to do.
Bartimeaus must have practiced his scenario with Jesus because when the time came, he was ready to make “the ask.”

Mark 10:52 says, “And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”

Jesus told Bartimaeus that he had enough faith to transform his life. Bartimaeus had the desire, the passion, the guts to change his life. In doing so, he received sight and then followed Jesus.

Do you see the Spiritual path that Bartimaeus was on is the same one we travel? The Holy Spirit drew the blind beggar to Him as he heard the stories of Jesus. The Spirit did a work in him. Bartimaeus acknolwedged Jesus as Son of David and gave a public expression of his faith to Jesus and to all the onlookers. And then in his next step, he entered the Highway of Holiness, the Way. He followed Jesus. When Bartimaeus’ thoughts, emotions, heart, and desires were focused on the WAY, he began a life of transformation.

When our thoughts, our emotions, our hearts, and our desires are focused on THE WAY, spiritual transformation occurs.

What are the barriers between you and Jesus? Is your desire and faith strong enough to break through them? Jesus is waiting on the other side and he wants to transform your life and set you on The Way!

Green Eyed Monster of Jealousy

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

“Desiderata” was a poem written in the 1920s by Max Ehrmann and then later set to music. It was the theme song for my high school graduation, and I recall the lyrics address what happens when we compare ourselves to others.

“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

Helen Keller said, “Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.”

If you’ve been bitten by the “Green-Eyed Monster” of envy, try using some of these strategies.

Dealing with Envy

 1. Get the full picture. Learn more.
It’s likely that all is not as it seems! Most of the time we envy one quality about a person, and we presume the rest of her qualities are as perfect as the one we want. We don’t always have the full picture.

2. Praise her.
This may seem counterintuitive to praise someone who makes you feel inferior, but there is value in praising someone who is serving as a role model, someone who sets a good standard for you and others to follow. Research shows that when we hear something we like, a burst of dopamine is released in our brains. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, and it's associated with feelings of joy, pride, satisfaction, and well-being. Genuine praise is sincere and doesn’t put yourself down. (I could never cook as well as you!) Keep the praise focused on the recipient.

“Praisers” - 
  • are generally considered as positive people.
  • are less likely to be complainers.
  • are likely to receive praise more often than complainers.
  • “make the day” of the recipient.
  • boost the dopamine level (feel-good level) in others.
  • boost their own feel-good levels.

Giving praise is a good emotional, intellectual, and spiritual habit.

Praise Template
  1. 1.   Refer to the task, quality, or act.
  2. 2.   Mention the qualities that are evidenced.
  3. 3.   Refer to the results, benefits, or effect on others.

Example:  Jennifer, I love the way you apply your makeup. You have an artist’s touch with a make-up brush! The effect is so lovely.
Example: Jeannette, I am so impressed by your passion for canning and freezing. It takes days of dedication and a lot of stamina. Your pantry looks amazing filled with all those beautiful vegetables. You’re an inspiration!

3. Focus on YOUR strengths.
Sometimes we focus on the thing we don’t do well – what’s missing instead of what’s present. Gratitude is focusing on what we have not what we don’t have. Discover what you do better than others. We all have different gifts, talents, and skills. We’re all a little better at some things than others.

4. Learn from her.
Your friend is doing something right if she has your attention. There is a difference in using someone for a role model and feeling envious. If you envy someone’s ability to manage her home, find out her success. What are her strategies? If you envy someone’s weight management, find out what she does.

5. Do your best.
If we focus on doing our best at whatever task is at hand, then how can we complain. I know, some of you say, “My best isn’t good enough.”  It’s also important to know when good enough is good enough.

 6.  Visualize your best self.
Create and stamp for good on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Never let it fade. Never see yourself as failing. Never doubt the reality of it. The mind always tries to complete what it pictures. Always picture “success.”

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:16

Negative Chatter

Friday, August 9, 2013

Our inner chatter is much like tabloid articles.  The feature stories have little resemblance to truth. They are biased, exaggerated, and taken out of context. They’re based on half-truths, hearsay, assumptions, and false thinking. Our negative thoughts are usually not based in truth either. Since our thoughts end up as words and actions, it's important to get them under control.

Consider these fun strategies to get rid of negative inner chatter.

Label your thoughts instead of yourself.  Instead of saying “I'm a loser,” say, “I'm having the thought that I'm a loser.” Instead of saying, “I'm going to blow this test,” say “I'm having the thought that I'm going to blow this test.” The difference may seem subtle, but it can help you gain the perspective that you are not your thoughts.
Sing your thoughts – Using the melody “Happy Birthday to You,” you might change the words to “I’m going to explode, I’m going to explode, I’m going to explode, if I don’t lighten up.”
Say your chatter in a funny voice. Use your best Bugs Bunny voice to say, “What’s up, Cathy. Get a grip!” 
 Give your chatter a name. We often repeat the same chatter so frequently that it has a storyline. Your story might be called, “The I’ve Messed Up Again Drama” or “The I Never Get Things Right Story.” Learn to recognize when the story is about to play out and stop it before the drama starts.
 Create a Mental Image
1.   Create a mental picture of your inner chatter.
For example, if you tell yourself you are “dumb,” create a picture of a dumbbell.  Picture yourself with dumbbells doing some silly. Make the dumbbells oversized and made of plastic. Imagine they are on your shoulder weighing you down so that you must shuffle along.
2.  Create a replacement thought and turn it into a mental picture.
For example, instead of thinking, “I’m dumb,” think “I’m bright.” Now attach a picture of something bright, like the sun.  Imagine the sun shining down on you creating a beautiful halo around your head. Everywhere you move the halo follows you.
3.   Mentally chain the two images together.
Now take the images in Step 1 and Step 3, and mentally glue them together.  This strategy is used in a memory technique called chaining. Imagine the sun beaming down on you and melting the plastic dumbbells that weigh you down. Every time your “dumb” thought enters your head, play your “chained” video in your mind. Continue to allow the sun to “overshadow” the dumbbells.

Finally, let’s remember that the more emphasis we put on our strengths and the more love and joy we pour into others, the more love and joy we will experience.

Psalm 126: 2-3 reminds us to pour love and joy into others. When we do, we experience more love and joy ourselves.

How we laughed, how we sang for joy!
    Then the other nations said about us,
    “The Lord did great things for them.”
Indeed he did great things for us;
    how happy we were!
Psalm 126: 2-3


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Have you ever ended a conversation feeling confused and resentful? Or wishing you had spoken up or expressed yourself better. Maybe you unloaded on someone else and have regrets about that. Maybe someone embarrassed you or said hurtful things to you. Often after uncomfortable encounters our thoughts try to get the best of us. We begin to make assumptions, re-live the conversation, and dwell on the unpleasantness of the whole situation. Our follow-up runaway thoughts can have a strong hold on us. We then plot about how to handle the next encounter with the other person and all the loaded words we will use. Instead of ruminating, making false assumptions, and experiencing runaway thoughts, we should use logic and seek God’s direction. 

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. Haggai 1:7

Logizomai is a Greek verb that means to “think about.” It means to count, compute, think deliberately, draw a logical conclusion, and then make a decision. This kind of thinking removes emotion from the process and focuses on facts – truth. The word I kept coming across in definitions of logizomai was “reckon.” Now we all know that “reckon” is a Southern slang word. “I reckon it’s time to go to the weddin’.” What we really mean is, “Based on my logical understanding, it’s time to go to the wedding.” 

The Apostle Paul used logic in defending the Gospel. Out of 49 times the word logizomai was used in the New Testament, Paul used it 42 times. He respected logical thought and encourages us to weigh our decisions with fact and logic and to seek our wisdom from God. How can we use logic to hold our runaway thoughts, assumptions, and misperceptions in check? One way is to focus on the facts of the conversation. What comments were made on fact and what were made on opinion? 

My son recently purchased a house. He used a very thorough process to have the house inspected and all issues the inspector found were corrected by the seller. Based on the professional expertise of the inspector as well as the input from numerous other friends experienced in construction, he was confident that he was getting a good quality home. Shortly before he closed the deal, a “well-meaning” friend urged my son to abandon the deal because he thought the roof was in terrible shape and would soon cost him thousands of dollars to replace. This person’s sense of urgency and persuasion caused my son to begin to doubt his decision. My son began to “waffle,” started asking others for opinions, and began to second guess his choice of homes. He agonized over his decision and asked me for help sorting through the dilemma. I encouraged him to “reckon.” We evaluated the expertise, experience, and professionalism of the inspector. We weighed that against the motives, experience, and opinion of the well-meaning friend. We prayed for God’s guidance and discernment. He came to the conclusion that fact outweighed opinion and that God had given him peace. He continued with the contract confident in his decision. 

Sometimes others mess with our minds because they sound convincing. They attempt to make us doubt ourselves and our abilities to use logic, reason, and God’s direction. It’s a good idea to reckon our decisions and seek God’s wisdom.

Sandwich Technique

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Some of life biggest challenges come from conflicts that develop between friends, acquaintances, family, and colleagues. Ephesians 6:19 reminds us how to use our mouths in such situations.

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…Ephesians 6:19

 Healthy conflict resolution requires that we as Christ followers respond as Christ would have us to. Often we respond to others with a reaction instead of a reply. We snap off a negative response instead of a thoughtful reply.

Gentle replies don’t indicate a weakness; they indicate a godly strength.I use format called the Sandwich Technique as visual example in addressing a conflict.

The Sandwich Technique can be used when you need to address a conflict, deliver unpleasant news, resolve a conflict or make a constructive criticism. Compliments and positive statements “sandwich” each side of the unpleasant issue making it easier to digest.


  • Begin the conversation with a genuine compliment and positive statement about the person in a non-judgmental, calm, and congenial tone of voice.

  • When moving into the “meat” of the matter, use transition words such as regrettably, unfortunately, or however. Be specific. It’s best to state no more than two items to improve. This is not the time to air your laundry list of gripes.
  • Remain calm throughout and speak in a low and even tone of voice. State the facts and don’t get emotional.
  • Maintain an open and inviting body language. You don’t want to appear closed off, with your arms or hands folded.
  • When an apology is warranted, don’t avoid it. Say “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” and show sincere regret.
  • Suggest specific ways to resolve the matter so the two of you can move forward.


  • End with positive and encouraging statements that will help renew the relationship and allow everyone involved to feel good about the conversation that just took place.

Use a positive proactive response instead of a negative reactionary response.

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