Judgement Free Zone

pixabay handcuffs judgement free

I joined a group of women for coffee this morning. We were there to share our lives, our needs, our gifts and our prayers. The woman who brought us together had posted a sign on the wall that read “Judgement Free Zone.” (And one that said, “’Fix-It’ Free Zone” too, but that will have to wait for another day.)

Do you ever feel like the Lord is poking on you? Well, that sign was one more way he used to tell me I need to work on my awful tendency toward judgement. All of life should be a judgement free zone! Still, I struggle to ignore those nitpicky little notions that pop into my head when I see someone doing life wrong (aka not MY way). I’d like to share a few quotes that help me steer clear of judgmental muck and mire. Actually, the first should be enough for us all.

“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.” (Jesus in Matthew 7:1-2).

“Give people room to be human.” (Joel Osteen)

“Carry a shield. And treat others as if they don’t.” (Rachelle Gardner)

Carry a shield? Yes, indeed! Since, sadly, we don’t live in a judgement free world, we’ve all got to be wary of allowing the judgment of others to wound us or, worse yet, to dissuade us from following the path we believe the Lord has laid out for us. While we are surely called to serve one another, we aren’t necessarily called to please one another.

Truth be told, though, the person on whom I often exact the toughest judgement is myself. I read these wise words a few nights ago:

“Speak to yourself the way you would speak to someone you love.”

And how do we handle our fiery self-judgement when we’ve absolutely made a wrong choice? Here’s what my pastor says:

“Religion says, ‘I messed up. My dad is gonna kill me.’ The Gospel says, ‘I messed up. I need to call my dad.’”  (Ky Faciane)

Anytime we make the mistake of judging ourselves harshly, the best and only answer is to go back to our Lord, confident that he still loves us and can cover all our misdeeds. ‘Same goes for the misdeeds we see going on in other people’s lives. We can and ought to pray. Sometimes we may be called to counsel. But I’m ready to start building more judgement free zones. Join me, won’t you?!?

Advertisements

Grumbling about a Gift

Grocery grumbling about a gift Fikri Rasyid via unsplasAs I write today, I’m hungry. And my cupboard is bare. Okay, not really bare. By third world standards, it’s bursting at the seams. But I’m out of vegetables, almost out of fruit and down to my last container of homemade soup. Definitely time to hit HEB. (The best grocery chain in the country, for all you non-Texans out there.) I’m a little tired. It’s Friday afternoon, (I write my blogs ahead of time) so the place will be mobbed. Moments ago, I was feeling just a little sorry about having to leave my quiet computer corner in order to go shop, Then I came across this excerpt from my sister-in-law’s most recent email regarding the task of grocery shopping.

“[Grocery shopping is] one of those very gratifying chores, where you have a task to complete and it gets done!  And it’s lovely along the way… I honestly think grocery shopping is good for my soul, since I am more reflective about the abundance of variety and colors in fresh food, extra grateful for provision and the means to buy things that are healthy and good, etc.  Okay, enough of that, but I am with you.  And seriously, thank you for always making time spent on your turf so easy and fun!

She’s coming soon, you see. There will be 13 of us gathered together, and I was telling her how I’m looking forward to stocking up on all the food for our celebration. Usually, I like grocery shopping for the same reasons she mentioned. And as I re-read her quote, I was reminded again of how easy I have it, how easy almost all of us have it.

  • I’ve never had to wring a chicken’s neck or butcher a cow.
  • I don’t even have to weed a garden or grind flour unless I want to.
  • I only pick fruit or harvest fresh veggies when out on a lark in the country.

So, yes, I’m thankful! And yes, I will go shopping—today! In the crowds. As I do, I’ll think about the abundant gift of being able to buy all the food my family needs in one place in about an hour’s time.

  • And when I do the laundry this week, I’ll remember how unusual it is, by global standards, to have so many shirts and pairs of pants.
  • And when I mop the floor, I’ll think of those who barely have a home or maybe have a dirt floor.
  • And when I have to pay those gas prices? I’ll remember how excited some missionary friends of mine were to get a car.

Do you ever complain, then realize you’re actually grumbling about a gift, feeling bad about keeping up with all that you’ve been given? Let’s stop all that nonsense. Begin anew with me today to have a thankful heart. And if you care to share—I’ll be checking in here to read all about it.

May God bless you with a healthy dose of gratitude all week long!

Photo by Fikri Rasyid via Unsplash.com.

While on a Treadmill…

white-male-1856182_1280On a recent rainy Saturday, I headed to the gym and slipped on my headphones. Sometimes, to distract myself from the boredom of the treadmill (just being honest here!), I watch Netflix. Sometimes, I watch a sermon. I chose a sermon that day and started streaming one by Francis Chan It was a great talk on obedience and sacrifice, delivered in his usual way—disarmingly casual, surprisingly funny and always in-your-face challenging. But on that Saturday, it wasn’t a sermon by Francis Chan that renewed my resolve to trust in our loving lord. It was, of all things, an ad for the movie “Hellboy.”

Since I’m not an aficionado of those movies, I can’t tell you which sequel Hollywood is offering this month. What I can tell you is that, as I began to jog along on a noisy sweat machine, the flat screen TV in the corner of the room caught my eye. There in poster-like fashion, bold against a brightly colored background, was this announcement:

ON APRIL 12, OUR FATE IS IN HIS HANDS.

I had to laugh. I was about to spend 30 minutes listening to what would unquestionably be a fantastic sermon by a well-known pastor, but nothing was going to stick in my mind that day like those few words. Because, of course, on April 12th, and every other day as well, our fate IS in his hands. (I hope you’ve figured out by now that I don’t mean the hands of Hellboy!)

Those words are one of the keys to our walk of faith, the reason we can be at peace no matter what is going on around us. Our fate is in the hands of the Lord who loves us. Not in our hands. Not in the hands of any enemy or even in the hands of a loved one. In HIS hands. Ultimately, at all times, whether we see it or not, our Lord is at the helm. And isn’t that the most wonderful news?

So, on April 12th, and on every day thereafter, I hope you will join me in remembering—perhaps with a bit of a chuckle over the source of these words—

OUR FATE IS IN HIS HANDS!! Care to comment? Just click here.

Photo by pixabay

Sandy

puppies sandy jametiene Reskp via unsplashI want to tell you a story. It’s an old one, but I was astonished to discover that I’ve never shared it here before. Last week a friend asked, “Have you ever had a dog?” and it all came back to me…

Our children were small, and our first dog, Springer, was very old. We’d heard that getting a new dog while the old one was still relatively healthy would be good for old and young alike. So, one sunny Saturday morning, we put a new leash, an old water bowl and two very excited kids into our minivan and headed out for a long drive to the pound. The experience was not what we expected.

  • Disappointment number one: most of the dogs available that day were chow mix, and the ASCPA would not allow any family with children to adopt them.
  • Disappointment number two: the adoption process had changed in the decade and a half since we’d gotten Springer. It required extra paperwork, an evaluation process, and a second trip weeks later to pick up the selected puppy. I understood their reasons, but I can still see Tony, standing there forlorn, with leash in hand, asking, “Do you mean we won’t get to take home a puppy today?”
  • Disappointment number three: the only puppies available were going to grow up to be big dogs, very big dogs. (Somehow, this didn’t seem to bother my husband, but this was not our agreed upon plan.)

As disappointments mounted, my enthusiasm waned. Tony, Elizabeth and I were shown to a small cubicle where we could play with the most likely canine candidate while Steve filled out forms. And then, I kid you not, I got dizzy—like “I think I might pass out” dizzy. Steve had to be called to the cubicle so I could step outside for some air.

I sat out on the curb with my head on my knees. As I waited for my head to stop spinning, I prayed that God would intervene. A few minutes later, confident that the risk of passing out was gone, I looked up and saw a most beautiful sight. There in the parking lot, a woman was walking away from her car, carrying a basket of tiny tawny puppies. I stepped into what felt like a God-orchestrated Disney screenplay.

“Excuse me, ma’am, are you about to take those puppies into the pound?”

“What kind are they? How big do you expect them to be?

“Would you mind waiting just a minute?”

“Steve, would you and the children come out here. I’d like to show you something.”

“Would you two kids like to take one of these home with you today, right now?”

“You can reach into the basket and choose the one you want.”

And so, we did. Sandy was perfect—the right size, the right demeanor, just what we needed. She was still with us long after our kids grew up and moved out. She became another living example of God’s grace, of how he cares so very much about even the small “worldly” details of our lives. I’m thankful for Sandy. And I hope her story encouraged you today!

Photo by jametiene Reskp via Unsplash.com

A Simple Life

photo-1510333337682-fdd0eba357a4 Robert Nyman UnsplashI attended a women’s conference a few weeks back. I had my notebook ready, and captured all sorts of wise words and valuable lessons. One stood out from all the rest.

“Someone asked the question, ‘What are you doing with your life?’
The answer I heard was, ‘I’m following Jesus. How about you?’”

Is life really that simple?

Yes, I think it is. My college chaplain used to say, “Few things are necessary, really only one.” (More about that here.) Our one thing is following Christ. Simple doesn’t mean easy, though. In order to follow Jesus, we have to see where he’s leading us. That requires time and effort and a good deal of going against the flow of our culture. It takes:

Knowing him: spending time in prayer, taking time to read the Bible, immersing ourselves in teaching about who he is and what his will looks like.

Listening to him: limiting distractions that crowd out his still small voice with clamor and confusion, asking him to speak and looking for his leading.

Opening ourselves to others: letting true fellowship take the role of godly counsel at times when we aren’t sure what following Jesus looks like.

Stepping out in faith and courage: taking action in some situations, while waiting patiently in others. When we don’t yet know the path that’s right, and can’t keep waiting to make a decision, we have to seek our Lord’s will and trust that, as we step out in faith, he will keep us going in the right direction. When we do know what following Jesus looks like in a particular circumstance, we still need the strength or courage to follow through.

But at its core, the life we’re meant to lead is one of simply following Jesus. When I’m discouraged or confused, I take comfort in the fact that Jesus wants me to follow him. And he knows I want to do just that. My prayers for guidance are absolutely 100% within his will, and 1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Photo by Robert Nyman via Unsplash.com

The Herbie Guy Strikes Again

vw bug unsplash @karol smocyznskiWhat does the name Dean Jones mean to you? He was inducted into the Disney Legends Hall of Fame nearly 25 years ago, so maybe you associate his name with That Darn Cat or Blackbeard’s Ghost. Have you ever seen The Love Bug, that first beloved Herbie movie which, incidentally, was one of the highest grossing films of 1969? Dean Jones played racecar driver Jim Douglas alongside comedian Buddy Hackett and a very lively Volkswagen Beetle.

Dean Jones provided the comforting voice that will read the New Living Translation of the Bible to you via YouVersion anytime you want to hear the spoken Word. ‘Talk about a great way multitask while driving to work or doing dishes! But now I’ve discovered my favorite Dean Jones gift of all.

St. John in Exile.

What can I say to convince you to forgo your favorite video entertainment sometime this week and choose to watch this gem instead? “St. John in Exile” is a one man play, filmed beautifully before a live audience without, as I understand it, any editing. Dean plays an aging John, author of both the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation, exiled on the island of Patmos.

  • He reminisces about his time with Jesus, relates his experience of the crucifixion and the later loss of fellow apostles.
  • He speaks of the triumph available to believers even when imprisoned in a damp and uncomfortable cave.
  • He shows you Jesus!

By the end of its 90 minutes you will have laughed, learned and worshipped. I love the way this film entertains, encourages and educates all at the same time. And I’m amazed that one actor could carry out such a feat without a supporting cast.

Go, go, I say! Trust me on this! It’s free to stream on Amazon Prime. The rental and the hard copy DVD are both on sale here at Christianbooks.com.

Oh, and next on my viewing list? The Most Reluctant Convert, C.S. Lewis portrayed on stage by Max McLean.

Enjoy! Enjoy! And then tell all your friends, including me, what you thought of St. John in Exile. You can add your comments here.