DOES SINGING REALLY MATTER?

Singing has always been a part of my life. I was raised a preacher’s daughter, and at age 5, sang my first solo. I married a preacher’s son who also grew up singing in church. We raised two daughters who love to sing. 

Singing. 

It drew our voices closer in harmony and connected us deeper with Jesus’ powerful words of truth. It connected us with each other (of course, not without some family arguments).  In a hospital room, I watched in awe as our premature granddaughter grew stronger and our hopes lifted as we sang over her tiny, helpless body each day. 

So now you get it.  Me and my family love singing.  I’m assuming you love singing, too?  Maybe you prefer the spoken message and wait patiently for the singing to end or grin and bear it because the music style doesn’t match yours?  If this is you, then here are a few thoughts as to why singing really does matter.

 

SINGING CONNECTS US WITH GOD AND GOD’S WORD

 

God himself sings over us.  “…..He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you in singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17b)

The Apostle Paul commands us to sing. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…” (Colossians 3:16). Words of scripture put to repetitive tunes, beats, and rhythms connect our minds, bodies and spirits to God’s Word.  Scientists now understand that our brains are wired to remember music better than words alone. The power of music is seen when Alzheimer’s patients can’t remember the day, time or their closest family members but will remember a song they learned as a child. 

 

SINGING BREAKS THROUGH OUR HARDNESS OF HEART

 

Singing should be an emotional event and should affect us in some way. It is intended to stir our emotions and engage us with God in a way that steers
our words, thoughts, choices, and actions. Of course, this doesn’t happen 100% of the time. I’ve been guilty of singing songs while thinking about what to have for lunch. There have been dark times when my song sings over a feeling of numbness. The good news is that we serve a merciful God who used music in the past and wants to use it again to break through our apathy and hardness of heart. When we pray and ask for Him to have mercy on us during these seasons, He is faithful to answer. When we become vulnerable before Him and tune into His Words of love for us, singing draws us closer to Him. 

 

SINGING STRENGTHENS US IN TIMES OF SUFFERING

 

It is the gospel that unites us – not the style of music.  I love the people in my church not because of the type of music they listen to but because Jesus’ death enables me to love them. This bond grows even stronger during times of corporate suffering. In Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas were unjustly prisoned for the sake of the Gospel, and what do they do while they’re in prison?

They sing!

There have been similar modern day stories where persecuted, imprisoned Christians responded with singing and were made stronger in their dire circumstances. If it can strengthen them in the face of trials, what can it do for us?  

I hope we all learn to love singing. I pray we will continue singing for God’s glory and for the advancement of the gospel until our time on earth is up and we go where we will sing forever!

 

PRAYING IT SAFE

If you believe in a higher power at all, then you have probably asked that higher power for something at least once in your life. For Christians, we know this Higher Power is God. He is the Supreme Ruler and Creator of all, and His Intelligent Design set us all into motion. That’s a lot of Power that we have all taken for granted (1 John 5:14). How often do we go to God with mediocre prayers? We ask God to watch over the dog, water the grass, to have a good night sleep, and for it not to rain this weekend so we can go to the lake. I know that God cares about the little things in our lives, but I can’t help but wonder if God yawns when we pray. We pray repetitively, we pray simply, we pray for what we’ve already been given (Matthew 6:7). Sure, we sometimes follow Scripture in our prayers and ask God to protect us, provide for us, mold us, teach us, and use us. But what do we mean exactly? Have we thought about that? Aren’t we still praying it safe? Don’t we really mean: God use me today as long as it is in my comfort zone, in my time frame, and without too much of an inconvenience? To some, we may only pray to the all powerful space daddy when the lottery gets really high — we pray to win! Or when our favorite sports team is playing, we pray for them to end up on top! But to what end? For what purpose? Our own pleasure? Does it truly please God or aid in our purpose for existing? Again, God does care about the things we care about, even if they are insignificant — but is that all we are praying about? Is that all we are living for?

 

COMMUNICATION WITH GOD

 

Prayer is not the easiest discipline to develop. We get busy, we’re distracted, we have doubts and grow weary. But even in creating a habit, it is easier to just say the same rehearsed prayers over and over, night after night, and check it off the list rather than tune in to what we are actually saying. I would contend that most of us do not have a consistent prayer life and those that do are high risk for ritualistic praying. This has to be because we lose sight of who God is and what prayer is for! God is our Father, our King, our Savior! Prayer is the communication bridge of our relationship with Him. What if God and I made some plans to fulfill our purpose here? If money weren’t an option, if there were no limits, what would I do for God? What would I build to further His kingdom? What would I need to get there? Who do I need to become to be capable of pulling it off? This is what I should be praying for!

 

Do you think God gets excited when you pray? Is He pleased by your praise? Is He eager to do what you ask because it is in His Name and for the sake of His kingdom (John 14:13)? I have to wonder — am I praying in a way that will change the world for Jesus’ sake? Am I praying in a way that will change me? If how I live is based on how I pray, am I living too safely, too?

 

“I WANT TO SAY: HEY JESUS, THIS WAS CRAZY AND IMPOSSIBLE, BUT YOU DID IT THROUGH ME…”

 

I know that’s a lot of questions packed into a few paragraphs, but I think they are necessary ones. I’m not writing them all out just to challenge you — I am at the front of the line, confronting and questioning myself! Am I where God wants me to be? Am I doing what God created me to do? And is my prayer life guiding that? I don’t want to get to the end of my life, face Jesus, and realize that I did a mediocre job for Him. I don’t want to say: Here I am, Jesus, I survived a long time, I kept my kids alive, I had a decent savings account and we lived moderately according to the American Dream. No, I want to say: Hey Jesus, this was crazy and impossible, but You did it through me and I gave everything for Your sake in faith and hope and love. Amen. 

 

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. ~ Matthew 6:7

 

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. ~ John 14:13

 

And this is the confidence that we have before Him: If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. ~ 1 John 5:14

 

 

 

 

COMING AGAIN

To be perfectly honest, I’ve had a very difficult time deciding on a topic for this blog post. I want to say something that will encourage and inspire you, but I find that to be a hard assignment because last year was a difficult year in many ways and I have my doubts that this new year will bring much improvement. 

I’m looking for hope in more than one way. I know if I’m going to find hope, the best place to start is in Scripture. I found some unexpected hope listening to a recent sermon by Trevor Barton, minister at The Creek Church in London, KY. My thoughts below are loosely based on his message.

 

HOPE IS COMING

 

As I consider this season and the part that hope plays, I wonder if this is how the children of Israel felt all those long years ago. Everyone knew the prophecies about a King who would come and save them—a King who would sit on David’s throne and rule forever. The prophecies had been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years — the King is coming…

But no one had heard or spoken any prophecies for over 400 years before that night in Bethlehem. It probably felt hopeless when the Jews looked at their situation. How could anything improve as long as they were under the thumb of yet another invading nation? Who would save them? Where is the King? 

We actually have the advantage of Scripture that tells us where the King was. He was with the Father. John 1:1-5 says,

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Would he ever really come? Again, we have the advantage of Scripture and history that tells us how He came. John 1:10-14 says,

10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

There have always been a lot of preconceived notions about how life should be lived. The King came to dismantle those notions and show us how to really live. The problem is, we like our preconceived notions. They give us a sense of control — we like that a lot. 

The King is wild and free and that scares us now and it scared the Jews 2000 years ago. The way they dealt with their fear was to kill the King. Death was not strong enough to hold the King for more than three days when He arose.

 

THE KING IS COMING AGAIN

 

But He had to return to His Father. Acts 1:9-11says,

9After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Wow, did you catch it? Verse 11 is another prophecy about the King. This one says, the King is coming again!

I am so eager and ready for the King to come again. In the meantime I want to do a better job of living as He taught us. How do I lose the discouragement and embrace the inspiration? 

The inspiration is in His Word. In John 16:33, Jesus says: 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The King is coming again! Whatever was hard in the last year, and whatever seems hopeless moving forward, take heart — the King is coming again!

 

 

CLICK AGREE

In todays lap-top ready world, scrolling to the bottom and putting your electronic signature on something that we both know you didn’t read is normal. Those agreements are typically like two-hundred pages long, and there are some much more entertaining cat videos that one could be watching instead. So, we click agree as fast as possible and wait impatiently for the pizza to get here. 

It's normal. 

We are human. We can’t be bothered with reading anything over two-hundred characters; we have trouble expressing sentiments with out emjicons; and we have hashtags for all kinds of major events in our lives. 

Unfortunately, I believe that a lot of Christians are taking this approach to the Bible. We want to scroll to the end click agree and move on with life. I mean, the Bible is way longer than an Apple agreement — and in the end, we all have our Sunday School answers memorized: 

Jesus. 

God.

Because He Loves Us. 

The Bible Tells Us so. 

In elementary we got stars on our worksheets and went home. But we aren’t in grade school anymore. We are standing behind answers that were given to us by others rather than researching anything for ourselves. I myself am very guilty of this.  

Have you ever heard the verse “Money is the root of all evil”? 

That’s actually not correct. 

The real verse is found in 1 Timothy 6:10, where it says,  “Money is the root of ALL KINDS of evil.” (emphasis mine). That word, “kinds,” changes the entire meaning of the verse. Now, the verse makes it clear that money in and of itself is not inherently evil. It’s when money becomes an idol and greed becomes overwhelming does it become the root cause of evil. 

Another example is this concept that “God wants me to be happy.” 

This is literally nowhere in the Bible. 

In fact, the Bible tells us several times that “In this world there will be troubles, but take heart…” (John 16:33); and Romans 5:3-5 calls us to persevere through those troubles for the glory of God. 

I challenge each of you to take time in your walk to truly look for yourself at the Bible. Fact Check the things you read, hear on Sunday Mornings, or talk about in Bible Study. Educating yourself in the Word you are putting your faith in is never a waste of time. But, don’t take my word for it. Look these and other verses up for yourself!

THE UNDERCURRENT OF JOY

Music is built into the fabric of creation. There’s a rhythm to it all.

There’s night 

and there’s day 

and there’s seasons 

and there’s weather 

and there’s time 

and it all comes and goes, back and forth, over and over again.

All things working together, the give and take, the ebb and the flow, the ups and the downs —

a rhythm.

And this all a precedent since the very beginning, in Genesis 1:

There “was evening, and there was morning” the first day — and then the second, third, fourth…

There’s a rhythm and a harmony built into everything. Since the very beginning, a creative, musical-like energy was breathed out by God Himself.

I always thought, too, that it was kind of cool that the one in the Bible who God said was “a man after my own heart” was David — 

the music guy.

I love that I get to lead music on Sundays at church. I’m always listening, creating, or doing something with music in some way.

So, I tend to see and understand things better through a musical lens.

And this is no different for how I understand this word “joy.”

But first, a little music lesson.

In the music world, there’s a term that gets thrown around a lot called the pad.

Basically, the pad can be defined as a sustained chord or tone or sound generated by some sort of instrument, and it is often used in the background to fill in space. It is unchanging; it just sits there — constant — while all the other “musical” things — like chord changes and harmony and melody and rhythm and dynamics — happen over the top of it. It’s like the undercurrent to what the band is playing. And it always stays on that “home” or constant note — or what music theory will call the “tonic.” It’s that final resolution tone, which usually will be what’s called a “major” chord. In music theory, “major” chords are often described as the happy sounding chords, while “minor” chords are the sad sounding ones. Then you have “dissonant” chords which are weird — they’re often described as just not feeling right or off.

Ok. So. We have “joy.”

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes to “always be joyful.”

Always. Be. Joyful.

Always.

What?

This tells us that joy isn't an emotion like happiness or sadness, which can easily wane. No. Joy is a state of being that those in Christ can always be in, can always choose — by way of living life with Him.

In Galatians, Paul lists joy as a fruit of the Spirit. Meaning, it is something that is born within us, as a result of our growing in the spirit more and more into the likeness of Jesus. So, here’s what we have to understand here: joy isn't made. It’s nothing we could ever just decide to conjure up every day. Eugene Peterson writes, “Joy is what God gives, not what we work up.”

Joy is a consequence.

It’s a consequence of living life with God, being “transformed by the renewing of your mind”, as Romans 12 charges, every single day, growing more and more in the Spirit.

It’s a natural by-product, a characteristic, of growing and learning and living with God everyday.

It’s a fruit of the Spirit.

Now, what’s all this have to do with music and pads and major chords and minor chords?

We need to know that in Christ, joy is our pad.

It’s unchanging. It’s constant. It doesn't waver. It isn't tied to circumstances.

Sometimes life feels like major chords 

and sometimes life feels like minor chords

and sometime life feels like one big dissonant chord

where everything just seems to be

               spiraling

                             out 

                                      of   

                                           control.

And yet, behind it all, underneath all of that flux,

the pad. 

Joy. Ours. We’re called to “always” have it. Meaning, we’re called to be ever seeking Jesus, ever growing in His likeness, every day.

Because that’s where the joy comes from.

It’s the undercurrent of our lives. How beautiful, that in Jesus, joy can always be ours? That in Jesus, nothing can take our joy? That in Jesus, nothing else has to determine your joy for you, except Him? This joy comes from His love. And Paul writes in the book of Romans that “nothing can ever separate us” from this great love.

So, today, claim joy over your life, because you can claim His love over your life. Let today be the day that you decide to sit at the feet of the master, the teacher, Jesus, everyday, to learn and live life with Him. It’s from that intimacy that the fruit of joy is born in our lives.

Today, know that in Jesus, joy is the pad — the constant, unchanging, undercurrent of reality that can only be found in the love of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EMMANUEL

In his book, God Came Near, Max Lucado describes the reality of the incarnation. The Word really did become flesh, which can makes us a bit uncomfortable when we consider the implications of that. Lucado writes,

The omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became pierce-able. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created. God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluid of his mother. God came near.”

Isaiah prophesied of Christ’s coming to King Ahaz in Isaiah 7:14:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,and  will call him Immanuel.”

 

DELIVERER

 

This served as a sign to the rebellious and stubborn King, that God would deliverer His people. Joseph was given this same assurance when the angel Gabriel quoted Isaiah.  In the midst of Joseph’s urge to flee and not deal with the repercussions of Mary’s pregnancy, the angel assured him this was God’s plan for deliverance.  

 

HOPE

 

The mystery, wonder and hope of the virgin birth still resonates today. In the midst of so much uncertainty and fear, we are given this hope of a better day through Emmanuel, God with Us. We find peace in knowing that Jesus really knows what we feel and experience because He went through it himself. He experienced pain, rejection, fear. He also experienced joy, laughter and rich relationships. Knowing that my Savior is not a far off idea or just a “good man” that did “good things,” but is truly God in the flesh, and is now seated at the right hand of God — glorified, righteous and reigning — brings me great joy and peace. But most of all, hope for tomorrow.  

May this season be filled with the power and presence of Emmanuel in your family!

 

 

 

 

TEST THE TITHE

““Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse so that there may be food in my temple. Test me in this matter,” says the LORD who rules over all, “to see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until there is no room for it all.” - Malachi 3:10 NET

Is the tithe a commandment or a nice thing to do?

 

A HOLY COMMANDMENT

 

The first time we see the word “tithe” is in Leviticus 27:30;32: 

“‘Any tithe of the land, from the grain of the land or from the fruit of the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord… All the tithe of herd or flock, everything which passes under the rod, the tenth one will be holy to the Lord.’” 

Tithe means one-tenth of earnings. In early history, these earnings were things such as grain, produce, or livestock. We learn here that the tithe is holy, to be used for His kingdom.

“‘See, I have given the Levites all the tithes in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they perform—the service of the tent of meeting.’” - Numbers 18:21 NET

The tithe was a salary for those who worked in the temple. The same is still true — we are commanded to tithe to help those in the employment of the church. And, the tithe is still just as relevant today.

“‘Then you must come to the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to reside, bringing everything I am commanding you—your burnt offerings, sacrifices, tithes, the personal offerings you have prepared, and all your choice votive offerings which you devote to him.’”- Deuteronomy 12:11 NET

 

FOR THE CHURCH

 

Tithes are NOT sacrifices. I think we see tithes as sacrifices, or burnt offerings, which are irrelevant on account of Jesus’ sacrifice. But, these were completely separate from the tithe, with their own regulations. Also, God reaffirms here that the tithe is a commandment, not a suggestion. Finally, God commands us to tithe where His Name resides. We don’t get to choose to hold on to our tithe and use it to further His Kingdom however we see fit. The tithe is for the church leaders to use however they feel God has lead them. 

Every church has uses for the tithe. Maybe your church has a missions ministry that supports missionaries across the world. Or maybe you have an older church that needs repairs/upgrades. O, there may be a stress on the staff and they need to hire more staff. Or perhaps your church has a huge debt that needs paying off. All of these are legitimate uses for the tithe. But, none of it can be accomplished without your tithe.

According to healthresearchfunding.org, only 3-5% of those who give do so with a regular tithe. So how do we change that? 

 

1) Pray. Pray that God would show you a way to make room, or that He would carry you through difficult times when money gets tight. And for those who do tithe, pray that God would convict those who aren’t tithing, that He would calm their fears and carry them through difficult times. 

 

2) Budget for ten percent of every paycheck to be tithed. In 1 Peter 4:10 we are called to use our blessings wisely — and a budget can help accomplish this. 

 

3) Test the Tithe. In the passage from Malachi, God tells us to test Him in the tithe. Try it —  see if God doesn’t carry you through, or show you a way to eliminate difficulties.

WHAT MY 3-MONTH OLD TAUGHT ME ABOUT GOD

People can warn you. They can give you all kinds of advice. You can read books, blogs, articles, the stars, the words of a song… but nothing can ever prepare you for becoming a parent more than actually becoming a parent — and by that time, you’re already committed. It brings sleepless nights, increased decibels of noises no fully-grown human can make, marking every spot in the house that creaks when stepped on… it’s just such a magical time.

But I can remember the moment very clearly. It was a moment I doubt I’ll ever forget. This moment was when my 3-month old son taught me something about God that I’ve always known, but never realized in the way he made me realize it. He didn’t point me to a place in the Bible. He didn’t sit me down for a 40-minute sermon on the theology of grace. Instead, he screamed… at 3:15 in the morning… for over an hour…

Trying everything I could think of to calm him — walking around the room, swaying back and forth, screaming back at him to show him how annoying it was (just kidding) — one thought kept going through my mind: “Dude, just go to sleep. You’re crying because you’re tired. Going to sleep will fix that.”

And there it was…

I knew exactly what he needed to fix the current trouble he was experiencing. If only he would listen to me, if only he would take my advice, things would be okay. And that was when my infant son made this reality of God sink in like nothing else ever has.

 

“WILL YOU TRUST ME?”

 

You see, that is God’s approach to us… it has been from the beginning of time. We experience pain or difficulty or temptation or trial and we cry out for something to happen. It’s in those moments when we want to scream and shout and cuss that God says, “I know what you need…will you trust me?” The problem is that sometimes we don’t want to listen or we don’t understand why He wants us to do what He wants us to do or we want to try and fix things ourselves.

But God tells us to cast all our worries and cares on Him… because ultimately He is the only One who can bring true solution and peace. Multiple times in Scripture, we are told that God knows what we need and gives us what we need when we need it. So maybe it’s time for us to stop screaming at 3 in the morning and put our trust in the promises of God. And just to be clear, that promise is not that we’ll have an easy, peaceful life… in fact, the Bible tells us to expect just the opposite. That promise is that, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

IN SYNC WITH I AM

Have you ever had those moments with your spouse or a best friend, when you’re so in tune, so in sync, that you finish each other’s sentences? Perhaps you text at the exact same moment? Or you have the very same thought at the same time and you give that knowing glance or nod and think, “WOW”? Or maybe you spend so much time with someone that you begin to realize you’re rubbing off on one another and acting the same? 

Now, would those scenarios describe you and God?! 

Does that seem impossible or crazy? Well it happened to me — and all I can say is, I’m awestruck!

 

WHAT WE THINK MATTERS

 

For the past 9 weeks, I’ve been a part of a Women’s Disciple-Making Curriculum (DC 101) here at church. Early in this course, I came across a quote from Dallas Willard that I loved and posted because it resonated with me. It was a picture of the Father that made me smile:

“It is a great and important task to come to terms with what we really think when we think of God… We should, to begin with, think that God leads a very interesting life, and that He is full of joy. Undoubtedly He is the most joyous being in the universe.” - Dallas Willard

As I read over this quote, what washed over me was God saying “I AM who I Am.” I posted it and hashtagged #gettingtoknowIAm, because that’s what a 53-year-old does to feel relevant and become a cool kid — throws a hashtag in front of a statement without spacing the words. HAHA! As I continued my lesson, I was directed to read the following passage from Exodus 3:14. As soon as I saw this reference, I literally thought “O.M.G.!” Could it be? No, no way! But yes, with anticipated excitement, I flipped the pages of my bible to the exact verse  — a verse that just minutes before had washed over my consciousness: 

“God said to Moses, I Am Who I Am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you.” Ex. 3:14

 

IN SYNC

 

God was right there with me, filling up my thoughts and mind with more of Him. And just as my husband, Chris, and I feel when we share these little “in sync” moments, I got a burst of love for my Father, my Creator, because we were thinking of one another at the exact same time. Truthfully, I’m a little giddy right now as I relive this experience by sharing with you here. And I’m personally aware of how the Bridegroom is preparing His bride. I’ve never felt so strongly about that until now. I’m loved, I’m cherished, I’m adored, I’m delighted in. 

You want to know your purpose, your meaning, your value? Read His love letter to you! Go to a quiet place and let His words wash truth over your heart. I promise, you will be blown away!

THE CURE FOR ANXIETY

We live, and seemingly thrive, in a fast-paced, technological society. Historically, the development of technology was pursued as a means to make life more productive with less manpower, supposedly so that there was more time for man to enjoy his life outside of work. However, it seems that technology has only empowered us to produce more. Instead of using it to lessen our load, we have become obsessed with expanding it. This is presented as progress, but at its core, I fear that it is rooted more deeply in greed and even more so in pride. We have become gods of our worlds, creating and demanding and building materialistic empires for ourselves to dwell in and rule. We think we are humble, but we are plagued with drive and anxieties. We want, we own, we hoard until our storehouses are overflowing. It doesn’t matter if it is all meaningless junk; it declares to us of our own distorted value. 

 

“…THE ABSENCE OF HUMILITY”

 

Alistair Begg made a statement that has drastically changed my perspective. He said that “anxiety is the absence of humility”. Of course, my immediate reaction to this was to contend that my humility is enough and that my anxiety is not my fault! But in raw honesty, if I take one moment to inspect these responses, they are inundated with pride. Who do I think I am? What exactly do I think I deserve? That is a sobering self-confrontation! If my answer is anything other than death and eternal punishment, I have become too haughty to claim any sort of humility at all. 

When I am anxious, I am ultimately saying that I do not deserve the struggles that I am facing, even though any difficulty that I may encounter will be less than the eternal damnation that I deserve. My anxiety demands better for myself, it protests that I am owed something more than what I have. But I am not! Already, I have been saved from the death that my sin has earned! Already, I am mercifully showered with grace! That is beyond enough; in light of which, I only have room for humility and absolutely nothing else!

However, I forget my true standing and there are a plethora of worries that constantly violate my peace and confidence. Finances cause me anxiety, but to live outside of my means proves my pride (I deserve to have more than I can afford); or to fret over my needs reveals my pride (I should have everything provided for me without want, I deserve to lack nothing). The chaos of children causes me anxiety. My house is a mess; their demands cost me a lot! But here again, my pride rears its ugly head (I should be able to have everything I want without personal sacrifice. I deserve sleep. I deserve an uninterrupted shower. I deserve to drink hot coffee! I want, I need, I deserve…). Oh how prideful we are. We are so prideful, we do not even recognize our own pride. The world we live in promotes independence and self-care. While neither of those are necessarily bad in and of themselves, they are rooted in pride and it is a sneaky little poison that taints all of us far more deeply than we care to admit!

 

MERCY

 

So what do we do with ourselves? We cannot help our sin; it courses through our veins as automatically as our blood pulses. We cannot reduce our own pridefulness, and even to think that we have enough power to make ourselves do anything is also prideful! So, we are caught in a conundrum. We find ourselves again at the mercy of our Savior (which is honestly where we have been all along; it is just a matter of whether or not we recognize it and live accordingly, humbly). Jesus tells us the cure for anxiety in Matthew 6: 25-34. We have no grounds to worry, for even as God lavishly cares for the lowly beings, how much more will He obviously care for us, whom He has created in His very own image and to whom He has breathed in His very own breath. So all else aside, we must humbly “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (v33)” and then far more than we could ever need or want will be granted to us as a merciful consequence! When we humble ourselves and put Jesus first, not just in the casual way we usually speed through understanding this familiar concept, but truly if we apply these things, there is no room left for anxiety. May the Lord grant us this perspective every day!