You can mourn, or you can dance. But please do one.

My 8 yr old head was pressed against the school bus window, I was staring at the side of road as it blurred past. Every time the old bus hit a pothole, my head would bounce off the window, only to smack against it again. Over the radio I could hear some sad sounding pop song playing. This particular one, played an awful lot.

“Would you dance, If I asked you to dance?” and later on the singer would ask, “Would you cry, if you saw me crying.”

Smack! The bus hit a pothole again, and my head hit the window. Perhaps I can remember this all so clearly because I had hit my head so much. Maybe it was something else.

I remember thinking, that if I loved someone. I’d cry with them. If I loved someone, I’d dance with them. I would share their pain and their joy. It resonated with me. I could not imagine a close friend for whom I did not ache when they were in pain. And I could not imagine not laughing with them when they had joy.

You share emotion with those you love.

In Matthew 11, Christ is berating those who rejected Him. He says that they are like children who are talking to their friends. The children say,

“We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance; we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.” (Mt 11:17 NET)

Christ explains his illustration. When John the Baptist preached without eating usual food or drink, the people said he was possessed. When Christ preached while eating and drinking the people said He was a glutton and a drunk.

God had extended Himself in two very different ways, and yet the people would not hear Him. They had no desire to relate to the truth. They refused to see past their ignorance. And why was that?

They didn’t love God.

They never wanted Him. They refused to hear Him. They refused to hear His solemn message of judgment. They refused to hear His tender message of love. Their hearts would not be moved. They would not be reached.

Christ knew He had been offering a relationship to a people that had no desire for Him. There was nothing for Him to do concerning these people.

Is there something in your life you need to address? Has Christ been calling out to you? Would your heart listen to His?

Would you mourn with Him over your sin? Would you dance with Him because of His love?

You can do either, or both.

But if you close your heart to Him and feel nothing, you will lose much.

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Will you stand in judgment?

Psalm 1 is a beautiful description of the righteous man. This servant of God, has nothing to do with sin. Not in his lifestyle, partial participation, or even occasional activity. He desires and delights in God and in His law. Because of His obedience and desire for God, he stands tall and brings forth fruit while others fall away.

Because of his innate strength gained from God’s blessing, he will remain when the wicked pass away. After the Psalm mentions the ungodly falling away  like chaff, verse 5 says, “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” This seems to imply that the righteous man will stand in the judgment and in the congregation of the righteous.

But what does it mean to stand in judgment? Is God saying that the wicked won’t be judged? Obviously not. In this passage, I believe standing in judgment means to stand as a judge. As 1 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” God will appoint people to be judges when he returns, and the wicked will not fill those positions.

In contrast, the man who delights in God and lives rightly, will. It’s easy to live the Christian life, sinning without care and repenting later. After all, once you’re right with God the slate’s clean? Right? Well, not really. There will always be the consequences of your actions. You will have negative effects from your sin, and so will others.

Our lives must be lived for Christ to have maximum influence. Someday our lives will be over, and we may very well see the impact of every thought or deed we have produced. It may be that even though we are saved, we may not be counted worthy to judge very much in the next life. As Christians we must focus on the eternal. Our lives are too short and precious to be lived for ourselves. I challenge you, be like the righteous man in Psalm 1 who completely shuns evil. You will see how much God can produce through your life. You will stand in judgment- and in the congregation of the righteous.

Adjusting the white balance

One of my old roommates was taking a photography class back in the day. As part of his projects he had to take several pictures with different lightings, and being his roommate, I observed his work. I noticed that every time he was about to take a picture he would hold up a white piece of paper and do some tinkering on the camera. He called this adjusting the white balance.

You see, no matter what lighting the picture was taken in, the camera had to be adjusted- and it had to be adjusted only by a certain card. As I thought about this, I realized that it was a lot like our focus in the Christian life.

Proverbs 28:5 tells us, “Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.”

Evil men don’t understand righteousness and proper judgment because their lives aren’t based on any standard. They live how they want. They’re like a camera that hasn’t been balanced. They are unaware of what is proper because they live without any guidelines.

Those who seek the Lord, however, they understand. It’s interesting, they understand not only judgment, but they understand all things. No matter what situation, circumstance, or ‘lighting’ these people are in, they can make sense of it. They can judge what is true. Their view isn’t off color or wrongly shaded because they have a standard, and their standard is the Lord. With their eyes on Christ they perceive what is truly important and what is not. What is righteous and what is evil. What is proper and what is not.

If we try to focus our lives on what we see around us, and the “light” around us we will never have a clear picture of our situations. But if we keep the standard of Christ before our eyes, and seek Him, we can have understanding in any situation.

I challenge you, let us not be as the wicked who are tossed to and fro. Let us seek the Lord, and while we seek Him, and adopt Him as our standard of living, we can live our lives on the rock. While others may find themselves in confusion, we will have a sure foundation from which to stand, and to pull others out of the storm.

Let’s live on the Rock!

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Deuteronomy 32:4

What will they think of me?

Conflict isn’t fun. Most people like to avoid conflict. I like to avoid conflict, but conflict is necessary. There are countless times when a person must stand up for principle. When Christians find themselves in these situations they don’t need to fear. The God of the universe has ordered that they should obey His laws, and He will not punish them for carrying out His orders.

Proverbs 21:2 declares, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.” Most people like to think that they are right all the time. I mean, who honestly believes that what they believe is incorrect? If you carry that idea to its logical conclusion it’s only possible with split personalities. But in contrast, God ponders or judges the hearts. The Lord is the one who declares what is right and what is wrong.

The next verse tells us, “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Here we have another profound statement. God isn’t interested in what people offer to Him willy nilly. God accepts their gift, but He isn’t necessarily pleased. God is pleased with those who do right and follow His commands.

When a person doesn’t follow God’s command, such as the the liar and the thief in verses 6 and 7, God tells us that whatever they gain is worthless and their own works will destroy them. God’s laws are very important.

The title of this post is, “What will they think of me?” So going back to the original idea of conflict, are you ever afraid of standing up for what God commands? Have you ever thought, “What will they think of me if I  . . .?” We don’t need to be concerned about the opinions of others. We don’t need to worry about the approval of the people around us. If we work for God’s approval, then He will insure that we receive our proper recompense.

Proverbs 21:1 even tells us, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” God in special control of those people who are in authority. We need not think  about any retaliation that any unjust authority would have for our stand on God’s law.

God is control. He can protect us from their negative reactions, and if He chooses to allow them to “punish” us for taking a righteous stand, then we can know that we will be rewarded for it!

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10

Who goes to the library?

A wealthy man goes deep in the jungle to a village that he had invested in. He had given money so that village could have a library. Upon entering the library, he finds shelves filling the walls and creating aisles, but barely any books. On each shelf there is not more than 2 or 3 books.

Immediately he went to the librarian and demanded to know where all the books had gone. Upon being asked, she looked at him with complete confusion, “The books? Where are they? They are with the people of course.” That small village was so thirsty for knowledge that the people had checked out almost every book in the library.

Now, I’m sure that you and I have both found that that is usually not the case.  In every library I have ever visited, there has been barely anyone in it. Nobody wants to learn from all that knowledge. America and other countries like it, have libraries and internet access to all sorts of knowledge, but the general public is not intensely interested in education. It reminds me of a similar scene found in Proverbs 1.

“Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:

She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,

How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?”

God seems to say in these verses, that wisdom and knowledge are always available, but the majority reject them. They reject both wisdom and knowledge because they hate knowledge and love ignorance.

The Scripture continues to pronounce judgment on those who persist in their ignorance. Think about the general public. Do they fill the libraries and argue over who had the encyclopedia first? Not usually. Unfortunately the masses can be found trampling each other at superstores for that new entertainment device that just went on sale. It’s tragic; it really is.

And while this thirst for ignorance is rampant in the physical world, it can also be found in our spiritual lives. Ignorance of the physical world can bring great bodily harm, (this is why there are warning labels everywhere) but spiritual ignorance has consequences that are far more serious, more deadly, and more eternal.

Consider how much we have available to educate us spiritually.

We have access to Bibles in our language, we have all sorts of online concordances, we have entire websites dedicated to storing sermons, and we have a God that promises to hear us 24/7 whenever we call. Do we pray? Do we read our Bibles? Do we use the resources we have? It is a tragic think for Christians to be Christians find themselves entangled in the same thirst for endless entertainment that enslaves the world.

In the Scripture, Wisdom (or the Lord) give a promise to us if we will stop and listen to His counsel. He says, “I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” This promise is amazing, and it’s available to anyone who will come.

To those who reject Him, He says, “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;” God takes spiritual ignorance very seriously.

I encourage you, realize the importance of seeking God and the wisdom that comes from Him. Don’t spend your life in ignorance. Make your life’s pursuit one of a thirst for God and His wisdom and knowledge.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” – James 4:5

Wisdom calls out in the street.

Do you hear?

No longer guilty

Do you have guilt? Do you carry a burden of sin? As a Christian, we will still sin. We fall victim to our flesh. We allow ourselves to become soiled with the filth of this world and we fall. But we do not have to live in the guilt of our sin. If we repent, God tells us that he remove our sin.

When Jesus died on the cross, He made atonement for our sin. John the Baptist makes reference to this when He said, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." – John 1:29. Not only is our sin taken away, but we are given the righteousness of God. "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." – 1 Peter 2:24

Now, if we sin all we must do is confess our sin. We must see our sin as God sees it, and turn from it. Then, we will enjoy fellowship with God again. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:19 Once we have confessed our sin, we do not have to feel guilt. God has removed our sin. Why should we feel as if we must do any more than Christ did.

I would like to encourage you, if you sin, go to God as soon as possible. Confess your sin, ask God to help you, and go right back to serving Him. Once you have done that, you do not have to live in guilt. God has cleansed you.

"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." – Romans 8:33-34