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Because God Cares for You. Yes, You. And Me.

Picking up where we left off yesterday with the Why, and with gratitude to Simon Sinek for encapsulating Why so well. (Quick Intro to him and his work: https://simonsinek.com/about/simon-sinek)

Cast all your anxiety on God
because God cares for you.
1st Peter 5:7

Our Bibles, and our songs both old and new, tell us about the love of God. My own current fave rave examples —

 

Top Two Scriptures

You, O God, are ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love! (Nehemiah 9:7)

and

For God so loved the world that…. (John 3:16&17).

 

Top Two Classic Hymns

Jesus Loves Me — “Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so/Little ones to Him belong, They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me!”

and

Love Lifted Me — “I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful shore/Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more/ Then the master of the sea, Heard my despairing cry/From the waters lifted me, Now safe am I”

and the Chorus is quite clear: “Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help, Love lifted me!”

 

Top Two Newer Songs

Reckless Love — “Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me/You have been so, so good to me/Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me/
You have been so, so kind to me”

and this Chorus is also clear: “O, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God/O, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine/I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away/O, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God”

and

Forever — “Give thanks to the Lord our God and King, His love endures forever/For He is good, He is above all things, His love endures forever/Sing praise!” and “With a mighty hand and outstretched arm, His love endures forever/For the life that’s been reborn, His love endures forever/Sing praise!”

— All of which point us to the solid ground on which on which to start to stand:

Because God cares for you, 

cast all your anxiety on God. 

1st Peter 5:7

God cares for you.

Yes, you.

And me. (Another part of the song Love Lifted Me says, “even me.” Good reminder!)

That’s our Why: Because God cares.

Even more to the point: Because God.

As Christ Jesus asks in John 11:26, “Do you believe this?” Big question.

And what are your own favorite Scriptures and song about God’s love? I’d love to hear from you about any and all of this; hit me up, any of the usual ways.

Meanwhile, let’s you and me remind people of the foundation of everything else —:

God is love.

(1st John 4:8)

— and I do mean “the foundation of everything else.”

 

 

 

 

All Your Anxiety

I won’t bore you with how many revisions this has had today. Just know that my Editor, also known as Martin (the puppy who lets us live with him) has been working overtime this morning. He probably needs a nap.

More than a handful of my friends are having an extra-difficult time this winter, for a frighteningly wide variety of reasons, all of them real.

We’ve been given a prescription, and it starts with

Cast all your anxiety on God.

That’s not something I saw on a t-shirt. It’s from 1st Peter 5:7.

Its opening verb is an inviting command to not just politely and quietly “leave” anxiety with God, but to “throw” or “heave” or even “shed” our anxietyCast all your anxiety on God.

God’s inclusive nature, love, and grace are on display once again: all your anxiety. I have it on good authority that all means all.

Cast all your anxiety on God sounds good, but can be tricky, problematic, or even seem impossible. When we’re deep in the midst and the muck of a bad season, there’s little to no sunshine while walking through a valley filled with innumerable shadows. We forget things.

We forget things like the rest of that verse, which can give us solid footing on slippery seasons. We’ll get there tomorrow.

For today, let’s focus on, and remind one another of, what our Lord welcomes us to do in 1st Peter 5:7  —

Cast all your anxiety on God

— and maybe part of that involves talking with a caring and well-trained professional who can listen and help you.

Such Christian counselors and therapists do exist, and are immeasurably helpful. Ask a pastor for a recommendation; most of us know at least one, and many of us have been helped by them.

I know it can be a daunting task to reach out like that. I also know it can be a life preserver when drowning.

You’re worth effort.

Looking foward to seeing you back here tomorrow!

 

 

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises
With healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
to cheer it after rain.

Your Everyday Happiness

These nine are from a site called Becoming Minimalist. Whole lotta truth packed in here. I’d like to share one every other day or so with you, filtered through Scripture, for your consideration and application —

9. Find Happiness in Your Every Day.
Happiness is not something to be pursued, it is something to be discovered and recognized. If you are expecting to find happiness after _____ changes, you will never discover it.

The hardest truth to grasp about happiness is also the most promising: It can be experienced each day regardless of your current lot in life.

As Thomas Kinkade once said, “True simplicity begins when you learn to enjoy the amazing abundance of what is already yours.”

If you want to learn how to enjoy life and craft something you do not need to escape from, you can do so.

It may require you to change your mindset, your pursuits, or where you focus your energy, but it is always worth it.

— Christ Jesus: “I came so (you) can have real and eternal life, more and better life than (you) ever dreamed.” (John 10:10b)

A Darkness That Will Not Lift

“Lord, there are times in my life when I feel like I’m in darkness, a darkness that will not lift.”

Pretty bold confession.

Been there. Maybe you have, too.

Kristen E. Vincent wrote that as the first line of a prayer (Disciplines 2020, p.38).

Before we get to her second line, take a moment and prayerfully name those times in your own life when it felt you were “in darkness, a darkness that will not lift.”

This can get painful. Real life does.

But that’s not the end.

After naming the problem, she guides us into remembrance and hope: “Yet you are the light that will never be extinguished.” That’s not just for Advent, it’s for today and tonight and all times and all places.

“But Joe, I can’t always see the light.” Me neither.

Maybe that’s why I especially appreciate the final line of this prayer:  “Help me to be still and recognize the signs of your light around me.”

Go over that application, that action step, with me again. “Help me to be still and recognize the signs of your light around me.”

That’s a two-parter —

Help me to be still

— that’s trickier for some of us than others of us, but it’s there for all of us:

Help me to be still

— and then what? Then the real good stuff starts, but it can also be among the most difficult —

Help me to be still

and recognize

— Such recognition means we’re both looking and seeing.

Why? So we don’t miss God’s graciousness —

Help me to be still

and recognize

the signs of your light around me.

— Those signs exist. As Christ Jesus asks, “Don’t you see the point of all this? Don’t you get it at all?” (Mark 8:18, the Message version)

By the grace of God, we do.

And amen.

 

 

 

 

It’s a Monday. “Our Lives Begin to End”

Thank You! Many offered commentary and encouragement during previous weeks of experimental Mondays here.

In response, I’m happy to announce “It’s a Monday” as the title of a once-a-week series of significant quotes or observations.

Offered without any  commentary from me, here is today’s —-

“Our lives begin to end

the day we become

silent about things that matter.”

— The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Do This or Die, Church — part 3

Around 200 churches will close this week, maybe more. The pace will accelerate unless our congregations make some dramatic changes.

3. We must abandon the entitlement mentality.

Your church is not a country club where you pay dues to get your perks and privileges. It is a gospel outpost where you are to put yourself last.

Don’t seek to get your way with the music, temperature and length of sermons.

Here is a simple guideline: Be willing to die for the sake of the gospel. That’s the opposite of the entitlement mentality.

SOURCE: https://ncbaptist.org/urgent-church-nine-changes-we-must-make-or-die/?fbclid=IwAR17JMbgBj9f1sJT3ucphCBbNxWulE7GDSzYQUwGrhhfEcG-tdBPPdoAg5Y

Our Difficulties

These nine are from a site called Becoming Minimalist. Whole lotta truth packed in here. I’d like to share one every other day or so with you, filtered through Scripture, for your consideration and application —

8. Understand the Reality of Trials in Life.

Every person in life is either in the middle of a trial, has just emerged from one, or is heading toward the next.

Trials and storms come and go—sometimes as a result of our own poor decisions and sometimes as the result of living in an imperfect world.

Trials often become the very thing we most wish to escape in life—sometimes for good reason.

But given the nature of their constant existence, how can we learn to appreciate the life we have in the midst of these trials?

First, we embrace the reality of their existence.

And second, we look for the good in the midst of them (no matter how hard we need to look).

Christ Jesus: “In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:33)