You Have Not Lived Until…


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Isn’t it great how old technology can be repurposed?

For example, this 1995 landline telephone

telephone-clip-art-236886is now a state-of-the-art RoboCall Receiving Device!

Survey: Do you still have a landline?  If so, when was the last time you received a call from an actual human being (who wasn’t your mother)?

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P.S. I could also mention how this 70 year old device has recently been repurposed:

donald-trumpBut I won’t.

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An Open Letter to President Trump

the-presidencyDear President Trump,

I’ve tried so hard to figure out how to articulate what I need, what I believe the people of the United States and the rest of the world need, from you. I can’t find the perfect words, but what I do know is this: It’s not about policies, it’s about character. I won’t presume to judge what’s inside of you, but I believe that, in the long run, a leader’s character is more important than his policies.

You rode to office on a tide of anger, and anger can serve a purpose when it’s directed toward things, rather than people. So build bridges, not walls, sir. Temper your outbursts. Cease to ridicule those who disagree with you. Instead, look to persuade. And find the humility to admit when you’re wrong. Seek counsel from those with other perspectives. Don’t just listen. Hear. Model in yourself what is so desperately lacking in our culture: civility.

When a young man saunters across the street in front of my car, forcing me to slam on my brakes, never deigning to even glance in my direction, I worry. Not about his hostility, but about his indifference. Because differences can be resolved, but indifference can’t. Indifference doesn’t care. It refuses to acknowledge the rights or even the existence of the other.

I beg you not to be that person, sir, but instead to find the root of civility within you that says, “You matter. And so, although I disagree with you, I will build a bridge, not a wall.”

I began by saying I didn’t know what I needed from you. I now realize this letter should have been about what you need from me. And so you have it, sir: I pledge to pray every day for your success in modeling and drawing out of the American people—of all people—not just greater material success, but greater civility, greater compassion, greater character.

This is my pledge to you, and I will keep it.  


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Popular Idea, Unpopular Word


“There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.” ~Mark Twain

“He tried to name which of the deadly seven might apply, and when he failed he decided to append an eighth, regret.” ~Charles Frazier

              (Sinner) “They won’t let me in, Lord, because I am a sinner.”       (God) “What are you complaining about? They won’t let Me in either.” ~Brennan Manning

“No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from. ” ~George Eliot

     “Sins often masquerade as virtues–and pride is the cleverest chameleon   of all.” ~The Wishing Map

“A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man’s greatest tragedy and God’s heaviest grief.”      ~A. W. Tozer

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The Wishing Map 48

Have you ever been involved in a desperate search for someone whose life was in danger? What went through your mind?

Mitch Teemley

Wishing pix-Title-(framed)

Note:To read The Wishing Mapfrom the beginning, click here.

The Wishing Map

Chapter Eleven: …and Found (Continued)

Previously: Stalling for time, Gina began “confessing her sins” to the murderous pixie princess Feyrdú. Meanwhile, her brother Zack assembled a search party.

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The moment his nurse announced that Feyrdú was not in the Palace, Prince Jenblevó guessed where she might be. He ran to the royal stables, saddled his favorite squirrel, and raced off across the low-lying lespin limbs. Two others followed, the prince’s closest friend, a pixie boy with uncontrollable hair, and Aviar. The Sheya scooped Zack up onto his back, and shot nearly vertical, then executed a vomit-inducing twist and soared out over the treetops.

Despite the emberous glow of the Light Forest, Zack couldn’t make out anything smaller than trees, and certainly nothing as small as a pixie on a speeding squirrel. Will I…

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To Judge or “Judge Not” (Continued)

tug of warPart Two

(To read Part One, click here)

So, do we judge or “judge not”?

A few years back, a publisher friend named Richard stunned me by announcing, after we’d completed a successful project together, that he would never work with me again. When I asked why, he said it was because I was “lazy” and “dishonest.” I grilled him as to how he’d reached this conclusion. He knew I was lazy, he said, after I failed to make changes based on the notes he’d given me (notes I disagreed with). He said my “excuses” were proof that I was dishonest. When I protested further, he said I was “deluded” and that he understood my true motives better than I did.

It was the most offensive thing anyone has ever said to me. Oh, sure, a few road-ragers have shouted viler things at me. But this was my friend, this was someone who mattered. It hurt like hell. And I mean that literally—judging has the distinct whiff of hell about it. But why did it hurt like hell? Because he hadn’t simply judged my words or actions, he’d judged me. He’d assigned motives.

There’s only one Being in the universe who knows us completely (even we don’t), and therefore, only He has a right and a reason to judge our motives. So, what constitutes right judgment for the rest of us?

Jesus tells us not to put ourselves in God’s place, but rather to identify with others, putting ourselves in their place. He challenges us to understand and strive to restore them. Right judgment has a disarming humility to it (“Trust me, I had a lot bigger log in my eye than you do, brother!”), making us instruments of grace and helping others to grow. Wrong judgment has the opposite effect: it puts them on the defensive, obscuring God’s grace and causing them to avoid growth.

Some time after the incident with the publisher Richard, I began pausing while praying the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-14) when I got to the words “forgive us our debts as we manprayingforgive our debtors.” Debtors (or “trespassers”) are those who have sinned against us, who’ve judged us, or who we perceive as having done so. Each time I got to this point, I would forgive Richard specifically. Soon, I began to pray for his well-being and for his family’s. My feelings were mixed, but on some level, at least, I meant it. Initially, I had no expectation of reconciliation, but in time I began to hope that maybe… And then one day, prompted by God, I called Richard and asked him to meet me for coffee.

We beat around the bush for the first two hours. Then I finally confronted him, telling him that I felt judged (I avoided making “you” statements, but boy did I think them!). I told him that the wounds were still there. After some FAQs, he admitted he barely remembered using those words “lazy,” “dishonest,” and “deluded.” And then, to my astonishment, he admitted that he’d lashed out at me because he felt judged by me! I’d taken him for granted, he said, written him off as being motivated purely “by money” when, in fact, his motive in doing the project had been his love for me as a friend.

“I…had no idea,” I said. (I really hadn’t.)

“I know,” he replied. “I don’t think I realized it myself until just now.”

I asked his forgiveness, anyway. I didn’t beg for it, just asked it. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t made his feelings clear back then. It mattered that he needed healing. Just like I did. And then he asked my forgiveness in return. It wasn’t movie-cute. We didn’t cry or laugh with joy. But something was different. Something had changed.

Somehow we were friends again.

reconciliation-sculpture“Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ himself” (Ephesians 4:15). Love is the balm that restores. We need to check our hearts—or better yet, let God check them for us—before we can exercise right judgment. So, if you can’t identify with your brother, don’t approach him (or her). But if, on the other hand, you’re ready to go to him in a spirit of true humility…

Don’t you dare hold back!

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To Judge or “Judge Not”

Judge with gavel

Part One of Two

It was 7:00 p.m. on a Halloween night. Amidst a flurry 6 year old Frozen princesses and 13 year old Walking Dead, our perpetually late letter carrier showed up. My first thought was to drop a candy bar in his bag and say, “Well, don’t you just look like a real mailman in your in little costume!”

But I didn’t. I bit my tongue. Because one of the most disturbing things I’ve experienced in life is the judgment of others, so God forbid I should do it myself. But I was tempted, oh, was I tempted. Why? Because we’re wired to make judgments. We do it every day. We judge whether to go to the market or wait till the rain lets up. Whether to open our front door to the guy in the Metallica t-shirt who says he’s “from the gas company.”

And yet, how many times have you heard someone say, “You’re judging me!” as if it were a universally bad thing? Or said it yourself, for that matter? Where did it come from, this ban on something we so naturally, and frequently need, to do?


He’s the one who put the negative spin on the whole judgment thing. It was Jesus who said (in Matthew 7:1), “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Resulting in untold numbers of conversations like:

A: You need to stop playing video games 16 hours a day and get a job!

B: There are people who make a living at this. Stop judging me!

A: I saw you taking that new laptop from the company mail room!

B: Hey, it’s expected. Do you know how little they pay me? Stop judging me!

Without further insight into what Jesus meant, many are quick to turn him into a roll-me-a-doobie savant whose message is, “Hey, just do your own thing, man, and don’t tell anybody else what’s right or wrong!”

But Jesus did explain what he meant. In the very next verse, he says: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and the same measure you use on them will be used on you.” And then he illustrates his point with this intentionally sarcastic metaphor: “Why do you focus on the speck in your brother’s eye and ignore the log in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me pull the speck out of your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own? You hypocrite! First pull the log out of your own eye, and then you’ll be able to see clearly to pull the speck out of your brother’s.”

His point? It’s not judging that’s the issue, it’s why we judge. In fact, elsewhere he commands us to “judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). But judging in the Matthew 7:1 sense is judging with wrong judgment. Its intention isn’t correction, but condemnation. And God’s in the correction business, so if you’re in the condemnation business, you’re not in business with God.

superioriteeshirtCondemnation doesn’t fix anything, it merely vents, making the accuser feel superior, and in dong so, harms both. “I’m better than you” is the small print Jesus exposes when he says, “Why do you focus on the speck in your brother’s eye and ignore the log in your own?”

Three different words are used for judge in the Old Testament. The first, shaphat, means to “guide” or “govern,” and is used of the Judges who ruled ancient Israel. The second, yakakh, means to “correct” or “help.” Both of these are meant to make things better.

But the third word, duwn, signifies “final judgment” or condemnation, and is used exclusively of God as the judge of humankind—with one ominous exception: Genesis 4:16 prophesies that a descendent of the tribe of Dan “will judge (duwn) like a serpent.” Because of this verse, Saint Irrenaeus concluded that the Antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan! In other words, when a human judges like this, the result is pure evil. Jesus uses the equivalent term when he warns, “Anyone who says ‘you fool’ (i.e. who judges another’s character) is in danger of hellfire” (Matthew 5:22)!

I once produced a short film entitled The Limited. At the start of the story a “good man” dies and finds himself boarding a train en route to The Judge. On board, he ends up finger-pointingseated across from a hungry, unpleasant woman. He avoids conversing with her or offering her the crackers in his shirt pocket. When the train arrives, he climbs a long set of stairs and finally meets his Judge…

The woman from the train.

To read Part Two, click here.

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