Praying Fervently

What does it mean to pray fervently? Elijah, the prophet, prayed this way and it didn’t rain for 3 1/2 years. Judgment was being exacted on Ahab.

James 5:17-18

17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Remember Elijah would eventually be fed by ravens and drink from a creek as the Lord provided food and water.

File:Washington Allston - Elijah in the Desert - Google Art Project.jpg

Imagine being fed by birds. We get tired of eating out. Do you want Wendy’s or Arby’s or Hardee’s?

Yet, Elijah prayed and he prayed fervently. What does that word “fervently” mean?

Well, blueletterbible.org says this:

Here’s the Greek word for “fervently” (a.k.a. “earnestly”): proseuchē

Here’s the definition:

  1. prayer addressed to God
  2. a place set apart or suited for the offering of prayer
  3. a synagogue

  4. a place in the open air where the Jews were wont to pray, outside the cities, where they had no synagogue
    1. such places were situated upon the bank of a stream or the shore of a sea, where there was a supply of water for washing the hands before prayer

Okay, are you scratching your head? Where’s the definition of “fervently?” I’ve always been told it means, “white-hot,” like heating up iron in fire and it turns “white-hot.” But, that’s the definition of the Greek word: proseuchē.

The simple definition is: “a prayer addressed to God.”

Can I ask you a question or two? Do you think it impresses God that you clench your fists and bite your bottom lip to the point of making your lip bleed when you pray? Do you think it moves the hand of God because you pray so hard that it causes wrinkles on your forehead where your brow is furrowed in prayer? Do you think God is obligated to answer our prayers only if we offer prayers on our faces with our noses to the ground? After all, praying a prayer in a chair can’t be as “fervent” as a prayer on our face.

I don’t believe “fervently” means any of that. It certainly doesn’t in what I’m reading and seeing in the Greek dictionary. It simply says: pray.

Just talk to the Father folks. Talk to Him. Tell Him your needs. Tell Him your concerns.

Have you ever heard the old song: “Have a Little Talk with Jesus”?

I love the third verse and chorus:

Third Verse:

I may have doubts and fears, my eyes be filled with tears
But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night
I go to Him in prayer, He knows my every care
And just a little talk with Jesus makes it right

Chorus:

Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry
He will answer by and by
Now when you feel a little prayer wheel turning
And you know a little fire is burning
You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right

Am I saying NOT to pray “hard?” No? There are times when we pray “harder” than others. Because of worry or fear or stress…yes…we might pray “harder” or with more intensity. Jesus told the parable of the widow who came to the judge over and over again asking and he finally relented. Yes, we should come to the Lord, our Heavenly Father and ask. But, remember something very important:

He’s your Heavenly Father.

He knows what you need. He’s knows what is best. Just talk to Him. Trust Him. Rest in Him. Rely on Him. He’s not a vending machine doling out answers to prayers. He’s your Father.

I pray you will be comforted today in knowing that your Heavenly Father loves you and cares more deeply about you than you could ever fathom. Even now…just breath a proseuchē to Him.

Blessings to you on a beautiful spring day!

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Is Time Stealing the Power of the Gospel in Your Life?

The excitement of newness… It is an amazing thing. A new car, house, job, promotion, relationship, book, or toy. They all have the ability to make us feel so excited… at least temporarily. Eventually the excitement wears off, the newness of it becomes “old”, and it becomes… normal. The new car, well it just becomes another way to get from point A to point B after about a year or so. The new job, it can become the “everyday mundane”. The new “special” relationship can start to feel “ordinary” after days, months, or years.

For whatever reason, this seems to be human nature. And, our relationship with Christ is not immune to this “nature” either. However, out of all of these things, it alone is most pressing for us to break this habit.

God knows our nature, and God knows the heart of every man. He recognizes our tendency to forget and become apathetic. He saw the same tendencies in the heart of the Israelites…

Joshua 4: 19-24

19Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho. 20Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23“For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; 24that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

You see how God urged the Israelites to remember what He had done for them at that River? Not just there, but in Egypt, in the wilderness, the countless battles, and how he provided for them and protected them every step of their journey into the Promised Land. He knew that remembering Him would prove pivotal for them in the years ahead when temptation came to follow after idols.

See, God knows how prone we too are to forget Him, and the love we once had for our Savior, Jesus.

As time moves along, apathy becomes a great temptation. This is why God urged the Israelites set up these stones. That they could serve as a memorial of the work God did for them that day. That it could serve as a way to teach their children, their grandchildren, and more the great works of their God.

Of all the Christians I come into contact with, a great deal made a profession of faith when they were very young. This is a wonderful thing in a way, but on the flipside, there is a tendency to become somewhat apathetic towards the Gospel. The good news becomes, well, “old news”. The excitement of God wears off as they increase in age, the message of the Gospel becomes like the newspaper, and the teachings of scripture begin to lose power in their life.

For some, time has taken its toll. At one point there was the newness, the excitement, and the emotion. But, once the emotions faded, the so called “commitment” did too.

For others, down deep there is still a love for God and a commitment to Him, but there is a bit of “staleness” as well. A great deal of familiarity has settled, and now it’s all about going through the “Christian routine”.

Yet, this is not the only group that struggles with apathy as time moves along. As I said, it is almost human nature to allow the extraordinary become the ordinary over time. It’s difficult to sustain the excitement of that newness. Yet, we see in Scripture that The Cross should never become old news to us.

I became a follower of Christ when I was 18. I vividly remember the deep conviction, the overwhelming excitement, the sincere emotions, the heartfelt love for my Savior. With time there have been struggles with apathy in my walk with God. Some of this is human nature as I said. The important thing to remember about this is that our walk with God will never be sustained by our emotions, but by our commitment to serve Him, follow Him, and love Him no matter what. And also on His ability to strengthen us to do that, along with His grace to cover us when we fail miserably to do so. Commitment to God is a covenant that is independent of our feelings, or emotions. Yet, our relationship with God is dependent upon our heart towards Him

We all recognize the danger of apathy. We all see that it may be “human nature”, but it still isn’t excusable. Why? Well we know that God deserves more, we know that our tendency to become distracted by the world is much to blame for our inclination to become “familiar” with the message of the Gospel, and we also know that it is God’s desire for us to grow constantly in our love for Him. He doesn’t desire for His sacrifice to become “ordinary”, familiar, or old news.

We also see in the passage above, that He called the Israelites to remember Him, to tell of His great works, and to set up a memorial in their community that would serve as a symbol of what He had accomplished.

God wanted them to throw off the familiarity. He knew that over time there would be distractions, that the excitement of God enabling them to cross this massive river would wear off, and that there would be temptation to serve idols that had not done anything for them.

God desires the same thing for us today. That we remember His work of Salvation, and the great love and sacrifice it commanded of His Son. That we remember the life He has rescued us from, that we recall the miraculous works He has accomplished in our lives.

As I have been participating in the Passion Play over the past couple of months, God seems to have been speaking to me a great deal about this teaching. For me, I sometimes forget the privilege it is to serve such a great and loving Father and Savior. I’ll be honest… There are times I battle stress, selfishness, and apathy as it relates to the work God calls me to do for Him.

Yet, as I watch Kelly Nichols hang on that cross, while it is just an imitation of what Christ really did, I see Jesus and the great things He has done in my life. Where He has brought me from, and where He is leading me to. In those times the stress, the familiarity, the ho-hum attitude, the routine, the apathy. It begins to fade away as I remember all that Christ did for me.

So much of this battle can be won by simply remembering what God has done in our lives, and sharing those things with those that we love. I’ve always thought that one of the best ways for parents to present the need for a Savior, and the greatness of God, to their children is to simply share with them what God has done, and is continuing to do in their own lives.

Don’t be afraid to tell others where He has brought you from, the Egypt He has freed you from, the Jordan River’s He has enabled you to cross, and the Promised Land He is bringing you into.

Remember today how truly marvelous is the work of your Salvation, and how privileged we are to be called Sons and Daughters of the King of kings, the Lord of lord’s, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.

By doing this we shake off the familiarity, the apathy, and the temptation to allow time to rob us of our commitment to God.

-Caleb

Healing Misconceptions

I have been looking forward to writing about this passage since I saw it was coming up this week. It’s about healing. Let’s read this famous passage and then perhaps discuss some misconceptions about the passage and healing.

James 5:14-16

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James has been talking about suffering. He just said in verse 13 as much:

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

Now James asks… “Is anyone among you sick?” Sick with what? The Scripture seems to be speaking of being sick in suffering in some way. A “weakened” state. I really believe James is reverting all the way back to verse 2 of chapter 1 when he said this:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

So, let’s say you are sick. You could have a disease or an illness or even be weakened spiritually and you want help. James says this…

Let him call for the elders of the church,

Okay…now this is important. The Bible says let “him call…” That means the “sick person” asks the elders to anoint them. I have family members of the sick coming to me all the time asking me to anoint their family members. I can’t do that. Why? Because the Bible says that the person who is sick has to ask. That’s the Scriptural principle. Secondly, the Bible says to call the “elders.” Who are the “elders?” Well, they are NOT the Deacons. Do you see that these are two different offices in the church. But, because our churches usually only have one elder (pastor), they (the pastor) pull in the Deacons to help him in anointing the sick. Yet, this is not Scriptural either.

You might say, “You are splitting hairs, Kevin.” I don’t mean to imply that…yet, I’m just following Scripture as it’s laid out for us. The Elders are the “pastors or overseers” of the church. That’s very simply indicated here. So, only the Elders (pastors) should be doing the anointing. I’ve gotten this wrong for many years…but, within the past year, I haven’t. I’m seeking to follow the Scriptures. There is such a need for a plurality (more than one) elders in our churches.

Next, we are to anoint with oil in the name of the Lord. What kind of oil? It doesn’t say. Any oil will do in my mind. It’s symbolic. The oil doesn’t heal. What heals?

God does the healing as the prayer of faith is offered up in the Lord’s name…

15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

It’s the prayer of the elders…the faith of the elders that is offered in faith. It’s the faith of the elders that is being emphasized here (not the faith or prayer of the one who is sick). James mentions no requirement of the sick’s person to have the faith that will heal himself/herself. It’s the prayer/faith of the elders. Verse 15 reminds me of the work of Jesus. How many times did He invite people to trust and follow Him and then He healed them.

Please understand, James is not teaching that all illness will be healed if people would simply call on the elders, or try to make themselves have enough faith, or pray with enough conviction and fervor. Healing, when it comes, is always a gift from our Heavenly Father, who is sovereignly in control of all things…which includes sickness and health.

Some “sick” people have told me through the years… “Yes, I was anointed, but I guess I didn’t have enough faith, because I still have cancer (or remain sick in some way).” Folks, that’s not right. That’s not Scriptural. It’s the faith and prayers of the elders that are in view here.

But, what if the person is not healed? Did the elders fail?

I don’t think so. It’s possible I suppose. But, God’s will is going to be done folks. It’s that simple. He has a perfect, sovereign will and if it’s not in that will to heal, then He won’t. Here’s the truth. We don’t know if it’s God’s will to heal or not, so that’s why we pray. We have not because we ask not…so, we ask and leave the rest to our All-powerful, All-knowing, All-loving, Heavenly Father.

Last thought…

Confession of sin…

…And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:15b-16

If who has committed sins? The one who is sick. See that in the last part of verse 15? Did you know some people were sick because they had committed sins? Yes, they were. James said, “Therefore, confess your sins…” Paul speaks clearly to the Corinthian church that some were even dying because of partaking in the Lord’s Supper (Communion) without properly confessing their sins (1 Corinthians 11:29-30).

Confession is good for the soul. James encourages us to confess our sins to one another that we may be healed. And he concludes…

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16b

I hope this helps us to see a bit more clearly what the Bible teaches about healing and perhaps some common misconceptions have been dispelled.

Blessings to you all!

 

 

Suffering and Prayer-Cheerful and Singing

This is a fantastic verse…

James 5:13

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

Are you suffering today?

Pray

Are you cheerful today?

Sing

Man, that’s so simple isn’t it? But, boy is it hard to do.

When I’m suffering, I want to moan and groan. I sure do feel like praying. Honestly, sometimes I’m frustrated with God’s plan in my suffering. Why Lord? I don’t feel like praying. I just want the suffering to end and that’s where the impatience (we talked about patience last week…and how I don’t have much) comes into play. Yet, James encourages us to pray.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.

I love Psalm 27…

Here’s a selection of several verses from that Psalm which shows David praying in his suffering…

1The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
    be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”…

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

That’s so encouraging to me! Resting in the Lord is what I see David doing there. He’s trusting in God not his circumstances.

What are your circumstances this morning? Are they NOT GOOD? Are you worried? Fearful? Suffering?

Paul told the Philippians in chapter 4:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Perhaps you are cheerful this morning! Well sing dear one! Sing!! Rejoice! Why? Because you will like be suffering again soon! Isn’t that a sobering thought? But, you know it’s true! We don’t live in seasons of cheer all the time do we? So, when they come… Praise God and SING!!! Rejoice for the season of blessing and comfort, respite and peace!

James 5:13b

…Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

The natural response to a joyful heart is to sing praise to the Lord… Again…another Psalm…

Psalm 100

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Are you suffering? Pray…

Are you cheerful? Sing…

Either way…praying and singing are always good things to do to praise and honor our Sovereign, loving Heavenly Father. 🙂

 

Keeping Your Word

When you tell someone you’ll be there by 5:30 pm are you there by 5:30 pm or 5:35 pm? When you tell someone, “I’ll get right on that.” Do you get “right on that” or wait? When your child asks you, “Dad, will you go outside and play with us?” and you say, “Yes, in a few minutes,” do you follow through?

It’s really is to “say” we are going to do something and quite another to actually follow through on that commitment. I’ve been guilty of that many, many times. I remember one time in particular, rather recently, that I committed to study and learn Greek. My desire was there, but not my brain. I didn’t consider well enough all that I had going on in my life, my family and my responsibilities of church. Nonetheless, I did not keep my word. I said that I would do something and I didn’t follow through. Therefore, there is the possibility and likelihood of lost integrity and trust.

James has been imploring his readers to be strong and patient (like Job) and not to grumble and then we see this little verse. It seems almost out-of-place at first glance.

James 5:12

12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

ABOVE ALL! That’s a strong couplet of words isn’t it? Above all… After all that he’s been saying about the tongue, partiality, wisdom, etc., etc., he says, “Above all…” What could be above all of that?

Our word…

Let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no.

Our word is our bond. Back in the old days, if you told a man you were going to do something, you would shake hands on it and it was a done deal.

handshake

Today we need lawyers, courtrooms, judges and contracts to make sure we do what we say.

Let’s just be honest. Let’s ask the hard question:

Can you be trusted?

That’s the bottom line.

If you tell someone you are going to show up at a designated place at a designated time. What do they think?

“Yeah right! She’s always late. Forget that!”

There are people I know and love very much that I sincerely and honestly think those thoughts when they tell me they are going to do something. I think, “Yeah…they’ll eventually getting around to doing it…but, it won’t be on time. I’ll have to ask them about it again.” That drives me crazy! I really want to be and try to be a man of my word. I want you to be able to count on me. I want you to be able to trust what I say. I want you to be able to be confident in my word. After all, doesn’t that say something about our faith and trust in Christ?

Our word and what we say provides the most revealing glimpse of our spiritual condition. James was condemning the practice of swearing false, evasive, deceptive oaths by everything other than the name of the Lord (which alone should be considered binding). He was echoing his half-brother’s (Jesus’) words when he said, “Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no.”

Friends, we are to be straightforward, honest and totally reliable in our speech and what we say as Christians. To be otherwise is to invite God’s judgment upon us… (…so that you may not fall under condemnation.)

So, think about what you say before you say it. If you tell someone something and make a commitment…then keep it. Let your word be your bond. Don’t over-commit.

I used to tell my sales guys, “Men, it’s better to under-promise and over-delivery than to over-promise and under-deliver.” The same is true for us a followers and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The Patience of Job

“He/She’s got the patience of Job.”

Ever heard that phrase? I have many times. Yet, I’m not sure it’s ever been said about me. That’s hard to admit. Yet, as I’ve said many times, I’m not very patient. I don’t like waiting on anything…particularly if it’s something I’m asking the Lord to do. Can I admit to you that there are times in my life that I’ve treated the Father no better than a “vending machine” in the sky. I drop my prayers in the “coin slot” and expect to have sliding down to me that which I’ve asked. Sad.

Lord, forgive me!

I want to learn to be like Job. James has been teaching his listeners/readers about suffering and not grumbling and patience and he’s led by the Holy Spirit to use the example of Job to illustrate his point.

James 5:10-11

10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

James shows us that Job “spoke in the name of the Lord.” Scriptures tell us how faithful Job was…

Job 1:1

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

Job was “blameless and upright” and he “feared” or revered the Lord and “turned away from evil.” He was a very blessed man and he loved and prayed for his family constantly…

Job 1:2-5

There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

But, you know the story. Satan asked for Job’s life to tempt him and God permitted with the condition that he (Satan) couldn’t kill him. Then it happened. Job’s world was turned upside down. He lost everything but his life and his wife (but even she told Job to “curse God and die”). Did Job do it? Did he shake his fist at God and beg to die? No. He patiently endured his suffering. He remained steadfast. Look at James 5:11 again and notice the words I have in italics.

Job 5:11

11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

“The purpose of the Lord.” The Lord had a purpose in Job’s suffering. It gave God the glory. That’s why we are here anyway: to give God the glory. That’s the chief end of man. And don’t you love that last phrase?

“…how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

And He is! He is compassionate and merciful and will sustain us in our times of trial and suffering. He will carry us and bear us up by His Spirit. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Dear one, you can rest in Him today. So can I. I needed to be reminded of that today. I’ve got more to do than I can shake a stick at…yet, I know the Lord will get accomplished in my life what He desires if I will just give him my life with my palms up.

Light in the palm of your hand

Lord, I’m yours…take my life and do what you will. I trust you and I surrender my all to you! I love you Father! Amen and amen!

 

 

Stress and God’s Grace

NOTE: Caleb is out-of-pocket tomorrow (Friday, 3.21.14) and I’ve got to help cook barbecue chicken in the morning for a fund-raiser for our mission work at the church. 3:45 am is going to come early, so I’m writing the devotion now. In fact, I’ve asked Dr. David Black if I could borrow his words on suffering and share with you. He said, “My words are your words.” He’s so gracious.

He is still dealing with the loss of his life and I’m confident he’ll deal with it the rest of his life on this earth. You never get over the death of a family member. You just learn to live with it by the grace of God. But, I love his words from his blog earlier this week.

They speak of suffering. We’ve talked about suffering and persevering in our discussion of James this week. We’ve talked about patience and not grumbling. These words will bless you. Thank you Brother Dave!

Of course, the real reason I went to Texas was to hang out with Becky’s mom and dad. Here we are enjoying some great Ethiopian food at Sheba’s Kitchen.

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Becky often came up in conversation. We remembered wrestling with God so much during Becky’s passing, and how over and over again God reassured us that His ways are always perfect, even when we don’t understand them. Even if the miracle you prayed for doesn’t happen, He is still a God of miracles. I did a lot of thinking and praying about stress while I was in Dallas. Dr. Google reminded me of the Homes and Rake stress chart, which shows how much of a bearing certain events have on our lives. On a scale of 100, divorce ranks 73 in the list, a jail term ranks 63, pregnancy 40, a foreclosure 30, a change in residence 20, and a minor law violation 11. Not surprisingly, the death of a spouse ranks an even 100. The thing I’ve been discovering about stress may surprise you. I know it did me. Stress can be positive. Like a smoke alarm, it can alert us to potential danger. If we can learn how to interpret the signs of stress in our lives, we can deal with our stress in healthy ways. Stress is an internal red flag. You don’t handle it by ignoring it, denying it, or fighting it. Christians do get anxious and stressed out, but the anxious Christian has tremendous internal resources to deal with his or her anxiety. Much depends on how severe the stress is and what brings it on. Recently I’ve had to deal with several stressful situations I never had to deal with before Becky died. I’m making the needed adjustments, but it hasn’t been easy. On the flight home today I jotted down several “resolutions” I’ve made about stress. If you are facing stress in your life today, perhaps you might want to make them your own:

I will not deny my stress.

I will not rationalize away a negative behavior or attitude and make it a positive one.

I will not project blame on others.

I will talk through my problems with people I love and trust.

I will live one day at a time.

I will cultivate an awareness of God’s presence.

I will replace worry with prayer.

I will stay physically fit.

I will avoid making too many major changes or decisions all at once.

I will schedule regular down times.

I will realize that not all human relationships are healthy.

I will pursue an unhurried life.

I’m not naive enough to think that just by writing these resolutions down I will make a quick or easy transition to a stress-less life. The world in which I live is still very much broken. But I’m making progress. To return to the beginning of this post, I’m beginning to realize how much bigger the story of Becky’s life and death is than the part I played in it. I really believe God has a great purpose in Becky’s book. I am eager to see how He will use it in people’s lives. You never knew Becky as I did. You never had a chance to hold her close and feel her hands on your face. I only hope that you will prize the moments God gives you with your spouse. I do believe it’s high time we men got serious about our wedding oaths. It’s the rightest thing in the world to do. Please, I’m no super-hero as a Christian or as a husband. But I did love Becky. And I know that I will go to her someday. One day broken things will be remade, and I will again hold in my arms something precious.

You’re praying aren’t you? You always do. Pray that I will learn the lessons of stress. God is making something new. In fact, He is making everything new, every single day, whether we are lying in darkness and thinking of a past lover, or we are part of a marriage bond that is finding unspeakable satisfaction in God.

Blessings,

Dave

To read more of Dr. Black’s posts go to:

http://www.daveblackonline.com.