The other day I was reading a chapter in Ed Welch’s book Running Scared. Welch was describing the fact that a large part of anxiety is due to the fact that we don’t believe that God will give us grace in the future. We look at the reserves we have today, project the troubles of tomorrow and conclude that we don’t have enough while not taking into account that there is still grace to come to meet all of our needs. Welch describes it in relation to his fear of drowning when he writes:
What does tomorrow’s manna, future grace, have to do with such fears? It doesn’t say that I will be spared suffocation. What it says is that, if I am called to death by asphyxiation. I will have grace when that time comes. What does that mean? I don’t know. I can’t imagine such grace. I can’t imagine anything that would make drowning tolerable. And that is exactly what we should expect: At this moment I don’t have grace to drown because I am not drowning! Of course I will worry if I try to envision a drowning scenario. I will project the grace I have received for today onto tomorrow, not comprehending that I will receive grace as needed tomorrow.
As I was pondering that quote and what it might mean for God to provide future grace in my life I received the call that every husband and father dreads. Amy had collapsed in the middle of Target (30 minutes away), they were taking her to the hospital and the police were on the way to stay with the kids ‘til I got there.
Of all of the fears that I have in life I think that not being there for my family is the biggest. Here I was 30 minutes away, my wife’s on the way to the hospital and my kids are alone with strangers at a Target store. If ever there was a reason for panic this was probably it. Yet in the moment I experienced a surreal calm and peace as I drove down, made the appropriate phone calls, etc. God’s grace was more than sufficient in my hour of need.
In some ways it’s almost harder looking back on the experience now than it was when it was actually happening, but the point is that God’s grace is sufficient in the moment. Welch continues on with these words:
If I am called to drown, I don’t know what grace I will receive. Having never had it, I can’t imagine it, and since God gives much more than we ask my prediction no doubt would fall far short. It is enough to know that I will receive grace. I will know the presence of the Spirit and I will die, or be rescued, in a way that pleases the Lord.
BTW, Amy is fine and the boys are fine. I found the boys in the food court enjoying themselves with the police officers (Micah even got to play in their car) and Amy got checked out and is doing great. She hadn’t eaten enough and had a migraine headache, which we’re working on controlling now.
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December 27 2010 | Devotional | No Comments »
The last five months have been a pretty busy season of ministry for me and my family. Back in June we moved from Mount Vernon, WA to Cool, CA and really hit the ground running. Home Groups, a new Prayer & Worship Service, completing a large facility upgrade, and revitalizing our Awana program were all items that needed immediate attention and by God’s grace we’ve seen massive improvements in all of them. Right now, the big item on the table is our Children’s Ministry which is truly in desperate need of some help. In addition to these items, I’ve taken on a larger than normal counseling load which is a real joy for me (because I love counseling) but also adds a number of heavy burdens.
The other day I began to notice some things in myself that I did not like. Increased irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, and just a general sense of being overwhelmed. The first place I noticed these feelings was in the morning, right when I woke up it just seemed like the world was coming down around me. When I began to investigate my own heart to find out what was making me feel this way, I realized that the first question I asked myself in the morning was, “What do I have to do today?”
Questions have a way of orienting us to spiritual realities. When I asked the question, “What do I have to do today?” I was implicitly saying to myself, “You are responsible to accomplish an untold number of tasks today and so you better get going on them right now.” This line of thinking was a recipe for disaster, because the first thing I was thinking about in the morning was myself and how helpless I was. In order for me to change, I needed to change the questions I was asking.
By God’s grace I’ve begun to ask a different question in the morning, leaving behind the question of “What do I have to do today?” I now begin each day with the question, “What is God like?” To be sure, I have to be very intentional to accomplish this. When I find my mind wandering over to my responsibilities, I (sometimes audibly) have to bring myself back to thinking about “What is God like?”
What I’ve found is by simply changing the questions that I’m asking and beginning my day by focusing on the character of God I am much more at peace. I still have lots of responsibilities and life is still fairly hectic, but when I get my eyes off of myself and onto the Lord He inevitably brings peace where there was chaos, and shalome where there was anxiety.
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November 29 2010 | Devotional | No Comments »
Every Wednesday night I get the special privilege of gathering together with a group of believers from the church and praying together. We usually begin with a short devotional and then launch into a time of prayer for our church, our community, our nation, etc.
Recently we read through Psalm 139 and were moved by the tenderness that David uses in referring to God’s continual presence even in the midst of suffering.
David writes, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my pat and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways…Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?…If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night.’ even the darkness is not dark to you.”
One of the things that I love about the psalms is how realistic they are. David spends much of the chapter using this kind of intimate language for the presence of God. Having written all of this, you would think that David would be a man without a care and without anxiety and yet in verse 23 he writes, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and see my anxious thoughts.” It’s comforting to me to know that even the author of Psalm 23 and Psalm 139 struggled with anxiety from time to time.
The lesson that I take away from verse 23 is that the cure to anxiety is found in intimacy with the Lord. That isn’t to say that we won’t ever experience anxiety or have cares in this world, but the secret to finding shalom (peace) is where we go in the midst of those cares. So with that in mind, our small group took our prayers to the throne of grace and we found peace.
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September 06 2010 | Devotional | No Comments »
Man, I really needed to hear these words today from the pen of A.E. Funk.
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In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. - Phil. 4:6
The natural temptation with every difficulty is to plan for it, to put it out of the way yourself; but stop short with all your planning, your thinking, your worry, and talk to Him! “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and he shall sustain thee.” You may not always be able to do this in a moment or two. Then keep on with supplication until you know He has it, and prayer becomes praise. Rest, trust, and wait, and see how He does that which you wanted to do, and had so much care about. “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”
April 21 2010 | Blog | No Comments »
Between having a baby, having a hard time selling our home, and getting ready for a big move I really needed to read this post from Jon Bloom:
Can you bear not knowing how God is going to provide for your most urgent needs and still trust that he will?
It is a question that Jesus wants all of his disciples to wrestle with. There are simply going to be times when we don’t know where the provision is going to come from. Circumstances will look precarious, sometimes foreboding and threatening. Plans are going to fall through. People are going to disappoint us. They may reject or misunderstand our mission. If these things happened to Jesus, we should not be surprised when they happen to us. And we are not to become angry when they do. Note that Jesus rebuked James and John for their response (Luke 9:55).
Jesus does not want us to be governed by fear at such times. He wants us governed by faith. The reason is that the uncertainty is only apparent uncertainty. Our future and our provision and our ultimate triumph are certain to God. He has all the foreknowledge, power, resources, and desire to turn everything for good for those who love him and are called by him (Romans 8:28).
Apparently uncertain seasons are usually the most powerful God moments we experience. They often put God on display more than other seasons, demonstrating that God exists and rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
So if you are in one of those seasons, take heart. You are likely experiencing what it means to have a God "who acts for those who wait for him" (Isaiah 64:4).
Read the rest.
HT: Vitamin Z
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April 08 2010 | Blog | No Comments »
Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, wrote the following in one of his journals.
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I am taking my children with me, and I notice that it is not difficult for me to remember that the little ones need breakfast in the morning, dinner at midday, and something before they go to bed at night. Indeed I could not forget it. And I find it impossible to suppose that our heavenly Father is less tender or mindful than I…I do not believe that our heavenly Father will ever forget His children. I am a very poor father, but it is not my habit to forget my children. God is a very, very good Father. It is not His habit to forget His children.
August 24 2009 | Blog | No Comments »
“Casting all your care upon Him–for He cares for you!” 1 Peter 5:7
It is a happy way of soothing sorrow, when we can feel–”HE cares for ME!” Christian! do not dishonor God, by always wearing a brow of worry! Come–cast your burden upon your God! You are staggering beneath a weight–which your Father would not feel. What seems like a crushing burden to you–would be but as small dust to Him. Nothing is so sweet as to,
“Lie passive in God’s hands,
And know no will, but His.”
O child of suffering–be patient! God has not overlooked you in His providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows–will also furnish you with what you need. Do not sit down in despair.
There is One who cares for you!
His all-seeing eye is fixed on you!
His all-loving heart beats with pity for your woe!
His omnipotent hand shall yet bring you the needed help!
The darkest cloud–shall scatter itself in showers of mercy.
The blackest gloom–shall give place to the morning light.
If you are one of His family–He will bind up your wounds, and heal your broken heart. Do not doubt His grace, because of your troubles–but believe that He loves you as much in seasons of distress–as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead–if you would leave providing–to the God of providence!
If God cares for you–why need you care also? Can you trust Him for your soul–and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens–He has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! Be done with fretful worry–and leave all your concerns in the hand of your gracious God! – Charles Spurgeon
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April 03 2009 | Blog | No Comments »
The following is taken from J.R. Miller’s “Counsel and Help.” It’s a moving word for those of us who are prone to worry.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14
“I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted!” Job 42:2
Everything which threatens to give us anxiety—is to be taken at once to God. Nothing is too great to carry to Him. Does not He bear up all worlds? Does not He rule over all the affairs of the universe? Is there any matter in our life, however great it may seem to us—too hard for Him to manage? Is any perplexity too difficult for Him to resolve? Is any human despair too dark for Him to illumine with hope? Is there any tangle or confusion out of which He cannot extricate us?
Nothing is too small to carry to Him. Is He not our Father, and is He not sincerely interested in whatever concerns us? There is not one of the countless things which fly like specks of dust all through our daily life, tending to vex and fret us—that we may not take to God.
The Scriptures prescribe a cure for anxious care. The divine philosophy for peaceful living says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus!” Philippians 4:6-7
Refer every disturbing thing to Him—that He may bear the burden of it. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will support you!” Psalms 55:22. “Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you!” 1 Peter 5:7
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January 04 2008 | Blog | No Comments »