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Do You Know?

10 Mar

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Do you know that although “Americans are safer and more secure today than at any point in history,. . . America now ranks as the most anxious nation on the planet, with more than 18 percent of the adults suffering from a full-blown anxiety disorder in any given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.”

Also, “The average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s.” These quotes are from a book I just finished called Nerve: Poise under pressure, serenity under stress, and the brave new science of fear and cool.  I’m interested in the topic of teenage anxiety, as I teach 7th grade English Language Arts in a middle school in Costa Rica, and my students are continually stressed out.

The book has a number of suggestions for dealing with fear, anxiety, and stress, which I am taking the liberty of giving a Biblical point of view:

Breathe:  Physiologically when we take deep breaths we are telling our body that everything is all right.  Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord! Praise ye the Lord!  Psalm 150:6

Put your feelings into words: Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! Thou hast set me at large when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.  Psalm 4:1

Train, practice, and prepare:  to know the love of Christ, which surpasseth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:19  As Christians, we prepare for extraordinary crises in our lives through reading and meditating on the Word of God and fellowshipping with Him during ordinary times in our lives.

Redirect your focus:  “The culprit in cases of meltdown under pressure isn’t fear but misdirected focus:  we turn our attention inward and grow preoccupied with worries about results, which undercuts our true abilities.”  Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn out to my salvation through your prayer and the support of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,according to my earnest expectation and my hope that in nothing shall I be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.  Philippians 1: 18-20

Mindfully disentangle from worries and anxious thoughts:  Taylor Clark, the author of Nerve, suggests two routes through which we can disentangle ourselves:  1) mindfully watch your worries, or 2) postpone worries.  The Bible suggests that we Humble [ourselves] therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7

Expose yourself to your fears:  But when anything is exposed and reproved by the light, it is made visible and clear; and where everything is visible and clear there is light. Ephesians 5:13

Learn to accept uncertainty and lack of control:  According to Oswald Chambers, “Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated.”  That is the fear we need to deal with, and the only way to deal with that is to acknowledge our weakness and learn of His omnipotence through worship and communion with Him.  O Lord God of hosts, who is a mighty one like unto You, O Lord? And Your faithfulness is round about You [an essential part of You at all times].  Psalm 89:8  Oswald Chambers goes on to edify:  “If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified.”

Continue to persevere.

The Road to Unafraid

7 Jun

I just finished a book called The Road to Unafraid by Captain Jeff Struecker.  I highly recommend it.  Jeff Struecker was/is an Army Ranger, won Best Ranger of the year, and fought in Panama, Mogadishu, and the Global War on Terror.  In the process he went from being a nominal Christian to a committed Christian and later went through college and seminary to become a Chaplain with the Rangers.  Today, I’d just like to quote a bit from one of the last chapters which is about a mission on  the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

“The fear of letting down those who look to you for leadership and support is one of life’s most penetrating concerns.  It gets right to the core of your being.  If you don’t believe that your life is in God’s hands, and that there is no such thing with him as an “untimely death,” you can just about go crazy.

I struggled with this the left of the ride.  I pulled out of it  only when we arrived unharmed at the target building. . . .

Life on the edge is not anybody’s favorite.  The longer we live, the less we relish the idea of risk.  We think about all the other components of our life, especially our families, and worry that something is going to disrupt the scene in a major way.  We’d much rather keep things on a steady, predictable keel.

The trouble is we lack the power to ensure that on our own.  As the Bible says, “How do you know what will happen tomorrow?  For your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, they it’s gone” (James 4:14).  The only way to keep our heads and stifle our panic in this kind of setting is to trust the One who controls all things.  If we have submitted to his leadership, he promises to keep us in his care and to manage the events of our lives for good.  He is the ultimate cure for the apprehensions that try to drown us.”

God is in the Waiting

25 Jan

God IS in the waiting.

Not until then did he seek comfort and counself from his wife, who had always been his solace at such times; throwing himself down beside her on the wagon seat, he told her the story of his late discoveries, the absence of the king, the death of his kinsman. For a second the woman’s heart quailed before the fresh difficulties, but she forgot self at the look in her husband’s face. Her quiet reply, “We will wait, for God is in the waiting.” ~ The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric. P. Kelly

Mike has taught me so much about waiting!  I’m the kind of person that wants to make things happen.  I want to fix things.  Many, many times in fearful moments, Mike has spoken to me as the wise wife spoke in the quote above.  Wait, dear.  Let’s see what God will do.

LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. Psalm 48:15

The Courage to Look Carefully

17 Jan

Asking God to search our hearts is courageous . . . and necessary!

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.  Psalm 139:23-24

There are several things worthy of notice in the Psalmist’s appeal, in the words before us.

First, notice the Psalmist’s intrepidity. Here is a man determined to explore the recesses of his own heart. Did Bonaparte, did Nelson, did Wellington, ever propose to do this? Were all the renowned heroes of antiquity present, I would ask them all if they ever had courage to enter into their own hearts. David was a man of courage. When he slew a lion in the way, when he successfully encountered a bear, when he went out to meet the giant Goliath, he gave undoubted proofs of courage; but never did he display such signal intrepidity as when he determined to look into his own heart.

Secondly, notice the Psalmist’s integrity. He wished to know all his sins, that he might be delivered from them. As every individual must know his sins at some period, a wise man will seek to know them here, because the present is the only time in which to glorify God, by confessing, by renouncing, by overcoming them. One of the attributes of sin is to hide man from himself, to conceal his deformity, to prevent him from forming a just conception of his true condition.

Thirdly, notice the Psalmist’s wisdom. He presents his prayer to God himself. God is the only Being in the universe that knows himself — that peruses himself in his own light. In the same light he sees all other beings; and hence it follows that, if other beings see themselves truly, it must be in the light of God. ~ The Treasury of David

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mendhak/4682393073/

Fear of Change

14 Jan

My great-grandparents close to arriving in New Mexico after crossing the Rocky Mountains in their covered wagon. Don't know where they came up with a photographer!

Why is it that some of us fear change so much and others of us celebrate change?  I just got off the phone with my brother a few minutes ago and he mentioned that it seems like he’s good in one thing for about 5 – 7 years.  I told him about a paper that I’d done about our family when I took a counseling course while working on my Christian Education degree.  The assignment was to go back through your family tree looking for tendencies–everything from health tendencies to emotional and spiritual tendencies.  One of the main things I discovered is that on both sides we’re a family on the move.  Since we came over from England in the 1600s and from Norway in the late 1800s, we’ve been moving.  Not one younger generation has lived in the same place as its parents.  Usually the parents haven’t even stayed in the same place.

Enjoying change in the way I’ve discussed is a natural tendency in me, not supernatural.  It’s certainly nothing to take credit about.  However, going into the unknown like Abraham did, by faith, is another story.

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.  Hebrew 11:8-10

By faith in these verses means belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same.  That goes beyond the natural enjoyment of change, to faith that God will lead us exactly where He wants us to go if we keep our eyes on Him.  We have recently experienced that peace and that faith that comes from knowing that He is guiding you after a period of not being sure.  Recently I accepted a position at a school in Guatemala that was a good provision and a country we were attracted to for ministry, but both of us felt terrible after accepting the job.  We turned it down two days later and since then have experienced such a rest about our uncertain plans due to a renewed confidence that He is guiding.

Doubt Rusts

22 Nov

“Doubt is like rust which corrodes metal,” the hooded man says.  “It travels from your brain into your body, and eats you away.”

“My head hears you,” Ygerna relies, “but my heart does not.  I wish your words comforted me.”

“Nothing comes of doubt,” says the hooded man, “except inaction and more doubt.” ~ The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland

What truth here in a Young Adult book about Arthurian legends–doubt IS a substance that eats away and corrodes.  What things do we doubt about God?  I think the top three are His goodness, His love, and His power.  And those doubts sniggle their way into our lives without us noticing and begin to corrode our faith.  And because of that, today I confess:

Preserve my life, for I am godly and dedicated; O my God, save Your servant, for I trust in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, without fear or doubt].  Psalm 86:2 AMP.

Source of Fearlessness: Believing God 2

25 Oct

Paul was in an untenable situation on a sinking ship during a terrible storm when he was being transported to Rome as a prisoner.  And yet he spoke to the sailors and bid them take heart:

Last night God’s angel stood at my side, an angel of this God I serve, saying to me, ‘Don’t give up, Paul. You’re going to stand before Caesar yet—and everyone sailing with you is also going to make it.’ So, dear friends, take heart. I believe God will do exactly what he told me. But we’re going to shipwreck on some island or other.” Acts 27: 23-26