The Deeper Life

Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me.
-Psalm 42:7

I am a person who is interested in going deeper.  As a young man, I devoured books on the deeper Christian life.  My quest for depth took me into the experience of so much joy, that I smiled all the time.  I was also introduced to the experience of deep sorrow and pain.

I found out that deeper means the whole package: joy and sorrow.  I found out that the reason Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted is that many people, including me, have had broken hearts that need Jesus.  There is a tension in seeking the deeper life in God, in that when God takes you deeper, when you go deeper with God, you experience the depths of joy and sorrow.

When I first looked at Psalm 42, as a young man, I thought it was just about hunger for God.  And it is true that it is about hunger for God.  "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you", is about hunger, longing, and desire for God.  But the rest of the Psalm is harder to digest or face, because it is about deep pain and sorrow.

Psalm 42 is about weeping, loss and depression, along with seeking God.  "As the deer pants", is a beautiful, poetic picture.  The deer is thirsty, and so are we.

Another interpretation, is that the deer is panting, longing for the protection of the stream, where it's scent will be hidden from predators.  We also desire to be in God's presence, which is the place of immunity from the enemy.  We want to escape the taunting, the attacks, the abuse and the temptations of the dark forces; so we seek to be closer to God, where we find safety and comfort.

Psalm 42 is about, "let is be over", and the 'it' is the pain.  The Bible is a book filled with stories of victory and joy, but also defeat and sorrow.  The Bible teaches and models going through and experiencing both fully.

If we are full grown believers, we will know how to have full joy and full sorrow.  Most of us have not grown up into knowing how to experience either, and we might even judge those who do as 'extreme'.  Many of us have learned to be stoic and even live out of touch with our emotions.

My desire is to experience the depths of joy and the depths of sorrow.  Let us be people who weep, grieve and groan, and people who  cry tears of joy, dance for joy and vocalize their joy with shouts and laughter.  This is what the authentic people of God have always been like and what we will be as we go deeper.

"Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me", is a picture of the deep life in God.  Whatever the depth of my sorrow, God goes there with me.  His presence is in my deepest sorrow, grief and loss.  I have always been asking for more joy and more love and more power too, but not more pain.

But I have immense pain, immense loss; and while I do not minimize it, I also do not inflate it and I know that others have had much worse tragedies and immeasurable suffering.  But pain is pain and loss is loss and suffering is suffering; and whatever mine or yours has been; the great revelation is that God goes there with us.  God wants to walk through the door and into the feelings of pain, sorrow, depression, loss, anger, grief, hopelessness and suicide.  

Yes God does want this for us.  He wants to come into the darkest, most painful places in our hearts, in our memories, and in our past that haunts us.  God wants to be there with us.

This is what the calling out is to, the prayer up is to and the cry of Psalm 42 is all about.  God wants to come into the painful places.  To all of our losses, suffering, disappointments and experiences of injustice is where God wants to go with us.

We often want suffering to just go away or disappear and we ask God for all the good things, the blessings, to replace all the bad things.  And God does lavish upon us many blessings and many good things and even joy and happiness.  But if we do not grieve our losses, mourn, feel, cry, and let it out; then we can not fully experience the good things, because part of us is missing and non-functional.

God wants to walk with us, through our sorrow and pain, so that we have the security to know we are loved in our ugliest, most shameful, depressed, hopeless, trapped rage places of our hearts.  We will see God there and know that he is Lord of the low and the high places.    When we live with and deeply experience God in sorrowful times, our lives in joyful and blessed times become richer, because we know we are loved at all times and in all places.

Ministers of The Light of The Gospel

Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up. Instead, we have renounced shameful secret things, not walking in deceit or distorting God’s message, but commending ourselves to every person’s conscience in God’s sight by an open display of the truth. But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
-2 Corinthians 4:1-6

The light of Christ is shining.  Letting that light into our hearts is the beginning of and the way on in the life in Christ.  The light is that God has now acted in history to change humanity through Christ.

Being a believer is not about going to heaven, but about being transformed by God and then becoming an agent of God.  Being a believer is not about doing the right thing, but about knowing God and acting according to that knowledge.  Being a believer is to be a person who's life is centered in and has come under the rule and reign of the kingdom of God, empowered by God's Spirit and living in and for God's glory in Christ.

Being a Christian is not being an evolved or enlightened Jew or a Gentile who has joined the true Israel, who is now able, through Christ and the Spirit of God dwelling in them, to live a lawfully wedded life to God and serve Him for all his or her days.  Being a Christian is to be a person who has placed not only their faith in Christ, but has given their whole lives to God, in Christ, and have become vessels or agents of God's Spirit in the earth for the sake of the gospel.  Being a Christian is to be a person in whom the light of God has shone and is now shining.

The light of Christ comes as a blinding light to some, like how when Paul was blinded by the light of Christ, on the road to Damascus, which was a part of Paul's dramatic conversion.  For others, the light of Christ is like what a poet called "the hound of heaven", that is there in a person's life, continually pursuing them, until the person gives in and lets the Son shine in.  T-bone Burnett has a song, where he says that God's love is relentless; and Francis Chan describes God's love displayed in the light of Christ as "Crazy Love".

A Christian is a person who has gone from darkness to light, through a work done by God.  A Christian is a person who was once in the dark but now is in the light, and it only and completely happened for them because of God's initiative.  A Christian is not involved now in a self-improvement program, but has seen the light of God in Christ and is now in a death, burial and resurrection process orchestrated by God and modulated by their own desire to know God more.

To be a Christian means one has encountered the light of God and been regenerated or born anew into everlasting life through Christ.  And just as the sun and all the stars did not come out of nothingness by themselves, but were supernaturally created by God; so too, people only become saved or are regenerated and born anew by the supernatural work of God.  Christianity is not something we thought of, that we made and that we do; but being a Christian is something that only God can make you through a supernatural creative work that only belongs to God.

Being a Christian is to be in Christ and to be in Christ requires a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).  Christianity is not a philosophy or religion that one accepts, adheres to, practices and participates in.  Christianity is part of the new creation of God that only begins and lives through the supernatural, creative life of God.

The whole of the ministry of Jesus Christ is to be agents of and participate with the work of the Spirit of God, who shines the light of Christ, to be seen by people, so that they will come to know Christ and then be transformed.  Ministers are agents of the grace of God, who though flawed, God mercifully uses to share and shine the light of Christ.  We see the light, but many are blind to it and will only see when the Spirit of God does a work in them to cause them to see the light.

We can not make someone see who is blind, but only let the light shine through us and welcome those who respond to it or begin to see the light through the working of the Spirit of God in their hearts.  We can love, help and speak to spiritually blind people; but only God can open blind eyes.  As agents or heralds, it would seem that we are calling attention to our selves; but we are only drawing attention to our selves in order to point to or shine the light on the one we are serving.

The beauty or handsomeness, the talent, the engaging personality or the lovableness of the minister is for one purpose, and that is to promote Christ.  Yes, follow a person, but only as they follow Christ.  Yes, listen to a person, but hear Christ.

If Jesus constantly pointed people to and reflected his Father, then we should copy Jesus and constantly point to him and to our Father.  Ministers are servants who serve on someone else's behalf, and reflect their master.  Ministers are faithful slaves, who announce, promote, and reveal the light of their master.

I Saw The Light, by Hank Williams

I wandered so aimless life filled with sin
I wouldn't let my dear savior in
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I'm so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

Just like a blind man I wandered along
Worries and fears I claimed for my own
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I'm so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I was a fool to wander and a-stray
Straight is the gate and narrow the way
Now I have traded the wrong for the right
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I'm so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.

This Is My Country: Is Nationalism OK?

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance and divided the human race,
He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the people of Israel.

From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

-Deuteronomy 32:8, Acts 17:26-27

I woke up one morning, this past week, with the song, "This Is My Country", going through my heart.  You might know this song, which speaks of national pride and national unity.  We are, in America, "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all".  These are very powerful words that we say.

I believe that we are entering into a time when these words will be more meaningful and come alive to all of us in America.  I, personally,  am proud to be an America and I love the United State of America.  But I also love God first and His Christ and I also love all the other nations.

But this is my country.  If I were a citizen of China or Scotland, I would say the same thing.  Nations are a good thing and were invented by God.

And we love our nation and we love the nations. And believers are a nation within the nations.  Only God is a citizen of the whole world and the gospel, from God and through God's people, is transportable to all the nations.

We are not citizens of the world.  Some people, through the circumstances of their lives, hold dual citizenship, and perhaps it is possible to hold three or more.  Many of us can trace our roots back to a number of countries, where we have our family lines, and that is a part of what makes us who we are.

But from wherever we came, we are now here, and we have a nation we call our country.  This is how it is and is part of God's design, which we see throughout the scriptures.  If nations were invented by God, then is nationalism ok?

We have to understand that nationalism is not racism or a hegemony.  We can and should be nationalistic without racism or hegemony.  Nations should be good neighbors and there is a saying that goes, "fences make for good neighbors".

We do have allegiance to our nation, but after our allegiance to God.  We are one nation, under God; whether we act like it or not.  And many of us do put our trust in God, even if we don't act like it, taking God's name is vain often.

We are a nation of sinners and saints and saints who sin and sinners who are saints.  With all our flaws and outright missing the mark, we are God's people even when we don't know God.  

God created nations and nations are a good Idea.  Nations, plural.  When we become believers, our national identity comes under God, just as everything else about us does.

I am a Christian, who is proud to be an American.  That is very different than saying and believing that I am a proud American, who is also a Christian.  Everything about us, including our ethnicity and our nationalistic identification and our sexuality comes under God and under God's Christ.

The idea of 'one world' or 'no borders', is distinctly not from God, not from the Bible, and has never been a part of the story of the people of God.  Because of the sins of nations and governments, that have caused wars, famine and poverty throughout the earth; humans have come up with the solution that we should all get along without the many tribes and many nations, with their boundaries, borders and distinctives.

Through the entire Bible's story, when we finally get to the last book, Revelation, we read that there are nations that God has been working in:
And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.
After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands.
-Revelation 5:9 and 7:9
Being from and in a nation is a good thing.  Loving your nation, your people, and either the people your nation has adopted or the people you have been adopted into, is a good thing.  Christians are citizens of the kingdom first and then citizens of earthly nations.

Nationalism is good when it is woven through with kingdom values like love for others.  But the nations on this earth are not the kingdom of God, and the church is not the kingdom either.  The church comes out of and flows in the kingdom and we all live in nations, whether we serve the kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan.

God and Satan are both working in the nations, as a battle field, on the earth.  Nations are turf, where people live, that God is working to save and Satan is working to corrupt.  People who do not believe, who have not repented, or are not ready are apt to have an unclear understanding of nations and might gravitate to the extreme of national pride, exclusive-ism and un-neighborliness that may even include war against others.  Or, they might believe in moving toward a world where there are no nations, no boundaries and we are all one.

Both of these extremes are wrong, and the correction is that God redeems nations.  The human answer is to either be proud and unloving towards others and live in narcissism, or to become 'enlightened' and find a way to get along, through 'human ingenuity'.  Both of these are wrong, because they leave out or set aside the loving God.

Believers are challenged to live in the world, but not of the world: as sojourners, who are on their way to living forever with God.  And believers are all about taking as many people with them into God's family.  That mission is what drives the Christian, who lives on earth, in a nation.

What God has ordained or created is something I also like.  And one of those things is nations.  Nations is plural and God loves the nations, all the nations.

But I live in a nation and I love my nation, that God also loves.  God is saving and redeeming people inside of nations including my country.

I can not tell you about other nations or your country, if you are in another nation.  But I can tell you the good things about my country.  I can sing it's praises and I imagine you can sing the praises of yours.

One of the great things about my country is that we are of many ethnicities, yet we are one nation.  We also hold many different opinions, but we are one nation.  Love for America in it's truest sense is love for all of America and love for who we all are, together, living in this land.

Here is the song:

This is My Country, by Dan Raye and Al Jacobs

This is my country
Land of my birth
This is my country
Grandest on Earth

I pledge thee my allegiance
America the bold
For this is my country
To have and to hold

What difference if I hail from North or South
Or from the East or West?
My heart is filled with love
For all of these.
I only know I swell with pride
And deep within my breast
I thrill to see Old Glory
Paint the breeze.

With hand upon my heart
I'm thankful for my native land
For all I love is here within her gates
My soul is rooted deeply within the soil on which I stand
For these are mine, my own United States.

This is my country
Land of my choice
This is my country
Hear my proud voice.

I pledge thee my allegiance
America the bold
For this is my country
To have and to hold.

God, Bless America

Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh-- the people He has chosen to be His own possession!

May God be gracious to us and bless us;
Look on us with favor

So that Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Let the nations rejoice and shout for joy,
For You judge the peoples with fairness
And lead the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise You, God,
Let all the peoples praise You.

The earth has produced its harvest;
God, our God, blesses us.
God will bless us,
And all the ends of the earth will fear Him.
-Psalm 33:12, Psalm 67

I woke up, with the song, "God, bless America", singing through my heart. The song is actually a prayer, written by a Jewish American immigrant named Irving Berlin. A high percentage of Americans (United States of Americans) know this song and it gets sung by everyday people in our country quite often.

We have many other patriotic songs like "This Is My Country", "The Star Spangled Banner" and "This Land Is Your Land". Patriotism is about loving your country. We even pledge our allegiance to the flag.

I love America, or rather the values, like freedom and liberty; and the gift of America, and the people of America, and the all the lands of America. But I pledge my first allegiance to Christ, to God and to his cause. I see my pledge of allegiance and the pledge of allegiance to America as just that, a promise of loyalty and it is re-made often.  It is not worship or a covenant, but about loyalty to all the states and all the people therein, together.

If you wonder about conflating scriptures with patriotic love for America, I do too, and let me explain. The nation that God blesses, in scripture, is the nation of believers. And believers are defined as people who obey God.

Can God bless nations, like Peru, Australia or Czechoslovakia?  Yes.  Does God bless sin?  No.  Does God love people who are sinners?  Yes.

In America, which is my country, we have a nation of believers within the nation of the USA.  But God also made nations and sees nations, with boundaries and borders.

There is a lot of instruction about God's blessing, in the book of Deuteronomy. In a nut-shell, when you do right, God blesses you; and if you do wrong, God not only can not bless you, but you become cursed. But despite all the laws, being a believer has never been about legalism.

We are not saved or put into salvation by doing good. The Old and New Testaments do not teach that. The whole Bible rather teaches, that if you are saved you will do good. This is why Jesus said that the greatest command, on which the whole written word hangs, is loving God with all your being.

And the lawyers who persecuted Jesus, who claimed to know that whole written opus, did not have love, so they got the whole thing wrong. Just like we might do today, they might have conflated nationalism, patriotism, and there way-ism with loving God and receiving God's blessing.

When we say and sing, "God bless America", we had better know that God can not bless sin, but loves sinners. God is so merciful, that he can and does bless people all the time, who either ignorantly or disobediently do not love him. The blessing may be a blessing in disguise.

Here are the words to the song, by Irving Berlin, and it is the newer, 1938 version, with the introductory words, that we do not often hear or remember:

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free.
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America, my home sweet home.
God bless America, my home sweet home.

Give Thanks

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.
-2 Corinthians 8:9

Give thanks, from a grateful heart.  Gratefulness is an awesome blessing.  Are you grateful?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  To me, it has all the holidays, including the Jewish ones, rolled up into one.

Thanksgiving is about being thankful together.  We are together with God and with one another.  God has always wanted us together, with him, living in fellowship.

To be thankful is to be simply alive to God.  The recognition of God gives us thankfulness and gratefulness.  When we are thankful to God, we enter into his presence.

The song, "Give Thanks From a Grateful Heart", was written by Henry Smith, in 1978. Henry was a young seminary graduate and wrote the song when he was struggling to find work and coming to terms with a degenerative eye condition that would eventually leave him legally blind.  Here is a link to more of his story behind the song.

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us"

And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us"

Help People In Real Need

Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
-Psalm 82:3

Defend the poor and the fatherless.  Vindicate the weak and fatherless.  Give justice to the lowly and the orphan.

Be fair to the poor.  Defend the weak.  Defend the rights of the poor and the orphans.

Do right concerning the poor and fatherless.  

Give fair judgment to the poor man, the afflicted, the fatherless, the destitute.  

You’re here to defend the defenseless, to make sure that underdogs get a fair break; Your job is to stand up for the powerless, and prosecute all those who exploit them.

Stand up for the weak and for children whose fathers have died. Protect the rights of people who are poor or treated badly.

Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Maintain the rights of the afflicted, the lowly and destitute. Defend the helpless and everyone in need.

Protect the rights of the poor. Defend the rights of the poor and suffering. Uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.

I get it, that the life in God is a life of serving the needs of people in need, who do not have.  I get it that God's heart is with the fatherless, the orphan, the homeless, the afflicted, the weak and everyone in need: tangible, real, hungry, scared, naked, sick, insecure, shaken, in misery.  That is what God is looking at.

Can I see?  Will I do something?  This is what God cares the most about: people in real need.

Pour Out Your Heart

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge.
-Psalm 62:8

Pour out your heart to God.  Always tell him each one of your concerns.  Tell him all of your problems.

Tell him all of your troubles.  Pour out your longings before him.  Open up your heart to him.

Pour forth before Him your heart.

God our helper.  God shelters us.  God, a safe place.

God is our place of safety.  God is our shelter.  God is our protection.

God is a safe place to be.  God, our hope.  

Have you trusted God by pouring out your heart to him today?  We have all these swirling thoughts and feelings, questions, fears and concerns.

Tell God.  The line is open.  God is listening.

Judge Not - Notes From Bonhoeffer

Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.  
For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, 
and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 

Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye
but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 

Or how can you say to your brother,
‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ 
and look, there’s a log in your eye? 


First take the log out of your eye, 
and then you will see clearly
to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 

Don’t give what is holy to dogs
or toss your pearls before pigs, 
or they will trample them with their feet,
turn, and tear you to pieces.
-Matthew 7:1-6

Following up on my last post, I was reading what Dietrich Bonhoeffer had to say about Mathew 7, and he has a whole chapter on the verses above.  I have felt battered and bruised lately, from listening to and reading, including myself; the invective that Christians have been leveling at other Christians.  My question has been, "how does Jesus want to teach me how to listen, hear, and see others?"

I believe that we are in a teachable time.  The judging seems particularly bad right now, but I believe that what has been under wraps has only been brought up and out into the open.  The way I see it, is that humans judge religiously and religion often permeates political views.

Taking a stand and having a viewpoint and an opinion is one thing, but to stand above and look down on, to criticize and pick apart the other side, with some psychoanalysis thrown in, and then call them names with zero redemption in view for them, is judging.  When I hear that or read that, it breaks my heart; and when I do it, I know that it is wrong.  There has to be a better way, and there is.

You might also wonder, like I have, what the meaning of Jesus' words, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, nor cast your pearls before the swine", are and what they are doing in this passage.  They are here, because Jesus is teaching about the disciple and their relations with non-believers.

It is a given that believers live as disciples of Jesus, in this world.  We often encounter people who in one way or another, are not interested in what we believe or have, and are even going in the opposite direction from us.

When Jesus first spoke these words, there were many religious Jews, and also Jews, by birth, who were not religious; who rejected the gospel, rejected Jesus and rejected his disciples.  There were also all sorts of pagan people, some religious and some not, including the Romans who held that Caesar was God.

The dogs or the pigs refer to unperceptive people.  Some people are unperceptive to the things of God that you have.  Jesus says to be careful what you share and about how your expectations work as you consider sharing.

We are supposed to share.  All Christians are meant to evangelize, let our lights shine and go into all the world and share the good news.  But some people are not receptive and seemingly not at all, at this time, being drawn to salvation in Christ, by Father.

So, we must be careful what we share and this goes along with not judging.  When we have disagreements or rather, when others do not agree with us or we hear them to be in disagreement with us, we can be tempted to judge them.  And part of judging is that we step back and discount others and see our selves as superior to them.

Jesus called some people pigs and dogs.  Jesus often used hyperbole.  Today, many people are offended when hyperbole is employed and greatly misunderstand it.

And, it is remarkable, to me, that Jesus refers to non-believers as "your brother".  We have been so, "us and them", in regards to believers and non-believers, to democrats and republicans, to progressive Christians and fundamentalist Christians, charismatic and non-charismatic, and now evangelical voters vs Christians who may or may not identify as evangelical, who voted different or chose not to vote.  This list of divisions could go on and on.

And I guess my point is that we are divided like crazy and often we treat those we are divided from or against, as non-believers, even though they may very well be believers, but of a different type.  But whether or not the other people are believers, we get these stark words of Jesus in Matthew 7 about not judging, not critiquing other people who are different, and Jesus is mainly applying it to his disciples in regards to non-believers.

Matthew 7 applies to believers.  You, the believer, are not to judge others.  Deal with your own stuff.  And be careful about sharing what you have found to be holy or the pearls you have received, with folks who don't get it.

Here is the disconnect between Jesus' words and how we are functioning:  We somehow think we have the right to judge others who we disagree with and we do not.  And we are not allowed to do that with non-believers nor people who we believe are believers, because Jesus says they are all our brothers and sisters.

I looked up Matthew 7 in multiple translations and the only other way I found "judge" translated, was, "criticize", or "pick on".   How can Christian writers, write articles or posts that are trying to teach something that might be alternative or controversial, and not violate Jesus' standard to not judge?

How do we disagree and not judge?  Start by disagreeing and not judging.  Below, I have Bonhoeffer explaining what he thought Jesus was teaching us.

I can disagree with you, but not judge you.  And judging is a matter of the heart and not about the words or thoughts.  

We, myself included, are a very judgmental people in a very judgmental culture.  We are judging each other like crazy.  Many of us are not and it perhaps seems worse than it is, because the judging that we see and hear is painful, at least it is to me.

I want to understand this issue and be discipled by Jesus in how not to judge, and how the alternative or contrary to judging life works.  Here is Dietrich Bonhoeffer's chapter on not judging, from his book, The Cost of Discipleship.  I will quote a paragraph from Bonhoeffer and then have a paragraph from me.

Introduction:  Leading up to Matthew 7, we have chapters 5 and 6, where Jesus deals with, "the extraordinary quality of the Christian life", and  "with the hidden single-hearted righteousness of the disciples."  

There is a continuous thread running through chapters 5 and 7; it passes through these verses, and on to the grand finale of the Sermon on the Mount.  Chapter 5 dealt with the extraordinary quality of the Christian life, and chapter 6 with the single-hearted righteousness of the disciples.  In both its aspects, discipleship betokened the separation of the disciples from all their old ties, and an exclusive adherence to Jesus Christ. The frontier between the old life and the new was clearly drawn. But this raises the question of the relation between the Christians and their non-Christian neighbors. Does their separation from the rest of society confer on them special rights and privileges? Do Christians enjoy power, gifts and standards of judgement which qualify them to exert a peculiar authority over others? How easy it would have been for the disciples to adopt a superior attitude, to pass unqualified condemnation on the rest of the world, and to persuade themselves that this was the will of God! That is why Jesus has to make it clear beyond a doubt that such misunderstandings would seriously imperil their discipleship. The disciples are not to judge. If they do so, they will themselves be judged by God. The sword wherewith they judge their brethren will fall upon their own heads. Instead of cutting themselves off from their brother as the just from the unjust, they find themselves cut off from Jesus.
The Christian's life, my life, is in Christ.  In Christ, I am forgiven, loved and saved.  I am Abba's child.  I have this, and this is the tie in my life.  All other ties come under Christ.  My privilege is to be loved and accepted and I celebrate that continually and invite others to come into what I have found.  But I have no place or position to judge others.  No superiority, but rather, I am in a humble place of continual thanksgiving.  I do not condemn or criticize, but I love and live loved and invite others to the party.

Why should this be so? The source of the disciple's life lies exclusively in his fellowship with Jesus Christ. He possesses his righteousness only within that association, never outside it. That is why his righteousness can never become an objective criterion to be applied at will. He is a disciple not because he possesses such a new standard, but only because of Jesus Christ, the Mediator and very Son of God. That is to say, his righteousness is hidden from himself in fellowship with Jesus. He cannot, as he could once, be a detached observer of himself and judge himself, for he can only see Jesus, and be seen by him, judged by him, and reprieved by him. It is not an approved standard of righteous living that separates a follower of Christ from the unbeliever, but it is Christ who stands between them. Christians always see other men as brethren to whom Christ comes; they meet them only by going to them with Jesus. Disciple and non-disciple can never encounter each other as free men, directly exchanging their views and judging one another by objective criteria. No, the disciple can meet the non-disciple only as a man to whom Jesus comes. Here alone Christ's fight for the soul of the unbeliever, his call, his love, his grace and his judgement comes into its own. Discipleship does not afford us a point of vantage from which to attack others; we come to them with an unconditional offer of fellowship, with the single-mindedness of the love of Jesus.
I am never self-righteous.  I never have standing to judge, as God does.  My righteousness is not my own, but is Christ's.  I can not judge myself and I can not see to judge others, because I am now in Christ, who is my judge and I can only see other people, as ones to whom Christ comes.  I never have the right to look down on other people.  I can only encounter others in Christ, who offers unconditional love and forgiveness to all.

When we judge other people we confront them in a spirit of detachment, observing and reflecting as it were from the outside. But love has neither time nor opportunity for this. If we love, we can never observe the other person with detachment, for he is always and at every moment a living claim to our love and service. But does not the evil in the other person make me condemn him just for his own good, for the sake of love? Here we see the depth of the dividing line. Any misguided love for the sinner is ominously close to the love of sin. But the love of Christ for the sinner in itself is the condemnation of sin, is his expression of extreme hatred of sin. The disciples of Christ are to love unconditionally. Thus they may effect what their own divided and judiciously and conditionally offered love never could achieve, namely the radical condemnation of sin.
I can only love everyone, in Christ.  When I love sinners, it is paradoxically an indictment of the sin.  When I pick and choose who to love and who is too sinful to love, I have ceased to be in Christ and am playing God.  When I pick and choose who to love, then I am judging.  Jesus loves and saves all sinners.  We are all lost without Christ.  In my life, I am one who once was lost, and now am on mission with Jesus to love and save the lost.

If the disciples make judgments of their own, they set up standards of good and evil. But Jesus Christ is not a standard which I can apply to others. He is judge of myself, revealing my own virtues to me as something altogether evil. Thus I am not permitted to apply to the other person what does not apply to me. For, with my judgement according to good and evil, I only affirm the other person's evil, for he does exactly the same. But he does not know of the hidden iniquity of the good but seeks his justification in it. If I condemn his evil actions I thereby confirm him in his apparently good actions which are yet never the good commended by Christ. Thus we remove him from the judgement of Christ and subject him to human judgement. But I bring God's judgement upon my head, for I then do not live any more on and out of the grace of Jesus Christ, but out of my knowledge of good and evil which I hold on to. To everyone God is the kind of God he believes in. 
When I judge, criticize, or blame; I am acting like I am God.  When I take all my life experience and all my Bible knowledge and all my intellectual prowess, and stand over you as judge, I am wrong and not in Christ and putting my self under judgement.  When I judge others, based on my standards, I become the law to that person and take them outside of God's saving of them completely.  When I judge, I am misrepresenting Christ and actually making my own religion, saying that if you do it my way, you will be accepted (by me).  But the truth is that they need all of their sins forgiven by Christ, who alone can change them and make them holy.  The sobering truth of "lest you be judged", is that God will not let me get away with taking his place in anyone's life and it will go badly for me, if I try it.

Judgement is the forbidden objectivization of the other person which destroys single-minded love. I am not forbidden to have my own thoughts about the other person, to realize his shortcomings, but only to the extent that it offers to me an occasion for forgiveness and unconditional love, as Jesus proves to me. If I withhold my judgement I am not indulging in tout comprendre c' est tout pardonner and confirm the other person in his bad ways. Neither I am right nor the other person, but God is always right and shall proclaim both his grace and his judgement. 
When I judge or criticize others I am ceasing to see them as beloved persons.  When we are either infatuated with or demonize a person, we are not seeing them as people, but as an object of lust or scorn.  We need to see people, as persons who Christ wants to save.  When I see someone's shortcomings, it is time to love and forgive, not to criticize or condemn.  Same thing when I hear, read or see a difference of opinion with me and others: that is an occasion to love and not to be judgmental.

Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are. But in the love of Christ we know all about every conceivable sin and guilt; for we know how Jesus suffered, and how all men have been forgiven at the foot of the cross. Christian love sees the fellow-man under the cross and therefore sees with clarity. If when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil, we should look for evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts. But if we are on the look-out for evil in others, our real motive is obviously to justify ourselves, for we are seeking to escape punishment for our own sins by passing judgement on others, and are assuming by implication that the Word of God applies to ourselves in one way, and to others in another. All this is highly dangerous and misleading. We are trying to claim for ourselves a special privilege which we deny to others. But Christ's disciples have no rights of their own or standards of right and wrong which they could enforce with other people; they have received nothing but Christ's fellowship. Therefore the disciple is not to sit in judgement over his fellow-man because he would wrongly usurp the jurisdiction.
Judging is ugly, because when I sit as judge of you, I have walked out from and away from Christ, because he will not allow me to judge.  Judging is ugly because when I judge you, I have lost awareness of my self.  I am not the judge and I am not God, so when I play that game, I am not being my self, but something fake and inauthentic.  Judging is a form and practice of religion, of the religion of human centered self-righteousness that Jesus frees us from.  Judging is very ugly because when I judge, I block the view of the cross and the path way of Christ offering grace for salvation.  My judging acts as if I believe we are saved by works and that is so not true.  An authentic follower of Christ is always in awe of and thankful for his or her sins being forgiven and is looking to spread the good news.  The law we are under and governed by is love.  All we want to do is love one another and love people that are not in on God's love yet, in an inviting way.

But the Christian is not only forbidden to judge other men: even the word of salvation has its limits. He has neither power nor right to force it on other men in season and out of season. Every attempt to impose the gospel by force, to run after people and proselytize them, to use our own resources to arrange the salvation of other people, is both futile and dangerous. It is futile, because the swine do not recognize the pearls that are cast before them, and dangerous, because it profanes the word of forgiveness, by causing those we fain would serve to sin against that which is holy. Worse still, we shall only meet with the blind rage of hardened and darkened hearts, and that will be useless and harmful. Our easy trafficking with the word of cheap grace simply bores the world to disgust, so that in the end it turns against those who try to force on it what it does not want. Thus a strict limit is placed upon the activities of the disciples, just as in Matt. 10 they are told to shake the dust off their feet where the word of peace is refused a hearing. Their restless energy which refuses to recognize any limit to their activity, the zeal which refuses to take note of resistance, springs from a confusion of the gospel with a victorious ideology. An ideology requires fanatics, who neither know nor notice opposition, and it is certainly a potent force. But the Word of God in its weakness takes the risk of meeting the scorn of men and being rejected. There are hearts which are hardened and doors which are closed to the Word. The Word recognizes opposition when it meets it, and is prepared to suffer it. It is a hard lesson, but a true one, that the gospel, unlike an ideology, reckons with impossibilities. The Word is weaker than any ideology, and this means that with only the gospel at their command the witnesses are weaker than the propagandists of an opinion. But although they are weak, they are ready to suffer with the Word and so are free from that morbid restlessness which is so characteristic of fanaticism.
The gospel is always free, freely given and freely received.  We don't force it on people or make it more palatable or water it down.  Only God can save people.  The kingdom of God is forceful, but as servants, we are in weakness.  Choice is huge with God, and we should always hold onto the idea that people choose and to honor their choice and love them either way; but we love the person, while observing their not choosing salvation or opening the door to God; and keep loving them.

The disciples can even yield their ground and run away, provided they do so with the Word, provided their weakness is the weakness of the Word, and provided they do not leave the Word in the lurch in their flight. They are simply the servants and instruments of the Word; they have no wish to be strong where the Word chooses to be weak. To try and force the Word on the world by hook or by crook is to make the living Word of God into a mere idea, and the world would be perfectly justified in refusing to listen to an idea for which it had no use. But at other times, the disciples must stick to their guns and refuse to run away, though of course only when the Word so wills. If they do not realize this weakness of the Word, they have failed to perceive the mystery of the divine humility. The same weak Word which is content to endure the gainsaying of sinners is also the mighty Word of mercy which can convert the hearts of sinners. Its strength is veiled in weakness; if it came in power that would mean that the day of judgement had arrived. The great task of the disciples is to recognize the limits of their commission. But if they use the Word amiss it will certainly tum against them.
The gospel is a powerful message, proclaimed in weakness.  The cross is foolishness to sinners, until they become saved.  Persevering  in love is very different than ramming the message down people's throats and trying to force them into the kingdom.  God uses weak servants and God gives grace to humble ones.  Being powerful or proud will backfire.  Persuading, arguing, discussing and calling out to are all good if they are done in humble weakness and always  in Christ, looking to him and seeing him seeing others.

What are the disciples to do when they encounter opposition and cannot penetrate the hearts of men? They must admit that in no circumstances do they possess any rights or powers over others, and that they have no direct access to them. The only way to reach others is through him in whose hands they are themselves like all other men. We shall hear more about this as we proceed. The disciples are taught to pray, and so they learn that the only way to reach others is by praying to God. Judgement and forgiveness are always in the hands of God. He closes and he opens. But the disciples must ask, they must seek and knock, and then God will hear them. They have to learn that their anxiety and concern for others must drive them to intercession. The promise Christ gives to their prayer is the doughtiest weapon in their armory. The difference between the disciples' seeking and the Gentiles' quest for God is that the disciples know what they are looking for. We can only seek God when we know him already. How can you look for something or find it if you do not know what you are looking for?   The disciples seek a God whom they have found in the promise they have received from Jesus.
In my life, I am a servant, and servants don't judge and servants only have the authority to do what their master has given them permission to do.  Along with loving and forgiving, and seeing people through Christ and only seeing myself in Christ, I can and will pray.  God's choice design for us is our acting on what he has made available to us and a big responsibility is to pray.  Frankly, things will not happen, in the kingdom, if we do not act and pray, then listen, look and see, and act and pray.  The times we sped judging or criticizing or assigning blame should be spent living in love and praying.  Again, are you lusting after someone?  Try praying for them.  Are just demonizing someone in your judgement of them?  Try praying for them.  You can not pray for God to bless someone and objectify them.  When we pray or are in prayer for people, we see them as beloved brothers or sisters who we want to know God and be holy in Christ.
To sum up: it is clear from the foregoing that the disciple has no special privilege or power of his own in all his intercourse with others. The mainspring of his life and work is the strength which comes from fellowship with Jesus Christ. Jesus offers his disciples a simple rule of thumb which will enable even the least sophisticated of them to tell whether his intercourse with others is on the right lines or not. All he need do is to say 'I' instead of ''Thou," and put himself in the other man's place. "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets." The moment he does that, the disciple forfeits all advantage over other men, and can no longer excuse in himself what he condemns in others. He is as strict in condemning evil in himself as he was before with others, and as lenient with the evil in others as he was before to himself. The evil in the other person is exactly the same evil as in ourselves. There is only one judgement, one law, and one grace. Henceforth the disciple will look upon other men as forgiven sinners who owe their lives to the love of God. ''This is the law and the prophets" -for this is none other than the supreme commandment: to love God above all things and our neighbours as ourselves. (Bonfoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, pp. 202-9) 
Loving your neighbor as your self, and my neighbor is the person who believes differently than I do, who sees the world differently than I do, who is different than I am.  I am called by Jesus to love them, whether or not they love me or ever agree with me.

I want to be so focused or envisioned with Jesus, that seeing him mediates all of my other seeing.  Then when I see and hear differences or wrongness or sinfulness (in my opinion); Jesus is my vision for me, through me, and then in that other person.  He is the judge, who forgives me and loves me, so I hold that and want that and do not want to let it go, so I also want that for all others.  If I entertain the thought of your not getting forgiven and your not coming to Christ, then I begin to lose my place of blessing.  Only Jesus can handle and hold the tension of God's love for people and judgement on sin.

No One Ever Is To Blame

Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.
-Matthew 7:1-6

"No one ever is to blame", is a way of saying the same thing Jesus said about not judging.  Yet, we constantly judge or blame others.  It seems to me that the log in the eye and getting trampled and torn to pieces, is the more common way that we live, than the way of Christ.

There is a better way to live than the way of blaming:

  • Start dealing with your own stuff.  
  • Start taking responsibility.
  • Start letting God love you.
  • Start being a disciple of Jesus.
  • Start living a life of communion with God, 24-7.
  • Start letting love rule your heart, mind, thoughts and words.
  • Start listening.

Blaming or judging others is not the way to live.  There is a better way.  In order to get clean, we first have to know we are dirty.

The word 'bigot' is a favorite of some people to name call others.  But bigotry actually means, "intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.".  People who call others 'bigots' are actually showing that they themselves are the bigots, because they can not tolerate other's opinions.

It is a paradox perhaps, that when you call someone a bigot, you have shown yourself to be one.  Because, by definition, a bigot is someone who is intolerant of other's opinions.

Does this mean we should be tolerant of illegal and/or destructive behavior?  No.  Jesus' word to not judge does not contradict the law, the moral law of God; like, "do not murder", and "do not lie".  We can say, "that's wrong", or "that hurts", and not be breaking Jesus' word.

We can say, "I think that's wrong", or "ouch, that hurts"; and the other person may argue or question back.  This is very different than judging or blaming.  We can dialogue and debate, have questions and answers, without blaming.

We do always have to make evaluations or value judgments, based on the ethics of Christ, but without condemning, which is what blaming is.  There may also be a time and a place for verbal rebuke, but that is different than blaming, fault-finding, or judging, that is blind to one's self and places fault, blame, and condemnation outside or onto the other.

Jesus says that the person who goes around blaming others, without looking at and dealing with their own faults will receive the same treatment.

We do need to discern right and wrong.  There are fair and charitable ways of judging.  We have the phrase, "fair enough", that a person uses when a fair or non-condemning judgement is spoken towards them.

"Do not judge" or "stop blaming", are admonitions to stop being unfair, unkind and uncharitable.  Charitable, kind or fair evaluating (I hesitate to use the word judging or blaming) must be done with humility.  I always need to 'go first' and look in the mirror and humble myself, before I can have any chance of you being interested or in any way responsive to my pointing out your fault.

Blaming, judgmental-ism and fault-finding break Jesus' ethic of love.  There is a better way.  We need to be hard on ourselves and generous with others.  Love is tolerant while blaming is intolerance.

The hypocrite is blind to their own faults or shortcomings, while being obsessed with the failures of others.  That is not love, is not Jesus way and is not the Christian way.

Nothing is accomplished by blaming.  Blaming is destructive: it hurts and wounds, and is ungracious and not redemptive or healing.  When we are blaming, we step out of communion with God.

Blaming is an elixir where you flatter yourself into believing you are superior to others.  Blaming joins in with the work of Satan, who is 'the accuser of our brothers and sisters' (Rev. 12:10).

A person who blames, shames, judges or grumbles against others is a person who has not been sanctified or cleansed by God; because once you have been delivered from your own junk, you will not have the temerity to blame others.  The person who blames others can not see the ugliness of themselves outside the grace of God, because they are blinded by their hypocritical style that completely lacks grace.  In other words, when we are honest with ourselves about what we are like outside of God's grace in our lives, we will stop looking down, judging or blaming others; but instead we will want to be peacemakers, lovers, bridge builders and ministers of reconciliation.

We need to cultivate an un-blaming style, an uncritical temperament and a tolerant, non-judgmental approach to others we disagree with.

There is a way to disagree with others and do it in love.  But Christians often say or write nasty things that are without grace, love, or an eye on redemption.

There is a style that is called 'the blame game'.  In a nut-shell, it means not taking responsibility.

In life and in the world, there is good fortune and the unfortunate.  These two things happen in a huge variety of ways.  When unfortunate things happen, we can chose how to react; and a bad choice is the blame game.

Another popular manifestation of the blaming style today is what is called 'victimism'.  The way it goes is that when bad things happen to me or I suffer misfortune, then I see myself as a victim and then take on that persona: the 'victim mentality', and live a life of blaming, judging, grumbling and being bitter.

The first blamer in the Bible was Adam, who blamed Eve.  When we get in trouble, like Adam did, we are also tempted to blame.  To blame is to not accept responsibility.

Two people can be in the same situation, where misfortune befalls them and one blames, while the other takes responsibility.  Blame blocks growth, forgiveness and reconciliation.  Authentic love and prosperity take a back seat and are stifled or frozen out by blaming.

Stop blaming and start loving.  No one is to blame.  Start taking responsibility, being a minister of reconciliation and authentically loving.

Even though the verse that I started with says, "do not judge", and doesn't say, "do not blame"; what I am getting at is that when we blame, we are judging unrighteously.  "No one is to blame", means "don't blame", or "blaming does not lead to growth".  Instead of blaming, which is making an unrighteous judgement, we ought to take responsibility, reconcile and authentically love.

Taking responsibility is when you take it for what happened, if you were at fault, and take it for going forward.  If you were 99% or 1% responsible, take responsibility for that.  If you feel you could have done something or more of something that might have helped and you did not, and you were passive, take responsibility for that.  There is no shame in taking responsibility, but it exercises your humbling yourself, from which you open the way to grace.

Reconciliation is when two different people, with different points of view, and different hurts about the same thing come together and touch.  If I live in the land of 'blaming you', I can not reconcile with you.  If I wait for you to admit fault first, I am blaming you and can not reconcile with you.

When we have someone who has hurt us or offended us or failed us, but they won't see it and won't admit it, we still must not blame them and hold blame against them, because that is standing in judgement and being unforgiving and unloving.  Remember that love does not say sin is ok, abuse is ok; or that sloppy, selfish relating is ok; but love loves without condition.  Love keeps no records of wrongs.

Authentic love is when I know God loves me, so I love myself, and then I love you, without condition.  Authentic love starts with God's love, which is unconditional.  God loves sinners, of which I am, and I love me, and I love you, with and through God.  It is still me loving, but God has been transforming my heart, to love the way He loves.

When I live in blame or make judgments about people, I block grace from entering, because God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

There is a time and place to assign blame, that seeks a judgement, but is not sinfully judgmental.  When there is an auto accident, for example, the authorities or insurance adjusters want to assign blame.  There is an ruling that does not assign blame personally that is just called an accident.  When the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up after launch, in 1986, they needed to investigate why, and who or what was responsible.

And when someone hurts us or bumps us, we can say, "ouch", and that is not judging or blaming or grumbling.  But constantly complaining about everything and anything, especially when it is in bitterness, anger, and judgmental-ism, is called grumbling, which is sinful and destructive.

The 'blame game' is when we do not take responsibility.  If you do not take responsibility, you are not honest, and I never get to know you and love your authentic self.  Being the 'blamer' or the 'victim' or the 'recipient of dramatic sufferings' is a persona and not the real you, so when that is your presentation to others, others end up knowing or loving your persona, while never knowing and loving the authentic you.

Blaming sometime works like this.  Something has happened and now we must figure it out, so we can fix it, and part of the problem-solving that we are engaged in gives rise to blaming.  Rather than looking at ourselves and being loved and being loving, we instead blame.

Blaming is just like what Jesus said about unrighteous judging, having impaired vision, while trying to fix the other people's vision.  Jesus called the Pharisees 'blind guides', because their vision was so bad.  They blamed and judged all over the place.

Blaming, psychologically, is a defense mechanism.  We project our communal blame onto others in a scapegoat fashion.  We deny responsibility for our part in the fiasco, often feigning disgust, and we displace our feelings of loss into another compartment, area or issue rather than working our problem.

Blaming is the opposite of  'The Serenity Prayer' life-style, where we humbly pray for God to help us accept the things (and the people) we can not change and to have the courage to change the things (my self with God's help) that we can and to know the difference.

Blaming is a destructive conflict resolution method.  Who wins when we blame?  No one.

Love actually covers sin.  Love actually overlooks a fault.  Love says, "let's talk".  Love listens.  Love wants to know people who are different.

Blaming is judgmental, arrogant and proud.  Blaming prosecutes, persecutes and is unmerciful.  Blaming is hopeless and looks down on the miserable 'low life's' below it.

When we blame, we are playing God.  The blaming person is not complete in their own godliness, yet they take it upon themselves to fix, solve, categorize and punish others.  The temptation from Adam and Eve to today has always been to play God, be a law unto yourself and then blame the other person when something goes wrong.

The opposite of blaming is interceding.  The person who intercedes gets between the problem, the failure, the brokenness or sin and the person or people.  I broke someone's window once, and my dad interceded for me and fixed it with no blaming and no shaming.

We live in a world and in a society where blaming is the norm.  People who embrace the blaming style end up hurting others, but their biggest loss is towards their own self.  This is because blaming blocks healing, reconciliation and deliverance.  Blaming is a pure work of the flesh and puts a stop sign to spiritual growth in the blamer's life.

Stop blaming.  No one ever is to blame.
  • Start dealing with your own stuff.  
  • Start taking responsibility.
  • Start letting God love you.
  • Start being a disciple of Jesus.
  • Start living a life of communion with God, 24-7.
  • Start letting love rule your heart, mind, thoughts and words.
  • Start listening.
When we blame, we wall ourselves off from our own healing.  Not only does blaming hurt the ones you blame and is a form of cursing, but blaming says, "I don't need you and I don't need God".

The blamer sees God as on their side.  They are self-righteous.  Their indignant tone is not centered in the living Christ, but in their self-righteousness.

The blamer, if they are a Christian, thinks they are working with, for, and in God.  They may even believe that their blaming tirades are prophetic messages.  They treat and talk about their brothers and sisters in Christ as if they are the enemy, but your brother or sister is never your enemy.

Self-righteousness will delude a person into killing others who do not share their ideology.  Today, some of the people in some of the ideological camps demand complete tolerance to their practices, while at the same time being the least tolerant and even violently intolerant of different practices, beliefs, view-points or ways of life.

There has only been one man who was righteous, only one man who did not need to grow up, and only one man who did not need to repent and be open to inner and outer healing.  The rest of us are all in process, in need of growth and in need of healing.

Spiritual grown is a process.  Changing our ways is a process.  The way of self-righteousness is always a temptation and a pit fall.

Humility is the way of Christ.  There is a way to disagree in humility.  We ought to be weeping over our discord, disunity and disagreements, rather than blaming, shaming, rebuking, judging, demonizing, being in fear of, psychoanalyzing and dis-fellow-shipping or shunning our brothers and sisters.

Can we forgive each other?  Can we listen to each other, to others who hold a different view or opinion than ours?  Can we as Christians make it our goal to love, rather than being right?

When I choose not to blame, but rather forgive, extending grace and love, weeping with you and for you; I want to be in God's image and be in Christ, as a bridge to God.  Jesus did not come to teach us the right way to get saved so much as He came to save us.  We are saved in His person.

We have Christians today who bear Christ's name, but not his character and his love, nor his wisdom.  They act as if being a Christian is about getting it (the gospel, the Bible, theology, ecclesiology,  epistemology or politics) right.  But, Jesus told his disciples, "love one another as I have loved you, and then the whole world will know you are my disciples".

Will we die to our selves and selfishness and live in Christ?  Will we take up our crosses instead of taking up our rightness and our correctness and our bossiness over others?

If you stop blaming, it will begin in your heart, then your mind and then in your words, written and spoken.  People who stop blaming are no longer defensive, and begin to take responsibility and admit failure.

Blaming comes from low self-esteem, whether you blame others or take on the blame yourself.  Healthy self-esteem does not blame or shame or judge.

No one ever is to blame, so stop blaming.
  • Start dealing with your own stuff.  
  • Start taking responsibility.
  • Start letting God love you.
  • Start being a disciple of Jesus.
  • Start living a life of communion with God, 24-7.
  • Start letting love rule your heart, mind, thoughts and words.
  • Start listening.
What if every word was mediated through Christ, his cross; his death, burial and resurrection?  What if what I say to and about people comes from my heart and soul that is filled with the Spirit of God?  What if I lived as a Christian?

There is a place for rebuke, but it is not the main thing.  The cross of Christ is the biggest rebuke to sin, carnality, and every wicked spirit.  We have Christ's love and His love shown on the cross, as our primary weapon for saving the world from sin and darkness.

As we live and walk with Christ ourselves, we are in the process of having our eyes made clear, to see as he sees with his eyes through his heart.  When we are walking with and in him, the time comes and it happens often, that we help remove specks from each others eyes, in love; as one's who love much because they have been forgiven much.  And we become more than willing to lay down our lives for one another in generous humility.  When the trouble happens or discord erupts, when misunderstanding or disagreement comes up between us, the soul living in Christ, always says, "No one is to blame."

The Heritage

God, You have heard my vows; You have given a heritage to those who fear Your name.
-Psalm 61:5

God hears our vows, the promises we make to Him in prayer.  God gives us rewards, possessions, prosperity, land, and blessings.  We pray this way, because we honor, are loyal to, and have reverential fear towards God.

In a believer's life making vows or promises to God is optional: you don't have to, but also natural: you want to, because as you discover God's goodness, you naturally want to make promises and vows to Him.

God is the prototypical, the first and foremost generous person.  Giving is God's nature.  God gives a heritage to those who honor Him.

A heritage is something that is handed down, inherited, or reserved for us.  We individually have rewards, we collectively take part in the reward, and we are given to one another as a reward.

I believe that the heritage is "the whole package", meaning and abundant life in and with God and people.  The main gift, possession, blessing, or reward that we receive is God himself.  We can and do say, "Lord, You are my portion in this life".

It is not about getting things, but about getting God and God gives each one of us things.  This message is portable to the poorest and richest cultures, because God gives each one a place and a space, in Him, no matter where they are.  This message could have great meaning to someone in prison, for example.

We who are believers at this time, get to take part in the blessing that God has offered and given in every generation.  Walking with God, making promises to Him, and honoring God results in a richly rewarding life at any time and in any place.

God has an inheritance for each of His children.  You might say, "when will I receive it?", and the answer is that you are already receiving it.  Look around and see it, hear it, know it.

We might ask if there is a formula, that if we make vows or promises, that we will get possessions or inheritances from God.  God is not like our earthly parents or grandparents, as He gives His children their inheritances.  God is the, "before you call, I will answer", God; and God gives gifts to all his children, in an unmerited fashion.

God does not give to us because we make vows or promises, but we make vows and promises because of God's generosity.  We possess our inheritances because we are paying attention to God.  Our rewards, special possessions, lands, monies, benefits, and unclaimed promotions are awaiting us, as we journey with and into God.

The Reversal

The nations will escort Israel and bring it to its homeland. Then the house of Israel will possess them as male and female slaves in the Lord’s land. They will make captives of their captors and will rule over their oppressors.
-Isaiah 14:2

What God has planned and wants to do is a complete reversal in the lives of believers who have been oppressed.  God not only wants to set people free who have been held down, held back, and left behind; but He also wants to put them in charge over those that they were under before.  God wants to take people from servitude to ruling.

God wants to restore his people to their place of rest.  God wants to take his people out of bondage and into a place of stewarding authority.  God is freeing his people, so that they may serve and disciple the nations who previously held them in bondage.

The same people who imprisoned believers and kept them locked in and locked down will become the helpers, guides, and rides to take them to their inheritances and destiny places.  The people of God will capture the people who once ruled over them and be served by them.  The people who were once our oppressors in their homeland or sphere will come with the believers into their homeland or sphere.

A great deliverance and reversal is coming, and when believers are set free, their captors will leave with them and become their servants.  In the awakening that is coming, believers who have been asleep will wake up to God, to their destinies.  When they wake up, they will get up, and they will begin to go towards where God has always wanted them to go: to their homeland, and they will take some people with them, who have not been believers, who will get saved and be discipled and serve the believers who had been in bondage among them.

A great revival is coming, where believers who have become dead in their faith, will be brought to life, raised from the dead or revived.  Their testimony will be so clear and so real, that their pagan or completely non-believing friends, neighbors, or coworkers will be astonished at the change from death to life in these living witnesses, as say, "I want what you've got and where you go I will go, so now I will follow you, even to the ends of the earth."

This will be like the story, in Acts 16, of the Philippian jailer, who got saved when Paul and Silas were freed by the earthquake, and the jailer and his whole family got saved.  Paul baptized them all and they had a meal together.  The jailer served Paul by being the intermediary with the magistrates, for Paul and Silas' freedom, as well as giving them hospitality.

God is going to set his people free who have been held captive.  And when He does, the people who been around their captivity, will willingly go with, gives rides, and take or transport believers into their promises and serve them their.  This is what is going to happen, again.  God has done this in the past and is about to do it again, because it is what God does.

God sets you free to go into your destiny.  And the people who were there around you, who were part of the system, the tribe, the people, who held you back, and did not recognize you as a son or daughter of God, will suddenly become your servant and serve you, and take you to your place of promotion, destiny, calling, and promise; and not only move you there, but live there with you, as your servant.

Happy But In Need of Reconciliation in Our Family

But the righteous are glad; they rejoice before God and celebrate with joy.
-Psalm 68:3

I am glad, are you glad?  I am rejoicing and celebrating.  And it is before God.

I have hope and I believe things are getting better.  I believe in the redemption of all of mankind through Jesus Christ.  I believe God wants to save everybody, that the invitations have been going out and it is up to us to get the word out and up to the people to respond through their choices.

The big naughty, that I saw, heard, and read, from Christians to Christians, over this past year, was when we questioned the character of other Christians for their views.  This ought not be so, and highlighted the fact that the church in America is very divided and carnal in that we sometimes get too "over the top" about politics, and are unloving towards one another.

What happened to, "They will know we are Christians by our love"?

In a few weeks, we will celebrate my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  And at many tables, we will be sitting with our people whom we disagree with.  The banner over us should be love.

Love listens, love honors, and love always puts God and others first.  Love forgives and love reconciles.  Many of us need to live in and practice the ministry of reconciliation.  I am pretty sure that this involves the cross of Christ being at the center and God reconciling us to each other in Christ.

Reconciled people can say, "I love you, even though I do not understand you or agree with you", and then, "Please pass the bread".  We need the Lord's Supper, Jesus' Communion, as a meal where reconciliation and the celebration of Christ occurs, now, more than ever.  Do you think that when Jesus ate at all those suppers with 'sinners' that he was taking a day off or ceasing from being himself?

We, Christians, need to practice the presence of Christ, and find Jesus in the communion meal, together, for healing, reconciliation, and becoming like him.  I need to see Jesus in you, as I look across the table, and I need Jesus' ears as I hear you and begin to understand you.  We need to make Christ the center and be mediated and reconciled in him again.

Today, I am not rejoicing that God is on our side, or my side; but that God entered in to our election process and has had mercy on us.  Not saying God is a Republican.

We are glad.  We are happy.  We rejoice.  We are celebrating.

Who are we glad towards?  God.  Who makes us happy?  God.  Who causes this celebration?  God.

Who is our Savior?  Jesus.  Who is our King?  Christ.  Who is the Father of lights?  My God, Yahweh, The Lord.

Who do we worship and serve?  God.  Who has got the whole world in his hands?  God.

Grief In Moab, Curse Broken, and Freedom into Destiny

For their cry echoes throughout the territory of Moab.
Their wailing reaches Eglaim; their wailing reaches Beer-elim.
-Isaiah 15:8

Some people are sad today and some people will be sad for a while.  Misfortune comes upon people and there is a way that is right, in how we observe their misfortune; so as not to sin in watching the news.  Those who have suffered loss are our brothers and sisters.

Moab was the son of Lot, who was the nephew of Abraham.  And Ruth, was from Moab, and she was David's grandmother, and Jesus' great, great, great, great, grandma.  When Moab came under judgement, it was appropriate to be compassionate towards them.

The Bible instructs us to not rejoice or gloat when our enemy or brother falls (Pr. 24:17, Job 31:29, Ob. 1:12).  Isaiah writes, in the context here, "My heart cries out over Moab..." (15:6a).  

People of Moab can still be in the people of God.  Ruth is an example of this.  Where you were born and who you were born to or where you have lived and who you have lived among does not have to be your destiny.

The people of Moab, outside of God's redemption, are a people under a curse.  The foundation of the curse that they carry and live in, is what happened with Lot and his daughters.  The short version of the story is that Lot did not see to it that his daughters could have husbands and this vacuum of leadership was filled by his daughters having sexual relations with their own dad, in order to produce children.

Lot failed in his duty, to get husbands for his daughters.  He treated them as pre-pubescent girls, when they had become of age to marry and have children.  He did not set them up or position them to be promoted into womanhood and motherhood.

Then, his daughters sinned; and one of the children produced by the incest, was Moab.  His mother desired a child, but did not have a husband, and she did something outside the boundaries of right and wrong, and produced Moab.  But the reason that she did this, or rather the environment that gave rise to her sin, was her father not promoting her or lifting her up into womanhood, by finding her a husband.

Lot held his girls back from adulthood, but their bodies had matured to be ready for adulthood.  Lot did wrong and the daughters did wrong.  Lot did other wrong things, recorded in Genesis 19, with his daughters.

Lot had the opportunity to be mentored by Abraham, the father of faith.  It is interesting to consider, that Lot was not called the way that Abraham was (Gen. 12:1-5).  Even though Lot was from the same family, being Abraham's brother's son; he was his own person, with his own proclivities.  

We start in Genesis and then we fast-forward to Isaiah and see Moab judged.  We learned who Moab was and where he came from and noted that being a Moabite does not mean you are outside the possibility of redemption; with the case and point of Ruth, who was David's grandma and was a wonderful lady.  The book of Ruth is a wonderful book about redemption.

Today, we have the figurative or metaphorical tribe of Moab, or the manifestation or lifestyle of unredeemed Moab, that is coming under judgement for redemption.  The judgement of Moab's lifestyle or plight has already been here for a long time.  It is just going to have a light shined on it now and be given the chance to change and become free to be redeemed.

We have a whole lot of people who were not parented or led properly or watched over and allowed to grow, soar, and become productive.  Instead, their fathers, mothers, and leaders have not build launch pads, have not taught them to fly and leave the nest, and have not raised them up to take over the company or start their own businesses.  I am talking metaphorically.

We have had dysfunctional leadership on every level and in every sphere, including the church.  In this kind of dysfunction, those in the care of leadership, which starts in the home and goes all the way up to the white house; the offspring or those who are under the leaders are not raised up to maturity and allowed to take off, be promoted, or to be released into their destiny.

Instead, out leaders, up and down the whole spectrum; have not raised up those under them to be leaders themselves, unto their own productivity.  Instead, our leaders have fostered our dependence on them and kept us from promotion, from being mentored to take over the business, so to speak, and from leaving home to start our own families, metaphorically speaking.

Instead, our leaders, our mothers and fathers; have kept us down in a dependency relationship that is not how we were designed by God to live.  Some of us and for some of us, our ancestors; have sinned and used ungodly ways and means to try to fulfill their destinies, and have only ended up bringing more heartbreak and dysfunction into their lives.

People who are metaphorically in Moab, who for no fault of their own, were born under and into families and systems where the leadership has not allowed everyone to be promoted into their God given destinies, are being, about to be, and are going to be allowed to be set free into their destinies.

Right now, there is a shattering of this glass ceiling or curse that has held them back.  A whole lot of grief is going to flow, when people realize that they have been deprived or not loved.  But it is bitter sweet, because to process and flow is that to get out of bondage and to be delivered, you have to be shown and come to the realization that you have been held back.

The answer to deprivation of love and mentoring is not acting depraved, but being delivered and set free and having the curse broken and being set forth, back onto the path of destiny and fruitfulness that has awaited you.