Thursday, December 24, 2009

Worry/stress

Excerpt from "Crazy Love" - speaks for itself.

     "I used to believe that in this world there are two kinds of people: natural worriers and naturally joyful people. I couldn't really help it that I was the worrying kind. I'm a problem solver, so I have to focus on things that need fixing. God can see that my intensity and anxiety are ministry related. I worry because I take His work seriously.

Right?

     But then there's this perplexing command: 'rejoice in the Lord always! I will say again: rejoice!' (phil 4:4) You'll notice that it doesn't end with '...unless you're doing something extremely important.' No, it's a command for all of us, and it follows with the charge, 'do NOT be anxious about anything' (v.6).
That came as a pretty staggering realization. But what I realized next was even more staggering.

     When I am consumed by my problems  -- stressed out about my life, my family, and my job -- I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God's command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a 'right' to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.

     WORRY: implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.
     STRESS: says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.

     Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it's okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we've been forgiven, that our lives here are brief, that we are headed to a place where we won't be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and that in the context of God's strength, our problems are small, indeed.

     Why are we so quick to forget God? Who do we think we are?"

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas

What is it about anyway?

I wrote a paper in highschool about Christmas, titled "Silent Night" - it was full of the memories and traditions, the hustle and the bustle, the rosy cheeks and chapped lips, the promise of our Savior. I must say, it was a well written piece. As I grow older, however, I begin to view it in a different light.

I have a niece whose a year old. Seeing her unwrap presents and the joy found in a child but a babe, it renews and reignites a joy deep in me as I remember once too being a child. The joy of seeing the tree glow. The joy of unwrapping presents and pulling tissue paper out of bags. The joy of sitting at the table with fancy dishes and enjoying a big meal together. The joy of playing outside, getting cold, running inside to sit by the fire, etc etc. That's "Christmas" Or is it?

Today with our youth we went to an apartment complex we monthly go to and minister to Burmese evacuees who were evicted from their country because of religious beliefs. A lot of them don't speak English. Most of them don't have jobs. They probably won't get a "Christmas" unless someone gives it to them. They don't have much at all, but their joy...their faith...their trust in Christ that has withstood trials...it is unlike any "Christianity" we see here in America. It was a deep, profound, genuine, TRUE faith. It is a hope in their Savior that He provides no matter the cirumstance, no matter what the world says, no matter how others define them. It's Jesus that makes them who they are.

We delivered Christmas presents and fruit/food baskets to them today. We sang Christmas carols and held hands of children who speak a different language than we do. A girl was walking around in this cold weather in old flip flops. I gave her my stupid last minute $10 Rudolph adult slippers and her face shone of gratitude and gratefulness...she will cherish them. A little girl was walking around in a little shirt, shivering and shaking. I gave her my jacket that I wear running because its my "gross one" and her entire body warmed and changed. She was proudly walking around in it. A little girl, who spoke no english, was admiring my Elf bell hat that I pull out once a year. I got it at Dollar Tree years ago. I gave it to her, and you know what? She'll probably wear it year in/year out and savor it and enjoy it in way I never will.

We went to one apartment to drop presents off and they were having a birthday party/dedication for a one year old. They invited us (all 15 of us) in and we sat and worshipped with them. It was incredible and as I sat holding a precious Chin girl in my lap, I cried. These people crammed in this tiny apartment...they feel life. They know love. They recognize faith and they trust their Jesus. In ways we never, ever will. And I am drawn to know Christ deeper because of it.

How great a God we serve. Amen.

Merry Christmas.