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.

How Do You See Jesus?

 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Philipians 1:29

Trials can feel more difficult when we lose our vision that we’re called to suffer for Christ’s sake. The need for suffering in learning about Christ in our Christian walk is clearly spelled out in the following scriptures.

1 Peter 4:1; Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10, and 4:12; Hebrews 2:10 .

Christians can view Jesus all kinds of ways: He can be  Norman Vincent Peale, the positive thinker, and self-help guru; as Warren Buffet, the businessman and investment tycoon who brings prosperity; or as the social revolutionary whose only job is to fight for justice and give food and clothing to the poor, huddling mass of people. Somehow the Savior from sin, Deliverer, and personal friend gets lost in the shuffle. Continue reading

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

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.