Monthly Archives: July 2018

The relationship between remembering and fear…

For a good number of years now I have been thinking about fear. (If you’re a regular reader, that’s no surprise.)

Why? You may rightly ask.

Well, it’s because there have been seasons in my life, as well as some of those in whom I invest, that fear is not just an aspect life, but a crippling factor in life.

In fact, if we allow it to, fear can become the lens through which we see life.

I know.

I have been through seasons where fear is the lens through which I see life.

A while back I learned that I no longer have to reside in that place where fear colors all the windows and makes everything look dark.

The way to clean that glass is to remember. Remember what God has done.

This is what many of the Psalms do for us. They are records of how Israel was told to remember. Remember what God has done.

“On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” (Psalms‬ ‭138:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

What I’ve learned is that the more I remember the faithfulness of God, the more I contemplate His greatness and sovereignty, the less I wrestle with fear or anxiety.

As I remember and focus on God, my faith strengthens.

Recently I’ve refocused in daily thankfulness. This is a way in which I think and pray in terms of my own personal Psalm 138. Because I too, like you, can remember how He has strengthened me.

Dwell, friend, in the word of God which is the sword of the Spirit.

Remember the greatness of God.

Practice intentional thankfulness.

Watch as He lifts you up.

Enjoy as your faith dissipates your fear.

Abide in Him.

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Struggling with people

It’s normal to struggle with people. Thinking otherwise may mean that we’re thinking more highly of humans than we should (especially ourselves – develop a healthy view of the Fall).

When we realize we’re struggling with a person, there are steps we are able to take to help us love them. Jesus said “love your enemy.”

1. Pray for them daily. God will use this prayer, at least, as a means to change the heart of the praying person toward the person with whom she struggles.

2. As you pray for them, remember the good God has done through them. This might be harder, but the harder you look for the work of God, the more God works on you.

3. Do something kind for them. But don’t expect kindness in return. If you get it, you’ve material for number 2!

4. Seek them out and thank them for something. Anything. Just be grateful. Gratitude changes our hearts.

5. Stick with it. It may be a long process. That’s okay. Hearts don’t get hardened overnight, they don’t get softened overnight either.

Love your enemy. – Jesus

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Considering culture in balance:

Luke 10:32-11:1 Bible Museum, Washington, D. C.

Is your focus on and study of your culture out of balance compared to your study of God in His word?

Each of us must understand our context. Indeed, applying the Bible to life means understanding our context.

But across many time zones, it seems we’re so focused on the problems in our cultures, that the solution is difficult to see. It would appear that too many leaders (yes, you’re a leader) have allowed the study of their particular culture to outweigh their study of God.

Take a long refreshing drink of God’s word friend. Then you’ll see that culture through the eyes of Jesus.

“But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke‬ ‭10:41-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

#notALawIt’sAnOpportunity

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Declare Your Independence!

In America, today is the celebration and remembrance of the Declaration of Independence from oppression.

Today, suggest that there is a new oppression. This new oppression is bad news, angry mobs, political polarization (even among friends) and a general discontent that is seen almost everywhere one turns. It has resulted in widespread discouragement.

By the way, I speak not of an American phenomenon, this malaise crosses borders and boundaries.

It has created a kind of dark cloud of discouragement about the present and the future. There is a kind of pessimism that is inter generational, cross-cultural, and multi-racial.

And this pessimism is not biblical.

Because it focuses on the problem not the solution, the darkness rather than the light and the oppressor as enemy rather than the oppression. And the real Enemy loves it.

So, wherever you are reading this,* I suggest that you declare your independence from the malaise of discouragement, pessimism and anger.

But a declaration may well be followed by action. (Years of war followed the July 4, 1776 declaration.) So an action plan is needed. Here are some suggestions for a battle plan.

1. Look people in the eye and genuinely ask them “How are you?” Then give them time to at least realize your question is genuine. You may lift them up by simply responding positively to them, or with sympathy.

2. Make a point of smiling more. Smile at people you interact with and really engage them as you have that interaction.

3. Watch less news. Local, global, whatever. Imagine what would happen if you turned off the hourly radio news and took those 5 minutes to meditate on a Scripture verse or prayed intentionally a thanksgiving prayer for the names of your family and friends.

4. Listen deeply to people. Maybe after a hard conversation with a friend you could text them an encouraging verse.

5. When a fellow believer begins to go off on politics, remind them that our real citizenship is in Heaven and that our best strategy is to spread love person to person rather than feeding political animosity. Perhaps complement them on something to shift the conversation to something uplifting.

6. Begin your day with God, your Heavenly Father and remember that IN CHRIST, you are not condemned because God is forgiving. Remember that you have no more reason to feel shame. Remember, through Jesus’ work, you are accepted.

7. End your day with your head on your pillow meditating on the greatness of God. (A helpful method is to use the Lord’s Prayer as an outline and prayerfully think about God’s nature.)

8. Make time each week to send notes, texts, emails, or DMs to people to remind them that you are thinking of them and that they are loved.

9. Find a place to volunteer and try these suggestions where you volunteer.

10. When natural pessimism begins to creep in, thank God for something. (Your beating heart is a good place to start.) “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

11. Take a real day off every week and get enough sleep each night.

12. Read the Bible more than books about the Bible.

Ok, enough already. Make a choice!

Declare your independence from the common worldly malaise.

In these ways you can begin your own war on worldly pessimism and discouragement. Cultures are changed one heart at a time. So start with yours and show love to the heart nearest by. In this way, you live the good news rather than being crippled by the world news.

____________

*More of you readers are outside the US than inside, and today is just a summertime Wednesday.

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Be comforted…

Like the sunrise announces hope for a new day, I’m always gladdened to read theses words in my morning reading.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans‬ ‭8:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

In this great book of Romans in which Paul gives his thorough explanation of the good news, these amazing words are so comforting to my soul.

Meditate on this truth friend.

Fragment from Romans 4. Bible Museum, Washington D.C.

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Ascending or making my bed: a choice

In meditating on Psalm 139, I noticed that there is a kind of a choice set up for me.

“If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalms‬ ‭139:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

The context of the verse is David giving great glory to God and describing that glory. Back when I taught the attributes of God to my students, this Psalm was a key place of study. Roughly speaking we may see the all knowing nature of God (omniscience) by considering verses 1-4. We may see His omnipresence (He is everywhere) from 5-10. Then beginning about 11 through 15 (and beyond) we see His work in our creation. This reminds us that He is all powerful (omnipotent).

This is a Psalm of comfort because it reminds us of the nature of God and therefore I should be encouraged (rather than fear).

Yet, nestled in verse 8 is an interesting and comforting contrast. Whether I am ascending to heaven or making my bed in Sheol, God is there. (Thanks be to God for His omnipresence).

My application is that every morning I get to decide to ascend or make my bed.

I can run up the stairs of my Father’s throne by soaking up His word or I can make my bed in the circumstances of this life.

Yesterday I read the pastor’s note in the bulletin of the church we attended. The pastor urged the people to use summer as a time to renew their Bible reading. He noted that as a young believer he was urged to have “Bible before breakfast.” He suggested this to his church. He noted that this “…it’s not a law, it’s an opportunity.”

This seems a good application, the opportunity to ascend the stairs to the throne of grace (reading Scripture) to know Him better and to prepare my heart to pray, in His loving, merciful, and accepting presence.

Ascend, friend, don’t lay in the bed of anxiety.

Consider the words of Paul: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

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