Rattle not OK

When I was young, my parents had bought something for me for Christmas that had a sign on the outside of the box saying “Rattle OK”, meaning that if you shook the box and heard loose pieces rattling about, that it was normal – nothing was broken. But for us, a “rattle” is not a good sign. If we are scattered – if pieces of our selves, our souls, are loose, it is a sign that we need help.
Think of God as the good parent that God is. If you are carrying a heavy burden (of worry, stress, fear, anxiety…) hand it over to God to take care of it. It is too heavy for you alone, you cannot bear it. But God, the kind and capable parent, can carry whatever is weighing you down and knows what to do with it.
We are trained by the world to be independent, to bear up under incredible stress, to solve our own problems. However, Jesus teaches us that God is more than willing and able to help us if only we ask. We are not made to be alone, to do everything ourselves. To rely solely on your own ability is to put yourself in God’s place. This is a form of idolatry – it is to say that you do not need God, because you are enough. Instead, give your burdens and brokenness to God, the faithful and capable parent, to take care of.

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Poem – afterlife

Nobody can tell you
where the flame goes
after it is
blown out,
so how do we know
where the soul goes
after
we die?
How do we know
there is more,
there is life after life?

Is it a bedtime story we tell
(our children, ourselves)
to keep away the boogeyman,
the things that go bump in the night?

Now is all we have.
Why worry about
the afterlife
and waste the life you have?

Live before you die.

If there is an afterlife,
let it be a bonus,
an extra.
Don’t let it be your only,
because it might not be.
Don’t worry
about whether
it is
or is not,
because that steals away
time
from the life you have,
now.

Poem – Who is your God?

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

Sure, you worship God,
but what else
do you give power to?

Who has power over you
so that you feel
your life is not your own?
Who demands
too much
of your time?
Who are you afraid
to say
“No”
to?

Your boss,
your job,
your family,
even your
religious tradition?

Perhaps you worry about
your health
or how you are going
to pay your bills?

Every time you give your energy
to something or someone else
and think that it or he or she
controls you,
you have made it into your God.

Perhaps you have made yourself
into a god?
Perhaps you feel that you are
in control
of everything,
that your willpower,
your education,
your strength
will ensure
you will never
lack.

Is your to-do list
bigger
than your prayer list?

Who is your God?
There can only be one.
Pick wisely.

Martha and Mary

While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, they arrived at a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening while he taught. Martha was anxious about everything that she had to do to prepare for these unexpected guests. She said “Lord, do you think that it is fair that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to give me a hand.” Jesus answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and anxious about many things, but only one thing matters. Mary has made the right choice, and I won’t take it away from her.”

LK 10:38-42

The cure for anxiety

Because of this I’m telling you – don’t worry about anything about your life or regarding your body. Don’t worry about what you will have to eat or drink or wear. Life is about much more than food or clothing. Think about the ravens – they don’t sow or reap or store up their food, and yet God provides for them. Don’t you know you are more valuable than them? Can anyone add even a minute to his life by worrying? If worry can’t change the little things, then why worry about the big things?

Why worry about what you’re going to wear? Think about the wildflowers – they don’t earn money for clothing or make thread, yet they are more beautifully clothed than King Solomon ever was! If that is how God adorns grass, which is temporary and insubstantial, won’t he do much more for you – you who don’t believe?

So don’t be anxious about what you are going to eat or drink or wear – those are the kinds of things that people who don’t believe in God focus on. Your Father in heaven knows of your needs.

Instead of striving for those things, strive for the kingdom of God, and then everything you need will be provided for you. Don’t be anxious, because your heavenly Father gets great pleasure in giving you the kingdom. Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own to deal with.

MT 6:25-34, LK 12:22-32

Manna. One day at a time with God.

I used to be really worried about money. It seemed as soon as I got a bonus or had an unexpected windfall of money, a huge expense would come up. I was never able to add to our savings. Sure, I’ve got some money there, but not enough to feel safe about. I don’t want to live hand-to-mouth. My parents did that and it wasn’t pretty. In a way it is a mercy that they died young because they certainly didn’t have any money set aside for when they got older.

Then I heard about manna as a test. Remember manna? It was what the Jews ate in the desert for forty years. They walked in the hot sun, with no homes, with no real possessions. They had no idea where they were going other than where God was leading them. Every day was difficult – but every day they had food in the form of manna.

It wasn’t that great, but it got them through. Every now and then some of them would complain and ask for something else, but it always made them sick. Manna was exactly what they needed. It was boring, sure, but it kept them strong enough to get through that ordeal and make it to their new home.

God knew what they needed and provided it. What they wanted wasn’t good for them. Isn’t this always the way? We think we know better than God, and when we get what we ask for, it just gets in our way.

Here’s the really interesting thing about manna. It was one day at a time. Every day of the week, except Saturday, they would get manna. It was just enough for that day and no more. Every day they had to trust that food would come to them. They couldn’t save up.

Saturday was different. Being the Sabbath, it was a day of rest. The only exception to the pattern was on Fridays, where they would get a double portion of manna so they didn’t have to work to gather it up on the Sabbath.

God gave manna not just to feed them, but as a test. It was to see if they trusted that God would provide for them. It was a test to see if they would submit to God’s commandments and be God’s people.

The same thing can be said about money. God knows what we need.

Here are the Bible verses in question (all are NIV) —–

Exodus 16:1-5

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

Deut. 8:1-5

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Deut. 8:16

16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.