Categories
Christian Blog honesty

Just a Little Off Course

Photo by Kristopher Allison on Unsplash

I read a story recently about a plane that crashed into a mountain because the pilot, while on approach to an airport, unknowingly followed the wrong navigational beacon. The cockpit instruments told him his true position, but he kept flying off course for over a minute–until it was too late. Post crash analysis confirmed: the pilot had not noticed a one-degree-per-second turn to the right. The autopilot was dialed to the wrong navigational aid.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Proverbs 14:12

The story above brings to mind the error of the Pharisees and Sadducees in the New Testament. They took God’s law and added their own rules to it. And just like the story of the pilot, following the wrong navigational beacon led to disaster.

For a fresh look at how this is still happening today, please read, Christian-Social identity or Spiritual reality? by Perth Girl.

Now, to my own story of getting off course from Christ. For most of my adult life I’ve struggled with social anxiety; last year, after suffering two panic attacks in as many weeks, I sought relief through mindfulness meditation.

Sitting quietly, one chooses a focal point–like the breath–and keeps coming back to it when distracted. The idea is to let your thoughts (good or bad) float by like clouds while you observe with curiosity. The result is like pushing a pause button on life, and it really helped with my anxiety.

I downloaded a couple of meditation apps, read some great books by mindfulness experts, and participated in live-streamed offerings. But the more I delved into mindfulness, which is rooted in Buddhism, the more I realized the navigational beacon of my teachers was Buddha, not Jesus Christ.

It dawned on me, I was taking a one-degree-per-second turn away from the Living God, inadvertently setting my auto pilot on the wrong flight path. Thankfully, I listened to the Holy Spirit and got back on course with Christ.

Jesus answered, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

I still meditate occasionally, but now I keep in mind where the true airport is!

Photo by Patricia McCarty on Pexels.com

For a different look at this same subject, please see my post, What Time is It?

Categories
Christian Blog

Measure Once, Cuss Twice

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)

“Measure once, cuss twice,” it’s a favorite saying of Ben Napier, from the HGTV show Home Town. On the show, Ben and his wife Erin renovate properties in Laurel, Mississippi. One of the latest episodes features the Napier’s taking their old Airstream to Sunny Campers, a business that restores vintage travel trailers. It was fascinating to watch, as they described the process to Ben and Erin.

Two Airstream trailers awaiting restoration.

First, they completely clear out the inside of the trailer–all the way back to the shiny aluminum skin. As it turns out, many older Airstreams have moisture issues. They leak. A ‘full gut’ makes these clearly visible. The company then moves to the outside of the trailer, where they pull EVERY rivet, clean out seams, reseal and re-revit to make the trailer better than new.

Once everything is replaced and triple checked, it’s time for the ultimate test– the water chamber. The chamber resembles a car wash, with high press jets soaking the trailer from every direction. Everything must be leak-proof. Only after passing the water test, can the empty shell become a camper again.

Sunny Campers says the biggest mistake people make is to take an older Airstream and fix it up on the inside, without considering that it probably leaks.

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7b NIV)

When it comes to dealing with the old David, I’d be satisfied with a surface remodel. God, on the other hand, prefers a frame-up restoration.

This was the story in the third chapter of John, when Nicodemus came to Jesus. He was a respected religious leader (undoubtedly a good man) but Jesus told him, “You must be born again.” (John 3:3)

Nic wanted a superficial remodel, but Christ called for a complete re-do.

Today, and everyday, may we allow the Holy Spirit to restore and test our hearts. He’ll go farther than we ever could on our own.

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart. (Proverbs 17:3 NIV)

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/06/13/measure-once-cuss-twice/

Categories
Christian Blog

The Delightful Danger of Distraction

When I was a boy, I spent two weeks every summer on my grandparents southwest Oklahoma farm. It was 160 acres of cotton fields, mesquite trees and sand. There was also a large garden, a tree house and a coop full of chickens.

A favorite night time activity of my cousins and mine was to collect June bugs to feed those chickens. Here’s how it worked:

  • Turn on the porch light.
  • Wait for the June bugs to get stuck on the window screens.
  • Grab them and put them in a jar until the next morning.

Now, to a chicken, a live June bug is like ice cream on the 4th of July to you and me. My grandmother’s hens were used to eating scraps from the table and scratching at the ground for whatever else. So when we started dropping juicy bugs the GIRLS went WILD–losing their natural wariness.

Cue mischievous little boy.

I enjoyed sneaking up behind a preoccupied hen and giving her the boot. That’s right, I gave the girl a gentle kick with the side of my foot, sending her flapping with a “BA-BAAK!”

Oh what fun!

Until grandmother caught me.


So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them. (Matthew 6:31-32 NIV)

Have you ever become preoccupied with the stresses of life and not trusted God like you should? Me too. Sometimes I get distracted by the ‘June bugs’, and don’t see the devil sneaking up from behind.

I realize comparing our unwanted worries to the chickens’ delicious June bugs is a weak analogy. Or is it? Spinning my worry wheels (and getting nowhere) is like eating whipped cream straight out of the can, compared to waiting on God to feed me. But Jesus says go to the Father first.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 NIV)

*No live chickens were harmed while writing this post.


https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/06/06/kick-a-chicken-for-the-kingdom-of-god/

Categories
Hope

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 him 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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Categories
Anxiety Hope Self Care

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 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)
Categories
Anxiety Comfort Peace Protection Security

Don’t Feed the Fears

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

My family loves to celebrate Independence Day, but our little dog doesn’t. To say she’s afraid of fireworks is putting it mildly.

Sami, a terrier mix, is the picture of tenaciousness. Need a rodent out of the shed? She’s your girl. Just leave the door open and she’ll come out in a few minutes with one in her mouth. But when fireworks fly, our little spitfire turns into a drama queen.

Just so you have the picture: she shakes, cries, slobbers, whines, and generally runs around inconsolably. Plus, once the fireworks start, she absolutely refuses to go outside to potty. I forgot to say we live in a small town where it’s LEGAL for EVERYONE to pop firecrackers on July 4.

Every year, we come up with a game plan to mitigate Sami’s fears. We try to schedule her outside potty breaks between barrages, and take road trips to areas that are fireworks free. No, we haven’t tried a “Thunder Shirt.” Maybe next year.

Doggie yoga doesn’t work either.

Last night, we left the house at dusk–just before the “festivities” started– and made our way to a firework-less town where no outdoor displays were planned. Sami enjoyed a walk at a park and we drove around a bit. So far so good.

“Let’s get some ice cream,” I said, trying to not seem anxious. But as we got closer to our favorite little shop, there were flashes ahead in the distance.

Oh NO! The casino up ahead must have gotten a special permit; they were putting on a HUGE display and we were headed straight for it!


Too late. Sami was already shaking like a leaf; time to turn around.

Sometime early on July 5 we made it home in one piece, and everyone began to calm down.

A day later, what happened reads like a second-rate dystopian novel–where every moment comes complete with its own artillery.

Thank God there’s a plan for such emergencies. “I’ve got this,” says the Almighty. “Just drive away from the fireworks.”

Don’t feed the fears.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/07/05/dont-feed-the-fears/

Categories
Anxiety Christian Blog

A Brush With a Bobcat

“USA_D802921” by Drumsara is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

At twilight this morning, I crossed paths with a bobcat. A medium-sized wildcat native to North America, the bobcat is an elusive and solitary predator. The one I met was about the size of my miniature schnauzer, but with razor-sharp claws and teeth. He paused at the edge of the road and stared back at me as if to say, “You’re in MY territory.”

Anxiety is a bobcat of sorts. It too is an elusive predator that specializes in chance encounters. Often appearing in a dusk or dawn moment of life, it pauses at the edge of the road and stares back at us as if to say, “You’re in MY territory.”

Luckily, my brush with a bobcat ended peacefully. He vanished into the trees just after the brief stare down.

In keeping with the analogy, as a card-carrying anxious person, here are three things I do to manage my encounters with negative-“bobcat”-emotions.

Use Mantras: confront weak emotions with logic.
These are short positive statements said over and over to remind yourself what’s really REAL. My favorite mantras are from the Bible. This verse has gotten me through many a restless night:

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Unplug: occasionally choose solitude over people
Spending time alone is a great way to recharge, recalibrate, and reclaim your emotional well being. This is a life hack Jesus used in his busiest ministry days; He often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16). When anxiety levels rise, try taking a break from anything with a screen–unless it’s a screened in porch!

Don’t fight the feeling: let it pass over you instead.
A soldier friend, who suffers from PTSD, told me he’s learned not to resist the traumatizing pictures in his mind, it only makes them stronger. Instead, he let’s them pass through until they weaken and disperse–like a brief storm.

Hopefully, I can wrap this up with a favorite quote from the movie, “Gladiator”

I knew a man who once said, ‘Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.’

General Maximus (Russell Crowe)

Bobcats and unwelcome emotions are bound to cross our path at times.

“_D802910” by Drumsara is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Smile back.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/29/a-brush-with-a-bobcat/

Categories
Hope

It Will Keep

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

People who’ve spent time in submarines, deep under the surface of the ocean, speak of a “sea cushion.” Below a certain depth, the ocean is as smooth as glass–no matter what happens overhead.

This illustration leads me to ponder the unshakable peace that can be found in God’s holiest servants. Each of us can probably think of a believer who trusted God and remained faithful to Him through the most perilous of circumstances. Which begs the question: How does one rest in God while the storm rages?

Rest is not a hallowed feeling that comes over us in church; it is the repose of a heart set deep in God.

Drummond

That’s it! The life that is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:1-3).

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Psalm 91:1

This reminds me of a godly woman who used to live in my little town. She was twice widowed and mostly confined to a wheelchair, yet had the sweetest Christian spirit! Most days, she never ventured outside her home, but friends and neighbors still lined up to see her or called her on the phone. People were drawn to this friend of God who had the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7).

One day, I was visiting with Ms. Frieda, as we called her, when her phone rang. However, she continued to speak with me as if nothing was happening. As the phone continued to ring, I said, “Go ahead and answer, Ms. Frieda, I’ll wait.” But she continued to ignore it and said the most amazing three words: “It will keep.”

Today, no matter the disturbance on the surface, may we rest under the sea cushion of Christ. And despite the inevitable distractions, may we respond like Ms. Frieda.

It will keep.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/13/it-will-keep/

Categories
Anxiety Faith Purpose Security Sufficiency

One Stop Shop

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“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

2 Peter 2:3

My wife and I recently fell in love with a particular cream-filled chocolate cake bar that is hard to find.

Wouldn’t you know, our local supermarket put them on sale, and their entire stock disappeared in one day!


NO!!!


We were out of our all time favorite snack; this couldn’t be happening. Almost daily trips to the store revealed the same empty shelf in the cooler. I even slipped the manager of the dairy section my phone number, asking him to call me the moment they came in.

NOTHING HAPPENED…


But then it did. I was digging in the freezer for some steaks to put on the grill and there they were: two pristine milk bars buried under a bag of broccoli.

YES!!!

I was searching like mad for something I already had.

Does this remind anyone else of their walk with God?

Too many times I’ve been like Moses and Jonah and said, “I can’t do that God; please pick someone else.” And God’s response has been, “I’ve already given you everything you need for the job, David. I want you to do it.”

Searching for that ONE THING in your Christian life? Check the freezer; you may already have it.

God is a one stop shop.

Categories
Anxiety Comfort Peace Protection Security

The Little Girl and God

smiling girl sitting top of vehicle
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Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14

My wife and I used to teach Sunday School at a shelter for abused, neglected, or abandoned children. One particular morning we encountered a sparkly eyed five-year old with a perpetual grin.  When we started the Bible story, about Jesus and the little children, she seemed particularly attentive. So I asked her, “Have you heard about Jesus?” She said no. Still sensing a connection, I gently probed, “Have you heard about God?” “Oh, I know God,” she said. “We take naps together!”

I said something like, “Oh, you do?!” and then continued with the story. But the rest of the day I tried to wrap my mind around what this sweet little girl said about God–“We take naps together!” I pictured a home, chaotic and out of control; a prison where a frightened little girl hid in her room to escape the negligent adults who were supposed to be her caregivers. She’s hiding in the closet (or maybe under her bed) sobbing inconsolably, but then God Himself comes and comforts her until she falls asleep. And THIS is what she calls “taking naps with God.”

The miracle of God’s little slumber party friend was still on my heart when I said my prayers that evening. I started by thanking Him for looking out for her and for letting me in on the secret. But then, I just couldn’t hold it:

“God, do you take naps with big people?”