Worry is like a volleyball

  
Worry is like a volleyball. 

When problems come, we need to take the worry, give it a good whack and send it off. When the volleyball comes our way, if we grab it and hold on to it our team loses the point. In the same way, if we hold on to our worries and meditate on them, we lose the point of it all and head toward defeat. 

Rather, when we see that worry come back at us full speed, we must raise our hands and with all our strength send it flying. 

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (Matthew 6:27 ESV)

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Faith in the shadows

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But the path of the righteous ones is like the light of dawn, leading and shining until the day is full. (Proverbs 4:18)

I was praying this morning with my eyes closed as the sun was rising. Even with my eyes closed I could sense the brightness of the sun, but for a brief moment that light was interrupted. I knew without having seen it that a bird had flown by.

The thought came to me, isn’t that just like life? How could a bird, so small in comparison, block the immensity of the sun? It was because the bird was so close to me. The situations in our lives can be so close to us that they block our view of God, casting their shadow on us for a moment.

But what about those longer periods of darkness, when the night comes upon our soul without even the reflection of the moon to give us light? At those times we need to remember that even the whole earth, which stands between us and the sun, is absolutely tiny in comparison to the immensity of the sun.

The darkness is nothing more than the earth’s shadow on us, and the same turning that brought us into the shadow will also take us back into the light. Our faith is the conviction that the sun shines even if we can’t see it, and that faith combined with patience will enable us to endure without losing our hope.

That which is impossible for God is possible for men.

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That which is impossible for God. Possible for men? 

Oops! You may think that I got a bit confused with quoting Luke 18:27 –

“And he (Jesus) said, ‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.’ “

But no, I meant it exactly the way I put it. 

Think about it… is anything impossible for God? The quick answer would be no – He can do anything. But while it is true that He has all power, He cannot do anything contrary to His character. So we could make a list of things that He cannot do:

  • God cannot lie.
  • God cannot cheat.
  • God cannot be unfaithful.
  • God cannot be fooled. 
  • God cannot fail.

And the list could go on. You may notice that people can do all those things. And they do.

But our problems begin when we make God in our image. That often happens when a person has had a father or other authority figure that has done the things listed above. It is too easy to define God in terms of people that we have known, that we can see. Rather, we need to spend time getting to know Him personally so that we may be transformed into His image.

I find great comfort in considering the things that are impossible for God. Each of His impossibilities cancels one of my impossibilities. When I feel trapped with no way out – I have reached the end of my own ability – He is strong. He is faithful. He is true. He loves me and will rescue me without failing.

When it is impossible for me to be strong, it is impossible for Him to be weak; and He infuses His strength into me. 

Which of God’s impossibilities has been a source of strength for you?

 

Getting the basics

I teach a weekly Bible Study at a safe house for women. We have been studying lately about general Bible literacy; understanding how the Bible is laid out, the categories of books and their names. Just learning the order of the books in the New Testament has been a big challenge for most of them. 

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In keeping with the season, last week I brought up the subject of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Although all but one of them claimed to have confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior, their knowledge about these events and their significance was very sketchy. They didn’t know that Jesus descended before He ascended, that He took upon Himself the sin of humanity. They weren’t sure who crucified Him, or for what reason. They had very little knowledge about the time Jesus spent with his disciples between the resurrection and His ascending to heaven. 

I feel that I have an important responsibility to help them understand truths like these. But sometimes I really wonder how widespread this lack of knowledge is? Are we assuming that people know basic truths just because we are so familiar with them? Could this lack lead to a loss of faith later on when times get tough and they don’t have the assurance of their salvation? 

I think these questions are important. I would not want to be guilty of teaching a lot of doctrines of details, or just interesting facts and stories. At this stage they need the “pure milk of the word” ( Peter 2:2) so that they can “grow up to salvation.” 

Certainly our personal relationship and fellowship with God is more important than our knowledge about Him, but I am convinced that what we know will profoundly affect that fellowship. We are so privileged to have free access to His Word to help us build that relationship so strong that it will stand any test. 

  • Have you encountered similar situations? 
  • How have you dealt with them? 
  • How can we encourage people to strengthen their core beliefs?

No and Yes

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“No” is a closed door. “No” takes away hope, cancels plans and dashes dreams. It is the end of a dead-end street, and blurs our vision for the future. “No” is the final period at the end of an obituary, extinguishing inspiration and introducing doubt.

“Yes” is a blue sky. It is a flowing river, unstoppable and powerful. “Yes” is the beginning of inspiration, the birthplace of hope. It is the fuel that gives energy to our dreams. “Yes” is sweet music to ears that have only heard discouraging comments.

But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us – by me and Silvanus and Timothy – was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. (2 Cor. 1:18-20)

Yes!

 

Seeing life through the macro lens

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Although I am not a professional photographer, I find much pleasure in taking pictures. Some of my favorite themes have always been sunrises, sunsets, and panoramic scenery. I am amazed at the way that our Creator continues to paint our surroundings, and often only lasting a few brief minutes. It makes me sense my smallness in the universe, which sometimes is humbling, but always reassuring that my Father loves me and cares for me, yes, even me!

Lately, though, I have begun to enjoy taking shots of small wonders, close up. Focusing on what is very near me has shown me how much I miss, the details that I too often ignore.

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It seems that my life in general is taking on this type of focus. I looked up the dictionary definition of “macro lens” which is: a camera lens designed to focus at very short distances with up to life-size magnification of the image. 

I read recently someone’s comment that few people’s lives are changed by words spoken to a multitude, but more are changed by what is spoken to them directly one-on-one or in an intimate gathering. Considering the influence that others have had in my life, I have found this to be generally true.

Even Jesus had different results with the multitudes than with his disciples. The same multitudes that wanted to make him king changed their mind to crucify him, but his twelve received his word and were transformed. 

I would much rather make a bigger difference in the lives of a few than a fleeting impression on many. Seeing with a macro lens I can “focus at very short distances” and bring out the glorious detail of God working his plan in people’s lives. Then the world can see the “life-size magnification of the image” – God’s image – as we are changed from glory to glory.

Running on empty

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We don’t get too far on empty, unless we want to push the car.

1 Corinthians 13: http://tinyurl.com/nojtbd

If we love, it will be expressed in actions. We know what some of those actions will be; we know what love looks like in practice.

But it is so easy to fall into doing the works, without evaluating if we are motivated by love, or only wanting to “do what is right”. Apparently, from reading the passage above, it is possible to do all of the visible works that could be an expression of love, but do them without love: prophecy, sacrifice, speaking in tongues, mountain-moving faith and the rest.

All of these things can be empty, void of the most important ingredient. We do them as part of our routine, and run the risk of falling into self-righteousness. I see so many Christians get burned out, fall into discouragement and want to quit as a result of running on empty.

We can evaluate our “love level” by observing our complaints and frustrations:

  • Do we get frustrated if our efforts aren’t appreciated?
  • Are we becoming weary of doing what we are expected to do?
  • Does it bother us when situations seem unfair to us?
  • Is it irritating to us when others don’t do their part to help us in our work?
  • Do we complain about other people’s attitudes?

I’m not saying that if we love others that all these problems will disappear, but at least we will be able to deal with the source.

But if we do find that our love has cooled off somewhat toward those that we help, what can we do to rekindle it? I believe that as we focus on God’s love for us and for others, we will find that our love will grow. Considering the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, and his unconditional love that is our source of love, we can tap into it and be renewed.

And as with many problems, when we realize that we have the problem we are halfway to the solution. 

What are your symptoms of burnout and how have you dealt with them?