Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Great Plank Removal

This past week, a friend of mine on my favorite social networking site posted something that caught my attention and really bothered me.  He was approached by a teenage kid asking for donations for a church trip.  The kid accepts the money then proceeds to lay into my friend for wearing a t-shirt of a rock band that wouldn't exactly be considered "churchy." Then he lectures my friend about listening to certain types of music and announces that he has stopped listening to non-Christian music.   I really wanted to comment on his post, but I had no idea how to respond to this.  I felt like no matter what I said, I would sound like a pious know-it-all or something like that.

Coincidentally I have been meditating on a verse for a few weeks that ties in perfectly with this little scenario.  Luke 6:41-42 talks about judging others:

41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

What I have been especially been focused on is the "plank."  I have been asking the Lord to reveal to me what planks I have in my own eyes.  I figure there are probably several in there that I can't even see.  According to Dake's Annotated Reference Bible, "plank" can be translated into the words "log, tree trunk, or telephone pole."  I find the last one to be a bit of a stretch considering there were no telephones at the time that Jesus walked the earth.  I assume Mr. Dake included that word merely to emphasize the huge size of the plank in question.  The one that makes the most sense to me is "tree trunk" and the more I think about it, the more I get it.  There is a reason Jesus used that scenario to describe the judgmental condition of mankind.  The most obvious thing that I see in this verse is that when you judge others, you are blind to your own afflictions.  What I gained from meditating on this is that I need to take a good hard look at myself and fix all the many things wrong with me before looking at others.  But then I pressed deeper and really thought about that plank, that tree trunk growing out of my eye that Jesus spoke about; and what I saw in my mind's eye was this: when you have a huge tree growing out of your eye, you not only are blind, you hurt others! If I have a huge tree growing out of my face, every where I turn I am bashing other people with it. Also, if you leave a tree alone, it will continue to grow larger and larger.  The more I focus on other people's problems and leave mine alone, my own problems will just get bigger.  And the more I try to "help" others while I refuse to get my own help, the more I will just keep bashing in the heads of those around me and keep pushing them away until I no longer have anyone who wants to get close to me.  Jesus commanded us to love others, not bash their heads in all the time.  When I let the Lord remove my afflictions, then I can lovingly help those around me with the things that are afflicting them.  

So as I meditated on this and asked the Lord to reveal my tree trunks, he very quickly showed me a huge one that was in my life and very swiftly removed it.  I knew it was there, but what I didn't know  how much it was affecting me.  It was very painful to remove this thing from my life because it involved a huge setback in my family's income, but I truly believe with all my heart that when God removes something from our lives he replaces it with huge blessings.  I can already say that He has provided everything my family needs and I know that He will continue to do so.  

I have to admit that God has really reached me with this verse that I have known since I was a kid. I have read and heard it so many times that I used to just tune it out. But it seems that the Lord has been re-teaching me a lot that I thought I already knew.   I used to be very judgmental.  Very.  Like to the point where I would read Bible verses or hear a sermon and think about all the people I knew who needed to hear THAT! But I was missing the point entirely.  Jesus speaks directly to ME and to YOU, he doesn't teach all of his lessons to give us an excuse to judge everyone else we know while we don't change a thing about ourselves.  The teenage boy who berated by friend may have felt in his heart that he should cut out certain music from his life so that God could speak to him.  He may have cut it from his life because his youth minister told him it was the only way he could go on the trip. I don't know the reason he stopped listening to certain types of music.  All I know is that he inappropriately judged my friend.  I hope and pray that this boy changes his ways and that the Lord removes the planks from his eyes so that he will stop bashing others.  I believe that the music that a person listens to is up to them. I believe that God looks at our hearts and I truly believe he would rather me listen to non Christian music because that is what I want to listen to rather than broadcasting that I listen to Christian music just to prove how great I am.  The whole point of listening to Christian music is to praise God and if a person does it with the point of showing off how great they are they are missing the point entirely.  They are praising themselves and not God.  I hope and pray that my friend who received the bashing doesn't think that all Christians just want to go out and bash anyone who doesn't have the same views as them. If you look hard enough you can find those special people who have a true relationship with the One Living God.  Christians are never going to be perfect, but there really are those who do want to love others.   Once you find people like that, never let them go!! 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hello Again!

Hello again! I am back after taking a long break from blogging.  I started this blog because The Lord told me to.  I argued with Him, but He insisted.  I told Him that I hate blogs, that they are not for serious writers, and if I can't go to college and become a "real writer" then I am not going to waste my time blogging.  But He wouldn't let it go.  He kept pressing into my spirit that I start this blog so I finally broke down and started it; and I admit now that I really love it.  The few posts  I have already written, I poured my heart into and God has really blessed me through writing them.  At the beginning, things were going great with my new blog.

Then God told me to write what was on my heart about the gay and lesbian community in my post Rainbows.  I argued with Him about that too.  I don't like to write controversial things.  I don't like to rock the boat.  I like things to be simple and easy.  But again, He kept pressing me so I decided to write it and I was nervous the whole time writing it.  After I wrote it I was angry at God for making me write a post that was so out of my comfort zone and I just couldn't bring myself to write anything else for a while.  I didn't even log onto the blogger screen to check on things for months.   Well,  when I finally did get back onto my blogger screen and started looking around I realized that God apparently had a plan with that little post because Rainbows ended up getting the most hits out of all my posts.  And not just by a little, either, like 400% more than my other posts.  Someone even posted a link to it in an atheist forum which is where it received most of the hits. I think that is so crazy because that post had the most Bible verses than any of my other posts!  So apparently I struck a nerve with that one! Praise God! His word made it into places where it may not have otherwise gone and I hope that every single person who read it was able to get to know Jesus in a new and personal way.  I am saying all this to tell how awesome God is because I know that all this was not because of me.  If it would have been up to me, I would never even have started the blog in the first place.

 God's plans are not our plans! I read the story of Gideon to my kids from the book of Judges a couple of weeks ago and it really resonated with me.  All Gideon wanted was to bake bread for his family, but God had a much bigger plan for him! God used Gideon to lead an army of 300 men to conquer 3 entire nations.  When a person joins the US armed forces, it is not an easy life.  First there is boot camp where they go through intense training, then they go to war and have to sometimes live in horrible conditions and go through things they have never dreamed of doing.  But even with all the hardship, if they follow their general's orders they will achieve so much more it their lives.  Way more than if they had never joined in the first place.  If this is true in a natural army, how much more is this a truth in God's army? With Gideon, God equipped him after he was called. In fact, Gideon was very unprepared for a battle.  He was pretty much a nobody in the nation of Israel.  When God told him his plan for the nation, Gideon argued with God and told Him that he had the wrong guy.  Gideon was the smallest man in his family and his family was the smallest in the nation.  Not only that,  Gideon had such a small plan for his life: Grind wheat for his family without the Midianites taking it. That is all Gideon wanted to do. But God had so much more in store for him. God took a small man from a small family with a small plan and just like a tiny seed grows into a might tree, Gideon became a huge part of God's story in the Bible.  Gideon obeyed God and ended up leading an army to defeat the Midianites and eventually became the leader of Israel.   I think I really related to Gideon because I argued with God about my blog and I know that having a lot of people read a little blog is nothing compared to defeating 3 nations with 300 men like Gideon, but I like the idea that God can use a nobody like me, like Gideon, to do something big when we obey Him.  What is God telling YOU to do? Go do it!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


These are my personal notes on the New Testament book of Acts.  I have a hard time just reading books. I think I am by nature a writer in the most simplest way in that I have a very basic need to write things in order to understand them.  It is how I learn.  So any time I read the Bible or any other book that is a teaching book I have to write about it to really get it.  I usually do this in an actual journal, but the Lord has led me to share it, so here it is.  I hope that it helps you! I have started a new dedicated page here