Five Minute Friday: Simplify

The word for this week’s Five Minute Friday free-write is “simplify.”  (Click on the image above to find some other great posts in the linkup too.) Here goes:

Sometimes we can make our faith too complicated, don’t you agree? At times it works better to simply things and go back to the basics of our walk with God.  To simply our faith doesn’t mean to make it simple though.  No, not at all!

I guess when I’m thinking about all this one instance comes to mind the most.  In college I worked quite a bit with international students at Talk Time where they practiced their conversational English skills and then were invited to take part in a Bible study if they wanted as well.  Remembering about helping to lead this Bible study is what made me think of the need to simply our faith.

Up until that point I hadn’t shared what my faith was all about with many people, let alone with those from another country who had never even heard about the Bible and Jesus before.  I remember struggling to boil down concepts learned from years of growing up in Sunday school and church into basic tenets that would make sense to the international students I was teaching.  It was a learning experience for us both, to say the least!

That experience made me realize all the arguing and discussion about theology and Christian morals and such that had happened in my youth group or Christian college group didn’t really matter all that much.  And it certainly didn’t prepare me for the kind of questions I was getting from the international students.

This is what I meant by simplifying our faith is not making it simple.  Their questions were deep and thoughtful and stretched me in ways I never had been before.  Most of them weren’t wanting to debate or argue but were genuinely curious what I believed and why.

And so before I could answer them I had to sit down and take a good look at this for myself (more deeply and honestly than I ever had before).  What did I believe and why did I believe in it?  Being forced to finally figure out the answers to those questions turned out to be far from simple but oh so worth it!

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 NIV)

 

Mindful Monday: What To Do About My Worry?

“Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.” – Francis Chan

I heard an announcer on the Christian radio station share this quote just a couple of days ago.  It is such a good one but I had forgotten about it.  I first become aware of this quote while reading Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, quite a few years back.  And it obviously stuck with me enough to want to write it down (as you can see in the image above).

It stuck with me because I do tend toward worry.  And I didn’t always see it as a big sin in my life but then this quote blew that theory out of the water!  It helped me see worry as a trust issue which needed to be dealt with.

After all, did I believe God to be finite, weak and uninterested in my life?  When put in such a way, I knew that wasn’t true.  I do believe God to be omnipotent, mighty and caring.   But I also think my actions and my attitude don’t always reflect this belief.

So why not? I am reminded of Romans:15-16 from The Message which says, “What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.”

This section of Romans is dealing with the stronghold that sin has on our lives.  Again, I didn’t always equate worry with sin but I do now.  Therefore, now I can take this passage and look at it from the perspective of a worrier in desperate need of reform!  Which is why the end of this chapter in Romans 7:21-25 offers me such insight and hope:

“It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin (worry) is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they (worries) take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin (worry) to do something totally different.” (The Message)

That we live a “life of contradictions” is so true! God desires peace and rest for my mind but I often pursue what I think is best instead and don’t trust God to be “big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening.”  And in doing so I worry.  And in my worrying I sin.  And yet in my sin I can turn to the cross for forgiveness.

So maybe my worry isn’t such a bad thing after all as long as I recognize it for what it is and let this realization point me to the saving grace of Jesus.  So then, what should I do about my worry?  Allow it to turn me toward God and then lay my worries down at His feet.

After all, He’s big enough, powerful enough and loving enough to take care of them!