Worriers act as if they might be able to control the uncontrollable

The following is the text of a paper written during a Christian Counseling Education Foundation course I took, Dynamics of Biblical Change. The course has my highest endorsement.

Worriers act as if they might be able to control the uncontrollable. David Powlison, Seeing with New Eyes (Chapter 6)

This sentence struck me because it helps me consider how I can more effectively come alongside these sisters in a way that is productive, effective and gentle. Platitudes about “God is sovereign” are just that. When Jesus asked “Who by worrying can add a single cubit to his height?” He was basically asking what the benefit of worry could be (which I have done many times). But He didn’t stop there. He gave specific things for the worriers to think about to REPLACE the thoughts of worry.

It made me start thinking that throughout the New Testament God is always showing how people turn FROM one thing TO another. They turned from idols to God (1 Thes. 1:9). In Acts 26 Paul says god sent him to the Gentiles so they would turn “FROM darkness TO light and from the power of Satan to God”. In 2 Tim 4:4, evildoers turned FROM the truth TO myths. Even in the famously quoted out of context verse 2 Chronicles 7:14, God called Israel to turn FROM their wicked ways TO Him. I could go on but I’m out of space.

The point to me here is that as I counsel worriers it isn’t enough to just chastise them, I have to exalt the glorious alternative to their worry. When I hold up the precious promises of God that directly contradict the root of their worry I can be confident that the Holy Spirit will be at work in them to give victory over their sin of anxiety. This is the plain sense of the “don’t worry verse”, Phil 4:6-7. We should turn from our anxiety to thankfulness. In verse 8 we’re told to replace unworthy anxious thoughts with thoughts of excellent things. The key is to get to the root of the worry and to admonish with the opposite truth.

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“Nothing is worse for a family than to have a father whose word cannot be trusted.”

The following is the text of a paper written during a Christian Counseling Education Foundation course I took, Dynamics of Biblical Change. The course has my highest endorsement.

“Nothing is worse for a family than to have a father whose word cannot be trusted.” Sinclair Ferguson, Children of the Living God

This sentence hit me as a continuing theme of my meditations during this course is my performance as a father verses our heavenly father’s example. Generally I think I do a good job of keeping my promises to my kids but as I read this quote yesterday images popped into my head of times when I promised one of our littler ones I would do something that brought them much joy but annoyed or bored me and when I failed to keep my word or procrastinated to keep it long enough that following through was no longer a possibility.

What does this do to me when I consider it more closely? It begs me to either be an honest dad who simply tells his kids he loves his leisure more than he loves to see their joy or to be much more purposeful about keeping my word when it is asked of me. Our heavenly father does not recoil at our silly requests and He does not find even the slightest ones annoying. Rather, He asks us to bring whatever petitions we have to Him knowing that He cares for us.

I’m also reminded that our Father’s example provides me the discretion to withhold specific purposes or reasons for decisions when wisdom dictates. I need to be aware that even when God has initially withheld the reason for an answer He provides, He often very graciously sneaks it in the back door when I’m not looking in the form of circumstances that conveniently line up for me, the witness of a brother or sister who fills me in on “the rest of the story” or some other manner.

While I am a poor substitute, I am the closest thing my kids have to an example of God the Father. If they are to believe all the precious promises our Father has provided in His Word, it begins with them developing a trust in loving fatherhood, and that begins with me. As I write this I am comforted that it is not me but the Spirit of God within me that will make it happen and that the One who began a good work in me is faithful to bring it to completion.

Lawbreaking is lawbreaking

So I’m driving from a client in Nebraska to the airport taking a little liberty but not too much with the speed limit when I see those flashing blue and red lights in in my read view mirror. I get pulled over and get a ticket for going 8 MPH over the speed limit.

What are my initial reactions? “I wasn’t going that fast. Are you kidding me, a ticket for 8 MPH over? Don’t you guys have any illegal immigrants to catch? Must not be any donut sales today. The state must have a large budget deficit.” I could add to the list.

What is the reality? The reality is that I probably was going that fast and nothing else really matters. I was breaking the law. In fact, people going 1 MPH over the limit are equally lawbreakers. They simply got grace and mercy from the authorities. None of the other issues matter, even if they are true. I was a lawbreaker.

Christians have to land on this truth! We believe that God demands justice for all sin – big ones and little ones. Trying to argue that 8 MPH isn’t enough disregard for the law to be punished defies everything we believe to be true eternally. The fact that so many professing Christians would have had the same reaction as me is only an example of how contaminated our consciences are by the world’s love affair with self that justifies all lawbreaking so as to live in the fantasy that right and wrong are defined by us and not the chief authority.

If you are not a Christian, please think about this. God has not punished you yet but He has every right to. Today you are receiving mercy but God’s mercy will not last forever. He has told us this and the solution in Hebrews 9:27-28

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Are you eagerly waiting for Jesus’ return? He is coming back and when he does there will only be two reactions. Lawbreakers who have acknowledged their sin and turned from it will have endless joy. Lawbreakers who have not confessed their sin and turned from it will have torment forever. There will be no second chances and no partial credit for a life that is only partially lawbreaking. Turn to the Lord while He has given you His mercy and patience.