Categories
Christian Living Perspective

You Didn’t Know?

The young boy in my music class was on my last nerve. No matter what the rest of the students did, he just sat there—staring into space.

Enough was enough. During a group movement activity, when everyone was supposed to stand but he didn’t, I pounced.

“On your feet, young man!,” I yelped with obvious annoyance, “You need to participate in class like everyone else.”

No response.

I admonished him in even stronger terms: threatening to take his recess, call his mom and send him back to the previous grade (not really) 😊 unless he did what I said.

Again, no response.

That’s it. “You’re OUT of here!” I said, motioning like a baseball umpire ejecting an unruly player from the game. An assistant principal came and took the student, but I continued to fume for the rest of the class period.

During my lunch break I called his mom to tell her what happened. By this time, I’d cooled off, but was itching to provide a play-by-play of her son’s behavior.

However, three sentences in, when I finally came up for air, she said something that changed everything:

“My son is autistic.”

Needless to say, I immediately went from slightly agitated to absolutely ashamed. Her son (MY student) was on sensory overload from all the noise and movement in MY classroom, and I’d given him an extremely hard time for something HE couldn’t help.

After apologetically assuring the mom I’d do a better job with her son in the future, I knew what I had to do. I hung up the phone and walked straight to the boy’s classroom and apologized to him.

“Your mom told me that loud noises and lots of moving are sometimes too much for you. I’m sorry I was so hard on you. I didn’t know.”

I’ll never forget what he said:

“You didn’t know?”


There’s often at least one fact (on either side of any misunderstanding) that could change everything—IF it were known.

But we often DON’T know, so we throw that person out of our life.

Perhaps this is because of the tendency to *judge others by their actions, but ourselves by our intentions.

*My blogger buddy Chris Hendrix actually said this on his site—devotionsbychris.com. I liked it so much I reused it. 😇

It’s best to leave the final judgment to God, as Paul reminded the church at Corinth.

My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

1 Corinthians 4:4-6

Question: is there someone in your life who needs more mercy than judgement? Someone who could say to you, like that little guy said to me, “You didn’t know?”


“Finger face with a question” by Tsahi Levent-Levi is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Categories
Christian Living devotional

A Winning Formula

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

After I left full-time ministry, but before I became a teacher, I spent three years in sales with Frito Lay, Inc. I was a Route Sales Rep, which is a front-line position selling salty snacks to grocery and convenience stores.

One day, my boss was helping me set up a huge display of potato chips at a grocery store. It was five in the morning, and I had eleven more accounts to visit that day, so I was in a bit of a rush. Pulling a large cart stacked high with boxes of potato chips, I turned a corner too sharply and clipped a huge display of pancake syrup at the end of an aisle. Several glass bottles crashed to the floor, creating a growing pool of sticky brown goo.

I know big boys aren’t supposed to cry, but looking at the mess I’d just made, I started to lose it. To my surprise, my supervisor didn’t berate me. Instead, he came over, put his hands on my shoulders, and said, “Are you ok?”

That’s how it really went down. No joke!

“These things happen,” he said calmly, “I once dropped a pallet of milk off a loading dock!” He then showed me a neat trick: pouring corn meal on icky messes makes them more manageable. After applying a few boxes to the chestnut colored goop, I was able to scrape up the whole mess and finish stocking my display.

My boss knew just how to help me recover from a set back. Instead of coming unglued, he came alongside, giving me the tools to cope with a challenging situation.

Years later, I analyzed what he did, and figured out his winning formula:

How to Come Alongside Someone in Need

  • Ask – “Are you OK?” Recognize that all is not well.
  • Acknowledge – “These things happen sometimes. I once did something similar.” Identify with the situation.
  • Assist – “Let me show you a trick for cleaning this up.” Offer to help.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Triple-A: it’s a winning formula for helping others.

Categories
Christian Blog forgiveness

Must Repentance Happen All at Once?

My blogging buddy Jeffrey has a daily series where he shares a scripture passage and then provides some brief thoughts. The topic this July 4th was, “Let it go,”– based on Colossians 3:13–and it was all about forgiving the faults of others because, after all, Jesus does the same for us.

Jeffrey is quite the wordsmith when it comes to encapsulating truth. And somehow, this pithy statement (below) jarred my memory about a rush to judgement involving someone who later became famous.

We’re all in the ditch. Who’s got the right to say I’m muddier than they are?

Jeffrey H. King, in Quote for 07/04/2020

I recently learned an interesting fact about country music legend Willie Nelson. In the 1950’s he taught Sunday School at a Baptist church in Fort Worth, Texas! However, his pastor gave him an ultimatum–either stop playing music in beer joints, or stop teaching Sunday School.

Nelson, who told Rolling Stone magazine in 1978 that he once considered being a preacher, left the church (and organized Christianity) for good. Understandably, he was disappointed by a policy that arbitrarily condemned people like him. According to a 1997 interview in Texas Monthly, “Willie’s God was always willing to give a guy another chance.”

*Maybe it’s just me, but that pastor sounds a bit legalistic.

No, playing music in bars and teaching Sunday School don’t exactly go together, but was it REALLY necessary to give Willie such an ultimatum?

“Don’t conclude before you understand. After you understand, don’t judge.”

Ann Dunham

Instead of firing Willie, his pastor could have suggested starting a Saturday night concert series at the church, where Nelson and his music buddies played alcohol free shows featuring gospel and G-rated country music. Monetary donations for the musicians could have come from church members and the community. Who knows, maybe the “Red-headed Stranger” would have said yes?

That church missed a unique opportunity to reach people with the gospel.

This brings up the idea of repentance. It means the same thing between everyone and God–a turning around–but it doesn’t always happen the same way. Some have an all-at-once-life-changing testimony, but others do not.

Please observe the following crudely drawn illustrations:

My good friend, and brother in Christ, came up with a saying that’s a great example of the picture on the right:

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.”

Tom Myers

Just in case you’re wondering, the idea that people can repent in stages, and not just all at once, is in the Bible.

2 Kings chapter 5:1-19 tells the story of Naaman, a brave Syrian army commander. He was a successful soldier, and the king’s right hand man, but Naaman had an incurable skin disease called leprosy. Through a captured Israelite girl, he is encouraged to seek healing from the prophet Elisha.

The General is healed of his leprosy, and pledges—going forward—to worship only the God of Israel. However, he asks for forgiveness, when, back home with the King of Syria, he visits the temple of the pagan god Rimmon and customarily bows to the idol.

Elisha’s response? “Go in peace.”

So, there it is. One of the greatest prophets of Israel’s history didn’t condemn a man for wrongly bowing to an idol; he knew Naamon would keep turning left until he was right.

Something tells me, had they lived at the same time and place, Willie and Naamon would have been good friends.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Jesus –Luke 6:37

*Perhaps it’s hypocritical of me to judge Willie’s pastor. Like my buddy Jeffrey H. King says, let it go.