Friday, January 28, 2011

Be Not Afraid

Of the many writer and inspirational blogs I follow it is popular to pick a word that will represent the New Year. I like this idea and after posting my Holy Fear blog it's been decided that this year will be represented by the words "be not afraid." 

This is a transitional year for my family. Our only child will graduate from high school and leave for college in the fall. Immediately we have to get through the final papers, tests and celebrations in May. In the distance he needs to prep for life in the dorm. In the meantime we need to establish college money; where it will come from and how to intelligently manage it.  Within all these things are so many unknowns.

These unknowns generate feelings similar to a dark and stormy night where the electricity just went out, my flashlight is dead and something just thumped into the back door. I’m anxious and not a little bit scared.

Reading the blog, A Holy Experience, the author was expressing the same feelings when she reflected on the words “Be not afraid.” As I read that phrase, I too, felt an immediate peace. As an agent of the kingdom, seeking to be obedient to God’s word and call on my life, the exhortation to ‘be not afraid’ applies to me and my situation. Of all the unknowns that are before us I am a believer and if I am to remain obedient to His words I should ‘be not afraid.’  If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31.

These will be my ‘words’ for 2011. Whatever comes my way; whatever hill there is to climb, river to ford or forest to pass through (or; graduation party to throw, full-time job to accept or college bill to pay),  I will be not afraid for God is with me. He is in my heart, in my mind and in my soul; He is my solid rock.

I’ll keep you posted on how obedient I am to this.  My humanity alone makes this endeavour difficult, but for right now, I am safe and at peace; I am not afraid.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter Grillin'

We live in the Texas Panhandle where winter can be a lion or a lamb.  On a day in early January, when it is 56 degrees and sunny, the idea to grill is a good one.  The thing to keep in mind, in winter, is that supper needs to be early or you'll be grilling in the dark, as we were.

We really enjoy meat off the grill.  We tend to pull out the stops when we fire up the coals and fix enough for the week.  This night we did steaks, chicken and pork chops.  Staying in step with our wellness program, (begun here and celebrated here), and the Points Plus plan we roasted carrots, onions and potatos in the oven.  

The night cooled quickly once the sun went down and we were checking progress with a flash light but, . . . umm, umm.

My son came outside, sniffed the air and crooned, "Nothin' like winter grillin'."

I couldn't agree more.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Holy Fear or How Painful is 'Best'?

Surfing the blogs I follow I discovered a C.S. Lewis quote posted on The Write Track, that puts into words my personal holy fear.

“We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” C.S. Lewis

Without a doubt I feel God’s love and guidance in my life. Without a doubt I know he wants the best for me. Without a doubt I want to be an active, useful agent of His kingdom.

I know that God has to live in me to make this happen. I know that means I need/will change from my sinful self. I know that change often comes by way of fire. 1 Peter 1:7-9 (NIV) expresses my feelings perfectly:

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

But honestly . . . I’m afraid of the fire! You don’t have to live long in the faith to recognize that God changes hearts in the worst of conditions and, understandably, those conditions often exist because of our own selfish decisions. As I purposely seek God I am truly hoping that the days of refinement by fire are fading, wishful thinking perhaps, but the truth none-the-less.

I wonder, also, how painful will God’s best be for my son? He knows the Bible stories, he’s accepted my faith, he’s professed Christ as his savior but he is becoming a young adult. He’s begun to question me, he surely will question God. If his salvation is sincere God will mold him into the person that is best. I know that process will certainly be painful. As a parent I cannot deny my fear for him.

Coming to an understanding of God's best for us is continued spiritual growth. Working through, or guiding someone through, the pain is part of the refining process; seeking God and finding him in the midst is the treasured end result.

This could be a good reason that the phrase “Be not afraid” is spoken often in the Bible. Fear is of our own making and the reasons to be fearful are our own but if we are truly seeking after God’s will, for us and for our loved ones, we need not fear.

I want the best that God wants for me, and those I love, even knowing it will likely include some pain to reach it.  Along the way I'll do my 'best' not to be afraid. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

All You Need Is Love

I watched the movie “Up in the Air” with George Clooney recently. The main character was an expert on simplifying life by disassociating from relationships. His day job was firing employees from companies that were downsizing. The character lived an, understandably, solitary life.

Throughout the movie there were cameos of employees being “let go” and the myriad of reactions to such life changing news. The story didn’t grab me; actually I was more irritated by the lead female’s cavalier manner, until the end.

**Spoiler Alert** Our hero finally found love, which lead him to re-establish relationships with his family, then he was spurned, returning him to his simple, solitary existence and forcing him to reevaluate his life philosophy.

The ending made the story for me but the most interesting twist was the return cameos of those he had fired sharing what would help them survive; their wives, children, friends, parents; essentially, their relationships.

We were created to have relationship. The Bible is often mistaken to be a book of "the how and the when”, it's not, it is a book about "the who and the why”. It is a book meant to teach us how to relate to God and how to relate to our fellow man.

The first four commandments, of the Ten Commandments, are how we are to relate to God. The next six commandments are how we are to relate to each other. Jesus, when asked what the greatest commandment is replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 

I despaired for what the hero was missing with his solitary life, and more so when he discovered the joy in relationships, only to be cruelly pushed back to solitary.  The relationship lesson was made all the more poignant in the words of those he dispassionately dispatched from their working relationships.

 You will get no argument that relationships are difficult. I outlined my thoughts here, “The god of Selfishness”.  

See the movie and let me know what you think.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sharing the Mood

Wives and mothers will quickly relate to what I’m about to say. My mood is reflected on my family. When I’m happy they reflect positive, when I’m grouchy they reflect irritation, when I’m sad they reflect concern.

When the regular routine of our lives is changed, for good or no, my moods swing about quickly and arbitrarily because I, too, reflect the out-of-sync moods of family members.

Christmas break, two weeks generally, moves our family off their regular routine. I’m happy because of the festivities. I’m anxious because there is so much to do, to buy, and to prepare. I’m irritated when plans don’t go as expected, people don’t aptly appreciate the efforts made, and gatherings aren’t as fun as hoped for. I’m sad when the party is over and the clean up begins. I’m irritated, again, when everything doesn’t repack efficiently.

By the end of the holiday break we are all ready to get back to our regular routine.

Psychology 101: Changing your behavior will change the behavior of those around you. I know this, you likely know this, so why do I wallow in anxiousness, irritation and sadness? Especially in the “out-of-sync” times why do I not consciously decide to keep my mood happy, upbeat, and lively for myself as well as those around me? Why, when irritation and anxiousness are so quick to show up do I not make a point of actively battling those moods?

The god of Selfishness is the answer and as surely as I know this I am disappointed that I am so easily controlled by it. We are all so easily controlled by selfishness and we are all called, as agents of the heavenly kingdom, NOT to be.

In this new year I will be in control of my moods, recognize selfishness early and diligently strive to reflect a positive and upbeat mood.

How about you?