Weekend Walk, 01/07/2012: One Last Decoration

Hiding the Word

It was a sweet and thoughtful gift.  I loved it the moment I unwrapped it and hung it on my wall for the Christmas season. When I packed away every light, garland, ornament and stocking with the Christmas decorations, I made an important decision.

I’m not taking this one down.

So, I have a little bit of Christmas in my kitchen all year long.  It’s an angel hanging sweetly over a sign that says, “Rejoice.”

Rejoicing shouldn’t just be a Christmas past-time, but it’s easy to forget the command to rejoice when the new year begins and regular life pounds away at your joy.

In fact, it’s just too simple in general to focus on the negatives.  Within days of the new year, we had handled a broken dishwasher and I experienced my painting fiasco (you can read all about that here).  We had bills.  We had a full calendar.  We had annoyances.  We had hurts.

And I began to think, “Is this the new year, Lord?  Will 2012 just be miserable all the time?”

But He stopped me.

He reminded me that we’ve also had a great re-start for the girls back to school, answered prayers, unexpected gifts, dates with friends and family to look forward to, thoughtful notes of encouragement, bursts of warm weather, and more.

We had reason to rejoice.

Thus, my verse for this week is actually the beginning to a passage in Philippians 4 that I love:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).

Weekend Rerun

Bad Dreams
Originally Published 03/02/2011

” The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.”
Psalm 42:8

The other night I was startled awake at 3 a.m. by a child’s nose touching my nose and two eyes staring intently into my sleeping face.  Then, in the loudest whisper possible, my daughter announced, “Mom, I had a bad dream!”

We can write nightmares off as a “kid thing,” but in the darkness, when we don’t have the busyness of the day to distract us, our fears can overpower us and our thoughts run wild.

In the daytime, I’m fairly good at “taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).  I know the Scriptures and God’s promises to provide for me, to care for me, to help me, to be with me.

But at night, my defenses are down.  So, it’s easy to lie awake pursuing “what if’s,” prepare speeches, imagine conversations, and make plans.

That’s why it’s not surprising to me that when Nicodemus came to Jesus to ask questions about his faith, “he came to Jesus at night” (John 3:2, NIV).  I know Nicodemus wanted to hide his interest in Jesus from the other Pharisees, but I also wonder if something else was at work.

Could it be that Nicodemus tossed and turned at night, wondering who this Jesus was?  Could it be that he couldn’t stop the questions and just wanted some answers?

I’ve been meditating this week on Mark 6:45-52.  In that passage, Jesus had sent the disciples away on a boat while he went off by Himself to pray.  It says: “Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land.  Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.”

This is the second of two occasions where Jesus calmed the wind and waves for the disciples.  This time, the event is miraculous even before the storm is calmed—-because Jesus “saw them.” He saw them in the middle of the night, from the other side of the shore, even with the wind and waves at their worst.

He saw them in the darkness.

Not only did he see where they were on the sea, but he saw the horrible storm they were facing and he saw their every effort to overcome it.  “He saw them straining at rowing for the wind was against them.”

When things are dark for us—either literally at night when we’re tossing in bed unable to sleep or just in times when we can’t sense the Lord’s presence or light in our circumstances—He sees us.  He knows everything we are facing and all of our efforts to overcome.  He knows what thoughts steal our sleep.

For the disciples in that storm, Jesus’s presence alone brought them peace.  He walked to them on the water and comforted them, saying: “Do not be afraid.’  Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased” (verses 50 and 51).  It didn’t take magical formulas or even speaking to the storm.  Jesus was present with them, and the tempest ended.

It is the same with us.  No matter our storm or the darkness we face, we can have peace in His presence.  As the Psalmist wrote, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8, NIV).

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Bad Dreams

” The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.”
Psalm 42:8

The other night I was startled awake at 3 a.m. by a child’s nose touching my nose and two eyes staring intently into my sleeping face.  Then, in the loudest whisper possible, my daughter announced, “Mom, I had a bad dream!”

We can write nightmares off as a “kid thing,” but in the darkness, when we don’t have the busyness of the day to distract us, our fears can overpower us and our thoughts run wild.

In the daytime, I’m fairly good at “taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).  I know the Scriptures and God’s promises to provide for me, to care for me, to help me, to be with me.

But at night, my defenses are down.  So, it’s easy to lie awake pursuing “what if’s,” prepare speeches, imagine conversations, and make plans.

That’s why it’s not surprising to me that when Nicodemus came to Jesus to ask questions about his faith, “he came to Jesus at night” (John 3:2, NIV).  I know Nicodemus wanted to hide his interest in Jesus from the other Pharisees, but I also wonder if something else was at work.

Could it be that Nicodemus tossed and turned at night, wondering who this Jesus was?  Could it be that he couldn’t stop the questions and just wanted some answers?

I’ve been meditating this week on Mark 6:45-52.  In that passage, Jesus had sent the disciples away on a boat while he went off by Himself to pray.  It says: “Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land.  Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.”

This is the second of two occasions where Jesus calmed the wind and waves for the disciples.  This time, the event is miraculous even before the storm is calmed—-because Jesus “saw them.” He saw them in the middle of the night, from the other side of the shore, even with the wind and waves at their worst.

He saw them in the darkness.

Not only did he see where they were on the sea, but he saw the horrible storm they were facing and he saw their every effort to overcome it.  “He saw them straining at rowing for the wind was against them.”

When things are dark for us—either literally at night when we’re tossing in bed unable to sleep or just in times when we can’t sense the Lord’s presence or light in our circumstances—He sees us.  He knows everything we are facing and all of our efforts to overcome.  He knows what thoughts steal our sleep.

For the disciples in that storm, Jesus’s presence alone brought them peace.  He walked to them on the water and comforted them, saying: “Do not be afraid.’  Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased” (verses 50 and 51).  It didn’t take magical formulas or even speaking to the storm.  Jesus was present with them, and the tempest ended.

It is the same with us.  No matter our storm or the darkness we face, we can have peace in His presence.  As the Psalmist wrote, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8, NIV).

************************************************************************************************************

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Your Comforts Delight My Soul

Last night I had a terrible dream that I was preparing to lead worship—sitting at the piano all ready to go—when I saw my cell phone bill.  Obviously, in dreams it makes total sense that I’m checking my mail just before the music starts.  Anyway, I looked at that bill and it was $1,717. Then the music started and I couldn’t worship.  I couldn’t figure out what words to sing or what notes to play.  I was playing a different song than the congregation was singing.  It was a disaster.

Obviously, I woke up in a cold sweat from this dream (who wouldn’t be freaked out by a cell phone bill and public disaster like that) and couldn’t get back to sleep for a while.  I was anxious and worried about something that only existed in my dreamworld.

Today, as I was doing my devotions, I was reminded of how so much of my worry is about “fantasy situations”—the what if’s I stress over that never actually come true.  These anxious thoughts also always affect my worship.  It is just not possible to fret and praise at the same time.

In her book, Me, Myself and Lies, Jennifer Rothschild notes that the Old English and Old High German origins of our word “worry” mean “to strangle.”  Indeed, worry strangles us, choking out hope, joy, trust and, as it says in her book, “the life-giving truth that should be filling our thought closets” (p.23).

The Psalmist wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts, See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV). I have always loved that verse and I copy it into my journal every time I read it in my devotional time.  Yet, it’s not something I find easy to do.

It’s difficult sometimes to hand over our thought lives to God.  Even though we know worry harms us and our relationship with God, we don’t want God to search our hearts and test our thoughts.  Somehow worrying makes us feel in control and we feel that handing over our anxieties means truly relinquishing any modicum of control we have in our lives.

Thomas Merton said, “Anxiety comes from strain, and strain is caused by too complete a dependence on ourselves.”  It’s true that when it’s broken down, worry essentially is a lack of trust or dependence on God.  We’re telling Him—“we know that Scripture promises us You will provide, You will comfort, You will bring peace, You will be our Advocate, but I’d rather just depend on my ability to fix my circumstances.  Thanks anyway, God”

Chris Tiegreen in Worship The King goes one step even farther than that.  He calls our fear “anti-worship.”  In his devotional, he writes:

But we who worship God cannot praise him with such insecurities.  Our fears are a form of anti-worship–a clear declaration that our God might not have promised us enough, or might not be able to follow through on what He has promised.  Yes, He will let us go through hard things, but never outside of His timing or beyond His protection. So worship Him.  And don’t worry about it.

Refusing to worry, fret, stress, fear and be anxious doesn’t come to us naturally.  It is a discipline of the heart and mind.  We must reject anxious thoughts, deny our emotions the opportunity to take over our lives, and fill up with the truth of God’s Word and His promises to us.

In Psalm 94:19 it says, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” Take delight in His comfort today and consciously choose trust over fear.

In Kathryn Scott’s song, At the Foot of the Cross, she sings, “I lay every burden down at the foot of the cross.”  That’s the best place for those burdens to be—not on our back, but at His feet.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King