The subtle sin of judgmentalism and how it works

“Do not judge, lest you be judged…. Why  do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1ff.)

If you are prone to criticism and judging others, chances are you will be the last to know it.

It’s that kind of sin. I see it in you; it’s just part of who I am.

I find it fascinating that after issuing the warning about not judging others, our Lord followed with the caution about specks and logs in people’s eyes.

This is precisely how it works.

My judgmentalism of you appears so normal and natural that it never occurs to me that I am actually condemning you.  So, while your rush to judgment is a log in your eye–one you really should do something about!–my human tendency to speak out on (ahem) convictions is merely a speck in mine and nothing to be concerned about.

Ain’t that the way?

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How to stay youthful all the way home

“They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green….” (Psalm 92:14).

It occurs to me that there is one article I can write which Rick Warren cannot (not yet anyway), which Thom Rainer is not ready to write, and which some people couldn’t come up with if their lives depended on it.

“How to be young in old age.”

I’m in that “old age” period, I suppose. Man, it hurts to admit that. But then again, as they say, considering the alternative, I’m good with being 74.

And, I remind myself, I have done funerals for a lot of good people who would have given everything to live this long and see their children married and their grandchildren grow up. So, I am blessed and I thank the Lord.

If you are, thirty, let’s say, and reading this, then I suggest you stop and consider how you are feeling at this very moment. Well, that’s how I feel. I feel great, clear-headed, alert, alive, joyful, without a pain or ache in my body.  Believe me, I am thankful.

That’s not the youthful part, though. When senior adults talk about being youthful, in most cases they’re not speaking of their libido or their athletic prowess. They’re talking about their spirit, their attitude.

And, from the reports of those who know me, I qualify.

So, therefore, let’s give it a try.  How to stay youthful in old age. My top 10 ways….

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Get the love out: Sometimes only words will do

“My little children, let us not love in word or tongue (only), but in deed and in truth”(I John 3:18).

In our effort to encourage people to “love one another,” we must not leave the impression that words do not count.  While deeds of love and other expressions are vital, a lot of people need to hear the actual words.

“I love you.”  “You have no idea how much you mean to me.” “Thank you for being such a precious friend.” “I treasure you.”

Speaking love is a good thing to do.

First, something inside me needs to speak words of love.  It’s good for me.

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Smile. C’mon, you can do this.

I have accidentally become an evangelist for smiling.

I want to see God’s people smiling, and do not understand why many refuse to do so until their natural reluctance is overpowered by something really hilarious.  If anyone on the planet has cause to smile, it’s us.  We’re saved, our names are written in glory, there is no condemnation either here or in the future waiting to ambush us, and from here on in, it’s all good!  That sure brings a smile to this country boy’s face.

Now, the Scriptures say very little about smiling, if at all. However, the references to joy leak out from every page. And what is a smile, after all, but “joy made visible.”

So, the old saw holds true here: “If you’re saved, tell your face about it.”

Now, I sketch people wherever I go, sometimes as many as 500 in one week. And since everyone on the planet looks better smiling and they will like the finished product more if it shows them in the best light, I tell people, “Look at me–not down at the sketchbook–and smile please. I want to see your teeth.”  Or, I might just say, “Say cheese.” Or if it’s a child, after learning he is 5 or 6 years old, to get a smile, I’ll say, “And are you married?”

You  would be surprised, and probably distressed, to know how often the subject replies, “I don’t smile.” Or, “I don’t like my smile.”

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7 things I learned in choir rehearsal

“Come before Him with joyful singing” (Psalm 100:2).

During the time I sang with the choir at our church, I loved singing for the worship service, but had to make myself go to rehearsal.

Rehearsing songs–whether for church or school assembly or for the juke joint down the street–is hard work.

Gradually, I began to see some patterns forming. Eventually, those shapes merged to form life-lessons that have remained with me all these years.

1) I do not like new songs.

The minister of music would say, “Joyce, pass out the new music,” and I would cringe. I did not read music and did not do well trying to negotiate my way around these clothes-lines of blackbirds.  The piano is picking out the melody of the song and I’m working to get it.  This is no fun.  It’s work.

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The wonderful power of soft answers

“A soft answer turns away wrath; but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

Someone is angry at you all out of proportion to the situation.  Their energy in attacking you catches you off guard and your first reaction is to strike back in self-defense.

What to do.

My friend Bobby started ministry as a musician, then became a missionary and later a pastor of several churchs. These days, he and I are both doing retirement ministries. Our friendship is a half-century old.

Recently Bobby was telling me of a time during his church musician period when he was going to a program in another church. To get there, he had to meet friends at the junction of a couple of roads.  He arrived early and pulled off the highway, stopped in front of a house, and killed the engine. A few minutes later, a man burst out of that house, waving his fists and shouting all kinds of profanity.  He ran to the car and around to the driver’s side, still hurling his threats.

Bobby rolled down his car window and let the man finish.  Then he said calmly, “You don’t remember me?”

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Eliminating hurry from my life. Right now!

“Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4).

The maid told my friend, “The reason you are tired all the time is that you’re always rushing.”

Wisdom is where you find it.

My friend Don Davidson, who pastors the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Virginia, quotes John Ortberg who said the best advice he ever received came from Dallas Willard.  “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

My wife says, “It’s easier said than done.”

Indeed. That’s why so few manage it.

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Joy to the World!

“I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be to all the people….” (Luke 2)

God is a God of great joy.

There is great joy in God’s presence. (Psalm 16:11)

That joy has a name: Jesus Christ.

Wherever Jesus Christ is honored, joy is the dominant element in the atmosphere. (Acts 8:8 and 15:3)

When Jesus Christ enters a life, that person is filled with joy.

Joy is the flag flown from the castle of your heart to show the King is in residence.

Joy is something other than happiness, for that quality depends on happenings.  The joy of the Lord is of a higher quality and superior to all others.

The joy of the Lord is the strength of His people.  (Nehemiah 8:10)

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Ignorance plus arrogance? Move back and give it some room!

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” (Is that in the Bible? It ought to be. Smiley-face goes here.)

Here’s one that is: “I am also convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.” That’s Romans 15:14, and we sure wish we knew whether the Apostle Paul had tongue firmly planted in cheek when he said this or was dead serious.  It appears to us that the recipients of this Roman letter, as with so many of the others Paul wrote, were deficient in some areas of knowledge of spiritual things. We’re glad they were, of course, because in addressing these issues for them, Paul ended up instructing us.

One wonders what it must be like to be “filled with all knowledge.”

After all, “knowledge puffs up” (I Corinthians 8:1).  Modern translations say, “knowledge makes arrogant.”

Ignorance does too, oddly enough.  In fact….

Ignorance coupled with arrogance makes for a deadly combination.  When you see that monster coming down the road, get out of the way because it bloodies everything it touches.

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Why God tells us to be perfect but doesn’t expect it

(Part 2 on this subject)

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

Would the Lord issue a command He does not expect to be obeyed?

We may as well raise the question before some reader does it for me and uses it to dismiss everything that follows.

Short answer: He’s trying to get something across, to teach us something important, by issuing the command.

Longer answer: everything that follows.

In His”Sermon on the Mount,” the Lord Jesus sets the bar alarmingly high for all who would live as His disciples.

–When persecuted, we are to rejoice (Matthew 5:12).

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