Worry is a continual tempation in life, isn’t it? And there are reasons to worry: ISIS, shootings, illness, mounting credit card debt, faltering relationships, rebellious kids, and on and on and on.
But God says,
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV
Be anxious for nothing? Does this mean if you worry, you’ve committed. . .sin?! (Yes. And knowing you’ve fallen short of the mark might create even more worry, right? Ugh!)
In this short article you’ll discover. . .
- The good news: You’ve got company.
- The better news: God provides a plan to dump worry like garbage.
Worriers Jesus Loved
Worry pestered Martha of Bethany. She whirled like a dervish in the kitchen while her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet, listening, learning, loving.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42)
When Peter took his eyes off Jesus and focused on raging waves, he began to sink.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:28-30)
Did you know a Christ follower who worries is saying to herself, “God, I know what you’re saying but I’m not sure I can trust you”? Worry is distrust of the goodness, love, and power of God.
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It’s makes sense, then, that he commands that you and I stop worrying.
Worry Chokes You
In Anxious for Nothing by John MacArthur, he identifies that the word worry comes for the Old English term wyrgan, which means “to choke” or “strangle.”
Just as Martha worried about meal preparation and Peter feared he’d drown, you and I sometimes let our worries choke us. Even panic attacks may jump on our frazzled nerves.
But worry accomplishes nother productive. It steals sleep. It causes stomach upset. And it even increases blood pressure and messes with your nervous system. Indeed, worry ruins quality of life!
And for nothing! Listen to Jesus’ words:
Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27
First, agree with God that he gives you strength for each day. God gives you what you need when you need it.
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He is faithful (I Corinthians 10:13).
Second, intentionally adjust your focus. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are of earth.” God promises to take care of your physical needs: food, clothing, and shelter. He wants to free you from misplaced priorites.
Jay Adams cautioned in What Do You Do When You Worry All the Time?
God wants you to seek to please Him first, and think about the problem of fear secondly. that is why when speaking of worry (a lesser form of fear) in Matthew 6:33 He commands ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.’ If you put anything else first–even the desire to rid yourself of a terrifying fear– you will discover that you will fail to achieve ether goal. God will not take second place, even to a legitimate concern to be free of fear.
Third, thank God that he cares for you.
To implement these applications, begin a list of how he is providing, jotting down one or two things each day for a month. During the first week memorize Matthew 6:33 and ponder it. Later in the month, memorize and ponder other verses that dump worry. Some ideas are Philippians 4:19, Colossians 3:2, and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
I like to artistically write verses in an unlined notebook as I memorize them, adding graphic elements and simple pictures with colored pencils. You may like to do this too. Let me know how this worry-free plan works for you, or contact me and I’ll pray for you.
You can be anxious for nothing!
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Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Money: Don’t believe these three myths and begin enjoying financial freedom.
Years ago a family member racked up four-digit credit card debt on vacations, birthday gifts, and eating out. She paid only the minimum amount due on her credit cards. Then she made a plan to buy only what she needed using cash. Living within her means, she paid the balances within a year.
How this Christian woman loved financial freedom!
Here are 3 money myths that trick Christian women and nearly everyone!
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Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:15, NIV
Myth 1: Godly Christians Are Financially Wealthy
Truth: Godliness is not a means to financial gain as some health-and-wealth gurus suggest. The apostle Paul tells his young friend Timothy: False teachers. . .”who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain” (1 Timothy 6:5).
Ask yourself what money symbolizes to you
Read Matthew 6:19-20 and consider what Jesus says about earthly treasure:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)
Myth 2: Money Is Evil
Truth: Money does great good when handled as God intends — as a means to show love to one’s neighbor, especially widows, orphans, and the poor, and to take care of your immediate family.
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. (1 Timothy 5:4)
The Bible warns against the love of money is “the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10
Myth 3: Money Satisifies
Truth: Money lovers always want bigger bank accounts, a nicer car, a fancier vacation, a larger house. Solomon who asked God for wisdom put it this way:
Whoever loves money never has money enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
The antidote is recognizing who owns everything in the world including every dollar, euro, peso, and ruble: God! He says,
The world is mine, and all that is in it. (Psalm 50:12)
And, after recognizing that God owns everything, give thanks for what he has given you. Jotting down reason for thanks daily helps you develop an attitude of gratitude.
One-Minute Money Makeover
Consider these questions. Then plan your makeover:
- Do you have a budget? If not, make one. Here’s a free Money Map at Crown Financial.
- Are finances tight? Get creative save money and make money. Check Pinterest for gift-making ideas. Turn your hobby into cash. For instance, one of my friends has a full-time position and refurbishes furniture for resale. Another friend sells books on Amazon. I occasionally edit books. What is something you like to do that bring into extra cash?
- Do you have extra cash from a bonus or an inheritance? Put it in your emergency fund, or set it aside for retirement or your kids’ college tuition, or share with financially-strapped families in your church (most churches have a Benevolence Fund) or with a charity that helps the hurting in your community or overseas. My husband and I sponsor a child through World Vision, and there are other excellent Christian charities.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Abused? Were you abused, phyically or sexually, in your marriage? In part 2 of this multi-part series on domestic violence, guest writer Jim Newheiser carefully looks at common assertions and takes a balanced view. This post appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is reprinted with permission.
Read Part 1 here: When to believe the victim, when to believe the abuser
I am thankful to God that many necessary and important books and articles are being written to increase awareness of physical and sexual abuse. Abuse affect both the society at large and the Christian community in particular. Spiritual leaders have been rightly admonished for their failure to protect at-risk women and children.
Battered wives have been wrongly told that if they were just more loving and submissive, their husbands would change and the abuse would stop. They are then wrongly sent back to take further verbal and physical beatings. Many church leaders need to repent of their failure to “rescue the weak and needy; [and] deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).
While I affirm the importance of understanding the dark nature of abuse and protecting the victims of abuse, I am concerned that some, in their zeal to correct the failure of the past, have swung too far the other way. This can lead to false accusations and unnecessary family breakups.
I would like to give a few examples of what I believe to be common overstatements, and for each one, I will describe the good intention behind the statements, the harm which can be caused because of imbalanced thinking, and a more balanced way of expressing the same concerns.
If You Feel Abused, Then You Were Abused?
ASSERTION: If you feel abused, then you were abused.
- The valid concern: This statement is often made to express the reality that abuse may have taken place even if the abuser does not recognize or acknowledge his behavior (yelling, pushing, bullying, coercion, threats, and intimidation) as wrong.
- The harm that can be caused: On the other hand, the Bible teaches that it is possible to wrongly interpret the words, actions, and motives of others (1 Corinthians 2:11).
For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11
For example, Eli falsely accused Hannah of drunkenness because her lips were moving as she prayed (1 Samuel 2:12ff). We cannot judge one person merely by the subjective feelings of another. For example, a man may be in a rush and accidentally bump into his wife (with whom he had had a recent conflict) as he turns a corner. She may accuse him of doing it deliberately to harm her when that was never his motive.
Words also can be misunderstood. What is taken by one person as angry and abusive might have never been intended as such. Nor might it have been interpreted this way by an objective third party.
Scripture reminds us: “Love hopes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7); in other words, love seeks to assume the best.
3. It would be better to say: A person who feels abused should be helped to objectively evaluate what has happened and to get assistance if genuine abuse has taken place. Part of this objective evaluation involves considering the ongoing pattern and cumulative effect of the accused person’s behavior, as well as the immediate accusation at hand. Proper evaluation over time keeps us from wrongly escalating the consequences for one individual incident while also not dismissing the whole situation because one incident wasn’t deemed as abusive.
Sometimes a Victim Has a Sin Issue Too
ASSERTION: It is never the victim’s fault.
- The valid concern: Many abusers claim that their victims are to blame because the victim provoked him or failed to be as good a wife or child as they should be. Many victims suffer from false guilt. There is no valid excuse for physical or sexual abuse.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
2. The harm that can be caused: Some victims have sin issues which also need to be addressed. I counseled in a case in which a wife would berate and insult her husband, saying “Come on Jesus man, hit me!” She admitted that she felt that she had won the argument when he finally struck her. Again, I emphasize there was no excuse for him hitting her. But she also needed to address her personal sinfulness.
There have been cases of sexual assault in which the woman got herself into an extremely compromising and dangerous situation (i.e., drunk, alone, and making out with a man with whom she is not married). Again, the man should have stopped when she said, “no”
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(also see Habakkuk 2:15). If he assaults her, he is guilty of a crime and should be punished. But she also needs to acknowledge before God her personal sin in the situation. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 addresses situations like this.
3. It would be better to say: Abuse is never justified, but victims may need to examine themselves to see if they have any sin for which they also need to seek God’s forgiveness.
(Friend, if someone has abused you, please seek help from a caring pastor, a spiritually wise woman at your church, or from a biblical counselor, who counsels the compassionate, effective Word to your hurting heart. Learn more about biblical counseling by Skype.–LAM)
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
An abuse victim needs loving support from friends and spiritual leaders. In this multi-part series, guest writer Jim Newheiser recognizes a pendulum swing in addressing this very difficult problem. And he provides balance. Read on and let me know: Do you agree with him? Disagree? Please leave a comment or contact me.
This is part 1 in a multi-part series, which appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and is reprinted with permission.
I am thankful to God that many necessary and important books and articles are being written to increase awareness of physical and sexual abuse as they affect both the society at large and the Christian community in particular. Spiritual leaders have been rightly admonished for their failure to protect at-risk women and children.
Abuses which should have been exposed have been covered up, leading to more unnecessary suffering which grieves Christ.
Battered wives have been wrongly told that if they were just more loving and submissive, their husbands would change and the abuse would stop.
They are then wrongly sent back to take further verbal and physical beatings.
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Many church leaders need to repent of their failure to “rescue the weak and needy; [and] deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).
While I affirm the importance of understanding the dark nature of abuse and protecting the victims of abuse, I am concerned that some, in their zeal to correct the failure of the past, have swung too far the other way. This can lead to false accusations and unnecessary family breakups. I would like to give a few examples of what I believe to be common overstatements, and for each one, I will describe the good intention behind the statements, the harm which can be caused because of imbalanced thinking, and a more balanced way of expressing the same concerns.
Always Believe the Victim?
ASSERTION: Always believe the victim.
- The valid concern: This statement is made out of sympathy for many victims of abuse whose claims have been rejected as unbelievable when no one could imagine that the perpetrator, who seems like such a nice guy, could have done such a bad thing. Or those hearing the claim may prefer not to get involved in the messiness which will surely follow if the claim is substantiated.
- The harm that can be caused: Innocent people have been harmed by false claims of abuse. Some alleged victims have learned how much harm they can do to another person with an accusation of abuse. I had a counseling case in which a fifteen-year-old girl threatened that she would falsely accuse her stepfather of molesting her if he didn’t give her what she wanted. We had another case in which an alleged victim had someone else scratch up her face so that she could call the police and accuse an innocent party of doing it. To be falsely labeled as an abuser can destroy a person’s reputation, damage his career, and potentially lead to false imprisonment. The Bible teaches that a high standard of proof is necessary before we can treat someone as guilty (Deut. 19:15).
- A better way to say this would be: All claims of abuse must be taken seriously.
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When hearing an allegation of abuse, we should immediately offer compassionate care, ensuring that the threatened party is safe. Allegations need to be investigated, in many cases by the civil authorities (Romans 13:1-7); however, it is not biblical to treat the accused party as guilty without proof.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1-4. ESV)
 Because most cases of abuse involve women I will refer to the victim as being female. I acknowledge that men can also be victims of spousal abuse and have counseled men in such situations.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Authority figures–whether fathers, husbands, church elders, government leaders, or employers–influence women’s lives. How we women respond to them reveals our hearts. This article by counselor Julie Ganschow appeared first here on her website and is used with permission.
When Authority Figures Disappoint Us
As Christian women, we function in a world that is watching to see how we will respond to the authority figures in our lives. Fathers, husbands, and church elders are the main authorities under which we function. Sometimes our leaders disappoint us, don’t respond the way we want them to, or even do things that are extremely hurtful to us.
Women who respond to authority with anger and rebellion are often applauded in larger social circles or on social media. Our female friends and acquaintances don’t want to see us get pushed around or “abused.” As as result, they bandwagon with the offended/hurt woman and jump to her defense.
This is very unwise.
Proverbs 18:13 says,
He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him. (NASB)
Often, those defending a woman who has been hurt do not have the full story. They speak out in support of her without knowing the facts of the situation.
Unless you can have access to the other party involved, be very careful about coming to conclusions. It is very easy to take up a reproach on behalf of someone you care about or when the cause is important to you for personal reasons.
I see this a lot when a woman is claiming that she has been harmed in some way by her church leaders or by her husband. Typically, there are so many factors involved in such situations that unless you have access to all persons involved you cannot possibly know the complexity of the matter.
Questions to Ask Before Responding
To keep from being a fool, ask a number of questions (who, what, when, where, and how) and seek to understand the problem.
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Verse 17 tells us,
The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him. (NASB)
It is imperative that you learn both sides of the issue before taking a position in support of the woman. It is easy to form a wrong conclusion about something without having all the facts. Perhaps you have been in this position, and learned too late that you spoke or acted prematurely on behalf of someone. It is much wiser to take your time and learn the background and pertinent information about the issue and the people involved before you say or do something that will bring shame upon you later on.
While asking questions, it is important that you listen to what is being said in response. This is why Proverbs 18:15 says,
The mind of the prudent acquires [gets] knowledge and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge [information]. (NASB emphasis added)
You want to be actively seeking to learn information about the problem and the person who is in the middle of the problem. Listening is much more than merely hearing what is being said. This is active listening; the kind that is engaged in hearing and processing what the speaker is saying. In addition, the listener is discerning the heart issues being revealed as she talks (Luke 6:45). Again, asking clarifying questions will help you to gain an understanding of the problem.
Ministering with Understanding
When you are confident you have a good grasp on the problem, then you can proceed with ministering to the heart of the woman. It may very well be that she has been wronged; how she responds to it will either bring glory or shame to the name of Christ. Our responsibility is to help her form a biblical response to those who have hurt her.
1 Peter 2:18-23 is a wonderful passage to begin teaching her what will honor God. Remind her that Jesus completely understands suffering under an unjust authority and that He is with her in her suffering (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15). Show her the pattern He left for us to follow: when He was reviled he did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but entrusted Himself to Him to judges justly (1 Peter 2:23).
No one is saying this will be easy, and she may balk at your counsel. You may have to be persistent, helping her to see the issues of her heart as revealed by her words and deeds (Luke 6:45).
The goal is always repentance and restoration before God. It may not be wise for her to return to the situation (physical abuse, spiritual abuse), but there should be peace between the parties if at all possible (Romans 12:18). This is what glorifies God.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,