What about Judging?

One of my favorite passages contains one of the most misunderstood and misused verses in the whole Bible, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”  This passage from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7 has been used by some to say that no one ever has the right to speak truth, care or concern into another’s life.  But is Jesus saying that?  Is He saying that we should never share honest cares and concerns with others about their actions and behaviors?  I don’t believe that is the case at all.  In this verse and the passage that follows, Christ is instructing His followers about the way we are to think about, interact with and treat others.

A full reading of the passage reveals that Christ was addressing a self-righteousness and holier than thou type of attitude prevalent among the religious leaders of that day.  Sadly, it is a type of attitude that has been prevalent in many days, including ours.  Such an attitude leads to mocking and putting others down rather than ministering to them and picking them up.  And ministering to others and picking them up in a spirit of love and truth is what the Lord would have His followers to do.  This requires discernment and the sharing of honest, valid cares and concerns.   This requires making distinctions between that which is healthy and that which is unhealthy, between that which is helpful and that which is not helpful.  With that in mind, Christ tells His followers that we are to be humble and examine our own lives first.  We are to remove the logs from our own eyes so that we can see clearly to help our brother with the speck which may be in his.  When we judge, we are to judge rightly.  That includes the right time, the right place, the right motivation and the right spirit.  To “judge” in any other manner makes one a hypocrite.

Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

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Posted in Christianity, Church, doing the right thing, Judge Not, Judge rightly, Matthew 7:1, Minding your own business, Trust in God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This is a Good Day

I hope that you had a great weekend and I hope that tomorrow when you wake up you are able to say, “This is a good day.”  I have found that some days those words roll easily off of the tongue and yet other days, those words can be difficult to imagine much less say.  On such days, I am reminded of what Paul said in Philippians 4:12 – 13.

Philippians 4:12  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Paul acknowledged that not every day and every season of our lives are easy.  Yet, even in the midst of difficult days, tough times and seasons of sorrow, we can still make it through.  We can make it through because Christ, our Savior will strengthen us.  He who promised to “never leave us nor forsake us” will be with us in the good times and the bad.  He truly is an “ever present help in the times of trouble.”  Christ is ready to strengthen us, comfort us, provide for us and help us to say, “This is a good day.”

Posted in can't go on, Christianity, Church, Draw close to God, God's Strength, Philippians 4:12, Philippians 4:13 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Count Your Blessings

This past week I had a conversation with some kids and we got to talking about prayer.  One of them who is about 11 years old shared with me that he likes to count his blessings when he prays.  He shared with the group some of the blessings he gives thanks for.  It was a beautiful moment.  This moment of praise and testimony reminded me of Psalm 105:1 – 2.

Psalm 105:1  Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. 2 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders.

It is good for us to count our blessings and to thank God for the things He has provided for us and for the people He has placed in our lives.  It is good for us to remember that just as He has provided for us and blessed us in the past, we can expect Him to provide for us and bless us now and in the future.  Giving thanks not only strengthens our faith but it also sows seeds of faith in others as they hear us tell of the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Posted in Being Blessed, Christianity, Church, Count Your Blessings, Draw close to God, God Loves Me, Psalm 105:1 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Need to Practice

I have been practicing finger picking on the acoustic guitar for the last several months and I have really enjoyed it.  I grabbed a pick the other day to play a couple of songs and I could tell it has been a while since I used a pick.  It took me a while to get the feel for it again and to be able to pluck only the strings I meant to.  The situation served to remind me of the need for me to practice these things that don’t come so naturally to me.  It’s true, I am not a natural when it comes to music or playing the guitar.  I find that if I don’t practice consistently, I quickly lose the muscle memory and it takes me a while to knock the rust off and do the things I want to do.  Practice is important.

In Philippians 4:9, Paul speaks of the need to practice the spiritual things of God that he taught the Philippians.  He says that practicing these things will bring us closer to the God of peace.  Prior to that verse, Paul has shared with the Philippians the things they ought to practice: rejoicing in the Lord, demonstrating a gentle spirit, praying regularly, and focusing on things that are true, honorable, lovely,  right, pure, excellent and praise worthy, things of a good reputation.  That’s a pretty long play list.  And I don’t know about you, but for most of us, some of those things don’t come naturally.  And for me, that is a good reason to practice.

Posted in Christianity, Church, doing the right thing, Don't give up, Draw close to God, faith, God will help you, Philippians 4:9 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Need Directions!

I have been doing some chaplaincy work at a local medical facility that has a large campus with several buildings. During my first couple of weeks I got lost on more than one occasion. Luckily an understanding staff member provided me with a map of the campus. That has helped immensely! Last week as I was walking across the campus a visitor stopped me and asked where the auditorium was located. I didn’t even know we had an auditorium! I remembered my map and took it out of my billfold. After some study and a little head scratching I was able to answer their question. I was so glad I had been given my map! And I was so glad I had it with me.

The situation served to remind me of the directions and instruction available to us in God’s word. I like how David describes the scriptures in Psalm 119 as “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” God has given us His word so that He can provide us direction in all situations. I pray that in 2019 we will always keep His word with us and turn to it regularly so that the Lord can lead us and guide us.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Draw close to God, following Christ, God will lead you | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All the Right Moves

We went to see the granddaughter’s Christmas dance recital last week and it was a lot of fun.  The girls looked beautiful and did a great job.  We are so proud of them!  I just wish my pictures would have turned out a little clearer.  The recital included a lot of performances by kids of various ages, from preschool all the way up to high school.  The little ones were especially fun to watch.  They are so cute!  I love how some of them wave at the crowd during the midst of their performance and even give a shout out to Mom or Nana during the song.  One thing that was also consistent with the little ones was the way they kept looking to the side of the stage so they could watch their teacher.  By keeping their eyes on their teacher they were better able to remember the next moves and the steps they were to take during the song.  The older kids didn’t really have to look to the side of the stage as much.  They were more experienced and had already spent enough time with the teacher, practicing the right steps and learning the right moves so that it came pretty naturally during the song.

As I reflect on these things, I see a good correlation to our spiritual lives.  All of us get lost in the music sometimes and aren’t sure what steps should come next.  We can easily find ourselves making the wrong moves or not being where we need to be.  Those are great times for us to remember to look to the Lord for guidance.  We are told in Hebrews 12:1 – 2, “…Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”  Our Lord knows the steps we should take and the moves we should make during each and every song.  He is the author and composer of all things.  He will teach us and He will guide us if we look to Him.  May we always look to Him.  And may we spend enough time in His presence so that the right moves and the right steps will come more naturally to us.

Posted in All the right moves, Christianity, Church, following Christ, grandchildren, Hebrews 12:1, Hebrews 12:2, ministry work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Preparing for the Day

We have had some cold weather the last couple of weeks and I really don’t care for it.  I am ready for the weather to change.  I was totally caught by surprise the other day and left for the office in just a shirt and a pair of slacks.  The wind started whipping around a couple of hours later, the air was cold and damp and I felt like I was freezing!  Generally, when it’s cold I like to put on a coat and a hat and maybe even one of my “Mr. Rogers’ sweaters” before I head out the door.

As I was shivering on the way to my car after work, I was reminded by the temperature that I need to be better prepared and put on the right things when I head out in the morning to face the world.  Otherwise, it will be a long day.  God’s word reminds us that we should also prepare ourselves spiritually every day to face the world.  Paul tells Christians in Colossians 3:12

Col 3:12  “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”

I love Paul’s reminder to the Church.  We should never leave our house without a heart of compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience.  We are to head out the door prepared to help one another, love one another, and forgive one another just as Christ has done for us.  Every morning we should make sure we are appropriately dressed.  It makes for a better day.

Posted in Be Prepared, Best Dressed, Christianity, Colossians 3:12 - 14, God's Love, good advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment