This week’s e-newsletter is a little late. I’m at the airport this morning, headed to Seattle to speak to a group of pastors. My flight was supposed to take off at 8:00 and get me to Seattle at 1:00. But as happens, this flight is delayed, and I’ve been rebooked to fly to Atlanta and then on to Seattle (this makes perfect airline sense). I should arrive just before 5:00. It makes for a tight connection since I’m supposed to be speaking at about 6:30 in Seattle. So I’m praying all goes well with my new itinerary. You can pray too.
In the midst of flight delays and the accompanying stress, a few passages of scripture come to mind. The first is Ephesians 4:29. That’s the verse that says I am to let no corrupting talk come out of my mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. That verse applies to all speech – even the conversations we have with airline employees in the midst of our day being turned upside down. As an ambassador for Jesus, I am to guard my tongue. I am to access the self-control that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and be careful to say only those things that are good for building others up and that gives them grace. Easier said than done in situations like this. But not impossible.
I am also not to be anxious. Philippians 4:6-7 tells me “do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.”
When I think about arriving late, navigating Seattle rush hour traffic from the airport to the church on the other side of the city, and then walking at the last minute and stepping right up to the podium, it’s easy to be anxious about things that are out of my control today. But my understanding of God and His providence tells me that my flight delay and scrambled schedule are part of His plan for me and for others around me today. So I can rest in knowing that He is in control of whatever happens today. His purposes are being fulfilled.
I am also reminding myself today that I want the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart to be acceptable before Him. That’s the prayer of the Psalmist in Psalm 19:14. While I work to guard my tongue, I need to also work to guard my heart. I need to counsel my own soul. I need to be meditating on what scripture says is true and not chewing and churning over and over again on my circumstances.
On days like today, I see clearly the wisdom and importance of having verses like these memorized and hidden in my heart. My natural instinct in moments like these is not to guard my tongue or relax. But God’s word gives me the counsel I need in these situations. And His Spirit gives me the power to live above my circumstances.
I imagine I’m not the only person who has had his agenda disrupted today. I doubt I’m the only person who has been inconvenienced or who could easily be prone to anxiety in the midst of stress. Take a minute to read Ephesians 4:29, Philippians 4:6-7 and Psalm 19:14 again. And maybe add this passage from the Sermon on the Mount:
“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? 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? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith. Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:25–33).
God’s word is both powerful and practical. We need to plant it and let it dwell in our hearts. And on stressful days like today, we need to believe it and rest in it.
We shared with you in church about our desire to provide 300 shoeboxes with toys and gifts for students at David O Dodd Elementary School. Here’s more info:
Each ornament you select will provide you with the following information about the child you’ll be preparing your shoebox for. You’ll attach the upper portion of the label to the shoebox so we know the age of the child your gift should be given to:
Start now thinking about how many children you’d like to bless this year at Christmas. And pray that these seeds of kindness and love will sprout and blossom into a new life.
Our Family Room at church has some new furniture! Check it out!
Thanks to all who have served us as we continue settling into our new church home.
Next Tuesday night, we have a special evening planned for the women of our church.
John the Baptist was a big deal. And his followers started to worry when Jesus came along and people started following him instead of their guy. How did John respond? He famously told them “He must increase and I must decrease.”
We’ll look at the decreasing ministry of John the Baptist this Sunday as we continue our study of John’s gospel.
See you in church!
Soli Deo Gloria!