Month: July 2014

Worry

Worry seems to be a major issue for so many, and the reason why evades many who suffer most.  Worry is the state of conscious, and consistent fear of the future.  Spiritually, it is the declaration that God is not big enough to handle the things that may arise in our future. 

Worry is the same as doubt. 

The scriptural response for worry is simple.  The Bible says, “Do no worry about anything.” But frankly, that has never really comforted me, or helped me to stop worrying about something that bothered me.  So how is it that we are supposed to just stop worrying? Well, the answer lies in a part of scripture that is sometimes neglected. 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phillippians 4:4-7

Just before the command of verse 6, there is a statement that is connected to the command that helps to solidify the possibility of “not worrying.”  Prior to being told that we should not worry, we are assured of the one thing that can help us trust that our issues can be resolved without our constant doubt. 

“The Lord is at hand…”

That statement, absent from so many coffee mugs and even sermons, is the resolution to the problem of worry.  It is the preemptive strike upon doubt, fear, and defeat.  It is all we need when the worry of the world finds it’s way into our lives.  Too many people are trying to not worry by constructs of this world.  They try to overcome worry by being positive, or meditating, or vacation, or something else that fails to provide real solutions.  The solution can only come from the knowledge that God is near to us. 

To know that the God of creation is at hand is the most comforting statement ever made.  It is the reason we have life.  It is the reason we have hope.  The Lord is in our midst, and we are in His.  He is over all, and has overcome all.  He is capable of creating and destroying all things.  He is not at our fingertips as if we were to command him to strike down our enemies, he is at hand in that he has already defeated sin and death, and we reach out for his loving embrace. 

He does not evade our grasp, nor does he flea from us.  He crushes fear and shame without leaving us.  He has already struck down the evil one, and though his heal is bruised, he is victorious. 

We have no reason to be fearful.  We have no cause to worry.  We have no right to be doubtful.

Because we have Jesus.

What do I do when I fail?

What should I do when I fail in my pursuit of God?

Recently I have had several students, and adults express to me their frustration when they make decisions to follow God more closely, or even for the first time, and they fail to fulfill their commitment.  These people have expressed feelings from unworthiness, to guilt, and even to disgust in themselves for failing to uphold, “their end of the bargain.” 

They tell me that they have failed again, and they struggle to understand how God will ever want them now, or they try to overcome their inadequacy in some way or another so they will be valuable to God again.  Every effort they make reveals less and less trust in who God has declared Himself to be.  Each step taken on their own, is made in vain. 

My counsel to them is the same.  Regardless of your circumstances, and regardless of your failures, God is not different now that you have failed.  He is unchanged!

At first, they don’t understand.  At first they don’t feel all that comforted. 

But then we get to dive back into the truth that God has revealed for all mankind.  We get to relook at the statements that gave us hope in the first place.  We look at the truth that the Bible gives us about God’s character, as well as, what he has said about his people.  

            *He will never leave us, nor will he forsake us. Deuteronomy 31:6
            *He is faithful and Just to cleanse us 1 John 1:9
            *He is my strength and my shield Psalm 28:7
            *He is my goal Psalm 27:4
            *He is the reason we are righteous 2 Corinthians 5:21

When we remember that we are unable to attain righteousness on our own, the failure to be perfect seems far less offensive.  We are only righteous because He makes us righteous. 

Finally, we must remember that we are called to follow Him.  Just as the apostles were each called to follow the Lord, we are asked to seek the face of Jesus each day, and follow his lead.  When we are focused on our own failures, we take our eyes off the one who can, not only save us, but can lead us to the victories He has already won. 

So, what do I do when I fail to pursue God in the way he has commanded?

-I start walking toward Him. 

Why the Body?

I recently heard some great teaching about the Body of Christ by Scott Venable of Mosaic Church in Chicago, IL.  The primary focus of the sermons that I heard was something else entirely, but the fascinating thing is, the Lord can reveal His message to you, when you are open to hearing it. 

Recently, I have been asked why church is so important.  Why do I insist that my students attend?  Why do I care if they sit together in the lunchroom? Why does it matter if they hang out together outside of school?

Honestly, I really didn’t know the answer.  I knew it was what should be taking place in a healthy church, and a healthy youth ministry, but I had only bits and pieces of information to suggest why it is necessary for them to do this.  It’s not just a suggestion…it is a must!

The answer is that we are the body of Christ.  We are bound together in His family, and we are only supplied with the Spirit when we are in constant connection with the body.  We can only bear fruit when we are connected to the vine (body), and we have no way of knowing what the Head of the Church desires of us, if we are not connected to the body on a regular basis.  (The head of the church is Jesus…btw.)

So the answer to our question of why is the church so important is that God designed it to be necessary.  We succeed because the body succeeds, and we are successful only if the body is successful. 

When I am tired and alone, I need the body!
When I have run out of time and energy, I need the body!
When Satan seems to have my number, I need the body!
When I celebrate, I need the body!
When I grow, I need the body!
When I love, I need the body!

There is not a time when I am without a visceral need for the family of God!

Stop seeing Church attendance as a thing you do to make God happy, or to keep him from punishing you for the parking ticket you got.  Church attendance is how we connect to the body of Jesus Christ and fulfill our call here on earth to be an ambassador for the Kingdom of God. 

Stop fighting the thing that was intended to give you life here on earth. 

 

Freedom is an Open Door

At what point does freedom stop being freedom?

I have read more commentary about Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court than I can adequately site, but have noticed one predominating opinion emanating from the part of the bloggers and pundits.  There seems to be a misunderstanding about freedom.  I have heard people say that, “This is a religious freedom that was undermined.” Or even heard others say, “To remove Hobby Lobby’s responsibility to pay for contraception robs women of their liberty to choose their own birth control.” But I think this is all an oversight to the truth.

My freedom does not, in any way, adjust your freedom, but to pin a restriction on any person, is to invade their free space.  Freedom is what allows us to share in open discourse about public matters, to share in religious expression, and to assemble with others peacefully.  I am free to carry a weapon on my person, and am not forced to house the military in my home without my permission (though I’d be happy to entertain members of our military in our home at any time), and I am free to purchase and maintain my own property. 

My freedom is the open door that is in front of me. 

I am free, until another person, or persons oppresses my freedom…but wait! I am still free!!! 

When someone tells me not to worship, I am free to worship.
When someone tells me not to speak my mind, I am free to speak my mind.
When someone tells me not to carry a gun, I am free to bear arms.
When someone tells me not to assemble peacefully, I am free to assemble peacefully.
When someone tells me that I cannot purchase a product with my current insurance plan, I am still free to work, make money, and spend that money on the product I want to purchase. 

Freedom is an open door.  As Americans, we have only the choice to walk through it.