Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Judge... NOT!

"Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.  For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get."
(Matthew 7:1-2)

We all do it.  We may not admit it openly to others.  But we do it nonetheless.  We pass judgment on people.  We do!  Sometimes we do it at first glance - how someone looks becomes the basis of our opinion of them.  Sometimes we see a single action (or series of actions) and we assume we "know them" & judge them accordingly.  We do this especially when we've been hurt.

There's a song by Sawyer Brown called "THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND."  It begins with a woman on a bus with rowdy kids... and everyone looking at her & commenting how she can't control them.  She asks for forgiveness for them... for they've been up all night.  Their daddy died.  Please forgive them.  Verse 2 centers around an old man driving slowly on the interstate.  Other drivers are staring at him, honking their hons & yelling out the window at him.  He asks for forgiveness... saying his wife has died & his kids don't visit anymore... so it's hard for him to get around on his own.  "Please forgive me."

The chorus says this:
(They don't understand)
Everybody's busy with their own situation
Everybody's lost in their own little world
Bottled up, hurry it up trying to make a dream come true
(They don't understand)
Everybody's living like there ain't no tomorrow
Maybe we should stop and take a little time
Cause you never really know what your neighbor's going through
(They don't understand)

And then there's the final verse...
A man hanging on a wooden cross
Giving everything to save the lost
Everybody's starin' not knowin' what he's going through
Somebody said you don't have a prayer
If you were king, come down from there
The man just turned his head looked up and stared
He said, "Please forgive them
For they have not seen the light
They'll come to know me when I come back to life
Go to heaven, to make everything all right
So please forgive your children"

PRAYER: Lord, I know I've got issues in my life that need your forgiveness.  Help me not to judge others, but instead love them, be patient with them, and give them the benefit of the doubt... just as you've done countless times for me.  AMEN.

Holiness & Honor

[from 6-19-10]

"For this is the will of God... that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness & honor, not with lustful passion..."
(1 Thessalonians 4:4-5)

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."  That seems to be the case with love, sex, lust, and self-control!  Paul is writing to the community in Thessolonica, exhorting them to maintain self-control - especially in regards to their sexuality.  Avoid lustful passion.  Don't exploit others.  God has called us to purity & holiness.

It seems that at times, sexual drives are as basic as the need for food, water, and shelter.  That's how we were created by God.  People have been acting on their sexual impulses since the beginning of time - both in healthy and unhealthy ways.  Paul wanted to encourage the Christians to maintain holiness & purity in their bodies.  It must have been a struggle in Thessolonica.  It's still a struggle for us today!

We all know people who have been in (and/or affected by) inappropriate sexual relationships.  "You were created for so much more," says Paul.  Holiness!  Holiness enhances healthy sexuality.  The way we use our bodies is a reflection of our relationship with God.  And if we've slipped in this area, God can cleanse & forgive.  We just have to ask.  Holiness & honor.  That's what we're capable of!  So be it.  AMEN.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Many or Few

"...For nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or few."
(1 Samuel 14:6b)

Boldness.  Confidence.  Courage.  Faith.  These are all qualities that King Saul's son, Jonathan, possessed.  As a soldier in the Israelite army, he saw an opportunity & took it.  Faced with a standoff vs. the Philistines (and in the midst of a severe weapons crisis - see 1 Sam. 13:19-22!), Jonathan took matters into his own hands and initiated a not-so-covert operation.  he boldly took his armor bearer & engaged the Philistines in a surprise attack!

Immediately before the attack, when calling his armor bearer to accompany him, Jonathan noted that "nothing can hinder the LORD from saving with many or few" (14:6).  They were definitely on the "few" end of the spectrum.  Against all odds, however, Jonathan emerged victorious.  Amazing!  And he trusted God's deliverance all along.

We're starting a new ministry at AUMC.  Our "Life Communities" will be small house churches connected together.  We want to connect those outside the faith to one another & to God.  Our congregation is relatively small... we're on the "few" end of the spectrum, in many ways.  But God is good!  He doesn't need only "mega churches" to reach out to the non-churched.  God can save by many or few.  May we truly be used as an instrument of God's saving grace.

Friday, June 4, 2010


"How often I have deired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing."
(Luke 13:34b)

He knows what it's supposed to be like.  He has love & compassion for them - but for the most part, they've shunned him.  He's waiting to shelter them... comfort them... support them... and surround them with love - just like a mother hen does with her brood of chicks.  But they've refused.  And it pains him.  That's the relationship Jesus had with the people of Jerusalem.

I wonder who Jesus says those words about today?  How many of those close to us (family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, classmates, etc.) fall into this category?  People of infinite worth & value... people whom God has great plans for, if only they'd let him into their lives.  But they haven't.  Or won't.

We have relationships with them.  We can speak a word of hope, encouragement & grace.  We can be an agent of love for them, so they can respond to the eternal longing in their soul.  It's not about manipulation or coercion... it's about connecting with the Savior of the World... the One who loves us all... and wants to shelter us.  All of us.