Pondering: Rules, Love, and Judgement

This morning my two youngest children wanted to watch something on Roku. The house rule is, If you have the remote, you don’t get to choose what everyone will watch, someone else gets to decide. Well, after giving them permission, I heard a bunch of yelling and hollering. I called them into the kitchen, and after much deliberation, it was revealed that my youngest who did not have the remote was insisting on my daughter choosing something that he wanted to watch–something which she already intended to do. Assumptions…

As I spoke to my children I started explaining to them the reason for the rule. It isn’t so that they can beat each other over the head with the rule itself. The purpose is to teach them to be kind and considerate of others. So, by demanding someone follow the rule, my youngest was actually not being kind or considerate, not to mention, not giving his sister the chance to do it before making his demand.

How often in our faith walks do we point out how someone isn’t following the Torah (law), or we wrongly assume that they aren’t keeping the Torah? I know I have been guilty. As human beings we sometimes get caught up doing something the right way, and are less concerned with understanding why the commandments are there in the first place. (Perhaps this is a sign of our own spiritual immaturity.)

Paul tells us that “love is the fulfillment of the Law” (Romans 13:8-10) because the Torah is our tutor–the means by which we learn how to love others. (Galatians 3:24) But how often have we shoved the Torah down someone’s throat instead of loving them right where they are at? When we do not love our brothers and sisters, but instead judge them, we are not operating in the Spirit of the Torah, and as the apostle John points out,

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:20-21

Yeshua asked, “Who are my brothers?” and then answered his own question with, “whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother…” (Matthew 12:50).

The problem with judging other people is often due to the fact that we look at their outward behaviour and can’t see what is going on in their hearts–only God can see what is there. Perhaps someone is doing God’s will at a particular moment in time.

What I am learning is, it is better to judge others favorably (Leviticus 19:15). Judge them the way you want to be judged, and love them the way you want to be loved.

God cares far more about how we treat each other than the way we follow the commandments in the Torah.

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I pray we will all cling to His rules (commandments), not because we want to be right, but because we realize that they, along with the example set by our Messiah (Ephesians 5:2), are our only hope for ever truly learning how to love our fellow man.

Love and light,

S~

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Pondering: Life Lessons

This morning my daughter is doing her math. She’s seven, and she is learning something new, and it’s not easy. It’s challenging, and she doesn’t want to do it.

I am also going through a lesson, but of a different kind, one that has lasted for a very long time. It’s not comfortable, and it’s not easy. It’s a life lesson, and I am not sure if I have been digging in my heels, refusing to do the work, or if God has just been giving me an in-depth lesson that takes time for my finite brain to grasp. At any rate, here I am–stuck–until I can figure it out, and advance to the next one.

So when my daughter told me she just didn’t want to do her math, I told her how life doesn’t let us just give up. I shared with her that when she gets to be my age, lessons aren’t in books anymore. They are part of our life. The lesson is always there, waiting until we are ready to finish it. It doesn’t go away just because we don’t feel like it, or because we ignore it. We don’t get to advance and move on to new things until we go through the lesson that is in front of us. If we were able to skip the lesson, we would be missing important information that we need for the lessons ahead.

I told her that I know she can do her math, and that I wouldn’t ask her to do something she wasn’t capable of accomplishing. So too, our Heavenly Father never gives us lessons that are too hard for us, and He doesn’t leave us alone. He is there watching over us, available when we ask for help, and His Spirit encourages and cheers us on.

Just as we love to see our children do well and figure something out like math, God desires to see us succeed, to see us smile when we have completed our lesson, and rejoices with us when we finish well.

God is about changing our hearts and helping us see who He has made us to be. So don’t give up; don’t give in. Keep running the race, dear friends.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Messiah Yeshua.” Philippians 3:14

Love and Light,
S~

Ponderings: Change

We’re never really ready for change, and yet, change is inevitable. Change is constantly occurring. Change happens when we least expect it. This is what I have been pondering lately: How do I deal with changes? I realized recently, not very well. I had an impression of myself that I was much better about coping with changes than I actually am. I had this idea that I actually liked change and that change had no adverse affects on me. But that’s just not true.

The truth is that change, even if it is a “good” change, is stressful. Why? I think maybe it is because all change is meant to bring about growth in some way, whether in our spiritual life, our relationships, or elsewhere. Change means we’re being given the opportunity to mature.

Sadly, when we resist, we prolong the process of maturity. And some of us never give up fighting to keep things as they are, becoming like a stunted, sickly tree who struggles to grow and produce good fruit.

I don’t want to fight change. I want to ride the wave of change with grace, surrender, acceptance, and anticipation.

Lord, help us to put our trust in you, and lean not on our own understanding. Help us look for ways to be invite you to show us situations from Your perspective. We know if we can do that, it’s all going to work out just fine.

 

Ponderings: Symptoms of Separation

LinsteadtI see a lot of theories and statements on news and social media these days about the origins of the world’s problems. People say that Islam (or other religions) is the problem, guns are the problem, mental illness is the problem, speech is the problem, violent movies are the problem–the list goes on and on. The truth is these are not the origins of the world’s problems; these are only the symptoms. The origin of the world’s problems is our belief that we are separate from one another, and that our particular ideology makes us right and everyone else wrong.

This is a lie. We are not separate from one another. Something happened at the cross two thousand years ago. Something that the disciples, apostles, and early followers of Messiah all new. That Messiah has made One New Man (Ephesians 2:14-16). Not a new religion. He came to unite all of humanity under the lordship of the Heavenly Father. That Shavuot when the tongues of fire fell on the disciples was the time of the pouring out of the Spirit not only on the children of Israel, but upon all of humanity (Acts 2:17). This is the very reason why the Jews listening to the testimony of Paul in Acts 22:1-22, cried out for his execution when He stated that the Messiah was sending him to the Gentiles.

Like a man who looks at his reflection in the mirror and then forgets what he looks like, we have forgotten in our collective consciousness, that we are that One New Man. Just like parts of a human body, the One New Man is made of many parts, both Jew and Gentile, male and female, young and old, rich and poor (1 Corinthians 12:12).

So how do we heal this collective body of humanity? By loving one another. What does that practically look like? By looking past our differences, and choosing to find ways to connect. With each connection, we invite the light of the Divine to dwell there. The more we can connect, the more darkness that must flee from our midst.

We have to stop pointing the fingers at others, and look at ourselves. We are the problem. Our lack of self-reflection is the problem, our lack of empathy is the problem, our propensity to judge others when we have logs in our own eyes is the problem, our elitist mindset is the problem.
Every person we encounter that brings up something unpleasant in us is a gift from Hashem. It is an opportunity to look past what we see with our human eyes and see something deeper. To work on ourselves and allow G-d’s light to refine and correct us.
Look for solutions to connect and heal. Our Messiah showed us how. Stand up and say, “I will love others, with the same intensity that the Messiah had for me, with the same boundless love the Father extends to me every morning when I am given a new day to live. I will look deeper; I will try to find the same spark of divinity in this person that G-d sees in them. I will see past the masks they wear in order to cope with their pain and hurt. I will love them.”

The way I see it, it is no longer about who is in the Kingdom anymore. We’re all in. It is now a matter of whether we’re the Bride or whether we’re the guests (Matthew 22:10).

The ground is level at the cross for a reason; it is in order that we might finally look at each other, face to face, and see each other as the children of G-d that we all are, that we have always been, that we will always be.

That Time I Got Friended By a (Fake) Famous Person

imgresSo last week, I am going about my business, and I get this friend request from someone, someone famous. Well, the funny thing is, I have been watching videos, and listening to podcasts featuring this person for the last week or so. So, initially, I was delighted. I was like, “Wow! I wonder what made him friend request me?”

And it made me really happy to think that someone “famous” would want to be my “friend”.

Well, I had to go to the grocery store right after I accepted the friend request, and I was happy the entire time I was out. I said hello to people and flashed my smile, because I believed a person I respect had requested to be my friend.

As I was driving home, it dawned on me…I had been friended by a fake, someone who was impersonating the real person. Sure enough, when I got home, a private message from the individual gave the unhappy truth away. At first, I was a little deflated, and then a thought hit me like a thunder bolt.

“G-d loves me! He values me! Why do I need the recognition of a man (or woman) to feel special? He thinks I am special. He has made me. Why can’t I be happy that He recognizes my potential and loves me as I am?”

I want everyone to know that the King of the Universe, the greatest of the great, loves you. Yes, you dear reader. You are special. You are valued. Why care if someone famous notices you, when the Creator of Universe can’t take His eyes off of you?

Look at yourself from His perspective, and you’ll see you as you really are. Loved. Cherished. Special. His.

That is something to be truly happy about. And when you know just how valued you are, it has a way of spilling out on everyone you encounter.

Shalom and blessings,
S~

Ponderings: The Purpose of Pain

There are two types of pain we experience in this life. One is a result of growth and maturation. Just as a child experiences pain from new teeth or legs lengthening, so too, we often experience the pains associated with spiritual growth. It is by Hashem’s design, and part of His plan. This type of pain makes us desire comfort and closeness to our Creator; it reinforces our relationship with Him as our Father.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The other type of pain is self-inflicted. This pain is a result of our disobedience or wanting to do it our way. This is not the pain G-d desires for us to experience. Just as no parent likes to see his child hitting himself in the head with his hands, Hashem does not delight in us hurting ourselves. It grieves Him that we run headlong into painful situations that are avoidable.

Whether the pain is by design or self-inflicted, the desired end result of our Father is that we will return to Him and find comfort in His arms, that we will become more intimate with our Creator and become more compassionate to the pain of others, and able to more fully love as He loves.

© 2015, Sarah S. Walters

Ponderings: When G-d Gets Angry

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One morning, not too long ago, my family and I were headed to our weekly fellowship. In order to get there we drive 50 minutes, partly on country roads, and partly on the interstate. This one particular morning, my youngest son, who is still in a carseat with five point harness, decided to slip his shoulders out of the strap as we rumbled down the interstate. I turned around and saw what he’d done, and yelled angrily at him to put his arms back inside the straps. In that moment, I realized that this was the kind of anger G-d has which we read about in the Scriptures.

When we read about G-d getting angry (the story we read about the words He spoke to Moses in Exodus 32 about the sin of the golden calf comes to mind), we can have a tendency to project human emotion onto Hashem. But Hashem is not a man, and He doesn’t have “human emotions” like we do. He is love and everything He does and is comes from that love.

Out of a deep love for my son did I yell at him that morning. I saw that he was being disobedient, and I knew that the consequences of not being properly strapped into his seat, given the right conditions, would result in severe injury or even death. I, as an adult, with more knowledge and understanding, seeing the bigger picture, knew the danger. It was my love for him that compelled me to “rattle” and “scare” him into doing the right thing.

Sometimes, when we are going down the wrong way, Hashem will “rattle” us to get our attention, because He knows what lies at the end of that road. It is out of His deep, abiding, unconditional love that He speaks “angrily” to us.

So, in the future, when you read about G-d being angry at His children, I hope you will see Him in a new light. I hope you will see that He loved the people of Israel and He loves us so much that He will do whatever it takes to get our attention and get us back on the right path. Not only this, but I hope you will seek to mirror this kind of “anger”, and not one based out of ego or the desire to control another person. Let’s strive to only be angry from a place of deep love; in this way we will be emulating and more rightly representing G-d’s character to our family, our friends, and the world.

Shalom and blessings,
S~

Ponderings: Thirsty and Running After You

I have been having a rough month or so; I feel a great sense of urgency to “get my house in order” by decluttering my life. I also am struggling to try to find my way to my Father for daily sustenance–because until you’re more than thirsty, you really don’t know that you’ve been thirsty all along. In fact, it seems as though my thirst has only grown–for His will, His light, His peace to fill every area of my life–inside and out. My spirit is just waiting for my flesh to finally submit to His perfect plan like a weaned child in its mother’s arms.

I feel like time is speeding up and I have precious little of it left to waste. I feel like if ever I was walking or jogging, I am now running. And I’m so much more thankful for His Shabbat in these last few weeks than I have been previously.

Anyway, I hope by me sharing my thoughts, that if you’ve been feeling to any degree the same that these words might encourage you to know you’re not alone.

I leave you with these songs to soak up and breathe in! I highly recommend the whole album.

Ponderings: Final Destination

Image courtesy of njaj at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of njaj at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sometimes our individual paths converge with others’ on this journey of faith, and it is nice to have someone to walk with. However, sometimes, our paths begin to separate, and we have to be willing to say, “I’ll be praying for your journey; please pray for mine. I hope we’ll meet again very soon!”

We must be faithful to walk our own path of purification, and let them walk theirs. If we’re meant to walk together again, Hashem can make that happen. And if we never cross paths again in this life, know that if we remain faithful to our Master, we will still be headed to the same destination; one day we’ll embrace and truly be one in the coming Kingdom.