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.

Nathanael’s Story is Our Story

Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me?  Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.                                                                                                                                      –St. John 1:48

I’ve read this story many times and didn’t get the depths of this until this morning.  I would read it and think ‘how did Jesus know that Nathaniel had no deceit’ in his heart. Well, of course, Jesus knew all things and as I began to meditate on this more, I realized the depths to which Christ knew men’s hearts.   Continue reading

Are Negative Personality Traits An Excuse to Sin?

For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,  Hebrews 2:11

Our backgrounds, childhoods, upbringing can affect our personality traits. But does this necessarily have to hurt our walk with the Lord? Sometimes it can. God never tempts any man toward sin.  The fault lies in our own desires and temptation from Satan. God allows us to see our personal weaknesses so that we may better understand ourselves and as a result,  lay these undesirable characteristics at the feet of Jesus.

God sees all of our issues: our need for attention, our coldness toward people, our shyness, our tendencies to be aggressive, our suspicious and mistrustful eyes, our stubbornness, or avoidance of communication and conflicts, our exaggerations, our need to emulate others, our desire to exalt ourselves, our insecurities with ourselves, our hastiness, our passivity, or our controlling nature.  All are shortcomings that God wants us to eradicate from our lives. All are areas to which God does not turn a blind eye. When God creates situations that show us the negative side of our personality, it is for our growth as a believer.  We have loving God that shepherds our spiritual development.

Yet, after the situation has passed, we should examine why the struggle  with our personality happened in the first place: “Why did I overreact to that question?”  “Why did I assume the other person was wrong?”  “Why was I hurt by this situation?” If we are unwilling to seek God for the answers to these questions, we will only have a shallow Christian experience and not the deeper walk that God wants us to enjoy.

For example, a conflict between people is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to degenerate into catastrophic damage. Disturbances in relationships with the people around us often happen when differing views collide.  The collision can be the result of opposite perceptions.  People’s backgrounds and past experiences can affect how they view day-to-day situations. The way they think, the way they react to things or perceive things or the words that come out of their mouths. Someone who gets frustrated or gives up easily, for example, may need more encouragement to find a job or overcome a lingering trial because they lack perseverance. He or she doesn’t see things through to the end and quits too soon.  That person may struggle more to complete a task than someone who regularly sticks to his or her guns. God sees this weakness, however, and will send that person through areas that will try his or her stamina in that particular area. He will put that person in conflicts where he or she has to stay the course and see things through to the end without complaining.

Personality traits can hinder accomplishing goals.  Someone who gets frustrated or gives up easily, for example, may need more encouragement to find a job or overcome a lingering spiritual battle because they lack perseverance. He or she doesn’t see things through to the end and quits too soon.  That person may struggle more to complete a simple task than someone who regularly sticks to his or her guns. God sees this weakness, however, and will send that person through areas that will try his or her stamina. He will put that person in situations and conflicts where he or she has to stay the course and see things through to the end without complaining.

Christians even after being forgiven of all their sin, can hold onto behaviors such as laziness, undue criticism of others, controlling behaviors, perfectionism, stinginess, over-sensitiveness, stubbornness,  mistrust of others, argumentative behavior or chronic impatience for a variety of reasons having to do with their backgrounds. Although it is essential to get to the bottom of our personality issues, our background should never be an excuse for sinful behavior.  To sin, you have to make a choice.  In order to keep doing what’s right, the Christian must recognize and push back against the wrong that presents itself through the flesh.

God will come in through the sanctifying experience and give us the power to face these character killers, cleanse us and transform our personality where he will not be ashamed to call us brethren.

from How to Walk on Water              DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

The Humanity of Jesus

 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (Hebrews 5:8)

Knowing all of our weaknesses and human frailties, God provided a remedy—Jesus Christ.   Romans 8:3 says, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh [the weakness of the law was not the law itself but the sinful nature of man] God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” Jesus condemned using the weakness of the flesh as an excuse to sin by wrapping Himself in the same substance we are wrapped in—not just to be compassionate to our human condition, but to show us that His power could make us victorious over our sinful condition. The very purpose of this sacrifice was to free us from the power of sin and not just its penalty. Salvation doesn’t just cancel out the sins we committed; it also gives us power not to go back to those sins again and stay free from them. John 1:12 says, “To as many as received HIM, to them gave he POWER, to become the sons of God” (emphasis mine). Although being tempted is part of life, we, who are His children, always have the power to say “no” the devil and overcome temptations.

Praise God for that strength.

God exhorts us to watch and pray, be diligent, and stay away from things that will feed our temptations. Even though living free from sin does not involve excluding ourselves from everyday contact, 1 Corinthians 5:10 says, “for then must ye needs go out of the world.” Jesus did not pray that we are taken out of the world, but that we would be kept from the evil ( John 17:15).

A holy life is a simple obedience to the Lord with all your heart and all you know to be right.

The Bible shows several examples of Christ’s humanity.

hypostatic-union-before-resurrection

When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was willing to obey God’s plan and go through the expected suffering, but his humanity said in Matthew 26:39, “Lord, if this cup may pass from me….” In other words, He essentially said, “if there is any other way to avoid this agony and death, please find it.”  As a human, He did not want to go through the suffering.  When He learned Lazarus had died, Jesus cried out of hurt and compassion. He got tired, hungry, and thirsty. He suffered rejection, isolation, and injustices. He became angry and frustrated with the disciples at times.  Yet, Hebrews 5:8 states that He learned to obey God by the things He suffered.  We also have to learn to obey God through the trials we suffer.

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.