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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Miserable Anxiety

“The mind that is anxious about the future is miserable.”  

~Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

~Psalm 130:5-6

I was reading in my daily devotional this week. Topic: “He Cares For You.” Title: “The Sin of Anxiety.” I thought of a number of friends going through a wide variety of extremely challenging circumstances yet how each of them are facing and responding to them differently. I thought about my own challenges. Yet, in every circumstance no matter how great or small, I was struck that anxiety IS sin.

Here’s why:

1. When we are anxious we are not trusting God. Read Matt. 5:25-34 — how can we, after reading that, think that God won’t care for us? If we don’t we have unbelief in our hearts.

2. We do not accept God’s providence when we are anxious. If He is conducting the universe, the earth, our lives, and counts the very hairs on our heads, and wants only good for His children, then why should we worry?

While reading this I remembered a new friend I met recently in Europe. She’s been a missionary in Czech for over 16 years. A crisis in the family has struck the very core of what would be anyone’s “WHY GOD?!?” — yet she did not ask that question. She prayed and praised and prayed and surrendered to His will that this was His story for her and for her family. I was humbled at that response and thankful, so thankful for her example. It’s not one I would get to see, normally.

It strikes me extremely peculiar that American Christians have such high percentages of stress-related illness when we have it “so good” compared to our brothers and sisters in the “10/40 window” and elsewhere who endure far worse, yet experience great joy and absence of real anxiety in spite of such poverty and persecution. Hmm…

Perhaps they have grasped the truth of God’s word? Perhaps they are content to BELIEVE that God’s providential will for them in their circumstances flows from His wisdom and goodness and is ultimately intended for their good? Do we? I love this from Tara Leigh Cobble in her book, Orange Jumpsuit: “I have come to highly value my friends who walk through life with a bit of a limp.” She also says, (and I highly recommend this book!):

In that great void, I found myself grappling for only one thing: Him. Deep aches are a cave in the soul–and when you’re in the dark, you don’t care what the light reveals, you just want the Light. Had God not been juxtaposed against the desires of my heart, I would never have seen that He was the truest desire of my heart. . . . I know that I am not guaranteed a life without suffering. I’m only guaranteed that He has equipped me to suffer well.

I have not had to deal with a situation as serious as my friend in Czech. I do not believe that I will always be able to say that. I pray that I will be able to respond with the wisdom, trust, submission and joy that she has. I pray that I will “suffer well” and not be anxious for anything. Why should I not? God is good. ALL of the time.

Let’s ask Him to give us a heart that is submissive to His providential will, regardless of our circumstances, small or big.One more quote (this from Matt Chandler): “The message of scripture and the Gospel of Christ is not that in following Him everything is going to go right, but that He is enough, no matter what happens.”

Amen.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Assurance, Contentment, Joy

 

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For Your Consideration 3.17.12

I love the blogs to which I subscribe and the bloggers who take the time to write them. Here are some good and challenging reads this lovely Saturday afternoon for your consideration and edification:

I read Stephen Altrogge’s blog yesterday morning, Churches Are Going to Be Messy Places, and agree 100%. Also reading the book, Glorious Mess by Mike Howerton, which clearly shows that messy churches are filled with messy people. I like that this is NOT an excuse for believers to avoid committing to a local church. My supported opinion: There is NO excuse for a believer to avoid becoming part of a local church AND getting there regularly! In this post by Phil Johnson, Providence is Sweet, he tells a story that illustrates one more reason to be connected to the body of Christ.

Earlier this week I posted a few links discussing the Kony 2012 controversy. I’ve updated it with a couple of new links that are very compelling. Here is the post on my other blog, Collect Yourself.

Heath Lambert lays out a most excellent pattern for holding one another accountable without harshness in Gracious Candor: A Tutorial in Speaking Truth in Love.

This an older post by John Piper, but a topic that has been my focus for a few months, so thought I’d share here: How to Glorify God at Work.

Finally, since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, here is a great post by Mark Driscoll on the REAL Patrick’s life–it’s nothing like the advertisements (go figure!): Happy Greatest Missionary Who Ever Lived Day!

 
 

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God Speaks

I just returned from a week in Europe, the longest and best portion spent in Austria with an amazing group of women serving as missionaries in surrounding countries (Czech, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, Ukraine, and Latvia). They were there to meet God.

I was there because my sister invited me. My sister was there because she was invited back to lead worship for the women’s retreat. I ended up with the wonderful task of running sound and media at the back of the room during worship and meeting times as well as taking photos throughout the three days, so I had the unique view of seeing God move in hearts and watch the women respond. I noticed several things. 

1. Worship was immediate and deep. Before three words were sung the entire room of 40 women were singing—loudly, boldly, and urgently. There was no “easing into it,” no “waiting for the mood to strike.” It was as if moments like this were rare and precious and they were determined not to miss a minute of it. Each time they gathered together this intensified. There was no mistaking their love for God and desire to meet with Him and it was evident that He honored that.

2. Worship was nearly as unique as each woman. There was no set pattern, no pretense, no expectations. There were raised arms, bent bodies, tears, smiles, the works. Response to what the Spirit of God was doing in each heart and mind was evident.

3. Worship didn’t stop with the music. Attitude of prayer and worship continued throughout the day — and this doesn’t mean these folks walked around like monks with a vow of silence, just that it was clear that gratitude and communion with the most Important Person in their lives was constant.

4. Identification and confession of sin was common — a habit that seemed as normal as breathing. I found the contrast here to be striking: The typical American pew sitter probably has more sin to unload than all 40 of these women put together, yet these women were quick to respond to the Spirit’s revelation and repent, confessing to God and one another — then moved forward in happy freedom. We can learn a huge lesson here…

5. God is Everything. Not just for Sunday. Not just for a few minutes each morning. He is Everything, all the time. He is food and water and breath and life. He is not compartmentalized, minimized, or any other kind of ized.

Granted, I was seeing these women at a retreat — where we expect to meet God and experience life change. But hearing their stories over meals and watching them in all kinds of settings, I could tell their dependence and reliance on God was greater than the typical American Christian. And I’ve been to dozens of retreats over the course of my life, and this was not typical in my experience.

I have been challenged over the last several months to not be a Babylonian even though I live in Babylon. I could tell these women were doing a masterful job at just that. And because of that, God spoke. In different ways to different hearts, but He responds to those hearts that worship freely, that depend on Him, that despise any sin that has crept in, that want badly to shine a bright Light in the dark places, and to glorify Him above all else.

God speaks to the listening heart.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Prayer, The Heart, Worship

 

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