christian

Worry and Peace Cannot CoExist.

Neuroscientists have discovered an interesting phenomenon about the human brain; it is like an on and off switch ("Words can change your brain” Andrew Newberg M.D.Mark Robert Waldman Page 18), it cannot focus on both a positive and negative feeling at the same time. This was huge discovery, as a result they also discovered that the brain will always pick the negative before the positive as an unconscious survival mechanism. Our brains are alway trying to help us avoid pain, as a result it will focus on the problem rather than on the solution as a way to change it and protect against the pain of the problem. However, it truly works in reverse.

We all know the famous verse in Proverbs 23:7, “For as a man thinketh within so he is." This quite simply means the more I worry about things, people and situations the more anxious I become, and the more my mind finds issues to worry about. Instead of focusing on the “What is”, it now begins to focus on the “What if”.  

What does this mean? Let's first go to the book of Matthew. 

Matthew 6:25-34, in relation to worry and anxiety:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The “What is” in this passage is all that God does and will do, the “What if” becomes the striving and worrying about tomorrow. 

Here is that same passage from the MSG Bible: 

Matthew 6:25-34 (MSG)

25-26  “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

27-29  “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33  “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34  “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Let us focus on what is...because we desire the peace that passes all understanding and not the worry that keeps us from what God has for us and has taken care of on the cross. 

Blessings! And hear the full show "I Am With You Always" on our Radio Page. 

 

We are His seeds.

Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. (Luke 17:33 NIV, NLT)

Let's use the life of a seed as an analogy for our own lives. Like a seed, there’s an intent/a purpose in us, too, of an original creation waiting to come out. What we shouldn’t do and cannot do is protect the seed. We should not nurture it into staying exactly as it is, or even ease its growth unnecessarily. Nor should we abandon the seed or starve it. It might be buried deeply, waiting out its natural cycle before it germinates, but it still needs water and nourishment.

Instead, let the seed burst forth with new life and do what it was created to do. The important thing to remember, though, is that the seed must die, or change, before it can live; it must break out of the outward shell that is holding it captive. Compare the metaphors of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly and a tadpole into a frog. 

Shedding: Change, Change, Change. Growth, growth, growth.

Let’s take a closer look at change. Changes come in three types. And each type treats you differently. Here they are:

1. A change you initiate: this may include an intentional job change, a marriage (or possibly divorce), an addition to the family, a move, a pursuit of higher education.

2. A change that’s predictable, but unavoidable: aging (including puberty), a progression through a job or education, new neighbors.

3. A change that’s unforeseen and out of our hands: an illness, a natural disaster, job loss, winning the lottery.

God has a greater good that will result from great loss (Romans 8:28) and change... if we allow for the grief and loss process, even if we don’t know when the greater good may appear. In truth, sometimes we need these things removed, and we need to be sequestered by God to allow the maturing process to take place so that we can grow and develop uninterrupted in understanding the workings of the Holy Spirit. We will then eventually take our places as the spiritually mature people God has intended us to be. Closely tied to this is the death of a good thing, and possibly a thing that shouldn’t have died. Be that as it may, it has died for one reason or another. God can still do an even better thing in our lives. We’ll see this a bit later with Job’s story: he had no clue whether he would even survive his ordeal, let alone that it could be used to bring him more good in his life than he’d ever had before.

Each change we face in our lives can be described as positive or negative, predictable or not, and avoidable or not; but still it’s a death—something dies with every change. What’s every loss has a gain every gain has a loss. The loss of a seed with a birth of a tree.

God has designed it this way. Glory be to God for his perfect design. 

 

Encouragement and Reflection

While we are busy with the holiday season sometimes it seems an impossible to time to stop and breathe and maybe, even perhaps realize how much we need the love and encouragement of Christ to keep moving forward. Yet as the year is coming to a close, this truly is the season to stop and soak up encouragement as we head full speed into the new year. We thought we would share some scripture here to encourage and cause reflection. We also look forward to this new year, your new year. 

Romans 8:1-2 NIV

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a]free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:35-39 (MSG)

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Galations 2:20 (NIV)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galations 2:19-21 (MSG)

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

Isaiah 44:22 (NIV)

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
    your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
    for I have redeemed you.”

Isaiah 44:21-23 (MSG)

“Remember these things, O Jacob.
    Take it seriously, Israel, that you’re my servant.
I made you, shaped you: You’re my servant.
    O Israel, I’ll never forget you.
I’ve wiped the slate of all your wrongdoings.
    There’s nothing left of your sins.
Come back to me, come back.
    I’ve redeemed you.”

23 High heavens, sing!
    God has done it.
Deep earth, shout!
    And you mountains, sing!
    A forest choir of oaks and pines and cedars!
God has redeemed Jacob.
    God’s glory is on display in Israel.

Lamentations 3:58 (NIV)

You, Lord, took up my case;
    you redeemed my life.

Matthew 9:36 (NIV) 

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Generosity: Are you generous?

Let's make generosity simple, because it truly is...give what you have. If you have money-give it. If you have time-give it. If you can give approval, spread it around. If you can offer acceptance-offer it. If you can smile, you should. Say Thank you. Have patience. Be generous with your compliments. Its nothing more than giving...

The most powerful forms of generosity are usually practiced in our closest, most intimate relationships. It is here where we love generously, get over transgressions quickly, provide patience, accept someone where they are, pray for them instead of complain about them...we find mercy and compassion for their condition whatever it may be and we do it freely and willingly. While we are doing all things generously in our intimate relationships, we must remember to not use generosity as a tool of control, entitlement or reciprocation. Generosity is a Godly act and is act of love. Love them as God loves: without strings attached. Without expecting anything in return. 

Additionally, for those whom you are most generous and most concerned about in your "generosity circle", trust God is doing good work in them. Trust that God is for more concerned, more aware, and more committed to their behavior than you could ever be-be sure to address the plank in your own eye before addressing the splinter in theirs. Generosity is not about control or behavior modification, it is freely given out of love and service. 

We are discussing generosity in depth these next two weeks on Conversations with Cinthia. The first show in this series is airing this Sunday at 4PM MST on Faith Talk 1360.