"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Don't Worry - Hide in the Privet

The war between the Cardinals and the Red Wings are continuing in my back yard. It seems the Black Caps are on the side of the Cardinals while the Finches are remaining neutral. Yep, I’m watching the daily antics of the privet birds from my perch in the sunroom window as they do battle over the various feeders hanging from the deck. The privet that grows between our backyard and Camp Creek is the home to, seemingly, hundreds of birds and other creatures of the wild.
As the weather has gotten colder, the cardinals have come to live in the privet in vast numbers. I can look out the back windows and see flashes of the bright red males and paler brown-red females. Even though a few are around year-round, this winter has brought quite a flock to the creekside. They will come to the feeders, feasting alongside all the other species on their favorite sunflower seeds. All of them behave and get along with each other in privet-world.
However, along with colder weather comes the swarms of redwing blackbirds…. swooping into the backyard, flower beds, trees, and yes…they even had the nerve of entering the trees and bushes of privet-world. When they flew into the area, the sun was darkened and the sky looked as if it were alive in motion. Long hidden fears from the movie, “The Birds,” arose to the surface as I first saw them coming. The ground was quickly covered as these blackbirds with the red slash on their wings descended and spotted the feeders hanging around the deck.
Attacking all the other birds, they took over the seeds and drove the cardinals, finches, and wrens back into their privet haven. When other birds attempt to come back, the “not wanting to share” birds will chase them away. Wishing that the privet-world birds could arm themselves to defend their food supplies, I watch this daily drama of the bigger and bolder mean birds terrorizing the pretty little nice songbirds. If only the killer hummingbird was around this winter to take on the blackbird army. That would be a battle worth watching and I’m sure that the privet-world birds would be clapping their wings in joy.
As I watch, I think about the redwing blackbirds in my life. Not meaning the physical birds smirking on the feeders outside my window, but the things that cause me to want to go to the safety of a privet-world. The situations that I allow to steal my joy and suck all the pleasure out of the day are just as dominating and ruthless as those birds that overtake the source of food and pleasure from other birds.
My blackbird is worry. I can work up a good worry party before you know it. Money, health (mine and that of family and friends), jobs, stress, car troubles, crime; these are the major ones in my worry box. However, I can throw a worry party about things that are absolutely ridiculous. Usually I worry about things that will be worrying me next. I’m out of a job at the moment, so you can imagine who the guest of honor is these days at my parties. As I allow worry to run rampant in my spirit, I am also allowing it to steal my joy – the joy of everyday living, but most importantly, the Joy of my salvation.
What are we told in the scriptures? “Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything.” “Give Him all your worries because He cares for you.” “When you walk through the fires, you will not be burned because I am the Lord your God.”
All these and more can bring my mind and heart back to the reality that God is in control of my life…. not me. I can’t hire myself, I can’t defeat crime, I can’t guarantee good health, I can’t be assured of money in the bank, and on and on and on. Did you notice the keyword in the above sentences was I? That’s what God wants me to remember. I can’t do anything. God can provide me with a job, security from crimes against me and my family, good health, and a steady income. God is in control…in His time, not mine. I just have to be faithful and not sin by worrying because that's just like telling God you just don’t trust Him enough.
Just as the blackbirds steal the food source from all the other birds, we all have those things that cause us to lose our food source with God. What is yours? Trust God and come out of privet-world to claim victory against the invaders in your own life. You don’t want to make me have to worry about you, too, do you?

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Summing it up, so I can move on

Basically 2008 sucked in my world. I lost a passion for creating music for worship that had been a gift all my life because I let man, not God, get in the way; I wandered from my walk with God (same reason); I had a fair amount of health concerns; I realized that the stress of my job was close to killing me (after I landed in the hospital for a couple days); and so, I quit and began 2009 unemployed.
Ya know, despite all the junk from last year, I am coming closer to God now than ever before. I may have wandered for a season, however, He never did. I found my way back in a small Methodist church where I visited over the summer and have returned a few times since for a renewal.
Now...my desire to serve again through music is back and I am searching for God's place and I have opportunities for employment that will give me time for writing and more blogging and perhaps other pursuits of ministry. As a Minister and as a Deacon, I have realized that even though I am human, God called me to special service and I cannot ignore this.
The simple truth that I have remembered is that God loves me.....hangups, attitudes, and all. He loves me as I am. He 'knows the plans He has for me," (Jer. 29:11) and I don't have to worry about them any longer. I taught my Bible Study class last week and recalled the joy of leading in discussions of God's Word and of His plans for us.
I miss working closely with the students at church, being their friend, their punching bag (in love, of course), their discipler, their confidant, and their leader and favorite chaperone. Perhaps the time for this is past and it is time to move forward to another chapter. Who knows...but, I don't have to worry about it.
I am looking forward to 2009 and what God has in store for me and those around me. I no longer worry about where I will serve Him; Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, whatever....I just know that with His leading and power I will serve Him this coming year in new and exciting ways. I owe no allegiances to mankind or their institutions, I only owe God my worship, my praise, and the use of the talents and gifts He has given me and for which I will be held accountable.
So, folks...I'll be more faithful in my blogging and get back to my somewhat odd way of looking at how God works in my life. For those who remember the tramp guppy from a couple years ago....well, she is still alive and popping out the babies. I'm sure there is a spiritual truth somewhere in there, so keep tuned.

And so for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.