Stop That Worrying

Not long again I went to get gas. I stuck my debit card into the gas pump then placed the card on top of the car. I even made a mental note to myself, “DON’T LEAVE THAT CARD SITTING THERE.” I filled my car with gas and proceeded to get into the car continuing on my way. Not long after I went into a store to buy something and my debit card was not in its usual spot. I started to panic then I remembered I left the card on top of my car. Well who knew where the card was now. I proceeded to cancel to card and order another one but unfortunately I had began to rely on this card so much that it was now my only form of payment. Without the card I could not withdraw cash. I could not pay for online purchases. I could not pay for in store purchases. I was a bit helpless. I had to endure the week long wait for the new card to arrive. On the day the card was supposed to arrive, my phone bill was also due. If I did not pay the bill my phone would be cut off. I had the money I just did not have a way of access it. O great, I am about to have no phone access and no form of payment. What a predicament.

So often we work ourselves into an anxious mess worrying about the small things of daily life. Then there are the big things in life that really set off our nerves. But our worry does nothing but hinder us for accomplishing the tasks God has already prepared for us to do. When we spend all our time worrying about the small stuff we miss out of the joy, hope, fulfillment and peace we have in Jesus. Instead of doing the things we should be doing we a paralyzed by our worrying. But when we set aside our worries and walk forward with Jesus in faith he promised to take care of us. I was reminded of this passage of scripture.

 “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

Needless to say my phone bill was paid for and my new debit card arrived. I now have invested in an alternative form of payment in case of emergencies. All my worrying was for naught. For God is faithful all the time.

The Coffee Cup

I am currently in the process of decorating white coffee mugs. The first step of the process is to color the white coffee mug with alcohol ink. I then add a decal with a scripture. Each mug has a different scripture. I thought it would be neat so people could start there day with a cup of coffee and the word of God. I made one batch of cups and although some were very beautiful the ink stained the cup so dark that the Bible verse although present was hard to see. The Bible verse was hidden by all the colors on the cup. Let’s just say these cups did not turn out quite how I had hoped. I wanted the word of God to not only be readable but prominent.

I am currently in the process of making another round of cups. This time I only stained the bottom half of the cup. That means the Bible verse is easily seen on the white portion of the cup. I am not done with these coffee mugs but I have high hopes that they will be beautiful, functional and able to serve a cup of coffee with the word of God.

I have recently been doing more art projects with alcohol inks. I am still learning to work with this new medium. They are interesting to work with and not like anything else I have used. We ourselves are very much like a cup. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit and the word of God we are able to pour this into others. But if we are stained with to much sin the sin will cover the word of God. Instead of poring into others the word of God and the Holy Spirit we will be poring into them bad things. We need to make sure our cup is clean and white as snow otherwise we will be like my first batch of coffee mugs. They are beautiful from the outside but God’s words are hidden behind all the ink.

When I think about the process in which God makes us into a cup that can serve others I am reminded of the verse in the Bible about new and old wine skins. The first step is to become a new cup, a new wine skin. We often need to become a new creation. We need to become a new cup that is pure white. We do this through baptism. For baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit brings rebirth and life.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:16-17

Is Your Gas Tank Low?

I am currently house sitting for a family member and driving there car once a week to keep things in working order. I recently went to take the car for a drive and it would not start. The battery was working, the engine was turning over but it would not start. I was going out of town so I left the car thinking this is going to have to wait. Fast forward over a week, I tried again and the same result. I know nothing about cars. But for whatever reason I remembered that the gas tank was very low last time I drove the car. Similarly it had been sitting awhile. I thought to myself what if it just needs new gas? I replaced the gas and the car seemed to be in perfect working order.

When I was a gymnast our coaches commonly talked to us about eating properly and drinking enough water. They frequently used the analogy of our body being like a car. If you don’t give the car gas then it will not run. What we put into our bodies is like our gas. Our physical gas includes our nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc. But Jesus was also clear that we do not live by bread alone. We very much have a spiritual gas tank which is of great eternal purpose then our physical one. If we do not fill up our spiritual gas tank with the living water offered to us by Jesus then we will run dry. We will stop. We will be like the car unable to start.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:1-4

We do not easily forget about of physical gas tank because we grow tired, we get hungry, we get thirsty. Although feeding our physical gas tank is important, of even greater importance is our spiritual gas tank. Yet we so easily forget this essential element. How do we feed our spiritual gas tank? Prayer, repentance followed by submission and obedience to God, meditating on God’s word and Christian fellowship are all important elements to make sure our spiritual gas tank is full and we are not running on empty. Which do you prioritize more? Your spiritual gas tank or your physical gas tank? Or do you tend to neglect both?

What is Humility?

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:5-7

The Bible is full of verses about humility. God words are harsh on the prideful but he promise grace, forgiveness and healing to the humble. It has made me ponder the word humility. What is humility exactly? I know this word, I’ve even used this word to describe people but then again I wonder what humility looks like in practical terms and for our lives? For humility is a trait we should desire and work towards.

A common definition of humility is a low self-regard and sense of unworthiness. In other words, a modest view of self in relation to others, the world and God. Humility relates to how a person sees themselves in relation to God, and often refers to submission to God and his commands. I often think of humility as the awareness of how small we are in comparison the world and the Lord our God. A humble heart means a heart that acknowledges their own sin and desperate need for Jesus. Humility is the opposite of narcissism.

When you think of children they all view the world as revolving around them. I have never meet a child who did not think this way. It is part of being a child. Although the child thinks the world revolves around them in reality they are the weakest, most vulnerable and most dependent on others. Children cannot even take care of themselves. We are all children in God eyes. No matter how old we get. No matter how wise we think we are. No matter how successful or talented. We are all just innocent little selfish children who think we understand so much when the truth is we can do nothing on our own.

I think the older I become the more aware I become of how insignificant I am. I become more aware of my own sin. More aware of my own limitations. More aware of how little I can accomplish on my own. The more aware of how much the world needs Jesus and how very little I am capable of solving the worlds problems. I believe this is a reflection of God’s spirit moving and working in me to creat more humility. For it is only through humility and submission to God that God’s spirit can move and work in me to accomplish something he wills. God’s plans, purposes and will is always good. On the other hand my own plans, purposes and will may have good intentions but often causes disaster. Unintended disaster but disaster all the same.

Within my walk with Jesus my struggles with mental illness has been incredibly humbling. Each time I get sick and incapable of taking care of myself I am reminded of how small I am but how insanely powerful the lord our God is. For it is often my illness that forces me to slow down, ask for help and rely on others. It is easy to see this as a hinderance rather than seeing it as a process in which God is working in me to produce more humility and ultimately holiness. For what the enemy means for evil is changed to good when we humble ourselves and submit to the Lord our God. Similarly it is often through what seems like a hinderance in my life that God equips others.

I am incredibly thankful for my aunt and uncle who have taken me in time and time again when I was at some of my worst times. They have listen to me ranting and raving in anger over many diners. My cousin and her husband have been generous beyond what anyone could ever ask. There patience, love, support and care has been invaluable. I am thankful to have been born into the family I have.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:37-40

He Did Not Come To Judge You But to Save You

“Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” John 12:44-50

I grew up as a highly competitive gymnast. You compete before a judge who gives you a score based on your performance. They write down ever little mistake you make. Similarly in school you are graded on everything. Every test, every project, even your behavior is judged. Our world has rules, laws, guidelines we must follow. You break these laws you are held accountable. Similarly people are instinctively judgmental. Some people more than others but I have never meet a person that did not struggle with being judgmental in some aspect or another.

Similarly in the history of the church there has been much judgment. People are told they are sinners and will be condemned to hell. Christians have used this fear factor for many generations to get people to “repent and come to Jesus.” The result is many walk away from Jesus rather than embracing him.

When we as humans comes to terms with our sin, when we realize the magnitude of our mistake we often feel guilt, shame, remorse and a fear of judgment. But Jesus did not come and die on a cross to judge you. He came and died for you to save you. He took the judgement on your behalf. He came to pull you out of your prison so that you can walk in light and life. The world chains us. Our sin chains us. We are all held prisoner. But Jesus came to liberate you. He came to break those chains. Take his hand for he is full of love, joy, hope, gentleness, kindness, forgiveness and freedom. He is the light to your darkness. Amen