Posts Tagged ‘worry’

Overwhelmed by God’s Grace…

There have been many tears shed over the past month.  Times when we have been brought low, full of fear and anxiety.  Tears because of pain and frustration.  Tears of uncertainty.  But there have also been tears because we have been overwhelmed by God’s grace to us through the love and generosity of others.  It is more than we deserve – which is why we call it grace.  And so, I just had one of those moments yesterday.

A little background:  Shortly after I was diagnosed with colon cancer at the very end of February and it was known that I was going to need surgery and treatment, the church I am privileged to serve, sprung quickly  into action in several ways.  One of the ways was the establishment of a “Pastor Care Fund” (more on that below) – which has freed us from worry about the financial ramifications of our particular predicament.  I can honestly say, in part due to this fund but also due to trusting the Lord who is our provider, that I have been largely free from worry about money.  I can only speak for myself, but I am thankful that that fear or worry has largely been absent.  And that, in itself, is a gift.  Considering how often I have had to pull out my credit card to pay a $60 copay here or a $350 copay here.  I also got a different kind of letter yesterday – the bill for my 5-6 day hospital stay.  Thankfully, what we have to pay is much, much, much, much less than what the initial hospital charge was – it is one of those unfathomable type numbers.   We are glad for good insurance, but still there are those pesky deductibles and copays and “out of pocket” (have you looked in my pocket?!) expenses.  I know you know what I mean.  So, this is grace in itself.

Here’s an update on the Pastor Care Fund from the Chairman of our Deacons and I hope will give you a sense of why I have been overwhelmed at times.

North Hills Church is thankful for the expression of love, prayer, and support for Pastor Adam & Lydia Tisdale. As of March 31st the Pastor Care Fund has received over $11,000 in donations from over 30 individuals and 5 churches. Many have offered further assistance if there are unmet needs. We are so thankful for such an overwhelming expression of love and support and we continue to pray for additional contributions.

The Pastor Care Fund started with the goal of providing financial assistance for out-of-pocket medical expenses of $6,000 and anticipated additional expenses for continuing treatment. We do not know what the expenses will be but God has already provided abundantly. North Hills Church, as stewards of the Pastor Care Fund, will continue to provide updates concerning our support of the Tisdale’s financial needs.

 Thank you again for sharing your testimony of God’s love for his children.

“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free” – Psalm 119:5

In Christian Love.

Deacon Dave

On behalf of the Deacons of North Hills Church

Contributions to the Pastor Care Fund can be made payable to:

North Hills Church / Pastor Care Fund /PO Box 320 / Meridianville, AL 35759

It is impossible to describe in words how it felt to read that yesterday.  Overwhelmed.  And still there may be other gifts on the way.  Overwhelmed.

And to be clear, this is just one bit of God’s grace to us.  I have said it before and I will keep saying, even if you tire of it:  Every prayer (how many are praying and by those I have never met?!), every thought, every encouraging word, every hug, every card, every email, every message, every Facebook comment, every gift (we have received other gifts outside of those made to the Pastor Care Fund, as well), every meal, every sacrifice.   All of it God’s grace.   All of it overwhelming.  Thank you for being used by Him – whether you realize it or not.  And that is good, as we at times have felt threatened to be overwhelmed by the flood water’s of cancer, of fear, of uncertainty.  But God is good (“all the time”) and we are blessed.

Running Scared (Part 7): God Speaks – Peace Be With You – 1

Read about what I’m doing here (including the schedule for posts). Part one here.  Part two here.  Part three here and here.  Part four here.  Part five here.  Part six here.

We are nearing the end of this “blogging the book” version using Ed Welch’s Running Scared: fear, worry, and the God of rest as we look at the first four chapters of the last section of the book (“God Speaks – peace be with you”).  The last chapters of the book will be covered next week.   In this section, Welch acknowledges that much of what he has to say is not new but an emphasis of some of the themes of this book.  While, in my reading of these chapters I found that to be true, I also found I needed to hear again these words.

Consider the way we tend handle people (children maybe) who need to hear things over and over again:  “how many times do I have to tell you!”  I’m sure those words have never been said in our household.  Now consider the truth of God that Welch is directing us to see and take in:  “God is patient and willing to walk slowly with us, all the while speaking even more persuasive words to our fearful hearts.”  I found it refreshing and encouraging to be reminded again that God is a God of great patience “and he is happy to repeat himself.”  Yes, that does help for sure.  Just as we regularly remind our loved ones of our love (in word and action), the Lord willingly reminds us of His great love for us – by His Word and by His action.

In the following chapters, I appreciated the thoughts on God’s covenant-keeping nature and the emphasis on how God’s covenant with sinful humanity is of no benefit to us.  We are the ones who benefit completely and in turn have opportunity to give glory and praise to God, but he doesn’t need a covenant with us.  I also appreciated the thoughts on prayer, especially the reminder of how it goes against the grain.  Prayer is made easier (not easy) when we recognize what keeps us from it.

Look for a post later today or tomorrow on the next book that I will be using for “blogging the book” (as well as the next Book of the Quarter at Calvary).

Running Scared (Part 5): God Speaks on People & Their Judgments

Read about what I’m doing here. Part one here.  Part two here.  Part three here and here.  Part four here.

A friend asked me why I choose this book as the summer book of the quarter at Calvary and for “blogging the book” here.  This was my tongue in cheek answer:  Ed Welch saved my life.  Obviously, I do not mean that in a salvific sense, but I am referring more to the way that Welch helped me deal with a very difficult aspect of the way I live and relate to others through his book When People Are Big and God is Small.  You see, I am a recovering people-pleaser and the ministry is not a good place for people-pleasers (in the long run).  The story goes like this:  In the summer of 1998, I am walking though a bookstore with my mentor and he picks up Welch’s book and says – “Adam, you need to read this.”  I do not recall my answer (I probably said sure or I’ll get right on that), but I certainly was not aware of how the fear of man had dominated my life to that point.  That began a journey for me in addressing this issue – one that continues.

In this section, chapters 15-17, Welch deals with the fear of people with the concepts of fear, worry, and anxiety in view.  And so, this section starts with this:

WE SO DESPERATELY need each other’s approval.”

We fear people when they hold onto what it is that we think we need: “love, acceptance, approval.”  In fearing the lack of those things, we end up fearing the people that we want to provide those – even if it is someone we have never met before and never will again.  In this light, we see how this fear turns us away from God and makes people into idols that we bow before and that is the real problem.

The problem comes when we want thest things too much, when we want them for our own glory rather than God’s.  Notice how human desires go topsy-turvy when we stray outside of God’s kingdom.”

So what are the answers, besides trying harder?  Here is Welch is at his best:  drawing back to God, His Word, and His character.  Here were a few of the ways that he encourages us to fight the fear & idolatry of man:

  • Love for others:  “Without adaquate human love, we feel paralyzed to love.  We want to be filled with the love of others before we move out in love towards others…At root, our yearning for love and acceptance from other people (when it is more important that loving and accepting others) is evidence of allegiancees to ourselves.  We prefer to be the king rather than serve the King.”  There’s that concept of allegiances again.  Welch deals with this concept of loving others, even to the point of imbalance, in chapter sixteen.  This concept, as he show us again, cannot be accomplished in our own strength, but we must look to the source and model of all sacrificial love:  Jesus Christ.
  • Fear of God:  This is a huge topic, but there is great help for us in chapter seventeen.  The upshot is that we need a greater fear to move us out of the fear of man and that is the fear of God.  “How can we define it?  The fear of the Lord results from knowing that I always live coram deo – I live before the face of the Holy GodFear still reveals our allegiance, this time in a positive way.  If we have a mature fear of the Lord, it means that we value and revere him above all else.  That’s how we fight fear with fear.”

These make sense to me and I can see in my own life how, when applied, they replace the fear of man.  And in those I find great freedom, but I find that I still long for the bondage of slavery to sin at times and I go back to “tried and true” methods of relating (people-pleasing, fear, conflict avoidance).  And so Welch gives this gem of a thought:  “When in doubt, repent.”  And then there is this question that comes up several times:

Why am I so concerned about me?”

Running Scared (Part 4): God Speaks on Money & Possessions

Read about what I’m doing here. Part one here.  Part two here.  Part three here and here.

It dawned on me as I read these last three chapters (about mid way through) of this section, “God Speaks on money and possessions”, that we had not talked a whole lot about money and possessions.  At least not specifically.  That does come more fully in chapter fourteen, but I found that this was something that I appreciated because it has meant that Welch has spent more time dealing with the roots of anxiety and worry – rather than simply dealing with symptoms and manifestations.

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Running Scared (Part Three) – continued

…worry is usually about seeking something other than God’s kingdom.  Worry is a sign that we are trying to have it both ways, with one foot in the kingdom of the world and the other in the kingdom of heaven.”

Hmm? What would I know about trying to have my way and God’s way?  How about my prayer this morning as I started the day: that this day would be God’s and I would live in it.  Fast forward to this afternoon:  I’m frustrated and anxious because my day is not going as I would like.  I thought my prayer was real and genuine, but my attitude towards the opportunities the Lord is putting in my path shows otherwise.  There I go again – wanting it both ways.  I wasn’t exactly worrying, but I can see what Welch is talking about and I certainly know this is true of my worries.

What is the way out of worry?  We must become students of the King and his true kingdom so that we see its beauty and glory and become enthralled by it.”

In chapter ten, “The Message of the Kingdom”, Welch has some very helpful thoughts on the God’s Kingdom. One thing especially helpful for modern Christians, is the understanding of the realness of the Kingdom here and now. “His kingdom is the kingdom of heaven, not because it is far away and ethereal. Instead, it is where the King dwells, and the King now dwells on earth in a new way. He is firmly establishing his reign where his will is done.” But there is more here: the story behind the kingdom and the enemies of the kingdom are a few more sections after that. And even that is not the end of the thoughts that direct us to toward real kingdom living in the here and now, and in particular how that connects with our money.

And then this final thought that we are left with at he end of chapter eleven:

Life in the kingdom isn’t easy, at least not when we want to share the throne.”

Running Scared (Part 3): God Speaks on money and possessions

Read about what I’m doing here. Part one here.  Part two here.

Today, we look at half of the third section (“God Speaks on money and possessions”) in Edward Welch’s excellent book Running Scared.

Here is what I am loving about what I am reading:  Welch is making connections for me that I should have made, but in the blindness of fear and worry I cannot see.

Fear is nurtured by ignorance.” This is how chapter nine starts and hits you like a ton of bricks, or at least it did me.  I don’t like to think of myself as ignorant, but I know that I have fears and worries that make regular appearances.  So, if this is true, then I am missing something.  There is something yet to learn.  And so, Welch walks us through a very familiar portion of the Sermon on the Mount:  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry…” (Matthew 6:25-34).

One of the strategies for dealing with worry is to be overtaken by something more important than the object of your worries.”

But in my ignorance (and sin), how much of the beauty of God and His Kingdom have I missed? What is truly important to me? Often, I find, it is my own self-protection and personal kingdom-building, with walls as porous as a sieve – where fear and worry constantly flow in and little that’s good flows out.

And so, Welch points out that our problem is largely about mixed-allegiences.  “Our trust is divided…If you are looking to plumb the depths of worry, you can find it in your mixed allegiences.  You trust God for some things but not others.  You trust him for heaven but not for earth.”  I really wish Welch would stop writing about me!  But there was something more here – more than just a finger probing wounds.  There is care and cure here:  “The cure is not to simply know what the problem is.  The cure is to know the One we are called to trust. Keep looking at the triune God and how he has revealed himself throughout history.  Don’t spend your time focusing on your wavering allegiances…When you seek the King, you are seeking his kingdom.”  So, my prayers, my worship, my contemplating Scripture do matter.  It may be small even miniscule, but it is the right direction.

There is so much more here…I will complete my thoughts shortly.

Running Scared (Part Two): God Speaks

Click here for a description of what this about and here for the first set of reflections.

K (our 4 year old daughter) once famously, at least in our house, uttered words that so appropriately match our own hearts. While we forget the specific context, Lydia exhorted the two year old version of our daughter to “Trust me”. K’s response was instant: “Truss you?”. It was a question. Despite all evidence to the contrary, children don’t always trust. It’s part of internal compass that directs us first to ourselves and our own understanding. God says, “Trust me”. And we say “Truss you?” It’s a question and we so desperately need our compass realigned.

‘Trust me’ is starting to make more sense.  That exhortation is the mother lode of comfort for fearful people.  I want to remember that trust can be fed with the evidence that God, indeed, is trustworthy…”

As I mentioned last week, the first section made me ready to hear not only what my own fears were saying, but even more so, to hear from God’s Word. To have my compass realigned.  In this second section (chapters five -eight), “God Speaks”, I was not disappointed by the words & Word that Welch had to share to my own fearful and anxious heart.

Did you know that God’s most frequent command in the Bible is “Do not be afraid”?  I knew that already, but I have to say that I have only recently been thinking about it in relationship to my fears and had not connected all the dots as Welch does in chapter five.  After all, who is it that issues the command?  What do I know from my past experiences about Him?  But fear and worry don’t work through the Truth so logically.  So here I found these great reminders, that as I run from some things in my fear – that I should run to Someone.  To the God who is my Father, who is my King, and is generous.

What is important is where we turn, or to whom we turn we are afraid…Faith is not blind…Faith [is] about knowing God in an intimate, personal way and trusting him because he is trustworthy.  Faith sees more, not less.”

I want to see more…Lord, open my eyes!

“Scripture too is crammed with stories about God’s faithfulness, stories that are meant to be retold because, in our fear, we are so quick to forget.”

This reminder, at the beginning of chapter six, jumps out at me because I have been thinking so much about my forgetfulness – my failure to remember. And so, Welch reminds us of the Israelites in the wilderness and lest we focus on the harshness of the journey, with a pastor’s heart we are shown in God’s word the tenderness and love of our Lord. And we are tested: to trust for today (daily bread)and to rest in Him (specifically on the Sabbath).  And in chapter seven, we are directed to the God who delivers, but not always at the time or in the way that we might have dreamed.  But there is a deliverance that comes to all believers, by virtue of the life, death, & life again of Christ Jesus.  And finally that (chapter eight), that our “worry is a sign that I am in danger.”  And this because of where worry takes us – away from our Deliverer and further into ourselves.

But there is the exhortation:  “Say it: ‘Lord, I trust you.'”  And God is worthy of that trust – may we grow into the fullness of that trust these days of our life.

What say you?  What captured your heart and challenged your usual ways of thinking?

Running Scared: Part One

Today we begin our journey  of blogging through Edward Welch’s book Running Scared.  Click here if you want to see what this is all about or the schedule for reading/posting on this book.

When I was a small child (somewhere between the ages of three and six), I used to imagine that there was a witch that brewed here mischievous brew between the two windows of my bedroom.  In my imagination, she was there and not to be trifled with.  And so, Welch says:  “Fear is natural to us.  We don’t have to learn it.  We experience fear and anxiety even before there is any logical reason for them.”  Fear does not just follow us, but fear actually multiplies as we grow older.  As we develop more relationships, see more of the fallenness of the world, or accumulate more things we have more to fear, more to worry about.

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New “Blogging the Book”: Running Scared

The next Book of the Quarter at Calvary will be:

Running Scared:  fear, worry, & the God of rest by Edward Welch

“One of the haunting dilemmas of the human condition is that fear is “an inescapable feature of earthly life.”  Every person who has lived on this earth has encountered fear.  Tragically, for this reason our race for the good life finds us all too often “running scared.”  Running Scared…investigates the roots of fear in the human soul and the ramifications of living in the grips of anxiety, worry, and dread.  Welch encourages readers to discover for themselves that the Bible is full of beautiful words of comfort for fearful people (and that every single person is afraid of something)…Running Scared affirms that, through Scripture, God speaks directly to our fears: on money and possessions, on people and their judgments, and on death, pain, and punishment…Far more than merely another psychology “self-help” guide, Running Scared serves a biblical roadmap to a life of serenity and security.”  [From the book flap]

As I did with Respectable Sins, I will be blogging here as I read the book. Here is the schedule for those playing at home:

Blog posting schedule for book (Wednesdays) & Sections covered; chapters in parentheses:
July 16 – Initial Observations (Chapters 1-4)
July 23 – God Speaks     (5-8]
July 30 – Money & Possessions (9-11)
August 6th – Money & Possession (12-14)
August 13th – On People & Their Judgments (15-17)
September 3rd – On Death, Pain & Punishment (18-21)
September 10th – Peace Be With You (22-25)
September 17th – Peace Be With You (26-30)