Judgement Free living

Thanks to our lovely weather here in Northern Ireland the boys and I have been able to continue our daily swims in the sea. I’m so grateful to have found an activity that we can all take part in, which has so many health benefits but is also free. And practically on our doorstep to enjoy.

This week we were down at the little spot that we go to when a large crowd of maybe fifteen to twenty teenagers arrived. They were full of fun and enjoying the sun, some had been drinking and had bottles of drink and were getting fairly rowdy, which didn’t really bother me too much. As we got out they were having a lot of banter trying to coax each other into jumping in.

I’m not one to be highly offended by teenagers doing their thing, nor do I get all self-righteous about people swearing around me and I don’t claim to be all pure and innocent, but their excessive swearing and shouting and complete disregard for the people around them caused irritation inside of me. I turned and asked one of the youth, is there any need? To which a few of the other lads joined in and told their mates to wise up and stop because there were kids about. In what I think might have been done to overcome his embarrassment of being chastised by his friends, one of the young guys launched his empty bottle of booze into the sea near another swimmer. One of the swimmers brought the bottle back to the edge and quite gently told the lad it was unacceptable and asked him to climb down and get the bottle. Again all his friends that had been laughing with him at his mobbish behaviour started to agree with the swimmer that it was unacceptable and again they started to berate him. The poor guy.  Although he didn’t let on, he must have felt quite embarrassed, but still he continued his rebellious behaviour and after retrieving the bottle he then continued to throw it away again out of view of the swimmers.

As I watched the situation unfold, a few of his friend egged him on, some others reprimanded his behaviour and a few others were silent as I passed through the crowd. Someone in a low voice said, sorry about him. I moved away from the crowd to start getting dry. When looking back at the crowd I got that oh so familiar Holy Spirit nudge and that’s when recognised a bit of myself in that young lad. In fact at his age I would probably have been a very similar female version of that guy. Always wanting to win the crowd and not really knowing when to draw the line for my own good and usually ending up rather red-faced by my own choices.

My heart, that was initially annoyed, soon softened as I identified with his behaviour. I’m not condoning it, but it definitely changed my opinion of him having this fresh set of eyes.

I quickly recognised the prompt from God with the quick reminder of my younger self, but truthfully it doesn’t always happen just so quickly as that. Sometimes I have to deal with the consequences of speaking out in judgement and hurting someone. Sometimes I stand red-faced and full of remorse after having someone point out my judgemental spirit. And, on occasions in the past, I have damaged relationships and connections through my ability to not recognise my judgement of others as a sin.

Truth is, none of us has a right to judge others unless that authority has been given to us and we are in a position of appointed power, like a judge.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Judgement doesn’t always come in the obvious form of judging someone by their behaviour; it sneaks up on us in many other ways.

In withholding forgiveness, we are making the judgement that the offender is not worthy of forgiveness even though we walk in that same forgiveness from Jesus.

Sometimes judgement looks like nitpicking over someone’s faults and ignoring any good.

Pointing out peoples faults to others (gossip) while ignoring our own.

““And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Treating rumours as facts.

Presuming we know the motives behind peoples’ actions.

By continuing judgement of others we go against the teaching in the Bible. We stop following the example of Jesus and his character and his grace. How easily we find it to receive the same grace we sometimes struggle to pass on.

There is no doubt in this life we are going to encounter people who are going to cause us some difficulty, some pain and share very different opinions and live different lifestyles than us. So did Jesus in his ministry. Despite a crowd of religious law-keepers following him around wanting blood, he still showed love and kindness and mercy. He had compassion for these people, not condemnation. as he does when we mess up and get it wrong.

What if we were to really embrace that lifestyle that Jesus exhibited and live it out in our own life! Would it make a difference of how we witness to others? What if, when someone hurt us they were met with grace instead of judgement? What if, when they were wrong they were met with compassion instead of condemnation? What if, rather than hating them for their lifestyle, we just loved them anyway. Do you think it would make a difference in how they see Jesus through us?

I believe it would.

Like any habit, if we have been doing it long enough it is hard to kick it. Thankfully, we always have God to turn to in these situations and he will give us strength and the Holy Spirit on hand to give you those gentle little nudges when you’re slipping into the mindset again.  Every time you do, just turn to God, repent and move forward to doing better next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear is a Liar

If you will let me have a proud mum moment for a minute, I want to tell you about my middle son Ethan. Ethan has a very unique wee personality, he loves the life of comfort and convenience. Yeah like. I hear you kid! Who doesn’t?

He is also a creature of habit and thrives in routine. Which means that, as I’m sure you can imagine, the summer holidays can become a little stressful for him and sometimes upsetting. This would mean that sometimes he is not as resilient when faced with new challenges.

A few weeks ago, on an unusually hot day here in Northern Ireland, we changed into our swim gear and packed up our buckets and spades and headed to the beach. We as a family are no strangers to the beach, it’s our happy place for sure. We love the beach and spend a lot of time walking near the beach. However, what we don’t normally do is go swimming in the water, because, usually, it would be freezing and what fun is that? Well, that and also my overwhelming fear of embarrassment of being caught in my bathing suit. I know it’s a vanity thing and I’m working on it.

However, that particular day God must have granted me with extra courage because there I was on the local beach, stripped down to my swimwear lying flat on my back on a picnic blanket while the boys built sandcastles beside me. Sorry, that almost sounded idyllic. Please don’t be disillusioned, what was actually happening was not the serene picture you may imagine. My boys were not blissfully building a beautiful sandcastle together, quite the opposite… It was more a case of knocking over each other’s build and throwing sand at each other which resulted in a wrestling match, my blanket being covered in sand, tears and losing my book page as I jumped up to separate the scuffle in a very undignified manner, which included an almost boob flash! So you can imagine how eager I was to get into the water to cool my burning cheeks.

So down to the water we went to cool off. While Joshua and I ran into the ice cold water squealing, Ethan had stopped dead on the edge, refusing to take another step. We cheered him on and tried to coax him in but there was no moving him beyond a few steps in and as soon as the seaweed hit his feet he jumped back out and started crying. He desperately wanted to go further, but his fear of what lurked beneath the water just wouldn’t allow him to. As he stood crying at the edge of the sea he was left with no choice but to turn back and watch his brother and me from the blanket. We tried to encourage him, but it was only him that could make that move into the water. 

A few days later we came back to the beach and again Joshua and I ploughed into the water and called for Ethan to join us. We promised the seaweed wasn’t an issue and somehow convinced him that we would keep him safe. As he waded out to meet us in the water, a few wee tears to started to fall but, once he realised he had conquered his fear, his sense of achievement and joy took over and he started feeling really proud of himself. I was so proud of him and since that day a few weeks ago we have been swimming in the sea close to every day because he enjoys it so much. He has even jumped over seaweed and jelly fish to get in! He is now so keen to pack up that swim bag and head to the sea.

 

here he is. swimming away. what a great boy!img_9973

Don’t get me wrong, Ethan still experiences the fear. He still has to make a decision every time he sees that seaweed whether the fear is going to control him or he is going to conquer his fear and enjoy his fun at the other side of his fear

I don’t think anyone of us is exempt from this type of crippling fear at some stage in our lives. I know personally, I have suffered from all types of fear, both rational and irrational. I had a terrible fear of heights. I only overcome this when I climb a mountain, like an actual mountain, not a metaphoric mountain. I have a rather embarrassing fear of touching raw wood. I know, I know, don’t ask. I have a constant underlying fear of rejection and criticism. I fear being a disappointment, I fear the future. It’s not that I live in this constant state of fear. When these thoughts arise, fear is the emotion I face.

The Bible tells us that perfect love cast out fear. 1 John 4:18. That is the love we receive from Jesus. So is that all we have to do then is receive this love and we will never feel fear again? it would be good, but NO! not really.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We have an enemy and his plot is to kill any hope for a future, and his number one weapon that he likes to threaten us with is fear, because it’s his main purpose to hold you back from your future. And he will plot and scheme and use all different kinds of strategies. He will use people and circumstances to convince you that God is not for you and his intentions for you are not good.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭50:20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

But it is walking by Faith and knowing that God is good and trusting him in every circumstance, that he has you and is going to take care of you, that you will be able to say to the enemy, on yer bike.

I love this quote from Joyce Meyers. We give the enemy access to our lives through fear and we give God access to our life through faith.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Romans 8:28 NLT

It is not for us to figure out the outcome of our circumstance or control the future, as tempting as it may be, but we are called to trust God with it.  Just as Ethan trusted me that no harm would come to him in my care in the water, God wants you to put your trust in your Heavenly Father and trust that you will be safe in his care. And when you do, you can experience all the joy that living a life in the will of God will bring you.

““But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭17:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬