Sunday, March 28, 2010

Foundation #7 - Worrying accomplishes nothing

I have always been a worrier. Mind you, I only worry about certain things (however, there is not enough room in this blog to list them all!!!). My early teen years were occasioned by a trip to the doctor because my stomach had been upset for several days or I had severe abdominal pain (I will spare you the gory details). During the first years of my marriage, I visited the hospital 3 times - two in the middle of the night - because my "inerds" were in a knot. I struggled for years with IBS (irritable bowl syndrome).

After a whole bunch of tests and doctor visits, pokes, prods, "cleansings" (I will leave that to your imagination), one doctor finally told me that he thought it was due to stress and worry because they could find nothing physically wrong with me. Not necessarily the words I wanted to hear, but deep down, I knew that he was right.

This news started my journey toward a "worry free life". One of the principles that I had to work through, and still do, is Jesus' words in Matthew (6:27): "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" This was obviously meant to be a rhetorical statement because the answer is no one can ever do this. (Note that in my case, and I believe in most cases, prolonged worry will actually DECREASE your life, instead of adding to it.)

When I face times of worry, I recite this verse as: "Who by worrying can ________ to his life". I fill in the blank with whatever happens to be troubling me at that time. Who by worrying, can change how someone is thinking about you? Who by worrying can change the results of the blood work that I am having done? Who by worrying can add 10 more points to his test score. I HAVE to remind myself over and over again that worrying accomplishes NOTHING positive.

This is what Jesus was driving at - it does absolutely no good to worry. There are just certain things in life that you have NO control over and worrying is not going to change them. In fact, the things in life that you do have control over will not be changed by worrying about them either!!!

Worry is a thief. It only takes and leaves nothing positive behind. Jesus, who came to give us life, understood this and wanted us to avoid having life taken from us!

Principles so far:
#1 You reap what you sow
#2 God is good all the time
#3 Fruit of the Spirit is the yardstick
#4 Forgiveness is a key to unlocking spiritual growth
#5 Love God, love people
#6 The heart is revealed by what someone says or does

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Foundation #6 - The heart is revealed by what someone says or does

When Jesus was on the earth, He said these words: "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). There are several other places where Jesus talks about how the heart and the mouth and the heart and actions are directly connected. In fact, His ministry was about exposing and changing the heart because He knew that if the heart was changed, everything else would fall in place.

He said some crazy things like if you have lusted after a woman in your heart, you have committed adultery. If you hate your brother you have murdered him. He didn't mean the act of adultery was literally committed or that you literally murder your brother when you hate him, but He was teaching people that the heart and the mouth and the heart and the hands are inextricably connected.

So what. How does this impact me? In a couple of ways.

First, as you watch what you do and what you say, you can find a window into your heart. The bad news: sometimes that window looks into something that is dark and evil. The good news: God wants to meet you here and restore the heart to holiness/health!

Secondly, as you interact with others, they reveal their heart in what they say and do. When jokes are said, satirical comments are made, criticism is given, etc. - people are revealing what they think and feel deep in their heart. Most often, people are smart enough to filter the dark things that come from their heart. In times of stress, in their deeper relationships, when they have had a bit to drink, when they feel very comfortable with you, that filter is removed and you can see into their heart more. As you work with people, you can help them identify dark areas of their heart and hopefully, propel them to allow God to change it. (I find that often, people don't even realize that this is a dark area of their heart.)

Think about this one and listen for what you say and what others around you are saying..... See if this is true!

Principles so far:
#1 You reap what you sow
#2 God is good all the time
#3 Fruit of the Spirit is the yardstick
#4 Forgiveness is a key to unlocking spiritual growth
#5 Love God, love people

Saturday, March 13, 2010

One of the best verses I have ever memorized: Jeremiah 9:23-24

This is what the LORD says:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,"

Every time I read this section, it drives home to me how much God really desires me to know him. He wants me to boast that I understand Him and that I know Him. What does He want me to understand and know about Him? That He delights in kindness, justice and righteousness.

Read these verses again; let them sink in. The God of the universe wants us to know who He is; He wants us to boast that we understand Him.

Notice the contrast between what we tend to boast about - being smart, being strong and having money - and what the God of the universe delights in - being kind, being just and doing what is right. Boasting in Him and what He delights in should drive out all the other things that we typically boast about - wisdom, strength and money.

Every time I read these verses, I am moved to worship. It is incomprehensible to me that the Lord wants me to know Him. I hope that as you meditate on these verses, they drive you to worship too.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

I was talking to my folks a couple of weekends ago about their early married life. We talked about where they lived when they were first married (it is wild some of the things you learn when you start asking questions........).

They lived on a farm north of Ensley Center - a crossroads in Newaygo County. My dad's parents rented and farmed this property. Dad and mom moved their mobile home to this farm to help out his parents. One winter's night they were on their way back home when someone crossed the center line and dad and mom hit them head on. The sad part of this story is that dad and mom had their first born son in the car. He was 6 months old.

Mom recounted a few details of this accident. She remembered laying on the floor in the General Store at Ensley Center and hearing someone say "the baby is turning blue". With tears in her eyes, she said "that's all I want to say about that".

I was surprised at her last statement. I really cannot imagine the pain of loosing a child, but the accident was 51 years ago. I would have thought that the pain would have subsided. I was surprised at the intense amount of pain that she still felt. My heart wept as her heart was weeping; my heart was breaking because of her broken heart.

I have experienced this same this phenomena when I talk to men who served in WWII. They really don't want to talk about it. The horrors of war that they experienced 60 years ago still are too painful to talk about.

As I was musing on this, my mind went to the effects of sin in this world. I found myself being angry at sin and the author of sin - Satan. My dad and mom would never had to experience the death of a child if sin was not present. WWII would never have happened if sin was not present. Sin caused this pain; this deep pain that will never go away. My folks will take it to the grave with them. It grieves my heart that sin has affected our world so much and so deeply.

Maranatha - come Lord Jesus, deliver us from the ravages of sin.