Aloha Friday Message – May 3, 2013 – Scissors and Stars

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Read it online here, please.

You will not see anyone who is truly striving after his spiritual advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. ~ St. Athanasius of Alexandria

 

Luke 12:25-26 ~ Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? See also Matthew 6:25-27

Why worry when you can pray?
Trust Jesus, He’ll be your stay;
Don’t be a “doubting Thomas.”
Trust fully in His promise.
Why worry, worry, worry, worry,
When you can pray?

Alfred B. Smith, John W. Peterson

© 1949 Singspiration Music

“If you worry, don’t pray. If you pray, don’t worry.” Are you thinking “easier said than done?” In these passages – “the Sermon on the Plain” in Luke or the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew – Jesus lays out a long series of ways to get more enjoyment out of life. He urges all who are listening to turn to God first, give God primacy in all things, and then the rest of life just falls into place. First-things-first is a great way to live. But who or what is next? You and I plan things, work at or on things, we take responsibility for our actions, but sometimes stuff happens that messes up our plans. Think about this: Is it better to make our plans based on right priorities leading to right outcomes, or is it better to plan in the hold of anxieties about what can go wrong? Not hard to figure out if you put it that way, eh?

Really, what good is worry? It’s like empty calories. We love to eat cakes and cookies, drink soda or maybe even alcohol once in a while, we love that mighty-meaty pizza, or thick steak, and ice cream for dessert. But much of the caloric load in those foods is unusable for a healthy body; in fact, we Americans have an epidemic of obesity because we love those empty calories even if they don’t meet our real needs. It is the same with worry. It adds nothing of value to our lives, and in fact actually makes our lives less healthy. Would it make any sense to make a list of foods with empty calories and then eat only those foods?

Making the time to worry is so counterproductive. God created you, and he doesn’t create junk. From the tiniest subatomic particles in your funny-bone to the immense nebulae trillions of light-years away, God is in control. He placed every star right where it is supposed to be and knows the name of each of them. He knows you since before time began and he has loved you for that long, too. Why, then, do we cling so tightly to the futility of ignoring that immense power? We actually place our lives at risk and push away from God when we waste our energies on worry. Is it really so hard to trust him? I want you to think of the answer to that question for a few seconds, so I am going to put a picture* here for you to look at while you ask yourself, “Is it really so hard to trust God?”

M57-RingNebula

Do you remember earlier when I said that if we pray we have to believe we are heard? It takes faith to pray. It takes a lack of faith to worry. Faith is a combination of trust and knowledge. Worry abolishes both because it is based on fears and imagined failures.

When we pray, we act on faith through the devotion we give to God. In fact, worrying is pretty much the opposite of what God had in mind when he created us. Think about the Genesis account of the First Temptation. The Enemy used doubt, the antithesis of faith, to convince our first parents that they were not good enough for God because they were not like him and then he told them God made them different because he didn’t want them to be even a little bit like him. They worried that God was tricking them, that he did not love them, that he didn’t want them to be like him, and – most importantly – he didn’t want to be like them. We know better now, of course; he became one of us and died a horrible death to undo Satan’s nasty trick.

Nearly all of the 17 preceding messages in 2013 focused on prayer and were supported by scripture references, a sprinkling of Greek or Hebrew here and there, and a few photos. When I ask for the next topic, I just wait for something to show up that sort of lights up. I see or hear it and it comes with a very distinctive combination of sound and feeling. The sound is like spoken words – “There it is. Use it.” The feeling … the feeling is like a hand grabbing my spine between my shoulder blades and lifting me up. It is always like that when The Spirit takes me. Next comes the word-processor, then the Internet, then the email you receive, and by the time all of that is over I’m out looking for the next clue. I don’t worry about these posts. I know they will be there. Sometimes I worry about other things, though. Every time I do that, it turns out to be a bogus alarm, and I usually manage to make a fool of myself in the process of leaping before I look. You remember back in the day when we wore pagers? There was something we called “beep-ilepsy.” My pager would be clipped onto my belt, and when it started buzzing I frequently jumped as when startled. That’s what worrying is like. Jumping away from something that isn’t what you thought it was.

Let’s wrap this up (“finally” you say). Worrying is a waste of time and energy. We’re much better of praying about something. Praying comes with a built-in support group (Heaven), broadens our perspective (if God’s involved, the paradigm changes), and provides a virtually fool-proof (meaning I can’t mess it up too badly) strategy for dealing with any issue. Sure, when I do something really stupid or sinful (those two things are often one and the same), my gut churns, my heart burns, and my brain turns ’round and ’round trying to find a way to get out of trouble. I am always, always, always better off praying, “God, I really messed up – again – and I don’t know how to fix it – again. Could you please help – again?” You see, faith and prayer just belong together. I’m going to appropriate something from “my good friend” C. S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity and liken faith and prayer to a pair of scissors. Asking which one is most important is as silly as asking which scissor blade is the most necessary. They work together because that is what makes scissors be scissors!

Share-A-Prayer

Continue to pray for the people who suffered in the tragedies we’ve followed in the past few weeks – bombings, wars, earthquakes, building collapses, terrorism. These are indeed trying times.

I am moved to ask you to pray for Amanda Knox, for comfort for her and her family, friends, and supporters in her ongoing ordeal. Let God bring about true Justice according to HIS will. Whatever you think about what truly happened, pray for justice.

Pray for the servants of God – pastors, missionaries, itinerant preachers, and everyone whose vocation it is to serve God by serving others.

Pray for people who can’t or won’t pray. Ask God to help them trade their imagined self-sufficiency for the reality of God’s presence in every person, place, thing, or idea in their lives.

Pray for those whose parents, spouses, siblings, or offspring have given up on God and life and sobriety only to be lost in the lies and heartaches of addiction.

Pray for faith to pray for everything and everyone all the time without ever worrying about any of it.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

* The photo is the Ring Nebula. It is about 2,300 light years away, so that should give you a hint about its size. God knows every single atom in that thing! He’s got you figured out, too. Ask him about it. He’ll tell you.

 

scissors

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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