Monthly Archives: February 2013

No Judgment!

I was recently asked to write a few words based on a specific Bible passage as part of a shared blog during Lent.  For those unfamiliar with Lent, it is the 40 day period leading up to Good Friday and Easter.  It has traditionally been considered part of the Catholic tradition, and has, unfortunately, been ignored by most non-Catholic followers of Jesus.  But for some, it has become a meaningful time of meditating on Jesus’ journey to the cross, and it is in that light that I now approach this season.

With that explanation, here is my contribution.  If you would like to continue to read through the daily blogs written by the folks who are a part of the Mosaic Edinburgh community, here is the link: http://journey-mosaic.blogspot.co.uk/

John 3:16-21

New Living Translation (NLT)

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[a]

Footnotes:

  1. 3:21 Or can see God at work in what he is doing.

How amazingly blessed are we?!! “There is NO JUDGMENT against anyone who BELIEVES in Him.”

What a beautifully simple plan God has put into place for us:  Believe and escape judgment.  Believe and have eternal life.

Believe in the One who left heaven for us.  Believe in His humanity.  Believe in His divinity. Believe in His sacrifice in our place.  Believe that He died.  Believe that He conquered death, because He rose from the dead.  Believe that He is seated at the right-hand of the Father in heaven.  Believe that He intercedes for us.  Believe that we get to be with Him forever.  And believe that love for us was the motivation for it all:  this wonderfully simple plan of God.

Sometimes it seems that so little is required of us in this plan of God’s.  Until we realise that it requires everything from us.

If we believe, we give up everything to Him and for Him, because He gave up everything for us.

We give up our unbelief, because if we hold on to that, as these verses tell us, we’ll be judged, and who would want that when we can escape judgment if we will only believe?

We give up living in darkness and holding onto our evil deeds, because His light has come, so we no longer live in darkness.  Our evil deeds are gone, because of His sacrifice in our place, so we don’t have any fear that they’ll be exposed.  We have given up hopelessness, fear, dread, and all those other slimy creatures that lurk in the darkness, because we now live in His light.

There are things that are more difficult for us to give up, even though we know that Jesus sacrificed those things as well.  Dignity might be one of them.  Rights and entitlement might be others.  We know that Jesus gave up His rights.  He could have held on to the entitlement due to the King of Heaven’s Armies (one of His names in the book of Psalms), but He didn’t.  Even so, we sometimes struggle to surrender those things.

There’s no judgment for us now, which means that we also give up judgment.  How can we judge others, when we know we will not be judged.  That’s another of the things Jesus gave up that we struggle to let go of.

What about control?  He surrendered His control, evidenced in the prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, and yet we definitely struggle to give up our control.  Until of course we come to the realisation that it’s only an illusion any way, and we’re not really in control at all.

How about self-determination?  But Jesus gave His life away.  He could have had life goals that didn’t include being led like a lamb to the slaughter.  He could have had ambitions for Himself.  He chose, instead, to make winning us His ambition.

What about ‘stuff’?  This world offers a lot of good ‘stuff.’  When it was offered to Him, He turned it down, even all the kingdoms of the world.  Few of us will ever have to give up anything like the wealth and power that Jesus was offered, but rejected.

Even when we struggle to give up some of these things, Jesus doesn’t judge us.  These verses of scripture assure us that He didn’t come to judge us.  “God sent His son into the world not to judge the world…” and again, “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

In the face of such overwhelming, sacrificial, merciful love, is there really anything we would rather hold on to?

“I want to do this for the rest of my life.”

Moscow, via Wanda Taft


“What do you love doing? Can you identify moments in your history where you’ve known for certain: ‘I want to do this for the rest of my life.'”

I just read this in an article in Relevant magazine reviewing the book “Quitter,”  and it was one of those moments that leaves you feeling like you’ve been stopped in your tracks.

I’ve had that knowing, just once, but I’ll never forget it.  I’ve never been so sure about anything in my life, yet at the same time, felt so unqualified and foolish.

It was in Perm, Russia, while on a trip with a group of folks from my church.  We were going out each day into the city, and serving the Russian people with small acts of kindness as a way of sharing God’s amazing love with them.

That ‘knowing’ didn’t come while washing clothes for five people by hand in the bath tub, and then wringing them out in my sore, raw hands.

And it didn’t happen while trying to convince my very young daughter that she could relieve herself over the hole in the floor, while I held her securely, promising not to let her fall in.

But it was while hearing a language all around me that I couldn’t understand.

It was while smelling new smells in the outdoor market.

It was while watching and observing people and places that were completely unfamiliar to me.

And most of all, it was while looking into the eyes of people as I spoke to them, in a voice shaking with fear and excitement, about how much God loves them and wants them to know him, seeing some of those eyes well up with tears.

After deciding to take the proverbial leap of faith, while my husband and I tried to prepare for a new life and a new lifestyle, a very wise woman warned me, “It’s not all like that, you know.  There will still be dirty laundry and dirty dishes and the rest of everyday life.”   And, of course, she was right.

But it reminds me of a line from a movie:  “I’d rather have 30 seconds of something wonderful, than a whole lifetime of nothing special.”

Now if I can just remember the wonderful part through the routine of daily life, of working at a job to help pay the bills, of dark, cold, wet days, of missing family members who I haven’t seen in years…

Recount for yourself the goodness of God.  Remember His marvels, miracles, and mercies.  Build an altar of remembrance and worship Him, so that your faith will be strong when the way is long.

Self-Pity is Ugly

 

I hate that I feel sorry for myself.

But I can’t seem to change.

I go by for awhile and am so thankful for what I have.  I try to practice that “attitude of gratitude,” “sacrifice of praise,” “giving thanks for everything,” but then BLAM!  Here it comes again!  I hear of some else’s holiday, coming on the heals of a couple of cool trips to this country and that country, and I’m right back in that place of ugliness:  jealousy, self-pity, and even anger.  My heart cries, “why do some people have it so good, and my life is so hard?”

As if in answer, I can hear my own words echo back to me, “Life’s not fair.  It’s never going to be fair, so don’t expect it to be.”  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said that to my kids…and myself.

But how do I change?

We all have things about ourselves that we don’t like.  And if we’re mature people who want to grow in character, we work on changing those things.  But I don’t actually believe in self-help.  At least not for me.  The harder I’ve tried to change, in the past, the worse I fail.  I feel weak and pitiful and helpless when it comes to changing myself.

That’s why I need Jesus!  Things like this bring me back to the foot of the cross.  ”Lord, have mercy on me!”  I cry out to Him to change those things in me that seem so repugnant only now, because they’ve been shown to me under a divine magnifying glass.  If I didn’t feel this way, I wouldn’t submit this issue, that I thought was gone but was really just hiding because I’d buried it.

How amazing is our God!  One thing at a time, so we’re not overwhelmed, He puts His finger on so it hurts and we become aware of it.  Because only in our pain and awareness will we bring it to Him and ask Him to ‘fix’ it, like the little, beloved children we are.  Trusting in His faithful love as our Heavenly Daddy, knowing that His embrace of peace will envelope us, we fall into His grace.

“Okay, Father, I’m feeling sorry for myself again.  Please forgive me, and change me.”

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but You will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. -Psalm 71:20

Small Dreams

 

My dreams are small.

I think I used to have big dreams, but they got lost somewhere along the way.  Maybe life has a way of doing that to us. When we’re kids we believe we can do anything, be anything. But as we “grow up,” we stop believing, little by little, until one day we realise that our dreams have disappeared.

That’s really sad….

So – I’ve asked God to help me dream again.  I believe that He can do that.  I believe God can do anything.  And because He is so powerful, and so loving at the same time, He will let me join Him in some amazing things…..like helping a disillusioned realist dare to dream.  Or helping someone who is losing hope to regain it a little.

Small dreams….share hope, or faith, or love, so that someone else’s life is a little different, a little better, because I’m here.