Pulling the Heads Off Flies — Part II

Drosophila melanogasterAll righty then…

When last we left our intrepid padawan, Little Monk sat, frustrated and convicted… of “judging others”, by the very act of LOOKING AT THEM! *sigh*..

Best efforts not withstanding, conviction notwithstanding, repentance notwithstanding, even the Lord’s good will and undivided attention notwithstanding… try as I might to pass even one single hour without “judging” anyone or anything… I failed.

I’d asked the Lord to do me the kindness of “buzzing me”, making clear to me and my conscience, when I “looked upon another with measurement”, or “judged” another, and He was kind enough to honor my request. This resulted in hours of His gentle reminders, somewhere from 4 to 6 times an hour, over three or so hours.

The result? Sheer frustration!

After three hours of sheer frustration, I felt so deeply angry at myself, defeated, and futile. I felt weak, helpless, ashamed… totally aggravated… and the ultimate irony. The Lord said, “Little Monk, you’re doing it to YOURSELF now, and I won’t allow that either! Stop it!”

AARRGGHH!!! And in utter rage and futility I flopped down on my couch and said, “I give up! I can’t do it! I hear this, I see this, I know what You want… I am WILLING… in fact, I now passionately WANT to be free of this sin. But it seems WIRED in me. I have no idea how to learn ‘not to see this way’. I give up!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To which, Jesus simply said, “Good! Stay that way, because you cannot fix this, but *I* can. Just hold still, and let Me transform. YOU needed to ‘renew’… you needed to see this, understand this, and renounce this. But YOU cannot fix it. It is beyond your ability. I must transform this in you and your heart. Like any sin, I can take it away… you cannot remove it by your own strength. But I needed to let you try. Now, sit back, be patient with yourself, and give Me some time to work. I have this now.”

So things are. He is working. I don’t know how and won’t try to describe it. But I’m learning, slowly, simply to “gaze, then bless” rather than “gaze, then measure”. It will take time, I know. It’s kind of like feeling a tightness in your chest gradually relaxing.

Well, you can understand, I know… What am I saying really? What’s the affirmation?

I’m saying, “Gosh… I judge others. That’s wrong, that’s sin. I need to stop. Jesus says ‘don’t judge lest ye be judged.’ And I’ve been convicted of this, and repented it.

How has Jesus responded to that?

I, of myself, cannot correct my tendency to fail here, my innate vulnerability is too strong. However, Jesus having brought my attention to His word(s) on this (Matthew 7), and my having surrendered in submission of will to His authority on this (Romans 12:1), my focus and willingness to allow this Truth to “soak into” my mind and rewire my very consciousness (Romans 12:2). opens the way for Jesus Himself to “transform” me.

I’ve found that THAT transformation is (always) beyond my own skill, power, or authority… However, the Lord Himself really needs me to “get out of His way” when He determines to rewire such a thing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So… how has this all turned out? Simple… slowly…

I THOUGHT I needed to try some bizarre “custody of the eyes”… that the Lord somehow wanted me to “stop looking” at others with a discerning eye. But, rather… that’s not how it’s been working out…

What has been happening is interesting… I yet look upon others as my mind, heart, or spirit flow in their direction. BUT, rather than my “spiritual hand” extending outwards towards them with my “measurement forceps or calipers” within my fingers… my hand extends outwards towards them, extended flat in benediction and blessing.

This has not been so through an act of my own will, but rather it has been so of its own accord, and I’ve seemed “prompted to observe” the difference between the “now” and the “before”.

So, here’s just an “experiential observation” offered to you for your own “spiritual experimentation”, but I’ve had this happen to me a few times before in my life. It’s like Jesus offering me “training wheels” for a time, as I develop a new way of thinking, perceiving, or behaving. When this becomes “muscle memory”, and its own reliable discipline, no doubt I shall be held accountable for maintaining it… but right now, this is sheer grace gift.

I’d love to hear of any parallel learning you have known in your own walk, Gentle Readers. This isn’t so much “teaching”, as a simple “report along the way of the journey”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jesus concluded with this:

“God Himself wrote with His own hand, ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.’ on the walls of Babylon. Only God can say such a thing. YOU cannot. So, stop doing it, saying it, thinking it, or even feeling it. It is simply and totally My job, not yours… above your pay grade. K?”

I nodded, happily… realizing that I am His child who doesn’t have to carry that responsibility. And He pats me on the head. “Good.”

Pray for me, always! Please! And grace to thee!

Keeping Your Head on Straight — Judging — Not a Fable

Drosophila melanogaster
Drosophila melanogaster – the common fruitfly

Once upon a time… I used to pull the heads off flies.


  • I was only following orders.
  • I did it for the “greater good”.
  • I was swift, steady, gentle, and merciful
  • They were very small flies, (fruitflies, gnats, no-see-ums, the kind of fly we wipe off the back of our necks on a warm summer evening on the porch).

Biology pre-med major… lots of bio lab courses… histology… genetics… experimenting with fruit flies. Breeding them. Then, measuring them. Anesthetizing a tube of dozens, sprinkling a few out, grasping one with forceps and placing it (the size of a gnat… a no-see-um) on my slide, separating the head from the body carefully to preserve the salivary glands intact, applying stain and solvent then a cover slip to the glass slide, and putting it under the microscope (that had a grid, and measurement scales on it), to measure and classify the results.

Jesus had brought these memories back to me with crystal clarity. He focused, minutely, on the diligence, the care I would take, my hands… steady and careful, my eyes… obsessed with getting just the accurate count of hairs (or whatever criterion evaluated)… the care to focus perfectly… to standardize my scales properly… then notate my results without error. He reminded me of my intensity to attain perfection in this! (For I was very dedicated, indeed.)

What had brought this memory about? What was Jesus teaching me at the time?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One Saturday afternoon a couple years ago… I was reviewing some notes on The Lord’s Prayer and Sermon on the Mount. Suddenly these verses stopped me, amplified, and would not let go of me…

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you…” [Matthew 7]

(I’m sure you’ve known such moments from time to time.) And the Lord was present, and intense. Not angry… not at all… just… well, “intense” is the only word I can find. It was clear, He was “teaching”… “renewing”… “transforming”… and I just had to hold still and “hear Him… wait Him out… let Him ‘speak’ into my heart in such a way that He accomplished His purpose”. (I wish I had better words for such moments. They happen seldom, and they are “cosmic” in impact, and I’ve never found the right language to wrap around them, because they are “wordless” moments. All I could do was “wait” and “attend”.)

Don’t “judge”… (And I DO this… all the time… so STOP IT!) That simple!

I mean, really… how simple is that? God said.. “Don’t judge, Little Monk. It’s above your pay grade. It’s not your role. It’s not your right. When you do it, you bring judgment upon yourself! Just… just… DON’T!”

How SIMPLE is that?

And yet… and yet… I’ve done it every day of my life, since I was old enough to… probably about 3 years old or so. At LEAST every day, no doubt every HOUR, sometimes for hours on end! Pride is, and has ever been, my besetting sin. I was raised this way. I was raised “proud”, and “elitist”. I was raised constantly to “keep score”… grades, popularity, wealth, intelligence, social standing, uprightness. Later this translated into piety, dedication, holiness, even servanthood. (How ironic is that? To keep a “pride meter” going on how “humble” you are?! Nonetheless, it can be done, trust me on that!)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After ruthlessly showing me my ongoing failure to overcome my sin of judging, Jesus had rolled that “instant replay video” of the “white lab-coated me” before my eyes. Reaching out for my specimens, examining them, measuring them, drawing my conclusions, making my notes.

He likened all of that to “judging”, and said that across my whole life, I had tried to overcome my sin of judging by trying to rid myself of my methodical diligence. I’d tried to learn not to tear apart the bug. Not to stain the glands. Not to mount the slide. Not to measure the outcome. Not to notate the results… I tried to “unlearn diligence”, thinking I was “doing right”. And, He concluded, rather matter-of-factly… I’d failed. My whole life, I had tried to correct this sin this way, and failed. Not utterly… I’d succeeded in muddling the process up to now. He said I’d made some progress… I no longer came up with my “quantitative result”, and I never ever “wrote the results down in my notes” anymore. Good show! But…

But… I had missed His point entirely. “The sin,” Jesus said, “is not in the means you use to measure and evaluate the specimen. The sin, is in believing that you have a ‘specimen to evaluate’ in the first place! Your sin of judgment isn’t in how you treat the fly to measure it. Your sin is in ‘seeing a fly’ and reaching for it at all!

“Don’t you see, Little Monk? Your judging isn’t in ‘HOW you answer the question of another’s worth’. You sin by judging when you think you have the right to ASK the question at all! From that point on, you’ve violated their sacredness, and all the rest is just a matter of degree.

“I’m not telling you just to quit measuring and evaluating everything. I’m telling you to stop even asking the question, even framing the thought, or allowing your mind to reach out to anyone or anything else to ‘evaluate’… beyond simply distinguishing or identifying it, him, or her.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It took me a while, Gentle Reader, even to UNDERSTAND what He was saying. Wondrously, He almost seemed to “still time” for me, for a number of hours to grapple with my own “hardness of heart and head”, until I could SEE, I could HEAR, what He was saying here. When at last I did…

When finally I did… I was horrified. I DID see, I DID hear. And it horrified me. I got it. Now, to make a long story short, having now embraced this conviction, I renounced it, and tried to resolve never to do this again.

But you know what? I failed. For hours I tried… until I realized that it was as if there were “gridlines” in my very eyes. For me to THINK about anyone, anything, ideas, positions, opinions, people… was for me REFLEXIVELY to evaluate them… reach out and grasp them, define their “edges”, and then “measure them” according to my own criteria and judge them, good/bad, like/don’t like, right/wrong, want/don’t want… on and on without pause or reflection. I tried, for several hours I tried… and failed dismally. I could not stop myself.

I wondered why? I asked Him why? Where had I learned this? Why was this so deeply a part of how I even LOOK AT things, let alone think about them? Where did I pick this up, that I could learn to “put it down”? How could I “unlearn” this?

The Lord was gracious enough to respond…

“It is in you from the beginning. It is part of Original Sin. It IS the original sin of Eve. The Serpent posed her a proposition, a different view of God’s will, and she BOUGHT IT. That there was some ‘conceivable good’, some good thing, some advantage available to her and Adam, that was outside of and contrary to, the will of God. She conceived the possibility that God’s mind and words held something less than their utter, and absolute, good. She ‘tested this hypothesis’, and ‘measured’… looking upon the fruit and measuring it against three criteria of her choice… that it was a delight to the eyes, good for food, and desirable to make one wise. She MEASURED, then concluded, decided, and acted.

“Your drive to do this, Little Monk, is a part of your very DNA, your legacy from Adam and Eve.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now… I want to do something unusual here.

I am going to stop. I will offer “my” conclusion to this post tomorrow (Lord, willing). But this was a very VERY “experiential” moment of prayer in my life. I want to invite you, Gentle Reader, to experiment on your own.

No, don’t go pulling the heads off fruitflies, or anything else. But take a few minutes, see if you “judge” as regularly as you see me convicted of here, see if after a few minutes you can “Get it”, as I struggled to do…

It’s not… murder, but anger… not adultery, but lust after another…. not measuring, but asking… “Sin”, as Jesus would have us avoid it, is not in “what we DO to others”, but how we “LOOK UPON others”. That was a tough, tough realization for me.

Jesus gave me time. Quiet time. To hear, to ponder, to consider His words, to look at scripture, to see those words… before He concluded this episode and lesson for me.

So, I want to give YOU time as well. Consider all this, “look upon Your Rose” with all this, and let the Holy Spirit speak into your own heart. Then come back, and see whether you and I come to the same, or similar places.

This has a happy ending, I assure you. It may surprise you, or it may not, but it’s nothing to shrink away from… truly. No pain here, no guilt, shame… in fact… how Jesus dealt with THAT may actually make you laugh.

Meet you here tomorrow, Good Lord willin’ an’ the creek don’ rise (as my mother used to say)…

Blessings and grace to thee, Gentle Reader! — The Little Monk

How to live “Christian”…

Good Sam GlassIf you have read much of my writing, you know that I have realized that for me, in my conscience, “sin” has acquired a fairly simple definition. “I ‘sin’ when I treat any sacred person or object, as less than sacred.”

Well, while reading through the tale of Paul/Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, God stopped me dead in my tracks at the words, “a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’“ (Acts 22:6b-8)

And I tried to move on, and the Lord stopped me time and again… “No, Little Monk, you missed it… look again.” And so I did, over and over. Until finally the words began to light up for me… “persecuting ME“… I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.”

It struck me how very strange… how wrong… this seemed. Wait… Jesus was already ascended. Saul never saw Him. Never spoke with Him. Never persecuted Him. Saul was persecuting FOLLOWERS, BELIEVERS… Saul was persecuting what we like to think of as “The Church”, an institution… a corporate entity…

No,” Jesus replied. “He WASN’T… He was persecuting PEOPLE. He THOUGHT he was attacking an institution, a corporation, a movement… he called it ‘The Way’… but he was helping arrest, try, convict, condemn, and execute PEOPLE. He killed them, trying time and time again, to kill ME.”

That was the breathtaking, heart stopping, realization here. “Me”… Jesus… King… Lord… not THEM… not Church… not movement… not follower… not even “precious child”… but “Me”.

If that were true…

If that’s what Jesus really meant in His cry to Saul…

If Jesus meant… JESUS… in Saul’s attacks…

Then… then…

Did that mean that when I offend another… when I attack them… when I injure them… when I belittle, or demean, or judge them… that it is not only THEM I hurt, but JESUS?

This was not a happy thought. I did not like this thought. I sought to push away this thought… and rather than help me with this, Jesus instead just “piled on,” reminding me of Matthew 25:31-46… that whole “Sheep-Goats-Judgment” thing, reminding me, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

Do you see it? Do you see it too?

Now, Jesus never EVER whines to or at me. But sometimes, not often, but sometimes from time to rare time, His voice will tend rather to ‘yodel’ with excitement or frustration, when He says something like, “WHY, Little Monk! Why don’t they see, why won’t they hear? I am PERFECTLY clear here… but even YOU are only now starting to see My words, that are and were perfectly clear for centuries. I am NOT being ‘figurative’ or ‘poetic’! I am not exaggerating… I am THERE… IN THEM… and yes, when you hurt or wound any, with your actions, attitudes, silence, or words… yes, you wound ME! Any questions?”

“Nossir. No questions. I need to process this for a bit, though, if that’s ok.”

“Sure thing, Little Monk. You process away!”