Waiting and Worrying

Teach me Lord to wait
Down on my knees
‘Til in your own good time
You answer my pleas
Teach me not to rely
On what others do
But to wait in prayer
For an answer from you.

They that wait upon the Lord
Shall renew their strength
They shall mount up with wings as an eagle
They shall run and not be weary
They shall walk and not faint
Teach me Lord, teach me Lord, to wait.

Teach me Lord to wait
While hearts are aflame
Help me humble my pride
And call on your name
Keep my faith renewed
Keep my eyes on Thee
Let me be on this earth
What you want me to be.

They that wait upon the Lord
Shall renew their strength
They shall mount up with wings as an eagle
They shall run and not be weary
They shall walk and not faint
Teach me Lord, teach me Lord, to wait.

Patience is not one of my strong suits.  I like everything to happen in my time and in the way I think it ought to occur.  It’s funny how God doesn’t work that way.  Instead, God’s timing is perfect.  He has a plan and He carries out that plan in the way in which it works best.  I was reminded of this just yesterday.

My family is preparing to move to Amarillo at the first of the year.  We put our house on the market with a realtor on October 27th.  Since that time, there have only been three showings.  I have prayed every day that the right buyer would come along so that I would not have to worry about our house.  (What makes it harder is that our previous home sold to the first person that looked at it after only being on the market for five days…that spoiled us a bit.)  After who knows how many times I have prayed about this, we received an offer on our house.  It’s not a perfect offer and it is still in negotiation. I’m not sure what the end result will be of this offer; what I do know is that God is present and working in our life.

I spend so much time worrying about the future, about finances, about the church, about the generalities of life.  It’s important to remember that it is God who makes the world spin and He is in ultimate control of our life (if we allow him to be).  When we put our trust in the Lord, things work out.  It might not always be exactly the way we pictured it or the end result we expected, but it always works out. 

Jesus said,

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)

When you truly turn your struggles and worries over to God, the burden of them is lifted from your shoulders.  I don’t know what God’s ultimate plan is for our house, but I do know that it is in His hands.  He is powerful enough to take care of our burdens and to remove our stresses.  I choose to wait on the Lord and to give Him my worries.

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The Joy of Gratitude

I don’t know about you, but I find it much easier to see the glass as half empty rather than half full.  I don’t like that about myself.  At the same time, I think that our society overall has a pessimistic outlook on life…although that is no excuse. 

There are always things that can be different; always something that needs to be changed.  The key is to be grateful for what we have.  Although the world tells us that we won’t be happy until we have all the best toys and the largest home to put them in, the truth is that along with gratitude comes contentment. 

It could be that you are pushing a broom on the graveyard shift.  Isn’t it a blessing that you have a job that allows you to provide for your family!  Maybe your car is ten years old and there’s a great new body style on the new model.  On the other hand, your car is paid for and it doesn’t burn a drop of oil.

Michael Hyatt’s latest blog stated,

“Someone once wisely told me, ‘You won’t get what you don’t have until you learn to be grateful for what you do have.’ I think that is so true. We so often focus on our lack–what’s missing.

For example, we complain about our lack of a vibrant, real relationship with God. We wish our church were bigger–or smaller. We wish we had a spouse. Or perhaps we wish we didn’t have a spouse. Or maybe we want to change our spouse.

Or we wish we could get a different job, a different boss, or a bigger paycheck. We wish we had more interesting work, more sensitive coworkers, or different hours.

We wish we could live in a different city, a different part of the city, or a different house. We complain about our furniture, our car, and all our other stuff.

To state the obvious, this is not healthy. And do we really think this complaining spirit will lead to better relationships or more abundance?”

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV)

Whether we are in a time of plenty or a time of need, God has blessed us with life and with hope through Christ Jesus.  There are times in life when it is hard to see the positive.  There are also times in life where positive is all around us and yet we cannot look past our own selfish desires and recognize the abundance that God has prospered us. 

I would like to challenge you to take a moment and write down twenty items that you are thankful for right now.  Here’s my list (although it’s not close to exhaustive):

  1. Christ’s sacrifice for me and the relationship He has offered to me
  2. God’s Word and the hope that it brings to all humanity
  3. My children and their wonderful curiosity and overabounding love
  4. Susan’s love for me and our kids
  5. My parents and the good relationship that we share
  6. A nice home
  7. Plenty of clothing
  8. Many friends who support me and laugh and cry with me
  9. Reliable transportation
  10. Music
  11. Beauty of creation
  12. A job that provides for my family
  13. My church family for always loving and supporting me
  14. Cooler weather
  15. New opportunity in Amarillo that begins in January
  16. Delicious food
  17. Chocolate
  18. My iPhone – it’s a lot of fun and it provides tremendous convenience
  19. The Benevolence Center and all of the wonderful people who give their time to help those who are less fortunate
  20. Technology and all of the conveniences it provides
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The Gift of the Senses

Last weekend, Susan and I had the privilege of enjoying the Fort Worth Symphony perform two works by Mozart as well as two works by Salieri (a contemporary of Mozart). As I sat listening to the music and watching the synchronization of the strings, I began thinking of the incredible blessings God has given each of us: our senses; specifically our senses of hearing and seeing. These, as well as the other three senses, are far too often taken for granted. Every day, we go through our lives hearing and seeing, tasting and touching, smelling and…well, there’s not another one. It’s just part of our lives. Rarely do we stop to think of the wonderful gifts that we have received.

There are several occasions in the Gospels where Jesus heals those who are blind, deaf, mute or lame. Mark 7:31-37 tells the story of Jesus healing a deaf mute. John 9:1-7 recalls the instance of Jesus telling a man who had been blind since birth to wash in the Pool of Siloam after making a mud pack for his eyes. Yet another example is Jesus’ healing of the paralytic in Matthew 9:2-7. In each of these examples, as well as many others, the healed went away rejoicing. They had been given a gift that they had not previously known.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to see or hear for the very first time? Think about being 30 or 40 years old and having never witnessed a sunrise or heard the cry of a newborn baby. How great would your joy be to be given those opportunities after so many years without?

Each of us is blessed in unfathomable ways. While there are some who do not enjoy the pleasure of all five senses, or perhaps they don’t have the full capacity of one or more of those senses, all of us are fortunate to possess the faculties that we do have. It’s so easy to forget that the little things like seeing and hearing are actually great big things. If we were without our senses, we would feel lost.

We serve a mighty God and it is evidenced in so many ways. The next time you hear a symphony orchestra or a bird singing in the trees, thank God for that gift. The next time you see a rainbow in the sky or the stars sparkling at night, thank God for that gift. Not only have we been given the gifts of hearing and seeing, but God has also given us His creation of beautiful sounds and scenes.

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The Heart of Worship

There comes a point when you have to ask yourself, “Why do I come to this place?”  Exactly what is the purpose of going to church?  I have a duty to glorify God.  I was raised going to church and that is what I do on Sunday mornings.  If I miss a Sunday, I might not be allowed into heaven.  My friends will look down on me if they don’t see me at church.  I partied really hard last night so I had better go “punch in” at church.  My spouse makes me go.  I need help paying rent this month so I need to go to church so they will help me out.  I could go on and on, but you get my point.  If any of those reasons ever cross your mind when getting ready to “go to church,” then the result will probably look something like this:

Church buildings all across the world are filled with people who expect to get something out of worship.  They are looking for the most exciting, entertaining, enticing worship service possible.  They are looking for what they can get out of worship.  Often times, church goers are even looking for what they are doing “right” in comparison to what others are doing wrong.  Sunday mornings can easily become a popularity contest, judge’s stand, ego booster, people pleaser, or show-and-tell.

There are people all over the world who are outwardly praising and glorifying God and Christ, while on the inside are completely disconnected.  They are thinking about the movie they watched the night before, the football game that will be on that afternoon, the bad telephone conversation they had with their mother, the ugly tie the preacher is wearing, how many times the prayer leader said “Father,” what’s for lunch, and so many countless other things that separate us from truly honoring God as Supreme Creator.

“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men.” (Isaiah 29:13 NIV)

True worship involves bringing your heart before God.  There is no formula for what that should look like.  There are times that are hearts are filled with joy for the amazing gift that we have been given.  There are other times when our hearts are full of sorrow because we feel far from God or perhaps our hearts are filled with bitterness and resentment because we feel that we have been wronged by life’s circumstances.  God’s desire is for His people to worship Him with our hearts opened wide; to set aside the mundane things of this world and to draw our thoughts toward Him.  Honoring God with our heart is a far different thing than the lip service that He so often receives.

It’s time to take away all of the things that are barriers between our hearts and God.  It’s time to release our emotions to be filled with His goodness.  May we come before the throne of God with reverence and awe; praising Him for His majesty.  May we remove the trite things from our minds and offer Him our very being.  May we worship God the Father with sincerity and absence of self.

When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart

I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the ways things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You
All about You, Jesus
I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You
It’s all about You Jesus

-Matt Redman