Friday, July 27, 2007

Answers for Anxiety

From my inbox this morning:

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. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Check out this connection I just made. What are we to think on?
· truth
· nobility (in archaic sense)
· righteousness
· purity
· loveliness
· things that are admirable
· excellence
· things that are praiseworthy

What are you thinking on when you are anxious? PROBLEMS. I'm probably behind all of you, but I don't think I ever made the connection before that these two verses sit in juxtaposition to one another. Don't be anxious....pray with thanksgiving....think on positive things.

Unless you have a physical disorder, you aren't anxious unless you are considering, on some level, things that trouble you. What if you considered things that don't trouble you? Things like the list above? I think I've always thought the verse meant don't think on bad things, which it certainly covers. But today I'm thinking it also, and perhaps more directly, means don't think on negative things. This may be related to why we are to do everything without complaining--because complaining is thinking on negative things, and that surely leads to anxiety!

I hope this makes sense. I've just come to this realization and haven't really spent time processing it until right now. Perhaps I should have pondered first, but I just got so excited! (I already know that I'm a complete freak! )

Hope you're pondering on non-negative things today!


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Life Lessons

Here's a life lesson with easy spiritual applications.

About an hour ago, someone came to me and told me that it looked like rain. I noted this because I had left my car windows rolled down a bit. However, I glanced out the window, and it appeared to me that the sun was shining. (I couldn't actually see the sky from that angle.) I decided to ignore this warning.

I just looked out the window. Very dark, very wet. I'm guessing my car is in the same state. I kinda feel like a non-Noah-family-member (only alive). Guess I should heed the warnings sent my way, huh?


(c) 2007

Need a Reason?

We know many reasons why we should be a grateful people. Perhaps most obvious is the fact that we were commanded to give thanks always. First Thessalonians 5:18 says,
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

But what if God's will has a bonus attached to obedience (as, frankly, He so often does)? Check out what I read a couple of days ago:
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. --Psalm 50:23

Wow. Check that out. Thanksgiving does two things, according to this passage. One, it honors God. This is nothing to breeze over. Is not part of our mission in life to bring honor to His name?

However, it was the second one that really struck me. Giving thanks prepares the way for God to move in our lives. There is something in my life that I am almost daily asking God to deliver me from. I need His salvation in this area, for I don't see a way out on my own. I want to be fully prepared for God to move in my life, and I suddenly realized that, while I am not an ungrateful person, I should be more focused on giving thanks!

I have started a little 3x5 card file. At the top is the date (e.g., July 26), and then on the first line, I list the year. Next to that, I write the highlights of the day, and for fun, the weather. I fill 3-4 lines, and plan to write on the same card on the same date for the next four years, at which point I'll start a new card.

The cards are a simple way to chronicle my life, and they doesn't stress me out like writing in a journal does. Journals have too much space, and I feel like I should write the whole story, and then I get overwhelmed and just don't write. The cards force me to identify the main forces and events of the day. It'll be interesting to see the comparisons when next year comes around.

Anyway, in response to this verse and also a sermon I heard recently, I've decided to add one line to each entry, titled TF--Thankful For... This means that at least at one point every day, I will be consciously thankful for something God is doing/has provided in my life. So far, I find that the struggle is to narrow it down to just one line. :-)

Just thought I'd share that thought with you. Thankfulness as a doorway to God's salvation in my life. That's a door I want unlocked and open!



Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Asking for Pain

So I asked for pain. I know this sounds like lunacy, but hear my story.

One of the blessings of where God has planted me is being 20 minutes from a very nice lake. Another blessing is that my good friends and next-door neighbors have a boat and love company. An excellent combination, I’m sure you’ll agree. :-)

Earlier this summer, I was out on the boat with my friends and heard a discussion about them needing a new platform and ladder on the back of their boat. I remember this distinctly, as the ladder currently attached to the slatted, wooden platform has only one rung, and it can be quite a feat to get back into the boat after being in the water. I was looking forward to using the new ladder for an easier reentry. Who knew that I would become the decision-maker for my friends? [Enter sense of foreboding.]

Saturday, two weeks ago, I was out on the lake with the same friends, along with my best friend and her family. To join in the fun, I decided to embark on my inaugural voyage on a tube. If you’ve ever been, or even witnessed, tubing—a sport entailing hanging on for dear life to a rubber tube with handles which is attached to the boat by a very thin rope and moving at dozens of miles an hour—you probably understand that this is probably not the best sport to learn as a sedentary 34-year-old. But why let a little thing like common sense get in the way? [Foreboding builds.]

I snapped on my life jacket, and stepped off the back of the boat onto the wooden platform, right leg first. You may have wondered if gravity was in effect two weeks ago Saturday. I am ready to testify that it was. Other laws of science were also in effect. For example, wood that resides regularly in water becomes soft and, when force is applied, ceases to sustain weight. In other words, when I stepped onto the wooden slat, it broke in two, and my leg plunged down into the 3-inch gap left between the adjoining slats.

When a body is thrust into such a downward motion, all attached parts are affected. Thus, as my leg went down, my body fell off the boat and into the water. At this point, I suspect that angels were in attendance, for as I fell, I didn’t 1.) hit my head, 2.) break my foot, ankle, or leg, or 3.) rearrange the ligaments in my knee. All of these were legitimate options based on the manner in which I fell, perpendicular to my right leg. Also, because I had a life jacket on (something that wouldn’t have been true if I’d have been jumping into the lake to swim, as I was earlier in the summer), I didn’t drown. The position of my body was forcing my head back and into the water.

Here’s where a hero’s heart is evidence. My best friend’s brother didn’t make a sound or pause a moment. He just jumped into the water (sans life jacket) and began to hold me up as I attempted to pull my leg free. My best friend tagged the owner of the boat, and all of us began to try to figure a way out.

This was one of those moments where time becomes elastic and brief moments are vivid for every millisecond. I was probably trapped less than a minute, but wow, what a minute. Let me review the facts here: I am not a little person, and my substantial calf (of more than 3” in diameter) was wedged—by the force of my full body weight—into a space about 3” wide. Suddenly, my leg began to pull free, as if it were being pushed from below. I have no explanation for how I got loose.

To check my leg, I swam around for awhile while the guys removed the broken board. I knew instantly that my leg was fine. I had massive bruising, and serious knots in the leg, but nothing was rerouted to a different place in my body nor torn from its original location. I didn’t even reawaken an old knee injury (one that plagued me as recently as recently as June; see previous posts). Therefore I did what every sensible person would do: I climbed up on the tube and told them to take off.

Turns out that, if you position your body just right and respond just so to the pull of the boat, tubing can be much like riding a bucking bronco while being sprayed in the face with a fire hose. I lasted about 5 seconds, dismounting in what I like to think of as a graceful back roll. Two abrupt falls into the water were enough to awaken my asthma, and thus ended my day of adventure.

About four days following, the piece of post-modern artwork on my leg shifted, and serious bruising began to appear on my foot. This was quickly followed by the inability to recognize my right ankle, as it looked nothing like it had at any point previously. Swelling can do that to you. That night, I became really concerned. One of they symptoms of a blood clot (not an unlikely result of such a trauma) is swelling in the whole leg. It was after midnight, everyone was in bed, and my only medical option was the emergency room. I lay in bed, unsure of what to do. And so I prayed. Here’s what I asked: "God, if I need to go get some help before morning, give me pain." Severe pain is the other symptom of a blood clot. Flat on my back, with my leg high in the air, I waited.

I slept restlessly that night, but my pain never increased. In the morning, I made an appointment with my doctor, who x-rayed and ultra sound-ed my leg, and told me that I was break and blood clot free. I did, however, have to get off my leg, elevate it, and take an anti-inflammatory. I took that Friday and Saturday off, and spent the weekend with my leg propped in the air.

I have spent every evening since then with my leg propped in the air. I have also spent parts of days at work with my leg pointed toward the sky. It has made life a bit less doable, especially as my numbness has begun to wear off. Turns out, now my leg hurts!. For the first few days, I really felt almost nothing, now I feel pain in parts I didn’t know were present. However, when it really mattered that I feel pain if I needed immediate care, I remained relatively pain-free.
It’s strange how we can be motivated to ask for things that we would not usually desire. Such is the work of the Spirit in our lives. May my heart be ever more motivated to ask for what I really need, not the shortcuts I desire.

Sooooo… if you were wondering why I went AWOL, it was mostly because my leg was lonely and wanted lots of attention. And who am I to argue with my leg?


Friday, July 20, 2007


It occurred to me as I reread that last post, that there is one very good thing about my struggle: I struggle. The natural man does not want the things of the Spirit. The fact that I am struggling does show that Christ is at work in my life. I am so grateful for that.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. --Romans 7:14-25 NIV

In hope (confidence based on Christ's work),

(c) 2007

Lousy Moods, Ugly Heart

I hate lousy moods. I hate it when they seem to take over my day. And I really hate knowing that I actually have control over it, but I'm just not willing to put forth the effort to curtail my ugliness.

So, I bet you can guess how my day is going. (I know I've been gone awhile, and I'll try to catch up soon, but this is where I am right now.) I feel irritable and angry and sad and mad all at the same time.

I dumped my cereal in my lap on the way to work (don't...I've already been told that that's what I get for eating in my car). I was substantially late before that happened and turning around and going back to find a new outfit didn't really help with that condition.

At work, I got a phone call that, though I had specifically asked the parties who should know (the bank), that the paperwork that it took me over a week to get signed was signed by the wrong person. The right person is not available, and, oh, I know you've got a deadline, but I'm going on vacation so if we don't fix it now, it'll be a week or more...

These things do not make for a happy day, but the worst thing is this: I know that these things aren't why I am so unhappy. I know that it is because I have been choosing self over Savior and entertainment over relationship for the past week or more. And right now, what I'm really struggling with is that I want both. I want what I want and I want to be in right relationship with my God. And if my heart were right and not selfish, maybe I could have both things. But today I must make a choice. I put off making choices I don't like. It's a lousy mechanism for life, but it is my natural fall-back.

A popular quote around my church is, "We must preach the gospel to ourselves daily." It took me a while to unpack this one, but I think that this is where I've gone awry this week. I tend to--and probably always will until I receive my new body--forget Who and why I serve if I don't rehearse these things to myself regularly. I haven't preached the gospel to myself in quite some time now, and wow, does it show. (And to my roomie, I am really sorry, 'cause I know it shows most at home.)

So I guess now is the moment of truth. Do I repent of my sin, or continue to engage it? The reader is probably thinking I have reached some wonderful (and obvious) conclusion here. But the truth is...a few words later, I still want both.

There is real ugliness inside us, even after Christ. I hate that this is true. I hate that I am still capable of such nastiness, such selfishness. Right now, I really long for heaven, for perfection, for my heart to no longer wrestle with what will, in that place, seem so ridiculously petty that I'll be embarrassed for it. Maranatha means something like, "Come quickly, Lord." And so I beg...


(c) 2007

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Have You Considered...?

Have you ever considered how good God is to so freely offer unlimited forgiveness when it seems that our sins are limitless?


(c) 2007