Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Judging’ Category

Heaven’s Rain

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Tonight, Greg and I watched the incredible true story as told on ‘Dateline’ about the horrific murders in October of 1979 of an Oklahoma Baptist pastor and his wife – while their two teenage children watched and amazingly – although wounded themselves – survived.

It is incredible and heart wrenching.  It is also a story of forgiveness. Some 15 years after the murders – the older of the two children, Brooks Douglass faced the  man who had shot his parents, serving life in prison at the time.  As he told the story on Dateline – he was very emotional when he told this part of the story.  He said he made a decision to forgive the man.  When he did – something inside of him broke – and all the years of pent-up anger and emotion – were released.  All because of being willing to forgive.  He did it for his parents, his sister – but mostly he did it for him.

It is powerful.  Raw and Gritty.  And I was amazed at his courage – and the courage of his young teenage sister who repeatedly had to testify in court over the next 15 years to have the men put away for good.

Brooks eventually ran for Oklahoma senate – and won – passing a bill that would usher in new ‘victim’s rights’.  And he began to write his story – and  eventually wrote the screen play for the movie of these events called ‘Heaven’s Rain’ – due to come out in February.

The subject of forgiveness is a difficult one.  Especially when we have been wronged.  I have a difficult time with it – and I have never had anything so hideous done to me personally or any of my family members.  But it doesn’t matter.  If we withhold forgiveness from another person who has wronged us – it is like poison and will eat us up inside.  The bible says to ‘forgive’ – not for them – but for us.  And showing mercy and grace to others is so necessary for our own personal healing – that’s why there is so much emphasis on this in scripture.

I encourage you to watch the special about this amazing true story as told on Dateline.

Below is the movie trailer in which Brooks – now in his 40’s plays the role of his father.  Very moving.

God Bless

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Mercy

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My heart is stirred today in much emotion – a heavy heart over events and situations that have lately affected my life and made it difficult to press on.  A difficult season of life – with many things out of my control – leaving deep sadness,  remorse – and resignation.

Our pastor, Stephen Collins, spoke on the subject of ‘Mercy’ today.  And although it is a subject that is not new to me – or any people of faith  – I believe  I heard newness in this simple message today – things that I will continue to ponder in the coming weeks.  I found myself very emotional.  This is a subject that is close to my heart and life.  And so with tears streaming down my face – I sat there and took it all in – and allowed the Lord to minister sweet words of comfort and blessing.  I was touched and moved beyond words.

I’ve noticed something about people who are merciful. – they are the first ones to forgive, love, embrace and welcome back,  those who are lost or fallen away.  They have no trouble accepting forgiveness or giving it.  They do not accuse and blame.  They have tender hearts – and they understand the value of mercy – because God has shown mercy to them.  They are also the happiest and most positive people in the world – with many friends.  Their friends trust them – and turn to them when they are in trouble – with no fear of judgment of alienation.  These are people who have been forgiven.

We’ve been watching ‘A Christmas Carol’  – I was noting how Scrooge shows no mercy at the beginning of the story – and then after being shown his life by the ‘spirits’ – he begins to see others and himself in a new light.  The Scrooge story is a story of mercy.  A story of second chances and a new lease on life – a valuable reminder to all of us to remember that when you show mercy to others – others will be merciful.  And it is interesting to note – that the nephew and employee of Scrooge have merciful hearts and embrace him without question – at the beginning of the story – when he is NOT merciful – and later as he is transformed at the end of the story.  No questions – no judgment – no criteria.  Just open arms of love and mercy.

I want to be one that shows mercy – even when I feel as though others have judged me and not understood me – or shown mercy to me.  I want to be the first to say, ‘I understand, I forgive, I love’.  And leave it at that.  No questions asked.  No hesitation.  No disbelief.  Just love and mercy.

Help me Lord to be that kind of person.  Help me to get over myself, my pride, my hurt and pain.  Help me to let go of others that have wronged me – those who have no understanding that their words and actions have wounded me more than they will ever know – and help me to forgive them and show mercy. For I am very aware that if I do not show mercy to others who have failed – or not done what I think they should, then you will not show mercy to me.  Help me to walk with a pure clean heart – free of agenda – free of revenge.  Help me to see others through your eyes.  Amen.

God Bless

Fixing Me

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After reading my comments yesterday from my blog article – I began to have some additional thoughts to add.  My good friends pointed out something that I had missed.

My blog was on judgment – but primarily focusing on me and not them.  Judgment will take you outside – reflection will keep you in.

I will admit that it is easier (and less hard work) to keep my focus – out there. I don’t have to do much thinking with my head – I only have to use my emotions to feel.  I can point fingers, make comments, feel superior and look good to myself and everyone around me.  But the truth is – it is empty when I blame, point fingers and  judge.  I can pull a warm blanket of self-protection around me and feel justified in doing so.

Self Reflection is much harder.  It is what will keep me grounded and focused on the real issueMe. Oh sure – I want to scream out things like: ‘You don’t even understand me – you don’t know me’, or ‘How could you say that about me – I thought you did know me‘.  But holding my tongue and working on me where no one can see the hard work inside – is what makes me mature and forces me to grow up and face my own worst enemy.  It is me.

I am capable of being so selfish and so self protective – that I allow thoughts and words to take over my life.  Things that may or not even be true about others.  Slanderous thoughts can take over my life – and because I’ve been hurt – I play the victim once again – licking my wounds and wallowing in the misery embracing the pain of abuse and judgment that was unfairly heaped upon me.  I have no defense from the accusations – and so I allow myself to become hard, cold and bitter.  I am capable of this and more.

But if I allow myself to do the hard work of yanking that ‘plank’ out of my eye, piece by piece, splinter by splinter – until there is nothing there anymore – I may discover a sweet surprise.  Because I am now free of my bitterness and years of self-protection – I may see that there is nothing to remove from your eyes. And this is a sobering thought indeed.  Was it all about me – all along?  My lack – my selfishness, my hardness, my coldness, my insensitivity to others, my intolerance, my impatience and the list goes on and on.  Yes.  I am hopelessly flawed and in need of a Savior.

And thankfully – there is a Savior.  One who has walked this earth and understands how it feels to be hurt, rejected, betrayed by a good friend, misunderstood and all the other emotions that go along with that.  He was the Son of God and if anyone would have had the right to throw His weight around – be judgmental and be justified for His behavior – it was Jesus.  But He let all that go and chose instead to prefer others.  He made himself to be a servant – and he humbled himself – even went as far as death on a cross – to redeem those who were lost.  Me. He taught me how to live – to give myself away – to let go and love even if it means personal risk.  I am ashamed of myself and all my feeble attempts at protecting my pride and looking good.  And I am convicted and challenged by His love, grace and mercy – His selfless act.  And I am compelled to try to live this way too.

When doing so – you may also find that it is you that you need to fix. And not them.

 

God Bless

Reflections in the Glass

Mirrored self-misidentification

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Windows are designed to look through.  Especially in the daytime – and we don’t notice the flaws, imperfections and plain DIRT on them unless the light hits them a certain way.  Clear enough most of the time to look through them at others.   We don’t notice the flaws until the light is just right – or when there is an absence of light.  And when the angle and light is just right – we are able to see our own reflection in that glass.  And glance at our own imperfections.  It is sobering.  It is humiliating.  But it is also  necessary.  Sometimes I get so focused on the ‘out there’ past the flawed glass – that I don’t notice what’s up close and personal – like my flawed reflection.  The real me. It is easy to take my attention off of me – and on to other people – silently criticizing or rebuking in my thoughts – and sometimes voicing them, spreading hurt, distrust and disillusionment around in a way that cannot be fixed.  Anything to hide my insecurity and my flaws.

The Bible talks about this kind of judgment  in the book of Matthew chapter 7:

3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Take care of your own reflection, my friends.  Clean the dirt from your window – then you will see clearly to  remove the plank from your eyes.  Then gently, very gently go to your brother or sister and ask for  permission to remove the speck of dust from their eye.  Remember that those you have heavily criticized – for having many flaws – you also have many of the same flaws and MANY more that they don’t.  You can be sure that with the same lack of grace and mercy you have judged – you will also be judged.

I want my plank out for good.  I want to see through my window knowing that I can see others with an unselfish and pure motive – free of any hidden agenda.  To see them as Jesus sees them – and how Jesus sees me.

God Bless

Who’s In – And Who’s Not

We live in a culture where it is important to ‘belong’.  We have all been either ‘in’ or ‘out’ when it comes to the ‘clubs’ of our society – like church groups – country clubs – gyms or sports arenas.  Even as children we gravitate to those most likely to accept us and either start our own ‘club’ – or long to be with the ‘other kids’ who seem to have a better ‘club’ than we have.  We all want to belong.  We all want acceptance – even as children.  We want to be noticed and to ‘fit it’.  Sometimes sacrificing ourselves in the process – because being with the popular kids – or the ones who are ‘in’ is far superior to us than being on the outside looking in.

Unfortunately we have also done this as adults.  We’ve done it in our churches.  We’ve done it as Christians.

It looks something like this:  New person comes and joins my ‘club’ and now I feel threatened.  Maybe they will take something away from me.  Maybe my friends will like them better.  Maybe they will be funnier than I am – maybe they will be better than I am.

We had a situation years ago in our church – where we had a thriving music ministry – choir, orchestra and worship team.  This ‘club’ involved about 100 people on any given Sunday.  It was hard work to keep the thing going, new people were encouraged to be a part – but looked at somewhat suspiciously.  Eventually those involved took on the identity of the ‘club’.  When changes were made and even drastically cut down – those that thought they were ‘in’ were threatened and challenged.  Suddenly church did not become about the ‘big picture’ – or about new people finding Christ – as it became about the ‘club’.  It was their identity.

For years we have defined who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’ as far as our Christian faith is concerned.  Some feel it necessary to have a firm grasp on just who is accepted as part of the ‘club’ and those who are never welcomed in.  Those divorced, from a bad family, those involved in moral failure or substance abuse would not be a part of the club.  It was not said in so many words – but everyone just knew. I mean – ‘they really aren’t very spiritual, are they’?

Is is ever possible to really hate the sin – but love the sinner?  Do we put feet to this by allowing them into our ‘club’ – into our ‘world’ to break bread with us?

We live next door to a lesbian couple.  They are the nicest human beings you will ever meet – and though we ourselves think homosexuality is wrong and contradicts everything we know to be true as far as the Bible is concerned – we really like these ladies. We love them.   We know these women would be shunned by others of our faith and it makes us sad.  They would only see the shame and sin – they would never be able to see them.

We also know of others who are shunned, ignored and made to feel ‘out’ instead of ‘in’ – because of those judging them have much emotion – bad feelings or personal prejudices – nothing more.  They are judged on a feeling or on the physical appearance. Or because they don’t believe like we do. I think we have to be very careful – when we have a ‘club’ that is exclusive – and restricts because of small mindedness and agenda.  In doing so we give the silent message to all – “I’m better – I have the only truth – there is no other way to see it than my way”  This is dangerous indeed and it is how cults are formed – and why Hitler had so much power and influence over people.  It is wrong, wrong, WRONG!

We need to embrace people – especially those that are different from us.  There is much we can learn from other cultures and even other denominations.  I believe we may have a surprise when we get to heaven and find our Catholic brothers and sisters – even the Baptist and Lutheran standing beside us!  How small our little ‘club’ will seem then.  God sees the ‘big picture’ – he is not about denominational walls – he is about the heart.

Let’s not make the mistake of judging others – especially the heart and motive that only God can truly see.  He is the only judge – and in the end the truth will revealed.  Someday it may be revealed to us – that very person we don’t like – and that we’re not allowing ‘in’ to our ‘club’ – God is whispering, ‘they are my favorite‘.

Our job is to love, encourage and be an example to others of the love and acceptance that we received from Christ – when we stood before Him and said, “I’m in”.  Let’s bring a whole lot of others with us – as we change this dying world – with our love.

Who’s In?  You are. Remember – you are God’s favorite.

God Bless

Acceptance – Or Just Tolerance

Heard a great Father’s Day message today from our pastor.  His main emphasis was this:  Do you accept people – or are you just tolerant?

It makes you think.  Somewhere deep inside of all of us – is this nasty habit of judging those that are different from who we are – or look different – or talk different – or do things that we don’t do.  The bible talks about this issue much in scripture – and that God is the ultimate judge of our heart and motives – and yet we still think we need to help Him out.

Maybe you were raised that drinking alcohol was wrong. Maybe it was the rules and regulations of the church you belonged to – although for the life of you – you can’t find anywhere in scripture where it actually says that it’s wrong.  It started out as a good idea once upon a time – or maybe had its roots in good upright moral principles – but then it went sideways somehow – and instead of it being a cultural thing or a church background thing – it became something more.  It became a judgement call.  You find yourself looking at those who have a glass of wine with dinner as less than spiritual.  Less of a Christian perhaps.  And they become marginalized. You politely tolerate them – but you do not accept their way of thinking. You do not accept them.  You don’t think they’re really saved.

Maybe it’s an issue of something as superficial as getting your ears pierced – or something else.  Maybe it’s a tattoo.  As was pointed out this morning – if we are going to make an issue out of a scripture in Leviticus about marking our body with a tattoo – then we better be willing to take the verse directly in front of it which talks about men cutting their hair and trimming their sideburns as being a sin.  And of course – that would be silly, right?  But we hold onto what we want to – or what we’ve been taught – and refuse to look at what scripture really means – and take the context and the heart of the message into consideration.  But how many people – especially from an older generation – just tolerate those who pierce and tattoo?  Instead of accepting.

Now accepting means I have to give in – and I have to let go.  And that is my safety net – to believe in something so strongly.  I feel justified.  I feel right.  I am right.  It means giving up that right – in deference to you.  It means swallowing my pride and self-righteous attitude and allowing you to be right.

Jesus came along as a radical to teach us that the Kingdom of God is backwards from what we normally think.  It teaches us to be servants and the lowest of all – when we want to be seen and heard and be the one in charge.  It teaches that we must be willing to forgive – even when we did nothing wrong.  It teaches that you are more important than I am.  That I have no personal rights.  It teaches that I lay my life down for others.  And this goes WAY beyond tolerance – even beyond acceptance.  It means that even with our differences – you are more important than I am.  And I submit to you.

And because God is the final ultimate judge of the heart – then I must lay aside my opinion of you and allow you to work on you – and allow the matter to be between you and God.

Ouch.  You mean – I can’t have an opinion and tell you to your face that you’re wrong – even if you are?  Not if we live by Kingdom principles you can’t.  We must let God do His work – and our job is to love and win others by our love.  There is nothing more motivating than a person who loves – and does not judge.

This is why it does not feel right when Christian brothers and sisters judge one another – and cannot be reconciled together after a grievance.  God is love. He dwells in relationships of people.  We need to forgive each other – and we need to love.

I am praying for you today that you will not just tolerate your brother or sister – but that you will learn to love and prefer them and their opinions and choices – over your own.  Accept them in love – just as Christ Jesus has loved and accepted you.

God Bless

The Soloist

Greg and I have been watching the movie “The Soloist” about a homeless ex Julliard musician played by Jamie Fox – and the newspaper man who happens on him in a park and tries to “rescue” him from being “lost” and seemingly abandoned and yes – homeless – played by Robert Downey Jr.  This story had me pondering many things today.

1. Sometimes people don’t want to be rescued. We try to “push” our values on people that our less fortunate than we are – only to be rejected.  We can’t understand why everyone would not want to live like we do – I mean – don’t we have the “truth” and know the only way to live?  We particularly see this when people come from another culture to our churches and neighborhoods.  We think that somehow we need to “save” them from themselves – when they were quite happy doing and being just as they were.  We also see this in our world today as missionaries and others come from countries of affluence to “aid” in another culture.  Sometimes it is welcomed – sometimes it is not.  Sometimes it is met with a misunderstanding of gigantic proportions and takes a missionary couple or family years to undo the damage.

2. We assume everyone is just like us.  Again big mistake.  And since we only have our experiences to draw upon – it is no wonder that we continue to make it.  People are as diverse and complicated as the situations that they have found themselves in – or are born in.  No one is just like me – and very few come from a family situation like mine – with its own set of uniqueness and dysfunctional issues – the same as your family – and very different from your family.  And if my assumption is that not only are you like me – than I anticipate your reactions based on what I would do in situations.  Very dangerous – and just plain wrong.  The old, “why can’t everyone just think like me” becomes our theme song when times get tough and we can’t figure things out.  We have very little tolerance for people that are different at thinking  and reacting to things.  We even marginalize them.  And in our minds – discard them.

3. We expect people to treat us like we treat others. Again this is a HUGE misconception.  I have personally struggled with this one time and time again.  I say things like, “I would never do that to a friend” – or “Why won’t they play nice – when I am so nice to them”  “Why can’t they appreciate all I do for them” etc.  It is a slippery slope of disappointment if we expect this.  And the “golden rule” doesn’t seem to be in everybody’s vocabulary – let alone living it.  Again we don’t always understand everyone completely – nor have we walked where they walk.  We don’t have to face what they have to in their place of work – in their home or family.  We know very little, really.  And yet – we still expect.

4. My role is to just walk in love and forgiveness. Nothing more.  I am not equipped to “save” anyone.  I cannot rescue people from themselves and the way that they react to difficult situations.  I cannot force anyone to see things the way I want them to.  I can’t “fix” anyone.  That’s God’s job – not mine.  And when I understand this – I am free.  When I truly embrace this truth – I am free to be who I am gifted to be – with no guilt and no false sense of purpose.  I am free to love you – even forgive you for the many unspeakable things that may have been done to me.  And for those things that I don’t understand and want to “fix” in you.  I am free to live what I believe.  I am free to love you beyond what I see with my eyes.

And like the “Soloist” that did not want to be “rescued” by anyone – but he wanted to experience love and peace in his life – I pray that we would all come to the place in our lives where people really matter.  Not how they live – or what they do – or look like on the outside – what they own or do not own.  But we really see them.  Where peace, forgiveness and love reign in our world – unprovoked – and unasked for.  Where we truly “see beyond” – and see them as Jesus sees them.  I pray that we would have better eyes to experience something we’ve never seen before.

God Bless

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