Tag Archives: judging

It’s Palm Sunday! Rejoice!

Happy Palm Sunday! Here’s my crooked little cross made from a palm branch. It’s far from perfect; just like me! But I’m redeemed, and Jesus lives in my heart! Therefore, I am forgiven; washed in the blood of the lamb, as clean as purely white, fresh fallen snow! 

I am 2-1/2 weeks into recovery from a lumbar spinal fusion, and I joyfully went to church today! I was so thankful to participate in Holy Communion with my own precious family, and with my church family filled with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many loving people, who have supported and encouraged me through this time of healing. I truly cherish every single prayer, hug, and meal which has come my way!

Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross for my sins, so I can live eternally in Heaven with you, and my loved ones who know you. Let me be a living testimony to how you can taken someone’s broken painful past, and change it into a joyful love story! Thank you for being my King!

“They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Blessed is the king of Israel’ ” (Jn. 12:13)!

An imperfect being; saved by a King on a cross!

Pursue The Shepherd to Escape the Wolves!

Everyone is free to believe as they wish, but no one should fool themselves into believing he or she will ever understand the truth about anything in life without pursuing God’s One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. If God says there are wolves among us, pretending to be Christians, He means it. It’s true. We need to pay attention to God’s warning, as we walk with Jesus and begin to view the world with godly, spiritual eyes. As our eyes and ears become open to the truth, we come to a place where we are no longer willing to be blinded and deceived by fake Christians, pretenders, or wolves in sheep’s clothing. We can rely on Jesus, refusing to get reeled in by the lies of self-centered, narcissistic people who are only interested in themselves. Many people also proudly rely on self, instead of looking towards God for guidance. Sadly, they will remain unable to escape the sharp hook of deception, and will lose out on the freedom of exploring the vast ocean of joy God has waiting for them. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:33 New International Version).

To find truth, we must give our lives to Christ, and continuously pursue him. Christians follow Jesus in spite of their mistakes and imperfections. Christians are people who change, because they grow over time. Sometimes the changes come quickly, and others can take much more time. But the changes will be good changes, reflecting the character of Christ. If there are no positive changes and spiritual growth, one should ask God if He’s pleased with the spiritual journey He’s watching from up above. When a child of God is stuck in a rut, it’s likely that repentance, forgiveness, and prayer are all necessary to bring back a wandering heart. God is always waiting with open arms to receive His lost children!

True Christians are followers of Christ. They don’t just talk; they walk with Jesus. They humbly accept that they are not perfect, but seek to do unto others as Jesus would do. Christians forgive each other, and forgive in the name of Jesus when it’s too hard to do it on their own. Christians don’t demand forgiveness. Christians humbly seek forgiveness with a repentant heart. They want to know how they’ve offended a brother or sister in Christ, so they can fix what’s broken. The Bible tells us not to judge or condemn others. These sinful attitudes get in the way of forgiveness. Other strongholds which keep people seeing God clearly are: stubbornness, anger, bitterness, denial, and even rejection. As The Holy Spirit reveals these, it is our place to ask God to remove them in the name of Jesus. Healing, freedom, and joy take place. Forgiveness then comes easier, and more naturally, just as it does with Jesus.

Some people only pretend to give their lives to Christ. Others actually do receive their salvation, yet go on living the same lives they led before; lives that don’t include God. This isn’t God’s will for His children. God is our Creator. He wants a relationship with us. God is omniscient; He knows whether we’ve really given our lives to Him. He looks at our hearts: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’ ” (1 Sam. 16:7 ). God also sees us bearing fruit, and planting seeds which lead to others growing in Christ.

When you are with a Christian, you should see and hear and feel Jesus reflected in the heart of that person. You should be able to see light in that person’s eyes, rather than darkness. You should hear words that uplift and encourage you, rather than words that leave you angry, bitter, and confused. You should feel hopeful, peaceful, and comforted after spending time with a Christian, rather than feeling anxious and depressed. Real Christians grow fruit; they leave the world a better place by leading others to Jesus. Their lives show evidence of joy, grace, and the mercy of God’s love.

We all have times of conflict with brothers and sisters in Christ, but these should not override the goodness seen within them; the goodness that comes from having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Many people daily refer to themselves as Christians just because they go to church or do good deeds, but they have not truly given their lives to Christ. Instead they choose to live life without any regard to God’s commandments and callings. Their walk does not reflect the character of Christ, so it causes others to have a warped, false, and negative view of the pure goodness of Christianity.

The bible tells us evil will masquerade as light. We need to pursue Jesus, asking for wisdom to discern fake Christians (wolves) from genuine Christians (sheep). Wolves are jealous and vengeful. They gossip, lie, and stir up strife on a regular basis. Because of their vicious nature, they can get in the way of the amazing plans God has for you! Therefore, be diligent, and heed God’s warning: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matt.7:15). Ask God to help you identify deceit. Ask God to show you who the wolves are, and to remove them from your life, in Jesus’ name. God is your refuge and shelter; He is your greatest source of protection.

No matter what it looks like, what lies are being told, who has turned against you; look for the silver lining: NOTHING is more powerful than the power and authority of JESUS CHRIST in your life! God knows your worth; His Truth is all that matters! If you have a relationship with Jesus, then GOD HIMSELF has your back! Trust Him each and every day! Pursue Jesus, and the scales will fall from your eyes, as the real world of truth appears before you in ways you’ve never imagined! You will be amazed at what you can see through your brand new spiritual eyes! It’s about love and forgiveness. It really is…all about…pursuing JESUS!

” ‘I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know. ‘So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock–his church, purchased with his own blood–over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders. I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you–my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you. ‘And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.’ ”
( Acts 20:26-32 New Living Translation)

You can read more about how to identify wolves in sheep’s clothing in my article: Sheepish Character? False Christians cause Division (Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing).

My mission is to help others find hope leading to healing, joy, and freedom in the truth of Jesus Christ. On The Silver Lining homepage, you can click on specific topics related to this blog post, such as: narcissism, judging, deception, freedom, and more. You can also search your own keywords; examples are: “self-centeredness” “wolves” “jealousy” “character” “fruit” “light” and many others. Join The Silver Lining Facebook page, and share the silver lining experiences God has given to you, by submitting them to be shared with other readers! God bless you, in Jesus name! 

Choosing a King… 5 Biblical Examples

CHOSEN, ANOINTED, APPOINTED: God chooses all kings. When we understand how God chooses a king, we can apply godly wisdom and discernment when faced with a democratic vote for choosing our new president of the United States of America. Do you have peace about your vote? We can examine five biblical truths from 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, to prayerfully guide us to be at peace with the decision we make when we go to vote.

 1.   GOD SENDS A PROPHET TO ANOINT A FUTURE KING:

Samuel was a prophet. A prophet is also anointed by God to proclaim God’s truth. “The LORD said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill you horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king’ ” (1 Sam. 16:1 New International Version). Today, God sends his pastors and disciples out to anoint and pray for our leaders and disciple them, in the name of Jesus.

 2.   GOD DOES NOT LOOK AT OUTWARD APPEARANCES:

 King David was a young shepherd boy. Shepherds were looked down upon as the lowest of the low on the social scale during biblical times. They were dirty and smelly; they were gossips and liars. But God didn’t see that, because He saw what was underneath, a heart after His: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’ ” (1 Sam. 16:7) Today God is still unimpressed by status, wealth, fame, and connections. After all, He is The Creator of all of us. He can give and take away in an instant.

 3.  GOD LOOKS AT A THE HEART OF A MAN:

God sees everything. He observed how David took his job as a shepherd very seriously. He watched as he gathered each and every one of the sheep together, and searched for any that were lost, to bring them back home. God in His Omniscience could already see that David would do the same thing with people under his reign. God needed a king who would care for the chosen people of Israel. “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ” ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’ ” (Acts 13:22). Today God looks through all the superficial layers the world has created, and He searches deeply for the good that lies down underneath. He sees our potential, even when no one else does.

4.  GOD SEEKS A KING WHO WILL PURSUE HIM, IN SPITE OF BEING A SINNER:

King David was far from perfect. He lusted after a woman named Bathsheba, while she was bathing. Then he committed adultery with her, and she became pregnant, all while her her husband was being loyal to the king and fighting for him in The Lord’s Army! As if that were not despicable enough, he also deceitfully set up a plan that would cause Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, to die in battle, just so he could keep Bathsheba for his wife. It worked. “After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Sam. 11: 27). Though David battled sin and strongholds, he had a repentant heart, and continued to pursue God. He wrote the Psalms, which everyone can relate to today, because we are all sinners. Today’s kings must pursue Jesus for forgiveness of their sins, because God has said Jesus is the One and Only way to God.

 5. GOD WORKS IN SPITE OF EVIL BUT DOES NOT CONDONE IT. THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES:

A consequence of King David’s sin, was the death of his son.  David was remorseful. He prayed and asked God to save his son, but when his son died, he accepted the consequence. “Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at this request they served him food and he ate” (2 Sam. 12:20). David sinned, but he was not evil. He had a repentant heart. After asking God to forgive him, he accepted his trial, and continued to pursue God, and fight for God’s Army. God equipped David for these battles.

David could have rejected God and turned his back on him. Instead, David trusted God in all things, even painful trials. He went on to receive God’s blessing of another son, King Solomon, who became the wisest and richest king in history. Today’s kings can also have a close relationship with God by choosing to accept Jesus Christ. As they pursue Jesus, with repentant hearts, they can come boldly to God, without fear, knowing He will help them gain victory in their battles. They can say, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

If God has appointed kings, but we live in a democracy, what does that mean for us? It means we are responsible to choose a king as God would, to the best of our knowledge and our abilities through Jesus Christ. Our candidate’s agenda should line up with God’s scriptures. If God says it’s a sin, the candidate we vote for should be saying it’s a sin. A quick way to do this is to look up the 10 Commandments.

They are listed in both the Old and New Testaments. God’s scriptures are black and white. If you feel an issue is a “gray area” seek God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Accept Jesus, if you haven’t. Repent of any sins. Ask Him to remove any spiritual blinders. Then ask Him your question again. He will answer you. The silver lining is that God is in control, and if we pray, we can have peace about going to the polls. God gave you a voice…Go out and vote!

“Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”

Deuteronomy 1:13

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Related: Christians and Candidates: Voting for Your President

Fill Your Shopping Cart With Love

A couple weeks ago, as I stood in line at Costco to purchase my groceries, a young mom struggled with her three children in line. She wore a baby in a pouch, had an older baby in the top seat of the cart, and was trying to calm an angry preschooler who sat in a friend’s cart on the other side of her. Her friend was another young mom with her own baby, and they were both trying to buy their items while keeping all the kids under control. 

I had seen this young mom earlier in the store, begging the older baby to stay in her top seat in the cart. The baby was attempting to stand up in the top front seat of the cart over and over again. The young mother would sit the baby down and run to get something, and dart back to the baby who kept wriggling herself out of the unfastened seat while trying to stand.

Honestly, it was scary! I was so concerned the baby would fall out and hit her head on the concrete. It was an accident waiting to happen, as the mother kept turning her back, and returning quickly to the cart, begging the baby to sit back down again. 

I didn’t understand why the mother didn’t just strap the baby into the cart, or just push her a few feet over to the next aisle. But I did know that the young mother was incredibly stressed out, and I surely could understood that! Perhaps the cart was difficult to push with the smaller baby sleeping in a pouch attached to Mommy’s belly. Maybe something was wrong with the strap. Maybe it was painful to push the heavy cart. I don’t really know why safety wasn’t being practiced or put into place. I thought maybe I could stand nearby to catch the baby in case she fell. So that’s what I did.

As the mom returned, I was coaxing her baby to sit down. I gently let the mom know that I was standing there so the baby wouldn’t fall. But it was obvious. Her baby was wriggling upward in the cart again. She asked the baby to sit down again, and thanked me for being there. I said bye-bye to her little one, and we both continued to shop. Now, a half hour later, we were in parallel checkout lanes, and the pattern was being repeated. 

In my head were visions of toddlers falling out of grocery carts onto the hard concrete floor. I’d read stories about children having concussions, and even dying, because they had stood up and fallen from grocery carts. I thought about the brazen attempts of kidnapping that had been caught on video camera, where children had been grabbed, while distracted parents had left them unattended, beyond their reach. Why would any mother take that chance?  

But I saw the stressed out face of a young mother who had way too many balls in play. I’ve been there too; multitasking, forgetting something important because of my long list of priority to-do items. This young mother definitely had her hands full, even with her friend there to help her. She also clearly did not want anything to happen to her sweet baby. Taking a deep breath, I walked over to her cart, once again. Meanwhile, the nice man in the checkout lane at Costco, unloaded my own groceries for me. He was aware of the dilemma, as well as many other customers. As the mother returned to her cart in line, I once again told her I’d be glad to stand near her baby until she could come back to the cart. I looked at the baby and told her she was a wiggle worm. The baby’s eyes twinkled, and her mommy laughed. 

Costco is a place for packing up your food, keeping your kids happy, and getting out the door. This young mother didn’t need criticism. She needed some support, and she needed it NOW. Judging her parenting skills wasn’t going to help, but showing her Christ’s love, could! God was leading me to be the hands and feet of Jesus for a young mom in a short moment of desperation. Isn’t that exactly what God does for us? 

When we are left without food or shelter, caught up in our messy storms of life because of mistakes we’ve made, there’s a silver lining. Instead of scolding us, God sends Jesus to meet our needs…right where we are standing. Instead of condemning and criticizing us for all the things we’ve done wrong, Jesus comes alongside us with compassion, mercy, and grace. He offers us protection, even when we aren’t paying attention. Then, in God’s timing, The Holy Spirit convicts our hearts, giving us wisdom and discernment for us to use in the future.

The Holy Spirit warmed my heart, as I got a chance to chat with the two young moms that were together, and ask questions about their cute kids and how old they were. They walked out with happy smiles, laughing together, with full control over their very energetic babies! I know God can be trusted to care for that young mother and her child in a way I never could…just as He cares for my own children when I make mistakes. 

Criticism and judgment fall on deaf ears, are self-elevating and non-productive. It’s like having someone offer you a meal or clothing or a prayer, with the expectation that you first promise to get a job, stop every bad habit, admit all your wrongdoing, and promise to immediately change your life completely around. Love opens up the path so those things can eventually happen in God’s perfect timing. If we are going to help, let’s offer it in love, or we may as well not bother doing it at all. 

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” 

(1 Cor. 13:1 English Standard Version).

  
When criticism and judging attempt to make a stand, we can sit them down in their rightful place, by filling our shopping carts, and hearts, with love! 


#Spreadlovenothate!

Take Heart! Teeny Tiny Accomplishments Go A Long Way!

I have a lot of trouble with self-condemnation. As I child, I wasn’t given compliments. Instead, my faults were constantly highlighted. I have lived with the fear of failure for so long, that anxiety has become a companion for pointing out my imperfections. This is no way to live! 

I’m learning not to judge myself. I wouldn’t judge my children or my friends the way I judge myself, so I’m trying really hard to give myself a break. It’s difficult, but I’ve come so far from where I once was. I’m understanding that it’s a sin to judge myself. I have to ask God to forgive me, and to help me see myself through His eyes. 

I tend to feel very low when I haven’t accomplished anything by the end of the day. Today was a day that left me exhausted and unmotivated. I couldn’t really accomplish anything at all. But my husband reminded me that it’s ok. And God has been helping me. I thought I’d look for the silver lining in my day and search for the teeny tiny things that I did accomplish. I’m hoping to encourage you to do the same, if you too, are struggling with self-condemnation. 

Here are today’s accomplishments: 

1. Making my bed (It’s the one thing I make myself do every single day so I will accomplish something when I first wake up).

2. Not freaking out when my husband came home with a migraine, which meant my one free day was shot, because I had planned to do a project in my bedroom (That’s selfish, I know, but wait! This blog post is about no self-condemnation!). 

3. Helping my husband to rest and recover by: closing the blinds, getting him herbs and juice, and exiting the bedroom. (I can be selfless!).

4. Letting out my neighbors’ animals for some exercise, since they would be late returning home from a long weekend trip (We enjoyed the sweetness of all the pets that made us laugh with their adorable personalities!).

5. Texting a teen friend, and letting her know that even though we may disagree, I love her. 

6. Starting summer reading fun with my daughter for tiny prizes (I bought some packs of teeny tiny animals from Hobby Lobby. She has to read me a book each day to earn one.).

7. Not caving and giving my daughter all the teeny tiny animals at once when she asked to play with them. 

8. My teen telling me “Good job Mom!” when I didn’t cave in to my daughter’s request.

9. Running to my daughter and hugging her in the moment when she asked for help with something, telling her how much I love her, and having her return to me and ask if she could have another hug like that!

10. Quality time to seriously talk with my teenage twin boys, in spite of them acting completely crazy, interrupting me, and constantly making me crack up with their crazy jokes. 

11. Family prayer time (This is the time we gather together at the end of every single day in order to pray for each other, and family, and friends. It’s a reminder that we are a tight family unit with Jesus at its center.). 

12. Knowing I’m blessed and loved by God, because He has given me a family to love, who loves me back. He wraps His arms around us and provides us with everything we need. 

I’m super bummed that I couldn’t accomplish the feat of locating the bag of new taco flavored DORITOS that my son and I were craving. But hey, less calories! And on top of that, I wrote a blog post! I think, though, that the brightest silver lining just may be that today’s teeny tiny tiny accomplishments will in some small way lead to something bigger and more important. 

In fact, I just realized that today’s fatigue may be due to having battled anxiety this week. Today I woke up without it. I battled it this week by spending time in prayer, and focusing on God’s truth. My husband battled for me too. Perhaps that’s why he has a migraine today. My family is tired, but we’ve come a long way. It’s ok if I didn’t accomplish all the things I wanted. God loves me anyway. One step at a time. Love yourself. 

“There is no self-condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:31 New International Version

Addendum: Immediately after writing this blog post, I peeked on Facebook and was surprised, and delighted, to find the most kind and beautiful note from my dear, treasured friend who was also my student years ago. She wrote about the teeny tiny things I did as a teacher, which brought her joy as a student. These teeny tiny things led up to her becoming a teacher. These, added onto the teeny tiny things she has done for me, have led up to our lifelong friendship. Our friendship has led up to me having the privilege of leading her to accept Jesus Christ as her personal savior. I can think of no better illustration as proof that teeny tiny accomplishments lead to bigger and better things. God’s timing is amazing! Take heart!

  
Teeny tiny animals lying on top of the book, A Day on the Farm: illustrated by Sue King and written by Cathy Drinkwater Better.