Sunday, July 16, 2017

A common judgement

At Cottage Grove Church this morning in Des Moines, and a friend --- the pastor --- is speaking on Matthew 7 1-12.

It's a familiar passage from the Sermon on the Mount, and it starts with a oft-spoken phrase, "Jusge not lest you be judged."

I loved his metaphor --- imagine running cross country and a dad on the sideline drinking pop and eating cookies and telling you how to make it up the next hill. "You have never done this before, and you can't do it. Stop telling me how unless you do it yourself."

We use the wrong standard --- a sinful standard --- when we judge others. We aren't perfect, and we can't expect others to be. We are actually unable to judge, because we have such issues within ourselves. We look through foggy glasses, through a log, through sin, and that means we can't see that speck in someone else. We aren't objective.

"You're foolish. Your sin issues are larger than the person you're calling out."

Instead, approach others humbly and look at yourself as just as much of the problem in a conflict than the other person. When I do blame myself for something, I often feel like the culture is instead telling me, "No, you're the victim. It's not your fault." That's not how I should be looking at it. I should be humble and realize I have a sinful nature that is preventing me from being objective.

Verse 5 says to take the log out of your own eye and then you can help take the speck out of your brother's eye. So you are allowed to address sin, but to help, and after you have humbly looked at the situation. There's a right way to judge sin --- from God's viewpoint, and with the understanding that we are also sinful and want to help.

The verse about not casting pearls before swine, means don't throw valuables to filth. Trying to share correction with a scoffer, an evil person --- not only will be a waste but it will also harm you. Sometimes we must step back and let God do the heart change. However, it does not mean to give up on people. Maybe it's best to pray first and speak second. I forget the prayer part a lot.

Basically, the point is that God has given us grace, has taken our judgment. We need to treat others in a way that shows we understand this.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Satan just wants us to fail

Satan wants us to fail.

I think we overlook this fact far to often in our lives, thinking if we just try hard enough that we will accomplish what we want, forgetting that someone is actively working against us.

Think about if you're at work, and you have a new project. You are working hard and trying to get everything perfect, but you're working on your own and planning for your success.

Now, think about that situation if you have a co-worker who hates you and is actively trying to get you to fail at that project. Not only are you working hard and trying for success, you're also covering every other possible base that your co-worker might use to make you slip up. You're much more conscious about overcoming all the details that you normally wouldn't worry about.

I've been working on finishing the "Cherish" book on marriage that I started a few months ago. The other day I started out by reading some wonderful lessons on marriage and was determined to start putting those lessons into play. I was thinking how wonderful my marriage was, and these things were going to make marriage even better.

I normally don't think bad thoughts about my husband. I'm normally pretty easy going. But for some reason that day, a lot of what Nate did irked me. He said a passing comment about my hair being crazy that would usually make me laugh. Instead, it hurt my feelings, and I came back with, "When is the last time you scraped the house? I haven't done my hair because I've been working hard."

Then I went on to start thinking how he should be cherishing me and not making fun of me, and I took that hurt into my hurt for a little while.

There was something else later that I honestly don't remember that irritated me, and then I realized that the things that were bothering me that day were things that normally didn't bother me at all.

Why was that?

Satan and his stupid demons.

When Satan and whatever demon he has working against me saw that I wanted to make my marriage better, the plot began to fight against that. A godly marriage is obviously not what Satan wants, and so the temptation to be irked by my husband instead of cherish him came flying at me.

I failed miserably.

But that's because I wasn't prepared.

I forgot that there is someone out there that doesn't want me to follow what God wants, that wants our marriage to fail or that at least wants it to be stagnant.

It's not just about choosing to cherish my husband, but it's about being on the lookout for ways that Satan wants me to fail and asking the Holy Spirit to help me fight off those advances. It's about not only playing offense but taking a stand and playing defense as well.

So today, again, I choose to cherish my husband. I finished the book, but I have a feeling that I'll have to check it out again. These are lessons I'm going to have to read over and over again.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The first night on our land

It's been 10 years since I was last camping.

It was my sophomore year of college and Nate and I made a trip from the small town my college was in up to a local tourist area with lakes. We camped for a weekend along the larger of the lakes and had a wonderful time.

Flash forward 10 years and we're married and actually living in the area where we camped that weekend that seems like forever ago. But I haven't been camping since.

I had to work this weekend, so I took Thursday off to even up my hours and we decided to spend the night at our land for the first time. After I got off work on Wednesday, Nate had everything packed up and I giggled at how much stuff we brought to camp about a mile away from where we currently live. But it made the event more comfortable, so I'm all for that amount of stuff.

We arrived and went to work for a little while. Our mower broke, so I was in charge of weed-eating the driveway while Nate worked on chainsawing some dead limbs off of a gorgeous walnut tree that we could use for the fire that evening.

Sweaty and covered in grass about an hour later, we put up the tent, popped in the air mattress we blew up with the help of the outlet in our SUV --- thank you technology --- and started a fire.

Nate found a couple of old metal fenceposts that were in the broken down building on the acreage and put them over the burning coals with a powder-coated grill grate for a make-shift grill for the brats that he bought for dinner.

The rest of the evening, we just relaxed and soaked in the calm around us. Birds chirped. Dragonflies perched in the mulberry tree overhead and darted out every now and then to grab a mosquito, and we cheered them on. Monarch butterflies fluttered around. Novie mosied around dejected that she had to be outside instead of on a soft couch or bed.

As dusk approached, lightning bugs started to twinkle their little behinds. More and more appeared the darker it got. Soon, the nearby corn field was inundated with twinkle lights.

We had watched a documentary on Netflix a few nights before that which had a segment about glowing beetle larvae, and we were amazed at the brightness these beetles had. How cool would that be to see? we thought.

But as I looked at these lightning bugs blanketing the world around us, I thought How cool is this?

It was another one of those calm times in life when I look at the man next to me, the dog beside me and the simple world around me and I say a quiet prayer, Thank you Lord. Help me to remember this. Help me to store this treasure up in my heart.

We fell asleep in our tent, knowing that we'll remember that first time that we spent on our land. We have dreams that someday we'll sit on our porch with our kids and say, "Remember when we first camped on our land? Look at where we are now. That seems like so long ago."

But we'll remember the coyotes howling and yipping at us at 3 a.m., the sun rising so early that when we woke up at 7:30 it seemed like 10 o'clock, the eggs and toast and leftover brat we had for breakfast, the joy at finding all those thorn bushes we were annoyed with were actually raspberry bushes.

We'll remember, because those moments are stored up in my heart.