Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yes, I am quietly judging you.

I recently attended an event that was hosted by a local neighborhood group. The event itself was no big deal - just some neighbors getting to know each other in an informal setting. At one point a "regular" in the group said something offensive about another member, right to his face. When I voiced my opinion about what was said, this individual dismissed me by turning to his friend and saying, "That's ----'s daughter." His friend's view of me was tainted, based on something that I could not have any control over.

I had just been judged.

It hurt to be judged harshly, especially when the one judging hardly knows me. I felt as though this man had no intention of connecting with me or learning anything about me as an individual. I was "guilty by association." Guilty of what, I don't even know.

Yes, I am quietly judging you.

Judgment based on outward appearances or isolated events can skew what you believe a person can or cannot do. A recent example of this is Britain's Got Talent runner-up singing sensation Susan Boyle. Whodathunk that this frumpy-looking 47 year old woman could become an overnight global singing sensation? Even the panelists

susan boyle's inner beautyImage by shelteringskies via Flickr - Susan Boyle's inner beauty

judging the competition admitted that their first impressions were wrong. As Boyle introduced herself to the judges, you could see Simon Cowell bracing himself for a miserable performance. In the end, the dreaded Cowell was dreadfully wrong. As GBT judge Piers Morgan told Ms. Boyle after her audition,
"Without a doubt, that was the biggest surprise I have had in three years on this show. When you stood there with that cheeky grin and said, "I want to be like Elaine Page," everyone was laughing at you. No one is laughing now."
The inner beauty, value and potential of a person has little to do with outward appearance. We are taught this in 1Samuel, when God tells Samuel to go to the house of Jesse to anoint the future king of Israel. As Jesse's sons are brought before Samuel as "candidates" for King, God cautions Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1Samuel 16:7)

God looks at the heart. We all have outward circumstances for which we all deserve judgment. But if God didn't look at the heart, I don't think that He could love us as He does. If Jesus didn't look at our hearts he would never have gone to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. It's that love for us that allows us to be in a relationship with God.

If only we all could look at the heart instead of judging based on outward appearances or circumstances. We might hurt each other less, and love each other more.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Dangerous Prayers

Most people in America believe in prayer, that prayer has a positive impact in their lives. Prayer is how we communicate with God, how we make our requests known to the Divine. We seem to pray for everything. Blessing over our meals. For our favorite baseball team to win the World Series. For green lights in traffic. For guidance of our leaders. For loved ones to be healed. For our churches to be strengthened. For our children and loved ones to be protected. For world peace and a safe return of our men and women in the military.

While these are all important prayers, they can be somewhat safe prayers. What I mean by that is that we have a specific answer in mind when we present the prayer to God. Safe, in that the prayer doesn't request a whole lot of change in ourselves.

If our prayers are too safe, then what is a "dangerous" prayer? For some people, it could be simply, "Lord, give me patience." I'm telling you, God has a good time in answering that one! I can only imagine how many people pray for patience for their kids who try to stretch their boundaries on a daily (or hourly) basis. Or praying for patience before going to the DMV on the last day of the month when the lines seem to be longest and customers the crankiest. You pray for patience, and God will put you in a place where you will know you need it! But even still "Lord, grant me patience" can be considered a "safe" prayer, because we are asking for what in the end will be something that we can visualize, and doesn't necessarily result in creating a drastic change in our lives.

Listed below are six areas that I think are "dangerous" prayers. What makes these dangerous? Because they are a danger to our comfort zone. They are a danger to our sinful nature. They open our lives to living an adventure with our omnipotent God.
  1. Search Me (Psalm 139:23-24). Asking God to show you what is in you that shouldn't be there, revealing where you need to partner with Him to change.
  2. Break Me (Psalm 51:17). This is where you go to God, sorry for what you have done wrong, as well as the right things you have done for wrong reasons, and give God permission to do the work He needs to do in you, to shape you and re-form you more like Christ.
  3. Stretch me (James 1:3,4). At this stage you are being challenged in your spiritual growth. A "Stretch me" prayer develops perseverance to make the necessary changes. Without perseverance it would be too easy to give up and go back to "playing it safe."
  4. Lead me (Psalm 27:11). "Teach me your ways..." Time to surrender your personal agenda and allow God to rearrange it. In the words of John the Baptist, "He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less." The more you are led by God and the Holy Spirit, the more you will find that you are obedient to His plans, and the more your agenda is aligned with His.
  5. Use me (John 14:12-14). We are empowered to do the will of God, to do the work of Jesus. A "Use me" prayer places us in situations where we need to be ready and available to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. To not respond means to miss out on what could lead to adventure of doing things for the glory of God.
  6. Show me the harvest (Matthew 9:35-38). This is what God has broken and re-formed you for. Your heart will ache for the same things that God's heart aches for. You will find purpose and fulfillment in working in the field that God has brought you to.
Quite often living an exhilirating life requires risk. Taking the risk of praying these Dangerous Prayers and allowing God to work on you, in you, and through you can be like riding the crest of a wave. Not just any wave - a 64 foot high wave, like in the video below (link here to see it, if it does not appear below).