Sunday, February 21, 2010

What, Me Worry?

If you have ever read an old Mad Magazine, ( young folks, sorry, you probably have no clue) you recognize this phrase immediately. I don't even remember why it was supposed to be funny. The fact is, though, we do joke about worrying all the time. For some of you, it is your full time job! There certainly are a lot of things that we can worry about. As a grandparent we could possibly have four generations to worry about. We may have one or both parents still living, but often times in need of full time care. We have our own lives, jobs, spouses and friends that might be in difficult circumstances. Then we have our children, who generally are starting their families, careers and maybe buying a home. To top it off, we have our grandchildren, who have to grow up in a society that is growing increasingly hostile to our Christian values. We wonder how they will make it. I'm sorry, are you getting worried and depressed? There definitely are a lot of things that we can worry about, but should we worry?

Last time, we talked about trusting in God. Did you know that worrying is the exact opposite of trusting? In fact, worrying is in reality, a sin. Now don't get all upset, just look at the Bible with me and see if I'm right. The Lord knows that worrying is an issue for us, so He speaks to us about it in His word. Let's look at some of these verses.

1. Matt 6:25-26 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

2. Matt 6:34 therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

3. Matt 10:19-20 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

4. Luke 12:11-12 "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."

In these verses, the phrase "do not worry" is called a present imperative with a negative. Translation, it is a command! That is why I can say to you that when we worry, we directly disobey our Lord. Why would God give us such a command? Well, He knows that worrying never accomplishes anything positive. I love what He says in verse 27 of Matthew 6. "Who of you, by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" The fact is that all medical research shows just the opposite. Worrying leads to negative stress, which is a leading factor in many medical problems, especially concerning the heart. You see, when we worry, we are actually telling the Lord that we don't trust Him to provide for all of our needs. If you look at these verses, you will see that He has promised us that He will provide for us, so we needn't worry. In fact, the more you read the Bible, the more you will see that God has a long record of providing for His children.

It is a simple formula. Worry = stress, Trust=peace. Why do we find this such a hard command to follow even though we know this to be true? I think it boils down to one thing. We lack faith. On five different occasions in the book of Matthew, Jesus chided the disciples for their lack of faith. They worried about food, clothing, and safety, just like we do. When we worry, would He not say the same to us? I know that this may be difficult to accept, but when we worry it displeases the Lord. We need to repent and receive His forgiveness.

Now, I would love to tell you that I have this issue conquered and that in one easy lesson, you can too. I can't. Actually, I am not naturally a person who is a big worrier, but I have my moments. When I was coaching, on game day I always worried that we were not fully prepared or that the players were not mentally ready to play. I usually spent Saturday mornings repenting for all my needless worry and thanking God for His blessings! Now you might be thinking if that's the biggest thing He's ever had to worry about, no wonder He's not a worrier. Well, try this one on. Less than a week after the 9 /11 attacks on America, my son, an Air Force pilot, was sent to Saudi Arabia. For the next three years, he was deployed several times, flying refueling missions over the skies of Iraq, Afghanistan and other places in the Middle East. What, me worry? It was difficult time to not be in constant worry. Interestingly enough, it was a time that the Lord poured His grace out in a special way and gave our family great peace.

I believe that the key to overcoming worry is taking God at His word and receiving His grace. In 2nd Co 12, the apostle Paul shares how he had asked the Lord three times for a physical healing, but the Lord answered him with these words, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." We receive God's grace by faith. Remember, even if our faith is small, any amount is sufficient for the Holy Spirit to do His work in our lives. Php 4:6-:7 is the best instruction there is to keep from worrying. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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."


If there is an issue that you are worried about right now, take it immediately to the Lord in prayer. Lay out all of your concern and ask him to give you the faith to take Him at His word and give you peace, that He is taking care of the situation. You might even want to actually get on your knees, just to show the Lord that you are bowing yourself to His will. I think you might find this a special blessing.

Re read the scriptures that are in this post. Ask the Lord to help you be more aware of when you are crossing the line between concern and real worry. When you sense that you have crossed that line, repent and ask forgiveness. Then turn it over to Him.

May God bless you and fill your life with His peace, as you continue to lay your burdens upon Him.





Saturday, February 13, 2010

In God We Trust?

Today, I would like to explore the idea of trusting God. It is an important concept. So much so, that as a nation, we adopted a motto to recognize the fact that we trust in God. Of course lately, we see many people who detest that concept and want to see the motto removed from our buildings, our cash, our books and from our consciousness. Have you ever wondered why there is such a backlash against this simple acknowledgement of corporate trust in our Creator? Most importantly though, as a Christian, we must ask ourselves, do we really trust God with our lives? If not, why not? God tells us many times in His word to put our trust in Him. He must have a good reason for that, don't you think? Let's find out.

Wouldn't it be nice to know that every time in your life, you had to make a decision on which direction to go, you could make the right choice? You know, kind of like having a GPS nav system for life. Guess what, you can! You might not hear an audible voice saying "at the next stop, turn right", but you can receive all the guidance necessary to go in the right direction. OK, you're probably saying to yourself, there is no way to always know the right way to go! If there was, then I would always choose it. Well, let's look at what the Bible says about it.

Pr 3:5-6 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." If you look closely, you will see that this verse has one promise and three requirements.

First, let's look at what the promise in this verse is. It says that He will make our paths straight. In the King James Version it says that He will direct your paths. The idea here is that when God directs you, you will go in the correct direction. The Hebrew word for trust in the verse is interesting. According to Strong's it has the proper meaning, "to hide for refuge". A closely related word actually means "a place of refuge". Figuratively the word means to be confident or sure. The object of our trust in the verse is the Lord, so let's put this together. The verse begins with the idea that we can confidently take refuge in following the Lord's direction. Let's illustrate. If you were out walking and suddenly a storm began, you might seek refuge or shelter from the storm, right? What would you be hoping that shelter would provide? I would think that protection from the elements of the storm would be the priority. You would want to know that the place you have chosen really can provide safety and protection. God is showing us that there is great safety in trusting Him to guide us.

The first requirement is that we trust with "all our heart". The word heart here signifies our emotions, our will and our intellect. The word all
all, every part, the whole thing! You see, God does not want a half hearted trust in Him. He wants every part of who and what we are, to trust Him. Sometimes we find that very difficult to do. We want to put our trust in Him, but often times our emotions, our will or our intellect gets in the way. God knows that and I think that is why He put in the second requirement, "Lean not on your own understanding". Some people think that means put your brain and reasoning on mute. I don't believe that is the case at all. God gave us an ability to think and reason that is unique among His creation. He certainly expects us to use it, but we must realize how limited our knowledge is in comparison to His. Isn't it only reasonable to trust the one who already knows what will happen, the one who has all the information? Makes sense to me!

The third requirement is to" acknowledge Him in all our ways". This involves the aspect of our will. We have the free will to follow His leading or not. Sometimes, even though we know which way God is leading us, we still want to go our own way. I can tell you that every time I have made a decision based on my will instead of God's will, it turns out not to be in my best interest. The key is to get our will aligned with His. That is acknowledging Him in all our ways. Ps 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". This is when you can know that you are aligning your will with His. You will want to go the same direction He wants you to.

Maybe, you are afraid of trusting God to direct you because you aren't sure of where you will end up. Well, look at what the Lord said to the children of Israel when they were in captivity, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future". (Jer 29:11) If we have trusted God for our salvation, how could we not trust Him for every need of our life? Jesus said in John 14:1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me…" If you have not yet trusted Jesus for your salvation, I pray that you would do that today. If there is one thing that I have learned in my 46 years as a Christian, it is this: You can trust God!

Game Plan: The best way to learn that you can trust the Lord in every way is to spend time with Him in prayer and study of His word. The better you get to know Him, the easier it is to see and hear His leading and trust Him. Every time you follow His leading, it increases your faith and ability to do it again.

Read about the life of Abraham in Gen 12-25. Abraham was a man who trusted God.

Ask God in prayer to give you the ability to trust Him with all of your life.


May God bless you as you continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of His will,







Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Put Me in Coach, Pt 3: The Super Bowl

It's finally here, Super Bowl Sunday! Millions of people all over the world will be watching the culmination of the NFL season. The players have been practicing for seven months. All of the previous games the two contenders have played; have been reduced to speed bumps on a road trip to this one day. At the end of this game there will be only one team that reached its' ultimate goal, becoming Super Bowl champions. Make no mistake about it, these players have only one goal this week, win the Super Bowl. For them, there is no other outcome that will justify the sacrifices they have made to reach this point.

One of the great things about sports is that the goal is so clear cut. Each game is a new opportunity to reach a goal. A seasonal goal is reached by focusing on the goal for each game. The results are easily measured, you win or you lose. Victory or defeat. That goal gives you a clear purpose and direction for each day because you are preparing to win. It helps you to prioritize how you spend your time. In order to reach that goal, you must be disciplined enough to stay on task and eliminate the things that might distract you. You have to be willing to give up things you enjoy because there is no time to do them. You must suppress the desire for instant gratification because winning never comes easy or quickly, it is the result of hard work and dedication

. The question then becomes, "Is it worth it?" Good question. If you have never played a sport, it might be hard to understand the tremendous satisfaction there is in reaching your goals. Winning a championship is a great feeling. It makes all the effort seem worthwhile. But let me tell you a little secret. That euphoric feeling that comes when you win a game or even a championship is very fleeting. It only lasts a short while. Oh, the memories last a lifetime and the sense of accomplishment is great, but there is always some emptiness when it is all over. Why is this true? I will tell you the same thing I would tell my players each year. Deep inside we know that there are more important things in life than winning games. In the end, the things we learn about hard work, discipline, sacrifice, love for our teammates are really more important than the actual results. They will last longer than the feelings we have after winning a game. However, you don't learn these things unless you dedicate yourself to the goal of winning. If you don't give it the best you have, you will not learn the important lessons that will help you be successful in your future endeavors.

Can you see where I am going here? As we have been talking about getting in the game, as Christians, we need to have a clear cut, ultimate goal and then figure out what short term goals will help get us there. If we, in the same way that an athlete does, dedicate ourselves to reaching these goals, we can then begin to eliminate distractions, prioritize our time, be disciplined in our behavior and have a real sense of direction and purpose. The apostle Paul understood this concept well. He wrote this in: "1 Cor 9:24-27

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Does all that sound familiar? Paul would have made a great coach!

The big question is, what is our ultimate goal as Christians? I think that some would say that their ultimate goal is salvation and getting to heaven. Sorry, that is not really a goal. It is a gift from God that we receive when we turn our lives over to Jesus Christ. It can't be earned. No amount of training or discipline in our lives will get us there. It is only by God's grace through faith that we are saved. OK, if not salvation, then what? I would submit to you that our ultimate goal is simple. We are to bring glory to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 1Cor: 6 19-20 says "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

In Matt 5:16 Jesus said "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." This then, sets the purpose and direction for our lives. It should guide all that we say and do. 1 Cor 10:31 says, "Therefore, whether we eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God". We can measure the success of what we have done with one filter; did it bring glory to God? I know that this sounds impossible, and in our own strength and power it is. That is why God sent His Holy Spirit to help us. To truly bring God glory in whatever we do, we must do it by the power of His Spirit. I urge you to make this the goal of your life.

I believe that if we could look back at our life and say we lived it in a way that brought honor and glory to Christ, then we certainly have won our Super Bowl! We can say with Paul "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing". (2 Tim 4:7-8). Remember, the rewards for winning this game are not fleeting, they are eternal. The greatest prize we could ever receive is to hear Jesus say "well done my good and faithful servant".

Game Plan: In order to bring glory to God, you must first know Him. This does not mean know about Him, it means to know Him in a personal and intimate way. This can only be done by spending time with Him. The more time we spend with Him, the more He permeates our lives. Do this in Bible Study, where God speaks to you through His word, and prayer where you can speak to Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in your time of study and prayer. Follow His leading.

May God bless you as you make it your goal to glorify Him,