Trust in Spite of Our Fears

Trust in Spite of Our Fears

“Worry is like a rocking chair; it doesn’t get you anywhere, but it gives you something to do.”
This statement is a “truism” given to me by one of my former pastors during a message that he preached one Sunday. The premise was, that as a child of God we should not worry about the necessary things of life, because the Lord has promised to meet our needs. No doubt we all spend time worrying over things that we cannot control. The Bible even tells us that the spirit of fear is not from God.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Yet, we still have situations that will cause us to worry. During the years of caring for our son Johnny, who had multiple health issues, there were many occasions that my wife and I were worried about what would happen to him. Would he survive a heart surgery? Was this infection going to be the one that would take his life? How long will his kidney transplant last?… The list went on and on.
During those times of worry were we having a lapse of faith? Some would say that we were after all the Bible tells us to, “Be careful for nothing.” I have always believed that we cannot control our emotions. Fear or worry, like most emotions, are brought on by circumstances. Can we control the emotions we feel in reaction to certain events? I personally don’t believe we can. However, how we react to those emotions is a different story.
Worry and fear are real emotions and we cannot just shut them off like a light switch. We cannot will our emotions away. However, we must not allow them to control our actions. Fear and worry can cripple us. We can become afraid to do the next thing because of how it may affect our lives. We no longer live, but allow our fears to hold us back.
King David faced many fearful situations in his life. He had many enemies that tried to destroy him. He never denied the fears he had, yet he didn’t give in to them either. He had a trust in his God that sustained him in spite of his worries and fears.

Psalm 56:3What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”
Psalm 56:11In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”

Having feelings of fear or worry are not a sign of a lack of faith. We just can’t allow the spirit of fear to control us. Fearful times and worries are a part of life. Our reaction to those emotions needs to be a trust in the Lord in spite of our feelings.

November is National Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month

Since 1997, November has been designated by presidential proclamation as “National Family Caregivers” month.  In recognition of the work that over 90 million people in the United States do 24/7 caring for a loved one.  As caregivers for more than 28 years, my wife, myself, and our other two sons experienced the challenges and the joys that caring for a child with special needs brings to a family.

Caring for someone you love isn’t a burden, but it is hard work.  I, for one, am grateful that the work being done by many of our fellow citizens is being recognized this month.  They go about their tasks without complaining and without any compensation, other than the love they receive from those they care for.  In our case, it was our son with special needs, but so many others are busy caring for a parent that is aging, or a spouse that has need of extra care.

The work that family caregivers do is exhausting.  They put in many hours: organizing medications, planning and going to doctor appointments, ensuring that their loved one’s needs are being met.  All the while, juggling jobs and their own household responsibilities.  Even if their loved one is in a care facility of some type, the stress of making sure they are cared for can be overwhelming.  They truly are the unsung heroes of our day.  From time to time you may notice them out in the community doing the work, but for the most part, you would never notice them as they go about their day.

So this month, if you have an opportunity, tell a family caregiver “thank you” for the labor of love that they do. We all must realize that at some point in time we will probably be in their shoes, caring for someone we love.

Presidential Proclamation on National Family Caregivers Month, 2019
Issued on: October 31, 2019

Selfless Americans across our country consistently dedicate themselves and their resources to providing ailing and aging loved ones with the care and support they need to live in their own homes and communities. Throughout National Family Caregivers Month, we pause to recognize the men and women who tirelessly work to improve the quality of life for Americans in need of care.
Caregivers help their family members live fulfilling lives by providing vital assistance in domestic, financial, and medical affairs. The responsibility of serving and supporting another person can be challenging, and the strength and compassion exhibited by caregivers is one of the greatest manifestations of genuine love we witness in this world. Their unrelenting support enables family members to live with dignity.
As we honor the innumerable sacrifices made in homes across the country, we affirm our resolve to ensure all caregivers are given the resources and respect they deserve. This support requires a commitment from community stakeholders and Federal, State, and local governments to equip caregivers with training and tools to use to safeguard their family’s health and security. This past summer, the Administration for Community Living held the inaugural meetings of the Family Caregiving Advisory Council and the Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. The strategies, informational resources, and technical assistance being developed by these councils will strengthen our Nation’s support for family caregivers and their work enhancing the lives of millions of Americans.
This November, we recognize and honor the commitment of those who exemplify the essential American tenets of devotion to family and compassion toward those who matter most in our lives. Through caregivers’ generosity, our vulnerable communities are able to fully experience the many blessings of our great Nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim November 2019 as National Family Caregivers Month. I encourage all Americans to reach out to those who provide care for their family members, friends, and neighbors in need, to honor and thank them.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fourth.
DONALD J. TRUMP

God bless the Family Caregivers!!!

 

Is It Well With Your Soul Today?

Is It Well With Your Soul Today?

Horatio G. Spafford wrote the timeless Christian Hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.”  The background behind him writing that song is a very tragic story.  He was a wealthy lawyer in Chicago in the late 1800s.  He invested heavily in real estate along Lake Michigan.  He and his wife, Anna had five children.  In 1870 their only son died of scarlet fever at the age of four.  While still grieving the loss of their son, the great Chicago fire happened in 1871, destroying much of the properties that he owned.

Two years later he decided that the family should go on a vacation to England.  They would join D. L. Moody on his evangelistic crusade while they were there.  Shortly before the time for them to leave some important business matters came up that Horatio had to attend to.  The decision was made to send the family on before him and he would join them in England as soon as possible.

While his family was sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, the ship they were on was struck by another sailing vessel and their ship sank. Only Anna survived the accident, their four daughters were lost.  When the news came to Horatio, he immediately boarded the next available ship to England to be with his grieving wife.  The captain of the ship that Mr. Spafford was on called him to the bridge and told him that they were sailing past the spot where the ship his family was on sank.

As Horatio stared into the dark blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, his gaze turned toward heaven and he penned the words of that great hymn.

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot thou’ has taught me to say
It is well it is well with my soul

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul

My sin oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o’ my soul

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul

And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so it is well with my soul

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul

It is hard to imagine the thoughts that were going through the mind of this man that loved the Lord, yet suffered great tragedy in his life.  However, we see that he did not blame the Lord, but looked to him for grace and comfort through his heartache.

Many times when deep trials and pain come into our life we turn from the Lord.  We can’t understand why we have to go through the dark waters.  If we are wise, our gaze will turn heavenward and we will allow the Lord to minister His grace to us.  The Lord can use our pain to minister to others for years to come if we would allow Him to.  Horatio Spafford died in 1888, for the last century Christians have found peace and encouragement from the song he wrote through a veil of tears.  The Lord can use our trials to influence many people that we come in contact with today and in the future.  May the Lord teach us to say, “It Is Well With My Soul.”

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Expectations Exceeded

Expectations Exceeded

Many years ago I was working at a job that wasn’t paying me very much money.  We as a family were struggling financially and I needed to make a career change.  I finally found another job that was going to pay me substantially more money so I quit the job I was working at to take the new position.  When I came to get my final pay from the company, I had the expectation of maybe getting paid for some unused vacation time and sick days as well as my final week of work.  Well, to my surprise, they paid me much more vacation time because I had just gotten to my anniversary date with the company and I also had more sick days than I thought!!  That last paycheck went far beyond my expectations and helped get our family back on track financially.

It is not very often that we experience situations that are beyond our expectations.  Most of the time our expectations are very high and we are disappointed by the outcome of a situation.  Can our expectations of the Lord be too high?  Do we put on Him desires that are beyond His ability to achieve?

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

The Word of God teaches us that the Lord is able to do things for us that are beyond our comprehension!  What often happens though is that we desire the Lord to work outside His will.  Our expectations are what we want Him to do and because the Lord knows what is best for us, He doesn’t “come through” like we want and we are disappointed.  I believe that if we are seeking the Lord’s will in a situation, He will exceed our expectations.

There is the account of a crippled man in the book of Acts that was begging outside the Temple.  Peter and John walked by and saw him…

Acts 3:4-8 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

The crippled man had an expectation of receiving some money, but he got something much greater, he received the ability to walk!!  He would beg no more.  The Lord far exceeded his expectations, by giving him what he needed, instead of what he expected, or thought he had need of.

This happens to us many times.  We come to God with a request for something we believe we need.  We have figured our situation all out and have come up with the solution to the problem.  However, God gives us what we need rather than what we want.  It is the will of God that He meets all of our needs.  We should always have an expectation for that.  But, so often He goes far beyond what we feel our needs are and does exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.

When we feel that our expectations have gone unmet, we need to look around and see all that God has already done for us.  We miss God’s abundant blessings many times because we focus on the expectations that we have of God.  The Lord’s will for the crippled man was that he would walk and bring God glory.  If Peter and John would have given him what he hoped for, he would have died a beggar.  Don’t be disappointed in unmet expectations, what we need is far greater.  Allow God to exceed our expectations today.  In His will, in His time.

 

Humble and Happy

Humble and Happy

If asked, “What is it that makes us happy?”  I wonder what answers we would come up with.  No doubt, many would say, having good health, or having the bills paid and money in the bank, some would say having their family close by would make them happy.  Happiness is the result of circumstances in our lives.  Joy, on the other hand, can be a constant in our lives.  Joy is a fruit of living a spirit-filled life.  A life lived with an awareness of God’s presence.

I remember as I was pastoring a small church, after finishing the morning service, a member approached me and wanted to show me something in one of the restrooms.  Well, one of the toilets was plugged up and this member asked me, “What were we going to do?”  I said, “What do you think we are going to do?”  Then I proceeded to get the plunger and unplug the toilet.  I didn’t know if this person was putting me to a test or they genuinely had no clue.  But, the situation was solved and life went on.

John 13:16-17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (Emphasis added)

The Greek word translated happy in this passage is translated blessed or blessing in other passages in the New Testament.  Jesus had just finished washing the feet of His disciples.  He was demonstrating to them the need for humility of service in their lives.  After all, these are the same men that were arguing about who would be the greatest among them.  The Lord wanted them to know that their happiness would come from humble service to others.  But, He also went on to qualify their happiness is in the doing, not just the knowing.

We can fill our minds with the Word of God, and we ought to, but, merely knowing the Word is not going to make us happy.  We need to apply what we have learned to our lives.  So many times people sit in church and shake their heads in agreement with the Preacher, yet the word preached does not impact the way they live.  In other words, they are hearers of the Word and not doers of the word.  This leads to a life that is void of happiness or the blessings of God!

We all want to lead a happy and fulfilled life.  We desire to have God’s blessings, yet we do not allow the Word of God to change our behavior.  Jesus said, that we should not only know we are supposed to be humble servants but to BE humble servants.  The example is the Lord Himself.  We must lay aside our pride and be willing to humble ourselves and DO the lowly tasks and not to think that a task is below us or that someone else should do it.  Jesus didn’t instruct us to run around being feet washers, but we should be willing to do it if it needs to be done.  We then can be humble and happy.