Time Anxiety

Every once in a while, I like to get a little personal and today is one of those days. Lately, I have realized I struggle with some time anxiety. I hate wasting time. I am not entirely sure why but something about wasting time just feels so wrong to me. I feel like I have so much to do, to learn, to give that wasting time feels wrong. Because of this, I feel overwhelmed by the number of things to do, to learn, and the needs that need to be met. It does not help that I am a doer either. I am able to get things done and usually in a short amount of time. People usually pick up on this (at least at work) and come to me for help and to take things off their plate. This too only exacerbates the problem.

Lately, the problem is only growing because we are getting ready to move to Knoxville. I am going to go to school full time so I can finish up my degree in 2 years. The idea of working at my current job which is very time demanding and going to school full time has sent my time anxiety into overdrive. I have been trying to find a way to not have to work but unless $10-20k shows up in the mailbox I am stuck. So, what do I do? I start spiraling into time issues. I won’t have enough time to study, to fellowship, to learn, to enjoy my wife and daughter, to enjoy the process, and so on. It quickly becomes overwhelming.

It is not that this is a new revelation to me but there is something that is new. Last night I realized this again but also had a thought of “this is not good; God I need you to help me with this.” It was a moment where I realized I had a choice to make. I could again acknowledge my time issues take, God’s grace in the moment, and move on only to face this again next week or I could receive His grace to work through the problem. I want to work through it.

I get two verses of the day. Today they were James 1:5 and Ecclesiastes 7:14.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:5

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

These verses spoke such life into me because I was reminded of three things. First, God listens not looking down on us because we are weak but wants to answer the prayers of His children. Second, I need to seek Him to help me with my problem. Third, time is His to hold and command not mine. I want to enjoy the process, but more than that I want to enjoy God. I want to feel His presence, His nearness and know that even when I don’t feel Him He is near.

So now what? Well, I am a firm believer that God will always continue the good work He starts in someone. So I am going to try and keep coming back to Him every time I start to get overwhelmed. I am also going to try and start coming to God before I get overwhelmed and put my “schedule” in His hands. If I trust Him like I say I do then I need to be willing to give Him everything and that includes my time anxiety.

It does not mean it will all just go away because usually, we find that we are actually working through bigger issues but I am OK with that. I trust that God knows best and that He will lead me through my time anxiety. I trust that He wants to mold me into something better. I trust He is good and that He has a plan. I trust that He is God.

Just a thought,

Mike

Proving or testing

It’s Friday all so let’s Greekout. Most people who read the Bible know about James 1:3 even if they don’t know where to find it. James 1:3 says knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and this is talking about testing our faith so that we can know the genuineness of it and grow. What you might not know is this was a not a new concept.

In Judges 3:1-2 we read and see that God left a few nations to test Israel. If you know Judges, then you know they failed. The best verse to sum up the book of Judges is 21:25 which says, “In those days Israel had no king: everyone did as they saw fit.” This is actually repeated a few times in Judges which should give us some insight.

Let’s look at the original language to see what we have here. In Judges the Hebrew word for test or prove is nacah in 3:1 which means to test, try, prove, tempt, assay, put to the proof or test. In verse 2 the word for teach is lamad and this means to learn. teach, exercise in.

That was a lot so let’s break that down. If we combine what we see in verses 1 and 2 we see that God left enemies in the land to test the people, so they might learn how to fight. What seemed like a challenge and struggle to the people was indeed a challenge and a struggle and it was a God-ordained challenge and struggle. God intended for it to be that way because the people needed to learn.

If we jump ahead a few thousand years and books, we see in James the Greek word for testing is dokimion and it means the proving. This is the exact same concept as Judges. It means that something is happening to prove your faith so that you might learn from it. It is not just about proving the faith but proving it so that we might learn from it.

God often leaves challenges and struggles in front of us to prove us for the purpose of learning. Jesus says that he who is faithful in much will be given much. God does not test us just to see what we know or what we will do. He already knows. Instead, God is testing and proving us so that we learn and can handle more of His will and His ways. God desires so much more for you and for me, but we need to a person and a people who can handle it.

So, if you are being tested or proved right now focus on the goal. Focus on the prize in front of you. Focus on God your great and might reward.

Just a thought,

Mike

Walk it out

Paul said we are saved by grace through faith and not by works, but James says a man is justified by works and not faith alone. So, who is right?

Well, they both are, and I am not just saying that because both statements are in the Bible and I need to find coherence. When we come across things in the Bible that does not seem to make sense or things that contradict one another we need to back up and look at the context (I feel like I say that a lot). So, what is the context here?

Paul is talking about salvation. Specifically, he is talking about being saved apart from our own efforts. James, however, was not talking about salvation. He is talking about showing your faith or living out your faith. I think an illustration might help.

Here is an obvious statement: When you have a child, you become a parent. But let’s break that down. You are connected to that child and you cannot be any more related to that child then you are as a parent. You cannot become more related or less related. I know that is redundant but stay with me. You share DNA with that child, you share ancestry with that child, you share a larger family connection with that child, and so on. You and that child and related. That is salvation. It happened the moment you accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, and it is done. That is what Paul was talking about.

James is talking about acting like a parent or being a parent. James is saying “OK, parent you have a child now be the parent.” This is the works portion. This is waking up a 4 AM to feed that child, teaching that child to walk, changing diapers, and so on. It is taking the thing you claim to have and actually doing with it what you are supposed to. The statements from Paul and James are not opposed to one another but completely connected.

Now as I have said many times all analogies fall short, but I hope this helps.

When we read these statements from Paul and James we should put them together to see the bigger picture. We should see that we are saved by grace, through faith, and now we need to live like that is true.

Just a thought,

Mike

 

All Are Needed

I have been thinking quite a bit about James 2:1-4 and while James mentions money in the example I think a common principle is there. I take two things from this passage first, we should not favor one group over another. Not the young or the old, not the rich or the poor, and not the “elite” or “the common.” Each “type” of person has value they can and do bring into worship and each one needs to be appreciated for that. In general, youth brings creativity which is great but with age comes temperance which is often needed with creativity. Rich bring money and the poor bring perseverance (again in general). All are valuable and all are needed.

Second I see that James says that both should be present. James seems to be pointing out that both are in the mix at this congregation and that tells me that we should seek to embrace that dynamic. We should have old and young, rich and poor, experienced and inexperienced. If our gathering is missing any of these then we are missing something

My brothers, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For example, a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor man dressed in dirty clothes also comes in. If you look with favor on the man wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or, “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” haven’t you discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

James 2:1-4

Just a thought,

Mike

Insanity Workout and the Book of James

I am about to start the Insanity workout program. I usually like to lift but have no time for that lately and I cannot seem to get rid of some weight that just seems to hang out. I have been doing some light workouts in the morning nothing amazing but enough to not lose too much strength. So I decided I would give Insanity a try.

I watched the commercial, read real reviews online and it looks legit. So at this point I have no reason not to believe the program will work for busting out some fat loss. I have a small amount of faith in the program, but to really build that faith in the program up I am going to need to actually work it out.

That is what James is talking about in James 2:24 “You see then that a man is justified by works, not faith alone.” James is writing to Jewish believers specifically according to verse 1. And while I am not positive I get the feeling some of them took their new found liberty to the wrong place. I get the feeling they were so happy to be freed from a works based system decided they needed to do nothing anymore. That is shown in 2:15-16 when he says if you send someone away who is naked and cold, saying bless you and go in warmth and peace but do not give them anything to be warmed or clothed then you have done nothing.

It is a lot like the talk that goes on nowadays from Christians about this problem and that problem. Most times you can hear a hundred “solutions” but little to no action of any sorts. If prayer is mentioned it is only in word and little actual praying is done (a generalization of course). I have done this and am as guilty as any other. If we talk about the homeless problem but do nothing we have done nothing, if we talk about sex trafficking and do nothing then we have done nothing and so on. Now to be clear I am not talking about “raising awareness” which is done to the masses on FaceBook and Twitter because there is a time for that. But would it not be better if we raised awareness while acting?

I know we cannot be active in every area that needs it but if you are known for working with young pregnant women in need and mention something to raise awareness about homelessness then I am more likely to hear you then if you are only known for raising awareness.

James is talking about your faith causing action. He uses the story of Abraham and Isaac to show this by showing that Abraham’s belief caused action. It was not just a belief that did nothing it was a belief that acted out of the belief.

It is the same way with our faith. I believe Jesus died on a cross and took my sin and shame. That belief is the reason I am who I am today and not who I was before. But my belief in that has changed my behaviour and actions so that now I work because of the change not in order to have that change.

One last thing I think helps is two words in verse 22 of chapter 2. It says “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works was made perfect.” The words working together is actually one word in the Greek. The word is sunergeo where we get the words synergy or synergism, and it basically means a partnership where both benefit.

When you believe in God’s promises and finished work you have faith, and then when you do a work because of that faith you get more faith and can now do a greater (or more) work which in turn gives you a greater faith. It is a beautiful thing.

Now a word of caution. Do not by any means attempt to earn salvation, favor, or merit from God. No amount of helping the poor, feeding the homeless, clothing the naked, sharing Facebook statuses will get you in with God. Check your motives every time because you will likely start to work and feel like God should have blessed you because you did X, Y, or Z. But it does not work that way because your best work is still pretty lame to be honest.

Just a thought,

Mike

Indomitable

This morning we were visiting Momentum Church and Pastor Ross just happened to be speaking about small things that can have a big impact.  This is something I wholeheartedly agree with as I think too often we try and make major changes when a slight course correction will do.  Yes sometimes we need major changes quickly but often in life a slight change makes a large impact.  James in his epistle speaking about the tongue being this little thing but can have a major impact in a lot of areas like a small flame, or the rudder of a ship can steer this large vessel.  Small changes in our life can have major impacts.  He also spoke about  finding a word for you for the year.  This too is something I support and have done for three years.  Instead of resolutions I choose a word I want my year to be.  I have used stronger, audacious, and inspiring.  I do this because a single word can be implemented into every area of my life.  Stronger was physically, professionally, relationally, etc.  The same with the other words.  This way I cannot easily fail because there are so many ways to incorporate it into daily life.  During the year I can measure my actions against my word, and at the end of the year I can check to see how I did.

Inspire was a hard one.  I think I had some successes, but that is a hard one to measure.  But like writing a sentence these words will hopefully build a story for my life.  Only time will tell.

This year I am going with indomitable.  I am going after goals with passion, and aggression.  I have decided either I attack my (and my wifes) goals or I stop having them.  No more excuses, no more desire only, no more waiting.  The time is now, and I will not be stopped.  Win or lose I will give it my all and give God the glory.  Sink or swim I will be in the water.

I am not going to announce my goals because I have heard that once you tell people your goals and plans you feel a certain sense of accomplishment so I will just update as I go.

What about you?  Do you have a goal, a word, a desire?  I highly suggest you pick a word and run with it.  You can choose anything, just pick something and then you have all year to get there.

Just a thought,

Mike