Time to be First

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“If you ain’t first, you’re last.”  That’s a line from a movie.  In the movie a dad is giving his son advice.  The movie is a spoof and the advice although taken seriously by the son is really just another example of the dads poor parenting.

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I was listening to a sermon the other day and something the Pastor said made me think of that line.  The Pastor was talking about something his own dad had done when he was a teenager.  He described having a disagreement with his father and in his frustration he had said to his mother,  “I could kill him.”  His dad, having formed a plan to put an end to his sons thought,  dismissed him from school early the following day.   The dad told his son that he had two guns in the trunk and they were going to a place where they could faceoff.  The dad told his son if he didn’t shoot,  Dad would.  The Pastor acknowledged his dads poor choice of parenting techniques and followed up by saying, “He didn’t really do it, he just let me believe he was going to while I cried for 15 minutes.”  But the technique worked and the young Pastor never said anything like that again.

As a parent, I have definitely had my fair share of handling things the wrong way.  Often times I handled things the only way I knew how at the time.  I’m sure most parents can relate.  But I got thinking about the things that we don’t address with our kids.  The advice we don’t give them.  That same young Pastor talked about how his dad started telling him from a young age that he could be “the first” man in his family to not be an alcoholic.  In the past I’ve talked about how I was “the first” to graduate high school on my mothers side of my family.  I didn’t know it at the time.  I often wonder how much harder I might have worked had I understood the accomplishment that little diploma would mean for future generations.

My own children have all graduated high-school and either gone on to gain technical certifications or are pursuing college.  I wonder would they be on the path they are on had I not been the first?

I’m not trying to puff myself up in any way, I say it with complete humility.  In fact I began thinking about all the firsts my own children might accomplish in the lineage of our family. Someone could be the first to travel the world.  Another might be the first to have a master’s degree.  They may be the first missionary, the first senator, the first to serve in the military, the first to beat obesity,  depression, diabetes,  or cardiovascular disease?  It boils down to the choices we make.  Decisions.  You may be asking,  how do we have control over diabetes or cardiovascular disease?  The answer is simple, your lifestyle choices.  Have you resigned to having a familial disease or are you being proactive and living a healthy lifestyle? Maybe you are the first to choose the healthy lifestyle so your kids can be the first to live without disease.   There are lots of things we can do to stay ahead of something in hopes that we may never face that battle.  When we look at it from the perspective of having a choice to make, it makes all the difference.

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One of my daughters is planning her wedding.  We discussed recently how she may be the first woman in at least 3 generations to NOT end her marriage in divorce.  No pressure, right.  But knowing that, how much more might she put into her marriage to make sure it doesn’t end that way?  Coming from a family who has struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction, I can certainly relate to the young Pastors father challenging him, “You could be the first…”.  The Pastor said, because of that challenge he had made the decision at a very early age that he would not drink.  To this day he does not.  His decision is not cocky or full of boasting, it comes from a place of suffering and humility.

I believe when Jesus said, “Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” he meant that those who give their lives to Christ early will have the same reward as those who give their lives to Christ when they are 80.  Living your whole life for Christ doesn’t warrant you a greater reward than those who have given their lives to Christ after a lifetime of sin.  It is the same reward.

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Being first in your family to not struggle with alcoholism or drug addiction could mean you will be the last to face that struggle. Being the last to face that struggle will put you first in a long line of generations to be set free.  Something you will have to offer future generations is the humility and appreciation for how good your life is comparatively.  What about your own kids?  What challenge might you present to them?  I may not have been the first to successfully stay married on my first attempt but I’m praying I’ll be the last to end in divorce.  After all if you’re not the first, you could be the last.

Matthew 20:16 NIV  “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.

 

 

 

Tragedy Trending

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I  like to review what’s trending in the social media world.  Typically what’s trending on social media is a good indicator of what’s going on in the world.  In the last few years it appears that there is always a wildfire burning out of control, a sink hole swallowing homes, a storm brewing in the seas and polar caps melting at record speed.  As if that’s not bad enough, people everywhere are fighting over issues around race, gender, sex, religion, what’s being taught to whom by whoever and so on and so forth.  It’s overwhelming.  How do we keep living life without feeling we’re ignoring all the needs?

 

With all that is going on around us it is almost impossible to keep up with it all. As I watch story after story unfold I am left wondering, when will it end?  I keep waiting for it all to calm down but instead the unease continues to grow.  I find myself flipping between news stations and turning to periscope and social media to fit all the pieces together.  At one point I began writing down the reported statistics I was hearing in order to research for myself if they were true.  What I found was mostly half-truths presented in favor of which ever argument is being presented at the time.  It is incredibly discouraging to see the truth so misrepresented.  It is more disappointing to see the level of anger and violence that is occurring in response to it all.

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Watching it all reminded me of those verses in  2 Timothy 3 – 5; “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.”   That pretty much sums up our existence, wouldn’t you agree?
In all fairness, I don’t believe this is reserved to the last few years. This has been the path of our society for sometime now. As we continue to blast into the future our lives seem to spin faster and faster.  I’ve said it before, I think the lack of social connection has caused people to forget we’re all people. There’s a pack mentality that says attack whomever disagrees.  (Or whomever offends you in some way, even if it is irrational.)  I joined an online writers group recently and was shocked to see how a group that was supposed to be supporting and encouraging one another was angry and down right mean.  And can you believe most of it was incited by incorrect grammar?  I quickly dropped that group recognizing no good would come from participating.  The thing is, the shock of the cruelty hasn’t been forgotten.  I do recognize though, that not all writers groups are like that.  I have joined other groups and have not experienced that level of discontent.  It would be naïve to make the association that all writers groups are like that one group or that all writers are like those few that I encountered.  Yet we make those same assumptions everyday.

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Why?  Because like 2 Timothy: 3 -5 says,  people have become proud, they love themselves and money, they are unloving, unforgiving, lack self-control, cruel, reckless, and all too ready to slander others.  When I watch the news and look at social media it seems the only thing really trending is tragedy.

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So what can you do about it?  The quick answer is, nothing.  You can’t stop natural disasters and the behaviors of politicians beyond your influence.  You can’t change anything but yourself.  I personally am of the belief that most people are good.  So at first appearance there isn’t much to do.  But what is good?  Are we good if we don’t break laws, we work, we pay our bills, we raise our kids to be kind-hearted people and we try to be considerate of others?  If we’re not racists, or bullies and we pay our taxes are we good?  Most of us don’t like what we see going on in the world so because we don’t participate in those things are we good?  Maybe,  BUT.  And this is a big but (no pun intended), are you doing anything to contribute positively to your community?

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We all say we’re not those 2 Timothy: 3-5 people,  who are obviously terrible humans.  However, are you too busy to volunteer?  Too busy to find the time to do something during your week that doesn’t benefit you or your family?  Are you too busy to do something that doesn’t result in income in your pocket?  And that last one includes those things you do that may not directly grow your business but ultimately you know deep down will benefit your pocket.  Is your time too precious that you can’t spend some of it doing something positive for society?  If you answered yes, than the reality is you are loving yourself and money over others.  You can check that box.   How about self-control with over indulgence in drinking or food? Yep check that box.  You may not be intentionally slandering others but do you gossip? Check.  You don’t think you’re proud? Are you easily offended?  Being offended often and easily usually stems from being proud.  Check that box too.  Reckless?  Of course you’re not, risky behavior is not your thing.  But, are there bills you can’t pay while you shop for more things you don’t really need? Check.  Okay, okay, maybe some of these things don’t apply like,  you’re definitely not cruel or unloving.  Are you sure?  Do you hate liberals, or republicans?  Are you enraged by some belief that isn’t in alignment with yours?  I’m not saying you have to agree or give value to those beliefs or arguments.   I’m just saying you probably don’t feel lovingly toward them, so you can check that box too.   How about un-forgiveness? Cruelty can be the same as holding a grudge for something and using it as power over the person who committed the indiscretion.   It’s in the Bible people.  I’m not making it up.  All in all, how did you do?

If you’re anything like me, you’re realizing what a crappy human being you’ve been and how oblivious you’ve been to being crappy.  You can change you.  You can change how you spend your time, you can learn to forgive, you can practice self-control which can help you not to gossip, act reckless, or be prideful.  In other words you don’t have to try not to be all those things that 2 Timothy: 3 – 5 describes. I’m pointing out that most people don’t realize they aren’t being a good person. I have faith that once they recognize they are being those things will want to change their behavior.  Ultimately, being open to the idea that maybe you aren’t so “good” after all usually leads to a willingness to change which leads to a more fulfilling and peaceful life.   I guess you can change the world after all.  Your world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Shout Out.

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My husband has this habit that I know he’s not aware of.  It took me a while to realize he wasn’t  doing it on purpose, at least not consciously.  When he drives,  if the car in front of him flashes a turning signal or their break lights come on,  he will suddenly speed up.  It’s like the signal tells his brain, “Go Faster!”  This is exactly the opposite of what we are supposed to do in those situations.  Now if you know me at all, you know that I’m not easily scared riding in a car.  My dad was infamous for being a…..creative driver.  Regardless of how much practice I’ve had, sometimes Ryan’s habit scares me and I shout out in fear.  When I do say something he usually replies with, “I know, I see it.”  That frustrates me because it certainly doesn’t seem like he sees it.  Speeding up doesn’t feel like the right action.  Occasionally we disagree because I think he’s taking unnecessary risks and he feels he has everything under control.

 

Recently this situation occurred and it made me think about reactions.  More specifically it made me think about fearful reactions.  Sometimes fear is so strong we can’t help but shout about it.  Listen to the things in this world that people are shouting about.  In todays activist society it seems everyone is shouting about something.  But when you really listen to the things people are saying,  do you hear fear?  My husband also likes to jump out and scare people.  Our daughter will scream out when he does it to her.  Sometimes she knows he’s there and she still screams out.  It reminds me how our fear is sometimes valid and sometimes just our own anticipation.

This is especially true for parents.  We see our kids making decisions that we don’t agree with and we try to convince them that our way is better.  Usually parents speak from a place of wisdom and experience.   But sometimes we speak from fear.  We watch as our kids speed up when we think they should be preparing to stop.  They take an action that doesn’t seem right for the situation.  Sometimes we’re right.   There have been times when riding with Ryan, I shouted out in fear and it saved us from a serious accident.  But I must admit there have been other times when I’ve let fear get the best of me.  Those are the times when we are the inappropriate ones.  As parents, we don’t know everything.  Often times we base our opinions on what we want them to do instead of on who they are.

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Sometimes we need to heed fear and other times we need to guard against it.  The difficulty lies in discerning which is which.  Recognizing real fear allows us to take evasive action.  To protect ourselves and our loved ones.  But catastrophizing is focusing on fears that may not occur or are unlikely to occur in the situation.  For instance the fear of getting in a car accident is real if there’s heavy traffic and the roads are icy.  However, you can drive more slowly, take your time, or perhaps go a different route.  Getting in a car accident is not as realistic a fear if you’re on  a deserted dirt road.  It could happen of course but it’s not likely.

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Ask yourself is the worst possible outcome the only option?  If so, then you’re likely letting your irrational fear lead the conversation.  If there’s another more positive outcome that could occur, don’t rule it out.  Unless there is plenty of supporting evidence for your reason to believe a certain outcome, you may be shouting out of fear.  Be honest with yourself, are you only considering evidence that supports your argument or are you considering all the evidence?

 

As parents we need to be able to put into perspective what real fears are and what is only our anticipation of a life different from what we hope for.  How can we know for sure what God has planned for our children?  The short answer is, we can’t.  The Bible says in Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.  We can educate our children and give them wise advise. But eventually we have to trust that we raised intelligent, independent, self-sufficient individuals who will need to provide and decide for themselves how they will live.

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In the meantime we can pray.  I refer again to the Bible in Mark 9:22-24 when a child stricken with what appears to be epilepsy is having convulsions and the boy’s father says, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  And Jesus said to him, “If you can!  All things are possible for the one who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  As you follow the story to verse 27 you see it reads,  “But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.”   We might have negative beliefs about the choices our kids make but it doesn’t mean we have to cry out in fear.  We can cry out for the courage to believe a change can happen even when we doubt it can.  We may feel like shouting out of fear, but God is saying, “I know, I see it.”

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Perilous Purchase

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Christmas has come and gone again. It is my favorite season but can I be honest? I don’t like shopping, it has never been all that much fun! What I actually like is walking around looking at Christmas lights, going to get hot chocolate, riding on the horse and buggy, singing Christmas carols and having my family home for all of our silly Christmas time traditions. In fact the gift buying is my least favorite part, followed by the Christmas Eve wrapping all-nighter we seem to find ourselves pulling every year. Just like me, my husband is a super shopping-procrastinator. As usual we finished the season in a whirlwind and we are now breathing a sigh of relief that the Christmas shopping frenzy is over.

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In fact I think everyone is breathing a little sigh of relief. The holiday bustle will start to settle now. Soon the news stories will turn away from consumerism. You will no longer hear about record sales and record returns. But the season of purchasing has not come to its end just yet.

While the end of the Holidays brings about a certain final run for those clearance sale purchases. The beginning of a new year will set into motion a whole new frenzy of buying. Any regular gym goer knows, new year resolutions often go hand in hand with gym memberships. Of course there is the purchasing of new gym sneakers, water bottles, running pants, headphones and work out gear to help motivate those membership owners to actually use their membership. For all those at homers who hate the gym, there’s a plethora of home gym equipment, work out videos and online trainers.
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I’m as guilty as anyone. My husband and I took our gift cards out and got breakfast. Then we headed to one of the busiest stores in our state, stood in the return line for an hour and exchanged his present for something that fit. After that I kick started my new fitness goals with a juice fast and planned week of vegetarian meals.

After meal planning I took a moment to think about why we do this every year. In fact if you had asked me a week ago I probably would have answered, “Because it’s part of the Holiday fun.” But after some serious thought and hunger driven clarity, I realized that’s not why we do it at all. It seems to me that all this buying is a habit marketing companies have encouraged us to hone. In fact when I started looking up why we buy I came across an interesting perspective full of insight.

A French philosopher named Denis Diderot described a similar observation in his essay, Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown. Diderot describes receiving the gift of a scarlet robe from a friend. Once receiving his gift he begins to compare everything to his beautiful new gown. He soon realizes his old chair is not stately enough for his new royal robe which leads to the replacing of all of his old worn items. Eventually he realizes that his new gown triggered unnecessary purchasing of higher-end items but not before he finds himself in great debt. In retrospect he states, “My friends, keep your old friends. My friends, fear the touch of wealth. Let my example teach you a lesson. Poverty has its freedoms; opulence has its obstacles.” Since all retrospective insight is lauded for the wisdom it contains, this became known as the Diderot Effect.
The Diderot Effect is truly something we as Americans have become victims to. How many times have you heard the saying, “They don’t make them like they used to.” To some extent I believe it is true. It seems everything is disposable these days. We are much less conscientious of the things we use and the things we throw away. Since we are so quick to replace old items with new we don’t realize that there was a time when things were only replaced because they needed to be and not because it is no longer in style.
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This reminded me of another wise insight in Proverbs 28:22 ESV “A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him”. Poverty can come in many forms, including the using up of resources. While on our trip to Africa this summer, nothing stood out more starkly than the resources we have available to us that others do not. So I thought I would share this lesson, as a gentle reminder, to think about the returns on your investments for 2018. It’s caused me to think, am I just using up resources? Or am I making purchases in which I will get a good return?

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Acts 8:20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!”

Word POWer

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Did you know that you can be arrested for inciting a riot or disturbing the peace if you shout the word “fire” in a theatre when there is no fire? The reason lies in the power of the word. The word invokes an image and an idea in the listeners mind. This idea causes the listener to act in response to the word. In this case causing unnecessary panic. Thus, the power of a word.

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I was thinking about the power of words recently. I have been in the midst of elementary students who say things to one another that are not intentionally hurtful but hurt nonetheless. It’s at those times I think of an old childhood saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Of course someone, perhaps from my generation, realized words DO hurt and sometimes they are equally as painful as sticks and stones. But the rhyme is so ingrained in my memory I still resort to it, even though I know it isn’t true. Fortunately for this younger generation the rhyme is no longer passed around as a valid resolution. Kids are currently being taught to use their words in a way that expresses what they feel as opposed to acting on those feelings.

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Even so, I believe something is still missing from our coping skill attache: The concept that words hold power.  Words are so powerful that those who struggle to read and write will struggle to succeed. Words can effect our emotional and mental health.  Just like the rhyme that was ingrained in my memory when I was a kid, words can trigger insecurities that keep us in bondage regardless of the truth.  Words can also heal.  Saying a meaningful “I’m sorry.” for instance can turn a hurting heart down the path to forgiveness.

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Words can empower.  It’s been proven over and over again that speech can empower to succeed or discourage to defeat. Muhammad Ali was known for speaking defeating remarks to his opponents. One of his most famous quotes was aimed at George Foreman in a 1974 fight, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.”  Ali’s rhetoric not only worked as psychological warfare to undermine his opponents but it proved a self-empowerment tool for himself.  Ali became an Olympic Gold Medalist and a Professional Boxing World Champion.

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I’m not saying all of this happened only because of his words, but Ali’s words did work to his advantage.  Starting out as an underdog in the professional boxing arena, Muhammad Ali became one of the most well-known boxers not just because of his skills in the ring but also because of his words.

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Words have power. We never think about it that way. However if you think about the fact that everything that exists today started as a word, a thought, in the mind of the inventor. They began to envision the invention and then they invented. A chair was just a tree until the carpenter imagined that it could be something more.

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Many people today practice envisioning as a way to create the business they want or the lifestyle they want. The secular world is very clear that they believe envisioning is a powerful tool that leads to success. Athletes are trained to imagine themselves practicing their sport over and over again. Entrepreneurs practice envisioning their success. Meditation teaches its practitioners to set their intentions and to meditate on words. Monks are convinced the Gregorian chant will make your life better. All of this thought incorporates the practice of speaking out words of empowerment, success, and vision. Goal setters are taught to write down their goals and recite affirmations out loud.

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Why? This is probably the most important part. Because, as quantum physics has taught us, everything that exists is due to the vibration of molecules. Mass is determined by the frequency of those vibrations. We can’t always see with the naked eye the vibration. But we can see the result of them as clearly as we can see tears running down the face of a kindergartener after a school mate has called them a name. Sound is also a form of vibrational energy and words spoken are the building blocks for our reality.

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Words have the power to create. As a writer, words invoke emotions and meaning. The words of a song can bring on a memory so vivid you can smell the scents of the memory.  When thinking a scary thought your body will react as if the actual experience is happening. In the same manner thinking relaxing thoughts can cause you to feel calm. Words can paint a picture. For example, imagine yourself walking on a cool path in the forest with a light breeze blowing and the smell of the earth rising into your nostrils. The sun is poking through the tree tops and rays of light are shining onto the forest floor. No doubt you can picture a very specific scene. This is the magic of words.

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In fact that is one of the reasons when the Bible states that God said, “Let there be light.” and then there was light, I believe it to be true. John 1:1-4 ESV says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” God speaking the world into existence doesn’t seem so far-fetched to me when I think about the power our words contain.

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The Bible also says in Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

When I think about the power we have each day. I realize we can change the world with a single word:

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LOVE.

Undecided Decision.

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I’ve found the topic of conversation in our home lately has been around decision making.  We’ve had a lot of practice making decisions over the last few years. When we built our home we had to decide on everything.  Sometimes there were too many choices and picking one seemed impossible.  Other times choosing was a matter of time and pressure to decide.  There were times when options were limited or financially based.  The point is that deciding had many factors but in the end it all boiled down to one thing: outcome.

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What we decided on potentially lead to an outcome.  We spent a lot of time talking about potential outcomes and potential consequences.  In the end we have a home we love with some things we wish we would’ve done differently.  But looking back we made the best decisions with the information we had.  We chose to get information from those who had experience and were more knowledgeable than we were.  Honestly, if it weren’t for the people we surrounded ourselves with we may have found ourselves living in a tent.

I realized that we don’t think about most of the decisions we make because we make them out of habit.  For instance we get up, shower, brush our teeth, get ready for work and show up.  Did you realize every one of those actions is a choice?  Think about it.  You don’t have to go to work everyday.  I would argue there are a lot of people who choose not to.  In the end, it’s all about outcome.  We don’t think about the decision until we are faced with the reality that there is a decision to make.  For instance when you wake up sick you have to decide if going to work is the right thing to do.  Perhaps going to quick care for antibiotics is a better choice. Usually, I go to work and don’t think of it as a choice.  After all, I know the outcome of showing up includes a paycheck.

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Deciding to decide takes courage.  It means taking control of your life.  It means being responsible for the outcome.  Those choices ultimately mean taking responsibility for our actions, good and bad.  That’s why we get stuck in indecision.  We are afraid that we might make the wrong decisions.  Unfortunately, procrastinating can result in the decision not to decide.  Deciding not to decide results in limiting opportunities, giving up your say in the outcome, and staying where you’re at instead of making progress.  Not deciding on a choice or an action IS a decision.

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The most important thing you can do when you are procrastinating in decision-making is choose.  Take action!  Start by researching, asking questions, and investigating options.  As Christians we can look to the Bible for guidance in our decision making.  What does the Bible say about the decision?  Who can help you understand more about it?  Assess your motives.  Most importantly, Pray.

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If you’ve done all that and you still can’t decide, it’s time you take a deep breath and make a decision.  Stop the analysis paralysis.  Get moving.  Your decision will lead to other decisions.  It will lead you down a path which is better than staying in one spot.  At the very least you’ll clarify along the way what it is you don’t want.  This can help you reevaluate where you are at and the direction you are headed.  If you need to change course you can.  Your decision doesn’t have to be a life sentence.  (As long as your moving in a positive direction.)

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Decision making can be scary but the more decisions you make the better you will get at it.  You will gain confidence in your ability to decide which will help you to develop strategies for making better decisions in the future.  Eventually your good decisions may become habits that don’t require contemplation.  Happy Decision Making!

 

Critical Judging

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I watched a movie a while back that I thought was THE WORST movie I had ever seen.  I was shocked to find that it received amazing reviews and the actors had received academy awards, screen actors guild awards, national board of review awards, and awards for best actors.  I thought, how is that possible?  It was so bad and the story line so distasteful I couldn’t believe all the positive hype.  I had to read the reviews to see what the critics were saying.  As I read the reviews I began to understand there is a slew of criteria from cinematic, production and dramatic performance perspectives that I have been unfamiliar with.  According to criteria the actors not only earned the awards they received but the movie itself scored exceptionally high in each of the cinematic categories.  Since I am not all that familiar with filming and movie production, I had made a judgement based on my own understanding and expectations.  In my opinion it was the worst movie ever.  Except it wasn’t.

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I realized I have judged movies all of my life on whether or not I thought the movie was “good”.  But what is good?  I really have no true knowledge of movie criteria.  I have lived all of my life knowing practically nothing about it.  Yet, I have made opinionated comments, recommendations and bold judgement about movies based off my own set of ideas.  My idea of a good movie also changes with the mood I’m in.  Sometimes I feel like watching a comedy in which case a horror movie would not fit my expectation.  And sometimes I have an expectation for a movie based off who the actors are.   Have you ever seen a movie where you really loved the actor but he played a part that wasn’t his usual character type?  Isn’t it hard to see an actor you like play a part you hate?  It’s particularly true for me when I see a funny actor playing a serious part.  It’s hard to remove the expectation of humor.

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This started me wondering about other things I judge.  I’ll admit I got a little carried away questioning if I really know anything at all about anything!  I began wondering if I was using the correct standard, gauge, measure, benchmark, or criteria to judge by.  When I came back from the edge, I realized of course I know some stuff!  I may not know If a movie is good but I know if I like it.  I also know that if I like something there may be some people out there who might also like it.  There may be some people out there who might actually agree with me despite what the experts say.  Although, if you had decided not to see the movie based on my opinion, you would have missed out on a movie that won accolades and Academy Awards.

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Sometimes we believe our own thoughts and judgement but don’t explore beyond that to challenge those beliefs and discover whether they hold up to truth or not.   We don’t think more deeply about the criteria we judge by.  We think that because other people agree with us we must be right.  Just because we believe something doesn’t make it true.  Just because we experience something also doesn’t make it true.  We experience things and then judge them based on the information we have stored up from past experience, knowledge, and at times our own expectations.  We put those together and make very convincing cases for our opinions and our beliefs.  Instead of researching true standards or applying critical thinking we just accept what appears to be true.  Except it isn’t always the truth.

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It’s like judging a movie with no cinematic knowledge.  What you’re really judging is your own ideas and expectations for the story but there’s more to a movie than the end product. Our favorite actor playing a new character role is growing and being challenged.  He can continue to play those same roles but doing so would limit his opportunities.   When we judge we should remember the purpose of the end product isn’t always what we think it should be.  Also don’t forget there is a producer and director working behind the scenes.  The challenges we face to judge correctly remind me of a verse in Matthew 7:1-5

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Peter 4:8  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.