Living Intentionally: The Nonjudgemental lifestyle

Living Intentionally Focus Scriptures:

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  – Psalm 90:12

“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 10: 39

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” – Mark  8:36-37


How have the goals been coming along from last month? Have you noticed a change in your life? Do you love more? Are you a happier person? This next section of not judging others goes hand in hand with loving others. The next set of goals may help you achieve the last goals, since they fit together so nicely!


Do Not Judge Focus Scriptures:

“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 own 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

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


Goal Number 1:  Take the plank out of your own eye.  Make yourself a better person.

Goal Number 2: Intentionally appreciate the differences in others, instead of judging them for not agreeing with you.

Goal Number 3: Then, if the brother or sister still has a speck, help them.


Once upon a time there was a boy who was judged for the color of his skin. Another person was judged for her religion. A third was picked on for being a homosexual. Actually, many people are ridiculed daily for identifying with something other than the majority.

Why do people care so much that there are people different than them?

Why do people judge others for being different?

God created us all in His own image. We were made to be unique and have differences. And we, as dunkerpunks, are called to love everyone. Therefore, we should love everyone despite their differences and not judge them based on it (This is how last month’s “Living Intentionally” relates).

Judgement, as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, comes from a reflection of ourselves. Before we help someone improve themselves, we are supposed to take the plank out of our own eye.  We aren’t to be hypocritical. Instead of scorning another for their differences, look at the problems in yourself first.

Jesus tells us to first look at ourselves,  and then “judge” others.  We are to clean ourselves. Once we rid our impurities, others wrongdoings will probably not be there. He calls us to build people up, instead of tear people down.  He wants us to forgive, love, and help our neighbor. Instead of judging, let’s be loving.


 Jenna Walmer - Palmyra COB, Altantic Northeast DistrictJenna Walmer is from Lancaster County and is currently in 12th grade. In school, she loves to research historical events. If she were to live in a specific time period, she would want to be a hippie and live in the 60s or 70s. Her favorite past times are swimming and playing her trombone. If you want to know more about her random life, follow her on twitter:@jaymarie2100

Christian Citizenship Seminar

By Jenna Walmer

On April 18th, Brethren Youth from around the United States gathered in New York City. That Saturday was the start to Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS), a conference that allows Brethren youth to explore the connections between a specific topic (this year was immigration) and our faith and culminates with congressional visits in Washington D.C.  Throughout the seminar, we discussed the importance of our faith’s connection with citizenship and how immigration impacts our lives. It is a busy week filled with learning, fun, and spiritual growth. Following is an abridged version of what goes down at CCS.


Walking through Time Square with luggage in tow is definitely an adventure in itself.  We admire the sites of the city, but we walked many blocks to find our hotel and collapse in the lobby. After we have recuperated from the long walk and everyone has arrived, we go to dinner the same place as last time, eat some delicious food, and reconnect with old friends.  Later that night, we had our first session led by Nate Hosler and Bryan Hanger. Nate discussed the connections of immigration to the Bible. Then, Bryan introduced our talking points for our congressional visits.

The next day, we split up and went to new churches around the city.  I went to Judson Memorial, a church that is affiliated with the Baptist and United Church of Christ denominations. This church was very different and not what I expected, but I could definitely see myself attending that church if I ever end up in New York. The preacher was pretty socialist, and the whole congregation was accepting of everyone: people with AIDS, homosexuals, immigrants. They also promoted being politically and socially active.  What interested me was that the preacher was arrested with Dorothy Day and Cesar Chavez.  Later in the evening, we had our next session. The speaker was actually the preacher we listened to that morning at Judson! She told story after story about immigrants that she has helped. This developed an emotional connection to the facts we already started to learn. Putting a story to the facts is important to connect with congressional visits.

On Monday, it rained and rained, and we walked through that rain! We started off the day with the pastor from Riverside Church who discussed the systematic problems of Immigration and the general process.  After this session, many headed to the United Nations for a tour and another educational experience.  At the UN, the groups learned about human rights. I would recommend that everyone visits the United Nations at least once because it opens your eyes to what the world as a whole is working towards.  Instead of going to the United Nations (since I was through that tour multiple times), we were free to explore the city!  We decided to check out Hot Breads, a bakery that was recommended from the coordinators of the trip. The Hot Bread bakery makes homemade bread according to traditional recipes from immigrants. The bread was really good! Later that evening,  my group  decided to venture out and just walk until we found something to eat. We walked 15 blocks until we decided to go to our fourth diner for the trip, and it was only day three!

Finally, the day of travel! This day was probably most exciting of all… after the buses arrived. We waited… and waited… and waited. The buses got stuck in New York City traffic, and we stood outside, all 80 plus of us, waiting for the bus. The bus is always the best because it is one of the first times you get to interact with a larger group of people. Then, we arrived in Washington D.C.! We had a meeting with Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the Deputy Director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement.  Therefore, we had the opportunity to be ON THE WHITE HOUSE CAMPUS! So, you know those black fences that are around the White House? We were INSIDE of those! We were sniffed by a drug dog! I even saw the fountain that you always see on T.V., and I have pictures of the outside of the West Wing and all the Secret Service Cars! Julie Chavez Rodriguez gave us insight on President Obama’s agenda on immigration. She also told us about the internship program at the White House! After that, we split up for dinner throughout the city.  I went to Chicks’, which was really delicious and super environmentally friendly! After dinner, we had our second session for the day. Jerry O’Donnell gave us our first full lesson on how to talk to our representatives.  He told us to use personal experiences, and acknowledge the conditions of the government currently.  Also, he reminded us that we are speaking for those who do not have a voice, the immigrants.  He also told us DO NOT read of your advocacy ask sheet verbatim.  It was a helpful reminder for Do’s and Don’ts from last year’s training.   After this, we headed out to find an ice cream shop!  Today, the group learned that D.C. IS a city that sleeps and stores actually close before ten! Who would have known?  Coming from New York and stores being open all the time, it was a change to adjust too!

Wednesday was the day.  We had another legislative training session in the morning.  This session gave us examples in form of a pretend meeting of what to do and what not to do while in the office.  We also discussed our main points once again, so they were fresh in our memory. The speaker told us to lead with a story of how immigration has impacted our life. She also told us that congressmen act out of fear. They don’t demilitarize the border because they are afraid. They don’t act on Immigration Reform and give them rights because they are afraid. These points stuck with me as we moved toward our own groups and preparation for our Hill visits.

After this, we broke up into our groups and discussed who was going to talk about what in the meeting. Now, we were off to the Hill.  We went to Senator Bob Casey’s office.  He is our easy visit because they always agree with what we are saying.  Our aide agreed with a lot that we said, but he was very eager to get out of the meeting. However, we kept plugging away at our information and asked him about a point that Casey and the Church of the Brethren do not agree, which is the demilitarization of the border. Even though Casey is a Democrat, he votes to keep military at the border because it is one thing that the Republicans want to keep in the Immigration Reform. The aide explained that with this it is “give and take” and that is what Casey “gives” to the Republicans, so he can receive something else in return.   In the evening, we reflected with the larger group on our visits.  After that, we had another ice cream trip!  The next day would be our last and we would have to say our goodbyes.

Our final session is always the best because we discuss the whole trip.  We reflected on the week, and how we’ve grown mentally and spiritually.  We were ready to take back the information of immigration to our home towns and now we were going to spread the word about immigration.  After the session, we took many pictures, exchanged hugs, and said our goodbyes. Our pastor arrived with our van and we were off, ready to be disciples of Christ, now able to spread the word of immigration to our communities to make a difference in the world.


As we become active in politics and discern what issues are near and dear to our hears, remember to keep our connection to faith in mind. Remember to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Finally, remember to act without fear.


Jenna Walmer - Palmyra COB, Altantic Northeast DistrictJenna Walmer is from Lancaster County and is currently in 12th grade. In school, she loves to research historical events. If she were to live in a specific time period, she would want to be a hippie and live in the 60s or 70s. Her favorite past times are swimming and playing her trombone. If you want to know more about her random life, follow her on twitter:@jaymarie2100

Breaking it Down: The Sermon on the Mount Week 14

By Jenna Walmer

 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”– Matthew 7:15-23


 

fruitbad fruit

Look at the two trees. Which tree would you rather take the fruit from? The one on the left or the one on the right?

There is an obvious difference between the two. The tree on the left has vibrant fruit, but the plant on the left has really rotten, unidentifiable fruit. Just by the looks of these two fruit-bearers, we would rather take the products from the tree on the left and disregard anything with the tree on the right.

Jesus tells us that good trees cannot bear bad fruit and bad trees cannot bear good fruit. However, he was not talking about literal trees of fruit. Rather, he was speculating about the character of a person.

Jesus is warning us that we must be aware of false prophets. As Jesus said, false prophets come in sheepskins but are ferocious as wolves, he meant that they look like ordinary teachers; however, they do not have the same intentions. Some teachers only say what the people want to hear, claiming it’s God’s message. These people are motivated by fame, money, and power.

Since every good preacher cannot bears bad news and every bad teacher cannot bears good news, it is our job to differentiate between the two.  We should evaluate teachers’ words by examining their lives. Since trees are consistent in the kind of fruit they produce, teachers are the same. Jesus created this metaphor to teach and warn us about the lessons all around us.

Good teachers consistently exhibit good behavior and high moral character as they attempt to live out the Gospel and the Sermon on the Mount. On the other hand, bad teachers give false lessons, do not try to live out the Gospel, and have a lower character.

This does not mean we should be constantly judging others and going on rampages to kick out teachers in the church. Everyone sins. But, we are to examine the motives of the teachers and the results they are seeking.

As Dunkerpunks, our teachings should be focused on leading a countercultural life of pacifism and love. We should focus on the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. We should be truthful in our speech. We should put an emphasis on our actions.

Jesus also tells us in the scripture that he is more concerned with we do than with what we say. He wants us to do right, rather than speak the right words. Also, our actions should match our speech.

Therefore, we should be wary of teachers whose actions do not match their speech. Bear good fruit through righteous actions and speech. Live by the Sermon on the Mount. Be recognized by the good fruit in your life. 

end of fruit


 

Jenna Walmer - Palmyra COB, Altantic Northeast District

Jenna Walmer is from Lancaster County and is currently in 12th grade. In school, she loves to research historical events. If she were to live in a specific time period, she would want to be a hippie and live in the 60s or 70s. Her favorite past times are swimming and playing her trombone. If you want to know more about her random life, follow her on twitter: @jaymarie2100

 

Breaking it Down: The Sermon on the Mount Week 13

By Jenna Walmer

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

The Road Not Taken

BY ROBERT FROST
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

We are almost done with The Sermon on the Mount! Only two more sections left, and this one was fairly short. Have you attempted to memorize sections?

For the short Bible verse and poem, both Jesus and Frost point to taking the road less traveled.

Frost’s description of his first path reflects Jesus’ description of the wide gate. These two teachers address the problems with the broader road and the path that many take. Jesus warns of destruction if one takes the wide gate, for Jesus does not want us to follow the crowd.

Then, the two suggested the better path to take. In Frost’s poem, the traveler took “the one less traveled by.” Jesus tells us that this path leads to “life.” The “life” that we are receiving by taking the road less traveled is eternal life. Believing in Jesus, following his guidelines, and taking the narrow road is a way to heaven. Living His way may not be popular, but it is right.

As Dunkerpunks, we are called to take the path less traveled. We are called to live against the grain of the standard culture. We are called to take the path less traveled.

In the upcoming weeks, start consciously taking the path less traveled. Stand up for your peers. Spread the word about injustices. Be strong about your radical beliefs. You are a part of the few who find the narrow path and you will make all the difference.


Jenna Walmer - Palmyra COB, Altantic Northeast District

Jenna Walmer is from Lancaster County and is currently in 12th grade. In school, she loves to research historical events. If she were to live in a specific time period, she would want to be a hippie and live in the 60s or 70s. Her favorite past times are swimming and playing her trombone. If you want to know more about her random life, follow her on twitter: @jaymarie2100

Breaking it Down: The Sermon on the Mount Week 12

By Jenna Walmer


“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:7-12

Sports. Music. Art. Games. Pretty much anything that requires skill requires practice. You have heard it been said, practice makes perfect. But what is key to becoming better? Just practicing once on and off and just when you’re having a good day? Of course not! People don’t become champions by practicing when it feels right. Michael Phelps didn’t win 8 gold medals by showing up to one swim practice only when he was feeling good. I’ve read a few books about this stellar athlete- he didn’t miss practice, and he practiced through whatever wrench was thrown at him. His goggles may have broke…He kept going. He was made a champion through practicing and persisting through difficult situations.

Now, how can I draw a parallel between a swimmer who is not the best role model and the Sermon on the Mount? Hmm… When Jesus talked about asking, seeking, and knocking, he was asking us to hold onto our relationship with God through everything, thick and thin. Because persistence is what strengthens our relationship. If you think about it, the opposite of persisting is giving up, and we don’t want to “give up” on God, do we?

In Matthew 7, Jesus tells us to persist in pursuing God. We know that building a strong relationship with God takes time. Jesus assures us that if we have faith and focus, we will be rewarded. When the going gets tough and you feel like you cannot hear or talk to God, continue to ask him for more. Keep an open door. Don’t shut it!

God wants us to continue to ask him for more knowledge, patience, wisdom, love, and understanding. He wants us to come to Him when we are troubled. He doesn’t want us to go away or give up on Him. Through persistence, one will find a stronger connection with God.

However, we must understand that God will not give us “stones” or “snakes.” He will only give us what He thinks we need at the right time. God will not harm us, even if we ask for it and think it’s in our best nature. How reassuring! As we grow closer to God and know Him as a caring father, we will learn what is good for us, in His eyes, and he will grant it when we are persistent.

Jesus also discusses the Golden Rule at the end of this passage: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” This saying has been used in elementary schools for years. It’s easy to tell a child not to bully someone on the playground or not to tease a peer because he or she wouldn’t want to be treated like that. However, if you pull this statement to a larger context, like conflicts overseas that involve mass killing machines, would people react the same way? How would the military or terrorists group’s attitudes change if someone told them: “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” Would this change their perspective on the weaponry they hold in their hands on a daily basis?

As Michael Phelps persisted with his workout schedule and his dream of becoming a champion, many others persisted to achieve their dreams. In the wake of his birthday, Martin Luther King Jr. persisted through many marches and boycotts leading the Civil Rights Movement. The Nigerians persist daily by not giving in to responding with violence.

Jesus wants us to ask, seek, knock, and persist in our faith. Ask God for strength to be a witness for people who are being persecuted for their beliefs. Seek for wisdom on how to end violence and other atrocities in the world. Knock on the door that leads to your dreams. Persist in your faith and be patient.  God will answer. Wisdom will be found. The door will be opened. Ask. Seek. Knock. Persist. 


Jenna Walmer - Palmyra COB, Altantic Northeast District

Jenna Walmer is from Lancaster County and is currently in 12th grade. In school, she loves to research historical events. If she were to live in a specific time period, she would want to be a hippie and live in the 60s or 70s. Her favorite past times are swimming and playing her trombone. If you want to know more about her random life, follow her on twitter: @jaymarie2100

 

Breaking It Down: The Sermon on the Mount Week 11

By Jenna Walmer


“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 own 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. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” –Matthew 7:1-6

“The thing I don’t get about Christianity is that, as I grow up, I realize more and more how judgmental a lot of them are.” When talking to some friends about religious beliefs, I have heard comments such as this thrown around, even from believers themselves. I don’t necessarily disagree with them. I hear my strong Christian friends ridiculing others on what they wear and how they talk. Not to remiss disregarding people who have different beliefs or ideas then they do. We have all probably did something along these lines.

However, this is not beneficial. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to not judge others in a hypocritical way. Judgmental attitudes tear others down in order to build oneself up. We are called to discern carefully in order to help others but not in a negative way. It is a fine line that Jesus gives us. But we are NOT called to tear down others based upon their choices.

First, we are supposed to examine our own motives. The traits in others that are bothersome to us are typically resembled in our own personalities. Instead of judging others, judge yourself first and clean your own impurities. You may not see a problem with what others are doing then.

Our untamed habits, such as judging political identities or religious beliefs or criticizing ones choices, may be a reflection of what we see wrong with others. Instead of scorning another for their differences, look at the problems in yourself first. Do you find it easy to illuminate others’ faults while excusing your own? Before criticizing someone, check to see if you deserve the same.

A different way of going about this whole judgment idea is to let it go completely. I have been trying to do this for a few months now, slipping up a couple times because of the imperfections of humanity. Humans are humans, we all have flaws, and we all were created differently to be unique individuals that have our own ideas, our own set of beliefs, and our own personality. We also do not know the back story of every single human being that walks the face of the earth and why they choose what they choose. It’s perfectly acceptable for your best friend to have polar opposite points of view than you. I know my very vocal cousins and I do, but we still love each other.

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Jesus tells us to first look at ourselves, clear ourselves of our own impurities, and then “judge” others, but once we clean ourselves, others wrongdoings will probably not be there. He calls us to build people up (not ourselves), instead of tear people down. Lastly, he wants us to examine our motives for judging others. Why do we judge others? Is it to build ourselves up? Or, is it to help the other person? He wants us to forgive, love, and help our neighbor. Let us love and not judge.


Jenna Walmer - Palmyra COB, Altantic Northeast DistrictJenna Walmer is from Lancaster County and is currently in 12th grade. In school, she loves to research historical events. If she were to live in a specific time period, she would want to be a hippie and live in the 60s or 70s. Her favorite past times are swimming and playing her trombone. If you want to know more about her random life, follow her on twitter: @jaymarie2100

Breaking It Down: The Sermon on the Mount Week 10

By Jenna Walmer

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” –Matthew 6:25-34

It’s January. For high school a student that means the first round of finals are on the way. For college students, it means a new set of classes may be starting. Worried much? You shouldn’t be. Jesus says don’t worry about what is going to happen tomorrow! Just take each day at a time and roll along because… “each day has enough trouble.” Isn’t that so true! This is one of my favorite passages. Actually, any of the passages about worrying and trusting in the Lord are my favorite. It’s just a friendly reminder that you aren’t here alone. God’s got your back.

Worrying affects many aspects in life. It troubles our health and consumes our thoughts. Our productivity can be ruined from worrying. Also, our actions toward others can turn sour due to worrying. Lastly, and the worst of all, it can reduce our ability to trust God. Think about these attributes that are caused by worrying. How many of these are you currently experiencing?

The Message says, “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Trusting in God and turning to Him first is our panacea. If we worry about something, whether it is big or small, pray to Him about it. He is our comfort and our support. He will fill our thoughts will His desires instead of our petty desires.

When our thoughts are filled with Him, our planning for the future will be focused on Him as well. Trusting in God’s guidance instead of worrying about the plans will help us achieve His goals for us. People who worry about the future are filled with fear and have difficulty trusting Him. Don’t let the worries of tomorrow interfere with the plans of today.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. Let your trust in God alleviate your daily worries, the big ones and the small ones. Fulfill His dreams for you, worry free.


Jenna Walmer - Palmyra COB, Altantic Northeast DistrictJenna Walmer is from Lancaster County and is currently in 12th grade. In school, she loves to research historical events. If she were to live in a specific time period, she would want to be a hippie and live in the 60s or 70s. Her favorite past times are swimming and playing her trombone. If you want to know more about her random life, follow her on twitter: @jaymarie2100