Thoughts & Reflections on Fear, Worry and Anxiety

Yesterday I felt worried upon hearing and reflecting about some sad and bad news.  Last night before bed, I read Ana Dagarin’s post at “Ramble On” for Five Minute Friday, and I’ve been meditating on something she said about fear...here’s what I jotted down. 
Fear crowds out faith
Anxiety leaves no room for peace
Worry takes away the option to trust God
Self-focus obscures my ability to see God
Fear is a sin
Anxiety steals peace from my heart and mind  
Worry is a waste of time
Self-focus is boring
Lord, I take comfort in knowing that nothing takes You by surprise.
You are never anxious.
You don’t wring Your hands in worry.
There is not a path worn out before Your throne as You pace back and forth with worry
You alone know the future
You have perfect vision, un-obscured by sin
You will make wrong things right
Justice will be served in Your perfect timing
Evil and sin will be punished
All things are under Your control and firmly held in Your grasp
I can only be fearful, anxious and worried when I take my eyes off of God.
Despite reading God’s word each day and praying, I’ve felt like lately there has been silence from God.  Here are some thoughts and reflections of why I’m silent towards someone.  I’m not saying this is why God seems silent, but perhaps I need to ask the Lord why I feel as though He seems silent to me. 
I’m silent when someone isn’t listening.
I don’t want to waste my time and words on someone who doesn’t seem to care or pay attention to what I have to say.
I’m silent when I feel hurt by someone.
Lord are You quiet because I haven’t obeyed Your last instructions to me?  Please help me to obey, just follow through and not make excuses but make the time, not find the time, to do what You are calling me to do.
Perhaps I have too many other voices and noise competing for my attention.  Help me to listen clearly and incline my ear towards You Lord Jesus.

Follow Me

It’s not always an easy choice
When I hear God’s command
“Follow Me”
 
Further instructions are given only after I obey
No itinerary is laid out except the next step
“Follow Me”
 
The past bids me to stay
Attachments cause me to waver when I hear
“Follow Me”
 
Will I trust the One who calls
Or will I put others before God’s bid
“Follow Me”
 
Obedience is the key
Walking in His will the reward when He calls
“Follow Me”
 
 
By Susan Bunts Wachtel
September 20, 2010
 
Dedicated to those who have heard God’s call to “Follow Me”. 
 

Stingy Grace

How do you respond to someone,
Who is unforgiving…stingy with their grace?

What do you say to someone,
Who refuses to acknowledge their own sin?

At what point to you give up,
Walk away, and never look back?

They can not give,
What they have never received, can they?

What does my Savior require,
When forgiveness is rejected, set aside, torn asunder?

Forgive again…
Will you dare to be generous with your grace?

February 28, 2008
Susan Bunts

What do you do when you reach out with olive branch…only to have that branch broken and returned you?

I could tell that God has been working on me. His transforming power was evident in my response. After the tears had stopped…and I realized my heart would live to see another day…and dare to even love again…I knew what I had to do. As clear as God’s leading was to reach out initially…His leading now was to forgive the offense immediately.

“But God…he was stingy with his grace…he was hard hearted…unkind and uncaring. You want me to forgive that?”

Well…I should have known better than to ask God that question. The answer was a resounding, “Yes! Susan…he can not give…that which he has not received. You know My grace…you know My forgiveness. I forgave you Susan…when you were still dead in your sin. But it wasn’t until you received My forgiveness…offered to you though My grace…that you were able to forgive. Susan, I bind up brokenhearted and heal bruised and battered lives…I will care for you. But you must obey Me. Forgive! Today…right now…without delay. Be generous with your grace Susan…be generous as I am with you.”

“Okay God…I forgive!”

“Atta-girl Susan…you keep obeying and following Me. Now you might want to even be praying for him. What do you think?”

“Yes Lord.”

Stingy Grace

How do you respond to someone,
Who is unforgiving…stingy with their grace?

What do you say to someone,
Who refuses to acknowledge their own sin?

At what point to you give up,
Walk away, and never look back?

They can not give,
What they have never received, can they?

What does my Savior require,
When forgiveness is rejected, set aside, torn asunder?

Forgive again…
Will you dare to be generous with your grace?

February 28, 2008
Susan Bunts

What do you do when you reach out with olive branch…only to have that branch broken and returned you?

I could tell that God has been working on me. His transforming power was evident in my response. After the tears had stopped…and I realized my heart would live to see another day…and dare to even love again…I knew what I had to do. As clear as God’s leading was to reach out initially…His leading now was to forgive the offense immediately.

“But God…he was stingy with his grace…he was hard hearted…unkind and uncaring. You want me to forgive that?”

Well…I should have known better than to ask God that question. The answer was a resounding, “Yes! Susan…he can not give…that which he has not received. You know My grace…you know My forgiveness. I forgave you Susan…when you were still dead in your sin. But it wasn’t until you received My forgiveness…offered to you though My grace…that you were able to forgive. Susan, I bind up brokenhearted and heal bruised and battered lives…I will care for you. But you must obey Me. Forgive! Today…right now…without delay. Be generous with your grace Susan…be generous as I am with you.”

“Okay God…I forgive!”

“Atta-girl Susan…you keep obeying and following Me. Now you might want to even be praying for him. What do you think?”

“Yes Lord.”

The Message

Last week I attended a Christmas dinner at church and heard a message from author, Karen Kingsbury. I thought I was going to hear a message that would help me feel the Christmas spirit…and keep my eyes focused on Jesus as so many things are vying for my attention during this busy season.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong. The message was more personal and specific to me and my week and the emotions that followed.

While I was sitting in church with friends and family, partaking of beautiful music and listening to a talented woman of God…my heart and mind were elsewhere.

Earlier in the week I had attend a Christmas function. In the course of the evening I found that my feelings were hurt and I felt disrespected. I hoped and prayed that it was not intentional…but even that thought didn’t take the sting out the wound.

I found myself preoccupied over the next couple of days. But when Karen started on her three point message on how make sure the Christmas seasons is a good one…I knew God was speaking to me. I think I stopped listening after her first point…because I had my assignment from God.

Karen’s first point was that you need to mend broken relationships. I know that’s true….and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve failed do that and can look back and see the emotional carnage that resulted when failed to forgive.

I had my marching orders to mend a relationship…but asked God…what should I do? Should I call or write…and what should I say? What if he gets mad or thinks I’m being a “you know what” or just an overly emotional girl?

“Susan…you’re not responsible for his response. I’ve called you to reach out and mend the relationship. You remember the scripture don’t you…the one where I tell you that if you have something against a brother that you are to leave and go and be reconciled. Susan…you can’t afford to wallow in hurt which will lead to unforgiveness…that’s a sin. You need to forgive…but first go and share what you are feeling. Give this man the opportunity to apologize and make things right. If it was you…would want someone to give you an opportunity to apologize? Think about it…what kind of a witness is bitterness and anger to unbelievers in your life? If you are going to act like that…how are you any different then them?”

Okay God I will…but please give the words to say.

When I got home from church…I sat down to type an email. Yeah…I know it’s probably the chicken way out…but I express myself better in writing. Since it had occurred a few days earlier…I wasn’t acting in anger…and I could take the time to not only express what I was feeling but explain why. I hope…I think it was done in love. Kind and caring…albeit direct. It was with fear and trembling that I hit the send button…and then I waited.

While I hoped for a response right away…either via email or phone call…I wasn’t surprised that it didn’t come. When tempted to be nervous because of a lack of response…I re-read the email…and honestly felt it was fair and balanced.

God then reminded me…He called me to obey Him and reach out to mend a relationship. I was not responsible for the person’s response back.

I’m grateful to God that He did use that letter to bring attention to a hurt…and that it was responded to with kindness and caring. When next we met face to face…an apology was forthcoming. I was so thankful and relieved. I was kind of scared not knowing how my email would be taken. But I also had a peace from God…knowing that I had done what He called me to do.

I pray that I will have an ear to hear God when He speaks…and the will to obey Him. Thank You Lord for continuing to grow me.

Fleshly Wisdom

You know…there are times I think God must just be weary of dealing with me. Positively weary! Honestly…sometimes I’m weary of being dealt with. Goodness knows I need it. It seems like when I actually “get it” and understand what God wants…that lasts for about 20 seconds…and then I’m back to being a bonehead again.

As I look at my actions and words over the past few days…I wonder…do I live my life as if I have a relationship with the living God who loves me and sent His Son to die for me? Specifically in the area of going to God with questions and asking for help when I desire wisdom and discernment.

I’m afraid to admit it…but I find I like to get my answers from someone who has flesh on…who I can see face to face.

I acknowledge that when I’m asking a person…something that only God knows the answer to…I’m getting answers and feedback that is lacking. Sometimes woefully lacking. Also I can manipulate the situation based on what information I share. That manipulation may not even be intentional…just a predisposition or prejudice to view my situation in a certain manner.

But goodness knows I can’t do that with God.

So today…when I found myself asking a friend for advice…I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit. God saying to me, “Susan, why are you going to her for advice? Why aren’t you coming to Me? Asking Me for discernment and wisdom and help in your situation?”

Why do I first tend to go to humans for wisdom, instead of God?

When I go to God…I need to quite my spirit…and put some thought into what I’m asking or want. As I draw close to God…I see that perhaps that which I desire is not of His will…and then I’m faced with the decision to surrender or not? Am I ready and willing to state, “Thy will be done”?

God knows the truth…He knows the situation intimately…and people involved. I can’t fool Him or spin my story in a way that is favorable to me. And I may not get an answer right away. There may be a delay…and it may appear as if God is not going to answer. That requires that I wait and trust Him and His timing and His will and His wisdom.

Thus…the human answer seems easier and more desirable in the short run. The problem is…it’s based on limited finite human knowledge. When I have my ear tuned to man’s wisdom…I usually make poor decisions. Especially when I’m listening to my own voice unchecked by the word of God.

So Jesus…I bring before you my situation…my dilemma. I confess…I don’t know what to do…I don’t know what’s going on…both in me and others? I don’t know what step to take next…or not to take? I don’t know what to say or do. I don’t know if I should shut up and let go and let God? Or if I should persevere…and demonstrate great faith? I don’t know. But Jesus…You know. You are omniscient…You know each of us intimately. You planned our lives from before the foundation of the world. You know the good plan that You have for me. You know that which is according to Your perfect will. So Jesus…I ask You to give me wisdom. Help me to have an ear to hear You. To follow Your guidance and direction. Help me to surrender and obey. Help me to trust You and be patient…to believe despite what’s in front of me. Help me to walk in love…and think of the other person’s good before I think of myself. When I’m frustrated and want to give up…help me instead to bring the situation and person before Your throne in prayer. Jesus…I’m sorry for not trusting You fully and leaning on my own understanding and seeking my will before Yours. Help me to love others more than I love myself or want to get my way. Thank You for forgiving me of all my sins…and washing me in the precious blood of the Lamb. Help me to make decisions and live my life in such a manner that I bring You glory. I come to You in Jesus name…Amen!

Crossing That Line

When does valid concern and criticism about an important issue become a critical spirit? At what point does it cross a line? Even when the matter being addressed is something of importance and close to the heart of God?

I’m not sure I know the exact answer to that question. But I do know that God had reined me in this week in the area pertaining to my church.

God in His world counsels us that we are united in the body of Christ not divided.

“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10

“God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:24-26

Our church, Kindred Community Church, has been going through a time of transition for some time now…since our beloved Pastor Chuck Obremski went home to be with our Lord. That was back on September 18, 2005…almost two years now.

In that intervening time…Kindred began the search for a new Sr. Pastor who will be our Pastor, teacher, spiritual leader and friend. God has used the time since Chuck’s death to prepare us for the man whom He has called. At times I’ve been anxious to see who that man is. At times…I’ve been very much at peace knowing that God is in control…and that in His perfect timing God will raise up our new Pastor.

Since we don’t have a Sr. Pastor…we have had a number of men…pastors, teachers and leaders in the Christian community preaching on Sundays. Like the well known disagreements that churches can get in to over music styles…there has been differing opinions on those who have preached over these almost two years.

But I guess whether we favor the speaker that week or have someone else that we resonate with the one thing we can all give thanks for is God’s provision. We can also give Jesus Christ…praise, honor and glory for how He has kept the body of Christ at Kindred knit together. That’s not to say that some have not left to attend other churches in the intervening time. The truth be told…some have. But for the most part…we remain in tact and committed to Jesus Christ, each other and sharing the Gospel message with a lost and dying world.

Another thanksgiving and praise should go to God who has raised up committed members of Kindred’s Pastoral Search Committee. Because of their dedication and sacrifice and commitment to finding the man whom God has called…I am confident that one day (hopefully soon) we will have our Pastor. A thank you must go to also to our Elders for their commitment to finding the man of God who is committed to deep, uncompromised teaching of God’s word. Someone who will teach us the meat of the Word…not baby food that will not nourish the body of Christ.

No where was that more evident than recently when the search looked like it might be coming to an end…but for reasons that remain confidential…a decision was not made regarding those candidates. While disappointed…I was somewhat relieved to know that they were not going to settle just because we are desperate. That they weren’t going to go with the next pretty face or with the one who would weave stories that would tickle our ears and makes us feel good…but in the end leave us empty and without hope.

Would the Search Committee and the Elders like this to be over? You beta ya! Are they tired of bearing a heavy responsibility…that has not yet ended? You beta ya! Are they undergoing spiritual warfare and attacks from the enemy? You beta ya! Do they feel the burden when our congregations speaks up and shares concerns about it taking so long…or if a speaker is not everyone’s cup of tea…or if they see members starting to go elsewhere? You beta ya they do! But more than that…these godly men and women are committed to finding the man whom God has called to be our new Sr. Pastor.

I think it’s also time to give thanks to fellow members of Kindred for remaining committed to Christ Jesus and each other. It makes a big difference when we are involved with one another and connected. That became clear to me recently when I thought on Sunday…I might like to go and hear a preacher at a church that I’ve heard is a great Bible study teacher. But I realized…that gee wiz…I couldn’t because it was my week to serve in this area or that area.

That interconnectedness is also apparent when someone is on vacation or out of town…and their presence is greatly missed. Someone not being there is noticed. The love for other believers is made clear when people will come up and ask how you are doing if there has been a recent prayer request on your behalf or that of a family member or friend.

One of the things I love best about my church…is that it’s multigenerational. We have grandparents, parents and children of the same family that attend. Yet…there room for that person who doesn’t have any family…or if it’s just them or their spouse. Everyone is loved and welcomed in.

So this week…when I had a concern…and it was clear that God was reining me in to not necessarily speak my mind…I thought that perhaps He has another message instead.

Is God testing out hearts? Does He desire for us to cry out to Him? To go to Him in confident desperation…knowing He is able in His perfect timing to bring our new Pastor? To seek God and His will for our church? To draw close to Him…to have a listening ear for Him? Is He testing our hearts? Will we remain steadfast in studying the word of God? We will go to midweek studies? Will we study God’s word…only when it’s convenient? Or will we put in that extra push? Will we be committed to one another? Will we be divisive and back biting or grateful and committed?

I guess it’s a fine line to walk. There may be a time to speak up and share concerns with the Elders. There may also a time humble myself under their leadership…because I know of their commitment to finding God’s man. To trust God’s call on their lives as our leaders. Ultimately to trust God and His sovereignty and leadership during this time of transition.

In the mean time…I am grateful for God’s care and provision for our church. I must say…I’m prejudice…because I love the teaching of some of the men from Kindred…be it Dave Dunn…my favorite Bible study teacher…or Jack Grogger and Joe Rispoli godly leaders who work with the youth of our church. No matter if it’s one of our homegrown men…or a visiting Pastor…Kindred’s pulpit has never been empty.

Perhaps it’s also a reminder that we as body of Christ need to be praying for the man who will be teaching us from God’s word that week. Knowing that He is able to equip them each week. Knowing that God is also at work in their lives. They may just be passing through for a week or two…and we have a chance to show them the love of Christ.

Not only does God call us to be united, not divided. But He also counsels us that the most important thing is love.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13

So to answer my opening question…when and where does a valid concern become a critical spirit? I think that when I stop walking in love. When I make it about me…and not about God. When I’m walking in pride…not walking humbly with my God. When I fail to be grateful for God’s provisions.

A fine line to walk…but I know of One who will walk it with me. All praise, honor and glory be to Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen!

Now if I may be so bold…if I could ask any Christians reading this post to lift up Kindred Community Church and say a prayer for our church that God in His perfect timing will raise up the man of God whom He has called. That we will have ears to hear…and a heart to obey God each step of the way. Thank you so much for your much coveted prayers for my beloved church.