Apr 3, 2020
Just Below the Surface
Seemingly overnight our world has changed. In Oregon where I live State Parks are shut down, public dining is forbidden, church doors are closed, school facilities are shut down, and only “essential workers” are commuting to and from work. People are locked down and glued to the news as their lifeline to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is an undercurrent of fear boiling just below the surface that we’ve seen in box store lines just to buy toilet paper! The undercurrent of fear must be addressed and curtailed regardless of the Virus before panic erupts into chaos.
And it all starts in the home. Be looking for our Equipping podcast on this topic coming soon.
Keep C.A.L.M. and Press On
On a recent news interview, Texas pastor Max Lucado shared a memorable acrostic all reading this should memorize and share with those they love. From my favorite book of the Bible, I have prayed these verses—by far— into the lives of more people than any other Scripture. Read Philippians 4:4-9 and we will break it down into our CALM acrostic:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
CELEBRATE God through Praise (verses 4-5)
What many don’t realize is that the books Philippians, Ephesians, Philemon, and Colossians are known by scholars as the “Prison Epistles”. That’s right. Paul wrote these words from prison: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.”
The context of his words is a great encouragement to us during times of struggle. No matter how great our personal struggle we can never forget to celebrate the God who is bigger than any problem. I love Psalm 61:2, “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”
God never changes. We can celebrate who he is regardless of our circumstances. He is always worthy of our praise and celebration.
ASK God to help you with your anxiety (verse 6)
In our rapid paced world of instant knowledge (fake and real) we live in the most anxious times in human history. In the past 30 years of ministry I have prayed with people struggling with overwhelming anxiety more than about any illness, death, or physical malady. Anxiety comes in many forms but always has one thing in common—focus on self. Anxiety can only focus on itself. When anxiety’s focus is turned outward it becomes service. When it is focused upward it becomes trust, which is worship.
Watch Paul’s admonishment (from prison) to change our focus from self to the Savior: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Prayer is not merely “talking to God” as many wrongly assume, but is turning all our attention to Him. It’s turning more than it is talking. In times when you are tempted to turn your worries inward, turn your trust upward instead.
LEAN into Jesus (verse 7)
My wife Shanna was compromised while working a flight last month, showed symptoms a few days later, and was tested for COVID-19. She was quarantined while we waited eight days for the test to come back negative.
Maybe you or a loved one has the Virus now. Maybe you are a first responder. THANK YOU! Maybe you, like us, are taking a financial hit because one or both of you are out of work. Will you lean into our government as your object of trust, waiting for the stimulus check that may or may not ever arrive? Or will you lean into God, who you claim to trust with all your heart Proverbs 3:5-6?
Verse 7 holds a beautiful promise for those who choose to lean into Jesus during difficult times, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Peace! God gives the wonderful gift of peace even in the midst of the storm if we lean into Him. It’s a peace that guards our heart, mind, and which others may not understand. It’s a peace that our world desperately needs in times of chaos.
Meditate on good things (verses 8-9)
Watch the reactions of those around you. How has COVID-19 affected them? Some government officials are energized, and pandemic has brought out the best in them. Others are using it for personal gain. Some are in panic mode. Others, sadly, are using it for political posturing.
In my circle, I’ve seen some step up to help others while others have shrunk back into self-pity and despair. The reactions have been as diverse as the people.
On a recent episode of Men in the Arena Podcast, “Dare to Prepare” and on an upcoming Equipping Episode, “The Five B’s What every man should physically provide for his family”, I taught men to prepare in five categories that all started with the letter B.
But I forgot the most important B of all. Your brain. Your mindset. Your attitude. Like it or not, you will become what you dwell on the most. You are all the sum of your thoughts compounded over time. What you mediate on matters?
Listen to prisoner Paul: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Some of us need to get out of the bleachers of our pity party and into the game. We need to change our mind set. We need to adjust the voices we hear, words we read, images we watch, and thoughts we think. Let our current events bring out the best version of you for the glory of Jesus Christ.