The Right Way to Judge
Everyday in so many ways we all make judgments. This is what a mature person does, what we are trained to do. But does that include judging other people?
We can get this right. Let’s work on it together.
Everyday in so many ways we all make judgments. This is what a mature person does, what we are trained to do. But does that include judging other people?
We can get this right. Let’s work on it together.
I have been facinated with the not so patriarch, Jacob.
This guy was a hustler from the womb. Not willing to allow anyone ahead of him, even in the womb. Upon delivery with his twin brother, he grabbed the heal of his brother when he arrived and kept on grabbing after things his whole life.
You may remember these, his greatest hustles:
To those familiar with how his story ends and him becoming one of the Partiarch’s of the Faith (in Judiasm & Christianity) these hustles are well known. But his proclivity for scheming, deception and cheating puzzles me. His swindling, or as one could say, the art of his deals amaze me.
This guy had to run away from his family because of his dishonest dealings with his brother and dad. He hid out with his uncle for 20 years! That is some serious time to allow family anger to subside. And all the while God blessed him! In spite of and on top of who he was inside, a cheater, God still promises to bless him for generations to come.
But there came a time in Jacob’s life, where he was left alone with who he was. In his account in Genesis, we read:
During the night, Jacob arose, woke up his wives, his maidservants, and eleven sons, and had them cross the ford of the Jabbok River. He sent them across along with everything he had, and Jacob was left all alone. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man appeared and wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he was not winning the match, he struck Jacob’s hip and knocked it out of joint, leaving it wrenched as he continued to wrestle with him. Eventually, the man said to him, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob refused. “No! Not until you bless me!” “What is your name?” asked the man. “Jacob,” he replied. “Not anymore.” the man said to him. “Your new name is Israel, for you have struggled both with God and with people and have overcome.”Genesis 32:22-29 TPT
There is so much in this passage, so let’s unpack it.
Jacob came to a place of emptying out himself of everything, his spouse, children, and servants. He released all he had only to be left with all he was. Alone, in that place, he wrestled with a mysterously appearing man (many believe the man to be God, some say it was the guardian angel of Esau and still others say it was satan.) What matters here for me is that Jacob, all by himself is wrestling with his identity, his walk, and his very his name.
And isn’t it interseting that his wrestling happens at Jabbok, which means “emptying”. The Jabbok River emptied into the Jordan River above the Dead Sea. Here, is where Jacob emptied himself and wrestled with God for His blessing. It was at daybreak that Jacob’s breakthrough came. Having prevailed as he did in the womb, he did not relent and grabbed his blessing – a new walk and a new name.
At Penuel, having first emptied himself, he wrestled with who he was and he actually saw the face of God, and lived to tell about it. This encounter marked him for life, his name and his walk.
This is Jacob’s story, but what puzzles, amazes, and facinates me is this:
- God fearfully and wonderfully made each of us Ps. 139:13-14
- He made us in His image GEn. 1:27
- He thinks innumerable thoughts of love and blessing for us Ps. 139:17-18
- He has chosen us & helps us Is. 44:2
- He named us Is. 49:1
- He redeemed us Jn. 3:17
- He calls us His children Jn. 1:12
- He accepts and empowers us as we wrestle with our own weakness & shor comings 2 Cor. 12:9
- We have this divine treasure in our earthen vessels 2 Cor. 4:7
How can it be that the very God who made me in His likeness still loves, accepts and uses me, the one who is so prone to sin, manipulation, dishonesty, judgment, compromise, selfishness, pride and arrogance? How can it be that Jacob’s story is really mine? I too have personality traits far from godly.
His whole life he was known for certain traits, by his family, associates and city. Jacob, the deceiver. And yet, Jacob emptied himself in that moment, and stood alone before God, wrestling for a bigger blessing upon his life. From that place he emerged as a Prince with God, his true destiny as our Partiarch.
And so it is with me, with you. Those very traits, designed into our personality by God, He refines and uses them for His will. He sands off our prickly, rough edges and causes us to hold the weight of His presence. He sharpens our iron sharp wills and galvanizes us with His will, unshakable, unmoveable. We hold this treasure in earthen, weak, vessels, that His power can show forth in spite of our weaknesses. In fact, His power is made perfect in our weakness.
When I look within, I cry with the prophet of old, “O, wretched man that I am!”. I am wrestling with who I am. I am wrestling with who I want to become. I, like Jacob, will not let God go until He blesses me, and changes my walk and empowers my new name.
Emptying myself of those “warts and all”, I see His face and what I want to become. I want more! More of Him.
If you too, have wrestled or are wrestling with who you are, please know that you are not alone. Remember Jacob. Remember me. Join us in the match of a lifetime and be confident that in the end, you will walk away changed, and very much alive, having seen the face of God.
Won’t you join us as we wrestle with who we are and who we are becoming.
It seems that we are fairly familiar with the causes and even the symptoms of the anxiety that we experience. But are we as familiar with and open to the coping secrets that Jesus provides us? Are we anxious enough to finally yield to His solution for human anxiety?
Sit for a spell and give it some thought, won’t you?
Cheers to your new found peace.
Today’s title is a summary of some overwhelming thoughts that I was recently wrestling with. I couldn’t hear what I needed to hear because of all the other noise that was coming at and overcoming me.
Hearing is essential to all animals and we humans can distinguish 400,000 different sounds. All of these sounds are actually frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hertz, but we are most sensitive to sounds between 500 & 4,000 Hertz and we are most sensitive to frequencies that are crucial to speech recognition. (So, most of us really do hear what they are saying. Ha ha)
The loudness of these sounds is important too, and is expressed in decibels, dB. Prolonged exposure to louder than 85dB will damage our ear and cause hearing loss. Just for your reference, a gas powered lawn mower loudness is 85-90 dB!
“In 1999, the World Health Organization determined in a 24 hour period, exposure to 70 dB would produce minimal hearing loss in 95% of people.” (1) For clarity, that means that if you were exposed to 70 dB of noise for 24 hours straight, 95% of people would experience minimal hearing loss.
Hang with me here, we’ll tie some things together shortly.
Our very mechanism of hearing is a complicated and marvelous design. Here’s a quick review:
The pinna acts as a funnel, collecting all those sound waves, and sending them along the 2-3 cm ear canal where they will bounce off the ear drum and onto those 3 tiny bones in the middle ear. Those lil’ guys amplify those “good vibrations” and send them on to that snail shaped cochlea that has fluid inside. That fluid stimulates tiny hair cells causing them to move. When they do move, these pore-like channels open up and chemicals rush in creating an electrical signal. The auditory nerve then carries this electrical signal to the brain and voila, our brain decipers what we are hearing.
The fact that we can hear at all is a very complicated process we ought not take it for granted.
But here’s the deal. Because we can hear, we are hearing all sorts of noise, facts, issues, voices, and news. Sometimes, like I experienced last week, there is so much noise, we can’t seem to hear with any clarity what is really important. We have trouble filtering through all the noise. (Is it just me?)
If we continue to expose ourself to loud and frequent noise it should come as no surprise that we would experience hearing loss. We become dull in our hearing first and then our heart even grows dull, heavy burdened. Then, sensitivity is lost, All because of the noise constantly bombarding our ears and taking root in our heart.
From the early first century, we have writings speaking to this very issue.
“Your heart has grown dull of hearing and your ears can barely hear.” Matthew 13:15 ESV
“You have become dull of hearing…” Hebrews 5:11 ESV
“Dull” in the original languages in the Hebrews text means, “sluggish, lazy; stupid, dull & slothful.” “Dull” in the Matthew text means, “heavy, weighty, burdensome, grave. Grievous, heavy.” And it is taken from a word meaning, “going down; a load. Abundance, authority – burdensome, weight.”(3)
The writers here, in the first century are speaking of people’s hearing becoming weighed down, burdensome, and even stupid with an abundance of authority loading on weights. Humph, sounds very familiar…
Here’s a look at how another first century writer describes the things that dull people’s hearing.
In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV
No wonder my hearing had become dull. The noise coming at me was alot of this garbage! It was loud. It was constant. It was burdensome, heavy and stupid! It had found it’s way into my hearing mechanism and further complicated my hearing process. (Just what I needed… NOT!)
I did as the audiologists (2) suggest – “If you have normal hearing and want to keep it that way…
So I: turned off my 1 hour a day news show, the radio and canceled certain streaming. I choose to listen to only things, videos, and podcasts that would build up my faith. I avoided all things negative or harmful to my hearing and faith. I got rid of stuff building up inside of me, perhaps causing infections by having more serious prayer time. I asked the Lord to heal my heart and remove all hardness and infection.
I realized that my faith, personal convictions and reliance on Christ was dependent on my hearing. “Faith comes from hearing…” Romans 10:17 ESV
I couldn’t hear because of all the noise, so I cut the noise and increased those things that would build my faith. I listened to uplifting, encouraging, and spiritually nutritional things cuz I wanted by faith and reliance on Jesus renewed, and cleaned up.
My hearing has improved but only because I never again want to say or experience, “I can’t hear for all the noise.”
How’s your hearing?
If you’re old enough to be reading this (and interested too) then you are old enough to be making investments. And I am just wondering, how are your personal investments? If one were to look into your account, what would they find?
I hope you either already are or will consider making lasting investments.
I’m sure you remember that we here on Earth have our seasons all because of the tilt of the earth.
Our tilt is not like that of Uranus which sits sideways. Nor is it like Jupiter, whose tilt is only 3 degrees. Our tilt, slant or “axial tilt” is 23.4 degrees and decreasing. It is usually between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees.
It is because of that tilt that our planet has it’s seasons. As the North pole tilts toward the sun we have summer in the Northern hemisphere. Conversely, when the South pole tilts toward the sun we have winter in the Northern hemisphere.
It’s amazing to me that at any one time, earth is going through two distinct seasons. One in the Northern hemisphere and one in the Southern hempsphere. Yet, we only are experiencing the one that we are in.
Also interesting to note is whichever hemisphere is pointed towards the sun receives more energy and light from the sun.
It is precisely that tilt that gives us our winter, spring, summer and fall. Three months each, with specific starting and ending dates makes earth’s seasons measured, predictable and purposeful.
Spring – seeds take root, things begin to grow, warmer weather, animals awake, melting snow and rain
Summer – temperatures increase to the hotest time of the year, heat waves and droughts
Fall – temperatures cool, plants grow dormant, animals prepare for cold storing food or traveling, harvests
Winter – brings chill, snow, ice, rain, animals seek warmth
Seasons are those periods of the year with disctinct conditions and day lengths but the timing and characteristics of seasons depend on where you are on earth.
One other note before I make some applications to your life. Earth’s axis rotation is changing. In fact, a complete cycle is 26,000 years. In 13,000 years earth’s seasons will actually reverse. It will take another 13,000 years for them to return back again. This change is gradual and we never notice it. But it does cause our summer solstice to arrive 20 minutes early every year. In 70 years, it will arrive a full day earlier.
Why the astronomy lesson? Why should I care?
One thing we know for sure is that as long as there is an earth, there will be seasons. Genesis 8:22 promises that. And I would add, as long as we are living, our life will go through seasons. (And I don’t just mean those 4 seasons each year.)
Each of us personally experience seasons in our life. If we don’t recognize what season we’re in we tend to feel lost and without purpose. So it is important for us to recognize the season that we are in.
Each season has a specific purpose, something that must be accomplished. Also, remember, “if we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” Anne Bradstreet
“Life is not one long race, but many short ones in succession.” And those short ones are the seasons of life that we all pass and grow through. Seasons help us plan and manage expectations. Seasons remind us that there is a time for everything. Ecclestiastes 3:1 It is frustrating though that the seasons of our life are not as clearly defined as our tilted, earthly seasons, isn’t it?
Most importantly, every season has a beginning and an end.
The season you are currently in is not permanent. The season you are in does have a purpose to accomplish in your life. The season you are in is exactly because of the tilt and lopsided orbit of your life. The season you are in is part of a much larger cycle with a much bigger purpose than you are now seeing. The season that you are in may be producing incremental changes for you but big and lasting changes for the generations that follow you. You may or may not see your seasonal change, but it is happening.
Lastly, the amount of light and energy that you experience in your seasons depends on what direction you are pointed. Are you pointed toward the Son? There is where you will find energy and light for your seasonal changes.
You may have times when you think that your life is off kilter, lopsided or having been hit by some enormous object that threw you off course. I imagine Mother Earth thought that 4.5 billion years ago when something crashed into her and caused her to tilt 23.4 degrees. But without her tilt, there would be no seasons. Without her tilt the only habitable place for humans would be the equator. So whatever has crashed into your life is part of a master plan, and it has a definate purpose.
It really is all about the tilt and seasons of your life.
Cheers to your growth through each season,
There’s alot of talk these days about fasting, specifically intermintent fasting. There are tons of positive benefits fasting brings to your life and I’ve experienced them. How ’bout you?
There seems to be signifigant value in learning to deny our appetites for a season. Science has spoken.
But I submit to you the value of denying our appetites goes way beyond our physical well being. I am confident it brings emotional, spiritual, intellectual AND physical health and wholeness to those who give themselves to fasting.
Please take a few moments and see how you can benefit from fasting.
God bless you on your journey of self denial.
Where do you go for help?
I think that we could agree that it depends on the problem you are facing, right?
If the sink is stopped up and overflowing we’d seek out a plumber. If our car engine is misbehaving, we’d seek an auto mechanic. If our child is severly depressed we would waste no time in calling for a mental health specialist. Where we go for help depends on who has the problem, the nature of the problem and the symptoms being experienced.
Let’s leave for now the self diagnosed, “easy” to fix problems like the sink, and the car, and delve deeper into the kinds of problems mentioned above with your child. Depression, anxiety, fear, financial worries, illness, relational conflict, political unrest, and the like. Let’s focus on those types of problems.
Where do you go fo help?
I want to offer you a song, one that will take you higher (than where you are now). One that provides you with a clear Source of help and a well paved path to that Source.
The song is one of 15 listed in the ancient Hebrew writings of poetry. It was sung by the Hebrews as they made their annual trek to Jerusalem for the Feasts. This song was intended to instill confidence to those on the long and dangerous journey. Faced with dangers and bandits along the arduous road these travelers sang this song that lifted their spirits higher, encouraged them in their journey and reminded them that although they felt alone they definately were not.
Interestingly, their song serves as a parable for us and our journey through life. It answers the question, “Where do you go for help?” by revealing the Source and the path. Let’s look at that song, now.
I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help. But then I realize that our true help and protection come only from the Lord, our Creator who made the heavens and the earth.”Psalm 121:1-2 TPT
On the trek toward their destination, they looked up and saw the surrounding hills and mountains. Were these hills and mountains places to fear? Were they there to keep them from finishing their journey? Did they represent dangers, distractions, or reminders of previous victories? Were these large and overshadowing pillars where they would get their help from?
They sang about looking to the mountains, and arriving at the City, but that is not where their help came from. They saw beyond the hills, looking to the One who made those hills and mountains, the Creator of each hill and even the valleys. The Creator of heaven and earth.
They saw the Creator, Jehovah God looming far superior to those puny mountains. THAT is where their help came from. THAT is how they would finish their journey. That is where their confidence came from. THAT is the song they bravely sang. THAT is the song took their spirits higher.
The song continues,
He will guard and guide me, never letting me stumble or fall. God is my keeper; He will never forget or ignore me. He will never slumber nor sleep; He is the Guardian-God for His people, Israel. “Psalm 121:3-4 TPT
Help wasn’t in the City, the powerful mountains or their own personal strength, their help came “only from the Lord”. The Creator. He was the One who would guard them on the trail, and guide them along the dark path. He was the One who watched over their steps and provided a stable, firm foothold for them. He was the One who empowered them to stand up, walk forward and not slip.
The Lord was their Keeper, their watchman. He was the one who watched over them and would never forget or ignore them. He was the One who didn’t take naps, or disappear in the darkest times. He would guard them, He would keep them. THIS was their confident song. THIS is who they looked to for help, whether in the sunlight or the moonlight.
This song rang with faith and confidence in the One who had delivered them in the past and who would do so again as needed. Their song resounded as they continued singing –
Jehovah Himself will watch over you; He’s always at your side to shelter you safely in His presence. He’s protecting you from all danger both day and night. He will keep you from every form of evil or calamity. As He watches over you. you will be guarded by God Himself. You will be safe when you leave your home and safely you will return. He will protect you now, and He’ll protect you forevermore.”Psalm 121:5-8 TPT
Jehovah Himself will watch over us, in every circumstance along life’s journey they sang. Their voices were lifted high to match their vision as they declared His presence to be their shade and protection. No bandit-stealer, or ravenous beast need they fear, for He was their Keeper and Guardian along the Way.
Melodic notes of thanks and praise filled their journey on life’s road for they were confident in His eternal protection whether at home or away. They knew where their help came from, not just for this journey, but for their life.
They knew the hills they originally looked to were to serve as reminders of the places where the Lord had done mighty wonders for Abraham (on Moriah), Moses (on Nebo), and on Carmel (defeating Baal). Yet, perhaps some even saw prophetically to the hill Jesus would sit on and teach the multitudes, the Mount of His Transfiguration and the hill of ultimate redemption – Golgatha.
Although their eyes were lifted to those hills, they knew that their help did not come from those strong hills and mountains. No government, god of nature, or overwhelming obstacle would be their helper. Their help was in the name of the Lord, Creator of heaven and earth.
This God, with unbounded power was their protector, watchman, helper and their confidence could not be stronger. THIS lifted them. THIS encouraged them. THIS empowered them as they headed to their destination.
THIS was the song that took them higher.
No matter the problem, no matter who is struggling with it, and no matter the symptoms, the Source of your help is found in the Lord who made heaven and earth. And the path to that Source begins by lifting up your eyes – no longer seeing the dangerous mountains, but seeing your Source of help, strength, confidence, peach and hope.
Today, as you walk the road of life, may you too lift your eyes to the hills that reveal all He has done for you in the past, and find the same confidence that He watches over you everyday, everywhere, and every step. He is your helper in daytime and in the darkest hours.
He is the song that takes you higher.
“Sang it, girl, Sang it, boy.”
It seems to be a given that at some time we all will find ourselves uttering a prayer, whether we are religious or not. There are 3 things we are told to do, when we pray. Check it out…
You can handle those three things, I know you can.
Now, let’s pray.