Choosing Worship Over Worry

… Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41

Two weeks ago I was one kid away from being an empty nester, but Covid-19 changed everything. My daughters fled their big cities and hunkered down at home. Suddenly there’s more cooking, laundry, dishes . . . more everything.

vintage-1898388_1920

They help out, but I’d gotten used to (and enjoyed!) the slower pace of life. I’m happy they’re safe but frequently find myself going into “Martha mode.”

Martha was one of Jesus’ close friends. She owned a house in the village of Bethany, which was about two miles from Jerusalem.  One day Jesus and his disciples stopped by.

The Bible doesn’t tell us if she anticipated the visit, but we can tell by the story that she flew into a tizzy. Though the passage is only eight sentences long, the story is legendary.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:38-42

I can relate. Has stress ever made you cranky and bossy?

I love Jesus’ response because it highlights his approachability and gentleness. He assessed the situation and cut to the heart of the matter — Martha’s priorities were out of whack .

The Greek word for distracted is perispao and means: to be so overburdened by various distractions as to be worried and anxious.

By contrast, Mary’s posture was one of worship. In those days, women weren’t always able to learn. Rather, they’d be excluded from discipleship and expected to learn from male relatives or husbands. But Jesus welcomed Mary’s devotion.

Johannes_(Jan)_Vermeer_-_Christ_in_the_House_of_Martha_and_Mary_-_Google_Art_Project

I often wonder if Martha listened. Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the “good portion.” In other words, she had two options: she could continue in frustration or take a seat in his presence.

Either way, his words tell us what’s truly necessary. When life or change makes us feel overburdened and worried, we can choose to stop and sit with him.

What are the things that throw your priorities out of whack?

Priority Planning with Jesus

And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:5

Where does Jesus fit in the priorities of your life? Is he in first place or is he more of an afterthought?

hurry-2119711_1920Honestly, depending on the circumstances, I sometimes squeeze him in wherever. It’s the wrong thing to do because I find that when he’s in first place, I experience peace.

Today I read the story about Jesus and his disciples, who were caught picking grain on the Sabbath by religious leaders (Luke 6:1-5). The last line of the passage took on new meaning for me. Knowing that Jesus is lord of the Sabbath is a game changer.

What does it mean exactly? To know, we have to dig deeply into the words lord and Sabbath.

The original Greek meanings are as follows:*

Lord is kyrios (pronounced koo-re-ohs) and Sabbath is sabbaton (pronounced sahb-baht-own).

Lord means one who exercises supernatural authority over mankind — Lord, Ruler, One who commands.

Sabbath is a period of seven days, a week.

Many Christians observe a “Sabbath day,” a day of worship and rest from work. We gather with other believers to sing, pray, serve, and learn about God.  We rest from work after the pattern of God’s creation of the world.

pair-3798371_1920Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3

The Sabbath was a holy day for Jews and the Pharisees strictly observed it. Many activities were forbidden and when Jesus and his followers picked the grain, the Pharisees considered it a form of work. Basically, Jesus was snacking.

I love how he fired back at his harassers with scripture. Read Luke 6:1-5 for the full picture. Jesus put these legalists in their place.

1 Colossians 1:15 -17 tells us: Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see — such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.

The leaders really didn’t understand to whom they were speaking. I get it. Sometimes I forget too.

Jesus is Lord. He’s the One who commands. He’s Lord of the Sabbath. This means he is Lord over the whole week.

What’s the significance for us? When we plan our days according to the commands of our commander, we put them in proper order. Jesus hammered a fundamental principle into the minds of his followers. He challenged them to align their thinking and behavior with God’s ultimate standard.

love-3388626_1920He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”  John 13:34

If we filter all we do and say through this principle, we will literally change the world.

How can you align your weekly plans with Jesus’ command?

*Louw, Johannes P, and Eugene A Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains. United Bible Societies, 1988.

 

Peacemaking in a hostile world

For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility (Eph. 2:14-16).

flourish-2858816_1280

Divisiveness is at an all time high in our country, especially in our politics and from leaders who would denounce those holding opposing views as “other” or worse, “enemy.”

But don’t be fooled. They’re not only colleagues, in many cases they’re good friends. My parents both worked for Congress and would tell stories about our elected officials. They’d attack one another in the press but in the elevators and hallways they could be overheard making weekend plans together.

Our leaders often aren’t the best example of how to get along. However, I recently learned of one group working hard to keep the peace.

The U.S. Supreme Court is a group of nine men and women deciding on some of the most important legal cases in our nation. Though each Justice is an individual, they work in unison as one body.

Despite political  leanings and personal dispositions, they have a tradition that can serve as an example to us. One is called “The Judicial Handshake” and it dates back to the nineteenth century. Each day before they go on the bench and before any discussion in private conferences, they gather and shake hands with each of their counterparts.

handshake-2056023_1920

According to the Supreme Court website, there’s a reason for this: “Chief Justice Fuller instituted this practice as a reminder that differences of opinion on the Court did not preclude overall harmony of purpose.”

As believers, we’re also called to unity — to be one as the body of Christ. The “broken down” reference in the verse above is mild compared to what it actually means in Greek, which is total destruction. The hostility that formerly divided people and made them enemies suffered total devastation when Jesus chose to die on the cross for all mankind.

His purpose of making peace through reconciliation offers us a clear pattern to follow. By his example, we as his disciples are called to do the same in the here and now. We have a ministry of reconciliation.

As Ephesians 2:22 tells us: In him you are also being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. 

Think about that. While much of the world is divided and dominated by hostility and enmity, a bright light still shines — us. Citizens and family members have rights and responsibilities to their leaders and relatives. Putting hostility and individuality aside for the sake of others is critical for a healthy country and household.

 

 

Jesus accomplished this for us on the cross and he calls us to pick up our cross (our responsibility) and follow his example. Just think about the difference that would make in our world!

How can you make peace with others?

A life changing Bible verse

A number of people close to me struggle with anxiety. At times, it’s severe. Furrowed brows, hammering hearts, and full-on panic attacks are common. It’s hard to watch, hard to feel helpless, especially since I’ve experienced these emotions myself.

A long time ago, especially when I was a young mother, I worried a lot too. Having small children can heighten the emotions that twist like tornados through our minds. Suddenly, everything is dangerous and anything is possible. What if we can’t feed them? What if I lose my job and our company goes under? The “what ifs” drove me nuts and drove my actions. But then God led me to a Bible verse that changed everything and put a stop to all the spinning:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matt 6:33

Jesus knows a thing or two about worry. He often spoke to his followers about the things that tend to make humans anxious.

Matthew 4:18 tells the story of Jesus calling his first followers, the brothers Simon Peter and Andrew. He had lots to teach them and as they traveled through Galilee, great crowds followed. Matthew 4:18-7:29 is rich with instruction about the way Christians should live.

But the key for me was found in Matthew 6:33, and specifically in the word, first. Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. First, as defined in the Greek, means first in a series involving time, space, or set. We’re familiar with the concept of being in first place, or first in line or first in our class — it’s an order of priority.

Jesus tells us that before we worry about everything else, whether that be nourishment, clothing, or where we’ll live, we need to make God first. Easy to say, but harder to do right? It’s hard to think straight when you’re worried about being hungry or thirsty.

But Jesus doesn’t leave us without answers. After he explained the way to live, he explained the why. The answer is simple — God cares for us.

IMG_3616

He said, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” Matt 6:26-32

The Gentiles he spoke about were those who didn’t believe in God. We are not to be like those who have no faith. We have a heavenly Father who knows exactly what we need, when we need it.

Put him to the test. Trust him and see what happens when he gets put into his rightful position.

Once I rearranged my priorities everything changed. He’s poured out unbelievable blessings on me and my family. But it only works if you work it!

What actions can you take to put God in first place, in every area of your life?

Illuminating the mystery of more

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Eph. 1:3).

How often do you look up and marvel at the night sky? My guess is that your answer depends on what you see when you do.

Wonders upon wonders exist in the heavens but we can see only a fraction of the stars and planets. Though people have tried, there are simply too many to count. According to astronomers at Sky and Telescope magazine, roughly 9,000 stars can be viewed with the naked eye.

astronomy-1867616_1920

That number gets cut in half depending on atmospheric conditions, seasons and light pollution. The average New York City resident sees just seven stars, and the view in other places is vastly different. One year my family and I took a trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and we were stunned by the nightly display. Stars, planets, and the Milky Way were on full view. We made it a point to look up every evening.

A few years ago I taught a semester of astronomy (I’m a homeschooler) and the kids and I stargazed through our telescope every night. Viewing the stars and planets through binoculars and telescopes exponentially increases our ability to see them. Trillions of galaxies illuminate the heavens and point our attention to the One who created them.

international-space-station-1176518_1920

God has given us land and waters swarming with all kinds of creatures. In the same way a loving parent creates a healthy and happy home, he’s established the perfect environment because of his immeasurable love for us.

We are a blessed people — children of the divine creator of the universe. A God who is so big he literally fills everything. But he doesn’t stop with earthly blessings. He’s also given us access to unimaginable spiritual blessings. Scripture tells us that we have access to every kind of blessing available. They originate from an unlimited and infinite God — given to us through Jesus.

In Christ, we discover we’re made for more than we can ever imagine.

Our Heavenly Father breathes life into every living thing. He has mind-blowing things in store for us, his children, when we’re open to discovery. Like the stars in the sky, He designed each one of us uniquely for his great purposes. He’s called us to light up our world for Christ and build up his body, the Church — to illuminate the mystery of more for ourselves and for others.

And here’s the really big idea: the Church is called for more because Jesus himself is more. Look at what Paul says about Jesus in Ephesians 1:22:

“God placed all things under Jesus’ feet.” 

Only Jesus can fill everything in every way. Not our efforts, our strategies, our plans, our spouses, our children, our jobs, our church.

Only Jesus.

How does knowing that you have access to every kind of spiritual blessing expand your knowledge of and love for God?

Will you win an award or a reward?

Winter is the time for snuggling under blankets, getting cozy in front of the fire, and . . . awards. Each year, powerful tastemakers in Hollywood celebrate the previous year’s success by staging elaborate award ceremonies.

The star-studded events are glamorous – women shine in (mostly) gorgeous gowns and men are decked out in tuxedos. Average folks like you and me, can’t walk the red carpet or sit in the same room with the swanky set.

However, you can go to Vanity Fair’s After Party for the paltry sum of forty grand.

I gave up watching these shows when they got too political, but I do enjoy looking at the gowns online. The other day I listened to a guy being interviewed on the radio who’s well-known for picking Golden Globe winners.

As I did, a thought popped into my head: I will never ever receive an award like this. No one is nominating me for anything. I’m not particularly talented and I’ll never get a Lifetime Achievement award, unless they start giving them out for laundry. I won’t have a star on my dressing room door and no golden statuettes will sit on my shelves.

oscar-3200050_1920

But I’m ok with that because I’m a star in God’s eyes, and so are you!

As believers, we have something much more valuable – we have Jesus himself. We’re members of God’s family, the Holy Spirit dwells in us and we have eternal salvation through Christ.

Ephesians 1:3 tells us exactly how “gifted” we are: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. 

Read that again. In Christ, we have every spiritual blessing available in the heavenly realm and we have direct access to the God of the universe.

How amazing is that?

So as we trudge through the winter months – hiding those few extra pounds underneath bulky sweaters – take some time to meditate on God’s promises.

The glitz and glam splashed across our screens is temporal. God doesn’t tally up our achievements or pick winners from a select group of people. Shiny baubles and swag bags are meaningless objects in the grand scheme of life.

We are already stellar as far as He’s concerned and our reward is stored up for us in heaven.

One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, You reward everyone according to what they have done.” Psalm 62:11-12

 

 

Feeling worried about the year ahead?

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

I’m watching the dawn break as I write this morning. My view, which faces the Atlantic Ocean (and is blocked by homes in front of me), is not the one I’m used to. It’s usually beautiful to watch the great ball of sun rising above oceanfront rooftops.

IMG_2429

But today, the sky is dim with low-hanging gray clouds and the light doesn’t bounce off the water in the canal.

IMG_2643

What a difference a day makes.

As I look forward to the year ahead, it’s almost impossible not to look back. 2018 was incredibly busy and filled with unexpected obstacles and life-changing milestones. The biggest challenge was moving my two daughters to different cities, and the planning and logistics required to make it happen.

I didn’t expect that my two biggest champions would leave home this year. Now, it’s just me and the boys, and it’s been a difficult adjustment to say the least.

Like many, we’ve also struggled with all sorts of grief and joy. I suspect 2019 will be filled with much of the same, but I’m not worried and you shouldn’t be either.

The world we live in is filled with chaos. Political divisiveness, global warfare and countless pundits and prognosticators suggest impending disaster. They encourage us to be quivering cowards. They want us to fret, fear and feel hopeless because they think they know best and after all . . . misery loves company.

smiley-2979107_1920

I implore you not to join in their reindeer games! There is only One who truly knows the future.

When we try to remove God from all forms of society, society begins to spiral. We forget that God is on His throne and elevate “leaders” and philosophers to a position of omniscience. This is nothing but a form of idolatry. It has no place in the lives of believers.

And besides, fear tactics have been around for thousands of years.

Take a look at the words of Jeremiah in the Old Testament: Do not panic; don’t be afraid when you hear the first rumor of opposing forces. For rumors will keep coming year by year. Violence will erupt in the land as the leaders fight against each other. Jeremiah 51:46

Instead, let us remember that the Lord goes before us. Jesus invites us to rest in Him: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Peter reminds us to give our concerns to Him: Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

So let’s look forward to 2019 with anticipation and rejoicing. We serve a God who loves us, invites us into His family and goes before us in all things.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

A merciful miracle story

By Erika Rizkallah

Have you ever heard the phrase: Be careful what you pray for?

It’s often said after something dreadful or amazing has happened, and my case is no different.

A few weeks ago, on Father’s Day to be exact, my family decided to take an evening boat ride. It also happened to be my son’s 16th birthday and he wanted to ride our jetski instead. He’s experienced and has his boating license so we thought nothing of it.

jetski 4

We decided to go to one of the many waterfront restaurants for dinner but they were all packed. The sun began to set and beautiful streaks of pinks and oranges blazed against the sky — it was quite magical.

jetski 2

Then the dolphins began to appear but my daughter and I kept missing them. Each time my husband slowed the boat they’d disappear beneath the water. Dolphins are as common as squirrels here and normally we wouldn’t stop to see them, but my photographer daughter wanted to get a sunset shot.

dolphin-1167996_1920

After a fruitless search we turned the boat and sped home, happy and hungry. A few minutes later, my husband yelled, “Dolphin!” and pulled the throttle. We heard a horrendous crunching noise and were thrown forward.

It took a minute to realize what happened and I was stunned. My daughter and husband started screaming in fear but from my vantage point I could see the problem.

My son, still on the jetski, was wedged vertically between the engine and the roof.

jetski 3

We went into crisis mode. We yelled at him to jump off the roof and so he did, landing in the water. The current was strong and even though he had a life vest on he’d had a bit of a shock. A boat pulled up and offered to bring him in.

By this time a crowd had gathered to help, ask questions and stare. People began taking pictures of the astonishing sight. We called a tow boat and on the agonizingly long ride home — with us sitting in the back of our boat – the reality sank in.

In my quiet time that morning, I had foolishly prayed, Lord, show me your glory.

He not only showed me, but everyone else! Hundreds of pictures were taken by gawkers. We appeared on a well-known Instagram boating account with thousands of views.

The next day, we were on the news and the story appeared in headlines across the country. Reporters called the Fish and Wildlife Department trying to get interviews. Our response was “No comment.”

Until now.

Anyone can see that this was a perfectly timed miracle. Consider the speed of the boat and the velocity of the jetski combined with the lift of the wake and position of the engines and roof. Any variation in these factors could have proved deadly, but no one was hurt.

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 8.54.43 AM

As believers, we’re called to report on the mercy of God and the daily miracles he provides us. We’re to shout his praise and glory from the rooftops and sing out with joy.

I haven’t stopped thanking him for what he did that day but I won’t ask to see his glory again. That was enough for me!

Your turn: Do you have any miracle stories you can share?

 

 

How does your (spiritual) garden grow?

By Erika Rizkallah

Got a brown thumb? Happily, spiritual planting is all about growth! We can learn so much about growing our faith by applying lessons from the garden.

I inherited my gardening passion from my dad. I also come from a long line of farmers and joyfully remember the summer weeks spent with my grandparents. My brother and I explored fields planted with corn and soybeans and hunted for wild asparagus growing near a ditch in front of the farmhouse.

When I moved into my forever home I inherited the previous homeowner’s garden. I was thrilled with the yard until I learned she practiced Ikebana (Japanese flower design). On closer inspection, I discovered it contained all sorts of heinous invasive plants. I spent hours weeding, only to find them sprout again, trying to strangle plants I wanted to keep.

IMG_1144

But I was patient, and after pulling them by the roots, I planted my favorites in their place. Now I have a gorgeous yard that fills me with satisfaction and peace — though it’s still a work in progress.

Tending to my little corner of the world connects me to God in a more meaningful way. Adam and Eve’s first home was a garden and many of Jesus’ teachings took place outdoors and reflect his love of nature. Themes of harvest, sowing and reaping feature prominently in the Bible.

flowers 1

Growth and spiritual fruit production are imperatives for anyone seeking maturity in Christ. Here are five ways our earthy and spiritual lives are similar:

Great soil: All gardeners know the key to a productive garden is great soil. It’s the primary ingredient for flourishing plants and must be healthy. Conditioning is often necessary because let’s face it, almost no soil is perfectly healthy in its natural state. If it’s too sandy, wet or filled with sticky clay, plants wither and die.

The soil of our spiritual life is the heart. Biblically speaking, the heart – kardia in Greek – represents our whole inner being. It’s not just a blood pumping organ, but the source of life, made up of mind, soul and spirit.

Nourishment: We can’t simply plop flowers and plants into a garden and expect it to grow. We must nourish it. Sunlight, the meticulous watering and protection from the elements are critical. We often need to amend soil with fertilizer and emulsifiers, which come from surprising sources. We apply dead fish and poop to feed our plants — this used to gross me out.

In spiritual matters, our fertilizer is prayer and scripture reading. And just as manure provides nutrients, trouble (the poopy parts of life), also benefits us. Adversity strengthens and causes us to seek God, to rely on him and his word for our inner health.

 

prayer-1308663_1920

Maintenance: Here is where many gardeners begin to falter. The first part, getting the soil and feeding right, is relatively easy. The hard part is keeping up with it. Regular maintenance includes weeding, pruning, pest control and deadheading — a fancy term for removing spent flower heads.

Spiritual life requires maintenance too. We get this by spending intentional daily quiet time with God. Enjoying friendship with fellow believers can help us weed out sin and discern the parts of life God’s wants to prune. While painful, pruning — cutting off dead and unproductive stuff — helps us grow and flourish. Regular maintenance gets rid of pests, slugs and worms threatening to devour us.

Patience: Waiting is the truly difficult part. After all the time and energy spent on the early part of the process, it’s not unusual to see little result. We live in an “instant” society and gardening is anything but immediate. It can take months and even years for some plants to thrive and grow. So it goes with faith . . .

girl-2760853_1920

But hidden under the dark surface and seemingly dormant areas, God is always working.  Patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and our Father is generous to provide for our needs. Though often boring, waiting is necessary and active.

Being still, standing firm in our faith and trusting are active habits. Even though we sometimes can’t see it, God is ever-present and cares deeply for us.

Produce: This is the good stuff — our hard work has paid off! Beautiful, bountiful flowers bloom and we pluck fruit from the trees. We bite into the luscious apple, craft a bouquet and feel satisfaction and accomplishment.

God wants this for us. He wants fruit production and for us to enjoy that fresh fruit of our labor.

peach-2632182_1920

Take a bite out of the juicy peach and thank him for his daily tending!

Your Turn: Our earthly and spiritual lives are a work in progress. There’s always work to sow and benefits to reap. Where are the areas your spiritual garden needs tending most?

5 ways to deal with the trolls in your life

By Erika Rizkallah

Do you have trolls in your life?

As a kid, one of my favorite stories was the Norwegian folk tale, Three Billy Goats Gruff. Don’t be surprised if it’s unfamiliar; the fact that I recall it shows my age.

It’s about three goats — a little one, a middle sized one and a huge one — who had to cross a bridge to get to the other side of the mountain to eat. A grotesque and ferocious troll lived underneath, threatening to devour them.

background-2032255_1920

The little and middle-sized ones tricked him into waiting for the huge billy goat who crushed his bones and threw him over the bridge.

Just a terrifying tale parents liked to read right before bedtime!

We also had troll dolls. Remember those? We’d smash the neon polyester hair down and spin their squat bodies in our palms to whip up crazy hairdos.

Seems kind of lame now but that’s what we did for fun in the “good ‘ol days.”

troll-18240_1920

Trolls still exist. They usually menace behind electronic devices, but sometimes actively pursue.

I have one and she’s not the fun kind.

She’s the mother of my son’s (former) friend. Our boys were goofing around in my home and it escalated into a physical fight. Though her son started the horseplay and sucker punched my kid first, hers lost the fight and was injured.

Out of town that weekend, I heard the story from my husband, son and another witness. And the detective assigned to the case — yes, she called the police. Not getting the desired result, she’s now hell-bent on harassing me.

She’s sent nasty texts, tried to post awful comments on my blog and slandered my family in the community. So she’s trolling everywhere.

norge-2467913_1920

This is the world we live in. A world filled with strangers who feel free to unleash rage and harm. Just because they can or feel entitled to.

So how do we deal with it?

Ignore them: The first troll-defeating rule is always the best. Ignore them. They’re not worth our time or energy. Really, they’re not. They’re out living dull lives, getting their jollies by trying to cause harm. Don’t let them drag you to the party. Go about your own life and be thankful you have better things to do.

For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15

Rise up: Unlike mythological monsters, humans are complex. Maybe they’re hurting and trolling is their only way to feel powerful. Maybe they’re immature, attention seeking or insecure. We’ve all had our moments but we don’t have to act creaturely.

A pig that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud. 2 Peter 2:22

pig-1516956_1920

Talk it out: No, not to the troll — that won’t do any good. Talk about it with people who really know you. There’s nothing like meeting with a close friend to reassure us that we’re not what they say we are.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Go to God: Remember your creator. He’s the one who loves you most of all. He knows your heart, sees your frustration and can act in ways you’ve never even imagined. He’s the ultimate healer of the damaged. Meditate on this verse:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

Live with joy: Jesus warned that in this world we would have trouble. It’s the unfortunate part of earthly living, but we don’t have to dwell on Negativity Island. There are wonderful things out there that deserve our attention. We can do something nice for a stranger, offer a word of encouragement to a friend in need and spend time with positive people.

Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

girl-2755877_1920

Most of all, remember who you are. None of us are perfect, but we are all loved — even the trolls.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8