I love basketball. Especially University of Kentucky men’s basketball. While I was never an all-star basketball player, I certainly love watching the game.
One of the most exciting or frustrating aspects of the game is surprise turnovers. They happen near the basket, mid-court, as a team is throwing in, or at any given moment. If in favor of my Cats, the moment is hands-down exciting. Of course, if in favor of the opposition, the moment is disappointing, to say the least. The key to resisting a turnover is to control the ball.
A turnover can be the start of a major change in the game–good for one team but bad for the other.
I can become very anxious at the possibility of a life change. And control isn’t a sure bet to keep change from happening. Nothing we can do will prevent all change.
And there we have it. Our desire to control everything leads to anxiety over changes that we cannot control.
No matter what we’re facing, we can very easily fall into trap of anxiety. We wonder what the next step will look like, what will happen, how difficult it will be, who we’ll be around, or how quickly this change will happen.
Let’s look at the capital-T Truth found in the Bible:
Psalm 37.5 says this: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.”
Let’s break it down. That’s right, phrase by phrase:
Commit your way…: Our way is our future, our past, our present, our path. We must commit it. To whom?
…to the Lord…: We must commit our way to God. To Jesus. To the Holy Spirit. And not to me.
…trust in Him…: Instead of trusting our path to ourselves–controlling everything ourselves–we need to remember to trust God. To trust Jesus. To trust the Holy Spirit.
…and He will act…: He’s not going to do nothing. He won’t leave us hanging. He will act. He will do something.
The next verse speaks of God as doing good things for those who commit their way to the Lord.
Thank You for the many blessings and opportunities I have. Help me to trust You. To relinquish any anxiety to You. To plan wisely, but to trust that You fill in the details perfectly and wonderfully. Help me to remember the promise that You will work through me in wondrous and beautiful ways for Your purpose. I long to serve You and not myself. To grow in You first and foremost. To be lost in You and not this world.
In Your name I pray continually…
Last week we celebrated Valentine’s Day. Ladies around the country received roses, lilies, carnations and other flowers. Chocolates, stuffed animals and maybe even jewelry were gifted and received.
For many, it was a beautiful day.
But I can’t help but worry about our society’s view on love, relationships, and marriage.
Before I continue, I must confess: I am watching The Bachelor as I type up this post.
I have watched the series off and on. Usually, I wait until later in a season to start watching–after the riffraff is weeded out a bit. This season, though, I’ve tried to watch from the beginning and am using Hulu to play catch up.
This season’s bachelor, Sean, is a professing Christian. Last season, he was a bachelor on The Bachelorette. Emily chose otherwise (bad choice, IMHO) and he has embarked on another search for love. I hope the best for him because I know how awesome it is to be married to my best friend.
So many people are looking for the perfect recipe that will lead them to their forever love. We read books, scour blogs, rip through magazines, and listen to advice from well-meaning people.
Bottom line: There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for finding the love of our lives. Some of us find our forever love online, at a wedding, in kindergarten, during college, at the workplace, or anywhere else. I love asking the question, “How did you two meet?”
We even see a variety of meetings between husband and wife in the Bible. I wish I could count the ways men and women became wed in the Bible.
Let’s start at the top: Adam and Eve. I mean, God created Adam’s wife. Literally. As Isaac was mourning the death of his beloved mother, his slave went out and found Rebekah (who was beautiful and a virgin) to marry Isaac. David married a woman with whom he had committed adultery. Queen Esther was forced into a harem from which King Xerxes chose his bride.
I don’t know about you, but not one of these methods of finding forever is similar to another.
That must be why Jesus never told us exactly how to find that forever love. Instead, He spoke about mercy, forgiveness, money, heaven, hell, and a myriad of other things.
Even though the thought of finding that forever love can be consuming, we must focus on our love for Christ.
Mark 12.30 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength.”
For some, this is a cliché verse, but at its root is truth. I mean, it is the Bible after all and, furthermore, these are Jesus’ words!
Before I leave you until the next post, I feel it’s important to point out one more thing. The next verse in Mark is quite poignant. Verse 31 says, “…you should love your neighbor as yourself….”
Lord, help me to love those around me as I love myself–maybe even better since I fail at the “loving me” part so often. I want to seek You first and help those around me to keep you as their primary focus, even when those around them seem to be in happy relationships. Help me to always love You well. In Your name I pray continually…
There are so many distracters out there. Shiny. Pretty. Cool. Interesting. Income-earning. For one reason or another, things distract us from Jesus.
We even get to the point where we invest ourselves in these things. Things that, in and of themselves, are not evil or bad or immoral: our careers, home decorating, scrapbooking, Pinterest, fashion, etc.
Then, those things inevitably go sour. We become dissatisfied with our jobs. We run out of money for home decoration, scrapbooking or fashion. We’ve seen it all on Pinterest. I mean, seriously: during a winter day, I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten bored with Pinterest because I’d seen everything because I’d spent so much time on it.
But once these things go sour, we find ourselves unhappy.
That’s when we realize that we’ve misplaced our happiness.
We’ve spent time learning and exploring and even doing good things.
It seems to me that joy stays with the stuff with which we spend the most time.
So often, the Bible tells us that our joy should be invested in salvation, which comes from God alone.
Are you ready for an obscure Bible verse? Habakkuk 3.17-19
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;|
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
This sounds a lot like a choice to me. When things feel bleak–or are, in reality, bleak–we have to choose to remember that God is salvation. And that, no matter what, we will spend eternity with Him. And that He is our provider. And He is our comfort. The lover of our souls, ultimate counselor, rock and shield.
What can get better than that?
Forgive me for misplacing my happiness. For putting You anywhere but first in my life. I trust You. I recognize You as the authority in my life and Your truth as my compass.
In Your joyful name I pray…
It’s been cold in central Ohio over the past few days. Before that, it was t-shirt weather. A little tease from Mother Nature.
To clarify: by cold, I mean sub-zero windchill. I mean a -11 windchill. That’s cold, folks.
On my way to work the other day, the rain from the previous evening had frozen to the roads. I was fine for most of the drive; on one of the last roads, though, I noticed the Jeep in front of me start to slide. I was thinking, “I’m in a Camry! What am I going to do!?”
I left off the gas and hovered over the brake as I slowed down. As I slowly started to put the brake on, I slid on the ice by a fire hydrant. My front tires slid to the right, tapping the entrance curb and stopping gently.
No big deal.
But it got me thinking. Sliding on ice is kind of like trusting in God. Sometimes.
I didn’t plan on going to the far right of my lane. I would have preferred to have absolute control of my automobile. But things ended up okay.
I don’t plan to miss the mark. I would prefer to have absolute control of every aspect of my life. But, with Jesus, everything ends better than okay.
I have a lot on my heart this week. I must bring these thoughts and cares to Jesus.
Lord, let this be my mantra. Help me to trust you–to trust that You will take me where You can serve others through me best. Give me a heart to honor You always with my actions, thoughts, and words toward others.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
I am so dry.
Like, seriously. I have a dry cough. My hands need lotion. My nose is bleeding intermittently.
I’ve been sick on and off for about a month. First: I had strep and flu simultaneously. After about three weeks of dealing with that, I had a week or so of feeling better before bronchitis and tonsillitis set in. I’ve been dealing with that for the last week and just ready for it to be over.
Maybe the illness has been exacerbated by the dry air. We bought a humidifier today. Maybe it will help.
I feel like a shell of a person.
Which reminds me of a tree I’ve read about in the Bible. A dry tree, ready to diminish into dust. There aren’t even branches. Or fruit. Just a stump. A dry stump with nothing to offer.
Job 14. 8,9 says this of a dry, dying tree:
Though its root grow old in the earth,
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put out branches like a young plant.
Jesus is my living water. And that living water is an essential for me to grow and mature in Hm.
I’ve seen trees do this: have nothing but a stump but they put out little green branches in the spring.
That’s reassuring, as I feel like a stump. Worthless.
…but at the very scent of water…
Yesterday, I had an epiphany.
The Hunk and I have a decorative tile in our bathroom on which we can write with a dry erase marker. Sometimes we write silly things to one another; but recently we started writing sweet notes to each other. I was thoughtfully putting together a short, sweet note in my head when it happened.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve read about the fear of the Lord in God’s word. Growing up, everyone in the church talked about fearing the Lord. I didn’t understand.
Why would I fear Him? I love Him! Why would I be afraid when I know He’ll take care of me?
I mean… this doesn’t make any sense. Doesn’t fear mean, like, being afraid? How can being afraid of someone yield good results–good relationship?
Proverbs talks about this a lot. A. Lot.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. –Proverbs 14.27
The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short. –Proverbs 10.27
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. –Proverbs 1.7
In the context of these verses, this concept made no sense to me.
Until yesterday afternoon, that is.
In the midst of mentally writing the note, I decided that I’d tell The Hunk that he’s God-fearing. And then it hit me. A God-fearing person puts God above him/herself. This means that the person intentionally yields to God’s laws and expectations for our lives. This doesn’t mean the person is perfect. Um, zero of us are.
In light of this epiphany, a lot of other verses make sense.
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. –Proverbs 8.13
When God’s grace, law, and love are superior in our lives, we hate all evil. We’d hate pride and arrogance. We’d hate it when people sin and speak in favor of evil.
The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor. –Proverbs 15.33
When we trust God above the world, we value the wisdom in His word. And we realize our place in this world is not to be its God, but to worship God and live rightly.
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life –Proverbs 22.4
When combined with humility, fearing the Lord is so valuable in the Christian life. When we fear God, we have much fuller and richer lives in Christ.
This is not to say that fearing the Lord is easy. I’d so much rather be my own boss. I’d rather decide what is moral. I’d rather decide when I’ll give my money away and I’d rather love myself more than others. And I’d like for people to think I am the reason I am great when I am great. And I’d love to blame others when I make mistakes. It would be awesome. Except, it wouldn’t solve anything.
When I yield to God, life is better in the long run.
When I let God be the boss, better decisions are made.
When I follow God’s morals, I am safer, more secure, and, well, not in jail.
When I give of my money to my church or those in need, I am glad to worship God with what He has given me.
When I love others, they are happy and I know that God has used me.
When I realize that God is the source of all my blessings, skills, and joy, I can go to Him to refill me and heal me when I am inept or a miserable failure.
And when I make mistakes, I can go to Jesus for forgiveness, healing, and direction.
Fearing God solves problems.
How do you know you fear the Lord?