Binding Judgement

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Binding Judgment.”

  1. Got a lot to get done – make a list.
  2. Not sure what steps to follow – make a list.
  3. Want people to read your post – write a list.

I am a person who likes to make and follow lists.  Lists help me stay on task, ensure nothing is forgotten, keep me organized.  Many years ago I was invited to a “Woman’s Retreat”.  I was not exactly sure what that was but I was a mom with three very young kids and the prospect of a week-end away with NO, kids, cooking or laundry sounded amazing.  Besides that I liked the woman who invited me, it sounded relaxing, it was not costing me anything, why not?

Fortunately for me, the invitation included a list!  A list of all the things I should bring to the “Retreat”.  Most of the things were pretty obvious: clothes, medications, shampoo, toothpaste, sleeping bag – oh yes, it was a camping retreat so a pillow was also on the list.  The last items on the list were a pen and notebook.  Guess they expected me to listen and take notes at some point.

The next to last item on the list made me frown – a Bible.  Now this was not unexpected since it was a “Church Women’s Retreat” but it was a problem; I did not own a Bible.  What to do?  Follow the list, go to a bookstore, acquire a Bible – easy!

The bookstore had more Bibles than I had ever seen.  Bibles with leather covers, covers in all different colors, study Bibles, different versions of the Bible (there’s more than 1 version?), paperback Bibles, large print Bibles – racks and rows of Bibles – who knew?  But, Bible was on the list, end of discussion.

I did not want to make a big investment here.  I just needed it for this week-end, I was not planning on using it much after that.  Since I am also an experienced shopper I knew that in every supermarket the cheaper items are always on the bottom shelves so I figured that would be true for the Bibles.  Score!  The bottom shelf had the “generic”, plain and cheap old Bibles; no study notes, no fancy covers, mostly black, fake leather and cardboard.

I chose one that was about $6, not too big, with a cardboard cover, plain dark brown, gold letters, Holy Bible – thats’ it.

The week-end was nice, the ladies were friendly, the food was good and the games were fun.  I returned home to the kids and husband and laundry and cooking and cleaning.  The Bible sat on the shelf.

The Bible seemed to be on the “Things to Take to Church” list so I began to carry it with me on Sunday mornings; everyone else carried one.   I took it off the shelf every Sunday morning and put it back every Sunday afternoon; my plain, cheap, brown Bible with it’s gold letters.  I started to read it but I don’t recall when, I do remember trying to figure out how the stories I heard as a teenager seemed so different from what was actually written in my Bible.  The stories I read in the Bible seemed so much more complex, deeper, full of meaning than what I remembered.  I began to read the Bible more often.  I fell in love with Jesus.

Now, many years later the cheap, brown cardboard covered Holy Bible is back on the shelf.  You probably wouldn’t even notice it there among all the other, more colorful books.  Some of the pages are falling out.   Some of the gold lettering is worn away.   Many of the pages are full of notes and markings, sections are underlined and marked with yellow and pink highlighters.  Notes, cards, names and dates are written on both the front and back flyleaf.  I don’t bring the cheap brown Bible to church any more because it is now too fragile and precious to me.

The words printed inside, on the pages of my cheap, brown Bible, and the God who wrote them, changed my life for eternity and I am eternally grateful.  You cannot judge a book by its cover.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11

Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  Psalm 119:89

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.  Psalm 119:103

Your word is a lamp for my feet. a light on my path.  Psalm 119:105

Binding Judgment

Snap Out of It!

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

In one my all time favorite movies, Moonstruck,  Ronnie (Nicholas Cage) has just professed his love for his future sister-in-law, Loretta (Cher).  In this classic scene she looks him in the eye, slaps him and yells, “Snap out of it!”

We all need a good dose of “Snap Out of It!” from time to time.

  • Are you having a little pity party because you didn’t get your way?  Snap Out of It!
  • Feeling grumpy today cupcake?  Snap Out of It!
  • Just not “feeling it”  at work?  Snap Out of It!
  • Don’t want to tackle that sink full of dirty dishes?  Snap Out of It!
  • Nobody noticed you got a haircut?  Snap Out of It!
  • Angry at getting caught doing something you shouldn’t?  Snap Out of It!
  • Jealous of your friend’s cute boyfriend?  Snap Out of It!
  • Complaining about grocery shopping?  Snap Out of It!
  • Disappointed with having to shop at thrift stores?  Snap Out of It?
  • In love with a person who is wrong for you?  Snap Out of It?

We put a lot of emphasis on our feelings and emotions and we can easily mistake feelings for reality.  I never “feel” like doing the laundry but I do it every week because I like having clean clothes and cannot afford to buy new ones all the time!  Life lived on feelings and not facts is a roller coaster you don’t want to ride.

There is no question life can be disappointing and frustrating.  Many things happen that we cannot control and did not cause but we can always, ALWAYS control how we respond to disappointment, frustration, betrayal and loss.  We can choose to respond honestly. focus on the lesson learned, and turn it back to praise.  Don’t bury the emotions but don’t dwell on them or let them define or identify who you are.  Find the help and support you need, remember it is not about you, ask God to correct your thinking, pull up your big girl (or boy!) pants, pray, a lot, and move on.

Sound too simple for you?

Snap Out of It!

Silver Screen

Audience of One

Picture the one person in the world you really wish were reading your blog.  Write him or her a letter.

Hello!  I cannot describe how happy it makes me that you are finally reading my blog!  You are an answer to my prayer.  Ever think of yourself that way?  How have I prayed for you?  Like this: every time I sit down to blog, I pray, “Oh God, help my words be an encouragement to someone today.  Lord, please let someone find truth in my words.  Help me be accurate when I share your words, God.  Help the reader see you and not me.”  Easy, takes about a minute and look – God heard, God answered, you showed up!

I think a short explanation is needed here since I have mentioned God a couple of times already.  When I refer to God with a capital ‘G” as I do often, I am talking about the God of the Bible, that is the God I believe in, the only one true God, the God who created all things, the God of three persons, Father, Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.  I believe God divinely inspired men to write the Bible and the Bible is literally true from beginning to end and is just as relevant, useful and applicable today as the day it was written.

I’ll bet you are now doing one of the following:  You are shouting “Amen” because you agree with me, or you have been considering the possibility that what I just said is true and want to know more, or, you have already clicked away to another blog, to Facebook or BuzzFeed and are no longer reading, sorry, bye bye!  How can I be so sure about that?  Mentioning God and the Bible always causes a reaction!

If you are in the first group, welcome.  You might want to read some of my other blog posts about the lessons God has been teaching me as I read and study His Word; I hope you find them a blessing and encouragement!

If you are in the third and last group listed I doubt you are still reading but just in case you are…I do not seek to defend the Bible, God, Jesus or any other Christian beliefs, doctrine or theology in my blog; there are a lot of others out there who do that far better than I can, it is not my gift.  I can tell you with confidence that Jesus changed my life and I trust Him absolutely and completely.  I suggest you read the Bible for yourself, asking God to reveal Himself and to give you understanding of His Word; it worked for me, it can work for you.

Finally, you in the second group, the person who may be wondering if God is real, if He cares, if the Bible is true.  I can assure you that God is very real and proof is all around you.  As you are reading, think about your eyes; as you developed in your mother’s womb how did the eye cells know to become eye cells – what caused each part of your body to develop in it’s own unique way and for it’s own purpose.  Your DNA is yours alone, it is complex beyond human imagining, design or accident; it is not too complex for God.  The fact that you are willing to consider the possibility of God is proof of His existence, as humans we seek a reason, an explanation for our lives, for our world, for the flow of events.  Every culture in every age worships some form of god or gods – we are worshipper’s and we all seek to worship something or someone – I choose God.

Does God care about you and how can you know for sure?  Look at Jesus.  He was either insane, a liar or the Son of God as He claimed – there are no other possibilities.  If he was insane and/or a liar, millions of people have followed Him and His teachings for centuries, thousands of His follower’s have died and are dying today rather than deny Him.  He died for the sins of the whole world, He died so we could have eternal life, He died to save you and me and anyone else who believes in him.  Would you die to save someone’s life?   I like to think I would die to save the life of one of my kids or my husband, or a good friend but would I die to save a murderer, a pedophile, a horrible dictator?  Honestly, I don’t think so but Jesus did.  Anyone asking forgiveness, giving their life to Jesus can be saved and Jesus died for all, the good and the bad, just like He died for you and for me – the salvation Jesus died to obtain for us is a free gift to anyone and everyone who believes.  Does God care?  Look at Jesus.

Is the Bible true?  The Bible has been attacked, banned, mocked, burned, analyzed, revised and still it stands.  Written over a span of 1500 years by 40 different men; it has one central character and theme, Jesus and Redemption – an amazing accomplishment.  Have you picked up a Bible and started reading and then given up after a few pages?  If you did you are in the majority. No one who is a fan of the Lord of The Rings trilogy would suggest that you pick up any of those three books, open to a random page and start reading and you will have an understanding of the whole story but people do this with the Bible all the time!  I suggest you read the Bible and read it very differently.  First, get an easy to read version like the New International Version (and there are free Bibles and Bible apps you can download and read online).  Start in the New Testament, specifically the Gospel of John (the 4th book in the NT).  Read a bit and stop, talk to God about what you just read.  If you don’t understand it, ask God to help you.  If you don’t see how it applies to you, ask God to show how.  Don’t try to read it all at once, keep reading in small chunks every day and keep reading from the left to the right – don’t skip around – and don’t give up; stay in John until you finish it; you will be amazed at what God shows you.

I hope you will keep reading my blog and I hope it helps you.  My purpose is to share the lessons and the encouragement I receive as I read the Bible.  I have been reading and studying for over 20 years, I have learned a lot and know God has a much more to teach me.  He has been patient and faithful with me and I know He will be with you.

I often say that you can have a shelf full of great cookbooks and you can watch the Food Network faithfully, but if you want to learn to cook you have to grab some ingredients, pick up a pot and get cooking.  Learning about God is like that, decide to trust Him and His Word, start reading and start obeying what He shows you.  If you take that one single and simple step towards God, He will take the other 99 to get to you!  Just do it!

With more prayers and a few Bible verses for you, B.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

Audience of One

First Sentence from Favorite Book

Hapscomb’s Texaco sat on US 93 just north of Arnette, a pissant, four-street burg about 110 miles from Houston. Swerving off the road, the car kicked up a spray of gravel and cloud of dust.

“Man, I hope this dump is open, I gotta go so bad my teeth are floatin’”, she said.

“Yeah, me too! This is the first place we’ve seen for miles.”

I jammed on the brakes and parked next to the gas pumps.  We both flung open the car doors and bolted into Hapscomb’s small convenience store/office.

“Key to the rest room, please!”

The man perched on a stool behind the counter didn’t move. He probably thought we were crazy, we both said the same thing so fast.  He just stared at us, stoic, silent, unresponsive.  I spotted a key attached to an old license plate hanging on the wall so I grabbed it and we sprinted around to the side of the building.

As I walked back to my car, I stopped to stretch and take a deep breath. The air was hot and dry. Everything was covered with a fine coating of sandy dust, and was the same, flat non-color – sand. The longer I stood there, the quieter it seemed, the only sound was the soft sigh of the wind. If it is true that your first impression is the most important Arnette was in serious trouble; my first impression of was not good.

There were no other cars on the road and the single traffic light swung slowly back in forth in the dusty air; blinking yellow. The man working at the station must spend a lot of time in one place because he too had a thin film of dust on his clothes, his hair and his shoes; even the day old stubble on his chin was dusty. At least he had moved off his perch, he was leaning in the doorway, hands jammed into his pockets, silent, watching and I could see he was much younger than I first thought, probably in his twenties.

“Anyplace to get some lunch around here?” I asked him.

He blinked a few times, his eyes moving from us, to our car, to the road and back to us. I was ready to poke him with my foot to see if he was still breathing and trying to remember some sign language in case he was deaf. Finally, he said, “McDonalds down the highway ‘bout 47 mile.”

“47 miles! Isn’t there anything closer?”

“Well, Buddy’s is open until 2. Just keep goin’ into town, it’s right over on the left there.”

We looked at each other and shrugged. “Guess that’s our only option”, she said.

We gassed up the car and headed into town, looking for Buddy’s.

“There it is”, I said.

Buddy’s sign, like everything else in sight was faded and dusty.   I pulled in next to a couple of pick-up trucks and a dusty motorcycle. There were some customers inside. I could see them through the window so I knew the place was open. They all turned to look as we parked. They watched us get out of the car. They continued to stare as we walked towards the door.

“No need to lock it”, I laughed. “Nothing much going on around here.”

That decision would turn out to be the biggest mistake of my life.

(This story is in response to The Daily Prompt for January 10, 2015.  Take the first sentence of a favorite book and make it the first sentence of a post.  My sentence is the first line in one of my many favorites, The Stand by Stephen King.)

Call Me Ishmael