Monthly Archives: March 2018

Holy Week – Anxiety = Peaceful Week… (With Help from Max Lucado)

Friends! Anyone lugging around worries that are making you anxious?  (I’m just realizing lug is in luggage.) Luggage denotes “inconveniently heavy baggage.”  Well, take heart, I’m bringing you good news to lighten your load and bless us this Holy Week.

Many of you know how often I quote author Max Lucado.   His most recent book, Anxious for Nothing—Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, is a current favorite, its’ many pages already highlighted and dog-eared.

I’ll share a few of many favorite quotes which I pray will ease our anxiety, perhaps even erase it altogether, blessing us with a peaceful Holy Week. In the meantime, you may wish to grab this book as it’s a resource you would return to time and time again.

Max begins with, “Anxiety is a meteor shower of what-ifs…

Anxiety is trepidation.

It’s a suspicion,

An apprehension.

Life in a minor key with major concerns…

You’re part Chicken Little and part Eeyore. The sky is falling and it’s falling disproportionately on you.”  Anyone?!!! Max not only cracks me up, he often perfectly depicts my own moods.

Flip on the news or grab a newspaper and “anxiety disorders” are usually the front runners.  Epidemic proportions.

Max states what we think, yet fear to admit:  “One would think Christians would be exempt from worry. But we are not. We have been taught that the Christian life is a life of peace, and when we don’t have peace, we assume the problem lies within us. Not only do we feel anxious, but we also feel guilty about our anxiety!  The result is a downward spiral of worry, guilt, worry, guilt.”

What’s a person to do?  Thankfully, Max gifts us with the solution straight from Scripture. Philippians 4:4-8 says:

Max shows us that these five verses include, “four admonitions that lead to ONE WONDERFUL PROMISE:  ‘the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.’” (v. 7)

Additionally, this book blesses us throughout by equipping us with a simple acronym, the word “CALM”.  Put this in your anxiety arsenal and you will have a peaceful Holy Week:

 

The concept of “CALM” is introduced in Chapter One,  and expounded on throughout the book.  You’ll never look at it again in the same way! (See page 10 for starters!)

We readers are reminded to consult the Apostle Paul’s words and actions. Max says, “Paul believed in the steady hand of a good God. He was protected by God’s strength, preserved by God’s love. He lived beneath the shadow of God’s wings.”

What does that look like for us?  It translates into savoring God’s sovereignty.  Clinging to His sovereignty and reminding ourselves daily that God is still on the throne.  Always occupied.  Always interceding for you and for me…

This Holy Week as we march toward Good Friday and Easter, may we remember the acronym “Calm”, and hear Max’ reminder:  “God took the crucifixion of Friday and turned it into the celebration of Sunday.”

Max’ book also includes a Study Guide which would be great for anyone, but also super for a Small Group to work thru’.  And, more good news, he’s got another new book coming out this summer, due to be released August 7th, called Unshakable Hope:  Building Our Lives on the Promises of God.  Yet one more sure-to-be great resource!

Have a most blessed Easter.

‘Til next time!

 

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Join Us for Book Club Monday, 3/26, for a wild discussion of The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker!

Friends! You and your friends are all invited to come hear a wildly entertaining discussion of a Sci-Fi novel that’s quite the page-turner. You’re about to be blessed by my friend, Nancy Tinnell, as she’s written a great teaser for you to get y’all to come Book Club!

Please enjoy Nancy’s write-up:

Are you a fan of futuristic fiction, books like The Hunger Games, e.g.? My experience with it has been less than minimal. I read 1984 by George Orwell when I was in high school. That’s the extent of it!

Our March selection for Branches Book Club may be the first futuristic fiction selection ever to appear on our reading list. In The Choosing (book one of the Seer series), Rachelle Dekker has created a story that keeps us anxious for what we know to be good and true to prevail over what is not just bad, but evil.

It is the year 2257 in America, which has fostered a dystopian (think utopia in the polar opposite direction) society based in Washington, D.C. Everyone is organized and ruled by the Authority, leaders who are supposed to be wise advisors and keepers of order and lawfulness. If you are familiar with the Lord Acton quote, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” you will be able to understand how one of the members of the Authority descended into a madness that made him dangerous to those closest to him and to their society.

The Authority studies and follows the teachings of the Veritas (truth). They frequently quote sentences that remind us of familiar Scriptural teachings but leave us feeling a little nervous. Here is an example:

Veritas: “Let every citizen be subject to the Authority. For there is no true authority except from God, and those who have been appointed have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the Authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

The Authority interprets the Veritas for their own benefit. In Dekker’s novel, the citizens who detect corruption in the Authority have no voice, no choice, and no free will. They are ignorant of the word grace, having never experienced it.  When a leader “goes rogue,” it creates a tension in us as we read and makes us desperately hope for rescue for our main characters, who are innocents trapped in this unforgiving society.

We invite you to join us at Branches Book Club on Monday, March 26th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. for what promises to be a lively discussion of The Choosing. Remember we’re under construction. To find us, enter the front glass doors to the church and take the rear sanctuary stairs to the lower level meeting rooms.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

 

Thank you for the write-up Nancy!

We hope to see y’all Monday night! Please RSVP to Nancy by calling (502) 245-8839.

’Til next time!

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Transform Your Morning and Your Mood in Less Than TEN Minutes…

Friends! March madness won’t drive us mad IF we try the below suggestion each morning…

GOOD NEWS for you readers out there: You do NOT have to be a morning person to start your day off well!!!

Coming from a confirmed grouch in the morning, in dire need of a pot of coffee prior to producing any semblance of intelligent conversation, I’m happy to report that listening to music in the morning brings blessings a plenty:

music and technology concept - smiling young woman with closed e

Blessing #1: Your focus will shift away from you and your distractions, rising up to the Lord.

Blessing #2: Praising the Lord allows you to worship with truths straight out of God’s Word.

Blessing #3: Your spirit will be lifted no matter your circumstance.

I’ll be giving you two worship songs shortly to get you started. If you listen to both of them, you can do this in under ten minutes

Recently we talked briefly about Dee Brestin’s book The God of All Comfort: Finding Your Way into His Arms which she graciously penned after her husband’s death. Songs are what saved her sanity.

The God of All Comfort

The first song I’d like to share with you John and I discovered while attending our middle son’s church, Tates Creek Presbyterian Church (TCPC), in Lexington, Kentucky.(www.tcpa.org )

Upon singing this song with its’ powerful lyrics (which caused me to weep), I made a mental note to investigate it.  I also wrongly assumed, because of TCPC’s more liturgical services and typically older hymns, that this song was also an old one. Au contraire…

Please allow me to show you one of my new favorites,

O Church Arise by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. (Never mind they also wrote a huge favorite of mine and I suspect yours, In Christ Alone. Checkout Travis Cottrell’s rendition if you have time.)

Keith is a British, Northern Irish composer, married to Kristyn, who many times co-write these “modern hymns”. Stuart Townend is a British, English songwriter and worship leader.

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Please sit back and enjoy Oh Church Arise. Soak in the lyrics:

To read these truths from the lyrics, here are just a few Scriptures that spell them out:

Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 4:6 and 8, 12:9; 1 John 1:5; Isaiah 14:2; Psalm 27:1; Philippians 4:13; Romans 5:2; Colossians 2:15; and Hebrews 4:12.

The second song I’d like to show you I suspect you already know, but perhaps hadn’t been able to savor the Scripture around which it’s centered.

I’d heard about Kari Jobe over the past few years and was blessed to be led in worship by her at a Women of Faith Conference in Houston in March of 2014. (Click on “Houston We Have an Answer” from 3/6/14) FYI:

I love her song I Am Not Alone for several reasons…the most important of which is the reminder within the title. As believers in Jesus Christ, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit within us, we are never alone.

Matthew 28:20 is where Jesus tells us, “And lo, I am with you always…” Kari also says while writing the song, they began with Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. 

Please enjoy:

Savor these Scriptures which go along with Kari’s song:

Isaiah 43:1-2; Daniel 3; Psalm 23; Psalm 46; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; 2 Corinthians 7:9-16; Romans 9:2; John 12:35; Exodus 14:14; and 2 Chronicles 20:17. (You can find more if you hunt!)

My prayer for all of us is as we begin our days, may we jump start them with worship and praise as only our Lord deserves. See if your mood doesn’t vastly improve as well.

‘Til next time!

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HOT OFF THE PRESS! Grab “Searching for Spring” to Renew Your Hope…

Friends! Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and grab Searching for Spring—How God Makes All Things Beautiful in Time by Christine Hoover. It releases this week!

If you’ve been desirous of spring’s arrival so as to ditch winter, this book’s for you.  Christine gifts the reader with hope, putting a kick back into your step. She also improves your eyesight so it’ll engage in looking for our Creator’s beauty at every turn.

You’ll resonate with her honesty and find yourself saying, “Wow, I didn’t know anyone else felt that way!” Personally, I read the whole book with amazement because Christine is a pastor’s wife.  Their little family moved away to start a church plant in their home all the while having three little boys running around. Piece of cake, right?

Catherine Parks, who wrote A Christ-Centered Wedding, said, “This is a book that invites the reader to slow down, look around, and rejoice in the hope of the coming warmth of spring.”  Ahhh, yes…

Christine opens her book with a killer question from her son (our boys used to do this while I was driving the car which was a blessing as they couldn’t see the shock on my face!):  “Mom, is life hard?” How would you answer that question?

Structuring her chapters around the passage in Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, we readers get to visit all four seasons with the bulk of the chapters landing in winter.  I found this comforting, always feeling like winter is our longest season, even tho’ it’s the same number of months as the other three.  However, if we’re in a metaphorical “winter”, we all know it can last for years. Christine blesses us with additional help to survive “inconsolable things”. She calls these triggers for winter.

Via a game of hide and seek in the book, our eyes become trained to look for God’s beauty thanks to loads of pertinent Scripture and truths behind them. Christine says, “We all must be perpetual seekers in a cosmic game of Hide and Seek.”

She adds, “Beauty is the drumbeat that began playing on the earth’s birthday and has never stopped since, a bass drum pulsing beneath all we see and touch and taste and experience in this life, urging us to march into battle…

The mallet hits in rhythm:  God has made everything to be beautiful in the past.

Again:  God will make everything turn out beautiful in the future.

Again:   God is currently working to make all things beautiful right at this very moment.”

Finally, I’d like to close (so as not to spill any more about the book!) with my most favorite and comforting quote:

The truth that Christ’s kingdom will forever reign, when all things will be made beautiful and right, is the truth we need for our day.

It’s the truth that enables us to
face discomfort,
monotony,
broken relationships,
sickness,
loss, and
death with unwavering hands
and steadfast hearts.

It’s the truth that motivates us to faithfully serve in obscurity.

It’s the truth that helps us hang in and hang on.

Because of Christ’s resurrection, we know that death will be the last enemy destroyed and we will once again walk with God as Adam and Eve did. Something good is guaranteed in the end.”

Thank you, Christine Hoover, for opening my eyes to our Creator, His beauty, and the hope we can hang our hats on for each and every day. May God bless you and your family, and your church for your faithfulness.

Friends, you will be blessed by reading Searching for Spring! And don’t miss her other books!

And don’t miss snippets from Christine on Ann Voskamp’s blog this week! http://www.annvoskamp.com (If Your Faith Struggled Waiting for God to Make All Things New)

‘Til next time!

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