Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Who? Me? Judge?

I’m not sure how it happens but pride and arrogance have a difficulty staying in the grave. We begin slowly to think that we are better than we are. We think that we are superior to others around us. It begins to show by little actions of hubris, our humility seems to dissipate, and we begin to judge others. Its crazy! In direct defiance to the command of our Savior and Lord we look down on another. We assign evil intentions to another’s actions. We pass judgement on them. 

Matthew 7.1,2  Do not Judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 

                When the rebuke comes, it is offensive to us. Whether it comes from the gentle prodding of the Holy Spirit, a private word questioning your actions and attitudes, or whether it comes publicly. We have entrusted what was circulating in our hearts to be revealed by our lips. There is enough hubris to salve over the course and ungodly action of speaking it out. Soon we are accustomed to speaking without guarding our lips. Then the rebuke comes. It causes our spirit to recoil. We are offended, we withdraw, and, if we respond well to the Holy Spirit we are ashamed!

Judging another is forbidden. It is necessary to look at another’s actions and discern that those actions are sinful and unwise. It is possible to judge another as ‘unfit for hire’ as an evaluation of their character. These kinds of benign judgments are not what the scripture has in mind. It is the condemnation of another. David Hill says the disciples of Jesus are “not be censorious or condemning in their attitude toward others.” James 4.11 ties the action to include slander of another’s character.

My experience is that this temptation comes to us all very frequently. Be sure to know that this is a revelation, not of your spiritual superiority, but of your pride. For this condemnation can only exist in a heart that is tainted with an inflated sense of self-righteousness. This is why it is so offensive to be confronted with our carnality and sin!

Jesus warned that our judging invites an equal condemnation. This is not something to be taken lightly. God does not wink at his Word. We must be careful to exercise due diligence in judging the sins of our own heart. (It is so easy to let ourselves slide in mercy while wielding a sword of judgment on another) James repeats the threat and adds “Who are you to judge your neighbor?” That maybe where we really fail. We judge thinking we are ‘somebody’. In reality, we are ‘somebody’s’. We belong to another who has an answer to our pride. It is the Cross of Jesus Christ.

We judge thinking we are ‘somebody’. In reality, we are ‘somebody’s’.

 The Apostle Paul said “I die everyday…” (1 Cor 15.31) There is an obligation to die to self and to our ego. Only in the self-less life can we find freedom from the invitation to be “judged with the measure we use”. I pray that you will find the freedom of humility and that you will guard your heart from the troubles caused by the in-creep of pride.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


““Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:6-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

For a while now there has been oppression and difficulty. But God challenged us at CLC with this promise. Like many of God's promises this one is conditional. It is a promise that we will RISE and that the glory of the Lord will make sure this happens when criteria are met. (I recognize that this is an unpopular message to those who misunderstand the grace of the Lord, as it requires some obedience. Let God be true...)

So here is a simple checklist. Perhaps you will go over it from time to time to check to see if your life is the kind of life that God can bless. I encourage you to make adjustments according to the Spirit of God's leading.

FASTING-Are you more interested in what heaven see's when you fast or what men see?
INJUSTICE- Are we speaking up against the unfairness of the system? The systemic racism, economic disparity, the blindness of the eyes of those who have and the oppression of those who have not?
YOKES- Are we interested in keeping people in their place of ignorance or are we teaching them the way of righteousness? Are we living, speaking, and teaching kingdom values?
OPPRESSION- Are we standing in the gap for those who are oppressed by darkness, the demonized and the downcast? Are we setting people free?
FOOD, SHELTER, CLOTHING- Are we meeting the physical needs of those who come to the Lord's house? Are we giving to benevolence funds? Are we sharing what is rightfully ours with those who have little?
GOSSIP and MALICIOUS TALK- Are we done with the petty trifles of interpersonal politics? Are we more concerned with what kind of person we are rather than what he or she thinks about us?

Then we can expect that our "light will rise" even in the environment of darkness. Then we can be assured that the Living God will strengthen us and be our supply; that he will hear our prayers and answer; that he will satisfy us and guide our lives. Then we can know that faith in the Living God is more than the words from our mouths but has become our lifestyle.

And that is the life that God can bless.

Blessings and Curses

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known. When the Lord your God has brought you into the land you are entering to possess, you are to proclaim on Mount Gerizim the blessings, and on Mount Ebal the curses.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭11:26-29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I occurred to me as I was reading this text a while ago that the key to a Successful Christian Life is consistency. The roadway of life is littered with the spiritual corpses of those who have been fervently hot one moment and ice cold the next. In this passage, Moses is reminding the people that God was on their side. God was longing to bless. He was (and is) leading that rally for success, blessing, and a lifetime of grace and mercy.

He tells the Israelites that they must proclaim from the hills the blessings of the Lord and the cursings of the Lord. God doesn't change his requirements to keep blessing us. He expects us to navigate life with a desire to be under the blessing of God. Our behavior needs to be oriented towards the blessing of God. In times of victory or success, in times of calm seas and times of relative peace, we are prone to forget that we must steer clear of the rocky shores of compromise. Only in holding a steady course oriented on the blessing of God will we be sure to find all that the Lord desires to give us.

Ironically, while God Almighty longs to bless us, we can be an obstacle to that blessing. So as a reminder God wanted us to be constantly made aware that there is a right way and a wrong way, a way of blessing and a way of cursing. Clearly, God is desiring to bless. But the Almighty is not willing to overthrow your personal will and volition. You choose. Your choice, sometimes daily, sometimes moment by moment, is the way that you will stay under the cloud of his blessing.

Since the choice comes to us over and again success is the consistent navigation of life with the priorities of God and the commands of life's design clearly in your vision. I pray today that you will hear from both mountains the echoes of God's desire to bless you (Deut 28) and also the negative consequences of becoming shipwrecked upon the shoals of disobedience. God desires for your blessing and success in life. God's people, too, are cheering for you to choose rightly. The witness of heaven itself is choosing for you to choose obedience over selfish disobedience. But your choice is the deciding vote!