Thursday, October 15, 2009

Your attitude is showing

Offence! How easy it is to be offended. Real or imagined we see the splinter in our sister/brother’s eye and want to ‘help’ by pointing it out and in that way remove it but Jesus says in Luke 6:37-45, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Judging another requires pointing out his/her faults – ‘you’ve got something in your eye, here let me get it out for you.’ How can you help when you can’t see yourself. I am a nurse and I know how hard it can be to get a little speck out of someone’s eye. Even more so now that my eyes are changing. I wear glasses because I have been nearsighted since I was a child. But for years I have worn contacts for that and for the last year I have been using reading glasses. If I don’t have my contacts in I have to take my regular glasses off and hold the page close to read and if I am wearing my contacts I need my reading glasses to see detail or I have to stretch my arms out as far as they will go. SO come over here and let me take that little speck out of your eye for you. That is what it is talking about. Don’t judge (pronounce judgment on) and don’t condemn (pronounce guilt/judgment on.) We are too blind to our own faults to see that we are just as guilty. We are just as condemned. Look at the next verse, you can use my glasses if you want.

Read on from verse 39. He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? (skip verse 40 for now) 41 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
43 "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

The fruit does not fall far from the tree. The apple tree is full of apples. The mango tree is full of mangoes and the tree that drops judgment on the person sitting under it must be full of judgment. Now let’s look back at verse 40, “The student is just like his teacher.” The student is a product of the teacher just like the fruit is a product of the tree. So what does your fruit look like? What product falls from your lips? Out of the fountain of thoughts and feelings your words spill out. So what kind of words are they? They reveal your teacher. We say we are children of God and Christ followers, then our words should reveal that our hearts are like His, not judging, not condemning, but forgiving and full of love. The tree of forgiveness produces the fruit of forgiveness.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lovin’ action

She was supposed to be a friend, a ‘joint heir’ with me in the salvation of Jesus Christ. We worshiped at the same church. How could we have gone from sharing difficult life experiences with each other to her hanging up the phone in my ear? I knew my position at work made me her supervisor but she seemed fine with it as we exchanged pleasantries. Later, when I informed her that I would need her help in another department for a short while she still seemed fine but when the time came for her to go she became angry on the phone. I tried to explain my reasoning to her but she had already made up her mind that she didn’t like this and it was my fault. She hung up the phone in my ear and with that I went from Christian to cross in 1.2 seconds.

My heart raced and my neck flushed as I marched in her direction. Half way there I thought to myself, ‘let me take a few deep breaths and calm down.’ I ducked into a side room and said a prayer, ignoring the words I could hear coming down the hall as she told coworkers how unfair I was. Inside I just wanted to go the other direction but I knew that in order to do my job I had to speak to her. I took another deep breath and walked down the hall towards her station. I stated my case calmly knowing my decision was right, I was just doing my job. I turned and walked away knowing that the words we had exchanged would forever change our relationship.

I was still thinking about that later when I opened my Bible.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 3:7-11) Oh Lord what are you telling me now? Am I suppose to reach out to her even though I was right? I don’t like this, let me look somewhere else. So I turned the page.
“Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (Oh God, you are not easy.) Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (Actions? You want me to reach out to her even though she treated me like that?) "This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us." (OK Lord, set my heart at rest.) "For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him." (Obey, mmm, so I can’t just forgive her in my heart and let it go? I actually have to obey that action command?) "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them." (1 John 3:13-24)
So this is what separates the men from the boys, love in action.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The beauty of a lie

The beauty of a lie is that once you believe it the work is done. You will think and act like it is true from then on. Have you ever tried to change a habit, thought pattern or the way you feel about someone and been totally frustrated by your inertia? Resistance to change is not just because we don’t like change. We don’t change because we don’t truly believe it is true.

A Christian believer (really a redundant term) will recognize many lies in this video, some blatant and some more subtle. I will only address one of those lies. Click on the link or copy and paste it into your web browser to watch the short video

Oprah grew up hearing and knowing truth. She describes experiencing the worship of God in all His greatness, His power, His presence and she agreed with what she heard until God was described as a jealous God. Believing jealousy to be a bad thing and unable to reconcile that with her belief that God is love, she searched for and embraced another God that was who she wanted him to be. She “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (Rom 1:25), when she believed the lie that her god could not be a jealous God. Some relationship in her life defined jealously as evil, perhaps controlling and manipulative. Once she believed that lie, all the evil one had to do was reproduce that lie in her future experiences. “When he (the evil one) lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies…there is no truth in him” John 8:44-47.

So believe with me for a moment in good jealousy. What does godly jealousy look like? Imagine a father refusing to share his children with the drug addict on the corner and jealously protecting them. Imagine the sister who stands up for you in your absence, defending your name and reputation because she is jealous for your good name. Imagine the husband refusing to share his wife with other men. She is his and he loves her and he will fight for her and will protect and love her, He is jealous for her. Even better, God is jealous for you. He knows that you will be safest, blessed, your joy will be full, when you worship Him and Him alone. “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” Ex 34:14. “For the LORD your God…is a jealous God…Do not test the LORD your God…Be sure to keep the commands of the LORD your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. Do what is right and good in the LORD's sight, so that it may go well with you…” Deut 6:15-18.

God knows that life will be best for you when you believe the truth and walk in the truth. Believing the lie that jealousy is ungodly will keep you from experiencing His all encompassing love as well. Until the lie is recognized and confronted it will rule your actions. Coming out of agreement with that lie breaks its hold. Imagine the freedom that comes when Truth shows up and says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” Jer 31:3. The Truth is the only one who can set us free. Here are some facts about Truth.

First of all, Truth is a person, not an idea or a concept. In John 14:6 Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life.” Not, I’ll show you the truth or reveal the truth, but I am the Truth.
John 1:17 - Truth came through Jesus Christ.
Ps 40:11 – His truth protects.
John 8:31-32 - Truth sets us free.
Ps 119:30 – Truth is chosen.
John 3:21 - Whoever lives by the truth lives in light.
Ps 86:11 – He teaches truth and how to walk in His truth.
John 4:23-24 – True worshipers worship Him in spirit and in truth.
John 16:13 – The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, will guide you into all truth.

The trickster is good at sugar-coating lies so ask the Spirit of truth to reveal to you any lies you may have believed about God, about yourself, or about others. When He reveals a lie, ask His forgiveness for believing the lie, come out of agreement with the lie by saying “I no longer agree with this lie,” and ask Jesus, the Truth, to replace the lie with His truth.

This song and is a great example of replacing a lie with the truth about a jealous God. Hear the truth of how God is jealous for you, He loves you, He wants you, all of you, He will not share you with anyone or anything. Let the truth sink from your head into your heart as you listen.