Bad Judgment

Most likely we all do it. We see a person or group of people and make a snap judgment. We write them off and cast our verdicts on what kind of person we have just encountered. Sometimes we are correct in our judgments. And, there are other times when we get slapped in the face.

Yesterday, while out for a walk, I had one of those “slapped in the face” moments.

Our neighborhood has several different “pockets”. These pockets are generally categorized by socio-economic levels based on the condition and style of the houses, vehicles, and occupants. We live in a mid-level pocket. If one were to walk in a two block radius of our house, you would hit both low and high-level pockets.

During my walk, I turned down a street that led me into a low-level pocket. The homes and vehicles are in disrepair. In all honesty, the people are generally dirty and lack teeth.

As soon as I turned the corner, a large, loud, dirty old truck came speeding out of a driveway and down the road. My initial thought was, “Wow. We’re all really impressed.” My next thought was, “stupid white trash.”

Then, there was an interaction with the people still outside the house. They said “hello” and asked how old my daughter was. We began a simple conversation. They asked to see her pretty curls. They were older and harmless (just to relieve the grandparents reading this). We had a brief chat and then one of the ladies asked if it would be okay to give Sammie a sucker. She went into the house and brought out a really nice and colorful lollipop.

So, then, I found myself feeling like a jerk. Here I had passed judgment…believing that these people were ignorant and useless. Turns out they were really nice people who simply wanted to interact with their neighbors and give a gift. That was a slap in the face.

I’m too quick to pass judgment. I too often write people off before I even take a chance to get to know them. This experience has opened my eyes. I need to slow down and take into consideration that there are times when my quick judgments are too harsh.

Luke 6:37- “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

Happy Birthday Sammie!

Today we will celebrate Samantha’s 3rd birthday! We’re excited…she’s excited…our family is excited. 

She specifically told me that she wanted a Strawberry Shortcake birthday cake. So, Concannon’s has come through and we will be enjoying a very tasty cake! I’m looking forward to the day when she tells me she wants Concannon’s famous chocolate & creme layer cake!

So, we will be gathering with our family to celebrate the life of our very special little girl!


Not Surprised

Unfortunately, I am never surprised at the ridiculously rude behavior at various programs and events in and around Muncie. I sometimes wonder if the inability to show others respect is actually a part of the core curriculum of our school system. 

In all honesty, I can’t blame the students for their poor behavior because it is all-too-obvious that it comes from the top-down. Grandparents passed it onto parents who, in turn, passed it on down to their children. 

This evening at Emily’s  spring program, I observed the following:

– Parents letting their children wander aimlessly through the gymnasium during the performance

– Parents and children standing right next to Emily as she directed, taking pictures, videos, and in some cases trying to talk to their child

– Parents answering phone calls and carrying on conversations while remaining seated. 

– Parents having loud conversations with other parents during the performance

At one point, the principal actually addressed the crowd. She asked, “Who came to see the kids perform? Isn’t that why we’re hear? So, let’s turn off the cell phones and pagers. Let’s stop talking. And, let’s listen.” 

It’s sad that it does not surprise me that this happened this evening. We are at a point in time in which many people simply don’t know how to behave in public. 

I wish this only happened at school programs. But, I see it everywhere…the grocery, the mall, Lowes, the movies…even the church. 

Generally, I want to lash out at these people and say, “If these people weren’t so stupid, maybe they’d understand how to behave.” I want to look at these people and say, “Listen idiots…look at the example you are setting for your children and grandchildren. Are you really all that surprised that you have problems with them?”

But, then, I realize that my thoughts are not filled with grace, mercy, compassion, or love. The truth is…many of these folks simply don’t know any better. No one ever set an example for them. No one ever gave them opportunities to learn many of the things I take for granted. 

Then, I find myself thinking…”At least they are here.” Some kids missed out on the experience because their parents were unwilling to show up. Some kids participate, but have no one special in the audience. And, so, I find just a glimmer of hope in the fact that these parents at least care enough to show up…to be there for their children. Showing up is sometimes the best thing parents can ever do for their children.

A friend shared this verse with me the other day…

…You must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forvie the person who offends you…” (Colossians 3:12-13)

Giving Our Best

When we have the opportunities to give, do we give our best? 

Do we give our best at work? 

Do we give our best to our families?

Do we give our best to our God?

Do we give our best to one another?

Do we give our best to our communities?

Do we give our best to our environment?

I have always found myself asking questions like these. Today, I was reminded of them while sorting food in the basement of the Muncie Mission. They recently received a large donation of items from a local food drive. As I was separating cans and boxes, perishable and non-perishable items, I found myself wondering if people were giving their best?

Were people giving out of a desire to help those in need or in order to clear out their pantry’s? I found a few cans that were way past the expiration dates. I found a few cans that were so old they were rusting. I found items that I truly wondered if people really thought anyone would want? I found many items where people had put in partially used items. 

So, do we give our best or do we give just enough to make ourselves feel better about ourselves?

No Leftovers

This Sunday’s message will be focusing on stewardship. At Center Chapel, we are attempting to help people view and practice stewardship holistically.

When we hear the word “stewardship”, many of us are tempted to think only of money. Many churchgoers, at the mention of the word stewardship, begin to prepare themselves to hear a bunch of babble that will make them feel guilty about not giving enough money to the church. We tread on dangerous ground when approaching the topic of stewardship because a lot of damage has been done in this area. People should not feel guilty about stewardship…they should feel joy and excitement.

The guilt is easy to lay on…And, in all honesty, many already feel guilty enough. Not too many of us need reminders that we are fallen, sinful people. Most of us need constant reminders that, in spite of being fallen, sinful people, there is a Great Hope in the world. But, too often, guilt wins out and we quote verses like Malachi 3:8, which says, “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings.” Following this verse with a great sermon on robbing God leaves many stricken with guilt…But does it produce any life change?

The challenge is to help people find joy, passion, excitement, and a desire to give. And, not just give of their money, but of their time, talents, material resources, etc. Stewardship isn’t just about our finances. It’s about our work, our play, our possessions, our families, our environment…any thing and every thing God has given (which, by the way, is everything…hence the holistic view of stewardship).

This Sunday, we just might explore that passage from Malachi (because when you look at the whole passage and not just one verse, it’s pretty powerful). We just might look at what Jesus had to say about stewardship (let’s just say the whole idea of a tithe might get thrown out the window). We just might explore why we give, how we give, when we give, what we give, and all that jazz.

I’d be interested in learning some of your thoughts on stewardship. What thoughts come to mind when you hear the word “stewardship”? What positive images do you have? What negative associations do you have? Any good stories on stewardship? Give me a shout.

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”               (Mark 12:43-44)