Worrying about Worry

No matter how dark the night, or bleak the news… No matter how difficult the trial, or long the test… No matter how unfair it seems, or how much it hurts… Just don’t worry!
Though you’re toiling the same soil, yet the fig tree has no bud… Though you’ve prayed and prayed some more, no answer is in sight… Though you’ve loved, said a kind word, but a slap returns instead… Just don’t worry!
Whether your anxiety is real or anticipated, your fear happening or imagined in your mind… Whether uncertainty has drained your spirit, blown your smile away with the wind… Even here, just don’t worry!

Why? Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

A worrier? Don’t worry. Make your request. Be blessed until next time! 🙂

Bearing Our Cross

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

During your life’s journey, have you been able to identify a cross Our Father, God, has intended you bear? I understand you are upset, depressed, and distressed about a situation? Under your breath or aloud, you’re still cursing, screaming, and walking around in a huff over a predicament you’re in. But have you ever stopped to consider, this may be a cross Christ is asking you to bear for His glory?

Sometimes, cross-bearing is brief. An illness has landed you a stay in the hospital for surgery or treatment of some kind. For this brief period, you’re in tumultuous pain, stagnant, and unable to work to pay the bills; everything halts. Other times, it’s a similar scenario or personality type you don’t like but continuously encounter. “This again,” you think, “I hate these people!” Lastly, some crosses leave a life-long painful imprint on us, and we carry its scars every day.  No prayer, life activity, or changes we’ve made erases the memory. The Apostle Paul experienced this. It is not identified as a cross but as a thorn that he was given. “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Paul had scars to live with. He tells us, they were given to keep him from becoming conceited. Hmmm! Do crosses, thorns, and pain help with this human malady?

We find in Matthew 16:21-26 dialogue specifically about cross-bearing. What is it? And, who’s it for? According to this text, those who ascribe to being a Christ-follower must take and bear a cross; it’s a part of being united with Christ and sharing in His suffering. I remember having this discussion with an old friend of mine. He completely rejected this idea. Any notion of suffering was a result of negative thinking on others’ part.  When discussing various unpleasant experiences he faced, I would offer him a cross-bearing perspective to help him try to recognize possibly a lesson God was teaching him or character development He was building in him. His response was always the same, “Look, that was Jesus; I’m not Jesus.”

In our text this month, we find Peter also rejecting such negative ideas about suffering. Jesus foretells His suffering and death to his disciples. The text states, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

Doesn’t Peter sound like us? During tough times and in challenging conversations, we tell our loved ones, “Stop being so negative. I rebuke that depressing spirit off you.” Peter was possibly trying to console the Lord, lift Him out of despair, or maybe change His perspective. In a sidebar conversation, I imagine Peter saying, “Come on, Lord, you’re the Messiah. You’re a great man doing all these wonderful things for people. And, we’ve been waiting for you all these years, you finally appear, and now you’re going to tell us this? Look, nothing like this is going to happen to you, especially while I’m here. Trust me!” Society tells us to stop being so negative and focus on the positive. We tell family and friends, “You’ll be fine; don’t worry about it!” Satan is usually the culprit for our negative feelings. Not always so, as we see here. Despite Peter’s well-meaning intentions, he was wrong. Jesus rebukes him. “But he (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Ha! Now, how about that? Peter’s kind words are coming straight from hell, and Jesus recognized this because He knew He had to bear a cross.

I don’t think it is happening this way today in our “name it, claim it” prophetic Christian subculture. We actually are accused of and rebuked for “speaking it into existence.” Have you received one of those “just claim it” words during your Christian journey that did not happen as it was proclaimed? Unfortunately, this ideology is running rampant now. People are disheartening individuals by telling them untruths to appease them.

Jesus’ somber, troublesome news to His followers was necessary and true. The disciples would later see it happened just as He said. Jesus uses this blunder by Peter to drive home a point for them and us. “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 

Cross-bearing involves:

  • Conforming to Christ’s image
  • Denying yourself
  • Taking (accepting) the cross while continuously following Him
  • Losing one’s life for Christ’s life
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Conforming to Christ’s image involves sharing in His suffering too. Cross-bearing will challenge our ideals, worldviews, perspectives, dreams, hopes, and desires. It will involve taking actions, making decisions, and/or expressing views, etc. that are counterintuitive to who we are. As we take up our cross and continue to follow Christ, at some point, any ill feelings, ill will, dislike, anger, resentment, and/or grumbling, complaining, and blaming should end. It’s an exchange Christ has called us to make for Himself. We can, however, choose to reject our cross in order to gain the world.

My fellow believers, from a human perspective, our cross may be difficult, as it was for Jesus Christ. We may want to say at times, “Oh no, not this,” or pray, as Paul did, for a problem to be removed. Don’t, however, discount or not recognize your cross because of erroneous satanic teaching happening in the Church today. Understand that, while bearing a cross, sometimes: it will not be fine. It will hurt. It will be painful. It will drive you to despair. It will cause you to cry. It will involve blood, sweat, and tears.  It will baffle your mind. It will make you sad. It will anger and frustrate you. It will be tiresome. It will cost you a lot of money. It will be risky and make you feel uncomfortable. It may require you to take medication or an infusion. It may mean, let it go. It may mean changing your perspective about a race or culture of people. You may have to embrace, live among, or help those you don’t like. It may be, no, it’s not that one; it’s this one over here. It may be, forgive and stay. It may be, forgive and leave. It may be, marry this one, not that one. It may be, not this career, this one. It may be, give that up. It may be growing up poor. It may be, anoint this one for ministry, not that one. You may lose the job, the contest, the award, the beauty pageant, or the business deal. You may be overlooked, rejected repeatedly, unfriended, lied on, and cheated. However, whatever you discover is your cross, don’t despise it. Pick it up and keep “looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV).

Happy New Year! 😊

Thanks Lord

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:18

Thanks in all circumstances God? Everything?

But you don’t understand, this Covid-19 pandemic is out of control and has wreaked havoc in my life. I lost family members I love dearly. The disease has left me now struggling to breathe, even move or walk; I’m tired. Not only this, but I already have a chronic illness, and my loved ones too; we’re sick. Trying to avoid Covid and manage my own and their disease is overwhelming, scary. Can the health system properly handle my illness and the number of Covid cases? Am I going to get Covid and die? Is my chronic illness going to worsen? Will I end up with both? These and other concerns elevate my blood pressure. Ugh! I’m fearful.

Sir, in all due respect, my livelihood is gone–in an instant. I no longer have a business. Financially, I’m strapped. I must start over at 55 years old. The work culture has changed and so has my job. I’ve gone out to work all my life; now I must work from home. I don’t know much about computers, navigating Zoom, or managing my kids around work. Their lives are in upheaval too; one week they’re in school, another week, they’re doing virtual learning because someone became sick with Covid. They’re not learning much, and their new schedule collides with mine. I don’t like this. I’m confused.

Do you see, my family has been torn apart. My husband left me. My wife has changed how she now sees me. My kids don’t even visit. I’m lonely.

I find no solace when tuning to media outlets to hear the news so that I stay abreast of what’s going on or discover what I’m supposed to be doing. In fact, I’m even more disheartened. I find myself often gasping for breaths listening to the “breaking news.” It’s sure that, isn’t it? My heart breaks reading the headlines or watching those appalling crime videos they show over and over again–another murder, mass casualty incident, missing person/rape, shooting, or a corruption case involving those in high places. I’m not so thankful to know at any place or at any time, I too could become a victim, simply while working on my job, walking my dog in the park, attending a concert, or church or school, or traveling in my car or on a plane or train. Announcements of racist and social biases and extremist groups and their ideologies run rampant in news coverage. Political leaders are not unified. They’re bashing one another. We’re told about the “left,” the “right,” the “progressives?” What is all this? What does it mean? So much divisiveness. It’s chaotic out there. I have no peace.

I’m a sociable, outgoing person. I always enjoyed freely mingling with friends, dining out, working out at the gym, hosting home parties, or catching a movie at the local theatre. Now I feel trapped in a shell, limited by what I can do, and paranoid to freely venture out to enjoy myself. I’m anxious about what I touch, who comes near me, who’s not vaccinated, and whether the restaurant has been disinfected. Wearing these masks is becoming a nuisance. I’m not free to be me. I want things to be like they were before. I miss socializing. I’m depressed.

So, Lord, are you saying in this verse, I should be thankful because these troubling things are Your will for me? Or, are you saying that what Your will is for those who follow Christ is to say “Thank you Lord” regardless of what is personally happening in their life or in the world around them?

Well, it’s reiterated in Ephesians 5:20, “…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Everything means everything. Always means always. Hmm!

Happy Thanksgiving folks! Be blessed until next time…

It Will Happen!

Wow! It’s been 8 months since I’ve last blogged. A new year has emerged. Another birthday has added to my years. Spring has sprung. And, I have completed my Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies/Communications from Colorado Christian University. How time just flies by! Whether or not we are ready, time moves constantly and offers us new opportunities for change and/or growth. Things just happen in life, and sometimes we may find ourselves surprised by, overwhelmed with, or unsure about what time has brought to or taken away from us.

I hope you had an opportunity to review the Scripture reading I suggested in my last post to learn more about Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels. As I pondered my relationship with Jesus recently and His help in enabling me to finish school while living with a disabling condition–multiple sclerosis, I was amazed by and grateful to Him. I experienced the friendship, support and strength of God as I never have. Thinking on God’s faithfulness made me wonder how anyone can live life without Him. Jesus Christ truly makes life different, exciting and purposeful! I’m a witness.

I discovered not only does time keep moving constantly, but so does the life of God, through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. With Christ in your life, His Holy Spirit promises to guide us, teach us, comfort us, strengthen us and never, ever leave us. In this journey with multiple sclerosis coupled with my goal of completing my degree, I have just now experienced this to be true about God’s Holy Spirit. I can relate with Job where he states in Job 42:5 (NIV), “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” This experience for me has been orchestrated for a (set) time.

Many times, as Christians, we wonder why this or that has not taken place in our lives. We read and hear the word of God, but it does not seem to radiate or manifest in our lives. We have a Christian home, preach/teach, go to church, worship God and pray, yet there are many Scriptures we read that we honestly have not yet experienced for ourselves. We need not worry about this. God’s kingdom life is just that—His life. It is a life we as humans have no capacity of performing, comprehending, or putting together—except by the consistent, constant and faithful work of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives throughout time.

We learn about time in the wisdom literature poetry by the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 3 (NIV). He writes:

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 

10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Verse 11 emphasizes for us how God makes everything beautiful in its time, and, (in essence), how no one can (actually) fathom what God does. He reveals this in time–even the experience with Him we so desire, want, need and pray for. While this is not customary to what we thought or have been taught, Jesus sort of alluded to this in Matthew 11:28-30. In God’s Kingdom there’s no striving–for anything. We simply come and receive from God His gift, through Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit! Exhale…Aaaah! 😊

Be encouraged my friends!   Continue reading “It Will Happen!”