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Long-View Living in a Short-View World

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© 2018 Laura Kranz. All Rights Reserved. OverviewBible.com
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"Irregardless."

Ugh! It's not even a word. And if it were, it would mean the exact opposite of what those who use it intend that it should mean.

I love words. I love playing with words, inventing new words, tweaking existing words, and using words in appropriate, albeit unusual ways.

I also love music. I enjoy listening to it, playing it, singing it, and even occasionally composing it.

Mangled Language

This past weekend, I was able to combine my love of music and love of words through singing with the worship band at church and, during rehearsal, having a brief conversation about funny words and mangled language with our worship leader, Dallas, and one of our elders.

Dallas is a member of Toastmasters International. He was sharing a humorous anecdote from a recent Toastmasters meeting. Apparently, someone at the meeting used the term, "irregardless" and the world almost came to an end.

During the time of formal worship, Dallas spoke to the congregation about how much he loves being a part of this body of believers, and he struggled to articulate it as powerfully as he wanted to. Following the service, I told Dallas, "I think what you were trying to say is that the thing that makes this body of believers so unique is that nobody doesn't fit here."

While that is a shocking double negative, it is exactly what he was trying to say. There is no person, as wildly different and bizarre as we are, that does not fit in our church family. That is precisely what makes our gathering so wonderful.

God's Promised Presence

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' - Hebrews 13:5, ESV

Believe it or not, there is a connection between that verse and the opening lines of this blog posting. On the face of it, we have an exhortation from the writer of Hebrews to refuse covetousness, the last of the ten commandments. We are to be content with what we have.

It also seems that, somehow, we are enabled, encouraged, or emboldened to resist coveting because of this promise of security in God's presence. Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you. The idea is that the presence of God is such that the attraction of physical possessions loses its luster. Conversely, the love of tangibles can infect a believer in such a way that we become intensely dissatisfied with God's wondrous provision.

Difficult Language

What does not come through easily in English translation is the strength of what is said in this promise from God. Some translations come closer than others, but even they pale with weakness when compared to what the original Greek text actually says.

Here are some translations that get about as close as we can get in English:

for He hath said, 'No, I will not leave, no, nor forsake thee,' - Young's Literal Translation

for he has said, "I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you." - World English Bible

for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee. - English Revised Version, also American Standard Version

Each of those is rather abrupt and difficult to read. If we lay it out literally from the Greek text, it reads like this:

"Never not you will I leave nor never not you will I forsake."

In my statement to Dallas, I emphasized my point by employing a double negative to stress the positive, welcoming posture of our church family. "Nobody doesn't fit here." What God has said in Hebrews 13:5 is a double negative followed by a triple emphasized negative. It is as though God is super-mega-stressing his point, "I will not ... I will not leave you," followed by "I will never ... never ... never abandon you.

I believe this phrasing is intentionally mirrored in the hymn, "How Firm a Foundation." Note the double negative followed by the triple negative in verse five.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to his foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

The term "forsake" (εγκαταλιπω) carries the idea of provision. God is strongly emphasizing that he will never leave us alone in a state of utter hopelessness. Challenging? Perhaps. Difficult? Undoubtedly. But, never hopeless. Since that is true, we have no need to covet anything from anyone.

God's Reputation on the Line

Note the phrase, "He has said," or in some translations the Greek intensive mode is translated, "He himself has said." Either way, God's reputation is on the line. He said it, and he must stand behind what he says. "Let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no.'" (Matthew 5:37) Do what you say you will do, and be where you say you will be.

The message of God's presence and provision is consistent throughout scripture.

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. - Genesis 28:15, NASB

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. - Deuteronomy 31:6, NASB

The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. - Deuteronomy 31:8, NASB

No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. - Joshua 1:5, NASB

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. - Joshua 1:9, NASB (One of my favorite verses)

Then David said to his son Solomon, 'Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.' - 1 Chronicles 28:20, NASB

And how can we not include the beautiful promise from Jesus at the close of Matthew's gospel? I am with you always, even to the end of the age. - Matthew 28:20, NASB

Given the truth of God's faithful presence, it is entirely appropriate that the next verse in Hebrews reads...

So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?' - Hebrews 13:6, ESV

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

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I started wearing hearing aids about six weeks ago, a move I resisted for the longest time. Hearing aids make me feel old and feeble - something my grandfather would wear.

Though fifty-seven in reality, in my mind, I'm still in my twenties. What are you talking about? I don't need hearing aids!

For quite some time, my wife, Alean, thought I was ignoring her. The truth is, I did not hear her talking to me unless I was facing her, or if I did hear her, it sounded somewhat like the muffled voice of Charlie Brown's teacher - "mmmff dffff rrrff thfffff dfff grrfff."

I didn't know if my wife was talking to me, or to the cat.

More and more, I found myself watching people's lips rather than looking them in the eyes.

El Shama - The God Who Hears Me

I understand Alean's frustration. It is irritating to feel as though we are not being listened to. Either we are being ignored by the one to whom we are speaking, or there is no one there to listen us to begin with. Not so with our God.

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
- Psalm 65:2, ESV

But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.
- Psalm 4:3, ESV

Life is difficult. Anyone who says otherwise is simply not engaged - merely drifting with the currents. But those of us with a mission, those with goals and aspirations, face tremendous challenges, and very often we feel as though we are going it alone - no one with us to listen, or to provide wise counsel.

In reality, our sense of loneliness deceives us. We are far from alone!

The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
- Psalm 145:18, ESV

How beautiful it is to know that we are loved so much that God is always near when we call. There is no need so small that it escapes his notice, no burden so great but that he cannot lighten our load, no failing so profound but that he will wash it away, far from us. He is the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10), and the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
- 1 Peter 3:12a, ESV

Speaking With God Expectantly

Many years ago, I was listening to a colleague speak at a national conference. He told of a time when he was very young, maybe six or seven years old. He had gone to church with his parents that morning, and had in his pocket fifty cents they had given him for the Sunday School offering basket.

When my friend arrived home, he discovered the two quarters were still in his pocket, and he was horrified. He ran to his room, shut the door, and propped a chair against it to prevent anyone coming in and discovering his great failure.

Secure in his room my friend sat on his bed, and with tears streaming down his face, repeatedly threw the quarters at the ceiling, pleading with God, "Please God, take the quarters! I'm sorry I forgot. Please, just take them."

Every one of us in the room grieved with the sobbing little boy who pleaded with God to take the quarters. It was an adorable story right up to the point that he shocked us all ...

He said, "You know, looking back on that morning, I'm surprised he didn't do it. I'm surprised he didn't take the quarters."

As I listened to that, I had to admit the sad truth, that I would have been shocked if God had taken the quarters. Furthermore, I would have been skeptical of the story, and would have questioned my friend's integrity, or recollection, if he had said God did take them.

We need to repent of our blindness to the reality that God is with us, in us, loves us, hears us, and cares for us. We, like my friend, should be surprised when God does not "take the quarters."

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. - Hebrews 4:16, ESV

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

DamonJGray.org
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Sebastien - a.k.a. "Stinker"

We have a new kitten in our home. I named him Sebastien, but we are thinking his real name should be "Stinker," because he is quite mischievous.

Sebastien was a feral kitten, being carried in his mother's mouth as she and the family crossed a busy street in Salina, Kansas. While crossing, an automobile struck the family, killing the mother and Sebastien's two siblings, leaving Sebastien as the sole survivor of the family. My wife rescued him and brought him home to live with us in Washington.

Being feral, Sebastien has trust issues. And being a kitten, his play oft-times becomes rather aggressive, which results in him being scolded for biting, scratching, and attacking. By default, Sebastien believes he is in trouble, so when Alean or I reach down to pet him or pick him up, he cowers in fear, or runs away. It breaks Alean's heart to see him fearful of us.

Far too many Christ-followers live with this same fear of our Heavenly Father, cowering in fear before an awe-inspiring God, yes, but a God who loves us, and wants only what is best for us. He loves us with an everlasting love.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." - Jeremiah 31:3

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children." - Psalm 103:17

Discipline Is Not Condemnation

One of the greatest frustrations I experience is seeing Christ-followers who confuse discipline with condemnation, or conviction with guilt. Discipline comes from the Father (Hebrews 12:6-11), and conviction from the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-8). These are both good things. They may not feel good at the time, but discipline and conviction mature us, and keep us on the narrow path to life.

Guilt and condemnation, however, do not come from God, but rather from the evil one, the liar, the thief. The devil wants us to feel condemned, guilty, beaten down, depressed - so depressed that we throw up our hands in frustration and give up. His voice, and the resulting emotions do not deserve our attention, and the most certainly do not deserve our surrender!

Dual Divine Intercession

Are you feeling a little beaten down, or maybe a lot beaten down? Then feel, instead, the impact of this exhortation from the apostle Paul:

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? - Romans 8:31b-32, ESV

When you feel even a hint of defeat from the world, let that passage come flooding back to your mind like a tidal wave. God is FOR us. Nothing and no one can stand against us.

And when you feel the finger of accusation wagging in your face...

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. - Romans 8:33-34, ESV

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words - Romans 8:26, NASB

Here we see that we have two intercessors, two advocating on our behalf. The Holy Spirit intercedes when our prayer life is awkward. And the Son intercedes from the right hand of God when we sin. The only one who is qualified to condemn us does the exact opposite of that, interceding for us with the Father. We are a blessed people, indeed!

When we sin (and we will), "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1b-2, ESV). We have the best representation we could ever hope to have, being represented and advocated for by the only one qualified to prosecute us. "For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son" (John 5:22, ESV). Jesus is not going to condemn the very people for whom he died.

Four Reasons to Reject Condemnation

1. 1 Corinthians 15:3b, ESV - Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. We know that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), but because of Jesus, that is a price we are not required to pay. The one who died for us is not going to turn around and condemn us when we commit lives to him and his care.

2. 1 Corinthians 15:4b, ESV - he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. Jesus did not stay in the grave, but rather rose victorious over death, the very death that is the price of our sin. Just as Jesus is firstborn from among the dead (Colossians 1:18), we who hope in him will be adopted as his siblings (Romans 8:29). He is firstborn by nature - we, by adoption. Jesus will not deny his own.

3. John 14:3, ESV - And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.. Not only has Jesus paid for my sin through his own death, and overcome my death sentence through his resurrection, but now he is preparing for my arrival. Rather than condemn me, he actively anticipates our being together.

4. Romans 8:34, ESV - [Jesus] is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. While he awaits my arrival, for as long as I live in this body, Jesus is making intercession for me with the Father. He assures my acceptance, and obliterates any possibility of condemnation, because "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1, ESV).

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39, ESV

Rest in that.

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

DamonJGray.org
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I am very deliberate about keeping political commentary far from my weekly blog postings. People have strong opinions about issues of faith, and often, even stronger ones about issues of politics. For me to combine the two is a bit like smoking a cigar while fueling up my lawnmower.

This week I am making an exception to that practice, and doing so in response to an asinine statement made recently by a young woman from the political arena who has unwisely, or perhaps, ignorantly dipped her toe into the world of faith. I am not suggesting that one should never do such a thing, but rather that if one chooses to do so, one should know from whence one speaks, lest one come off demonstrating a significant measure of idiocy.

I also recognize that I am a month delayed in issuing my response to the inane statement to which I am responding. That is intentional. I needed time to allow my incensed incredulity to wane a bit so that my response can be thoughtful and measured, rather than emotional and reckless.

The Precipitating Statement

During a 9/13 SiriusXM radio interview, Chelsea Clinton went on record saying, "When I think about all of the statistics that are painful about what women are confronting today in our country and what even more women confronted pre-Roe and how many women died and how many more women were maimed because of unsafe abortion practices, we just can't go back to that. That's unconscionable to me, and also, and I'm sure that this will unleash another wave of hate in my direction, but as a deeply religious person, it's also unchristian to me."

I make no secret of the fact that I detest the slaughter of the unborn, and I am equally appalled at the casual practice of human euthanasia. but for Mrs. Clinton (Mezvinsky) to label my convictions as "unchristian" is both disingenuous and naive.

But here is the bomb. As odd as it may seem (at first), I am now going to state my objection to those on the side of life who assert that life begins at conception. I do not believe that to be the case, and here is why ...

Probing Science for Answers

Recently, I was neck deep in a friendly debate/discussion with the wife of a couple with whom Alean and I are rapidly becoming dear friends. As the discussion evolved, our friend became highly animated, and frustrated with me as she labored in futility, appealing to "science" to buttress her staunch anti-abortion position. The reality is, science cannot resolve the abortion question (for or against). Furthermore, much of what masquerades as "science" today is not science at all.

Attempts at bringing clarity result in our wrestling with the question of "personhood," drawing a line of distinction between life and personhood, but this is not a question science has yet been able to answer. When, exactly, does a fetus (arguably alive) become a person? And let's be intellectually honest here - consensus of opinion has nothing to do with true science. Saying "Eight out of ten scientists agree..." is meaningless. Science deals with facts and disprovable hypotheses. In this case, science has no answers.

The available options for transitioning from non-person to person are typically presented as at fertilization, at birth, or at some quantifiable point between the two. Interestingly, one would think that the impressive advances in technology would bring definition and precision to this question, but in reality, technological advancement has served to further complicate the matter.

Where it was once believed that life was confirmed with the feel of the first kick in the womb, current-generation technology allows us to define myriad points at which the transition may be said to have occurred. Modern medical technology now allows us to both see and hear the heartbeat. We can count fingers and toes, trace the outline of the baby's face, determine gender, and all of that long before that first kick is felt.

If, like most in the Christian camp will assert, life or personhood begins at the point of fertilization, then we must wrestle with more questions. If fertilization occurs in the petri dish or a test tube, is that life and/or personhood prior to implantation in a host body? Many would argue that it is. Others would argue that it is not. Science cannot resolve this debate.

Or even in the case of physical intercourse between a man and a woman, quite often the fertilization does not occur for hours, or even days after insemination. Once fertilized, the egg travels down the fallopian tube to the mother's uterus where it is implanted. Is it a person prior to that implantation?

What if the implantation fails? The mother passes the embryo without ever knowing she was pregnant. I have read medical estimates stating that fifty to eighty percent of fertilized eggs fail to implant. Was that life? A person? How do we make such a determination scientifically?

From there, the arguments expand to issues like gastrulation, the ability to measure brainwaves, or finding that discernible heartbeat mentioned above. Each of these is measurable, quantifiable, but science has yet to definitively identify any or all of these as personhood or lack of personhood. Thus science, by its own admission, simply has no answer for the abortion question, and I assert that it is absurd for us to look for answers in that arena.

Probing God for Answers

As is the case in every investigative undertaking, we are best served by gleaning our data from the source. In this case, we need to query the author of life himself.

Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. - Psalm 100:3, NASB

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the One who formed you from the womb, 'I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone.' - Isaiah 44:24, NASB

But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand. - Isaiah 64:8, NASB

Why I do not believe life begins at conception:

It is my firm conviction that those who claim life begins at conception arrive at the party far too late. I will agree that something begins at conception, but that something is not life or personhood. Personhood antedates conception by a significant measure.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations. - Jeremiah 1:5, NASB

The personhood of Jeremiah long predates his formation in his mother's womb. God knew his personhood before the formation of his physical body ever began.

David remarked of God, "Your eyes saw my unformed body" (Psalm 139:16a, NIV). God saw the body of David before it had even begun to be knitted together. Jeremiah was consecrated as a prophet in the mind of God long before fertilization occurred.

Given these realities, I do not believe life and personhood begin at conception. I believe they begin long before that event. To assert that there is no personhood prior to egg fertilization is to assert that Jesus is not a "person" in the godhead because his egg had not been fertilized. Such an assertion is, to me, a serious eyebrow-archer.

Posting With No Expectations

Among those who support abortion as a practice, I expect to have convinced no one. I'm speaking an FM signal to an AM receiver. There is no faculty for understanding that of which I speak.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. - 1 Corinthians 2:14, MASB

The man or woman outside of Christ, without the indwelling Spirit of God, has no point of reference to even begin to understand this discussion. It strikes him or her as nonsensical.

But for those of us in whom the Spirit of God dwells, we have discernment. We have the ability to make a spiritual appraisal. It is my hope and prayer that you have been made to think just a little more deeply regarding this idea of life and personhood, and when that begins.

I believe the day will come when society looks back on the five-plus decades since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision with the same supercilious disdain we have today toward those who performed the infamous Salem witch trials and executions. With equal strength of conviction as those who protected society by murdering the witches, we adamantly proclaim that we must protect the reproductive rights of women by extinguishing the growing embryos in their wombs.

I say none of this in anger, but rather with a broken heart and a grieving spirit over the sixty million lives lost in the United States alone. There is grace available to forgive, but the slaughter must end.

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

DamonJGray.org
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Twitter - @DamonJGray


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Just last week I attended a memorial service for my friend, Ron, one of the most positive men I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Ron was a genuinely happy, uplifting man - a "Barnabus" (son of encouragement) if ever I have known one. When Ron smiled, his entire face was involved, mostly his eyes. Ron smiled with his eyes.

Have you ever noticed that some people seem wired for complaint, while others are wired for gratitude? Each behavior, or worldview, comes naturally to its respective holder. And have you also noticed that once we begin to complain, subsequent complaints flow more freely, or more easily? It is not your imagination. This is actually happening.

Research has shown that the human brain is an amazingly efficient machine. With repeated behaviors, the brain's neurons recognize the repetition and extend toward each other to facilitate the flow of that type of information, thus making future events of the same nature easier to accomplish. Thus, complaining gets easier over time, as does making expressions of gratitude, or working with mathematical calculations, or memorizing scripture. Whatever the activity, the more we do it, the easier it comes to us.

Complaining to God

Though doing so makes me nervous, we have spectacular examples of humanity complaining to God, lamenting their woes to him, and even accusing God. Though God clearly allows this to happen, he also responds to it in ways that call our attention to the folly of doing so.

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?' - Romans 9:20, ESV

I was reading Psalm 55 this morning and, as is the case with many Psalms, there we find David making complaint. He is not complaining about God, but he is certainly complaining to God.

The Psalm opens with the complaint and an urging that God not turn a deaf ear. We know that sensation when we believe God is far off, and likely not hearing us. We entreat him to draw close and listen.

Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
- Psalm 55:1-2, ESV

The speculation is that David is responding to the betrayal of his friend and advisor, Ahithophel. During the revolt of Absolom, Ahithophel deserted David and joined with Absolom. Ultimately, Ahithophel surmised that Absolom's revolt would fail, escaped to his home in Giloh, took care of his personal affairs, and hanged himself.

David's pain was very real, and seemingly intense. Betrayal is difficult to absorb, particularly so when the betrayer is someone very close to us, as Ahithophel was to David.

Pain in our lives is no less intense; no less real. Betrayal by a spouse. Parenting that feels like war. Life-threatening health issues. Loss of a child, spouse, parent, sibling.

My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
- Psalm 55:4-5, ESV

Anguish, terror, trembling, overwhelmed. For many of us, these are way-too-familiar sensations, and we discount them at our own peril. Rather, we should decide beforehand how we will respond to those emotional intrusions when they occur.

Petitioning God

Having made his complaint and expressed his anguish, David petitioned God, asking for some pretty strong action against his oppressors. "Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan," David says. And his language becomes very direct, saying things like "destroy them," and "split their tongues," which I take to mean he wants God to confound Ahithophel's counsel to Absolom. David even calls for their deaths, asking that they be driven to Sheol.

In the end, neither complaining to God nor calling down imprecations on his enemies brought the inner peace for which David longed.

Running from God

David's impulse, then, was to run away.

And I say, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
- Psalm 55:6-7, ESV

It has been my experience that trying to run from my troubles is an exasperating experience because my troubles run faster than I do. When I arrive at my hiding place, I find that the troubles from which I am running have already taken up residence there.

David wanted to get far away, deep into the wilderness where there is no one, and nothing. He said, "I would hurry to find shelter from the raging wind and tempest," and he looked for that shelter in the wilderness.

The prophet Jonah tried something similar to what David is contemplating. When God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and inform the city's residents that bad times are coming if they do not repent, Jonah decided to run away from the pressure of that responsibility. What he ended up with was a stack of problems far more dissatisfying than his original problem of needing to preach to the city of Nineveh.

I can think of no time that running from my problems has solved them. Running to the bottom of a bottle (liquor or pills) only masks a problem that continues to exist. Running to the contents of a syringe distorts reality and brings new problems of its own, while the original problem remains.

No solution can be found in ignoring the bills in the mail pile on the desk, or in ignoring the phone calls that incessantly ring our phone. The answers are not found in lashing out at others, airing our complaint on Facebook, or unloading on an amazingly patient friend. Neither do we find much positive impact from wringing our hands and developing ulcers as we bury ourselves under a mountain of worry.

We must choose what we will feed. Our fear or our faith?

Running to God

But I call to God,
and the LORD will save me.
- Psalm 55:16, ESV

As is the case with so many of the Psalms of David, by the end of the Psalm he lands in the lap of God. Here, David says, "Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you;" (Psalm 55:22a, ESV) and he follows that immediately with a statement of steadfastness - "[God] will never permit the righteous to be moved."

Intellectually, we believe this, but our physical and emotional responses often belie our intellectual position. "Yes," we say, "I will lay my burdens at the foot of the cross, and I believe God cares for me." But the moment we begin entertaining the "but what if" questions, we reject our assertion of trust and demonstrate our disbelief that God "will never permit the righteous to be moved."

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7, NASB

As Christ-followers, we know the value of moving beyond complaining to God, asking God to smite our abusers, or running from God and his plans for our lives. We know that our peace and security is found in "Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).

So, rather than bury ourselves in the "but what if" questions, because we have deep, incomprehensible, emotional peace in Christ, our thought patterns can be radically altered.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:8-9, NASB

I do not suggest this as a pat answer, or a cliché, but as a genuine solution for the anxieties that intrude on our peace. This does not happen in a moment, but over time.

I want to call your attention to the end of the quote above, where the apostle Paul says, "practice these things." Through repetitive use, the neurons in our brains will recognize the new patterns of focusing on purity, loveliness, excellence, good repute and praise. Our minds will rewire themselves to facilitate the flow of precisely that type of information, and we will know the peace of God as never before.

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

DamonJGray.org
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Acts 17:28 - ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν