Thursdays With Oswald—Contemptible Unbelief

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald Chambers

Contemptible Unbelief 

     “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). All power is given—unto whom? To the Being who lived a humble, obscure life in Nazareth; the One who says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” If all power is given to Jesus Christ, what right have I to insult Him by worrying? If we will let these words of Jesus come into our heart, we shall soon see how contemptible our unbelief is. 

     … Will I say skeptically, “What does Jesus Christ know about my circumstances? Is His power and understanding sufficient to manage things for me?” To talk like that is the way to realize the size of our unbelief, and to see why Jesus Christ was so stern in condemning it.

From Bringing Sons Unto Glory 

I love the phrase from the old hymn—

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer! 

When I think how All-powerful and All-loving He is, I begin to see how utterly contemptible is my unbelief and my unwillingness to take everything to Him. If all power is given to Jesus Christ, what right have I to insult Him by worrying?

God, Flowers & You

God & Flowers & You

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you.

Matthew 6:28-30

I’m Not In Control

I am reminded again that my stressful feelings come because things are not going according to my plans. This can only mean one thing: Somehow I have let myself believe that I am in control of all my circumstances!

I am not in control.

God alone is in control. He tells me not to be anxious, not to worry about tomorrow, but to come to Him to find rest.

Why, oh why, don’t I do this?!?

Enough! It’s time to once and for all give my concerns to the only One who can handle them. 

“Come unto Me,” says Jesus, “and I will give you rest.” Do Jesus Christ’s words apply to me? Does He really know my circumstances? Fretting is sinful if you are a child of God. Get back to God and tell Him with shame that you have been bolstering up that stupid soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for Him. Ask Him to forgive you and say, “Lord, I take Thee into my calculation as the biggest factor NOW! —Oswald Chambers

“Fears Condense Life”

Do you worry? Are you fearful of what is going to happen … or not going to happen … or needs to happen?

Fear and worry rob us of life because we usually cannot see beyond anything but the object of our anxiety. That is why the Bible so often tells us to not worry, but to enjoy the fullness of life that God has for us.

I read a powerful post this morning on the Desiring God blog (you can read the full post by clicking here). Ed Welch, an author and biblical counselor, said this:

Fears condense life… and make God functionally not there.

His solution is straight forward: Prayer. He says, “We have a personal God: speak with Him.”

Check out this short 2-minute video of Ed Welch elaborating on this—

Psalm 116 is a gut-level-honest description of someone dealing with their fears, worries, and anxieties. Please read the whole psalm, but I love the intimacy of our personal, loving God that opens this psalm

I love the Lord, because He has heard [and now hears] my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1-2, AMP)

Don’t let fears condense your life…

let your Heavenly Father give you a full life!

Give All Your Concerns To God

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall. (Psalm 55:22)

Care, even though exercised upon legitimate objects, if carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin. The precept to avoid anxious care is earnestly inculcated by our Savior, again and again; it is reiterated by the apostles; and it is one which cannot be neglected without involving transgression: for the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into His place to do for Him that which He has undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of that which we fancy He will forget; we labor to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if He were unable or unwilling to take it for us. Now this disobedience to His plain precept, this unbelief in His Word, this presumption in intruding upon His province, is all sinful. Yet more than this, anxious care often leads to acts of sin. He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God’s hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use wrong means to help himself. This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our Counselor, and resorting instead to human wisdom. This is going to the broken cistern instead of to the fountain; a sin which was laid against Israel of old. Anxiety makes us doubt God’s lovingkindness, and thus our love to Him grows cold; we feel mistrust, and thus grieve the Spirit of God, so that our prayers become hindered, our consistent example marred, and our life one of self-seeking. Thus want of confidence in God leads us to wander far from Him; but if through simple faith in His promise, we cast each burden as it comes upon Him, and are careful for nothing because He undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to Him, and strengthen us against much temptation. (Charles Spurgeon)

What God Do You Tru$t?

Things seem to be going very, very well for Israel! Check out what Isaiah wrote

Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots.

Sounds like a success story to me!

But wait: the next verse sounds a bit ominous —

Their land is full of idols; the people worship things they have made with their own hands.

Money? Yes.

Influence? Lots.

Prosperity? For everyone.

Idolatry? Widespread.

They were no longer looking to God; they looked to what they had made with their own hands. In other words, they made Money their god.

Money can save us! Money can fix all our problems! Without Money we are lost! Only those with Money can be saved!

Sadly, I believe what was said of Israel 2500 years ago could be said of the United States of America today. In God We Trust is printed on all our currency, but it really has become In Money We Trust. We too have made Money our god.

Don’t believe me? How do you think most people would answer these fill-in-the-blanks:

  • I need _____________ get clothes. [Matthew 6:28-30]
  • Without _____________ I cannot feed my family. [Luke 12:24]
  • If I lost my _____________ today I would be devastated. [Matthew 10:28]
  • I frequently think about how more _____________ in my life would make my life better. [Luke 12:31-34]

What goes in the blank: Money or God? [Hint: it’s either or, not both-and]

Free Books

A couple of months ago I had the privilege to read and review the manuscript for a helpful new book called Living Free In An Anxious World. I was also very blessed that the co-authors both  guest blogged on my website (you can read their posts here and here).

Now something even more amazing… ACU Press/Leafwood Publishers have given me two copies of this book — hot off the printing presses — to give away to two deserving readers of this blog!

Here’s how to get in the running for a free copy…

  1. Read either my review of this book (it’s posted here) or one/both of the guest posts from the co-authors.
  2. In the comment section of this post, tell me why you would like a copy of this book, or how you think reading this book could help you or others.
  3. Finally, after you have left your comment, click on one of the share buttons below to share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc.

At 9:00pm EDT tonight, I will pick two winners solely on the creativity of their comments. If you are a winner, I will contact you via email to get your mailing address. If you don’t get an email from me, then, unfortunately, you were not a winner this time. But keep checking back for other giveaways.

Ready? Go!

The Doctor & The Pastor – Part II

Friends, I recently reviewed the manuscript for a new book Living Free In An Anxious World (my review is here). This is an essential book for pastors, Christian counselors, psychologists, and medical doctors which deals with a problem that is only expanding: worry, stress, anxiety. I ecnourage you to pre-order a copy of this powerful book. Or, stay tuned to this blog for a chance to win a free copy in just a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I am absolutely thrilled that the co-authors of Living Free In An Anxious World have agreed to write to my blog readers! Today is the second installment from Dr. Lanny Hunter. (If you missed Part I, you can check it out here.)

Guest Author: Dr. R. Lanny Hunter

In my profession as a dermatologist, it’s fair to say that most of my patients come to see me because they are worried. Patients may have developed a rash that worries them. What is it? Is it contagious? Is it serious? Will it scar? What will people think? Can I get rid of it?

Patients may have developed a skin growth, a lump, a sore that won’t heal, a place that is changing color, causing pain, or bleeding. Again, they are worried. Is it cancer? Is it life threatening? Can it be cured? If I do make a diagnosis of cancer, their anxiety escalates. Will I die? How long do I have to live? How will it be treated? What should I tell my spouse? My family?

Beyond questions of diagnosis, treatment, and questions of severity of illness, many worry about medical costs. How much will it cost? Will my insurance pay for it? They may confide that their insurance has a very high deductible, or that they have no insurance at all, or that they live only on Social Security and Medicare. Will treatment bankrupt them?

In the course of consultation, medical care, and surgery, patients reveal more than their medical worries. They confide their life disappointments—marriage problems, work conflicts, children in trouble, personal and vocational failures, criminal escapades.

Patients with worry and anxiety are my life’s work. To that end, I use all of the interpersonal skills, psychological insights, religious convictions, and medical skills that I have acquired through training and experience. I must listen compassionately and constructively, and be armed with the latest medical techniques in treating disease. I must be cognizant of my limitations in skill and time. I may need to refer a patient to a psychologist, psychiatrist, pastor, priest, social worker, or another physician. I must always remember that I’m not treating the skin. I’m treating the whole person.

With that holistic approach in mind, my brother (a pastor) and I (a physician) have authored a book, Living Free in an Anxious World, which combines the insights of our two vocations to help people manage worry and anxiety in order to free them for more productive living. 

The Doctor & The Pastor – Part I

Friends, I recently reviewed the manuscript for a new book Living Free In An Anxious World (my review is here). This is an essential book for pastors, Christian counselors, psychologists, and medical doctors which deals with a problem that is only expanding: worry, stress, anxiety. I ecnourage you to pre-order a copy of this powerful book. Or, stay tuned to this blog for a chance to win a free copy later this month.

In the meantime, I am absolutely thrilled that the co-authors of Living Free In An Anxious World have agreed to write to my blog readers! Today is the first installment from Rev. Victor Hunter.

Guest Author: Rev. Victor L. Hunter

Whether it was the Carter family’s version in the 1930s, Woody Guthrie’s in the 40s, the Kingston Trio’s in the 50’s, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott’s in the 60s, or Devo’s in the 70s and 80s, “Worried Man Blues” has been a ubiquitous presence in the bluegrass/folk song genre of cultural music throughout the “century of anxiety.” Its words and tune have provided a common background theme playing in our minds for decades:  “It takes a worried man to sing a worried song.” Most of us, men and women, have hummed along, literally and/or figuratively, with its sentiments.  

During these decades, my brother and I have listened to the song’s lyrics and contemplated the reality of worry and anxiety both personally and professionally. He’s a physician. I’m a pastor. I can say without hyperbole that there hasn’t been a week go by in nearly a half century of preaching, pastoral care and counseling, and teaching that worry and anxiety haven’t been at the forefront of conversations with people, young and old, men and women, who have said to me, “I need to talk with you about something.”

This is so because anxiety is part of what it means to be human beings. It’s part of our biological makeup and spiritual reality. It is essential to our survival, as well as being a core theological question. It can also be devastatingly paralyzing, keeping people from living free, living life fully alive.

During the past four decades, the doctor and the pastor, the brothers, have been in conversation about our disciplines of science and theology and our professions in medicine and religion. We have become increasingly sensitive to the many issues that meet at the intersection of biology and theology. It’s about being human before God. We share in Living Free in an Anxious World this conversation and our passion for a holistic understanding of our humanity in light of faith and science . . . as well as our hope for the healing and redemption of our lives. We affirm that while anxiety and worry are unavoidable, they can be our teachers rather than our masters. Our goal is to provide realistic, practical, and helpful guidance in understanding worry and facing our fears that we might travel the road of freedom and grace.

Uncomfortably Quiet

Yesterday we dove into part two of our series The Stranglehold Of Worry by looking at anxiety. The medical dictionary defines anxiety as worry compound by our own self-doubts about our ability to cope with worry. Wow, talk about a double whammy!

You’re already worrying about something, and then you worry about what you’re worrying about. Or for many people, anxiety boils down to worrying about what others are thinking about what you’re worrying about.

There’s a story in Luke 10 where Dr. Luke notices Martha’s anxiety. She is trying to be the best hostess she can for Jesus and His disciples, but it has gone beyond that. She is worrying about what Jesus thinks about her hospitality. She’s tied up in knots. What makes it even worse for Martha is that her sister (who was helping Martha get everything ready for the meal) is sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to Him speak.

Jesus tells Martha, “You are all worked up over trying to make a good impression. You are worried and upset. Look at Mary: she’s sitting quietly and listening to Me.”

Sitting quietly.

We don’t do that very well, do we? Our lives are bombarded with noise. In fact, when Jesus tells Martha she is worried, the Greek word means overly-busy. That’s how too many of us try to cope with worry, but the noise and busyness just leads to more anxiety.

We closed our service on Sunday in a very unusual, very uncomfortable way. We were silent. No music, no singing, no closing prayer. Just sitting silently at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him. It was uncomfortable, but so beneficial.

Listen to King David

I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.

It might be uncomfortable, but it is just what the Lover of your soul ordered. Find some time to switch off the radio, leave the iPod and cell phone behind, get someplace where you can just sit quietly at Jesus’ feet and hear the loving words He has to say to you.

How do you get quiet before God?

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