Learning Season – Worry and Pride

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Two months, actually. That is for a number of reasons: It’s been a fairly busy time. Wedding season, family life, and church kept us hopping. Also, for 5 weeks I was on undergoing chemo and radiation, which takes a bit of a toll; and lastly, because it’s really been hard to put words to what has been going on in my head and heart.  Numerous times I wanted to sit down and write, but the words just weren’t there.

I don’t know if I have them now, but it is time I at least try.

The next step is surgery – on this Thursday 27 August. I’m a bit nervous about it if I’m being honest.  But I know I am in very good and capable hands.

So a few people have asked me what I’m learning through all of this.  It’s a good question. The next few days I’ll address some of what I’m learning here on the blog.

Firstly, I’ve realized how worry is a plague.  When I worry, I make myself weaker.  Worry makes God smaller, not in reality, but in my own mind. It’s as if He doesn’t know, he can’t help, and it’s all up to us to figure it out.  But the great thing is, we aren’t left to ourselves. We have a Great Help in time of trouble (Psalm 46).  Corrie Ten Boom once said, “worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of it’s strength.”  I think she’s right.

When I found myself faced with a crisis I began instantly worrying about my family and my career and what was going to happen. I found myself doing things my own way before praying about it at all. The worry indicated that God wasn’t as great in me as I thought.  I see what John the Baptist was getting at when he said, “He must become greater, I must become less” (John 3:11).

There was a reason Jesus told us not to worry (Matt 6:34). Maybe it’s because when we worry we put more stock in what’s happening in the moment than in who God is and what He has done not only in our lives, but throughout history. God has done a lot.  I would do good to remember it more often.

The second thing I’m learning: when I found out I had cancer, I realized I was sick.  I needed help.  But in reality I was sick and needed help all along. I believe all of us do, to a certain extent. Augustine and Aquinas both taught that pride is the root of all sin. And like any weed, it needs to be struck at the root. My prayer is that through all of this I would be purged of the sin that so easily entangles.

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There is nothing more counter-Christian, nothing more contradictory to the message of Jesus, than pride and selfishness.  Because like cancer, if left unattended, it will squeeze any true life and hope right out of you. The Bible constantly warns against the insidious sin of Pride.  In Proverbs it says that God actually hates it (Prov 8), it’s the opposite of love (1 Cor 13), and James states that God is actually against or opposes the proud (James 4:6).  There are so many more passages I could cite, but the point is clear. Pride is the absolute worst, or as CS Lewis says, “the utmost evil.”

That’s why Jesus came so hard against the pharisees.  They lived and walked in pride. They saw themselves as better-than-thou.  Holier-than-thou.  Their pride blinded them to the truth – that they were just as in need of God’s presence and grace as the next person.

The truth is, I’m not better than anyone else.  And I certainly can’t do this on my own.  I am a sinner saved by the surpassing Grace of God and I constantly needs His mercy.

I love this line in Donne’s poem “Hymn to God, my God, in my Sickness,”

Christ’s Cross and Adam’s tree, stood in one place;

Look Lord, and find both Adams met in me;

As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face, 

May the last Adam’s blood my soul embrace.

We are constantly fighting the consequences of the first Adam (sin). But maybe instead of fighting it, we should choose to continually embrace the work of the second Adam (Jesus) – salvation, redemption, the presence of God in our lives.

Tomorrow I’ll share about how I’m learning to pray.

What I’m Listening to Lately

My favorite worship band. Mary had this song playing the other day and it really struck me. “Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender…”

Here is another from the same group…



The Fight for Joy

Eleven friends of mine from The Mix at First Alliance embarked on a weekend in the Smoky Mountains a couple weekends ago. Of course, like any good retreat, we had a theme: Life, Liberty, and the Fight for Joy.

Here are a few reflections on the subject…

Our beloved Declaration of Independence states that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I’m wholeheartedly behind that. The thing is, the Bible doesn’t have much to say about our personal happiness. But it does seem to say some pretty strong things about the importance of Joy in our lives (Phil 4:4, 1 Thess 5:16; Luke 12).

The truth is that Joy is a fight, a choice. The world, and the Enemy who roams it, does their very best to bring us down, to make us worry, to cause us to be riddled with anxiety. Our enemy wants nothing more than to have us dwell in the misery, negativity, and the “what-ifs” of the sad and broken world rather than the reality of life, joy, and redemption that God has given us through his Son Jesus.

That’s how James can tell us to consider it joy when you face trials, or how Paul can tell us in Romans to rejoice in our suffering.  It’s because our Joy comes not from what is happening now, but what has already happened – life and Salvation through Jesus.

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Perhaps the Bible, from the Psalms to the Epistles, talks so seriously about Joy because that it is what truly sets Christians apart from the rest of the world. It’s how people take notice that there is something different going on in our hearts something bigger in our lives than just our physical circumstances. We are anchored in whose we are rather than what is happening.

In essence, our joy is a direct result of the love in our heart given to us by a God who is infinitely loving, powerful, and totally in control.

So when the inevitable difficult life situations arise, may we walk it out in faith believing that the Joy of the Lord is our greatest strength (Neh 8:10).