Friday, July 26, 2013

that's tense

according to the american psychological association, some of the causes of stress are job, money and health. it is reported that 33% of americans feel like they are living with extreme stress levels, 76% cite money and work as the leading cause, and 48% report lying awake at night due to stress. it is ironic that "lack of energy" is cited as one of the top psychological symptoms of stress, yet sleeping is extremely difficult. one would think that if you have no energy left sleep would come easy.

david writes psalm 3 during a very stressful time in his life. his son absalom, his own flesh and blood, is  challenging david for the throne, and get winning! imagine a son, hunting his father down, and stopping at nothing until his dad is dead in order to step into a place of power. that is crazy and a sensible reason for david to be stressed.

in my studies to be a counselor i remember studying many founders and practitioners of psychological theory. there were some crazy approaches and practices for the sake of mental health. one theorist would utilize stress for the sake of change in a relationship. he would actually note and bring up stressful scenarios in the aim at gaining healthy relationships. he posited that if people found stress within the dynamic they would not be able to live with it and therefore would seek change. he, in essence, utilized stress for the sake of health. how crazy does that sound?

stress actually can serve to benefit in a short term function. it provides the body with elevated senses and sends signals through the body at an alarming rate. it proves to reveal that stress can provide to be an aid in the event of a serious event.

however, stress over an elongated period of time produces the opposite effect. raised levels of chemicals in the brain for a long period will dampen your immune system, decrease brain cells and impair memory. chronic stress is linked to depression as an excess of cortisol is released in the blood.

the lord has profound ways of revealing his desire for our lives. he is capable of giving us a free will while at the same time maintaining control of the entire universe. this is what makes the god of abraham, issac, and jacob possible to love. the god who sent his son to take the place of our payment for sin, truly just and at the same time truly merciful. god has not designed us to carry weight and burdens of life that break us as a result of a sin cursed earth. god can use the situation you are in right now to reveal his love for you. there can be an overcoming and there can be a righteous verdict that comes out of a highly stressful situation. never make a decision in the heat of a moment. allow the heat of the moment to provoke introspection.

what is this tense situation saying about me and my character?
what is this moment of stress revealing about how i handle suffering, confusion, uncertainty?

at the core of our introspection we will find the lord telling us something. even if we are not the author of the stress, even if we are wronged in a situation, or we are flat out a victim of someone else's sin, god will give you a message about your relationship with him. god wants to be the lord of your life in the surety of success and in the uncertainty of tomorrow. if nothing else you can testify to david's declaration...

you, god, shield me on all sides; 
you ground my feet,
you lift my head high;
with all my might i shout up to god,
his answers thunder from the holy mountain
psalm 3:3-4 (msg)

Friday, July 19, 2013

"everyone wants a revolution. no one wants to do the dishes"

this got me real good. i think mainly because of my current situation and the struggles i have with my view of the meaning of ministry and radical christianity.

Friday, July 12, 2013

nations as a prize

i wrote a short little poem in line with psalm 2 here.

last week we honored and celebrated the united states independence. i currently live as a missionary in belgium and share the ministry load with many americans so, with that, there shall be a celebration. we did just that, hotdogs, mustard (yellow, american), hamburgers, bounce house for the kids, games, dogs running wild, and desserts, desserts, desserts!

i read an interesting post concerning facts about the declaration of independence here.

we can agree, concerning the great nation of "merica," she is blessed and has favor in many areas of operation. despite much of what the media reports, we function with great freedom. americans are who they are because of the freedom to pursue who they want to be.

what david celebrates in psalm two gives us a fair warning to our leaders (and us) of this great nation:

"worship god in adoring embrace, celebrate in trembling awe"

on a personal level, this is the life blood of the believer. 
in a community, this is the lifeblood of the community.
on a national scale, likewise, this is the lifeblood of the nation.

we are strong because our commitment to worshipping our creator offers this as a blessing. i read a tweet on the 4th that had a humorous twist.

"so glad we left crummy old england 200 yrs ago to start our own country, one without unfair taxes and  corrupt leadership."

don't stop praying for the nation in which you dwell, for god fearing leaders to occupy the legislative seats or offices of great power in political arenas. this is the command paul gives us as the church and believers in romans. jesus occupies the throne even now, and we can live and breath this truth now, despite the reports that are favorably tickling the ears of the masses.

Friday, July 5, 2013

chewing on scripture

my mother is an intercessor. i know this, not because i witness her praying with my eyes but because
of the discerning capabilities she possesses. she carries a dedication and passion to know the lord in such an intimate way that you would be foolish to be her friend and try to hide a life of lawlessness that contradicts the word of the lord. the lord is sure to tell her things for your benefit.

trust me, i know this by experience...

as a teenager i was drawn to the spotlight. i loved being the class clown, or just having the capability to make people laugh. i recall one such opportunity on the last day of my 8th grade year during lunch in the cafeteria we were growing quite loud and restless waiting for the next period. the instructor in charge grew weary of the chaos and gave instruction for the entire cafeteria to be quiet (i attended a small private school so such announcements were common and likely). the teacher stated, quite emphatically, "i don't want to hear another peep!" so you can guess what i did..."peep!" the roar of laughter was not worth the consequence. this was the type of individual i was, within my comfort zone.

naturally i found the outlet i needed on the stage. i loved performing in shows and theatre. i did every show i could, and when i couldn't be in the show i worked as a stage hand and helped with set changes just to prove i could work behind the scenes as well. it was customary for the actors and crew, after the last performance, to strike the set and go out to celebrate. my high school friend and i were excited to do just that, oh and did i mention that i enjoyed the industrial buildings that hid my disobedience of smoking cigarettes? the final performance was over,  the strike was complete, and now on to the late night antics of food and fun but lets stop off real quick for a smoke. pack of marlboro lights seemed a bit lighter than normal as i pulled them out of my pocket ready to light up. sure enough, not one square was found inside that pack. instead, in their place, was a note, elegantly stated...

numbers 32:23 have sinned against the lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.

i honestly had no idea as to who could have written this note. i had been able to hide things before and it seemed i had gotten away with it in the past. as it turns out, it was my mom who wrote this note. she informed me that the discernment of the lord led her to believe there was something i was hiding. needless to say, i was not happy that evening, but i was not happy mainly because i had gotten caught.

psalm 1 says that a man who is blessed
delights in the law of the lord
meditates on the law of the lord day and night 
never ceases to live accordingly to this word 
is always considering the profound influence of this word in his life
chews on scripture when he is seen and when he is not seen

i am a better man not because i was caught, not because i memorized psalm 1, not because i go to church but because my mom established herself as a woman of integrity and handed her devotion to the lord through prayer and the reading of his word to me. out of this devotion you too will find integrity established in your life as well.

integrity will not steer you the wrong way. in fact integrity will...

1. preserve you
we all have certain desires on our heart, some are good for us and some are not. we desire justice, success, or good reputation, and integrity preserves these so that the godly release will take place at just the right time.

2. protect you
wickedness is the normal thing these days. it is not popular to submit to god and obey his voice. the doubt and unbelief that creeps in is a result of pursuing your desires on your own terms. integrity protects you and your growth; it guides you into faithfulness.

3. provoke you
living a blessed life is not simply just doing the right thing but also ferociously and fervently walking away from the wrong thing. it is both not either or. lets be stirred in our search to find what we ought to be doing and at the same time aggressive in our contest with sin in our lives. running to god, running from evil.

read psalm 1, devour it and memorize it.