June 4, 2015

What Do You Really Want?

Panic has officially set in. Yes, it is Thursday, June 4, 2015, and I am panicked about my mounting to-do list and my immovable deadlines. I have a hard-and-fast deadline approaching, aka my flight to VA Beach, which leaves on Saturday, and that simply means I must complete all the tasks on my to-do list or else fall short of the mark. Yes, I am panicked. I hate this feeling, I hate living in panic-mode, but here I am, once again, feeling the bite and pinch of worry, fear and doubt. Why? Why now? Why has my life suddenly become an obstacle course that I must maneuver through to find that blessed peace?

I had another terrible night, just another fitful sleep where I tossed and turned and dreamed about missed flights, missed items, and missed deadlines. I spent the entire night dreaming about missing the mark, and that process of constantly thinking about what I had to do, caused me to sleep poorly, and to wake up very, very grumpy. I did have a good strong cup of coffee, which has helped, but generally I am feeling like I have been punched really, really hard in the stomach. In fact, I feel rather nauseated right now. I need help. I need help!

If you saw my desk, you would think I was the picture of self-control. I have sticky notes with reminders of what must be completed pasted all around my monitor and on my desk shelves. I appear to be "calm, cool, and collected," yet inside I am a raging mess. I so want this feeling to go away...RIGHT NOW, please??!! I need peace. I need rest. I need to feel accomplished, in control, and like someone who knows what they are doing. I need that feeling that says "I am assured, I've got this thing covered," but I don't feel this way at all. Instead, I feel punch-drunk, like I am spinning round and round, and just about at the point of going down. I am slowly sinking under the weight of the mounting pressure, and I feel like my little world, as I know it, is crashing all around me. Sigh!

Reasons to Panic

Is there every a good reason to panic? In truth, as Christians, I would say not. The Word tells us that we are to place all our trust in the Lord, to rest in Him, and to let go of the worry, the fear, and the doubt because He is Sovereign, and He is in control. I know this, I really do, yet I still feel that upset sensation in the pit of my stomach, and I wonder why it happens to me. I do trust the Lord, I do feel His grace and His mercy, and I do know He has my life so well covered.

I started to think about this today, why I feel so awful, and several issues came to head. I mean, several things made that feeling intensify. First off, I was reading my phone as I always do first thing in the morning. I usually check my email followed by Facebook. It is my morning ritual, like my Dad used to do with his newspaper. My Mom would bring my Dad his juice, a muffin, and the paper, so that my Dad could relax in bed before getting up and getting started with his morning routine. Reading the news is like that for me. I find it a good way to wake up. Though I have to admit, I have felt that lately the morning news is not something I enjoy anymore. I mean, the news is so scary, so sickening, and so self-centered that I barely can stand to read it anymore. I don't want to know these things first thing anymore. In fact, I don't want to know them at all. Let me explain...

I'll admit that the past two weeks have been filled with stress, probably not as much as normal, but still pretty stressful for my summer holiday. I have my plans set for Regent, and I have some deadlines to keep, but generally my schooling has not been overwhelmingly difficult. I would say challenging is more apropos, but nothing I cannot handle. I am also not working, and while that causes a bit of stress (no new income), I am resting in the Lord's provision and that just means letting it go, constantly letting God govern my finances. My nights have been the issue mostly, with vivid dreams about people, animals and missed deadlines. I wake up several times, drift off to sleep, only to dream another dream that seems to deal with missing something or other. I am getting tired (no pun intended) of the lack of good quality sleep, and I am feeling like these dreams are happening as a reminder of what my mind is holding on to or trying to process.

So schooling, deadlines, and trips aside, I am trying to get to the core of what is bothering me. I mean, what is really bothering me today?

I saw this graphic online and I thought "Yes, this is a good thing." I am a firm believer that if you want something bad enough, you will overcome whatever obstacle is in your path to achieve it. I see this same scenario played out in my schooling as well as with my students. If you want that "A" paper, then you will do whatever it takes to improve your style, your content, and your technique so that you have the very best chance for getting an A from your professor. I do this daily as I desire to perform well, to achieve goals, and to succeed in my life's ambitions. I am a "hill or high water" kind of girl, and that means, I either "sink or swim." Yes, when it comes to achievement, I will do whatever is necessary to accomplish my goal.

Therefore, I know that while this "stress" is part of the overall package, something else seems to be the cause of my feelings right now. I was thinking earlier that the problem was with the recent headlines in the news about Bruce Jenner's transformation into a woman. Yes, I am sickened by all the publicity of his decision to undergo realignment surgery. I am sickened by the outpouring of support telling this man that he is brave for surgically altering his body so that he can appear as a woman. I am sickened by the media circus that is championing this "outcome" as normal because now this man is finally at peace with himself and he is is "authentic" rather than "fake" (as if plastic surgery, implants, and the mutilation of one's genitals is authentic). The problem, of course, is that no matter how much physical realignment occurs, nothing will ever change the internal components that make this man a man. His mind may tell him otherwise, he may have feelings that say this or that, but chemically, genetically, and biologically, he is a man. The sad part is that this once strong man is choosing to live in a surgically altered body (made by man) that only resembles a woman.

My heart breaks for his family who must endure this transition, who must now accept this person as someone different, not only in looks, but in personality. I am saddened at all the people who scream at those of us who believe that God created humans perfectly normal, as male and as female, and this was His only design for the human species. I am saddened at Christians who take the "judge not" attitude all the while enfolding this mental and physical aberration as a "type" of normal behavior. When I was first in college, I took an "Abnormal Psychology" course where abnormal behavior was clearly defined. A man who thought he was a woman was classified as having a mental disorder. Moreso, a man who wanted to be surgically altered to resemble a woman was also classified as having a psychological disorder. Now it is considered on the spectrum of normalcy along with other forms of deviant social, psychological and sexual behavior. My heart grieves, and as Ravi Zacharias said today, "What you applaud you encourage, but beware what you celebrate."

Ravi's words echo the exhortation of Paul, who wrote in Romans 12:2 "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." When we celebrate the culture we live in, we must understand what it is that we are doing because we are making a loud statement of belief, of worldview, and of what is really inside our heart and our mind. If we celebrate the culture of relativism, then we are saying that we do not believe there is absolute truth (John 14:6, John 16:13, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). If we celebrate the culture of sexual sin, then we are saying that deviant behavior as defined by the Bible (immorality, fornication, homosexuality) is okay so long as it is within the confines of a love relationship (Matt. 19:4-5, 1 Cor. 6:18, Rom 1:24). If we celebrate the culture of media, then we are saying that idolatry is acceptable behavior (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7) even though we, as Christians, are forbidden to worship any idols. If we celebrate man, lifting him up to a position higher than God, we are saying that man is the center of all things, and that God is just a wishful thought, a fantasy, a notion, a fairytale (2 Tim. 3:6). What we say we believe, what we say we agree with or think is right or wrong, clearly advocates what is in our heart and our mind (Jer. 17:19).

My heart is broken today as I look around me and see people I know saying they agree with immorality, immoral behavior and choices, because it is what Jesus would do. No, dear Brother and Sister, Jesus would not enfold nor encourage immorality. He would love the person, the sinner, but not condone the wicked works they engaged in. We must not lose sight of the fact that Jesus died to save us from our sins -- from all the wicked works, thoughts, and desires -- because we were separated from our Heavenly Father.  Jesus died so that we could be reconciled to a Holy God -- a righteous Judge -- a God who is impartial in His fairness, rightness, and judgment. 

Paul reminds us what God did for us when he writes to the church at Ephesus,

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh  and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Eph. 2:1-9 NIV)

If we are born again, true members of God's holy family, then we cannot abide, agree, or assent to the wickedness in the world -- no matter how much popular culture spins it -- so as to make it "seem right."  We must cry out like the prophet Habakkuk who complained to God,

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

Yes, we live in a world of similar mindset and behavior where righteousness is perverted. As Christians we must stand firm on the Word of God, we must know what we believe and why. The time is coming when it will be difficult to distinguish the sheep from the goats, so therefore, it is vital that you, dear Brother or Sister, know where you stand, on which side of the chasm you sit. Do not be fooled by the prince of the air who seeks to devour you, not with ravaging lions, but with tantalizing speech, with crafty and cunning words, so that you forsake what it is you believe and accept the dainty morsels of sin-laden bread he so readily hands out. Those sweet treats you nibble on will rot your insides unless refuse them completely. Do not be deceived, the Lord is returning, and when He does, He will gather His true followers, those who have not forsaken His words, and who have obeyed His commands. Now is the time to get your mind right with the Lord, and to take heed to the Apostle Paul's words. Renew your minds with the washing of the Word. Remember Phil. 4:8-9,

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

Remember that Paul was saying that we are to remember what we heard from him, and not what we hear from the world. So often Christian's quote this verse and think that it means we are to accept anything we consider good, true, nobel, right, pure, etc. No, no, no. We are to remember the Word as it was preached, the Word of God, and not blindly accept the world's corrupted version of truth, purity, or rightness.

Dear Lord,

Help me overcome this crushing feeling of sadness when I see the depravity of mankind. I cannot help but recoil, and I cry out like Habakkuk because no matter where I turn, I only see the sickness of sin as it ravages your creation. I pray today that you will wash my mind, renew my hope, and help me stand firm against the onslaught of cultural relativism that champions wickedness over the purity and holiness of your Word. In these dark days, cover me with your grace that my speech may be seasoned with salt, and that my light may shine forth to bring hope to those that are lost and perishing. I ask now for your mercy, your tender care, and your affection this good day so that I can finish my tasks, and accomplish the plans you  have for my life this day. I ask all this in the merciful Name of Jesus, Amen. Selah!

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