Archive for October, 2009

27
Oct
09

worship or worry

lifted-handsI have known some world class worriers in my life. My Grandmother was a great example. If there was something to fret about, no matter how miniscule the chance of it happening, she could find it. I guess some of that rubbed off on my family. I remember when my daughter was only a few years old she asked her Mom, “What am I going to wear when I get big? None of my clothes will fit me.”

Worry seems to come easy for most of us, even though we are taught both by precept and practice that the overwhelming majority of what we worry about will never come to pass. Still, we find ourselves taking comfort in the Pessimist’s Motto: “If I expect the worst I will either be right or pleasantly surprised.”

But the Scripture takes a different view. The Bible tells us we should replace the worry in our lives with worship. In Philippians 4:6, Paul puts it this way. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” The implication of this verse is huge. If we worry we are challenging the reality of God’s love for us and his ability to care for us. But if we choose to worship instead of worry we will be reminded of God’s love for us and his great power which he has demonstrated on our behalf time and time again.

I know how hard it is to “feel like” worshipping sometimes. But that is the beauty of what Paul is telling us. When we begin to think about what God has already done for us, worship becomes a natural expression of gratitude that flows from our hearts with exuberance and authenticity and our faith is revived, and maybe even grows a little.

So start listing everything God has done for you and see what happens. I dare you!

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19
Oct
09

blessing?

193132401_c68d6595edI love to read the history of the people of Israel. It is amazing to see the grace of God illustrated in such a practical way. He chose them, not because of any special ability or value on their part, but just because he loved them. He sovereignly protected them and led them throughout their history.

The thing that stands out so distinctively is that throughout the story of Israel it is clear that God was calling them into relationship with him. He is doing the very same with us. God is calling us to draw closer, enjoy his grace and acknowledge his ways so that we might reap all the benefit and blessing that comes from walking with him in obedience.

Blessing – There is a tricky concept. One of the warnings that was given to Israel multiple times before they entered the Promised Land, was that once they had reached that place of prosperity and abundance provided by God there would come the temptation to start trusting in the blessing rather than the blesser. It happened repeatedly throughout the history of Israel and it happens to us today. By the way, the proper term for this is idolatry. I don’t like that word because too often it has applied to me. How do I know? I went from enjoying the good things God had given me and thanking him for them to stressing out over what would happen if I lost them. There are plenty of other indictors I could site but, at least for me, that’s the bottom line. If I am experiencing anxiety, fear, or a general lack of peace I can be pretty sure that I have elevated some person, possession or privilege above God in my life! If I want him to restore my peace I must deconstruct whatever altar of false worship I have erected in my life and once again allow God to be the center and focus of everything.

12
Oct
09

hope

hope-1Julie and I had a friend years ago who was always completely in the dark when it came to current events. I would tease her on a regular basis because she had no idea what was going on in the news. One Sunday she came in for worship and announced, “You’ll be so proud of me! I subscribed to the Miami Herald this week.” We joked with her about finally being in the know and then we went on with our day.

The next Sunday she came in and informed me that she had cancelled her subscription because she couldn’t take it anymore. All the bad news was overwhelming her.

I know how she felt. We live in a state that has the highest unemployment rate in the country. We live only a few miles from the city with the highest murder rate in the nation, not to mention the graft that is being uncovered, on what seems like a daily basis, in city government. If you are not from here you can only imagine what our evening news broadcast sounds like.

It would be very easy to check out or, worse yet, become so pessimistic that no one ever wants to be around us. So what’s a Christ follower to do?

I believe we are to be purveyors of hope. The word purveyor means “one who provides or supplies”.

1 Peter 3:15 implies that each of us should be living our life in such a way that people should be asking us about the “hope that is in” us. When was the last time that happened to you? When was the last time somebody asked you why you were so hopeful and enthusiastic about life? Do you have hope? Where does hope come from? Paul says “that God… gives you hope.” The verse goes on to say that God “will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him” and that you can “overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). I want to stay full of the Holy Spirit so that I might “overflow with hope”!

05
Oct
09

beautiful sunsets

100_0084 A few years ago Julie and I were vacationing in Mexico. It was nearing the end of our week and we wanted to have dinner at a nice restaurant to culminate our time away. I asked the concierge at the hotel where we were staying to make us a reservation at one of his favorite restaurants. The time came for dinner, so the concierge hailed us a cab and off we went.

We had never been to this part of Mexico before and so, even though we had spent the week there, we knew very little about the area except for the parts we had managed to explore when we weren’t at the pool or beach. We assumed the restaurant would be in the main downtown area that we were already familiar with. We were wrong. We sped through that area and, after leaving town, headed up the side of a mountain. Twenty-five minutes into the ride I started getting a little concerned. We were pulling into a little Mexican village, cobblestones and all. As we wound our way through the narrow streets we had to avoid children playing soccer. We got more than one curious look from people standing on the street as if a taxi was not a common sight.

What had been a concern now turned into full fledged worry complete with an escape plan. I was sure we were being kidnapped for ransom, after all is was happening in many places in Mexico. I was watching for a place where, when the cab slowed down enough, I could grab Julie and jump out of the car and make our escape. I was rehearsing in my mind the route we had taken to get to where we were so I could get us out of there.

We turned a corner and just as I was about to open the door, I saw the sign for the restaurant. We got out and enjoyed one of the nicest dinners we have ever had, on the veranda of an old Mexican villa, on the side of a mountain over looking Banderas Bay. We enjoyed some of the best seafood we had ever eaten. We experienced the hospitality of the family who had owned the villa for generations, and watched one of the most beautiful sunsets we had ever seen.

How often my walk with God has been like that. I asked Him to let me walk in His will, only to panic along the way because of the unfamiliarity of the journey and the fear the enemy conjured up in my mind. And yet when all was said and done I enjoyed one of the best moments of my life that God had prepared for me!