God understands what fear and anxiety does to us, but he has so much more that he wants for us. That’s why he tells us over 100 times in the Bible “do not fear” or “do not be anxious.” Just as God knows what anxiety does to us, we have an enemy who studies our weaknesses and seeks to use them against us. Fear and anxiety are tools of the enemy.
John 9 tells of Jesus’ encounter with a man who was blind from birth. Jesus mixes his own saliva with some dirt and spreads the muddy mixture on the man’s eyes. He instructs him to go wash in a pool and the man miraculously goes home seeing. Having been trapped in darkness his entire life, Jesus grants him sight while proclaiming, “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).
Waves sweep dangerously over the bow of their boat as the disciples straining at the oars to keep afloat. Stormy winds rage all around them. Jesus, who stayed ashore to pray on a mountainside, sees their struggle from afar and walks across the swirling waves to be with them in their struggle.
As we’ve experienced in the past few weeks, life can be wildly unpredictable. It seems that our world turned upside down in a matter of days as the coronavirus spread across the globe. How do we find peace in the midst of such turbulence and uncertainty? Horatio Spafford was no stranger to life’s unexpected challenges. As a successful Chicago lawyer, Horatio started a family with his wife Anna. They had five children.
Spoken by two of Jesus’ disciples as they departed from Jerusalem after Jesus’ crucifixion, these dejected words reveal their hopelessness. Instead of rescuing Israel from Roman’s iron grip, Jesus had died shamefully at their hands. And so the hope that they had pinned on Jesus seemed completely lost.
“I have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things!” protests Bilbo Baggins when an uninvited and rather odd wizard appears at his doorstep one fine morning. As the main character of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Bilbo, like most hobbits, views adventures as unwanted nuisances and disruptions to his comfortable and rather sedentary lifestyle.
“I wonder how long God wants us to stay here.” These words tumbled out of my mouth while walking with my wife around the neighborhood where we had moved to just a few years earlier. Even now, more than 15 years later, I still remember the quizzical look she gave me.
After moving to a new town a few years earlier, we had settled in. We had a close community of friends, a church we loved, and good jobs that we enjoyed. We even bought our first place and poured hours into fixing it up. Why would we move again?
Imagine waking up. But rather than your typical experience of slowly opening your eyes as you gradually wake up, imagine that you are jarred awake suddenly.
You sense a queasiness in your stomach as you realize that your bed is swaying. Disoriented, you realize that books and pictures are unexpectedly falling from shelves. You hear glass shattering and a low, unrecognizable rumble, but you can’t quite identify the source. As a racing heartbeat quickly replaces the fog of sleep, you realize that you are in the midst of an earthquake.
On New Year’s Day, I started a new tradition with our family. We all gathered on the couch and reviewed our past five years by looking through the annual calendars my wife creates each year. Each calendar features personal photos that we had taken from the previous year. We had fun seeing how much our kids had changed and grown over the past five years. Of course, there were the standard family photos from holiday gatherings and pictures from our kids’ school and sporting events.
I want to make December a magical month for my family, but also instill new traditions that will remind others of God’s love this season. I want my boys to lift their eyes out of the toy catalogs long enough to notice others in our village that we couldn’t do life without. I want our family to actively seek the ones in our community that serve us each week of the year and bless them this Christmas!
November is my favorite month, with my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. We find ourselves repeatedly taking life for granted. What a great time to slow down as families and ponder what we are grateful for this year.
Fall is my favorite (said with the same enthusiasm as Buddy the Elf when he is talking about Christmas)! My love for fall runs deep with cooler temperatures, stunning colors in nature, football season, and all my favorite foods.
Several years ago there was a video on social media of a man getting all dressed up for a date. He was talking to a buddy about how excited he was for the date and how special this girl was to him. Despite the excitement he was a little nervous, you could see it in his face as he took several deep breaths and straightened his tie in the mirror and as his hands were shaking as he reached up to ring the doorbell.
Think about the last time you sat down and played a game. Has it been in the last month? Last year? Two years? Maybe not even since you were a child? There seems to be a correlation between the rise of technology and the decline of games. I don’t mean the games on all our devices…but I’m talking about board games, card games, and with-other-people games.
As a kid, we never went camping but we went fishing all the time. I had never slept in a tent, cooked meals on a camping stove, or tried to brave the elements in nature in such a way . . . fast forward a few years and my love for the outdoors has increased even more than when I was younger and now . . .
What if Jesus meant that we should love our actual neighbors? In Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV) Jesus says, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Whether it’s story time at the library, listening to audiobooks on road trips, or even podcasts for me, we love to be told a story. It’s how family legacies and victories were shared for thousands of years. In today’s culture, we are faced with the need to be efficient in every moment of every day.
For a hopeful couple, some of the hardest words to hear are “You can’t have a baby.” In a moment, the future they’d hoped for of raising a family of their own flesh and blood dissolves. The possibility that comes along with not knowing is ripped from their hands. And it hurts. This news becomes a loss that must be grieved. And, as with any grieving process, this will look different for each individual and each couple.
Some seasons feel like they lack rhythm. In the often dizzying pace of work, school, weekend plans, after-school clubs, sports, church activities, birthday parties, dinner plans … it’s hard to find good solid time to really stop and talk with your children about the important things in life.
Walking with Jesus is “Marching to a different drum!” My husband Tim and I chose that drum beat as first-generation Christians. We both had great values & morals displayed in our families, such as great love, generosity, and more, but we both sensed something was missing.
Family is one of the most important parts of a person’s life. There are nuclear families, extended families, close families, and distant families. And then there are the members of our family who aren’t related to us by blood at all—close friends, parent’s friends, and the people we share life with on a regular basis.