My grandchildren noticed this amazingly colourful bug on a picnic table bench in the community forest. He was not focused on, nor influenced by their praise for his beauty. He just did what he was designed to do — shine.
“No circumstance can compete with the favor that God wants you to enjoy in Jesus. God uses all things to upgrade us in goodness and in power. So I love that fact that we’re only ever being challenged by who God is for us. That’s the big challenge on your life. You’re not being challenged by the enemy or by oppositional people. You are not even being challenged by your circumstances. You’re being challenged by the goodness of God. You’re being challenged by the love of God. You’re being challenged by the peace of God. We’re in Christ; we’re only being challenged with the person of God, who is making us like Him.”
I couldn’t sleep last night. I was worried.
I was worried about fitting everything into our schedule in the next two weeks. I was worried about a family member’s health. I was worried that I didn’t get the best cell phone deal. I was worried about Ebola patients escaping and looters taking contaminated beds in Liberia. I was worried that I was not able to sleep with a busy day coming up. I was worried about booking a hotel that charged a cancellation fee in exchange for cheaper rates. I was worried about Christians being killed by the thousands around the world. I was worried that someone would challenge me to pour a bucket of ice water on my head.
When I went to bed I was merely worried that Don Diego would discover that Alicia was having an affair with Julio and that the Marquis might find out he was not the father of Alejandro and that Dona Alarcon had slipped Belen’s illegitimate baby into Sophia’s room while Andres tried to hide the identical twin in his tiny servant’s room even though he was the real heir, but his mother Angela was still keeping that a secret.
Ahh —-that’s where it started. I fed my mind on several back-to-back episodes of a Netflix TV show before bed. It is full of intrigue and lies and plot twists that could give you whiplash. You can’t trust any of those characters. It’s fascinating, if not unbelievably contrived, and based on the fact that everyone eavesdrops, but no one bothers to find a private place to have important conversations. I allowed my heart to be sucked in and began to think in the same distrustful way. The problem with hypothetical situations is that you can’t ask for God’s help because you must approach him in spirit and in truth -and there is no truth in a crisis of imagination. Characters are left to their own devices, and the plot thickens (and thickens, and thickens.)
I didn’t do it consciously, but somehow I took the mindset of having to rely on my own devices to bed and at 3:24 a.m. my mind woke up in a panic.
The only way I could find peace again was to read God’s promises, change my thinking, commit my plans to him, trust in him, and pray for his peace replace the anxiety. Then I needed to be still and wait. His presence showed up again and peace was restored — or rather the cacophony of other fearful raucous voices dimmed and I could hear his still, almost silent voice again, because He had never actually left. It reminded me of sitting in a canoe with my best friend on quiet lake at the end of the day.
I’m so glad you are here, Lord.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
God is good.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
-Annie J. Flint from He Giveth More Grace
“Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you Who He is.”
— Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
My trusted friend learned the value of living simply by growing up in a military family subject to frequent moves. She has offered to help me de-clutter my house. Then I discovered that she considers our many books and dvd’s to be clutter. Um… this might not work. We have three walls of floor-to-ceiling shelves crammed with books — and perhaps a pile or two in the bedroom. And my home office. And maybe the living room… and the deck. I tried to tell her they make an excellent extra layer of insulation. She rolled her eyes.
I do cull regularly (my husband’s stuff is much easier to part with for some reason) and I do avoid second-hand bookstores, and clearance tables in the mall, so there are fewer books coming in. But now I’m having to worry about clutter on my computer since I have a new friend who lets me know about free e-book promotions on Amazon -and he has great taste.
So, I am trying to be freer with what I part with, and more discerning about what I let in. Now I’m researching authors and their works more before buying. I realized something about book reviews and reviewers today. I’m more likely to be attracted to a book with a few bad reviews than pages of gushing changed-my-lifes. Is it bad that I take some book reviewer’s negative online critiques as recommendations? Self-appointed heresy-hunters have panned some of the best books I’ve read. I’m beginning to recognize their names. Thanks, guys.
Do you remember video rental shops? One thing my husband and I discovered was that if the blurb on the box said, “HILARIOUS!!!!” we would probably hate it. It’s not that we are humour-challenged, it’s just that, after a while, humour that comes at the expense of someone’s dignity begins to lose it’s appeal. We also found certain popular critics had very different ideas of what constituted an entertaining evening than we did. If they disliked something, we might just pick it up.
We’re weird, that way. Popular not only does not know our address, it has never even wandered down our street. And we don’t mind.
The same author’s name popped up in a few places recently. I decided to check him out; he seems to say some rather radical things. Most of the reviews of his latest book on Amazon were over the top five star best-thing-I’ve-ever-read stuff, which I immediately dismissed as friends’ or relatives’ or groupies’ kind attempts at helping sales. Four and three star reviews tend to mention possible flaws (which all the best authors have.) Then I skipped down to the one and two star stuff. There weren’t many, but one of the reviewers, who was very witty because angry people can be quite funny, hated the book, the author, and everyone on his speed-dial. Thankfully, the reviewer clearly delineated why he hated it, and in the process revealed his own character flaws and the thinking that led to his disgruntled attitude.
Love it. I’m getting the book. The very things that offended him are in areas where I have also been offended, and where I realize I need to change.
I read this on Praying Medic’s blog: (a bit of an outside-the box risk-taker himself)
“People who reject ideas that conflict with their own, do so because their identity comes from what they believe to be true. They call themselves Christian, Calvinist, Atheist, Republican, Lutheran, etc. based on what ideas they believe to be true and to some degree what experiences they’ve had.
For many people, these labels become their identity. Instead of taking their identity from God, they form an identity based on philosophies, doctrines, morals and experiences. Because their theology is their identity, when they’re confronted with theological ideas, their identity comes into question. If they affirm a theological idea, it becomes part of their identity. If they reject it, they maintain their identity apart from the idea, and label the idea as false. For these people, every discussion about God or religion challenges their identity, and herein lies a problem:
If we tie our identity to our beliefs, every time we discuss something theological, our identity is at risk. If we don’t want to change our identity every day, we must reject all experiences and teachings that differ from our own. At the start, we must reject ideas. But if a particular individual confronts our identity often enough with “false” ideas, it’s easier to just label the person a false teacher and reject everything they say. This eliminates the need to evaluate each idea, and it reduces exposure of the identity to challenges.“
I also read a quote from a Christian author and teacher who listed his four favourite theologians, then stated he didn’t agree with any of them. Love it. Nobody has the entire picture, although some of the parts they do have are excellent.
We can learn, and grow, and change when we are willing to toss out some old books (or ideas) to make room on the shelf for ones we haven’t considered yet, knowing that Holy Spirit will continue to teach us discernment and refine our thinking in the process of renewing our minds.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to make room on the shelf.