Category Archives: anxiety

The ministry of standing

When Nazi Germany bombed London in the direst moments of WWII, Prime Minister Winston Churchill would routinely climb onto a roof (or on top of his car if he was on the ground) to stand and watch the bombs fall. His defiant silhouette—no doubt replete with his famous Churchillian cigar—was a reminder to anyone who saw him that Great Britain was not defeated yet. His ministry of standing in the face of insurmountable odds injected the citizens of the British Isles with hope and won him the nickname “Lion.”

Did you know that’s your ministry too? Ephesians 6 tells us that there are moments in our lives when we’ve done everything that we know to do and all that remains is for us to climb onto a rooftop and take our stand.

Standing isn’t the most glamorous ministry you will ever have. It’s not the most enjoyable of assignments—indeed, we usually don’t engage in this task until most other options have failed us—however, there is something in the standing that releases the power of God.

And after you have done everything…stand.”

Are you standing today? Are you holding your ground despite overwhelming circumstances? Is your rooftop silhouette a silent reminder that you haven’t lost all faith and that the outcome of your battle is far from over?

History tells us that when England was standing America was stirring. Who knows what heavenly forces are stirring on your behalf as you continue to take your stand?

 

 

Poised

poisedAre you a poised individual? Would anyone use the word poise to describe your mien and air, your manner and your bearing?

Poise is a word that refers to elegance and grace in a person’s carriage. It is the state of composure that allows one to remain centered and upright in any given situation. Older uses of the word described balance and equilibrium in a person’s core.

The opposite of poise is discombobulation, the state of being confused or disconcerted by external forces, and when we get discombobulated we make up for it by posing. Since we don’t have a natural composure flowing from within us, we wear external masks and strike external poses to compensate. Which one best describes you? In a given day are you more poised and composed or posed and discombobulated?

Our level of poise and composure is directly tied to our confidence—the more confident we are the more poised we become. Conversely, as our confidence ebbs our fear, confusion, and distress increases.

So how do we shed our posing and grow in confidence that leads to ever-increasing poise and composure? Two thoughts. First, stay close to Jesus Christ, who always modeled poise and equilibrium. He moved through the storms of Roman oppression and religious persecution like an eye of a hurricane, ever-poised and composed. Second, remember that confidence flows from the presence of God. The more we cultivate the presence of God in our lives the more our confidence grows and poise becomes our posture.

I know it can take time to overcome our fears and grow in poise and confidence, but it changes everything when we attain it. Let’s set poise as a goal, and learn to bring the peace, hope, and composure of Christ wherever we go every day of our lives.

Peace or Adrenaline?

adrenalineWhich word best describes the consistent state of your soul this Christmas: peace or adrenaline?

Are you living a life of “untroubled, undisturbed composure and well-being” (New Testament Greek definition of “peace”) or are you in a constantly stressed, adrenaline-laced, fight or flight posture?

Most of us would align with the latter. It is the bane of our 21st century Western Civilization existence to ride the endless roller coaster of adrenaline spikes and crashes.

It’s actually kind of funny when you think about it, because we are seldom engaged in activities that truly warrant that kind of response. We don’t often have to physically run from predators to save our lives. We don’t have to hunt and overpower smaller prey if we want to eat dinner tonight. We aren’t surrounded by constant dangers that startle us and send our hearts into panicked palpitations.

Except that we are.

Although the comforts of our modern life have never been greater, the pressures and stresses of life have risen alongside them, and we are awash in an unstable sea of pressures, insecurities, and demands that are beyond our control. We need two scoops of adrenaline with our morning coffee just to survive.

Fortunately, it is into this kind of world that the Christmas story still speaks. The angelic announcement to the watchful shepherds still resonates: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14).

How do we kick the adrenaline and access that peace? It begins by accepting Jesus’ gift of life so that our existential worries can melt away in the light of a greater hope and destiny. Second, we choose to love and forgive. And finally, we hearken to the words of Scripture that remind us that we are not alone amid the chaos: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Waiting to exhale

starting blocks

“Runners, take your mark…get set…”

 

Now hold it right there.

 

Have you ever noticed the peculiar rituals that Olympic sprinters go through at the beginning of their races? They not only perform weird—probably superstitious—stretching routines, but they also take forever before they stop fidgeting and fussing in the starting blocks.

 

It’s a common thing for sprinters to do.

 

The reason they take so long getting settled is because they know that once they’re “set” they aren’t allowed to move again until the gun signals the start of their race. They also know that a set position is really tough to hold.

 

When a sprinter stays set for too long their arms get shaky, their stress levels spike, and they risk incurring a false start.

 

It seems that a lot of people today are stuck in the set position. They’re holding their breath, wondering what will happen with our global instabilities, our shaky financial institutions, and our exhausting presidential campaigns. They’re poised and taut, ready to run their race, but not exactly sure where the lane in front of them is taking them.

 

Fortunately Easter weekend has an answer. To every stressed-out sprinter still in the starting blocks, Easter cries out: “You’re still waiting to exhale…but God already has! While you hold your breath, fearful of tomorrow, God has already made provision for your future.”

 

The closer we move toward Jesus Christ the more freely we can begin breathing again. The more we exhale our anxiety, by inhaling His peace, the more strength we receive to run with fresh purpose, smile at the future, and help make our world a better place. Let’s go for it. Let’s lean into Jesus, and let’s run the race assigned to us.

 

God bless you this Easter weekend!

 

Choking what chokes you

prince phillipDo you remember the epic scene from Sleeping Beauty when Prince Phillip cuts and hacks his way through the enchanted wall of thorns in his efforts to reach the princess?

It’s an inspiring, stirring thing to watch him battle past the very elements that were bent on choking the life from him.

And have you also noticed that choking scenes show up in nearly every action film? Invariably, there is a scene where the good guy and the bad guy start grappling on the ground, each looking to strangle the other. In some versions of these choking scenes one of the assailants holds a knife and attempts to slowly drive it through his opponent’s temple.

But whether it involves knives or knuckles, there is a predictable moment in every action flick when the hero gets choked.

The same is true in your life.

In Mark 4 Jesus warns us that the worries and cares of this life would love nothing more than to throw a full nelson chokehold around our necks and slowly suffocate us. He goes on to tell us that if we fail to break free from their grip, the very word of God can be stolen away.

It’s important that we push back. It could save our spiritual lives to remember that busyness, stress, and overcrowded schedules are not merely annoying inconveniences—they’re chokeholds bent on strangling our life and suffocating our word.

Let’s be Prince Phillip. Do you remember what his sword was called? The fairies named his weapon, “the Sword of Truth” and with it he struck back, choking the very things that wanted to choke him. Let’s take charge of our lives and do the same.

Peace or Adrenaline?

screaming on roller coasterWhich word best describes the consistent state of your soul: peace or adrenaline?

Are you living a life of “untroubled, undisturbed composure and well-being” (New Testament Greek definition of “peace”) or are you in a constantly stressed, adrenaline-laced, fight or flight posture?

Most of us would align with the latter. It’s the bane of our 21st century Western Civilization existence to ride the endless roller coaster of adrenaline spikes and crashes.

And it’s actually kind of funny when you think about it, because we’re seldom engaged in activities that truly warrant that kind of response. We don’t have to physically run from predators to save our lives. We don’t have to hunt and overpower smaller prey if we want to eat dinner tonight. We’re not surrounded by constant dangers that startle us and send our hearts into panicked palpitations.

Except that we are.

Although the comforts of our modern life have never been greater, the pressures and stresses of life have risen alongside them, and we are awash in an unstable sea of pressures, insecurities, and demands that are beyond our control.

We need two scoops of adrenaline with our morning coffee just to survive.

Fortunately, it’s into this kind of world that the Christmas story still speaks: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2:14)

How do we kick the adrenaline and access that peace?

  • It begins by accepting Jesus’ gift of eternal life so that our existential worries can melt away.
  • Second, we choose to love and forgive even when we are wronged. A forgiving soul is like Teflon to the stickiness of fear and anxiety.
  • Finally, we hearken to the words of the late Dallas Willard who wrote, “Because He who loves me is Love, I live beyond harm in His hands. There is nothing that can happen to me that will not (eventually) turn out to my good. Nothing.”[1]

We really can “be still” and know that HE is God. (Psalm 46:10)

 

 

[1] Willard, Dallas, The Renovation of the Heart, Navpress, Colorado Springs, CO, 2002, 135

The Perfect Storm

perfect stormHave you experienced a perfect storm yet—a dynamic, fast-moving, confluence of elements that threatened to capsize your life?

If you have, you know how deadly it can be, and if you haven’t, you need to be prepared.

The Perfect Storm can arise on each of our horizons, and if we’re caught unprepared it can be devastating.

It happened to Jesus and His disciples once when they were attempting to cross the Sea of Galilee. Mark 4:37 says that, “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.” This particular storm was so fierce that Jesus’ followers—many of whom were career fishermen, well accustomed to stormy seas—despaired of their lives. It wasn’t until Jesus Himself arose and rebuked the wind and the waves that their sense of hope and serenity was restored.

Perfect Storms come up suddenly. They arise when the right combination of elements align to form a deadly brew. They start building on the horizon when we’re lonely, tired, or drifting in our faith. They scream at us, threatening to wreck us and pull us down to the depths.

However, they can also be survived. They can be sailed through, and the mariners who navigate them find clear waters, sunny skies, and friendly winds on the other side.

Here’s how the disciples survived their storm (and it’s how we can survive ours too):

  1. They had a mission…Jesus had told them to sail to the other side.
  2. They had Jesus…although He seemed absent in His slumber, He hadn’t left their boat.
  3. They had each other…they weren’t paddling one-man kayaks; they were sailing as a team.
  4. They didn’t jump ship…they stayed on course until God’s power subdued the elements.

If you hold steady, His power will do the same for you. Keep sailing!