Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What me worry?........Anxiety leads to stress and stress to anxiety....

I have to say that I don't normally consider myself a worrier or some one who is overwhelmed with anxiety.  But I recently discovered that deep within I have the ability to be one of the biggest culprits of this condition.  In Philippians 4 we are instructed to  "Be anxious about nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."  Okay, sounds pretty simple.  So why is it that I still worry about silly things like....."did I remember to feed the animals" (And by animals I do mean the cat and the dog.....not the kids) It is our human nature to second guess.  We are human after all.  And in being human we certainly aren't perfect.

Recently I was asked what I thought was God's definition of peaceful.  Well that seemed like an easy thing for me to answer.  I thought about when my kids were little.  We didn't have much money, so I tried to save energy by using candles instead of turning on the lights.  For a few years our living room didn't even have a lamp.  I called this room the "tranquility room".  I spent many nights reading His word by candle light and being "still".  So my initial answer to this question was the "tranquility room".  Those quiet moments when there is no ciaos around.

 I then read a story, which took the "tranquility room" to a new level, about two artists that were asked to paint a picture of peace as they perceived it.  One painted a quiet lake far back in the mountains.  The other, a picture of a raging waterfall which had a tree leaning over it with a bird resting in a nest on one of the extended branches.  The artist who depicted peace as the waterfall and the bird showed the true idea of peace in God.  You see there is no peace without opposition.

We often think that life as a believer should be simple and easy.  Well that my friend is wrong thinking.  If life was a walk on "Easy Street" there would be no purpose for God in our lives. I know that I tend to forget about my quiet devotion when life is going according to my plan.  You know what I am talking about.  You wake up in the morning and the birds are chirping.  The sun in shining. and the temperature outside has never been more perfect. You get out of bed and pretty much the whole day just goes better than expected. But once that road block comes into play it seems like my whole world gets turned upside down.  I realize that I made a wrong turn and ended up on "Arduous Avenue".

Funny thing is as I try to avoid the road blocks in my life it seems like more and more traffic appears. And by the time I get home I am looking forward to the "tranquility room". God wants me to lay it all down at His feet.  Those road blocks were placed there by Him.  He wants me to slow down and trust in Him.  He'll get me to my destination.  God is never early.  He is never late. He is always on time.   In Romans 8:28 God reveals that "All things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to his purpose."  Now that is comforting to know that He has a plan and a purpose for my life.

Anxiety leads to stress and stress leads to anxiety.  Both of these emotions prevent us from " the peace of God, which passes all understanding"  Once we cast all of our cares, anxiety, stress and negative emotion on Him, We will discover the peace of God.  It is this peace that "shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6, 7

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I don't want to just click the "like" button on the Jesus fan page.

So, I have been on this journey of the heart over the past few week. It hasn't been an easy one either. I have gone through some really dark and scary places. And while on this journey I came to a spot where I began to question what I was. Who am I? Am I a fan or am I a follower? Difficult question. And the answers were quite complex.

For a majority of my life I have given myself the title of Christian. And here I sit today evaluating my heart. According to wikipedia, the greek word Χριστιανός (christianos)—meaning "follower of Christ"— comes from Χριστός (christos)—meaning "anointed one"— with an adjectival ending borrowed from the Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership.

Again, I ask myself if I am a fan or a follower. How much of myself have I truly surrendered? "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sister, yea, and his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26. The first time I read this verse I thought that these word seemed so contradictory to what Christ taught. He said that one of the two greatest commandments was,"Love your neighbor as yourself." And our family is the closest neighbor we have. I wake up every morning and straighten up my neighbors mess. I even make a pot of coffee for my neighbors. I wake them up and tell them I love them too. So, you can see why Luke 14:26 confused me.

I prayed for direction as I started to study this verse. I began to realize, that at the time Christ spoke these words, it wasn't the most popular thing to be a christian. Most people who followed Christ were disowned and outcasted. Even Nicodemus met with Christ in the dark because he was afraid of how the other members of the Sanhedrin would react to this friendship. And, most importantly, what they would say about him. And if they would have hatred in their hearts towards him and make him an outcast. Is this where my heart is? Am I only willing to meet Him in the dark? Am I afraid that my family, friends and the world will think I am strange because I want to lay it all down for my Savior? Who, by the way, laid it ALL down for me. He knows my heart. And He is still willing to acknowledge me before His Father. So, why is it often difficult to acknowledge Him before the world?

To be a follower is my hearts desire. But I am always getting side tracked. The world is flashy and full of exciting things. Sin seems to be so much fun (at least when you are in the moment). And there are times when I am so broken by my inability to be a faithful follower. In Lamentations 3: 22-24 we are told about one of God's precious gifts, GRACE. It is only because of this grace that I am able to get close to my Heavenly Father. "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him." We live in a world where most "christians" live by the "sinner saved by grace" mentality. In Romans 6:1 Paul poses this question, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" As a follower I don't want to take this amazing gift for granted.

I don't want to just click the "like" button on the Jesus fan page. I want to be so much more than a fan. I want the whole world to see an individual that loves Jesus. To be a fan is okay. It is wonderful to have the scripture memorized. To know the stats of each book. To even know the play by play. But I want more than that. I don't want to hold back. I want to be His hands and His feet. A slave for Christ. I want to know His heart for me. I want to know Him more and more each day. I want to run into his arms when life is crazy and out of control. A fan leaves when the going gets tough but a follower will stay regardless of the reward.