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Worriers as Visionaries?

1 Feb

Worriers are visionaries minus the optimism. — Edward T. Welch

Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.  Jeremiah 14:14

I never thought about myself as a false prophet before, but I think it’s true–at least in my mind!  My worries are false prophesies and lies.  I know who the father of lies is:  Satan.  When I worry, I know who I’m listening to:  Satan.  He is whispering in my ear, however subtly–and I can give him lots of attention.

Strength

22 Jan

And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.  Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.  Nehemiah 8: 9, 10

Strength here means place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold, and harbor.  It is that safe place we arrive at when we are confident in God’s love.  The joy of the Lord is not a worldly, fleshly joy, but holy and spiritual, the joy of the Lord, joy in the goodness of God, under the direction and government of the grace of God, joy arising from our interest in the love and favour of God and the tokens of his favor. (Mathew Henry)

So our strength is the safe place we come to when we rejoice in our Lord, all that He is, and all that He gives us.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength. –Corrie ten Boom

Rivers of Anxiety v. River of Life

20 Jan

Crossing a river with some friends

Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind.  If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained. –Arthur Summers Roche

1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Psalm 1: 1-3

It seems as if we have a constant choice between sinking our roots in a river of fear or in the river of life.  Some of us have a Grand Canyon channel of fear through which we funnel our emotions.  The solution seems to be to meditate on the Word of God.  Meditate, or hagah, is also translated  mourn, speak, imagine, study, mutter, utter, roar, and talk.  In other words, if we interact with the Word of God and thus with the Living Word, with the Lord as our Lord, our roots grow deeply into the river of life.  I imagine that if we focus on that meditation, the Grand Canyon channel of fear in our life will be detoured into a healthy river where our emotions follow the direction of our human spirit which follows the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Legitimate Concern v. Worry

18 Jan

My grandma showed spoude for me when she embroidered pansies on all my sheets instead of worrying when I went to college!

Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. 2 Corinthians 8:16

Sometimes it’s difficult to separate legitimate concerns from worries. In this passage the apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthian church about Titus’s upcoming visit. The word concern, or spoude,  means earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything.  Our concerns lead us to take action, whereas worries cause us to ask “What if?”  Am I concerned about the test I have to take?  I’ll study for it.  Am I worried about it?  I’ll expend a lot of mental energy thinking about how if I don’t pass the test, I won’t pass the course, I won’t graduate, and my life will be down the tubes.  🙂

If I am concerned for my friend who is depressed, I may send flowers or a letter or take her out for coffee.  If I am worried about her, my mental energy goes into a lot of useless “what ifs.”

Today I’m going to spoude some things:  I’m going to spoude my timeline at school and get it up so the students can work on it.  I’m going to spoude a special somebody and pray for them instead of worry about them.  I’m going to spoude myself and swim for my health.  Let’s spoude together!

Gratitude

16 Jan

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Col. 3:16 NIV

G.K. Chesterton called gratitude “the mother of all virtues.”  More than any other virtue, gratitude determines the degree of your happiness and contentment in life. — Bob Russell

The word translated in the NIV version of Colossians 3:16 as  gratitude is most often translated grace. It can also be translated favor, thanks, and pleasure.  Any of the translations serve our purposes here as any of these attitudes will chase away worries the way light chases darkness.  Like most other things, we are only able to give thanks with grace in our hearts because of the grace we have received.  It all starts with Christ.  Grace from God → Blessings in our lives → Saying grace or having gratitude.

Today I’m particularly thankful for our new Bible Club leader, Chinese massages, and time with my husband!

What Anxiety Does

14 Jan

Here’s a few highlights from Chuck Swindoll’s book, Getting Through the Tough Stuff, which I found interesting.

  1. Anxiety highlights the human viewpoint and strangles the divine, so we become fearful.
  2. Anxiety chokes our ability to distinguish the incidental from the essential and get distracted.
  3. Anxiety siphons our joy and makes us judgmental rather than accepting of others, so we become negative.

What I found particularly interesting about this is how quickly we can move from one state to the other.  Thinking about point #2, I reflected upon an incident that happened last month.  I’d had this wonderful day studying and preparing for the Ladies’ Bible study that night.  I’d reviewed and strengthened my notes, baked peanut butter cookies, and printed out a fill-in the blank outline of my notes for the women in the study.  I felt gooooooood!

As I gathered up my things I realized I’d misplaced my notes and the outlines.  In a flicker of an eyelash I rocketed from peace-filled to crazy-tense and anxiety-filled.  I yelled at Mike to help me find them.  Stormed around.  Hollered when the printer jammed when I decided to just print new copies.  And finally thought to pray.  (Oh mighty woman of God…not.)  Then I walked downstairs and found where I had closed them in the cookbook.  Sheepishly, I joined Mike in the taxi.  When will I learn to pray first (Remember the other day?  Worry not; pray instead) instead of react first and pray later??

Phil. 4:4-7 Revisited

12 Jan

 4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Be careful for nothing!  We want to be free of cares and not full of cares.  I’m carefree as a _____________.  How would you fill in the blank?  Are you carefree as a barn swallow or carefree as a man on his way to debtor’s prison??  When we deal with the topic of worry, we need to revisit Phil. 4:4-7 often.

Chuck Swindoll writes, in his book, Getting Through the Tough Stuff:  Immediately we discover a four-word command that could be rendered, literally, “Stop worrying about anything!”  The word translated “anxious” comes from the Greek verb merimnao, meaning “to be divided or distracted.”  In Latin the same word is translated anxius, which carries the added nuance of choking or strangling.  The word also appears in German as wurgen, from which we derive our English word worry.  The tough stuff of anxiety threatens to strangle the life out of us, leaving us asphyxiated by fear and gasping for hope.

These worries are like some sort of weed choking the life out of us and the only instrument that is effective to cut these weeds away is the Word of God.  God can carry away our strangling worries, but we need to give them to Him.  Thus:  Worry not; pray instead.