Weekend Walk, 09/03/2011

I hated missing out on last week’s Weekend Walk and the opportunity to choose a verse to meditate on all week.  I hope you blazed ahead without me and chose a verse of your own.  If not, I’ll get us back on track today!

Hiding the Word:

At Women of Faith, my friend leaned over and pointed to a verse in her prayer journal that she had underlined.  It was perfect as we contemplated the imminent arrival of Hurricane Irene.  The day after the storm, I opened my devotional and found the exact same verse.  When God repeats Himself, I have learned to listen.  So, my verse for this week is simple and sweet:

Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Matthew 28:20

This week, I’m committed to contemplating the ever-constant presence of Christ in my life.  I want to be aware of Him rather than distant from Him.  I want to rely on Him rather than be independent.

Weekend Rerun:

Your Comforts Delight My Soul, Originally Posted 02/21/2011

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

Secret Sins

“You have set our iniquities before you; our secret sins in the light of your presence”
(Psalm 90:8).

If you’re ever a guest in my home, there’s one important bit of information you need to know—-don’t look in any of my closets.  For the first five years we were married, we moved five times.  That meant I was forced into drastic organizing and purging every year.  After three years in our current home with two children under two, though, I started feeling overwhelmed by disorganization.  I couldn’t figure out what the problem was.  Then, I realized–not moving plus young children plus me working more and more hours equaled messy closets.  It was simple math.

My home is never spotless now, but it does have its moments of looking generally clean, usually after the girls have gone to bed or before they wake up in the morning.  Still, no matter how clean it looks to a visitor, behind the closet doors lurks mess.

I’m essentially no different.  Generally, I’m pretty “clean” looking.  To most people, it probably looks as if I have my life in order and, by God’s tremendous grace, I’m not struggling with the big, public, noticeable sins.

It’s in the hidden closets of my heart that you can find the sins, all jumbled together and in disorder from lack of purging.   These are the deep down sins like jealousy, pride, anger, coveting,  impatience, and impure motives.  They are the things that I really haven’t needed to clean out before.  I thought that as long as they were truly private–just between God and me—I didn’t need to deal with them.  I could just pretend they didn’t exist and act as if my heart was as clean as the exterior of me looked.

In her book, Me, Myself and Lies, Jennifer Rothschild says, “I slip into cleaning the outside of my cup and neglecting the inside.”  She’s comparing herself to a Pharisee.  It’s a comparison that most of us wouldn’t generally be honest enough to make.

Yet, Jesus said:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Sometimes I want God just to shove my sins into closets rather than allowing Him to do the deep cleaning and purging necessary in my life.  This deprives me of true freedom, of authenticity, of pureness of heart, and of greater intimacy with Him.  It makes me an unusable cup and a whitewashed tomb, no better than a Pharisee.

God desires more than a superficial relationship with us, though, so He’s constantly using circumstances and other people to bring these secret sins to the surface so that He can cleanse us completely.

King David told his son Solomon that “the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9).   In his Psalm, Moses wrote, “You have set our iniquities before you; our secret sins in the light of your presence” (Psalm 90:8).  God always knows our motivations and the condition of our heart.

Sometimes I’m embarrassed and ashamed to come before Him because He knows the ugliest parts of my soul. That’s one of the amazing things about God, though—-He sees us fully and loves us completely.  Chris Tomlin sings about this in Indescribable: “You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same.” To me, that’s just as miraculous as His creation of the universe.

This process of cleaning out the hidden places of our heart is painful and hard at times.  It means being vulnerable enough to let God bring sin to the surface.  It involves confession and repentance, and not allowing those thoughts and motives to find their way back in again.  It requires us to put aside the facade of perfection and deal with the fact that we’re sinners.

Still, the pain serves a purpose.  Job 5:18 says, “He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal.” God doesn’t leave us hurting and injured. It’s only when we allow Him to clean out the source of infection–our deep sins—that our broken hearts can heal.  It’s only when He has purged our secret sins that we are free.  As Jennifer Rothschild writes: “Oh the freedom authenticity brings!”

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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

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.

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

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