Thursday, November 19, 2009

Don't worry, get a facelift! Yes men too!

Some sports require complete commitment, there is no trial/testing period to gently ease into it, sports like sky diving, ski jumping, scuba diving and bungee jumping. I remember really, really wanting to learn to ski and being convinced by my ‘ex’ friend that the bunny hills were unnecessary I took the lift to the top of the blue slope (intermediate, for those of you who do not ski). It didn’t look too bad looking down on the hill from the chairlift and I was quite sure I would be fine. Until, UNTIL, I stood on those two slippery slats of wood looking down! I couldn’t even see the bottom of the hill from the top and could not make my feet move, I needed a little push. I got one and made it down in one piece although I do not remember breathing for the entire run.

Isaiah was in much worse trouble. It was not a sport though, it was life and it was bad. His people were prisoners in enemy territory and he was being treated with contempt and disgrace and could see no way out, but he did not give into that fear. He said, “For the LORD God will help me; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed” Isaiah 50:7 (NKJV). This short verse is a prescription for overcoming when life is hard, demands are heavy and the outcome seems unfair. Look at it closely.

First, get your position right. “For the LORD God will help me.” He is GOD and you are not! Stop acting like it all depends on you. Not only is He in charge, He is willing and able to help you and you can count on Him. II Chronicles 20:12 states it differently, “we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” We will gravitate to what we are focused on. What are you looking at?

Second, you have an investment in this endeavor, “therefore I have set my face like flint.” Attitude matters. What are you thinking about? Focused on the problem? Reliving the scenario with different endings? Isaiah set his face like flint (determined, unswerving, solidly facing the truth), in Colossians 3:1-2 Paul says, “set your hearts on things above,” and “set your minds on things above.” Pretty much then, ALL of you is resolute, single-minded and focused on the right things, the things above, the answer, the solution, the goal. Focusing for long periods of time on the problem will only drag you down.

Third, be confident in the one in whom you trust. “I know that I will not be ashamed.” I know (am completely convinced, certain) the kind of confidence that allowed Jesus to sleep in the boat that was being tossed around by the waves, the kind of confidence that lets you sleep in the middle of your storm.

When we are facing a difficult situation or facing an adversity of any kind, the Bible is very specific in giving us instruction as to what we are to do. Look at 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting (releasing the weight of, flinging, hurling, as throwing overboard where they are irretrievable) all your cares on Him; for He cares for you.” Unless you have determined to call upon the Lord and seek His face, you will not be able to “cast your cares upon Him,” and therefore, you will be weighted down with “the worries of the world.” Worries divide the mind. The word “worry” means, “to divide into parts.” “a preoccupation with things causing anxiety, stress, and pressure.” Yuck! Remember setting your mind/heart is being single-minded, so focus and focus on what is good. Jesus specifically said, “do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25) or, “do not be anxious,” “take no thought for your life,” rather, “Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass” Psalm 37:5.

Commit, not think about it, consider or try, but COMMIT your way. When you say, “I do” you’re committed, when you stop worrying about it, smile and do what you know you should. Ask someone’s forgiveness, give generously, or go to sleep without worry, commit your way (give it totally to Him) and TRUST HIM. Not the bank, not your friend, not the doctor, not your mother, but HIM, TRUST HIM. Trust Him because he is the one who will make it happen. He will send the sunshine and the rain, He will bring health, He will restore ~ HE WILL BRING IT TO PASS. That is His promise. You can spend a lot of money and time on facelift products but the best way to get rid of worry lines is, don't worry!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Clear water, sandy beaches and gentle breezes.

Escape from the routine pressures of job, traffic and the everyday ordinary; spend a few days on the beach relaxing in the sand with the clear Caribbean water lapping at your feet and the gentle breeze stirring the palm branches overhead. The scene I just painted in your head sounds like freedom, freedom from the restrictive routines that regulate our everyday lives. Take a closer look and “as a rule” that beach scene is filled with routine, rules and restrictions. Jeremiah 5:20-25 tells us many things we can learn from the sea. Read it in your Bible and see if you don’t hear the same things I did.

Jeremiah 5:20-25 (in Martha’s words)
Tell my people to listen to the wisdom of the sea. Learn from her. You see the waves washing on the shore but do not understand. You hear the rolling breakers but don’t listen to what they say. This is what they show you. This is what they say. “Fear the Lord! Don’t go beyond the limits of His Word. Live in respect and response to His ways and directions and the seasons will come as expected. The sea understands that and respects the one who put the beach at the water’s edge then drew a line in the sand and said “don’t cross this line.” The waves try, they wash over the line only to recede again and come back to rest on the seaside of the line. “The sea knows, understands, and fears (respects, reveres, responds to) Me!” But my people do not. They don’t understand, comprehend or understand that fearing Me is for their own good. They resist the boundaries I have laid down for them. They have made their own tsunami by departing from the Lord and not fearing Him."

Fearing God – something we do not often think about and maybe do not understand but it is a good thing. In fact, “the LORD delights in those who fear him,” He takes pleasure in those who understand and respond appropriately to how awesome and powerful and mighty and loving He is (Ps 147:11).