I am slowly stepping back into the blogging world and I gotta say, it's all good. I have been so absent from this thing I love the past year and I have missed it a crazy amount of much. I haven't written much of anything. That makes me sad.
Paul and I are still very much involved in the youth ministry at our church. We have been blessed beyond measure and God has added roughly 15 new kids to our family. Thankfully our house usually holds them. Sometimes it's bodies everywhere, but that's okay. No one has complained yet. We're also swiftly outgrowing our room at the church and again, it's sometimes wall-to-wall bodies, but it will be okay. We'll get a new room when it's time. In the meantime, we just encourage the use of deodorant.
Being in a ministry position we are virtually always under scrutiny. We are held to a higher standard in the eyes of the church simply because we have been entrusted with some pretty amazing students and funny, they don't want them all messed up and stuff. We have to try really hard to do the right thing, give the right words and set a good example.
I am by no means a perfect person and my walk with God sometimes is a little more of a crooked stagger through the woods than a peaceful walk down the smooth road with Disney-esque woodland creatures frollicking and bursting into song. He never promised me - or any of us - perfection here on earth; He only promised us His love. Unconditional, undying, perfect Love. I do the best I can to live the way He wants me to and I think God appreciates my efforts. Ephesians 2:10 tells us we are His masterpiece and if He can view me in all my sin and imperfection as a masterpiece, I take value in that and just give it my best. I'm not always going to hit the mark. He knows that. I know that. It's a process.
As a teen I learned the phrase "Judge not, lest ye be judged." It was something thrown around by my peers when someone picked out their behavior and either got nasty and made it public or just decided to give a scathing opinion of one's previous weekend adventures or whatever someone deemed as inappropriate behavior or unacceptable acts. It was largely situational and mostly used as a retort. And let's be honest, teenagers judge. They are big-time egocentric and can justify virtually any behavior.......oh wait.
That's not just teenagers. We all do it. We shouldn't.
I like the way "The Message" translates Matthew 7:1. It is just plain and simple and it really speaks to me:
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment."
It's so easy to sit back and rain down judgment from our lofty heights when in all honesty, we have absolutely no idea what someone else is going through.
Last night on Facebook I happened to catch a passive-aggressive comment on a friend's wall and because Facebook has made us all nosy stalkers, I went a'searching for what prompted the comment. Turns out, it was about Chick-fil-A. I do love me some Chick-fil-A.
But it sent me on a Googling frenzy, trying to find out as much as I could about the chicken gurus who have my heart and my taste buds firmly in their grasp. Turns out, Dan Cathy, the president and COO of the company, made a comment about what a family "should" be and then everyone went all crazy with the judging.
Now, don't leave me right here to go start formulating your scathing comment. Hear me out.
I haven't requested a copy of Chick-fil-A's financials for the past 66 years, but from what I've read on the innerwebs, Chick-fil-A sends money to organizations that promote families. Traditional ones. Not "Suzy has two mommies" kind of families. Some folks on the internet view these organizations as anti-homosexual. Some view them as simply pro-traditional. I don't know anything about the alleged organizations' credos, values or programs. I also don't care. I'm not judging Chick-fil-A or Dan Cathy.
I'm also not judging Suzy for having two mommies.
Nor am I judging Suzy's two mommies.
It clearly states in my Facebook profile that I am a "Southern Baptist, but the nonjudgmental kind" and I'm sticking to that. I attend a Southern Baptist church and am in student ministry in a Southern Baptist church, but folks, I am not here to judge you. Technically, I shouldn't and so, I won't.
The Christian music group Casting Crowns has a song out right now on the airwaves entitled "Jesus, Friend of Sinners" and that song has nudged me from the first time I heard it. And by "nudged" I mean "it whacked me upside the head with a big ol' 2x4.
"Jesus, Friend of sinners, the One whose writing in the sand, made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands. Help us to remember....we are all the least of these. Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees."
"The least of these"? Like maybe....I dunno......sinners? A sinner? Like ...... ME? Because, guess what -- we're all sinners.
John 8 tells the story of Jesus' writing in the sand. The Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus and, while trying to trap Him into making a mistake, asked Him what should be done to her. Jewish law said they had to kill her by throwing rocks at her until she died. It was a very violent, personal form of execution. Jesus stooped down, wrote something in the dirt (we don't know what, the Bible doesn't say) and then stood to tell them all that the perfect ones could throw the first stones at her. He stooped to write in the dirt once more and when He stood up....funny, they had all gone away. Jesus asked the woman where they were and who condemned her. She replied, "No one."He said, "Neither do I."
It is not up to me to decide what is a perfect family. Or a perfect life. Good grief, sometimes I have trouble deciding what to fix for dinner, so why should I be allowed to decide anything about someone else's life? I can't. I won't. I'm not God. We will all stand before Him one day and be judged. I can't say I'm looking forward to that because, well.....I'm a sinner. It's my nature to sin. So why not just leave the judging to Him in His due time and in the meantime just love on everyone? If there was less judging and more loving, imagine what the world would be like....
I know, I know. Let's serve some wine to go with all the cheesiness.
Seriously, though. My God is a God of love. Not hate. Westboro Baptist spews forth venomous hatred for those who don't conform to their skewed version of "religion". Regular people just trying to get through life think that is Christianity. The pro-life people blow up abortion clinics. The pro-choice people call the pro-life people bad names like "zealots" and "religious nutjobs". Chick-fil-A only recognizes daddy-mommy-2.4 children families.The folks in favor of gay marriage boycott Chick-fil-A.Divorcees are destined to hellfire and brimstone according to billboards up and down I-44 into Missouri. A woman without custody of her children is seen as a bad mother. Folks seen going into the liquor store, bar or casino on Saturday are looked down upon when they walk through the church doors, maybe in search of love and acceptance and a place they feel welcomed. The pregnant teenager is automatically a slut. A fat person is automatically dirty and lazy. A homeless person is deemed a drug addict.
What happened to grace? Mercy? ........................ or what about love?
The above-mentioned "Jesus, Friend of Sinners" also has a line that resounds through my head almost continually and has even louder since I started reading the Chick-fil-A stuff:
"Nobody knows what we're for, only what we're against when we judge the wounded. But if we put down the signs, cross over the line and love like You did..."
Does anyone know or care what Dan Cathy is for? Or only what he is against? Right now, it would seem they only want to focus on the negative. He's probably a really okay guy. But he might punch kitten as a hobby. But see? I don't know him and I can't judge him.
This girl has it down. She is quite a young lady.
I am tired of seeing those I love judged, those I don't know judged or being judged myself. And please don't misinterpret my post today: I am not perfect. As a human, I find myself lapsing into judgment. It's that pesky sin thing.
How many of us have hit the lock button on the car door when we stop at a stop light and see a man holding a cardboard that says, "Out of Work - Need Help". I've done it. You might have, too. Or maybe we give a disproving look to the woman taking a long time in the checkout lane because she has WIC vouchers or a food stamp card. Perhaps that exhausted mother with the young toddler currently throwing a humdinger of a fit in Walmart could really just use a word of encouragement rather than a look of judgment at her mothering skills. I want to be the person that gives that needed help, that smile, that encouragement. I'm trying. I want so badly to just love 'em like God does. Everyone.
It's not my job to judge you, but it is my job to love you. And I'm taking my job seriously. I'm dropping my stones. I don't want to throw them. I can't.
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor." ~~ Matthew 7:1-5 (The Message)