Paranoia

Paranoia is a funny thing. It can take the most level headed person and turn him into a anxious worrier. We’ve probably all been there – seeing and believing things that aren’t really there. I know that I’ve been sure I was being followed at night in downtown Tacoma and ended up running to my car and locking the doors. Of course there was no one in sight. Ok, I better elaborate on that or I’ll just sound like a wimp.

I was in my early 20’s attending University of Washington in Tacoma. At the time I attended, the area was still a bit sketchy with crime and all. We had campus security at all times. Parking for the school was less than ideal. You couldn’t really park on the street because those were 1-2 hour spots and classes ran longer than that. So you had to park a few blocks up the street away from the campus. Now at the time, the school had made an announcement to be careful at night walking to your car because incidents had been reported. Mugging, burglary, car break-ins, etc. If you felt uncomfortable, the security guards would walk you to your car. That’s cool, but I was a dude. I got this. Except that announcement made me paranoid. And sometimes I ran to my car.

Paranoia will mess with you. It clouds your judgement. It will cause you to make bad decisions. Just look at this story out of 1 Chronicles…

1 Chronicles 19:2-4 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.  When David’s envoys came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites to express sympathy to him, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven’t his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved them, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.

Can we stop for just a moment and realize how funny this is? I mean, it’s absolutely terrible. But c’mon, who is the guy who thought of this? “Hey King Hanun, I’ve got an idea. Let’s make it so these guys moon everyone on their way back home.” I imagine they snickered like 12 year old boys as they watched these guys leave. I can almost see the pokes and jabs as they laughed hysterically, “it’s gonna be a full moon tonight!” (*sigh) Boys will be boys.  I digress.

The whole problem with this situation is that David actually sent these guys in peace to give his sympathy to Hanun. But paranoia ruled in the hearts of the Ammonites. That paranoia messed with their heads and made them think that David was out to get them. They thought he was sending these guys in as spies. Their judgement was clouded and they made a poor decision. In fact, instead of peace, this whole situation turned into war. And the paranoid Ammonites lost badly.

Are you living paranoid? Are you always wondering what bad thing will happen next? Do you spend time worried about what others are saying about you? Have you convinced yourself that everyone is out to get you? Friends, that is no way to live! You belong to a God who is for you. He declares Isaiah 41:10 over your life. “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Take heart today. Take refuge. Receive peace. Find joy. He is your God and he will hold you up. There’s no need to be paranoid any longer.

Victory!

I like winning. I wish I could say I always win, but I don’t. Sometimes I get second place. Okay fine… sometimes I lose. Have you ever met someone who always seems to win no matter what they are doing? Those people are so annoying inspiring. Whether it’s a card game or a basketball game, they seem to get the victory. Every. Single. Time. Which is great if you are on their team and not so great when you are on the other team.

There was a guy in the Bible like that. He just couldn’t lose. In fact, whenever he engaged in battle, the song “All I do is win” mysteriously played in the background. His name was David. Check this out:

1 Chronicles 18:6b The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.

1 Chronicles 18:13b The Lord gave David victory wherever he went

This guy was a first class winner. So much so, that this statement is repeated twice in the chapter. David had victory. Wherever he swung his sword, victory. Anywhere he set his feet, victory. On any battlefield, victory. Now before David gets a big head about all this winning, let’s look at the three key words in these verses. “The Lord gave”  The Lord gave David victory. Because victory belongs to the Lord. 

So many people are living their lives in defeat. They live their lives in a constant state of struggle, anxiety, depression, and gloom. Hope is not here and peace is not present. Yet they struggle to find some semblance of victory. Even just a little one would suffice. Their efforts are strained until they can strain no more. There is nothing left in the tank. They couldn’t achieve it. There must be no victory left for them.

Yet the truth is this, THE LORD GIVES victory. He has called us to be a victorious people. He has brought us out of the darkness and into the light. He gave his very life, defeating death, not only for his victory, but also for ours. We don’t have to live in defeat any longer. We, too, can live in the victory that the Lord gives.

Proclaim this over your life today: The Lord will give _________ (insert name) victory where he/she goes. 

If you will walk in the power of His Spirit and in His truth, I believe that statement will be as true for you as it was for David.

Sounds good to me

“Sounds good to me.” A statement I have uttered countless times. People have ideas; some people have good ideas. And when those ideas are presented to me as a leader, I often think they sound like good ideas. But sometimes, after putting some more thought and prayer into it, I realize the idea is actually not a good idea. What do I say then? I have to go back to that person and let them know that their idea was not actually as good of an idea as I said it was. That’s awkward; I don’t like it one bit.

This actually happened to a prophet in the Old Testament by the name of Nathan. One day, King David came to him for some advice. You see, he thought since he had a nice house, that he should build one for God, too. Not exactly for God, but for the ark of the covenant. Here’s the answer that Nathan gave him.

1 Chronicles 17:2 Nathan replied to David, “Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you.”

What a great confirmation for David. He asked a prophet of the Lord what he should do and he got the green light. Surely this brilliant idea came from the Lord. Except for what happened next. In verse 3 it says “But that night the word of God came to Nathan…” Hold the phone! You mean Nathan “the prophet” didn’t actually inquire of the Lord? He simply said, “sounds good to me.” That’s a problem.

God in his faithfulness spoke to Nathan what he should have told David. So Nathan had to have that awkward conversation. “Remember when I said, ‘sounds good to me?’ Well, it actually isn’t good. That’s not what God wants.” Back peddling is not fun, especially when someone is enthusiastic about your advice.

We will end up in the same back peddling situations as Nathan if we are too quick to answer. If we don’t call upon the Lord for His word and His guidance, we will be saying “sounds good to me” to things that are no good at all. So if we want to actually live in wisdom, we need to go to the Lord before we answer. We need to inquire of Him before we make our move. If we do, He will lead us in the way everlasting.

Now THAT sounds good to me!

Praise Him!

Today’s post is going to be a little different. As I was reading this morning, the words that David penned for his worship team resonated with me. So I am simply going to give you a portion of that. I hope that these words fill your heart with praise today.

1 Chronicles 16:28-36

28 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come before him.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his[e] holiness.
30     Tremble before him, all the earth!
    The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.

31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
    let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!
33 Let the trees of the forest sing,
    let them sing for joy before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.

34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.
35 Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior;
    gather us and deliver us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
    and glory in your praise.”
36 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.

Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.”