Todays Hot Topic: Worry

Continuing ABC Church’s sunday morning open discussion forum on todays prevalent topics, today the congregation discussed “worry”.

WOR-RY – ˈwərē
VERB:
1. give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.
“he worried about his soldier sons in the war”
2. (of a dog or other carnivorous animal) tear at, gnaw on, or drag around with the teeth.
“I found the dog contentedly worrying on a bone”
SYNONYMS: fret, be concerned, be anxious, agonize, overthink, brood, panic, lose sleep, get worked up, get stressed, get in a state, stew, torment oneself
“she worries about his health”
NOUN:
1. a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.
“her son had been a constant source of worry to her”
SYNONYMS: anxiety, perturbation, distress, concern, uneasiness, unease, disquiet, fretfulness, restlessness, nervousness, nerves, agitation, edginess, tension, stress

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Worry affects us all. Take a look at the fingernails of the person closest to you and you may see the repercussions of anxiety.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? -Matthew 6:25-27

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. -Matthew 6:31-34

Ask yourselves:
   ●   What kinds of things do you worry about?
   ●   How does worry affect your life?
   ●   Why is it hard not to worry about things?
   ●   Why is it hard not to worry about things?
   ●   Are there any benefits from worrying?
   ●   When does worry become sin?
   ●   How do you give your worries to God?
   ●   Does giving your worries to God relieve you of any responsibilities?
   ●   How would your life be different if you didn’t worry?

It was unanimously agreed that we would be happier and healthier without worry. We would take more risks and live life fuller.

Worry can hold us back at every turn. Anxiety causes us to overthink and to focus and fixate on the smallest things, inflating them into gianthood.

Worries take a million different forms: school, work, health, family, friends, relationships, money, decisions, careers…

It steals sleep, it steals time, it steals relationships – worry is a thief.

Yet the Scriptures tell us that we need not worry for a single thing.

Why does God allow things that cause worry into our lives?

Having kids opened many peoples eyes to how God works as a Father. That His correction in our lives is not about anger but about love. Challenges arise in our lives to allow us to grow and learn.

A truly loving parent disciplines (lending correction not angery punishment) their children for their own good. We dont allow our children to subside on candy, we teach them not to lie, we show them what is right and wrong. We do this because our love for them prompts us to look at their longterm good not just their shortterm happiness.

This is God’s way and understanding that EVERYTHING He does is for our good and because He LOVES US helps us to trust Him and to stop worrying.

God knows all. Every second of our lives is already mapped out. Our every decision and its repercussions are already planned for… even our sinful decisions. God already has it worked out for our best interests.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

-Romans 8:28

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It is not easy. It isn’t. However worry is entirely unnecessary. If we accept what the Bible truly tells us about God, His character and His unending knowledge of our future, we see that worry is foolishness.

There are no benefits to worrying. It is wholely unhealthy.

Worries fade as our faith in God grows. As we develop our relationship with God, as we begin to know Him more, our trust grows. With this trust comes faith. With this faith worry goes away.

As we draw closer to God our weakness to worry disappears. Our proclivity or tendency to anxiety become lesser and worries slide away.

It is the same premise as any relationship, the more time we spend with our spouses or friends the more we learn to trust them. Spending time with God is a key to mitigating worry and anxiety.

Todays Hot Topic: Money

Generally the discussion of money within the church is a sensitive one. ABC as a congregation has not discussed it as a topic in many years.

Wealth: Wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or valuable material possessions. This includes the core meaning as held in the originating old English word weal, which is from an Indo-European word stem.

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Yet money and indeed material wealth, is an important aspect of the Gospels.

Recent John Oliver did a segment on Televangelists which has prompted an increased awareness and investigation into how the church and the aspect of material wealth tie in together (view here):

Luke 12:13-21 shares the following interaction and teaching from Christ:

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3 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

The following questions were asked and discussed amongst the congregation:
   ●   How much money do you think a person needs saved in order to retire?
   ●   Does a person’s wealth cause you to relate to them differently?
   ●   Is it wrong to want to accumulate wealth?
   ●   Money is one of the leading causes of marital and relational conflict. How or why does money cause breakdowns in relationships? (Refer to 1 Timothy 6:10).
   ●   If a person’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of his wealth and possessions, what does it consist of?
   ●   How do you feel about the “redistribution of wealth?”
   ●   Would you be willing to lower your standard of living for the benefit of others?
   ●   How do your daily financial choices reflect where your heart is?
   ●   How can you store up treasure in heaven, and how will you begin investing in your retirement plan this week?

Is wealth bad? Or is it the LOVE OF WEALTH that is bad. The scriptures sat that man cannot serve both God and money.

A story was recalled by one congregation member who knew a christian politician that had much wealth. This politician made the statement that he feared his wealth and status in part due to the scripture about the “camel through the eye of the needle”.

Matthew 19:24 “I’ll say it again-it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of A needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

Yet he was also thankful for what he had for it allowed him the opportunity to share the Gospels into the lives of other wealthy and powerful people who otherwise would not have been as easily accessible.

God equips each one of us for a distinct purpose. It is our heart and what we are lead to do with what He gives that speaks volumes.

Consider Luke 18 and the Christ’s interaction with the rich man:

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.  22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Selleverything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

It was not the mans wealth that prevented him from moving forward with Jesus, rather it was his desire for his wealth. The love of the goods of this world can never be elevated above God.

We must each evaluate our hearts. What is our priority?

Todays Hot Topic: Fear.

As a part of ABC’s continuing conregational discussions on the hot topics of the day, today we discussed the concept of “fear”.

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Image from evantarver.com

The following questions were discussed, what would your answers be?

   ●   What is your greatest fear?
   ●   Is your fear more about an actual situation or your inability to cope with it?
   ●   How can fear be understood as “False Evidence Appearing Real”.
   ●   What is the difference between a healthy fear and an unhealthy fear?
   ●   How does fear limit or prevent you from living an abundant life?
   ●   How can having a spirit of “power, love and self-control” overcome fear?
   ●   What role does your faith have in overcoming fear?

ABC members shared fears for their children, of disease, of looking foolish, of failure, of not controlling things, of lack of worth, lacking purpose, being alone.

Fear is real and takes many forms. But at its bedrock it stems from the same thing – the enemy and his desire to destroy us.

Fear can be boiled down to lack of trust, a lack of faith, and a concern about something that has not yet occurred. It is the feeling of vulnerability, of being exposed and susceptible to outside forces.

Fear is not necessarily the situation itself so much as it is our inability to deal with the various situations. Fear is very much a matter of self doubt.

Fear often prompts us to focus on the worst scenario. It creates giants in our mind. Our imagination begins running and moles become mountains. Like Israel before Goliath we are shaken.

Is there such a thing as a healthy fear? Yes. A fear of a dangerous situation exists for a reason. The adrenaline prompts response. Fear by some definitions can be very good. A fear of bears in the wild for instance is a very healthy thing.

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Put your hand up if you are afraid of bears

It all depends on whether our fear or “response” is to REAL evidence or FALSE evidence:
   ●   REAL evidence would be knowing to prepare for bears on your hike. It manifests itself as caution or wise decisions.
   ●   FALSE evidence would be the anxiety that goes along with a pending performance review. It manifests itself as unnecessary worry.

We have all worried unnecessarily. Concerned about the next days business meeting that then goes without a hitch. Anxious about that speech that you then deliver impeccably

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Unecessary fear is a tool of the deceiver. It draws our eyes off of God and places them on the false giant in front of us. It undermines our trust in God. It causes doubt in Him and in His control over the situation. It causes physical and mental duress and illness. It causes bad decisions and poor reactions to situations.

Any fear that causes doubt, that causes worry, that causes stress or anxiety comes from false evidence. When we set our eyes upon God, when we in humility accept that HE has control over what we do not, our fears may be dispelled.

The scriptures say:

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control – 2 Timothy 1:7

For we know that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord – Romans 8:28

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13

Humility is knowing our place before God. It is accepting His reign and his control in all things. It is accepting that we are less and He is more. A spirit of humility allows us to give EVERYTHING over to God which dispels all fear.

Todays Hot Topic: Marriage, Homosexuals & the Church

Gay marriage or perhaps more accurately marriage between to individuals of the same sex.

Volatile topic in the media yes?

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Why? Why has this provoked such violent and extreme reaction on either end of the spectrum?

This morning we as a congregation examined the topic. Many voices were heard but all agreed what matters most is letting those we may disagree with know that WE STILL LOVE THEM.

Christ and the early church did not attempt to invoke their world view upon the government. They shared their message, the love and message of the gospel of salvation through the cross.

But they never forced their beliefs, never picketed the politicians, never sat in self righteouss judgment of others. In fact Christ spoke out most loudly against the religious institutions of the day.

Why and how can we expect unbelievers to accept the morale guidelines and laws of a God they do not believe exists?

Our job is not to make others believe. That is the Spirit of the Lord. Our job is to love and to humbly, graciously and gratefully share the wonder of the Gospels

The Ugly Duckling & The Gospel

How often do we feel ugly?

How often are we all too aware of our flaws, of our shortcomings, of our failures…

Of our ugliness.

Every day we face an ultra competitive society, one that is hell bent on selling us on our own deficiencies.

    ●  Buy our make up.
    ●  Lose weight.
    ●  Keep up with the Joneses.
    ●  Be better.
    ●  Be prettier.
    ●  Be thinner.
    ●  Be richer.
    ●  Be this guy.
    ●  Be this girl.
    ●  Dont be you.
    ●  You are not enough.

While self improvement is a good thing. How we look externally does not make us beautiful to God.

We must be reminded that we were handmade. Psalms tells us that God “knit” us together in the womb.

If you have ever knit, it is not a quick push of a button. It is patient, careful and deliberate design.

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Often how we feel.

Like the Ugly Duckling in the Hans Christian Andersons story. It is not what is on the outside, it is what is to come.

The message of the Gospels is that God’s work in us is very much still a work. He is actively refining us. He sees the finished product – the Swan. He sees us as beautiful, as His intentional design that He is committed to.

God does not make mistakes. You, your neighbour, me… we are all works in progress. Like the story of the ugly duckling we are not ugly, we are beautiful swans in development.

This is how God sees us – beautiful. Let us not be blinded and deceived. Let us not be discouraged. God is not threatened by our shortcomings. He knows them and foresaw them and it is a part of His plan.

Walk with God and be made whole.