A Life Lesson From Washing Windows

A Chinook blew into town this week, a welcome respite from the unseasonably cold and snowy weather we have experienced in Southern Alberta most of September and October.  The snow-eating Chinook, has melted most of our snow here on the Ponderosa, and has allowed us to bask in balmy temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius (that’s 68 F. to my American friends).  The other day I decided to take advantage of the warm temperatures and tackle a chore I had been procrastinating for a year: wash my windows.

Okay, before all the Martha Stewarts out there judge me, I do clean my windows on the inside of the house fairly regularly, but it’s the outside that is the real chore.  I got a couple of estimates this past Spring on what it would cost to get some professionals in to clean all the windows of my home.  I nearly fell over at the cost!  So, being basically cheap, I said “thanks, but no thanks” and decided to tackle the job on my own.  Well, at least the windows I can reach…I’m afraid of heights so I’m not climbing any ladders for the second story ones.  I’ll live with the dirt.

First, I decided to see if there was a sure-proof, streak-free method to get the job done.  Pinterest has a billion ways to clean windows and after trying a few of the environmentally friendly ones on my inside windows I decided that none of them work to my streak-free satisfaction.  Store-bought products also did not give me the desired streak-free shine.  I was becoming a bit discouraged.  So I thought I’d combine some blue Dawn dishwashing liquid, with a bit of the jet-dry stuff I put in my dishwasher.  I figured if it’s good for my glassware, it’s got to be good for my windows.  Filled up my bucket with hot water, got a scrubbing brush and squeegee and made my way outside.

After spending several hours scrubbing, squeegeeing and yes, groaning while putting my unused muscles through an unfamiliar workout regimen, I completed the arduous task and stepped back to admire my handiwork.  The Dawn-jet-dry mixture had done a fairly good job of cleaning my windows, but no matter how many times I washed and rewashed and squeegeed, inside and outside, I still saw visible streaks.  To add insult to injury, a squawking magpie did a fly-by and mocking my efforts decided to deposit an offering onto one newly washed window!

That settled it!  I threw up my hands in defeat and declared to the circling magpie that my entire window-washing escapade had been an effort in futility.  I dumped out the dirty water, poured myself an iced-tea and then fumed silently while the Chinook wind blew dirt back up on my newly-cleaned windows. I determined I was never going to waste any more time and effort trying to strive for perfection at a task that was never going to meet my standards no matter how hard I tried!

As I sat and seethed over my iced-tea, my husband came home and I pointed at my windows accusingly.  “Look!” I said exasperated, seeing only the visible streaks on the glass. He beamed with delight and patted my shoulder, “You cleaned the windows!  They look awesome!”

I did a double-take and grinned. I had been so focused and disappointed by all the streaks, the flaws, and the imperfections on the windows that I couldn’t see the improvements!  Isn’t that a great lesson for us in life?

Thank-You, Lord, for my husband who appreciates my efforts, and loves me, just as You love me, despite my noticeable imperfections!

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Colossians 3:17

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Most Misinterpreted Scripture Verses – Matthew 7:1

“Judge not, lest you be judged.” he said somewhat proudly, and lit a cannabis cigarette.  The news report continued to show various people in our nation’s capital lighting up to celebrate the legalization of pot in Canada today.  I just shook my head and changed the channel.

Matthew 7:1 will likely be quoted many more times in the days, weeks and months ahead as Canadians negotiate the highs (pardon the pun), and lows of what the legalization of marijuana in this country will mean for its citizens.  So, for those who feel the need to quote scripture to defend their stance for or against the use of pot, let’s just ensure we’re using this misinterpreted verse correctly, shall we?

Matthew 7:1 is one of the most frequently misused verses often declaring in its premise that Jesus told us not to judge.  Since we are all sinners, who of us have the right to cast the first stone, or judge someone else?  Verse 1 is often used to defend against pointing out a person’s wrongdoing, but if we dive further into the context of this passage, Jesus is not forbidding judgement but is pointing out the hypocrisy in those who improperly judge.

Merriam Webster defines “hypocrisy” as: a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not : behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel.  In this case Jesus is rebuking the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who were quick to point out the sins of others but were unwilling themselves to be held accountable to the same standards they insisted on imposing on others.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your won eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  Matthew 7:1-5

My father had a saying when I was growing up: “Don’t do as I do, do as I tell you.”  My Dad did not want my brother and I to make the same mistakes he made when he was growing up.  He wanted to shield us from the heartache of making poor decisions.  It was particularly confusing when he told us to not do something, when he was at the same time doing the thing he was telling us not to do.  For example, we were told that smoking was bad for us and we should never smoke, yet he and my mother both smoked.

Christians have a hard time with Matthew 7:1.  It’s easier to let things pass by and say, “Who am I to judge?” because we are fearful that we will be labeled hypocrites if our own sins are found out.  So the question remains, should we judge at all?  Scripture tells us that believers are to judge – but to do so in a righteous manner.

I read a commentary recently with regards to the “plank” and “speck” in someone’s eye.  I found the analogy quite eye-opening, literally!  The closer an object gets to the eye, the larger it appears – a tiny splinter from a distance is log-sized if embedded in one’s eye.  So a fault or sin in one’s own life is a far greater problem than the same fault in another person’s life.  So Jesus is stating quite clearly in Matthew 7:3-4 that removing the obstruction or “plank” from your own eye is vital before you can righteously judge someone else.

Merriam Webster defines “righteousness” as: acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin.  Several Bible verses show that a righteous person (one who does not conform to the world any longer but strives to follow God wholeheartedly), can make a righteous judgement.  Paul tells us to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”  2 Timothy 4:2-3

Christians are commanded to make decisions, to discern between good and bad or to establish what is good and best.  In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.  John Calvin says that one “who judges according to the Word and law of the Lord, and forms his judgment by the rule of charity, always begins with subjecting himself to examination, and preserves a proper medium and order in his judgments.”  Christians can make judgments without hypocrisy if we live a life surrendered to God, repentant and humble before Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Most Misinterpreted Scripture Verses – Philippians 4:13

It had been a tough game.  A tough game to watch, and it was a tough game to play.  I could tell that my son was frustrated as I watched him skate to the bench after a particularly brutal shift on the ice.  His midget hockey team was up against a rival out-of-town team with some boys on defense who outweighed him by fifty pounds or more.  A finesse player, he hadn’t been able to skate or stick-handle his way past that defense.  They blocked him and hip-checked him soundly into the boards each time he got the puck.  The coach called a time-out and the players circled in to get some much-needed words of encouragement. I’m not sure what was said, but in the next shift, the boys looked fired up.  When my son was passed the puck behind our team’s net, he looked up the ice with fierce determination.  As a spectator watching the events unfold, it seemed like he was skating in slow motion.  He managed to weave his way almost effortlessly past the opposing players only to face the tallest boy on defense who stood like a sentinel barring his way.  I wished I had the presence of mind to film what happened next, because it was talked about for months after.  In a moment of desperation, my son slid the puck to one side and then ducked under and between the boy’s long legs to pick up the puck again so he could fire a wrist shot past the stunned goalie and into the net.  The home team fans, myself the loudest, erupted in one great cheer as my son skated past his bench, high-fiving his teammates as they congratulated him.

After the goal, my son excitedly shared with his team mates what had transpired on the ice that led to that spectacular goal.  “When I got the puck, I remembered my favorite Bible Verse: ‘I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me’.  I just kept saying it over and over to myself all the way down the ice!”

Through the years, my son has been greatly encouraged by Philippians 4:13 motivating him to even have the verse tattooed on his body.  As a mom, I am so thankful that my children find strength in Christ and His Word.  Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out, that Philippians 4:13 really has nothing to do with he or anyone else being “successful” at school, in business, or in scoring spectacular hockey goals.  The verse has everything to do with being content regardless of life’s circumstances.

When he wrote the letter to the church in Philippi, the Apostle Paul was under house arrest awaiting trial, and based on previous experiences with those who opposed his preaching, Paul fully expected that this time he would be put to death if found guilty.  Paul had faced all kinds of suffering as he alludes to in vs. 12., but he had learned to be content in any kind of circumstance whether good or bad.  He was trying to teach the young church in Philippi that he could endure any and every hardship, including a death sentence if it came to that, because he knew Christ would give him the strength to endure anything.  He could make the best of his situation because he was not focused on his personal circumstances but on Christ alone.

I have discovered that when we interpret Scripture in an attempt to prop up self and boast about our personal accomplishments, we’ve likely got it wrong.  Scripture focuses on God’s Glory, not ours.  With our misinterpretation of Philippians 4:13, we tend to focus on our achievements rather than give full credit to God.  “I can do all things” with God’s help.  While it is true, God can give us victories, the focus should never be on us, but always centred fully on God.  Let’s go back to my son’s hockey game.

Although the outcome achieved was a favourable one in that my son scored a goal, he was able to credit his achievement by giving God the Glory.  It was a way to share his faith with his teammates in a tangible way.  That said, I wonder what he might have done or felt if he hadn’t scored the goal.  Would he have lost faith in God?  Would he have been angry, dejected, or hurt that his favourite Scripture verse did not deliver a positive result?  Would he have shared the verse with his teammates regardless?

My son has grown up and has experienced both victories and defeats, but he has learned to focus on God knowing He remains trustworthy in every circumstance.  Philippians 4:13 allows us to once again yield to God’s Sovereignty in our lives.  We need not sink under times of trial because He will strengthen us.  We need not fall into temptation, as I wrote in my previous blog posting, because He provides the means for us to endure and not succumb to temptations.  We need not fear, worry or be anxious because Jesus will strengthen us, bolster us, and give us courage to face any adversity.  We can be content in any circumstance because we know He will never leave us or forsake us.

No matter what trials, temptations and challenges you may face today, friend, use Philippians 4:13 to encourage you today!

 

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