Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psalm 139:23 (NIV)
King David invited God to know his anxious thoughts.  In their book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, the authors address the dangers of toxic fear. 

Before I ponder the adjectives, I give attention to the nouns "thoughts" and "fears."  I am thankful for both, at least the healthy variety of each. 

I enjoy healthy thoughts of . . .

  • raindrops on roses (Sing if you know the rest.)
  • time with my wife and kids
  • memories of joyful events
  • Jesus' love for me
I welcome the fear that . . .

  • tells me when danger lurks
  • reminds me to remember that drivers often don't see motorcyclists
  • keeps us from doing stupid things (sometimes!)

Now to the adjectives . . .

The words "anxious" and "toxic" make me . . . well, anxious.  When someone begins a sentence with "Don't worry, but . . ." - it's already too late, even before the "but" perhaps even before the ",".  Nevertheless, the wisdom in Jesus' words rings as clear and true as it did two millenia ago.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Matthew 6:27 (NIV)

How then are we to avoid anxiety and reject toxicity?  Jesus comes through yet again.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:33-34 (NIV)
Thirty-four is brought to you courtesy of thirty-three.  When I live the words of 33, my anxious thoughts fade and my toxic fears give way to faith-based assurance.  So when the bee stings and the dog bites (Singing yet?), I simply remember my favorite things (Yet?). 

One of my favorite things is the collection of history, letters, poetry, theology, and story known as the Bible.  God's word defeats bee stings and dog bites.  For example . . .

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)
8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NIV)

Just a few sentences after verse ten, the Apostle writes an explanation that reminds me of 33.  When anxious thoughts and toxic fears creep your way, recall and cling to this explanation . . .

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)


It arrived by mail two weeks ago.  After unwrapping it from the protective plastic wrap, I grabbed my Pentel P205 pencil and wrote thirty-two names in their appropriate spots.  Than I circled numbers such as 1, 11, 25, and 24.  The names belong to the members of my family (immediate and extended); the appropriate spots are the spaces next to the calendar dates of their birthdays.  The numbers I circled reference New Year's Day, the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, Palm Sunday, and Christmas Eve; many other circles appear throughout the 365-day log.

While I own a newish smart phone with the, according to my wife, ever-handy calendar app; I really like my pencil-prepped paper calendar.  Next to my Bible, it is my most valuable (no reference to financial) leather-bound possession.  In fact, just last week, I paid one of the children in our church a bag of Skittles for the return of my 2017 version.  (He initially requested $400.  I convinced him to settle for a bag of rainbow candies.  Quite a bargain!) 

The paper of little value gains worth as it bears the notes that organize my life, week after week.  I like knowing what's next as well as having a memory-jogging log of what has been. 

The pages tell my story - much of it, at least.  Other parts of my story stay in my pencil.  While I write "No school" on the days when I know my kids will have an academic break, I refrain from writing "lost" on the days a racquetball game didn't turn out the way I prefer.  While I write "Date Night" on the evenings when I am gifted with time with my amazing wife, I refuse to make marked reference to days like today when I chose to wear yet-unwashed jeans that I wore a few days ago which, unknown to me until I donned them at the gym, smell like the baked halibut we ate the last time I wore them.  Halibut tastes great!  The smell of days-old halibut is another story. 

One thing I really enjoy about the accounts in Scripture of the likes of David, Deborah, Martha, and Peter is the inclusion of the parts of their stories that reflect events more akin to smelly jeans and lost games than to wins and great feasts.  The Bible includes the events that a more cautious historian would choose to leave unrecorded.

Think David's cover-up.
Think Deborah's doubt.
Think Martha's complaining.
Think Peter's adamant denial, repeated twice.

The Bible is perfect; yet, save One, no one in it is.  While I dare not rejoice in their failures, I take solace in knowing that I am not alone in mine.  You see, while I don't write of lost games and stinky pants, I choose also to leave other parts of my story untold - other failures, doubts, struggles, and unwashed acts.  Rather than writing them in a collection of dated events, I confess them to God.  And here's the cool part - He doesn't write them down!

3 If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
    LORD, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,

Psalm 130:3-4a

It's Worth Telling

Calling all storytellers, singers, and writers.  The great opportunity awaits.  A wealth of material is ready to be voiced through story, song, and pen. 

Some artists will choose to project softly; other inspired ones will tell stories of heroes of renown. 
Eager fingers take up pens, pencils, or rest on keys - ready to script a truthful tale (no need for tall ones) of adventure.
Guitar strings, ivory keys, taut bows, and didgeridoos await - ready to serve as tools of expression.

What wealth is there to be found?

1 I lift you high in praise, my God, O my King!
    and I’ll bless your name into eternity.
2 I’ll bless you every day,
    and keep it up from now to eternity.
3 God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough.
    There are no boundaries to his greatness.
4 Generation after generation stands in awe of your work;
    each one tells stories of your mighty acts.
5 Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking;
    I compose songs on your wonders.
6 Your marvelous doings are headline news;
    I could write a book full of the details of your greatness.
7 The fame of your goodness spreads across the country;
    your righteousness is on everyone’s lips.
8 God is all mercy and grace—
    not quick to anger, is rich in love.
9 God is good to one and all;
    everything he does is suffused with grace.
10Creation and creatures applaud you, God;
    your holy people bless you.

Psalm 145:1-10 (The Message)

Tell your story of God's grace. 

Compose your song of exultation.

Pen the brief reflection that captures volumes.

Write the volume that inspires a life to change.

Preach boldly of the love of God. 

Sing and lead others to do so with all their hearts.

Tell the old, old story and lift up a new song. 

In your generation - speak, sing, and write so that the next will hear, sing, and read.

"God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough."