Dream #2: Judge Not?

Judge Not…3/14/19

As I stated yesterday, I have VIVID, detailed dreams. The night before last I had 2…I described one in this post: https://pastordajo.com/2019/03/14/two-dreams-1-sparrow-and-spider/.

Here’s my second one:

In my dream I was at church, talking with a group of people after the service in the lobby. One of the young men—a high schooler—began to walk away from the group, toward the office. As he did so, he pulled out a bottle—a fifth of Southern Comfort! He announced that he “I need me some southern comfort” as he began to drink it.

I walked toward him, and asked him to stop. “What do you think you’re doing?” I asked.

“Drinking my whiskey.” He said.

“You’re under age, and this is CHURCH!” I said.

“Who are you to judge?” he replied.

You should know that, in my dreams, I often get a ‘backstory’—as though it was a movie and I know a lot about each character’s background. I knew this young man was sleeping with his girlfriend and had been busted and suspended for marijuana possession and smoking it at school. He reeked of it even now.

I knew that none of his family came to church, and he didn’t really hang out with anyone here…I was glad he came, but I wondered about his motivation and understanding. “Why do you come here?” I asked.

‘Hey, who are you to judge?’ he answered. “I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I’m born again and going to heaven…I’m just going to enjoy myself on the way there!”

“No, you’re missing the point”, I said. “Jesus is not just a ‘get out of jail free’ card. He is God. He deserves our worship. He is Savior and Lord. That means that, if I’m following Him, I’m getting closer and closer…He’s changing me.”

“I do what I want”. He said. “Judge not”…and he walked away.

I realized two things at that moment—as I stood there in my dream:

1) People—even church-going ones—can ‘miss it’. We can misunderstand what God did by sending His son. It wasn’t only about heaven or hell (although it was that), but about ‘authority’. Who is ‘in authority’ in our lives—us (our appetites, our cravings, our desires), or God? Clearly this young man (and others like him) are not acknowledging Jesus for who He is—God in the flesh, Lord over all, Savior of all who call on Him in faith.

2) The word ‘Judge’ is misunderstood and misused. Calling someone out and challenging them to live a consistent lifestyle is not ‘judging’. This is simply holding accountable, seeking integrity and rooting out hypocrisy. It takes ‘discernment’, but that is not judging. When it comes to ‘declaring who’s ‘in’ and who’s ‘not’, that is not my call…Judgment in that sense is, and always will be, only God’s role—not mine.

However, the tendency we have in our culture to ‘live and let live’, and to embrace the ‘you do you’ concept should not apply to those who claim to be followers of Jesus. We need to encourage, pray for, lovingly confront, and walk with each other as we follow Him.

“Jesus said,  “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye[c] when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5).

Certainly that was calling for humility, authenticity, character and a spirit of repentance before God. I need to let Him do His work within myself, first and foremost—and I, for one, know there’s still a lot to do! However, that doesn’t mean that we are never to confront, encourage, and hold accountable other believers in the family of God. After all, Paul wrote, “you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer[j]yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” (1st Corinthians 5:11-13).

Clearly, there is a certain degree of accountability we have to one another, within the family of God. While it does not mean that we should go around being the ‘religious police’ for each other, we should ‘call each other to consistency’ and encourage accountability within our relationships within the family of God.

The young man in my dream was under a delusion: that Jesus is willing to be our SAVIOR with no attention to Him as our LORD. In truth, of course, He is both…and as I follow Him, He effects—for the better—all areas of my life!

This is part of what He meant when He said “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they might have life, to the full!” (John 10:10)

That young man thought he was ‘living the life’, but in reality he continued to be deceived and buying into the lie that ‘sin=freedom’. Sin—including all of the things he was doing and many, many more—is enslavement, NOT ‘freedom’. True Freedom comes when we learn to walk with Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and be changed to the point where we’re able to see and experience the ‘Full Life’ that God wants for us!

It’s not about ‘judgment’…it’s about Vision!

Advertisements

I Wonder…

I wonder what will happen tomorrow…or the day after tomorrow.

Will the ’causes’ that I agreed with have passed? Will those I disagreed with have failed?

Will the candidates I voted for have won, or been defeated?

Obviously, I don’t know that, and no one does-despite what all the conspiracy theorists out there say!

One thing is true: No matter what happens, it will still be UP TO ME to choose how I treat my fellow humans.

If my opinions prevail, and every vote I cast is part of the winning majority, I will still be responsible to love, respect, have compassion for, and pray for, everyone–even those who vehemently opposed me.

If my opinions fail, and every vote I cast is part of the losing minority, I will still be responsible to love, respect, have compassion for, and pray for, everyone–even those who vehemently opposed me.

This truth is something we simply must grasp–all of us! Each of us!

After all, the only way we can hope to get out of the cultural quagmire and the animosity so prevalent in our culture is if each one of us take responsibility for our own actions. Not the Government–not the President or his cabinet, the the US Congress, not the State Congress, not the courts…and so on.

YOU and I simply MUST commit to civility, discussion, respect and yes, love for one another.

From my perspective, as a Christian, the most loving thing I can do–no matter what political events transpire around us–is to point people to Jesus the Christ. He is “The Way, The Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except by Him. (John 14:6). He is the “Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for His Sheep.” (John 10:11). While our enemy comes to ‘steal, kill, and destroy”, Jesus has come “that they might have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10).

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but will have everlasting life! For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so the world could be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

None of those things are changed by our temporary (and yes–important) politics.

All of those things are true for everyone in the world–not only in America.

Keep that in mind tomorrow…and the day after, and the day after, and the day after….

We are here…for Him!

 

Pots and Kettles

If you are…ahem…at least ‘middle aged’, like I am, you have heard the phrase, ‘That’s like the Pot calling the Kettle black’.

It’s an idiom for hypocrisy–when person #1 accuses person #2 of doing the very thing that that person #1 is actually guilty of.

I always wondered: Where do phrases like that come from? According to my ‘extensive research’ (Urbandictionary.com and Wikipedia.com), it arose from centuries ago when people cooked over an open fire. They would use lead pots and copper kettles. Afterward they would clean and polish the kettles…but leave the pots untouched. This resulted in the pot becoming increasing sooty and black. It the pot were to look at the kettle and accuse it of being dirty, all it would actually be seeing is its own reflection.

 

Today in this world (especially in America) there is a whole lot of ‘Pots’ calling a great number of ‘Kettles’ black.

…and before you assume that you’re the shiny one, there’s a good bet that you’ve got some ‘soot’ on you.

So do I.

We all have a worldview–a point of view from which we interpret events in this world. That’s normal and fine. However, we have an increasing tendency to assume the worst in those who see things differently than us…and we tell them so, in Tweets, Facebook posts, or Blogs.

While it may be a good thing that we’re expressing our opinions, it doesn’t take a social scientist’s study to see that the net effect in our culture has been a coarsening of discourse. What used to be an occasional debate and disagreement has become a 24-hour-a=day, 7 day-a-week Twitter war, where each person tries to get a better ‘mic drop comeback’ to their opponent. Mic DropAll the while, relationships, families, and even our society is being ripped apart.

The result? We find ourselves increasingly marginalized and separated into smaller and smaller groups, where we share our ‘offenses’ that we’ve taken from others.

The thing that unites us is…division!

The ‘Left’ accuses the ‘Right’ of being ‘hatemongers who are power-hungry’, and the ‘Right’ accuses the ‘Left’ of being ‘anarchists who morally divisive’. One claims that the ‘other’ started it, and the other replies ‘did not–you did’!

Sort of sounds like a child’s playground argument, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Proverbs 26:20-21:

“Without wood a fire goes out;
    without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.”

 

Now, we have increasing animosity in the news. Terrorism in the mailboxes…violence against a synagogue…riots in Seattle–and that’s only in America over the past week!

Soon, we have an election.

I (along with many) are so tired of the commercials. It’s almost comical to stick through one commercial break in a news program. In just one commercial break–one commercial accuses the Republican, and the next commercial accuses the Democrat–of the same thing!

Question: Where will this end?

Truthful answer: We don’t know. It depends…on us! You and Me!

It is very possible that we’ll have increasingly violent attacks on Politicians, Religious institutions, and the very fabric of our nation.

…or, we can repent of our sinful pride, and seek to be peacemakers instead.

Will we–You and I–continue to throw logs on the fire?

Will we resort to childish ‘you started it’ arguments, or will we challenge ourselves to Rise Above, and seek respectful discourse, assuming the best about the other person along the way?

Some of you reading this right now have already answered ‘yeah, but…’.

STOP! Just STOP!

The enemy of our souls is fomenting an increase in selfishness and hostility, and it’s not going to end well!

That’s why it is CRUCIAL for those who are children of God, by faith in Jesus, that we stand up and love others…as we should. It is crucial that we Christians live out the things we say we believe and show the love that we’ve graciously been given. It is imperative that we remember that we are NOT ‘of this world’ and that our #1 priority is living for the glory of God–and pointing others to our eternal future, inviting them to come along.

1 Peter 2:9-17: 

“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

“Once you had no identity as a people;
    now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
    now you have received God’s mercy.”

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.”

THIS is what we were called to–not mud slinging…and not accusing others of the very sins that we, ourselves are committing.

They’ll know we are Christians by our love!

As for me, I am trying to raise the level of discourse with those who don’t see things the way I do.

I invite you all–Christian or not–to join me!

 

Foolish or Wise? Which Will It Be?

There are no shortage of ‘opinions’ today.

People seem to grow more ‘opinionated’ every day…and show it–with gusto!

Social Media has ushered in a ‘coarsening’ of those opinions (in my opinion). 🙂

Having an ‘opinion’ is not necessarily good…nor is it necessarily bad!

One thing we can all agree on, however, is that ‘just because I think it, doesn’t mean it’s right–or certainly smart, wise, or ‘right’.

There are many people who are ‘spouting off’ their opinions–from the most powerful to those with a very small circle of influence.

Influence, however, does not make one ‘wise’. Because you may have ‘Followers’, that doesn’t mean that you have ‘wisdom’.

How can I know?

The Scriptures provide the answer. The book of Proverbs, by itself, is a great guide.

Even one chapter–Proverbs 18–provides much to learn from.

“A fool find no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinion.” (verse 2) 

“He who answers before listening–that is his folly and his shame.”(v. 13)

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” (v.15)

Other chapters of Proverbs speak to this too:

“The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” (15:2)

“A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.” (15:14)

The point is that simply ‘going off’ and ‘venting’ is not ‘Wisdom’. Any ‘fool’ can do that. Any fool can “feed on trash”…and we all know that there’s LOTS of ‘trash’ to choose from!

So, how can I know? How do I know true ‘wisdom’? How do I know if I have it, or if those I listen to have it?

Again, the Scriptures provide the answer.

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”–Proverbs 1:7

If you are trying to be ‘smart’ or ‘wise’, but do not fear (revere, worship, stand in awe) of God, you may be many things. You may be learned, you may be experienced, you may be well-schooled, but you are not “wise”.

True ‘Wisdom’ must…simply must…come from God, who is the only truly ‘Wise’ One there is!

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:13-18)

Don’t settle for the ‘wisdom’ of this world–that is a dead-end street.

Instead, go to the Lord for true Wisdom.

He will guide you, keep you on track, and help you know who’s ‘opinions’ are worth listening to…and who’s aren’t!

What Are YOU Here For?

Why do YOU exist?

Most of us never think about this.

We go through our days, our weeks, our months and our years doing pretty much the same thing. We get up, get ready for the day, grab a quick breakfast on the way to work or school, then come home, eat dinner, maybe watch some t.v., then go to bed. Next day, we do it all again.

When you look at it that way, it seems pretty ‘meaning-less’.

Ecclesiastes 1:2-14:

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

12 I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. 14 I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

That is a serious bummer!

Is he right? Is that all there is? The sun comes up and goes down and all our scurrying in the meantime is meaningless?

 

The Mission Statement.

According to Dictionary.com, it means, “a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.”

Whether it’s about a Business, an Organization, a Church, or an Individual, it is, in essence, your REASON for existing.

So, what is YOUR ‘Mission Statement’?

Is if about money?

Satisfaction?

Impact?

Does it have to do with family? Work? Education?

All of these things are fine, and many have great impact, in the here-and-now.

However, as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, ultimately, these, too, are “meaningless…chasing after the wind”(Ecclesiastes 2:22).

So…is there any real ‘hope’? Any secret to finding TRUE ‘meaning’ and purpose?

Yes, in fact, there is!

“This only I have found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.” (7:29)

Man rejects God’s ways and tries to find meaning and purpose on his own, by himself. We pat each other on the back and encourage one another to ‘do our own thing’ and do ‘what feels right’.

However, we miss God.

Wisdom–real wisdom–comes when we acknowledge Him.

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come…” (12:1)

This will be THE best thing that sets you on the past to the ‘best life possible’. Remember your Creator. Humble yourself. Seek Him.

“Remember Him–before the silver chord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken…and the dust returns to the ground it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (12:6-7)

Seek the Lord. Pray to Him. Ask Him to give you ‘meaning and purpose’. Seek Him for an ‘Eternal Mission Statement’.

If you do, you will live differently, think differently, love differently, and react differently to all the ‘meaningless’ activity around us.

This will put you on the only real path toward “Life…to the Full” (John 10:10)

You will live to glorify and honor God, to impact this world in His name, to share the Good News of Jesus with all, and to walk out your faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now that is an Eternal Mission Statement!

YOUR Motivation For Living

WHY?

That is one question that we all answer, every day…although sometimes unconsciously.

WHY do you do What you do?

Simon Sinek wrote an excellent book about this, Start With Why, and the premise is simple: If you’re going to lead people well, (including yourself) you need to…’start with Why’?

Why should I do what you say?

Why should we follow this course?

Why should I get up early to exercise…go to work or school?

Why should I pay my bills?

Why should I eat right?

If we don’t answer that question, then we are much more likely to live halfhearted, unfocused lives. We are more likely to move from one job to another, one major to another, one relationship to another, one diet to another, one credit card to another, and so on.

In addition, the ‘quality’ or our answer will determine the joy and satisfaction we get out of life.

Take a job, for example.

If the answer to my question of ‘Why should I go to work?’ is simply ‘To get a paycheck’, that’s a great recipe for a bad job, in which I get no satisfaction, end up doing the bare minimum that I need to in order to keep my job, complain the whole time, etc.

In contrast, if I can honestly say something like, ‘Because my job matters. I am called and gifted for this job. This job is an important training ground for my next job, and the things I learn here will help me in the future…’, then I am much more likely to give my all to it.

 

So…let’s apply that to faith.

Why should I go to church?

Why should I pray, read the Scriptures, and worship?

Why should I give your money to the work of God?

Why should I conduct your relationships according to His Word?

Again, if the only reason is, ‘Because I’ll get in trouble if I don’t’, or ‘Because it’s good for me’, then I’ll completely miss out on the blessing of knowing God and the pleasure and security of knowing that your life is secure in His hands, and His ways are best.

The Scriptures say,

The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless,
    but it is the ruin of those who do evil.” (Proverbs 10:29)

In fact, you will find in many places in the Word of God: God knows what is best, God loves you and wants the best for you, and the best way to the best life is by following Him and His Word, period.

Our society tells us lies. It tells us that ‘Looking out for #1’ is best, or that ‘Using others for my pleasure’ is best. It will tell you that ‘Living for today’ is best.

Hogwash. Poppycock. Lies!

“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they might have LIFE and have it To The Full!” (John 10:10, emphasis added).

This especially shows up when God’s Word says one thing, and my friends (or culture/my appetites/my family) says something else. What will determine which I choose?

That depends: What is your ‘Why’?

My ‘Why’ is this: I know that I exist by His design, for His glory, and that I live in His grace. Therefore, my desire is to know and please Him, in all things.

That gives me meaning, direction, and joy–no matter the circumstances. It guides me along. It teaches me what to say ‘yes’ to, and what to say ‘no’ to.

It is both for His glory and for My good…at the same time!

What about You?

What is Your ‘Motivation for Living’?

 

 

Prayer: God’s Love Language

I was thinking the other day that, if God had a ‘primary’ love language, it would probably be Prayer.

Many of you have heard about and/or read Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages. The idea behind this book is that we all have a primary ‘love language’ that resonates with us, and therefore, if I want to show someone love, I should do it in a way which ‘connects’ with them. If someone is an ‘acts of service’ person and all I give them is ‘words of affirmation’, those words may fail to fully communicate my love, no matter how sincere they are.

Now, I realize that, as the Scriptures say, “God is Love”. (1 John 4:8). He does not ‘lack’ any of the ‘love languages’, and He is able to communicate His love fully, completely and without our help.

However, God–as a ‘relational’ being–wants to communicate with us. The perfect Heavenly Father wants to connect with us as His children. He wants to communicate His love for us, and He loves when we communicate our love for Him.

This is the way with any good, intimate, growing and vibrant relationship–there is frequent, authentic, and honest communication as a major part of it.

So, how do we communicate with God?

There are many ways–

Worshiping Him–His character, His attributes;

Thanking Him–His actions, His goodness toward us;

Enjoying Him–His beauty, His blessings…

In all of these–and so many more, PRAYER is a major part of it.

Praying is, in essence, communication with our Father. It involves real, honest sharing of what’s on my heart and mind, what my concerns are, what my desires are, etc.

However, real ‘prayer’ also involves listening to God. It involves quieting myself and asking God to clarify His heart, His desire and His will.

Very often, it brings me to a specific Scripture, or a Truth that He wants to emphasize in my life.

Recently, it’s been a lot about the Fatherhood of God, and enjoying that relationship. Father and child praying

As a dad myself, I remember how wonderful and beautiful it was, when my kids were little, to have them snuggle up next to me and pray. Often, I would lead them, but increasingly as they got older, they would express their own thoughts. How wonderful it was for me to hear their young hearts, and hear them praying for their relatives and friends, their concerns, and expressing their love to God.

This childlike communication–innocent, real, and genuine–was beautiful…and that’s exactly what God is looking for from us.

We need not ‘dress it up’ or make it more ‘formal’. We can come to Him without notice, and go freely into His presence* when needed.

The Scriptures say, after all, that For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:14-17)

and again,“Because you are his [children], God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)

The point is that God, in His love and mercy, has adopted us as His children. He wants us to be close to Him.

He wants to knock the walls down between us and Himself. He’s been doing that through Jesus. Hebrews 4: 15-16: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one [Jesus] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Because of His love and grace, God sent Jesus to pay for our sin.

Because of Jesus we have been forgiven and adopted by faith into God’s family.

Because He is risen and interceding for us, we have access to God.

Let us keep that access going by regular, authentic, honest and deep communication. Your Heavenly Father will love that!

 

 

*I’m aware–we’re alwaysin His presence, since God is omnipresent.