Choking on worry

“Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.”—Swedish Proverb **(As always, please, if you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, or any other mental illness or issue, please seek trusted, professional medical care. ICDevos understands that mental health issues are real and may require additional medical support, treatment and/or counseling.) It is said that at least one in four of us, that’s over 65 million Americans, will experience anxiety disorder some time in our life. One in four! That’s a whole lot of anxious people filled with fear, worry, doubt and distress. And the other three might not have a panic attack, but you can rest assured they are worriers. Do your “What ifs” control your life? Are you scared of every shadow, every possibility and every sense of dread known to man? Do you get up with worry, carry worry all day long and, since it’s been with you for the majority of the day, do you decide to just take it to bed with you again every night? Did you know the Old English origin of the word worry meant to strangle? Even to wring, annoy, bother and vex were some of the earliest versions of the word. And in 1804, it was defined as anxiety arising from cares and troubles. Worry can choke the life right out of a Christian, leaving them crippled with fear and anxiety. Is worrying a sin? The Bible doesn’t come right out and specifically say so but if we search scripture we will find that worrying is a clear indication that we are not trusting God with our problems. Then, we allow Satan a...

When we jump to conclusions

“And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’”Acts 16:27, 28. Have you heard the story of Paul and Silas in the prison? They were two apostles called by Jesus to spread the Gospel, but along the way they got into a bit of trouble and were arrested. The Romans were pretty upset that these Jews were ruffling feathers by preaching in the name of Jesus and not observing the customs of the Romans. Particularly, they had just cast a demon spirit out of a slave girl who had the power of divination, or fortune telling. She had been following Paul and Silas for days, continually bothering and mocking . Weary of it, they finally told the spirit to come out of her. This made those that owned her very upset because they no longer had an income. So they took hold of the two apostles and put them into prison, made sure they were beaten with rods many times and then securely put their feet in stocks. Now the cool thing about this story is the escape. But Paul and Silas were not planning one. But they were praying, maybe for their safety, maybe because they were in pain, maybe just because they couldn’t sleep. Whatever the reason, the Bible says the other prisoners were listening to them when they prayed. It doesn’t just say they heard them, it says they were...

Oh, what a happy soul am I!

Francis Jane Crosby was the author of over 9,000 hymns. Did you know she wrote so many that she began using pen names so that the hymnals would not be filled with her name alone? Beautiful hymns such as: Blessed Assurance Safe in the Arms of Jesus All the Way My Savior Leads Me Rescue the Perishing Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross Born in New York, Fanny was ill almost from the beginning. Their family’s regular doctor was out of town and another man, who claimed to be a doctor, prescribed hot mustard compresses to her eyes. She got over the sickness but the treatment left her blind. Blindness didn’t deter her from her love of life and her love for the Word of God. She memorized scripture every day, five chapters a week! Fanny loved poetry and wrote her first verse at the age of eight: Oh what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see. I am resolved that in this world, Contented I will be. How many blessings I enjoy That other people don’t. To weep and sigh because I’m blind? I cannot and I won’t! The Apostle Paul was also one to be acquainted with grief. He had lived through many, many persecutions. Most of them were physical. “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own...

Our trials Are NOT Our End

“It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Psalm 119:71. It was good for me. Affliction is good for me? Trials are good for me? Tests and temptations are good for me? Why? That I might learn. That I might grow. That I might serve. The Scottish minister, James Stewart, profoundly stated, “In love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve.” The wounded soldier has felt pain, he has been hurt, suffered, maybe even had to crawl out of a hole to get back on his feet. He has had to dodge enemy fire; he had to keep getting back up, time and time again. But he does. Psalm 147:3. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” It doesn’t matter what caused the broken heart or how the injury got there, God is ready to heal us of our wounds so we can move on and help someone else. Psalm 51:17. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” He sees our broken heart and spirit and that is just what He needs to work with and work through! “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39. Our trials are not our end. The scripture doesn’t mean we will not experience difficulty or even suffer in this life. We will! He did! But He promised...

When the patient knows better than the healer

Have you heard of the Abana and Pharpar syndrome? Naaman had it. He originated it, all because he did not want to humble himself. Naaman was a “captain of the host of the king of Syria” and the Bible says he was a great man, honorable and a mighty man of valor. But he was a leper. Naaman’s wife had a “little maid” who was taken captive out of Israel, and she was sympathetic toward her master and his condition. She told Naaman’s wife that if he were with the prophet in Samaria, he would be able to heal him of his leprosy. She was confident of the power of God and confident in the man of God! Naaman  eventually made his way to the house of Elisha the prophet. Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman and told him to “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.” Sounds simple enough, right? Not for Naaman… “Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.” 2 Kings 5:11. This infuriated Naaman. He wanted pomp and fanfare to go along with his healing! “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.”  2 Kings 5:12. Abana and Pharpar were rivers that were closer to home and much cleaner than the muddy,...

Don’t give them a second thought

Mesmerized. That’s how I describe my fascination with Joshua, the son of Nun. This man was encouraged time and time again by God to be courageous and without fear. “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9. “And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed…” Joshua 8:1. Armed with that kind of courage, Joshua gathered forces to help the people of Gibeon in Joshua 10. The Gibeonites had made a treaty with Israel, and because of that alliance, when the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon joined forces to attack Gibeon,  Gibeon sent word to Joshua for help. Joshua didn’t just send a token group of fighting men. He marched with his entire army to defeat the five kings. “The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” The Message version takes a little liberty here, but I like the possibilities. “God told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.” Joshua was able to take them by surprise because the Lord brought confusion to the enemy. As they were running away from the Israelites the Bible says, “…the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.” But it’s the next part that is so unbelievable it had to be God. “On the day the Lord gave the...

No claim over me!

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you…. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” John 14:27-31 ESV. Jesus is speaking with His disciples not too many hours away from His crucifixion. He speaks of peace in a world of uncertainty for them all. Reading this week, I couldn’t help but notice the phrase, “He has no claim on me,” speaking of the enemy: Satan, the liar, the evil one, the enemy of our souls. Jesus is letting us know in this simple phrase that He, as God in the flesh, would willingly giving His life; no one would taking it from Him! Not the Pharisees, not Caesar, not Pilate or the devil himself. Jesus was going to GIVE and we are the blessed receivers of that selfless sacrifice. Jesus would go on to defeat death, hell and the grave when He cried out, “It is finished!” on the cross. He would  overcome sin and death, paving the way for us to do the same while we live in this world. Sin has no claim on us! The world has no claim on us! C.S. Lewis reminds us we were not even made for this world: If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world. Just recently,...

Mr. Big Stuff: The Sin of Diotrephes

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:11-13. Norah Jayne is a few days away from seven months old. She sits up by herself, loves bananas and carrots, giggles and smiles nonstop and gets mad in her car seat. Norah is also fascinated with… Norah.   She has discovered this beautiful baby in the mirror and she can’t get enough of herself! It’s so funny to watch when you sit her in front of the mirror. She gets so excited and it makes this nana wonder: does she know she is looking at herself, or does she think it’s someone else to play with? Either way, she gets so much joy, and so do we, just watching her. Diotrephes was probably like Norah when he was a baby. The problem is, Diotrephes didn’t grow out of it. He loved himself and enjoyed being in charge. If you have never heard of him, or don’t remember, he is mentioned in the little book of 3rd John. There is only one chapter in this book, and he is spoken of in two verses. John is writing the letter to Gaius and says to him, “I wrote unto the...

Be quiet, my big, fat mouth

It happened again: a wonderful opportunity for me to say what I felt. What I really WANTED to say, what was boiling up inside of me. It even NEEDED to be said — or so I thought. We have all been in similar situations: someone, your equal, whether on the job, in the family, the church, neighborhood, school, etc., approaches you and proceeds to dress you down in front of others when it is not their place to do so. Not only that, you have not done anything wrong whatsoever. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. They just feel it is their responsibility to be the boss or overseer, even though they do not retain the title, and want things done a certain way…their way. This is the place I found myself a few weeks ago. I stood there and listened, admittedly my blood pressure rising faster than flood waters, but I listened. Finally, I gently interjected that I had done what was required, expected, and in the best interest of others, but that only invited more tongue-lashing. I did not retaliate, but walked away, only by the grace of God. But as soon as I got in my car, away from others, I called The Sweetheart. "You won't believe…..!" And I unloaded all my frustration on him. He listened, even agreed with me that I was in the "right", and by the time I arrived home, I was somewhat calmed down. What bothered me was that I would have to face this person the next day. Many would tell me to stand up for myself, and there would not have been...

Running away never solved anything

I remember the first time I ran away from home. Like many other disgruntled “littles”, I didn’t get very far. I also remember the first time I ran away as an adult. If I remember correctly, I had not been married to The Sweetheart but a few months and we had argued, so away I went to a trusted friend who, with much wisdom, sent me back home where I belonged. When I see that scene in my mind today? It makes me giggle. When I became a mother, I can recall jumping in that mini-van a couple of times, making sure the father of my children heard and was going to pay attention to his charge, and announcing I would “be back”. “Where are you going?” I didn’t have the answer, I just had to take a short drive to breathe. It happens. Adam and Eve ran and hid from the Lord after their sin. Moses ran away after he killed an Egyptian and Jonah famously ran from God because he didn’t want to preach to the people of Nineveh.  Elijah, fearless Elijah the prophet, was in fear of a woman and ran for his life! Do you feel like running away from your trial, your pain, your sickness, financial troubles, marriage difficulties or even just LIFE itself? Look at the following scripture: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7 It says that this trial you...