Monday, March 30, 2009

Should I Judge or Not?

'Don't judge me!' 'You are just looking down on me - who are you to judge?' Thorny issues. What to do?

There are at least two ways folks, like a strict soccer ref, pull out the 'you are judging' card.

Public Speaking
I speak in public for a living. I study and tell people what God says in His Word. At least I am supposed to speak for God. But every time I speak, my personality, opinions and values show too. Its the nature of the task.

I find it worth listening to my critics and checking my motivation, no matter how mad they may make me. Often they are right! MY judgment and personal bias counter to God's Word is showing like my pants are hemmed too high. For this I do need to repent.

But if the judging card gets leveled against the content of God's Word of Truth - then who I am to try to change God's Word?

Lots of times people are so upset by God's Truth (me too!) that they lash out at the one who is saying it out loud. This is one of the lumps you take as God's servant.

Personal interaction

Often times when someone accuses me of being judgmental, they are right here too. I am guilty of judging when it is the Lord's place to do so. I AM NO BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE - a lesson I need to learn over and over.

When I am wronged He promises that He will judge and set everything straight but many times I want Him to judge NOW! This shows me my need of continual mercy! O me of an arrogant and judgmental heart! Lord have mercy on me!

So if the interpersonal matter is not urgent (i.e. no one's physical life is in danger) as a spiritual discipline I am learning to withhold my immediate judgment and let the Lord season it with His loving kindness.

Most Dynamic Way Anyone has Ever Spoken to Me
Then opportunities to speak the truth in love open up. This is what I'm aiming for as a broken pastor. The truth in love has been the most dynamic way anyone has ever gotten through to me.

Doesn't always happen. Lots of time there isn't a prior trust built up. So out of deference to others I am learning to not defend myself and let the Lord defend me if He wants.

Maybe that will build trust and lead to personal transformation. Mine and anyone to whom I have the honor to speak.

One last lesson learned
As a thinking, broken pastor who seeks to have significant influence in the marketplace of our culture, I just don't use the word 'judge' very much. It has been kidnapped and infused with meaning that confuses the the biblical context.

I more often tell people that we should seek to 'discern' - which connotes the similar idea, but takes some of the edge off such a loaded word in modern culture.

Am I kowtowing to our culture by altering my language? Should I be more bold and brash? I'd be interested in your reply.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Mexico on the Verge of Anarchy?

This isn't what you'd hear on the news. While news outlets report some kidnappings, murders and such in Arizona and Texas due to the 'spillover' violence from the drug wars, what is really going on?

One former executive of a major Atlanta-based delivery company that promotes one specific color asked this question of our elders yesterday. He recounted only one horrific story that neither the US nor the Mexican governments wants publicized.

A truck full of computers travels under highest security then disappears while in the custody of Mexican border patrol. The driver shows up naked 4 days later in the middle of nowhere. This is repeated over and over. Quite a delivery route!

So let's add that to what gets reported: President Calderon sends thousands of troops to border town to quell the violence, but it only intensifies.

A decade ago 1000 pesos was so worthless, the federal government just produced new money with less zeroes on it.

Is Mexico coming unhinged?
Some think so. I fear FOR our neighbors to the South. Some of my best friends are Mexicans. I had no problem with them moving to the States to become part of our nation and now I know more. Plus I think it is foolish to be hostile to aliens seeking asylum among us (seeing as what Scripture has to say about such matters.)

Can you blame them when their government can not protect them?

What is the Christian response? to such horrible news and the threat of the instability of a neighboring nation?

I received a support request letter from an Anglo family seeking to get back to Juarez - one of the most violent cities in North America - to help train Mexicans to live and preach the gospel.

Line up to go joyfully and preach the good news to Mexicans so THEY can influence their country at the deepest roots! Risk all for the kingdom to come!

Welcome people who are HERE! Help them assimilate into our church and culture. Help them come in legally - instead of making our laws punitive to those who seek to move here! Help them learn the love of God that will compel them back home in the name of Christ Jesus.

And pray for the church in Mexico!
The word I hear from my Mexican friends is hard. Pastors are quitting their calling, church members disillusioned, seminaries shrinking. God's people are there, so let's pray for courage in the brokenness, persecution and hardships.