Monday, July 5, 2010

It's the 4th of Ju-uly-y!

 I can still hear my sing-songy voice on video from about 20 years ago. I was such an annoying 'tween' back then. Back then, there was no such term as 'tween.' But that was then. This is now. Now, I'm totally unannoying. Totally normal. There's not a goofy bone in my body.
And if you believe that, I've got a goat farm in Peru I'd like to sell to you.

So, in light of celebrating our many freedoms, I just want to say freedom in Christ is greater than any freedom any government can bestow.

That was the easy sentence. I'm not quite sure how this will all come out. I've been contemplating a lot lately about judging and personal freedoms amongst Christians. And with the 4th of July being this weekend, what better time to focus on freedom, and what that means to me.

Our small group watched a Joyce Meyer video last week. It was called something like, "If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat." One example of what a person's 'boat' could be was basically living according to another's opinions or beliefs. That's a tough one. Especially for Christians, I believe. But freedom in Christ means we are free from living according to others' standards. We are free from their judgements. Not that we won't be judged, but their judging bears no weight on our salvation or freedom. What God cares about our heart and the motives of our heart. If our heart is right with Him, that's all that matters. And how can our heart be right if we are doing/not doing things because so-&-so does/doesn't do them? We're leaving God out of our life's equation when we live it according to someone else's ideals/beliefs/conscience.

Somewhere between California and Iowa, there was, what I would assume to be, an acre of land with a fence around the perimeter. There were a dozen or so sheep within the fence. Obviously, the one who built the fence would allow (and intended) the sheep to live anywhere within the fence. But guess where the sheep were? All huddled together in the same spot. They had the whole acre to roam free, but they confined themselves to one little spot. Except for two or three. Those sheep were grazing a little closer to the fence, no doubt eating their fill of grass that hadn't been picked over by the others. I wish I had Robert pull off the road so I could snap a picture, but I didn't. You'll just have to take my word for it. And I've been pondering those sheep ever since.

Anyway, freedoms will vary from family to family. From person to person. There is a fence - don't get me wrong! We are to obey the laws of the land (and of our personal authorities: parents while living at home, bosses, etc.), and those set out by God Himself (think the ten commandments and the commands to love,to  not be anxious, etc.), but we are not called to live by the 'laws' of another person. Some 'laws' we have may be the same as another, but should never be because of another. Some people may be free to participate in activities that others don't feel free to participate in. The catch is the one with the freedom to participate needs to be sensitive to those not feeling free to participate. That just means don't flaunt, don't persuade, and don't ridicule. On the flip side, the one without the freedom shouldn't judge, force beliefs/opinions, or question their relationship with God.

Imagine a guy full of piercings, tattoos, and black fingernails. Maybe he's rockin' out to some heavy metal, too. Many "religious" people would view his personal taste as less than holy. Many would judge his heart solely by his outer appearance. Many would look down on him and think that God would, too. But if that guy was walking with Jesus, worshipping his Savior in that heavy metal, and just living out his freedom to enjoy those things that God has allowed him to enjoy, God would be glorified. Now, if that same guy is judged by another because he wasn't living "rightly" according to their standards/beliefs, and had all his tattoos and piercings removed, got a clean-cut, and listened to only hymns,  I think God would be a little disappointed. He doesn't want our life to be lived according to anyone but Him. Period.

Another thought that had rabbit trailed from all that is judgement. We each have only ONE judge. And that is not us! We have no right to judge another, but it seems that Christians can be the worst when it comes to judging - especially when it comes to fellow Christians. Oh, what bondage we place on ourselves! There are verses that say not to judge, lest we be judged, and however we judge others is how we will be judged ourselves. Kinda makes you think, doesn't it? If it doesn't, it should! I do not want to be like the pharisees who thought they were holier & better than everyone else, only to be scolded by Jesus for their pride!

The past few months, I have tried my best to not judge others' lives, opinions, motives (or what I would believe to be their motives), etc. And let me tell you, it has been so freeing! So freeing to just love & accept everyone for who they are, without thinking we have to always be on the same page on everything.  And although I'm sure I've been, or am being, judged by others, I don't feel it. I know God is my ONLY judge. He knows me. He knows my heart. Of course, I want everyone to accept me without judgement, but we're all human, and I will be judged. But it holds NO bearing on who I am or my relationship with Christ!!! When I do catch myself being judgemental, it is not a good feeling. It can't feel good, because it's such a negative thing.So, long story short: maybe it's just psychological, but since I'm trying to be free from judging, I feel like I'm not being judged, either. Whatever it is, it feels so... FREE!

Hopefully that made some sort of sense. I just started typing away with my thoughts as they came. :)

Now for some pictures!

The kids had fun catching little froggies...

I took a bunch of photos of the fire, hoping to capture some cool images.
I captured the Grim Reaper and a candle. :)


Hope everyone had a happy & safe Fourth of July!

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