A brief thought on judgementalism

Ignatius Brianchaninov said:

Whatever you do, on no account condemn anyone; do not even try to judge whether a person is good or bad, but keep your eyes on that one evil person for whom you must give an account before God: yourself.

I’ve been spending my time criticising and judging someone in my church, trying to figure out where they are spiritually, praying for them, deeply frustrated by them….

This quote helps put things in perspective.

 

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‘I just wanna be a sheep’

This post was first published last year as a guest post on one of my favourite blogs – The Recovering Legalist.  I encourage you to go visit!

‘I just wanna be a sheep’

I come from a country that is famous for its sheep. New Zealand used to have more than 70 million sheep.  Now the number is about 29 million, according to teara.govt.nz.  August is the best time of year to see the sheep, as it is late winter, when the ewes are lambing. It is delightful to watch the lambs gambolling in the fields playfully, so different from their sedate mothers.

Thinking about sheep gets me pondering all the Biblical references to sheep. The way we farm sheep here in NZ is quite different from 1st Century Palestine or how David cared for his father’s sheep before he became king of Ancient Israel. These differences can teach us something about our relationship with God.

Shepherds in the Bible

It’s clear from reading the Bible texts that the good shepherds in those days (like David) had a small number of valued sheep, each one of which was known by the shepherd, and who knew the shepherd and followed him.

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. “ (Luke 15:4-6 ESV)

Jesus also talks about the shepherd’s relationship to his sheep in John 10:3-4, where he says, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. “

Contrast this with modern farming, where a farmer will often have hundreds, if not thousands of sheep. They live in fields fenced by barbed wire. They are seen as stupid animals, that the shepherd herds by using dogs to make them obey his will. You do not see a shepherd leading his sheep, instead driving them in front of him. They have an ear tag with a number to identify them to the sheep farmer.

To me this speaks of two different ways of relating to God.

What kind of sheep are you?

One kind is motivated by fear, and kept safe by barbed wire. These fences are like the extra rules that we make for ourselves or that others make for us, to keep us safe and away from sin. But they also keep us from following the Shepherd to green pastures. Instead we are boxed in where the grass has been overgrazed, living on stale hay.

Some sheep break out, thinking that the grass looks greener elsewhere, and end up on a busy road or in a ditch. This is like those who break away from legalism to do their own thing, or those who fear the Shepherd and his voice, and shipwreck their lives as a result. Both are far from the Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd’s sheep are motivated by love for their Shepherd. They trust him to keep them safe and fed, and they follow him wherever he leads. He leads them to green pastures and restores their souls. He protects them in the darkest valleys and lays down his life for them. Jesus said,  “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth.” The Good Shepherd’s sheep are led by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is not a factory farmer. He wants us to know his voice and follow him out of love. He doesn’t want us to be penned in by traditions or extra rules, but instead to walk with him to green pastures and fresh water.

Will you follow him?

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And here’s a fun kids’ song to finish – one of my 4-year-old son’s favourites!

All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand

When going through another bout of depression, I must hold on Jesus. The feelings come and go, but He is always the same.

The Recovering Legalist

There are times when a hymn can do what nothing else can do.The Solid Rock, written by Edward Mote (1797-1874), has been my favorite hymn for as long as I can remember, but for today it is on the second and third verse I want to focus.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath His covenant and blood
Support me in the ‘whelming flood:
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

Darkness does come, whether we want to admit it, or not. There are times when, like Shakespeare, I feel all I’m doing is “trouble[ing] deaf heaven with my bootless cries.” At times His loving face is hidden in the darkness, leaving me to feel like no one is listening…

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Beggar for Love

I was a beggar for love until you found me,

Clutching my filthy rags around me,

Scrabbling in the dirt for scraps left behind,

Holding tight to what I could find,

Until you found me.

 

I was a beggar for love until you found me,

The longing for love a festering wound within me,

Scorned love turned to passionate hate,

Loathing myself more than anyone else,

Until you found me.

 

I was a beggar for love, but you stooped in the dirt,

Picked me up, washed my wounds, healed my hurt.

In your perfect love, Jesus, I find

A well so deep I can never drink it dry.

Not just one in a crowd to you,

But a beloved child lost and sought,

You never relented until you had me safe in your arms

Nestled near your heart,

A beggar no more.

I am yours.

Dealing with my own distortions…

I want to reblog this post because it is a powerful reminder of how mixed up our thoughts can be. I know God’s still working on me and transforming my thinking.

In My Father's House

Distorted_Mel2 In my last post (“Dealing with our distortions of God”), I attempted to lay a foundation about our distorted view of God and how that effects our relationship with Him and how we see ourselves and others. Now, I would like to  share what I have discovered over the years about my own personal distortions. I will also confess here that I didn’t realize that most of these were distortions before this discovery. Like you, I thought they were normal. I didn’t know what I didn’t know…Okay, here’s a few to start with…

My distortions about God:

I thought that God was still angry at sinners…
I thought Jesus was the merciful, graceful, loving, approachable friend who had to hold back a distant, too lofty, angry, wrathful Father from striking us all down because He couldn’t stand to look at us without His “Jesus glasses” on…

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Longings

We started homeschooling again last week, and are starting a new routine this week.  It’s scary how full our week is.  I don’t want to have such a busy life.  I’m also expert at wasting time, and procrastinating when I feel overloaded, which of course makes things worse.

We are doing both swimming and gymnastics, which is probably a mistake, as it means two afternoons out in a row, on Monday and Tuesday, and then on Wednesday I take Nature Boy and Kitty to violin.  The best thing about Wednesday is that I can sit in a comfortable squishy chair for nearly an hour at violin, and my husband and Curly cook dinner and look after the baby.  Bliss.  I also enjoy the music therapy.

There’s a pile of mending behind the couch, and a pile of books that need sorting out on the lounge floor.  But I’m learning that He is everywhere in every moment.  I want to know His Presence in the mess and muddle that is my life.  I want to know Him, not just about Him.  I’ve just dipped my toes in His ocean.  I want to swim.