Do Not Worry?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you-you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” Matthew 6: 25-34

These verses have been coming up recently in my study.  First, we had a Sunday School lesson on them;  then they showed up again in a book I am reading about “respectable sins” (more about that in an upcoming post).  Yes, I am learning, worrying is a sin.  We may excuse it by saying, “that’s just how I am — I was born a worrywart!”  That certainly seems true of me.  We may even find it a bit admirable — worriers are often the best planners, and certainly God doesn’t want us to go through life oblivious to our needs and responsibilities.  At the core, however, worry betrays a lack of trust in God.  Jesus tells us in the verses above that we can rest assured that God cares for us, and our lives will work out, when we put His kingdom first.  Trust puts one foot forward at a time, day by day and resists feeling anxious about the future.

I also recently read about anxiety in a book about insomnia (didn’t I tell you God directs my reading?)  One suggestion given was, if you tend to worry and can’t sleep, set aside a “worry time” each day — maybe just 30 minutes.  Ask yourself what things are really bothering you, and then decide what you’ll do about it.  When the worry comes back, tell yourself, “I’ve already thought about that problem, and  I have a plan for dealing with it….. then put it out of your mind.  As a Christian, our “worry time” might be part of our hour of prayer.  Let God know what’s on your mind, and ask Him to help you resolve it.  Then ask for His peace about the situation, knowing He will give it to you.

Maybe, like me, you’re a natural worrier (because we all are, after all, natural sinners).  You can’t entirely avoid those worrisome thoughts;  but you can stop yourself from obsessing.  Turn them over to God.  Pray instead.

He loves you and so do !

Other posts about worry:

Who’s Got Your Back?

Growing Older

Afraid of all the Things by Scarlet Hiltibidal–Book Review

 

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A Prayer for the End of the Day

Grant to me above all things that can be desired, to rest in Thee, and in Thee to have my heart at peace.  Thou art the true peace of the heart, Thou its only rest;  out of Thee all things are hard and restless.  In this very peace, that is, in Thee, the One Chiefest Eternal Good, I will sleep and rest.

Thomas A Kempis

The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute –Book Review

A friend who belongs to another denomination loaned me this book.  Her church is encouraging reading it and having “book club discussions” around it, so I thought I would do a review.

I had mixed feelings as I read through this book.  The conclusions it comes to are certainly good:

  • Treat people as people, not objects
  • Get out of the box of justifying oneself by blaming others, feeling superior to others, or needing to look good to others all the time
  • Build strong relationships with those with whom we have conflicts
  • Teach and communicate, listen and learn
  • Remember you cannot change others until you change yourself
  • Take action to and do the things we feel drawn toward when we are thinking outside of our box of blaming, categorizing people, justifying ourselves, etc.

In following these behaviors, you will gain a heart of peace within yourself and will become peaceful toward others.

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by [The Arbinger Institute]

All worthwhile stuff, right?  However, the right conclusions are reached for all the wrong reasons.  According to this book, when we treat others badly, this is an act of self-betrayal — implying that we are basically good people at heart.  WRONG!  We are basically sinful, and I don’t think we can rely upon our inner feelings to tell us what is the right thing to do.  We need God’s word for that.  The book then goes on to say when we betray ourselves, our behavior becomes “crooked.”  Again WRONG!  The correct word would be sinful.  We then need to justify ourselves by blaming, demonizing, etc.. The correct way to fix our “crooked” thinking is instead to  get outside of the box we have made and see people as people, not objects.  WRONG!  We cannot justify ourselves by any psychological maneuver or corrected thinking on our own — we need a Savior.

Conclusion:  I would not use this book, certainly not at my church, because it does not have a saintly worldview (I talked about this in a prior post).  What do others think?  Does the conclusion take precedence over the premises and reasoning?  I’d like to hear some other opinions.  I want to listen and learn.

 

Finally…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8

In today’s world, it is so hard to follow the verse above.  We are bombarded with advertising and false news and crises that are happening all around the world.  I have found myself shaking my head over people hating each other because of a political stance.  Somehow, we need to be aware of all these things going on while staying away from the emotional angst that’s flying around us.  If we aren’t careful we’ll find ourselves in a big “to-do” over something that really doesn’t matter.

How do we keep our equilibrium when all this is going on?  How do we keep our environment sane?  My thought is to take this verse completely literally.  Keep your thoughts and your eyes on Jesus.  Go through this world being a peacemaker and the oil on troubled waters.  I know that this isn’t always possible, but as Paul says:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18

So, keep your eyes on Jesus and follow the verse above.  Perhaps we can be the quiet, soothing voice among all screaming going on.

Bonhoeffer on Peacemaking

This is one of the beatitudes we can easily understand. Peace is a blessing and something that we all long for. However, peacemaking is not easy, as we have to renounce our own will and replace it with the will of God.  We all want peace, but do we want to make peace?

finally human

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Jesus’ followers are called to peace. when Jesus called them, they found their peace. Jesus is their peace. Now they are not only to have peace, but they are to make peace. To do this they must renounce violence and strife. Those things never help the cause of Christ. Christ’s kingdom is a realm of peace, and those in Christ’s community greet each other with a greeting of peace. Jesus’ disciples maintain peace by choosing to suffer instead of causing others to suffer. They preserve community when others destroy it. They renounce self-assertion and are silent in the face of hatred and injustice. That is how they overcome evil with good. That is how they are makers of peace in a world of hatred and war. But their peace will never be greater than when they encounter evil people…

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Mountaintop Blessings

Most Christians have had what they describe as a “mountaintop” experience… a time when they felt especially close to God and keenly aware of His presence and blessings.  Some people may associate that time with their conversion;  others with a special time away on a Via de Cristo or other sort of retreat.  At these times, we feel on fire for God.  We are energized and ready to do anything and everything required of us to lead an authentic Christian life.

My devotional reading this morning focused on how mountaintop times, wonderful and blessed as they are do not last.  We can’t recapture them, but we can continue to use them.

“We must learn to live in the ordinary ‘gray’ day according to what we saw on the mountain.”

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chamber

How were you blessed on the mountaintop?  Were things clearer, brighter?  Did you feel loved and called for a special purpose?  Did you experience the joy of Christian fellowship or the peace that passes understanding? Even Jesus and the disciples experienced this:

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. (Mark 9:2-3 ESV)

Yet, they still had the valley of Calvary ahead of them.  I’ve found that continuing in the spiritual disciplines of worship, prayer, study and fellowship (even when the day is gray and I don’t really want to) help keep the mountaintop feelings alive and fresh in my life.  These are the daily blessings that keep us growing in the valley.

 

Three Wise Women

See the source imageHave you ever imagined what the Christmas story would have been like if the wise men had been wise women?