Worry Never Changes Anything

One summer afternoon, I received two notices: the gas was going to get turned off and the bank was going to foreclose on our home.  I did what most responsible adults would do—I worried.  How can I fix this?  I pondered. Who can I call to help me?  It’s amazing how easily we can tell others no to worry until we are the ones who have to pack our bags and sit on the curb.  Panic started to trickle in.  My daughter, who was about seven years old, was concentrating on a double-dutch game. I had promised to show her how to turn while she was jumping rope.  She came in from playing outside and said,  “Come on, Mom; I thought you were going to show me.”

My first reaction was “Not now.”  But then I realized that life goes on and there was nothing I was going to do in the ten to fifteen minutes it would take to show her that would mean a hill of beans in the outcome of the situation.  In fact, I probably would have just sat and worried some more.  So she and I went outside, played Double Dutch, and had a great time. Both of us got really involved in the game, and I was able to relieve the emotional stress of the looming crisis. We all have to “let go” when we need to. My husband always says, “When there’s nothing you can do…there’s just nothing you can do.”  As adults, our lives can be filled with stressful circumstances, but I learned that day that having the heart of a child helps us relieve that stress.

Having the heart of a child, even in adult situations, is what the Bible encourages us to do.

Matthew 18:3 (KVJ) says, “ …Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Children are more trusting than adults and adjust to their circumstances more easily. As we grow older, we learn that everything may not turn out the way we’d like. Our problems seem larger and the consequences greater.  What was once a natural reaction—adjusting—has now become a chore. So as adults, we lose our sense of safety and have to relearn how to find the silver lining in the clouds,  smile when things are going badly, and trust that we will survive whatever happens to us. Seem impossible? Seem unrealistic?download

As I go through life, I realize God enables us to accomplish the same impossible feats over and over again when we overcome our fears and stretch out on faith.  I hope the stories I share with you will encourage you to trust God with your life. And even though you will make mistakes because that is part of the journey of life, I hope the lessons I’ve learned will teach you not to make the same mistakes that took me so long to realize I had made.

Human Emotions

In the first three chapters of Genesis, we see fear, guilt, shame, contentment, anger, and happiness. Emotions are part of our existence, and while they should not be ignored, they are also not intended to rule our lives.  Jesus showed extreme levels of emotion in his walk here on earth.  He was human in every way.

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;  (Hebrews 5:7)

Emotions are part of our existence, and while they should not be ignored, they are also not intended to rule our lives.  Emotions come and go.  How many times have you felt depressed or sad, but the next morning you felt great?  I’ve known of some churches to teach the Christian experience at such an elevated level as to make it inhumane. Emotions do take time to process especially when something tragic happens like death, terminal illness, or a divorce.

It’s normal for us as humans to experience lingering sadness and depression over enormous hurts, such as the loss of a relationship or the death of a loved one.  If someone harms your child, it is human to feel hurt, anger, anguish, and a desire for justice.   While the Christian may certainly struggle with feelings of anger, hurt, revenge, we fight not to succumb to them and we pray for God to provide peace. Christ gives us strength beyond ourselves to endure and overcome.  I’ve been there and back and I’ve been amazed at His power to overcome evil with good.  Since God has grace for all these things, He encourages us to come boldly to the throne so that damaging emotions will not find a settled home in our hearts.

We will be hungry; that cannot be erased.  We will be angry.  We will desire the opposite sex and companionship; those hormones and attractions are part of our mortal fabric. We will get physically tired or even bored because humans crave variety.  We will not want to suffer problems, pain, death, injustices, rejection, isolation, loss of relationships, loss of health, or fear of the unknown. We will get physically tired or even bored because humans crave variety.

Though we are human, our hearts have been changed with the touch of the divine. Our focus while suffering these things should be to follow the steps of the one “who did no sin, neither was guile [craftiness or deception] found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

In other words, Jesus left an example of how we should live. We should walk in the same path as our Savior. A person who believes he or she can’t overcome even the most minor temptations because “Well, what’s the use? God looks at me as a sinner anyway and I can’t stop doing wrong,” is not living the way God intended.  The mindset of Christ is to walk in his path and do what He would do.

Christ never emphasized the weakness of man over the power of God.

excerpt from How to Walk on Water     DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

Little Foxes

It’s the small things that hold up progress. In my time as a minister, I’ve seen many people appear to have achieved perfection in Christ, but it turned out to be just their own version of perfection—perfect church attendance, perfect church attire, perfect children (that you know of), perfect involvement in auxiliaries, and perfectly faithful in their chosen post of service. Only later they find, through major mishaps in their spiritual experiences, that they had missed some very important lessons in serving God and growing in Christ.  Scripture clearly defines what God considers perfection.

In Matthew 5:48. various Greek words are used for “perfect” in the New Testament, one English word remains constant in translation, the word complete.  Christ’s sermon spells out for all of us as Christians that our righteousness must go beyond the outward compliance with the laws and regulations God laid down under Moses.  The law of Christ demands an obedient heart as well as a change of heart toward His voice and the Holy Spirit. Here Christ describes the divine love that needs to be in the hearts of all believers. It is easy to be drawn into the routine of Christian living and become self-righteous like the Pharisees in measuring up to the “rules” of Christianity.  Like the Pharisees, we can become concerned only with being strict keepers of the Law and miss the “weightier matters” of “judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone,” as Matthew 23:23 says. The Pharisees were overlooking the small but important parts of serving God and the honest joy of walking in the light.

There is great joy to be found in being honest about our shortcomings. I had this personal “thing” where I didn’t like borrowing other people’s clothes. I know; go figure. I could shop at the thrift store just fine, but the idea of asking to borrow an outfit seemed different to me—couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it was because I never had to wear hand-me-downs. Vestiges of pride were obviously hanging on.

Back when I was going through the financial hardship, God allowed me to be in a situation where I had to attend a fancy birthday dinner because it would have been too rude not to go.  I didn’t have the money to buy anything, not even from a thrift store.  So the Lord told me to simply “borrow a dress” and even told me who I could call. I contemplated, considered, and toyed around with the idea for days. I even told my husband to just go to the dinner without me because it was just too embarrassing for me to put on the “rag” I had in my closet.  But even though I was truly ashamed of what I had to wear, I did not want the solution God put in front of me. Since I could not escape the obligation, however, I realized God wanted me to attend, which meant I had to borrow the dress from the person God told me to borrow it from.

The person I needed to call had the right dress, just like the Lord said; it fit perfectly, and it was just the style I would have chosen myself. She even told me to keep the dress after the party—ain’t God good? Now if I had not listened to the Holy Spirit and refused to come face to face with my pride, I would not have learned this valuable lesson in love, giving, and following the Holy Spirit. Now that might seem like a ridiculous thing, but small things can be troublesome and a hindrance to your spiritual growth.

Riding the Waves

Getting through trials is all about riding the waves. It helps to remember the old adage, “Trials do not come to stay, but they come to pass.” They will end at some point, whether we hold on to God or not. Life keeps moving; situations change; seasons pass. If we just go where God is taking us until we arrive at the resolutions to our trials, we can meet these challenges and learn from them. Ecclesiastes 7:8 (KJV) tells us, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

So often we allow our trials to get the best of us. We become victims of circumstance when we should be victorious.  Consequently, our confidence and trust in God becomes adversely affected. We become like a man on the ropes in a boxing match, in a vulnerable position and getting pummeled by his opponent. Every time he wants to get off the ropes, his movements are so restricted that he has trouble handling the punch his opponent is throwing. Isn’t that how we feel sometimes?  The punches of life are coming hard and heavy and we feel we have no place to go.  But as any boxing teacher will tell you, “Get off the ropes and use them to your advantage.”

The spring from the ropes can help you get out of your current situation and change your position. No boxer is out of the match because he gets in trouble; he’s only out of the match when he goes down for the count. It takes patience and steadfastness to stay with challenges until we see the end.

God never allows troubles to stay in our lives so we can suffer spiritual defeat.

Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV) says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

God allows troubles to come to us so we can help others.

2 Corinthians 1:4 (KJV) says that God comforts “…us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (emphasis mine).

Most of my experiences come from financial trials and church troubles, but God reminds me that He is a God of comfort for any need. If I have been afflicted, it is by God’s design for the consolation of others.

Excerpt from– How to Walk on Water   DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

This, Too, Shall Pass

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The Bible uses the phrase “and it came to pass” repeatedly to signify that something has transpired or an event has occurred. It is usually accompanied by some version of the following familiar story:

During a Sunday class, the question was asked, “In your time of discouragement, what is your favorite scripture?”

A young man said, “’The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,’ Psalm 23:1.” A middle-aged woman said, “‘God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,’ Psalm 46:1.” Another woman said, “‘In this world, you shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome this world,’ John 16:33-35.”

Then Mr. John, who was eighty years old, and had a head of white hair and dark black skin, stood up and said with as much strength as he could muster, “It says, ‘And it came to pass…’ eighty-five times in the Bible.” The class started to laugh a little, thinking that old Mr. John’s lack of memory was getting the best of him.

When the snickering stopped, he said, “At thirty, I lost my job with six hungry mouths and a wife to feed. I didn’t know how I would make it. At forty, my eldest son was killed overseas in the war. It knocked me down. At fifty, my house burned to the ground. Nothing was saved out of the house. At sixty, my wife of forty years got cancer. It slowly ate away at her. We cried together many a night on our knees in prayer. At sixty-five, she died. I still miss her today.

“The agony I went through in each of these situations was unbelievable. I wondered where God was. But each time I looked in the Bible and I saw one of those eighty-five verses that said, ‘And it came to pass,’ I felt God was telling me that my pain and my circumstances were also going to pass and that God would get me through them.”[1]

[1] Stephen Sheane, “The Table of the Shewbread,” http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/illustrations-about-influence.asp?Keyword=Influence [accessed May 25, 2011].

Excerpt from– How to Walk on Water   DOWNLOAD THE BOOK