Tuesday, March 09, 2010

OMG! These Judgmental People!

The army of God is the only one who shoots, slaughters, filets, badgers, mutilates, ignores, gossips about, (and all other adjectives I really can't mention here).... its own wounded.

That statement hits just a little too close to home. Not because of wrongs I've suffered or wounds I've received, though. It hits so close because of wrongs I've committed and wounds I've inflicted. I've done it: Judging another person by deciding in my own mind what their motives, insecurities, and intentions are based solely on what they do.

When God chose David as the second king of Israel, he told Samuel during the vetting process that it's people who judge by appearances, but God examines the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).

Whenever I have judged exclusively by externals, I've noticed that I'm excluding several significant internal realities:

The actual heart condition of the other person.

Jeremiah 17:9 says that no one can understand the heart. That's God's job.
Hurt people hurt people. Whenever someone lashes out or attacks someone else for no reason they are responding out of their own woundedness. MONSTER CAVEAT: Explaining their attack in NO WAY excuses it.
It's possible--just possible--that I don't have all the facts.

Maybe, just maybe, that person has genuinely prayed and sought God's heart and is following the leading God gave her.

Maybe, there's a calling on her life that I can't or haven't yet considered that would explain why she does what she does.
Judging others' judgmentalism is...oh, what's the word?...judgmental! I can get haughty in a hurry when I've been wronged or someone close to me has been wronged.
The task of judging others has already been assigned and I didn't get the gig.

God promises that He will set everything to rights.

He will account for every injustice, from the Holocaust to my haughtiness and everything in between.
Judging others wastes time that I will be held accountable for what I DO with it. A lot of people don't yet know Jesus and the extravagance of his love. What in the world am I doing wasting a nano-second on a job that's not mine? Lives are at stake.

Why? Why? Why?

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9–10

Why does God allow hardship? Why does God allow illness? Why does God allow tragedy? We can go on and on asking why, but we can't always answer these questions. Yet listen to what the apostle Paul said as he explains why it was allowed in his life in particular:
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. (2 Corinthians 12:7–8)

We don't know what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was. Most commentators believe it was some kind of physical disability that he probably acquired after one of his multiple beatings or stonings. Whatever it was, the devil wanted to use it to get Paul down. And it worked. Paul got down on his knees and called on God. The devil wanted to drive Paul away from God, but instead the apostle clung to Him that much tighter.

When we go through suffering and hardship, it can be so difficult at times. I have never had a more difficult time in my life than the past 19 months. Yet the fellowship I have had with God has never been sweeter. I have never been more dependent on Him. There are times I don't think I can handle it, and then God gives me the strength that I need. And I have learned things that I would not have learned anywhere else. I don't know the "why" of it all, but I trust God, cling to God, and rely on God.

Are you facing hardship and suffering today? Pour out your heart to God. He is trustworthy.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Leaders are Readers

So many of you have wrote to me asking about what books I read...here are a few in two separate lists. I am the most a.d.h.d. reader that there is in the world. It depends on the mood I am in and what I am hungering for in my life. I have cleaned out my little home study in order to begin a bit of a new season. John Maxwell says "Leaders are readers." Well, that has always been a sticking point in my existence. I think undergrad school did me in with all the nonsense texts I had to purchase. THANKS AMAZON KINDLE (and the iPad to come!)

But, this year I have made a commitment to begin to read, then journal about what I highlight in the book.

I. Books I am currently reading devotionally

1) A Hunger for God by John Piper

2) Forgotten God by Frances Chan

3) The Mortification of Sin by John Owen

4) In the Day Of Thy Power by Arthur Wallis

5) Generosity by Gordon MacDonald

6) Leading With A Limp by Dan Allender (*Reading NOW)

7) Humility by Andrew Murray

8) Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller

9) Angry Conversations With God by Susan Issacs (*honest and so funny)

II. Books I am currently reading (more historical in nature) include:

1) How Rome Fell, Death of a Superpower by Adrian Goldsworthy

2) Tea with Hezbollah by Ted Dekker

3) Inside the Revolution by Joel Rosenberg

4) The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs