Thursday, November 13, 2008

Four words.

I have heard roughly 1 million pastors reference the verse, Philippians 4:6-7, in sermons about worry.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And it makes complete sense, because it's a great verse. I've said that one over and over again through the years as I've wrestled with my own worries.

But I've never heard anyone mention the four words that come before it. I've never heard anyone talk about the incredibly short, but in my mind, incredibly powerful sentence that precedes, "Do not be anxious about anything."

Have you? If you're familiar with that verse and have memorized it before, do you know the way the verse before it concludes? I honestly didn’t until a few weeks ago.

The four words before Philippians 4:6 are "The Lord is near." The verses say, "The Lord is near. Do not be anxious ..." I love that. When we pray that verse out loud when we're under the burden of worry, when the skies are dark and we are so anxious we can barely stand and we cry out to God, I think we should start with "The Lord is near."

We're not praying to a far off God. We're not presenting our requests to a long distance lord. The Lord is near. The Lord is near. That's such a great reminder. Instead of starting with us, "Don't be anxious about anything," what if we started with the Lord? What if we started our pray with, "the lord is near" and ended it in verse 7 with “in Christ Jesus?” What if we had God bookends on that prayer about worry?

Would that change the way we thought about worry? It has for me.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Life is loud right now. The average person sees up to 5,000 marketing messages a day. That means that every week, someone is telling you something 35,000 times. Every month, you get offered 150,000 different messages, most of which are trying to sell you something that will improve your life. Every year, more than 1.8 million messages tell you how to be a better you with what they offer. And when we add our own internal soundtracks to that noise, things get really cluttered.

We tell ourselves we're not good enough. Or that we're fantastic. We inflate and deflate our own egos all day long with ideas and words and thoughts that bounce around our hearts and heads. Friends and family, coworkers and television, the internet and radio add to the conversation.

And life feels loud.

That's why I love Zephaniah 3:17:

The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.

The whole verse is great, but my favorite part might be the promise that God will "quiet you with his love."

I am in awe that the verse is not written:

God will quiet you by speaking louder than everything else.
God will quiet you with his knowledge
God will quiet you with his disappointment in you for allowing life to get so loud
God will quiet you with his anger.

It's love. God is going to quiet us with his love. And when he does, we'll be able to hear him singing over us.

Life is loud right now, and there are ways I can be deliberate and intentional about making it quieter. But the truth is, what I pray for the most, when things feel loud and out of control, is that God will quiet me with his love.