Pray and Let God Worry

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? —Matthew 6:27

When I was younger we used to have a little bird feeder on our back porch. It was my job to keep it filled with birdseed every day. Each night I would fill the feeder and in the morning the birds knew breakfast would be there. They would cruise in and eat the seed, or they would get the seeds off the ground or the vegetation. I loved watching them come and I was reminded of Jesus words.

Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount in the region of Galilee, where all around Him were birds chirping away and beautiful wildflowers growing. He drew on that backdrop to make a point: “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:26–27 NLT).

In other words, look at what is before your eyes. Have you ever seen a stressed-out bird? Birds wake up every morning and sing away. They’re simply happy. No bird has ever been promised eternal life. No bird has ever been given the hope of Heaven. Yet they sing away, every day. Jesus wasn’t saying that birds sit by idly and wait for the food to come to them. They take action.

I like what Martin Luther said: “Pray and let God worry.” That is really the secret. Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (nlt).

The next time you are gripped by fear and worry, the next time you start thinking, “What if this happens? What if that happens?” turn it into a prayer. Look to the Lord and let Him give you His peace. Let God do the heavy lifting when it comes to your worries.

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

The Secret to a Worry-Free Life

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. —Matthew 6:33

There are many things you can seek to live for in life. You can live for a lot of things. You can live for your physical appearance. You can live for a successful career. You can live for pleasure. But here is what Jesus said: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT).

With those words, Jesus gave us the secret to living a worry-free life: Instead of worry, put God and His will first in your life. Among a number of options, put God in the number one position.

Let’s take your career for example. Is your career choice, your line of work, really for God’s glory? Are you seeking Him first in what you’re doing?

You might say, “Rob, you’re a pastor. It’s easy for you to seek God first. I work in the real world with real people.”

I understand. But here is what your goal should be: to honor God in everything you do. Here is what you need to ask yourself: “As I’m doing this thing, what is my goal?” If your goal is just to make money no matter what it takes, you have the wrong goal. Your goal should be to honor God, give honest work, and have personal integrity and a good testimony in the workplace.

When the day is done, you want to have a good name and a good reputation. Proverbs 22:1 says, “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold” (NLT).

Seek first the kingdom of God. If you want a life free of worry, anxiety, and fear, then put God’s kingdom before everything else. Seek Him first, and He will take care of you.

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Amongst Wolves and Lambs

2 Kings 5:1-14, Galatians 6:1-16 and Luke 10:1-20

It’s July 4th and I write about worship on July 7th. We as a nation of colonists, immigrants, settlers, and natives, can look back and say, “This or that stretch of nation making must have been rough!” Wolves at every turn ready to devour our stated values in Constitution and Declaration. Wars and rumors of wars. A Great Depression and a Great Society trying to make room for a very diverse population.

Our Bible verses reveal the challenges that the church, on behalf of the Kingdom, finds itself up against time and again: going up and out against resistance! Prophets like Elisha we face opponents that we either offer something to “help” or we enter into conflict with. “Do I help Naaman or do I watch the people fight Naaman?” Paul in Galatia resists those who would compromise the Good News. And Jesus sends his Seventy out as though they are Lambs amongst wolves. The Kingdom proclaimed and acted upon is worth the risk.

Whether nation or church, challenges arise, whether prophets or Lambs, we are expected to go forth with a message from the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings. Being a nation of great aspirations or being a church with mission is just not an easy calling. But we’ve been there before! We can do it again…..with God’s help, with God’s Kingdom just over the horizon, just a bit further past the wilderness.

May you be blessed in the challenges!

Pastor Barry

Freedom is a Choice

Choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD…. Joshua 24:15

In America, every year July 4th brings with it festivities, fun, food, family and friends, and fireworks—all as a celebration of national freedom. But even with all the celebrating and fun, many Americans are still caught in the web of bondage on a mental, emotional, relational, financial, vocational or spiritual level. Most often, we ourselves create the chains that bind us by making poor or sinful choices.

The longer I live, the more convinced I am that life is a series of choices, each choice has a consequence, and we must live with the consequences of our choices. In order to have true freedom in your life, then, you must make wise choices.

Will you choose good over evil (Psalm 34:14; Romans 12:21)? Obedience over rebellion (Proverbs 10:8; Hebrews 13:17)? Truth over deceit (Colossians 3:9; Proverbs 12:22)? Kindness over dishonor (Ephesians 4:32; Proverbs 14:2)? Every day you make hundreds of choices and these form the basis for your lifestyle.

Seek God’s wisdom in all of your decisions, not the wisdom of the world, the flesh or the devil (James 3:17). Take the sometimes difficult step of saying, “I’ll do it God’s way!” even though it may mean avoiding the easy road. In the long run, the freedom that comes with making godly choices is definitely something to celebrate!

Lord, we lift to You our praise and adoration for the blessings You give us each day as we choose to walk Your way.
I hope each of you have a happy and safe 4th of July!

Chaplain Rob

The Path to Personal Peace

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! —Isaiah 26:3

If you want to overcome fear and worry, then you need right thinking. In other words, think about what you think about.

We’re told in Philippians 4:8, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT). If you want personal peace, this is where it begins.

Why is the mind important? It’s command central. With our minds we reach to the past through memories, and we reach to the future through imagination. We need to learn how to think properly and biblically. As 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” (NLT).

The next time you’re troubled, you might try talking to yourself. We need to tell ourselves to think biblically, because it doesn’t always come naturally. For example, we see the writer’s despair in Psalm 42: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” But then the writer continues, “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” (verses 5–6 NLT).

Many of the Psalms are songs and prayers. They are honest. And as we read some of them, we may think, “I dare not pray that.” But go ahead and pray that. Go ahead and say, “Lord, I am hurting right now. . . . I’m in pain right now. . . . I don’t understand this right now. . . . I’m struggling with this right now.”

The next time you’re feeling down, the next time you think, “I don’t know how I’m going to get through this situation,” quote the Bible to yourself. Remind yourself of the truth of God’s Word. That is what it means to think biblically.

May God bless you today!

Chaplain Rob

Freedom From or Freedom For?

II Kings 2:1-14, Galatians 5:1, 13-25 and Luke 9:51-62

Freedom is “as American as motherhood and apple pie” goes the familiar slogan. Freedom gets a lot of press around July 4th and rightly so. The USA came about only as the colonists said “no more” to British rule. It was such a serious matter that Patrick Henry could make such a memorable statement as “give me liberty or give me death!”

From the American Revolution we have a sense that freedom is a supreme value. We should not overlook the value of freedom in our Scriptures from the Hebrews freedom from the oppressive Egyptian Pharaoh to Paul’s call to be set free in Christ.

But, we ask, “freedom from something or freedom for something?” The Bible says both. This Sunday we will celebrate and explore what Elisha, Paul and Jesus would have us hear about “freedom from and freedom for.” Don’t be surprised if freedom somehow has to do with following someone! The questions might be about “who, to where, for what?!”

See you this last Sunday before July 4th!

Pastor Barry

After the Storm, the Demons, the Law

I Kings 19:1-15a, Galatians 3:23-29 and Luke 8:26-39

I believe I would have left town as did Elijah! The queen Jezebel has made a definite threat on his life. Whatever power a prophet feels in his heart was not at play in this case! Time to flee not a time to fight! By the time Elijah has finished his time on the run, he is faced with another challenge only this time it is a question from God!

Most of us come to God during a stormy stretch in our life seeking a word of comfort or strength. What we often get from God is a question not so much an answer.

Paul receives the same when on the road to Damascus God challenges him with a question also. In the Galatians text Paul is responding to the questions he finally asks as a faithful law keeping Pharisee. And in our other text Jesus enters into both question and answers with the demons within a possessed man.

These are exciting scriptures we have before us this Sunday. And more questions, it seems, are raised rather than easy answers. But the questions, I think, are profound and invigorating to faith as much as a bold direct answer can be.

Whatever the storm, whatever the challenge, whatever the urgent change in our lives, God is making a way for us. Often the way forward is simply asking more questions. Then the surprise is we move ahead anyway even without all the answers!

The challenges and storms will come.

Keep asking~~~

Pastor Barry

God Will Guide Us

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. – Psalm 37:23-24

We’ve all watched a mom walking with her toddler, holding his hand. Suddenly something catches the little guy’s attention, and he pulls his hand away. More often than not, he quickly gets into something he shouldn’t. He might even stumble and land flat on his face—something that would never happen if his mom had his hand.

What a great picture of the way we are with God. He seeks to hold our hand and guide us, but we are stubbornly determined to go off on our own. Instead of letting our loving Father direct our steps, we toddle off and get ourselves into trouble.

The other part of this passage that is special is the fact that God delights “in every detail” of our lives. It’s like the loving grandfather who listens to his little grandchild prattle on about something that happened to her. He may know all about it, but he still enjoys listening. Why? Because she’s his and he loves her dearly.

Ask Yourself
Describe some times when you pull your hand away from God. What typically diverts your attention?

As a child, did you know anyone who delighted in every detail of your life? How does this affect your ability to experience God’s love?

Ask God
Lord, it’s hard for me to believe you are interested in the details of my life, let alone that you delight in them. Help me to understand that and to spend more time talking with you about everything. And remind me always that my life goes better when I keep my hand in yours.

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Do Something Different

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. – Matthew 16:25

In this Matthew passage, Jesus expresses a profound truth as a paradox—a seemingly self-contradictory statement that proves true upon further examination. Jesus is saying that if we hold too tightly to something, we will lose it.

We are all too familiar with the paradox that sometimes the harder we try to change our lives, the more stubbornly they refuse to change. In such situations, instead of just trying harder, we must be willing to try something different.

This doesn’t mean giving up. It just means trying a new tactic—maybe even doing the opposite of what we’ve been doing.

Try that the next time you encounter a familiar but uncomfortable situation. Instead of reacting the usual way—lashing out, clamming up, or pretending to be all right with something when you’re not—try to take a mental step back. Take a deep breath. Say a little prayer. Then deliberately do something different. Walk away. Speak up. Say no.

Try it just this once. For a change.

Ask Yourself
Is there a stubborn issue in your life that seems to resist every effort at changing? Brainstorm some different tactics for responding to this issue.

What internal arguments hold you back from trying something new in response to a painful stimulus?

Ask God
Lord, I need you so much in this process of breaking free from reactive patterns in my life. Help me loosen my grip on old habits and trust you enough to try something completely different. Help me better understand why I do what I do, and deliver me from my reactive lifestyle.

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Wisdom, Suffering, and The Trinity

Proverbs 8:1-4; 22-31, Romans 5:1-5 and John 16:12-15

Religion in the broadest sense tends to offer wisdom on many matters. And no religion can avoid deep questions about suffering. In Christian Faith we have the revelation of God as Trinity—-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A Trinitarian idea of God has to include some notion of suffering since Jesus ,God the Son, suffers and dies!

And what better Sunday to address this head on than Father’s Day and Trinity Sunday both arriving on June 16. Our message will say something “wise” about fatherhood both earthy and heavenly. And suffering too will be explored especially as we read Romans 5:1-5 as the end result of suffering produces a number of virtues, e.g. endurance and character, which can often be seen in the experience of parenthood!

From our parents and families we first receive an awareness of what it is to be “wise” and to endure suffering. The Bible takes this quite seriously and places it before us when scripture “talks” about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in relationship and in impacting us in our journey from birth to death.

So, come this Sunday with thoughts of those who have behaved wisely. Come with thoughts and memories of fathers and their kind. Come seeking wisdom and ways to help endure the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune!”

Come to worship. And in doing so…..find some wisdom for your week!

Pastor Barry