name='verify-v1'/> Big God - little d: November 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Personal Mile Markers

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." --Hebrews 4:12-13

Over the years, certain Scriptures from the Bible have become my own personal mile markers. God has faithfully used His Word to drive home the lessons that have shaped me into the person I am today. I cannot think of the one (Scripture) without thinking of the other (lesson).

Some years ago, a friend was going through a difficult time. My concern for this person became all consuming until it turned into a full-time occupation.

"And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye." -- Matthew 7:3-5

As I struggled (obsessed, really) with my friend's speck, it never occurred to me that I might have vision issues of my own. Imagine my surprise when God revealed, to me, the log in my own eye.

My priorities shifted as I made the decision to leave my friend in God's very capable hands. My goal changed -- clear vision for myself. Nothing else mattered. The life lesson that followed has impacted every relationship I have: with God, with my family, with my friends, and with those I've just met.

Since that time, whenever I see the Scripture from Matthew 7:3-5, I am reminded of the powerful lesson God taught me. And now when I find myself "worrying" over a friend's speck, I am reminded to leave them in the Lord's hands and to ask God to check my own vision.

This is just one example. There are other Scriptures and other lessons; each powerful in its own way. Personal mile markers. Each a reminder of the road I have traveled with the Lord and how far I have yet to go...

Thank You for the gift of Your Word which is living and active in my life. Thank You for the way Your Word reminds me of Your faithfulness to all Your people, of how You have shaped my life, and continues to call me to obedience. Help me to be true to Your Word. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Judge Not

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven." --Luke 6:37

Last Thursday, I drove my thirteen year old son, Mitch, to guitar lessons. As I pulled into the south lot of the church campus, I noticed a white sports car. It was parked next to the newspaper/recycling dumpster. My attention was drawn to the driver's side door which was wide open. There was nobody inside the car and there didn't appear to be anyone around.

Just before I pulled alongside the car, my eyes dropped beneath the opened door and observed a pair of shoes in a straddle position, pants scrunched around the ankles. My first thought was that someone was getting sick on the other side of the door. As I turned left (away from the car) to park, I glanced at the individual.

Several things happened at once:
I realized the person, in question, was urinating onto the asphalt.
I assumed it was a child.
I told my son not to look.

By this time, I had pulled into a parking spot, no more than 36 feet away. From my side view mirror, I observed the posterior of the individual who was still "going." It did not belong to a child. It belonged to an adult. And the adult was most definitely a female.

To her left was the recycling dumpster and the church entrance. To her right was the parking lot. To her backside was a very busy street. The only part of this woman discreetly covered was her face which was shielded by the door of the car.

I was shocked. I was repulsed. I was indignant. But I was also amused in an embarrassed sort of way.

Mitch and I remained in the vehicle while the woman finished her business. As we waited, I said,

"It could be someone from our special needs group that couldn't wait or got confused."
"Some people don't have bathrooms....I wonder if she is homeless."
"Some people are mentally ill."
"Some people are really messed up..."
"Why didn't she go inside?"
"Why didn't she take cover behind the dumpster?"
"Why didn't she use the privacy of the bushes and trees in the prayer garden not 10 feet away?"

The reason I had time to cover all of these possibilities is because she had a very large bladder.

Finally. From my mirror, I watched as the woman nonchalantly pulled up her sweatpants. She acted like nothing unusual had just happened. I would guess her age as late 20's-early 30's. Her face had "hard life" written all over it.

As I continued watching, a young hulk of a man (late teens-early 20's?) climbed into the passenger seat. He must have come from inside the church. I was stunned as the woman climbed into the driver's seat. She pushed her hair away from her face, fastened her seatbelt, and drove away, leaving a large puddle in her wake.

The disturbing image has stayed with me. Even more disturbing has been the realization of the levels of judgment by which I measured this mystery woman.

When I thought it might be a sick individual - I was willing to extend grace.
When I thought it might be a child - I was still willing to extend grace.
When I realized it was an adult - not so much grace.
It could be one of our special needs' friends - okay a little more grace.
A mentally ill individual - surely they should know better - less grace.
Someone who just did it because she felt like it - I'm struggling.

Once again, I am face-to-face with the truth that I don't know how to love like Jesus. It is obvious to me that my grace is based on the merit system. Jesus' grace is based on his ability to love like the Father. I am incapable of that kind of love on my own. Oh, how I need my Savior to show me the way.

Had she remained in the lot, I would have been required, by God, to go over to her and speak. I am certain of it. What would I have said? How would she have responded? We will never know.

I am convinced that she has bigger problems than using a church parking lot as her own private bathroom. Truly, what kind of person would do such a thing?

There is only one answer that matters: The kind Jesus loves.

You love all of Your children. You have no favorites (Acts 10:34). Teach me how to love like you do. In the name of Jesus, who died for all mankind, Amen.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
-- Isaiah 55:8-9

Assumptions. They can be our undoing.

Yesterday, I was in the middle of my quiet time when a random thought popped into my head. This, in and of itself, was not unusual. My quiet time tends to be filled with random thoughts..."I should probably start a load of laundry," or "I need to reschedule that dentist appointment when I'm finished," or "What the...How did those dirty fingerprints get on the ceiling?"

Most of the time, I ignore them but sometimes they sidetrack me. Honestly, there are times when I want to be sidetracked. Staying busy is a lot easier than sitting still at the Lord's feet.

But this particular thought was not the norm. I got up from the table, grabbed my cell phone and texted a friend the following message:

"In the middle of my quiet time. Question for you: Do you have words for me?"

I don't know how to explain why I followed this thought through to completion. Most likely because it didn't originate from my own brain. Plus, I was intrigued by the thought that my friend might actually have a message for me from God. I ended up copying the texted message into my journal followed by the following, "Lord?!?" with an arrow pointing to the words.

I didn't hear back from my friend.

Fast forward to late afternoon. I was in the church parking lot, sitting in my parked vehicle, finishing my fast food meal. The double doors to the building opened and there was my friend (the same one I texted earlier). He headed straight for my van with a big grin on his face.

Just by the look on his face, I could tell there was a message from God. Something for me. I couldn't wait to hear it. Oh, the anticipation.

And then he started to talk...

"I can't believe you sent me that text! I do have something for you. I have some words I would like you to look over and get your feedback on."


Disappointment. Embarrassment. Irony. Amusement. Understanding. Acceptance.
That pretty much sums it up.

I think God enjoyed watching my face as I processed through that one. I went back to my journal where I had earlier written down the texted words and added, "Ha Ha."

Truly Your ways are beyond my understanding. According to You, my obedience should not depend on my understanding. Thank You for reminding me of that in such an amusing way. I do love You and Your ways...even though they are beyond me! In Jesus' name, Amen.