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Tuesday Tidings February 7, 2023

Dearest Members of Bethlehem,

“And I am sure of this, that God who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 1:6

I have occasionally heard folks say that, “the mind can play tricks on you.” I suppose that may be true to one degree or another. Here’s what I have learned through the years, though it may not always seem that way, your mind is usually on your side.

Let’s take something like worry for instance (not clinically diagnosed anxiety, which I would never minimize). From whence is worry coming, what is the origin?

Theoretically, a long time ago, some of your ancestors had a run in with a lion. It was not a friendly lion, so… the encounter was not a positive one. Your ancestors learned in the course of that interaction that they needed to be careful with the king of beasts.

They learned a valuable lesson, that lesson was lodged in their minds. That’s a good thing, right? Absolutely! So, the next time your ancient ancestors heard anything that even sounded remotely like a lion’s growl…. it is likely the hair stood up on the back of their necks, they were on high alert, and justifiably so!

The reality is that kind of wiring likely still exists… when we have a bad experience, we’re sort of programmed in a way to look out for that in the future, there’s a mechanism in place that is attempting to protect us from the unpleasant eventualities that might befall us. That’s not so bad… except, well, there just aren’t that many lions in our neighborhoods these days.

Our faith calls us to a different state of mind. We need to be wary, use our experiences wisely, and yet try to not be overwhelmed. It’s certainly true that in some stressful situations your mind will have your whole body on high alert, but you can decide that heightened awareness is warranted. If not, we can slow that all down… we can take a deep breath, think things through, and begin to regain our composure. Or, to use the language of faith, come to a deeper sense of peace.

This posture not only allows the worry to be contended with in a more constructive way, it also provides an opportunity for us to be a little more thoughtful and careful in our response to the stressors that we may encounter in any given situation.

This confidence, of course, is founded. While we know by now that life entails traversing valleys and mountaintops alike, we also know that we can dwell in both regions with a sense of hopefulness. The Spirit of God will be present to assist us in finding our way forward.

Rest assured, God who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. God who has called us into these lives of faith and service, will draw us through them. Let’s eagerly anticipate the lessons that are sure to be learned, as opposed to being overwhelmed by the disasters that will likely never come.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Dan

Gracious Lord, we all know that worry and despair can weigh us down, renew our hope and remind us that your goodness awaits in the days ahead. Guide, protect, and lead us that we may continue faithfully in your way. We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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