A Prayer for Panic and Pandemics

“God, of thy goodness, give me Thyself;
for Thou art enough for me,
and I can ask for nothing less
that can be full honor to Thee.
And if I ask anything that is less,
ever Shall I be in want,
for only in Thee have I all” (Julian of Norwich)

At first it seems like an odd prayer for a pandemic. Shouldn’t we be praying for healing and peace and cures for the virus?

But the prayer is perfect for the current mood of panic.

We acknowledge yet again that our deepest and greatest need isn’t for peace from strife or cures for COVID-19 or healing for the racial unrest.

Our biggest need is for God Himself. Only God is sufficient. Only God is enough.

An Every Day Choice

Yes, you do have a choice. As I am still learning, no one can MAKE you feel anything. Your response is still your choice.

So what will you choose today?

Will you choose to be bitter and envious?

Will you choose to be angry over every perceived affront and aggravation against you or others?

Will you choose to harbor unforgiveness in your heart?

Or will you choose to be grateful for this one life you get to live here on earth?

Will you choose to be thankful for all the small daily gifts from God?

Will you choose to be excited for the mission God has placed you in?

Will you choose to be happy that one day all the hardships will be over and you will see with your own eyes Jesus fulfilling every last one of His promises?

“So remember: fear the Eternal and serve Him sincerely and faithfully. Put away from you any gods your ancestors served across the Euphrates River or in Egypt, and serve only Him. 15 If you decide that you’re not willing to serve Him, then today is the day for you to choose whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors bowed to in the land beyond the great River, or the gods of the Amorites whose country you possess. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Eternal” (Joshua 24:14-15, The Voice).

Good Music

I don’t always fall asleep right away. Sometimes I toss and turn. Some nights it seems like I engage in a self-defeating battle of willing myself to fall asleep only to wind up frustrated and agitated and wide awake.

Some nights I grab a good CD or go to Amazon Music (or Pandora) and pick a good artist and let the music send me to sleep.

There’s something therapeutic about good music. Especially when it’s of the classic rock variety, although old-school jazz works just as well.

Last night, my musical choice was Journey. Listening to the songs stirred up vivid memories of childhood and youth and what feelings I had back then. Plus, there’s just something special about Steve Perry’s voice to send you to a happy place in your mind.

I remember back in high school I used to fall asleep while listening to a cassette copy of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. One of these nights, I just might revisit that classic album.

Or maybe I could just be disciplined and go to bed at a decent hour like normal folk.

The Secret

I need to repeat this to myself in the mirror at least once a day for the next ten years or so. But maybe not before I’ve had my first coffee.

“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances” (Elisabeth Elliott).

Ain’t it the truth?

If all I pray is to be moved whenever my circumstances get tough, all I do is take the same old me to a new location and the circumstances repeat themselves.

It’s not my circumstances that need to change as much as it is me that needs to change. Or maybe it’s a changed me who changes my circumstances.

Sometimes, it’s my attitude that needs transforming. Sometimes, it’s a lesson that I can only learn in the midst of discomfort and difficulties, not in comfort and convenience.

The secret is that if Christ is in me, anywhere I am is my ministry and my mission field and my calling.

Friendly Reminder

I’m 99% sure I quoted this before, but someone out there would love to have one of your bad days.

That’s a good reminder when you’re tempted to throw an epic pity-party or a self-sorrowing soiree. People do really have it much worse than you.

That’s not to discount your own pain. I would never be one to minimize your hurt.

But one of the best ways to help the healing process is to remember and focus on the good in your life. All those good things that you and I routinely take for granted are things that many people out there are praying for right now.

What would happen if God one day took away all those things — and all the people– in your life that you take for granted? What (or who) would be left?

I’m not saying God is capricious like that. I’m saying is that it’s good to give thanks and not to take anything for granted.

That’s all.

Oh, and it’s good to let those people in your life know you’re thankful for them.

The end.

Welcome to Sweat-pocalypse 2020!

Yes, that season of sweating has come again at last. That season where my hair goes out of control and my sweat glands go into overdrive has arrived.

I do like summer. I even don’t mind hot weather. I do take offense at humidity. That’s what gets to me.

I wish that Tennessee could be one of those places that has dry heat in the summer. That would really be so much better.

I do prefer fall when the temperatures are much cooler and the air has that delicious crispness to it.

But this time I’m not going to waste my days pining away for the next season.

I’m going to enjoy every day and deal with the humid hot weather (mostly by staying inside where the air conditioning lives).

Every day I get from God is a gift, even those sweltering summer days. Including this one.

L-I-S-T-E-N

“But if Christ is amongst us, then it is necessary that we sometimes yield up our own opinion for the sake of peace. Who is so wise as to have perfect knowledge of all things? Therefore trust not too much to thine own opinion, but be ready also to hear the opinions of others. Though thine own opinion be good, yet if for the love of God thou foregoest it, and followest that of another, thou shalt the more profit thereby” (Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ).

I was almost tempted to call the post “Don’t Be a Face Mask Pharisee,” but chickened out at the last second.

I do think that if all you care about are people following the rules and enforcing those rules without bothering to get to know the people, you might be a Pharisee.

Too many people on social media are too busy talking over other people to listen. Too many are too busy thinking up the next clever retort to actually hear the words and get to the heart of the meaning behind the words spoken or written.

Too many of us will insulate ourselves in a safe bubble where we only hear variations and echos of our own opinions, values, and beliefs. We shut down or shout down anyone who disagrees with us at any point and revert to ridicule and name calling over those we deem our enemies in politics and faith.

But Jesus said to love your enemies. Pray for them. Do good to them. Listen to them. You may not agree but you can always walk away with at least one truth from anybody. You might find that your own opinion changes a little or you see another’s point of view.

Jesus didn’t say that the world will know His children by their talking points or how many arguments they’ve won, but by their love. Not the warm fuzzy feel good love, but the love that seeks the best of the loved one over its own, that rejoices for and lays down its life for the one it has chosen to love.

Love is spelled L-I-S-T-E-N.

No Fear

“…no fears today because your Father is far bigger than your fears. 
‘I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken’ Psalm 16:8. 
He knows how hard things are. And He knows how *faithful He will be.* 
That’s why He repeats it again & again, 365 times, so we don’t have need to fear any day of the year: ‘Do Not Be Afraid.’
He holds every minute of our day & His grace & timing are perfect. 
So we’re just going to go all out & Trust & Be Brave:
It takes courage to listen with our whole heart to the tick of God’s timing, rather than march to the loud beat of our fears.

#PrayingForOurWorld#NoFears” (Ann Voskamp).

The media wants you to be afraid. The world wants you to be fearful. Fear means you watch the news more, so their ratings go up. It means you buy their products to keep you safe, so their profits go up.

God wants you to know that His perfect love casts out all fear. There is no reason to be afraid for the one who trusts in the Lord, for the one whose hope is certain and secure.

There is no fear in God’s love. There is no reason to fear because God is near to those who call out to Him in faith. There is no fear because the end is already written and the last page ends with God on the throne.

I’m Tired

I’m tired.

No, I don’t mean the kind of tired where you need to go to bed and sleep for 14 hours (although that does sound great right about now).

I mean tired as in weary in my soul.

I’m tired of Mondays. Honestly, they seem to crop up every week or so. Don’t they ever stop?

I’m tired of how quickly the weekends go by. It really feels like Mooooooonday, Tuuuuuuuesday, Weeeeeeeendnesday, Thuuuuuuursay, FridaySaturdaySunday, Mooooooonday, etc.

I’m tired of coronavirus and COVID-19 and social distancing and self-quarantining and people getting sick and dying who should have no business getting sick and dying.

I’m tired of all the racial strife that never seems to go away and wonder if we’ve learned anything from the teachings of Jesus.

I’m tired of people talking at each other instead of to each other. I’m tired of people who shut their ears, close their eyes, and make pouty faces whenever anyone disagrees with or dissents from their opinions, as if they are being persecuted when ever they are contradicted.

I’m tired of people who keep trying to “improve” on the gospel of Jesus Christ and end up turning it into one of those “other gospels” that the Apostle Paul spoke against because only the true Gospel of Jesus has the power to change and transform.

I’m tired of people who claim Christianity who are known far more for who and what they are against rather than what and Who they are for.

I’m tired of EVERYTHING being political and politicized to death. Whatever happened to common sense and common human decency?

I get tired of waiting, but I never tire of hope. Therefore, I wait with the hope that Jesus will one day make all things right and whole and new again.