“Cat”astrophe

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Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23

Our neighbor’s cat, Peanut Butter (she’s the same color), likes to come over to our house and taunt our dogs through the glass patio door. She stretches out on the welcome mat, leans against the glass and preens herself like a primadonna. Of course, Sami and Cooper respond with snarls and growls from inches away inside.

Well, recently, the three of them almost met up for real! Peanut Butter also likes to come into the garage every time the door opens. Luckily, I’ve always caught her in the act and put her back out. But the other day she got past me somehow and became trapped in the garage, setting up a potential “cat”astrophe.

Luckily, the dogs wanted to go out at about the same time, heading through another glass patio door to the backyard. Meanwhile, I went back through the garage to get some gardening tools, inadvertently letting our feline friend into the laundry room. The next thing I know, I hear my wife screaming, “Peanut Butter is in the house!” I’m thinking, “Of course it is! We buy a jar every Saturday.” But I came around the corner and there she was, INSIDE the house, flicking her tail mischievously and peering OUT the patio door!

As luck would have it, the puppies weren’t even paying attention. I was able to extract Peanut Butter from the house without further incident.

This comedy of errors brings to mind an alarming fact: the misguided influences of this fallen world are particularly invasive. From the television above the mantle, to the phone in my pocket, there are plenty of ways to let unwelcome thoughts and things into the house.

Evil is so pervasive in our society most people are anesthetized to it. So what’s a God fearing person to do? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Meet up with God every day: Most of us bathe daily, eat daily, and sleep daily, why not prayer and Bible study?
  • Turn off the tech: Lately, I’ve gotten into the most delightful habit: everything with a screen gets turned off after 8 p.m.
  • Tune out: Frankly, 90% of what happens in the world is of little interest to me. It’s amazing how much you can ignore and still live happily.

God’s best to you.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/08/17/catastrophe/

The Daunting Power to Choose

By faith Moses, when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time

Hebrews 11:24-25

The Biblical story of Moses, the reluctant emancipator of the Israelites, is a fascinating read. Starting in the second chapter of Exodus, the saga unfolds with a plot worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

I’ll spare you the details, as you already know or can check it out for yourself. However, I’d like to focus on two toxic thoughts Moses faced that involve us all, together with the antidote Jesus provides.

If Only <<<rewind

Moses was a Hebrew baby saved by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as her own son; a prince of Egypt. Yet when he grew up, he chose advocacy for his own people over a life of affluence and power. But one disastrous day, defending his kinsfolk went too far, when he murdered an Egyptian he found beating a Hebrew (Exodus 2:11-15). When Pharaoh found out, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses ran away, disappearing into the desert.

There, on the back side of the wilderness, Moses served his new father-in-law as a shepherd. He’d gone from a prince who could actually help his own people to a simple sheep herder in the middle of nowhere!

Standing in the blazing sun counting sheep, Moses must have said to himself a hundred times, “If only I’d not lost my temper and killed that Egyptian foreman.” But it was a mute point, what happened happened and no amount of regret could erase it.

Like Moses, I’ve said my share of “If onlys.” Yet it hasn’t gotten me anywhere either.

What If? >>>fast forward

One day, while on sheep duty, Moses sees a bush on fire that isn’t burning up. Curious, he goes over to it, only to hear the voice of God Himself, “Moses, Moses.” It turns out the Almighty wants Moses to go back to Egypt and finish the job–freeing his people from slavery.

This time, however, our hero is not so eager to jump into the fray.

Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?

Exodus 3:11

This is followed by several “what if” questions. “What if they don’t believe me.” “What if I don’t know what to say? Remember, God, I stutter!”

Like Moses, I’ve said my share of “What ifs.” But worrying about the future hasn’t helped me either.

The Antidote

Near the conclusion of his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus speaks to the worry-warts in the audience. He basically says, “Folks, when you worry you’re like a hamster on a wheel–all worked up but going nowhere. Look to God first and everything else will fall into place (Matthew 6:33).”

Christ then says the following, comforting insomniacs like me ever since:

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

Effectively dealing with depression or anxiety means living in the NOW. Therefore, henceforth, I choose to keep the rewinds and fast-forwards to a minimum. I’m just going to press “>play” and take each moment as it comes.

Care to join me?

The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.

Abraham Maslow
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Peace by Piece

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Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Romans 14:19

During WWII, Matsuko and her family were among the many Japanese Americans forcibly interred in camps. For three years she longed to return to the farm near Salinas, CA where her husband Hayato’s family had grown strawberries for three generations. It was HOME.

Finally, the war ended and the Nakamura family returned. But as they stood across the road from their once well kept farm, it was clear all was NOT well. The strawberry fields surrounding their home were overgrown and the front door of the house gaped wide open.

Thankfully, a kind neighbor had saved all the farm equipment, but the house had been ransacked. Almost everything of value had been either looted or destroyed.

Matsuko was particularly distressed that the pillagers smashed all of her mother’s china. Not one plate, cup, or saucer survived intact. Methodically, she began that same day to sort the broken pieces, putting them back together again as best she could with glue.

One day her young son, Kato, asked her why she was going to so much trouble. After all, she’d only been able to patch together a few plates.

I must take things broken apart and make them one again.

Matsuko Nakamura

Thank God for people like Matsuko who strive to make things right; who pick up the pieces (no matter how small) and put them back together again.

Is there something broken today that with God’s help you could “peace” back together?

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Jesus (Matthew 5:9)

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/08/03/peace-by-piece/

A Trip Down the Stairs

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Heal me, Oh Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise

Jeremiah 17:14

If you fall head-first down a flight of stairs, you’ll be in the hospital for a week and your friends will feel sorry for you. But take an emotional tumble, that FEELS like somersaulting into a wine cellar, and your loved ones may not understand. After all, falling down a flight of stairs is an accident, but FEELING like you’ve done a cerebral cartwheel into the basement is not.

In truth, injuries to the psyche are ALL to REAL, and they leave the scars to prove it.

Confession: I’m a tortured artist type who occasionally struggles with roller-coaster emotions. But I don’t decide to be anxious or sad any more than I’d choose to physically fall down a flight of stairs. I’m simply one of many who struggle with inexplicable negative feelings.

From the dizzying heights of anxiety, to the double loops of despondency, I’ve experienced the whole enchilada.

Yet the coolest thing is, God always rides along–rooting for me the whole way (Jeremiah 29:11)–and, when it’s over, I always return to a healthier perspective.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon

So please don’t steer clear of a melancholic buddy. Come along side; ask about their well being. Then bring them back upstairs for some hot chamomile tea and a nap.

Disclaimer:
I speak from my own experience. Your situation may be different. If you struggle with long term anxiety and/or depression, please seek professional help.

If you’re still alive, it’s not too late

Regular David (me)

Plane Perspective

The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, but the unfaithful are trapped in their own wickedness.

Proverbs 11:5
My friend Jim’s Cessna 172

My friend Jim once took me up in his Cessna for a short flight. As we cruised over the tilled fields at 3500 feet, large round bales of hay on the ground looked like push-pins on a golden map.

That’s a bunch of hay!

As we flew, Jim shared some brief lessons about the fine art of flying.

  • Maintain a consistent altitude. Mostly straight and level is the way to go. The altimeter, which indicates altitude, reacts to where the airplane has just been– there is a delayed reaction. Because of this, it’s easy for a beginner to “chase” the dial, which leads to erratic flight.
  • If there is a mechanical failure. It’s time to find the safest place to land. Most people think if an airplane stops working mid-air there’s not much to do but prepare to meet God. In reality, it’s time to stay calm and remember your training; you are now in command of a glider!
  • Most crashes are due to pilot error. Make sure you’re fully prepared for every trip and don’t fly beyond your capabilities–EVER. Preflight inspections and checklists exist for good reason. Even a small aircraft has more systems than any one person can remember to check consistently. A written plan is needed.

Spiritual Applications:

Maintain a consistent altitude:

A consistent walk with God day by day is better than going up and down like a yo-yo. Don’t chase the dial; trust that God has you on the best path possible. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

If there is a mechanical failure:

The only thing that’s the end of the world is the END OF THE WORLD. Most circumstances are not as bad as they seem. We don’t necessarily think like God or do things the way He does (Isaiah 55:8). So it follows, we don’t always know the true reality. The Bible contains many stories where God and some of the people on the ground didn’t see the situation the same way (my favorite is found in 2 Kings 6:8-17).

Most crashes are due to pilot error:

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:2). We can’t do what only God can (save ourselves), but God isn’t going to do what only we can: (maintain a healthy relationship with Him.)

“When God gives me a vision of truth, there is never a question of what He will do, but only what I will do.” Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers

That’s why a Christian pre-flight inspection–daily devotional time with God–is vital to spiritual growth.

Coming in for a landing.

May the ground rise up to meet you, but if it doesn’t, circle around and try again.

Regular David (me)

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/07/20/plane-perspective/

The Terrifying Toad

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:13

It’s baby toad season here at my GPS location. Dozens of them have taken over the yard: hopping around when I water the flowers, jumping unexpectedly into the house through an open door. I see them every evening.

The other day, my wife and I stopped by a local nursery to purchase some plants. Right next to the cash register, there was this larger than life concrete toad. Yes, we took him home. “Felix” now lives in the rock garden next to our barbeque area.

Check out the lower left corner. That’s a REAL one!

The only problem is, everytime I come out the back door with something for the grill, he startles me just a bit. Actually, it’s a little creepy–the way he looks at me with those stone cold eyes…

Self-doubt. It can take over your life-yard in a hurry: hopping around when you want to accomplish something, jumping through an open door unexpectedly. It shows up mostly in the evening.

It’s hard to be confident when you’re discouraged, because things you knew for certain five minutes ago disappear behind a smoke screen of timidity. What’s one to do with such feelings? Here are three of my favorite action plans. Yes, I’m an actual satisfied customer who used them all today!

Lower the Stakes

For some reason, when I get down, I act like a high stakes Vegas gambler–going all-in on one roll of the dice. #badidea The truth is, unless you drink poison, a single mistake won’t usually kill you.

We don’t live or die on one success or failure.

Jack Lemon

Break the Circuit

The worst part about self-doubt is the SELF part. Gazing at one’s own navel for a protracted period of time imparts a rather myopic perspective. “It’s not ALL about YOU, cupcake, so stop obsessing.” (That last statement was me talking to myself, but feel free to associate).

I’m just afraid I might have to stop talking about myself for five minutes.

Kinky Friedman

Resign as Manager of the Universe

There’s only one God, and you and I are not Him. Therefore, seeking help from a higher power actually makes sense. After my mom died from a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer, I ended up with her favorite Bible. I found the following scripture, in her own handwriting, inside:

Self-doubt is often just a silly lawn ornament.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/07/03/the-terrifying-toad/

Do What’s Needed

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While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him strength in God.

1 Samuel 23:15-16

One Spring evening in 1975, my family was sitting down to dinner–all but my oldest brother, who’d just gotten his driver’s license.

The phone rang and my mom answered, but something was off. She hardly said anything. After listening for several seconds, she spoke: “Where is he?”

My sixteen year old brother had been in a car accident and was being taken to a local hospital, his condition unknown.

My parents rushed out the door, headed for the ER. I can still see dad’s crumpled napkin on the table next to mom’s unfinished plate.

Our fifteen year old brother stayed behind to look after my younger brother and me. Calmly, he plopped clumps of extra potatoes on our plates. “You’d better have some more,” he said. It felt surreal, the three of us dining in silence across from a trio of empty chairs.

Despite being only seven years old, I wasn’t afraid. My older brother had everything under control. It would be years until I realized how truly worried he was for our oldest brother.

He did what was needed.

Jonathan and David, of ancient Israel, were best friends: the king’s son and a shepherd boy turned superhero. But King Saul, Jonathan’s dad, had gone mad. He was jealous of David, fearing the popular young man who had slayed the Philistine warrior Goliath. With murderous rage, he chased him into the desert seeking to kill him.

But prince Jonathan risked his life to get to David before his dad and helped him find strength in God. At the same time, he was truly worried about his own father.

He did what was needed.

Back to the dinner table. My parents called about an hour later. Our oldest brother had a broken jaw but would be OK.

Here’s to Jonathan and my brother, Ron: two courageous caregivers who helped others find strength in God.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 32:24

Do it.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/07/01/do-whats-needed/