What’s Bugging You?

It is summertime and I enjoy sitting on the deck with my husband in the evening until we start to hear the hum of insects in our ears. I brush the little flying creatures away with my hand. It helps for a little bit but soon I hear a concert of buzzing sounds. The melody of the mosquitoes crescendos and becomes more persistent. Then I feel a prick on my ankle – I have been bit. We can only ignore these irritations for a limited amount of time. The song of the insects and their itchy irritations reveal to us that the mosquitoes have arrived. Our peaceful evening has been disturbed by these persistent pesky predators. We decide to go indoors for the remainder of the evening in order to escape the consequences of these summertime pests.

Once inside, I am reminded of the phrase “insect worries” that I have heard. Although the mosquito is a small insect, its bite can be very irritating to the skin just as worries can be bothersome to our hearts and minds. What can I learn from our encounter with the mosquitoes?

First of all, a mosquito bite can be hard to ignore. I want to scratch the itchy area where there is a visible welt from the bug bite. However, scratching only irritates the site of the insect’s poison and the more I scratch it, the more sensitive my skin becomes. The same scenario can occur regarding worry because when I yield to the temptation to worry about something, my anxiousness increases rather than decreases. One little irritating thought can create concern in my mind. If I dwell upon this aggravation, I become exasperated. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? And He concludes this passage in Matthew 6:34 saying, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Scratching will not help a bug bite and neither will worry help our concerns.

Most everyone will experience a few encounters with the mosquito during the summer. Although not a cure, my mother had a home remedy for treating these bites. She would put a little baking soda in her hand along with a couple of drops of water to make a paste that she would then apply to the welt of the insect’s attack. It actually drew out the poison of the bite and relieved the itchiness. Maybe there is a lesson for me on how to handle my worries. I Peter 5:6-7 NLT says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” Instead of the paste in my mother’s hand, I can find the cure for my worries when I yield to the hand of God. Jesus promises in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The Lord will handle my worries like my mother helped my itchy mosquito bites.

One way to avoid mosquito bites is to apply insect repellent to the skin before going outdoors. Being proactive against bites from irritating bugs can be beneficial. The same is true regarding worries that want to invade my mind. Luke 21: 14 says, “But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.” Philippians 4:6-7 NLT says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” My spiritual repellent guards my heart similarly to how insect repellent can guard by skin against insect bites.

Will I get mosquito bites during the summer? Yes. Will I worry at times? Yes. Jesus says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” My current thief may be as small as a tiny summertime insect or as big as the most overwhelming anxious thought within me. I do not want either a mosquito or a worry to steal my peace and joy in the Lord. I can slap a mosquito in hopes of killing it before it bites me. I can also destroy worries by focusing upon Philippians 4:8, “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.” The psalmist says in Psalm 73:25, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Throughout life, my flesh will experience the discomfort of mosquito bites and my heart will fail because of worry. However, God will always be my strength for whatever I encounter.

Most likely the phrase “insect worries” originally referred to the fact that our worries are only as small as insects when placed in the hands of God. I agree with that concept but it has been fun to compare how we react to bug bites and how we react to what is bugging us.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

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Common and Uncommon

name-of-jesus

5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality
with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form
of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found
in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to
the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly
exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who
are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue
will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-9 NAS

As I begin reading Paul’s words in this portion of the second chapter of Philippians, I sense the development of a theme contrasting the common and uncommon, the natural and supernatural, the ordinary and extraordinary. Let me share with you what I am thinking.

Paul begins by portraying Jesus as the Son of God who also became the Son of Man when He left the supernatural realm of heaven to come down to the natural realm of earth. He set aside His spirit nature to take on human nature. To use Paul words in verse 7, “Jesus emptied Himself and came to earth in the likeness of mankind.” The uncommon became common. We celebrate this occurrence at Christmas when we honor the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary. This was when He became Son of God and Son of Man. Joseph was told by the angel to give Him the name of Jesus. At that time in history, Jesus was a common boy’s name. With the birth of Jesus, that name became a sacred name, an uncommon name. He was given an ordinary name that became extraordinary.

Going back to verse 6, Paul says that while the Son of God reigned with His Father in Heaven, He did not consider equality with God something to hold on to or take advantage of if His Father had other plans for Him. I am quoting the New American Standard Version of the Bible today because I like the image of the word “grasped” in this verse. While Jesus was born as a baby, I picture Him grasping, or holding on to, the finger of His mother Mary. When thinking of the transition for Jesus from heaven to earth, I picture Him letting go of the Hand of God and grasping the hand of Mary. This is a picture of the transition form the supernatural to the natural. It portrays the uncommon becoming common.

In verse 8, we see Jesus as a humble human being. While being Son of God and Son of Man, Jesus died a natural death by crucifixion to fulfill God’s supernatural requirements for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus died the ordinary death of a common criminal that resulted in an extraordinary, uncommon resurrection. I believe it took great humility on Jesus’ part for the uncommon to become common and the ordinary to be come extraordinary.

This leads us to verses 9-11 to conclude our scripture passage. With great humility, Jesus let go of His place in heaven and came to earth to die for all mankind. This was not a common occurrence – it was uncommon! Because of what Jesus did, His Heavenly Father has now placed the common name of Jesus above all names. Today, His name is an uncommon, sacred name. Now it is our turn to humble ourselves and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I seems appropriate to conclude with the words of the praise song Jesus, Name Above All Names by Bill Batstone. Sing it along with me if you wish.

“Jesus, Name Above All Names”

Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.

Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.

Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

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Who Is a Mother?

(Reader – There is one more blog in my trilogy of “Try for Tri” which will appear next Wednesday. This week I wantfree OK Mom to take time to honor our mothers.)

This coming Sunday will be the day set aside for us to honor our mothers.  When thinking about what I wanted to blog about relating to Mother’s Day, I was reminded of a book I used to read to our children entitled Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman.  This is a story about a little bird who fell from his nest while his mother was gone getting him some food.  Throughout the book the bird proceeds to ask several animals and machines if one of them is his mother.  Of course, they are not.  Finally he reconnects with his mother.  His desire for and need of a mother         Happy Mother’s Day was so strong that he would have been willing to connect with  anything or anyone
 who would fulfill the mother role for him.                                                                        

free OK Mom if smallMy Reader, you and I most likely know who our biological mother is or was and we do not need to ask, “Are you my mother?”  Exodus 20:12  tells us to honor our mothers, and it also gives us the promise of long life if we do so.  So, my Reader, honor your mother today.  If you are privileged to still have your mother living, let her know how important she is to you. If you only have mom memories, let those memories honor her.

However, my Reader, have you ever asked the question, “Are you my spiritual mother?”  In I Timothy 5:2, Paul says we are to treat older women as mothers.  The women Paul is referring to are the spiritually mature women.  Just like the little bird in the story who desired to find his mother, God has placed within you and me the desire to have a Christian mom who will help provide for spiritual growth.

free OK Mom if smallI have always related to what Paul says about Timothy in II Timothy 1:5, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”  With this being my situation, my biological mom was also my spiritual mom.  However, my mother died when she was only 56 years old and since then God has blessed me with other godly women who have each been a spiritual mom to me.  These are women who have loved me and spoken words of encouragement and guidance into my life at key times.  My spiritual mom may be chronologically younger or older than I am, but she is definitely more mature in her spiritual walk.  Without these women, I would not be the woman of God I am today.  I like to take time on Mother’s Day to remember my spiritual moms and let them know how they have helped me grow spiritually. How about you, my Reader, can you identify a woman in your life who is your spiritual mother?  Choose a way to honor her this Sunday.

free OK Mom if smallNot only have I been blessed to have biological and spiritual mothers, but I am also blessed to be a biological mom to our children. Now I ask myself, “Has the Lord expanded my motherly instincts for me to be a spiritual mom to others as well?”  Do I have some godly wisdom to share with other women? If so, I must be willing to embrace this role and reach out to these children of God that He has placed in my midst. In Titus 2:3-5, Paul talks about older women teaching younger women to be reverent in the way they live. If I am to teach younger women to live reverently, my lifestyle must be an example.  I must remember that spiritual age is not calculated by the number of years one has lived, but upon the way one has lived as a woman of God.  Being an older woman from this perspective comes with a responsibility.  Now I ask you, my Reader, “Is God calling you to be a spiritual mom?”  If so, I encourage you to make a commitment to the Lord this Mother’s Day telling Him that you are willing to be a spiritual mother. Watch to see who He places into your life.

free OK Mom if smallMay 12, 2013 is Mother’s Day.  I speak to myself as well as to you, my Reader, when I say, “Take time to wish both your biological mom and your spiritual moms a Happy Mother’s Day.  Also remember to be the mother God has called you to be whether it be to your biological children or your spiritual children all year!”

Happy Mother’s Day!

Joyfully,
Cheryl