Do Not Worry – No, Really, Do Not Worry

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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?

Matthew 6:25-27

I could be a professional worrier. I used to have an odd believe that crept up on me unawares, I believed that if I worried about something enough, it couldn’t happen.  Odd, I know. When my oldest daughter began driving, I worried about her getting in a wreck because of the roads being bad (Montana ice and snow roads) and I worried that she would drink and drive and I worried that someone else would drink and drive and an accident would occur and on and on. Seemed to be no shortage of things I could worry about regarding her driving. There was something addicting and oddly comforting about worrying. Surely those things couldn’t happen because I worried about them enough.

When her car became airborne and hit a power pole several feet up in the air, none of those reasons were the cause. A neighbor chose to check his mail by parking on the wrong side of the road and when my daughter came around the turn, she saw headlights in what she thought was the other lane. She drove to the right of them, right into a power pole.

My worrying had accomplished nothing. Even in my wildest worrying imaginings, I couldn’t have come up with this scenario. I’d like to say I learned my lesson about worrying, about what a waste of time it is, but alas, I didn’t.  My worrying had no power to prevent anything. Worry only stole from me. Worry stole my peace and my ability to enjoy the present moment. Worry gave me nothing in return.

“When God tells us in the Bible not to worry,

it isn’t a suggestion.  It’s a command.

Worry and/or anxiety is specifically mentioned twenty-five times in the New Testament alone as something we should avoid.”  

Joanna Weaver

Apparently God takes this “Do not worry” command seriously and understands our propensity we humans have towards worrying.

Maybe one antidote to worrying is found in this verse in the question – “are you not much more valuable than they?”

 The more I believe in God’s love for me, the more I can trust in His care for me.  

I am more valuable than the birds in the air and He feeds them. He will feed me.

He watches over them. He will watch over me.

 He created them and designed them to be unique.

 He created me and designed me to be unique.

He hasn’t turned his back on the birds. He won’t turn His back on me.

Heavenly Father, how gracious You are. You know me intimately. You know the minutes, OK the hours, I spend worrying when I could be talking to You. You have proven Your love to me over and over again. Please forgive me for the times I allow worry to preoccupy my mind and my time and my affections. Thank You that my life is in Your hands and You lovingly watch over me and mine.  You are truly  a good God.  Amen.

 

Cast Your Cares

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Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

1 Peter 5:7, AMP

Nothing takes God by surprise.  Nothing. Life takes me by surprise often. I make my plans, set my goals and wham – a diagnosis, a new pain, an unexpected expense, a relationship turns sour – and I am surprised.At my age, I should no longer get surprised. Life happens and sometimes, it is more of a kick in the gut than a stroll on the beach.

Even so, none of this surprises God.

Reeling from the news can send me in two different directions. I can flip out and rant and rave and stress out and lose sleep.  Or I can cast my cares on the God who saw the storm coming and has already mapped out a plan.

Ever gone fishing?  There is prep work to be done, getting the right size line and hook on the right size pole for the fish and picking the spot and the time of day and the bait. But once that hook is cast out into the water, the results are out of your hands. Not much to do but wait at this point. I am not a fisher-woman primarily because I hate waiting (and I am not too wild about cleaning fish).

When the bad news comes, there is only so much I can do and then I have to leave the rest in God’s hands.

What might this look like? For me, it means making a conscious decision to control my racing thoughts. Purposing to focus on God’s promises (one is all I need) instead of the evidence surrounding me isn’t always easy.  It requires a discipline that doesn’t come natural for me. Far more natural is for me to give into to worry and stress.

This verse tells us that God watches over me, over you,  in love. He cares for us affectionately. Nothing about our life escapes His notice and while we are trying to figure it all out, He is behind the scenes working it all out for us because of His great love and concern for us.

Worrying says, “No thanks God, I’d rather do this myself”.

Dr. Phil would say, “how’s that working for you?”

Two choices – cast my cares or keep them – I get to choose.

How about you?  Done any casting lately?

If you would like prayer, I would be happy to pray with and for you, let me know. K?

 

 

pic credit:  first-nature.com

 

 

System Of Inequality and Divine Healing?!

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 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

3 John 2:2

I have been in hot pursuit of divine healing for upwards of twenty years. Healing is promised in the Bible and numerous verses can attest to that fact. I have read them and memorized them and confessed them and put my trust in them and still I am not healed. My pursuit continues.

I read this verse a while back. No doubt familiar to those in search of divine healing  – every book on the subject I have read has included it. But this day, I saw the promise differently.

Instead of seeing it as an iron clad promise of healing, I saw it as an algebraic equation. Weird, right? It struck me as a system of inequalities. On one side of the equation are the variables of prospering and being in good health. On the other side would be the variable of our soul which is our mind, our will and our emotions. Three variables on one side and two on the other.

The question becomes what symbol is between the two sides. Is it an equal sign or not equal, greater than, less than?

My desire to be free of physical pain has so occupied my quest for divine healing that I never even considered the other variables that combine to make my health, holistically speaking.

I simply didn’t care so much about the others; I wanted to live free of physical pain. But God, in His wisdom, knows how much I need all of these variables to be healed if I am going to live the life abundant that has been promised. He is a holistic healer.

I have had to relinquish my ideas about how my healing would manifest and give God permission to heal other areas of my life, even if that means I continue to live with chronic pain while He balances out the equation.

What about you? Are you in need of healing?  I would love to pray for you and join my faith with yours for your healing.

If you have a testimony of how God has healed you, I would love to share it here with others who need encouragement.  

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Live, Really Live!

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Dear friend, listen well to my words;

    tune your ears to my voice.

Keep my message in plain view at all times.

    Concentrate! Learn it by heart!

Those who discover these words live, really live;

    body and soul, they’re bursting with health.

Proverbs 4:20-22

I wonder is that true, that most people just exist?

Do I live, really live or just exist?

Do I just go through the motions day after day?

Could I use these words to describe my life – rut, mundane, daily grind, humdrum, routine?

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Book shelves abound with self-help books. No shortage of people willing to tell us how to live the life we have dreamed of; knowledge does indeed abound. I have read a number of them. I have them dogged-eared and highlighted and sitting on my book shelf. But truth be told, once they are put back on the shelf and life goes on, I am still me, still just going through motions more times than I would like.

Many may consider the Bible to be just another book, full of wise words, but once read, placed back on the shelf, forgotten and gathering dust. This verse from Proverbs, written by the wisest man, Solomon tells us that though that the Bible offers something the self-help books can’t. Words that bring life and health to all areas of my life – and yours.

Self-help books give us snippets of wisdom but they all require self-effort. How many of you know that self-effort is a recipe at times for disaster?

God’s word, however enters our heart with God’s power to perform what He sent it for, which is healing and bringing health to our body and our soul (our mind, our will and our emotions). All that we have to do is take the medicine He offers, apply it to our lives daily (maybe even minute by minute) and let the love and the power of God bring wholeness to our lives through those words.

God’s word applied daily may not change our circumstances, though it might. More likely though, His word will change our thoughts and our heart so that regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we can have peace and joy and a body and soul bursting with health.  That’s good news, isn’t it?

 

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Sweet Sleep

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But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    you are my glory,

the One who lifts my head high.
 I cried out to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy mountain.

 I lay down and slept;
   yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.

Psalm 3: 3-5

I love the sound a sleeping child makes – the rhythmic melody of their breathing. When my kids were young, I would check on them at night while they slept. Standing in the dark, I would listen for that sound that reassured me that they were ok.  When I couldn’t hear the sound of their breathing, I would watch intently until I saw the up and down movement of their chest at they slept. I can’t do that anymore; they have grown past the years of mom checking on them. But not past the years of mom wanting to be reassured that they are ok.

It’s probably every mother’s desire that her kids are ok and beyond, but there comes a time when we can’t kiss their boo-boos away and make it all better when things aren’t ok.

Gratefully, I know someone who can. What greater peace can I have as a mother than to know that the Lord is watching over each one of my children and grandchildren as they sleep? He is a shield around them and when they (and I) cry out to them, He answers. He hears their rhythmic breathing and their quiet sobs and knows the deepest longings of their hearts and being moved with compassion, He acts on their behalf.

When my children were young, we said this prayer every night:

Be near me my Father, 

I ask Thee to stay,

Close by me forever

and love me I pray.

Bless all the dear children

with Thy tender care.

Prepare us for heaven

to live with Thee there.

Amen.

That is still my prayer for my children and my grandchildren.

I know He hears, I know He is watching over them,

I know He keeps them in safety.

I don’t have to hear their rhythmic breathing or watch for the rise and fall of their chests as they sleep.

Because I know the One who does! 

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Gardening… Again?

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“The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News,

and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”  *

Matthew 13:23

 Gardening season is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest. Neighbors are out working up their soil and planting seedlings. And so am I. I don’t have a green thumb but I try almost every year. I think I will learn from my mistakes; this year I will do better. I have discovered that I am really good at starting things and pretty bad at seeing things through to completion. I imagine the harvest; the juicy ripe tomatoes, the cucumbers turned pickles, the fresh strawberries. Problem is that between the planting of the seed and the harvesting of the seed, there is a season that I call work. There’s pruning, weeding, watering, fertilizing, pest control, etc…  and in the heat of the summer, egads, I would rather be at the river.

God’s word is likened to a seed. A seed that needs to be planted, weeded, and watered to grow and produce the harvest in our lives that make our lives meaningful. Whatever laws we may be able to skirt around, we can’t skirt around the law of seed-time and harvest time. The problem comes when we fail to realize that between those two times, there is a season that is easy to overlook. The season of weeding and pruning and watering. I can’t read the Bible once and put it back on the shelf like I can other books and simply move on to the next book and have the seeds that were planted while reading it come to harvest. I water these seeds by the daily reading of the Bible.

I can purpose  now to water the seed of God’s word in my life daily but daily I have to make the decision all over again to do just that.

A decision that is simple to make but simple also to not make.

I know because I have been guilty of not making that decision numerous times. Then I wonder why peace and joy seem so difficult to find. If I want the harvest that comes from the seed of God’s word, I have to tend to it. It’s that simple. That means I may have to turn off my phone or computer or tv for a little bit. I may have to say no to some things in order to say yes to this thing.

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 I think it comes down to this: what kind of harvest do I really want in my life?

 

* this from Jesus

pic credit 1: biblefunforkids.org

pic credit 2: familylifewinners.com

 

 

 

Does He Even Have a Name?

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As he (Jesus) stepped out onto land, a madman from town met him; he was a victim of demons. He hadn’t worn clothes for a long time, nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery.

Luke 8:27

He was somebody before the demons victimized him. We aren’t told his name or what his life was like. But I would like to humanize him if possible. I suspect he was a man of significance; a significance he didn’t even recognize. Oh, it might not have been financial, though it could have been. Maybe it was influence; maybe he was a man that people respected, looked up to, enjoyed knowing. Maybe he had a wife and kids and a nice livelihood that enabled him to provide for them. We aren’t told these things.

Whatever his life was, it wasn’t anymore. Whatever his influence may have been, it was no more. The Bible tells us that he had so many demons tormenting him that they were referred to as Legion (Legion being 6000 Roman soldiers). So either Satan had a lot of unemployed demons just hanging out or this man’s significance had alerted Satan that something needed to be done to stop him.

So the torment began. The Bibles says that in the early stages of this torment, the townspeople could restrain him. This implies to me that he must have tried repeatedly to remain in the town he called home among the people he knew but he was dangerous to them and they sent him out – repeatedly. At some point, he was no longer able to be restrained because of his strength but it reads like he settled into the tombs and no longer attempted to go home.

And there he was when Jesus showed up. This man who had lost everything had finally succumbed to the voices that played in his head – the ones that said – it’s pointless, you will never be ok again, you will never be among your friends again, your old life is gone, you will never be loved again, never have any influence again and as for significance – forget that.

But I think there was an ember of hope in him. He was naked, he was miserable, he was cutting, but he didn’t commit suicide. Something in him wanted to live, wanted to believe that there was hope for him and when Jesus came into his path, that ember of hope fanned into a flame. And Jesus delivered him from his tormentors!  Epic win! Certainly not the biggest epic win Jesus would bring about but a noteworthy and life restoring one.

Regardless of the torment,

regardless of the length of time the torment has plagued you,

regardless of what you may have lost because of the torment,

Jesus is greater! 

The battle isn’t over until Jesus says it’s over!

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The Story I Tell Myself

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When I am afraid, I will trust in You.

Psalm 56:3

… “I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me. Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked. Every time I heard a sound of unknown origin or felt something horrible cohering in my imagination, I pushed it away. I simply did not let myself become afraid. Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid.”

This is from the book Wild, written by Cheryl Strayed. If you didn’t see the movie or read the book, it is the story of a woman who embarks on a journey of healing by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. I haven’t gotten to the end of the book, I hope it ends well, but this passage stood out to me.

Fear – we have all felt it at some time or another and, if truth be told, fear has doomed many a journey. Perhaps that is why we are encouraged in the Bible over 365 times to fear not. Our journey matters to God. If Cheryl is right and fear is born of a story we tell ourselves, then it behooves us to examine the story. What are the lies we have bought in to? What are the tapes that play through our mind that lead us to fear?

Recently, my life took several turns I did not anticipate. Turns that were not of my choosing or in my control. My response, among other things, was fear. Fear of the future, what it would like, how would I manage in the “new normal”? Oh, I know God will take care of me, I know He holds the future, but still the tapes played on in my head.

After many sleepless nights, I developed a new strategy; I told myself a different story. I played different tapes. I purposefully focused my thoughts on some aspect of God’s character, or repeated a Bible verse over and over again, or just told God of my fears and concerns. I wish I could say it was easy; it was not. The story I tell myself had developed a power of its own but I persisted. Nothing changed overnight, but as the nights became weeks, I found that I could switch channels easily and drift off to sleep knowing that my fears were groundless in the light of God’s unfailing love and character.

Nothing in my present circumstances has changed. My days are still uncertain but my nights are restful. My journey hasn’t changed anymore than Cheryl’s changed simply by overcoming fear, but I know now that it isn’t doomed.

What are the stories you tell yourself? Do they help you on your journey or do they cripple you?

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Affect or Infect?

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Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help

and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.

But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold.

 

Jonah 1:5

 When I read this the other day, my first reaction was, of course he was sleeping. Doesn’t it always seem like the person that creates the havoc can be oblivious to the impending wreckage? Sleeping away while others are scratching their heads and cleaning up the mess? Jonah was running from God, these people on the boat didn’t know Jonah or Jonah’s God, the storm hadn’t been predicted by the newscaster, the ETA for the ship had been announced and the people were settling in for what should have been  a safe little boat trip to Tarshish.  But then there is a twist in the tale; Jonah happened and the storm happened because of Jonah and the people were now freaking out because  the storm happened because of Jonah running from God and all this time, Jonah sleeps through it.

It is so easy to think that it is all about me. I think that lots of times and surely Jonah is thinking that here. I don’t want to do things God’s way, I don’t want to hear what He has to say, it is all about me and so I will just run far, far away. I don’t get in a boat and try to get out of dodge, no, I don’t have to do that, I can just be busy, too busy, too focused on me and what I want to stop and consider God’s plan for the moment. Or worse, I can consider God’s plan for the moment and decide that my plan trumps His. After all, it is all about me, isn’t it? Or is it?

The problem with that thinking is that we don’t live our lives in a vacuum. Our lives touch and intersect with others, planned or unplanned. Others that may know nothing about our issue with God or even care. But our lives have the power to affect others or to infect others. Jonah’s clearly infected others this day, almost to the point of death and he was so wrapped up in his drama that how he touched their lives no longer mattered.  Sad commentary for a prophet who had dedicated his life to speaking God’s word to people’s hearts.

Whether we are a prophet or a teacher or a mom or a friend, daughter, employee, sister…. our life touches others either for good or for not so good.  Ignoring that doesn’t change it.  Sleeping through the wreckage is only an option for so long. Sooner or later, the mess catches up with us.

Jonah owned up to his responsibility for the storm and you probably know the rest of the story. He is thrown overboard, swallowed by a great fish and then deposited safely onto dry ground.  God calms the storm and the people on the boat were carried to their port safely. Jonah was given a second chance and this time, he carried out God’s instructions.

My takeaway from this is just this: there is no storm, regardless of cause, that God cannot quiet. Even if the storm is of my own making, it doesn’t change God’s love for me or His willingness to rescue me. Or you.

That’s good news, isn’t it?

 

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Everyday… Really? You Mean Like Everyday?!

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This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth;

but you shall meditate therein day and night,

that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein:

for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.

Joshua 1:8

 

Are you prospering right now? Do you have what you need in life for a successful journey? I am not talking about money here, although that is part of it. I am talking about other things – wisdom, love, joy, contentment. What about your heart? Is it filled with hurt, anger, bitterness? What about your body? Does it function as it should, are you crippled by things that have come your way, does the doctor say this will just be part of your life now, accept it?

If you could describe your life in one word, would that word be prosperous? *

If not, maybe this verse has a prescription for you. 

I am reading a great book, The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has purposed to make changes in their life and found that it isn’t too long before the resolution fades away.

Jeff Olson says this, “The right choices and wrong choices you make at the moment will have little or no noticeable impact on how your day goes for you. Nor tomorrow, not the next day. No applause, no cheers, no screams, no life or death results played out in Technicolor. But it is precisely those very same, undramatic, seemingly insignificant actions that, when compounded over time, will dramatically affect how your life turns out.”

Reading the Bible today may not make a huge impact on your day, but reading daily, can, over time,  greatly impact your life.  Jeff Olson writes that this is the secret to success, daily making those simple decisions that are easy to make and equally easy to not make.

Seems the writer of Joshua is saying the same thing. Having what we need for a successful journey begins with one simple, seemingly insignificant decision – to read the Bible everyday and meditate on what was read. Simple to do right? Simple also not to do. The choice is ours.

 

*Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines prosper:

1. (v. t.) To favor; to render successful.

2. (v. i.) To be successful; to succeed; to be fortunate or prosperous; to thrive; to make gain.

3. (v. i.) To grow; to increase.

 

 

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