What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Scale is Not God

Each day I get a short devotion in my email from an organization called FINDINGbalance. The balance they are specifically addressing surrounds issues of weight loss, food, body image, and mostly, God and His Word. I need that in my life for so many reasons.
I struggle with food – either eating too much or eating too little. I don’t have a healthy balance many days. However, focusing too much attention on the food issues is also not living a balanced life. I like the way the FINDINGbalance devotions always lead me back to focusing on my Creator God and His plans for me. His most basic plan is that I focus on Him each and every day, that He be taking up the most space in my head. Not my last meal or my next meal. Not how much exercise I did or plan to do.
Today’s Scripture for the devotion is 1 Corinthians 8:5-6: “For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods, and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” [NASB] This passage of Scripture reminds me (and I do need reminding) that there is nothing else in this world that is the one true God. It reminds me that there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ. I tend to make certain things my gods and lords. I let them dictate how I will act and think. However, nothing should be doing that except the one and only true God. Everything I do should be dictated by His Scriptures. The Scriptures direct me to do many things, but not once does it say, “Feel bad about yourself and call yourself names because you are overweight.”
When I make the scale my god, I do feel bad about myself and call myself names. I choose to behave in ways that show I place more value in what the scale says about me than what God says about me. What God sa
ys about me is not determined by a number on a scale. He says He made me, that He formed “my inward parts” and weave[d] me in my mother’s womb.” God’s Word goes on to say, I’m “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that His works are “wonderful.” (Psalm 139:13, 14) He made me just as I am.
I’m not saying that I should just forget about trying to eat healthy and lose some weight. God also said we are His temple (1Corinthians 6:19) and therefore, I should do what I can to take care of His temple. I just need to live and think as though I’m serving God and not as though I’m serving the numbers on the scale. My attention should be on doing the things of God, which includes healthy eating, but not obsessing over my last or next meal. If I focus on living a healthy lifestyle, God will be pleased . . . and I might lose some weight in the process.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Why Laugh?

Keeping the theme of laughter in mind, I pondered the question of how can I laugh in the midst of my struggles. I found an answer in my daily reading in Joy Breaks. The key to laughing in the midst of tribulation and suffering is being focused on God and His eternal promises to us. 
Romans 5:3-5 are very encouraging to me and help me focus on what really matters. “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” [NASB] Proven character is the goal, and that only comes about by dealing with some suffering in our lives.
I’d rather not have to deal with the suffering part of things. The hope of the future glory we will experience, and the hope of being in the presence of God, is great. But to truly rejoice in the coming of those things, we have to experience some suffering. If everything on this earth was great and happy and fun, we would not be looking forward to being with Jesus in heaven at the end. The tribulations keep us longing for the next life; a life in God’s presence where there is no trials or suffering. If we were without the troubles and tribulations here on the earth, we would already be in the presence of God because in His presence, in His kingdom, in heaven, is the only place where everything will be perfect.
So, knowing that the suffering in this world is just preparing me for a time in the future where all my hopes will be realized, gives me cause to rejoice. With the rejoicing because of the hope of the future, a hope that will not disappoint me, I can see past the troubles I face in this world. I can be confident that better times are ahead. I can rejoice in the knowledge that this life, and any current struggles I may be having, are only temporary. I can rejoice in the eternity of peace, love, acceptance, and glory that is to come, and exist permanently for me.
So I can choose to see struggles as temporary. I can be glad for my suffering because those struggles lead to a proven character, a character that is in Christ’s likeness, in glory forever. If I view my struggles as temporary, I can laugh in the midst of them, knowing that the hope I have for an eternal existence without suffering is waiting for me.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


I don’t laugh enough. Not for my mental health and, according to some research, not enough for my physical health, either. According to a recent reading in Joy Breaks: 90 Devotions to Celebrate, Simplify, and Add Laughter to Your Life [Clairmont, Johnson, Meberg, Swindoll], laughter is also good for our spiritual health.
The physiological effects of laughing are similar to the physiological effects of exercise. It increases the heart rate, raises blood pressure, stretches muscles in the face and throughout the body, and causes us to breath more quickly sending oxygen to our brains. [Web MD] All those things are good for our physical health. Laughter also burns calories – not enough to give up the stationary bike, but if done enough and for lengths of time, it aids in burning calories. One study showed that laughter raised the heart rate after one minute of laughing as much as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise. I know it stretches muscles because at times (mostly in the distant past) I’ve laughed so hard and so long that the muscles in my abdomen hurt the next day.
The mental effects are readily apparent. While laughing, it is hard to be depressed or angry. The increased oxygen flow may account for the clearer thinking I seem to have after a good laugh. I have a different perspective on the happenings in my world after some belly laughs. I’m able to be more alert and attentive to others after a good laugh. I’m less tired emotionally, too. I seem to have more capacity for other people in my life. Maybe that’s a product of the good feelings I get from laughing with other people. When I’ve been in the mental hospital, the therapists would sometimes try to get us laughing or concentrating on something besides our problems. Amazingly, the problems seemed less important, at least while we were doing something else. Whatever the case, I’ve noticed a change in my mental status after laughing.
The spiritual effects of laughing are talked about in Scripture. Proverbs 17:22 talks about having a joyful heart. It says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” [NASB] And even Job was told, “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, And your lips with shouting.” [Job 8:22] Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us there’s “A time to weep, and a time to laugh.” And, what is there to be so joyful about? “what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father , and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” [1 John 1:3-4] The fellowship and salvation offered to us by God is reason enough to rejoice and be happy. And laughter is a natural outpouring of great joy.
I’ve been trying to develop a “laugh lifestyle” (Marilyn Meberg) – a lifestyle that is firmly rooted in the joy of Christ. Marilyn’s prayer at the end of one devotion in the book reads as follows: “Lord Jesus, without you our laughter would quickly become hollow and meaninglessness. But you give us reason for being, you give us significance in being, and you fill our being with the awesome assurance that we have been cleansed and forgiven of all sin. Because of the cross, we have been reconciled to you for now and all eternity. Because of that truth we do indeed break forth with rejoicing and shouts of joy. Amen.” If I can keep these truths in mind, laughter will come more easily.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Change and Anxiety

As I was wondering what to write about for this week, I talked to my sister and she suggested I explore the relationship between the coming changes in my life and the anxiety I’ve been feeling. All I came up with, at first, was that I’m not supposed to have anxiety because I believe in and trust God. There are several familiar passages of Scripture that address worrying and what we should do about the things we worry about. So, this article won’t, probably, cover new ground, but maybe it can be a good reminder to all of us – especially me.
Matthew 6:27 [NASB] says, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?” The implied answer is “No one.” Ultimately, God is in control of the length of our lives. Worrying about the future, or the past, cannot add any time to the number of days we have on this earth. In Matthew 6:32, Jesus answers the question for us: “. . . for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” What should our response be? Matthew 6:33: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” There’s another admonishment in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself . . .” God knows what we need and no amount of worry will cause our needs to be met, or met any faster/sooner.
Another familiar passage is found in Philippians 4:6, 7: “Be anxious for nothing 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 comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The challenge: Be anxious for nothing. How do we do that? By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. I sometimes think I’m bugging God with my petty concerns; however, this passage tells me to tell God what I think I need or want and then rest knowing that God will take care of whatever situation I’m worried about. I think I’ve done that once or twice in my life and I have, as a result, experienced peace from God – even in situations where other people thought I should still be anxious. It’s a peace that surpasses man’s understanding.
A final passage that comes to mind when I think about being anxious (not necessarily while I’m being anxious, though) is 1 Peter 5:7. “casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” I liked the note in my Ryrie study Bible for the phrase, “He cares for you.” It says, “it matters to Him concerning you.” I matter to God! And because I matter to God, I can put all my anxious thoughts and worries on His shoulders, knowing that He will meet my needs and give me peace. It takes resolve on my part. I have to do the casting of the anxieties. But He will handle them, because my concerns matter to God.
Reviewing those passages has brought me some peace today. Not only is His peace hard (impossible) for me to comprehend, but His concern and care for me is also beyond my imagination. But both are true. As I try to believe today, I will let God’s peace fall on me and let the anxieties go.