Tag Archives: judge

breathless

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Many of you know this last year I became a science teacher. What many of you may not know is that I teach at a Middle school that is on a university campus. Not only that, but our school is even part of the university system and we are therefore connected to the university itself. That means sometimes we even have to handle things on the main campus. This really wouldn’t be such a big deal except for the fact that it always seems like the business I have to handle is on the fourth floor of the largest building on campus. To top it all off, I usually have a limited amount of time to handle said business so I find myself parking on the side of the building that doesn’t have the elevator and then hustling up three rather large flights of stairs. Take note; I’m a relatively in shape person, but I still feel winded almost every time I run up these stairs. Especially if it is a day like yesterday when I had just done squats at the gym that morning.

But one of the joys of being a science teacher has also been the opportunity to marvel at the complexity of creation once again. The fact that my brain tells my legs to move up and down, then my legs can do that action, then my lungs seek to compensate for their effort by pulling in more air to oxygenate my muscles in my legs, while my heart is picking up its rhythm in order to move that oxygen to those legs faster. It all really is an incredible feat. One might even call it a gift. The writer of the book of James has this to say about gifts, “Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all.” – James 1:17 Our brains, our legs, our blood pumping, our lungs…even the breath in our lungs is a gift from God. I wonder if we would all be considered good stewards of those gifts?

A little bit later in that same letter James takes to task one of the gifts that we sometimes abuse; our tongue. Our ability to speak is an incredible gift. In fact, I’m amazed by it all the time. We push air in and out of our throat, it passes through our larynx, over our vocal folds and then somehow resonates enough to form sounds and then words and even sometimes notes of incredible beauty. We essentially take the breath of life, the gift that God has given us and transform it into something entirely new. But James actually has a word of warning for us here, “No one can tame the tongue, though. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we both bless the Lord and Father and curse human beings made in God’s likeness.” – James 3:8-9 You could almost substitute the phrase, “breath use” for tongue in this passage. I realize that might be a little wordy and complex, but how often do we think about the breath we breathe as truly a gift of God i.e. the breath of life? And if it is a gift, are we wasting it? Are we using it for malice, gossip, evil? James himself said we praise God and yet speak ill, put down, judge and even curse those made in his likeness. Maybe some of us need to check our breathing. Maybe some of us should be careful for the day when we are left breathless and the gift and what we have done with it return to the creator. How will you sue your gift of breath today?

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can I get a witness

How many of you love watching the news? I for one, am not one of them. I actually prefer to read my news in digital format these days because it seems as if the news is always just bad. Granted, reading it isn’t much better, but at least then I don’t think it has quite the same shock value. Every once in a while however, I find myself watching one of the early morning news programs. And it seems that every time one of these comes on one of the featured stories involves some sort of court room drama. There is some high profile case that is being decided/battled out in our courts and they just can’t wait to tell me all about it. And it’s not just the news stations that are court room obsessed. Have you turned on daytime TV lately? I think nowadays that when you are promoted to the bench it comes with a television contract.

Our obsession with the courtroom is weird. I can’t quite put my finger on it. But I do think it may have something to do with all of our uncertainty in the world today. With all of the upheaval and chaos, here is a place where at the end of the day a verdict is handed down and someone is proved right and someone is proved wrong. The scary part of this for me is that this culture sometimes enters into the life of the church. The church finds itself also caught up in a culture of uncertainty and subsequently battle lines are being drawn over every issue and at the end of the day someone has to be proved right and someone has to be proved wrong. But I am not sure this is the script we are called to. I once saw a church sign, so who knows where this originated, that read, “Christians aren’t called to be judges or lawyers, but to be witnesses.” And I love that, as corny as it may be. It reminds me of that powerful verse in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

So let’s play out the courtroom analogy for a bit. Christians aren’t called to be judges. There is one judge and we all must face Him eventually…so that responsibility is off our shoulders. Christians aren’t called to be lawyers. We don’t have to extricate the truth for those around us because the truth is completely embodied in one person, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). We are called to be witnesses. And what do witnesses do? They share their experience, their story. You see, the gospel that brings freedom for captives, sight for the blind, love for the loveless, hope for the outcast is not something that can be handed down like a verdict. It can’t be argued for in a court of opinion. It must be experienced by an encounter with Jesus. And how can people know who Jesus is unless we are sharing our encounter, our experience, our transformation? Three of the most powerful words in all of scripture may be all that we need to be true witness, “Come and see…”. May we today come to the realization that people cannot be brought to Jesus unless they can see the difference He has made in us and want to experience the same.


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