Oops!

o,

Hoo boy.  Here it is Friday already, and I just realized I have a counseling issues post due. Huh.  Well, since it’s MY blog, and I make the rules, I guess i can do what I want, right?  So–how about some random unrelated meanderings of the mind?  I think that’s all I’m up to.

Do you ever have a hard time staying focused?  I’m completely unable to keep track of two thoughts in consecutive order right now. Usually I’m an efficient multi-tasker, able to juggle several things and still think in detail.  Today I’m staring out the window trying to remember what I was just going to write.

Chances are pretty good this won’t make much sense 🙂

We’ve just said goodbye to a houseful of company.  Well, we said goodbye around 9:30 yesterday morning.  I’ve been in a vegetative state most of the time since then.  I loved having them here, had a wonderful time. But I’m old, and I wear out pretty quickly these days. Tired, tired.

So I’ve had a few days off work, don’t have to go back until Tuesday.  Right now I can’t say I’m too thrilled about that, but I’ll be ready when I need to be.

I feel sad about the depletion of my energy. When I consider what I was able to do only 20 years ago, compared to now, it’s really quite a change. I believe that if I put some effort into it, I could regain much of my former pep. Right now I’m just too pooped.  I’ll be 66 on the Fourth of July.

It’s really cool having a birthday on the Fourth.  Unless people work in medicine or emergency services, they’re usually off work.  The weather is beautiful far more often than not. There are fireworks, picnics, parades–ALL for ME!!

No, really!  You didn’t know that? 4th of July Birthday - Tote Bag

It’s just too bad the designer of this bag didn’t check with me about the spelling. Maybe she was planning to go forth on the fourth.

The only thing that shocks me about my upcoming birthday is that I’m only four years from 70; can that be my excuse for this sorry little post about nothing?  No?  Oh well.

I’m finished, anyway 🙂

Judge Not

Matthew 7:1. “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

In this chapter, we’re moving away from the last section of the previous chapter, where we saw the heir of the Kingdom in the midst of the world, how he is to trust and depend upon the Father; he is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; his walk is to be undivided.

Now, Jesus directs attention to the conduct of the heirs of the kingdom to their fellow disciples.  The primary feature of our behavior toward one another as believers is clearly to be that of love. It is more fully developed in the Book of John as well as in I John, appropriately given to the Beloved Disciple for further expounding and teaching.

So let’s dig right in, looking today at only verse one of this chapter. I want to take some time with it, because it is a verse much quoted and, sadly, much misunderstood by believers and unbelievers alike.

Some have taken this verse to mean that we are never to address obvious sin in the lives of other believers.  To take this sort of head-in-the-sand approach is to open the door wide for loose living and loose interpretations of Jesus’ teachings on how we are to conduct ourselves. He warns against such laxity in verse 6 of this chapter.

Jesus does NOT forbid the judging of actions and evil. If He did, His words would contradict other passages in the Epistles. One example  would be I Cor. 5: 12-13, as well as Matthew 18:15-18. It is clear in these passages and others that believers are required to deal with sin in their midst.

We are taught repeatedly in scripture that we are to remain separated from the world, from sin. If  we never judge, then we could not know from what we are to be separated.  We are to stand as “lights in the world, in the midst of a perverse and wicked generation” (Phil. 2:15). To do so requires judgment, wisdom, discernment. We must know, through our walk with God and through His Word, what is good and what is evil.

The problem we all have is that we often take a step across the line of wisely and biblically judging between good and evil to the fault-finding, censorious self-righteousness of Pharisaical judgment, sweeping our robes aside lest we be contaminated by those who are less pure than we are.

As I’ve studied this verse, I’ve come to believe that there are so many layers of meaning here that it would take a book to sort it all out. Everything Jesus said was beautiful in its simplicity, and incredibly deep in its complexity.

So I’m going to pull out just two simple things that spoke especially to my heart.  You may do a study of your own and come up with something completely different.

First: From the literal translation and the context, it is clear that we are not to judge motives. I have no right to come down with a judgment on that which I cannot see and do not understand. No one ever really knows what another person is thinking. God does.  Leave it to Him.

We are, however, to wisely, carefully, lovingly, mercifully look at behavior, which springs from motives.  Micah 6:8 remains one of my favorite verses: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Second: If we do not care to have our motives, thoughts, and emotions judged and found wanting by others, then we must refrain from doing so ourselves.  However, when our motives, thoughts, and emotions lead to overtly ungodly behavior, then we put ourselves in the way of correction which should be applied in a loving manner, with the goal of restoration. Correction (judgment) done in a biblical manner is to be done with kindness, mercy, and love; it should end in healing.

Here’s another favorite verse of mine, which seems to me to be appropriate and applicable to this topic:

Psalm 141:5.

“Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.”

Sufficient Unto the Day. . .

Matthew 6:34. “Take therefore no thought for the morrrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

I like the phrase in the KJV “Take no thought.”  Just don’t give it any thought; don’t rent tomorrow’s problems space in your brain. Don’t worry.  Every verse in this chapter, from 25-34, is a treatise on how not to worry.  Do you suppose God knew what worry warts we would be?  A very interesting search, if this is something that burdens you, would be to find all the verses in God’s Word that tell us not to worry, not to be afraid, not to be anxious; instead, to trust, pray, and obey.  You should try it.  It could change your life. 

I’ve also always been intrigued by the last sentence in this verse: Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Sufficient:  Enough.  More than enough. Each day has more than enough of its own difficulties and problems.  Why borrow tomorrow’s as well?

Unto the day: Each day we live should be lived in itself, trusting God to direct our steps, to lead us through the Word, to show us how to solve each problem as it arises. To worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow is to deplete our energy and our faith. 

The evil thereof: The difficulties, the troubles and trials, of each day are enough for us to handle.  Thoughtful preparation for the future is not  rebuked here; it is the fussing, fretting, worrying, losing sleep, developing chronic health problems exacerbated by the constant adrenalin rush of worry that Jesus warns against.  

We have enough to deal with, one day at a time.  Relax in the Lord.  Everything will be all right. 

The Unfolding of a Rose

Morning Story and Dilbert

A young, new preacher was walking with an older, more seasoned preacher in the garden one day and feeling a bit insecure about what God had for him to do, he was inquiring of the older preacher. The older preacher walked up to a rosebush and handed the young preacher a rosebud and told him to open it without tearing off any petals. The young preacher looked in disbelief at the older preacher and was trying to figure out what a rosebud could possibly have to do with his wanting to know the WILL OF GOD for his life and for his ministry. Because of his high respect for the older preacher, he proceeded to TRY to unfold the rose, while keeping every petal intact…It wasn’t long before he realized how impossible it was to do so. Noticing the younger preacher’s inability to unfold the rosebud while keeping it intact…

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Seek Ye First

Matthew 6:33-34. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

I’ve been reading several different commentators  on this verse.  The concept seems simple at first:  Make your primary focus  God’s kingdom and His glory and righteousness.  Let that be the single thing that holds importance in your life.  When you do, all the things of earthly living will be provided as God meets your needs and satisfies the desire of your heart to live in His Presence.

Here is a quote that is attributed to Clement, Origen, and Eusebius as their preferred translation of Jesus’ words:

 “Ask great things, and little things shall be added unto you; ask heavenly things, and earthly things shall be added unto you.”

From Wesley’s notes: “Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness – Singly aim at this, that God, reigning in your heart, may fill it with the righteousness above described. And indeed whosoever seeks this first, will soon come to seek this only.”

And from Matthew Henry: “There is scarcely any sin against which our Lord Jesus more warns His disciples, than disquieting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of this life. This (concern) often insnares the poor as much as the love of wealth does the rich.

It’s interesting to me that believers who have actually lived this way are so rare that we know them by name down through the annals of history:  The Apostle Paul;the great martyrs of the faith; people like John and Betty Stam,  Jim Eliot and the others who were killed by the Auca Indians in the 1950’s; George Mueller; Mother Theresa.  These are just a few who understood that putting their focus on God and His righteousness would make the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

We have much to learn from them.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xt1lxc_bill-gloria-gaither-turn-your-eyes-upon-jesus-feat-allison-durham-speer-and-steve-amerson-live_music#.UaYAx1G7HD0

God Knows!

Matthew 6:31-32. “Therefore take no thought, saying What shall we eat: or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”

Do you understand yet that this entire passage is not about things; it is not about having enough to eat or drink or wear.  It is about learning to trust God for all our needs, because He loves us.  He knows what we need, and He knows what we don’t need.

I believe, that in this land of plenty, most of us have no real idea what it means to trust God for our next piece of bread.  We never have to wonder whether or not we’ll find drinkable water. While I enjoy all the luxuries of middle-class life in America, sometimes I think we’re missing out on the incredible blessing of having to depend upon our heavenly Father in every single detail of our lives.

Most of us think nothing of stopping for coffee and a snack on the way to or from work. Many of us regularly go out for lunch, spending up to $10 without giving it a second thought. Then, because we’re tired, we order in chinese food or pizza, again putting out a substantial amount of money for a simple meal.  Seriously, how often have you found your cupboards bare?  How often have you literally had nothing to feed your children? (If you want to read about a time this happened in my life, go here: http://wp.me/p2noSn-1K0).

The truth is, we take an awful lot for granted.  Because we can assume there will be food and drink and clothing, we fail to learn to depend upon God. That’s sad, There could easily come a day when we will no longer have so much, and I fear that we won’t have the first idea what to do about it.

Jesus says that “the Gentiles” seek  all these things.  He’s talking about those who don’t have a heavenly Father, and who haven’t learned to depend upon a loving God Who knows our needs before we do.  I find great comfort in knowing that my heavenly Father knows long before I do that I will need His hand of comfort, provision, direction, and wisdom. It is my job to be in such a constant attitude of prayer that I immediately turn to Him when I realize I have such a need.

Philippians 4:19. “But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ0Hzk-SpxI

Memorial Day

My prayer is that the lives they sacrificed not have been in vain; that we do not lose our beloved country to an attitude of government control and entitlement; that God not be forgotten in a humanistic, man-centered world. 

God bless America.  Please. 

Family

Some of my family from Germany are here.  My son couldn’t come because of a heavy work load, but his wife and two of their children are here, along with his wife’s sister.  We’ve enjoyed reconnecting.  We see these grandkids only once every other year.  They’re growing up so fast, and when you don’t see them for such a long time they really change a lot.

My daughter-n-law enjoys doing genealogy searches.  She’s discovered  a lot about our side of the family, and it’s been interesting to learn things I’d never known before.  Relatives   connect us to our past, and to our children’s futures.  They are the links that give us a sense of history and continuity. I love looking at pictures of parents, grandparents, great-grandparents; aunts and uncles, cousins I’ve never met.  We all  like to look for similiarities, family traits:  The cowlicks, the dimples, the chins and noses and eye shapes that transfer from generation to generation.

So I was thinking about all this today, and got to thinking about how we are made in God’s image and likeness.  We aren’t nearly as concerned about whether or not we resemble our heavenly Father, are we?  We love tracing familiar features from our human ancestors.  We like to say, “Hey, he looks just like Uncle Charlie, or a cousin, sister, or parent.”

How much more important it would be to want to remind others of Jesus.

Just Thinking

Yesterday, in a response to my daily “thought” post, I commented that sin is arrogant.

Sometimes I say things that surprise me   🙂

Truth is often surprising.  Sin really is arrogant.  By the way, if you type “arrogant” into Google, then click on images, you’ll be amazed at how many pictures there are of a certain individual whose arrogance goes beyond all boundaries.

But what about sin and arrogance?  Why is sin truly arrogant?

Defined, arrogance is: Having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.

 Synonyms:  haughty, proud, supercilious, conceited, lofty.
Isn’t that interesting?  Certainly, when we choose to sin, we put our own importance above that of anyone else’s.  We feel entitled to do whatever it is, no matter what effect or harm it may do. Arrogance is to place oneself as preeminent, above all others, including and especially above God.

What we need to understand is that sin ultimately offends God more than it does anyone else.

We won’t be so arrogant when we have to stand before Him and give account of ourselves.

What?  You’re not worried about God? You don’t believe in giving an account of yourself to Him?

Well, that is supremely arrogant, isn’t it?

You will see.

Childhood Sexual Abuse: Summary

I started writing these Friday posts on CSA back on March 22.  This is the ninth post, and unless I get feedback or specific questions, it will be the last for now.  I’m glad to be finished. I’m also glad many of you encouraged me to do it.

There is hope; there is healing; there is joy in life. Most important, there is strength and joy in the Lord. No one should have to keep this horrible secret.  No one should feel guilty and ashamed because of what was done to her that she could not prevent.  Because we are more aware now than we’ve ever been about the scope of this crime, we can spot it and put a stop to it if we choose to do so.

I hope you will choose to do so.  Someone needs to protect the victims, whether the abuse is actively taking place, or took place many years ago. It’s wrong, every single time. There is NO excuse, reason, explanation that does away with the enormity of the crime.

I read about a man–a pastor, mind you–who said he did it because he had prostate problems and needed some relief.   Good grief.  Good. Grief.

All right. In summary, understand clearly that abusing a child in any way is evil. Sexual abuse touches not just the body, but the heart, soul, and mind. It corrupts the victim and sets her up for a miserable future if nothing is done to help her when she is still young.

There is a profile, if you will, of those who have been sexually abused.  Go back and read the posts from March 22 to now, and you will clearly see the pattern.  A good Christian pastor, experienced and compassionate in this field, is of invaluable help. If no such person is available, find a Christian therapist who knows about the symptoms and treatments. EMDR is my treatment of choice, but it is not the only option.  Play therapy is also a wonderful tool, especially for very young kids.

Please, above all, do NOT tell a victim that she just needs to get past it now, just get over it. She can’t. She’s been trying for years, and she can’t.  Even if she is a believer, there is so much twisted up in her heart and mind that she needs help to sort everything out, and to feel whole and clean again. Be compassionate. Be thankful it wasn’t you; but don’t be quick to judge if the person isn’t doing as well as you think she should, as quickly as you think she should.

You haven’t walked a mile in her mocassins. Don’t criticize. Pray, support, love, encourage.

We tend to dismiss or, worse, mock the things we don’t understand.  Pray for wisdom, and God will give it to you so you can be a blessing to the one who has been so seriously wounded.

If you have specific questions, please post them here in the comments.  I will do my best to respond.