Too Blessed to be Stressed


Last week, I came across this phrase on a T-shirt.  This brought to mind another occasion when I noticed a woman attending my Bible study wearing a similar shirt. While I normally wouldn’t have thought much about it, we had been praying for her six-year-old daughter who was going through chemo for leukemia. When I saw her wearing the shirt, I thought if she believes she has so much to be grateful for that she is not burdened by stress, any believer (including me) should be able to affirm this.

If you read the previous blog, The Gateway Sin, you realize I do not generally have this attitude. I wondered is the inverse true? Can we be too stressed to feel blessed?

While God’s lavish love for us never fluctuates, nor does our glorious inheritance in heaven ever diminish, it seems stress and worry block our ability to access the unending grace we have through Jesus. His promise to  guard our hearts with His perfect peace cannot have its full effect if we repeatedly open the back door to anxious thinking.

 What are you anxious about? I would like to suggest that most our stress comes from “first world” problems – inconveniences and difficulties arising from living in a society of abundance. Consider some of the things during the previous week which caused me stress:

  • having to wait over an hour for a medical appointment
  •  figuring out what to cook for meals and doing the dishes afterwards with hot, clean water
  •  running late to drive my son to the bus stop at 6:45 a.m.
  • the expense and inconvenience of an auto repair on one of our two vehicles
  •  dog poop on my shoe
  • my son complaining about the color of new jeans from Old Navy.
  • trying to find the right gift for someone

I am not anxious because I have life-threatening parasites in my water, no healthcare or medicine, or that my children have to walk miles to school without proper shoes or clothing.  I am not fearful because I have to secretly meet with other believers because our lives are in danger.

I am experiencing stress because I am so accustomed to comfort and abundance that in the moment those things seemed like a big deal. Reality check: they aren’t! I have let stress eclipse my eyes to God’s blessings. I am too eternally blessed to let stress interfere with joyfully giving thanks to God for writing my name in His book of life, for promising me He will never leave me, and for His assurance that in all things I am empowered to overwhelmingly conquer through Jesus.

The Gateway Sin


Sin is habit forming and multiplies easily. You might even say it has control issues because sin wants to take over everything -like kudzu. This weed, resistant to removal, finds fertile soil and grows quickly, choking life out of the surrounding plants.kudzu

While it may seem fairly innocuous,  with only minimal use, this gateway sin opens the floodgates for all other type of sin. What is this gateway sin? Complaining!

Why do I think this generally acceptable sin will lead us into all other types of sin? Complaining (or grumbling) breeds discontentment. Ultimately, we are grumbling against God by expressing a lack of trust in God’s choices for our life and a lack of belief that He can use this circumstance for good. We become myopic, focusing on what is wrong instead of cultivating gratitude.

Complaining diminishes our testimony since when we complain, we are no different from the world, and God’s light is obscured. What are you tempted to grumble about? The weather, money, politics, church, family, work or daily tasks? Grumbling is not only harmful to the grumbler but infects those around us.

Perhaps you are thinking, I don’t speak these thoughts out loud so I’m okay.  Jesus warned us that our heart’s attitude is where sin grows, whether or not it is visible to others. Perhaps these examples will seem far-fetched, but grumbling has far-reaching ripple effects. Complaining in a marriage fosters discontentment which could lead to divorce or infidelity. Grumbling about church may cause disunity among the body causing bitterness or avoidance church altogether. A parent complaining about the size of the home could contribute to a child elevating material things to the extent that he believes his own value lies in what he acquires. However, the greatest cost of complaining is the erosion of our confidence in our Heavenly Father’s goodness and love for us.

Do everything without grumbling or complaining so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.  Philippians 2:14-15

Heart Problems

person using stethoscope on bear plush toy

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We take our hearts for granted. Hidden beneath our ribcage, this two-fist size organ pumps almost 2000 gallons each day!  If our heart is functioning properly, we don’t think much about it. However, following a cardiologist appointment, my husband informed me that his doctor suspected a serious heart condition involving his bi-cuspid valve.  The doctor wanted my husband to undergo a medical procedure as soon as possible to determine what steps to take.

This situation led me to consider of our spiritual hearts. What is their condition? We are instructed in Proverbs 4:23 to watch over our hearts with all diligence because from the heart flows the springs of life.

For my husband, shortness of breath led him to seek counsel and begin to watch over his physical heart more diligently. For us, some symptoms that our hearts may not be healthy include:

  • Not having a teachable spirit – comfortable with our knowledge of spiritual truth and God’s word without a desire to grow
  • A critical and judgmental attitude; complaining
  • Pride in victories and accomplishments forgetting any success ultimately comes from the hand of God
  • Lack of love or desire to be involved with brothers and sisters in the Lord
  • Weighed down by anxious thoughts
  • God’s commands feel burdensome

Among his audiences, Jesus noted that many appear well on the outside yet have decay within. In the new covenant, God gives us a new heart, a heart of flesh to replace our heart of stone. But we are to guard this new heart against becoming calcified by subtle build up, day upon day.

Maybe now is an opportunity to let the great physician, Yahweh Rapha, examine our hearts for it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. Unfortunately, we are all ravaged by our sin-sick world so we display wisdom when we take pro-active measures to ensure our hearts continuing health.

P.S. My husband’s cardiologist found that while one valve is considerably smaller than it should be, there is no blockage or deterioration, so no surgery is needed!

Cosmic Plagiarism

planet earth close up photo

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Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

When Timothy Keller described pride as “cosmic plagiarism,” his words captured my attention.  At the beginning of university classes involving writing, students are warned about the consequences of plagiarism. Whether intentionally or unwittingly, plagiarism means we are claiming another’s work as our own. If taking credit for ourselves from a human author is damaging, how much worse to take credit for the work of the Almighty!

When Hebrews 12 refers to the sin which entangles us and keeps us from running our race well, pride comes to mind. Why? Because pride is a form of unbelief. We believe our hard work (or failure) is the determining factor in how our lives turn out, not the wisdom, love and sovereignty of God. We forget that our nationality, physical appearance, intellectual ability, artistic and athletic skills, family of origin, health and hundreds (thousands) of other factors are bestowed by God.

What might cosmic plagiarism sound like in our own thoughts?

  • I worked hard to get where I am today.
  • I deserve this for the effort I have made.
  • I tithe so the other 90% is my money
  • We will make a name for ourselves (Genesis 11:4, Tower of Babel)
  • I will ascend (Isaiah 13:14, Satan)

However, it also may demean by voicing this refrain

  • My talents are inferior to yours. I am not enough.

Pride compares. Whether we deem ourselves superior in some way to another or repeatedly disparage our efforts or existence, we are still believing the outcome of our achievements (or lack of achievements) is a result of ourselves. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5

Grace means gift. God has given us each different gifts, not to make a name for ourselves but to His great Name known.

*I highly recommend Timothy Keller’s sermon,  Nebuchadnezzar and Pride,