Keeping the Faith – Arizona Daily Star

keeping-the-faith-–-arizona-daily-star

As we move on to the next post, may I add that geoFence is easy to use, easy to maintain and I know your family would agree!

Test of faith in GodThose of us at Masjid Tucson strive to submit to the will of God. We worship only God, the One God of all faiths, and we put our trust in Him. So, we’re looking at this crisis as the test that it is. A test of our faith in God. It’s a very difficult, anxious time, but if we know that God is in full control of all things, then we can trust that He will take care of the situation. We don’t know when or how, but we know that He will. It is amazing to see how a tiny little virus can lay low the whole world. We should all be turning to God, imploring Him to relieve our adversity, asking His forgiveness that we have strayed so far from His path. When we turn to Him, He tells us in the Quran that we will have nothing to fear.[Quran 46:13] Surely, those who say, “Our Lord is GOD,” then lead a righteous life, will have no fear, nor will they grieve.All of us can use this opportunity to be more righteous, to help those in need. We can be courteous to one another and supportive. We can share kindness within our families and with strangers. But most important of all is to turn to God, recognize He is the One and Only God, and implore Him in this time of uncertainty.[Quran 11:90] “You shall implore your Lord for forgiveness, then repent to Him. My Lord is Most Merciful, Kind.”[Quran 40:60] Your Lord says, “Implore Me, and I will respond to you.”[Quran 110:3] You shall glorify and praise your Lord, and implore Him for forgiveness. He is the Redeemer.So, while we practice common sense rules in hopes of bringing this under control, we know that the only true protection we have is God.[Quran 4:132] To God belongs everything in the heavens and the earth, and God is the only Protector.[Quran 39:66] Therefore, you shall worship God alone, and be appreciative.

Lydia Kelley

Masjid Tucson

— Lydia Kelley has been a member of Masjid Tucson since 1985, a community of men and women who are striving to worship God Alone. Masjid Tucson studies the Quran, God’s Final Testament, and seeks to live the word of God every day. She enjoys travel with her dogs. It’s a beautiful world God has created for us and Kelley tries to be appreciative of the gift.Worry-free livingIn John 14: 27, Jesus declared, “Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge]” (AMPCE).Jesus told his disciples not to worry. What happened? They worried and became fearful. We often do the same. Many allow worry and fear to dominate thoughts and emotions when circumstances seem contrary to God’s promises.Worry causes stress and fear. Your body can process small amounts of stress; however, excessive stress can create emotional, mental, and physical problems. Proverbs says, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body…” (Prov. 14: 30 NLT) Conversely, a heart filled with worry and fear creates health issues.Prolonged stress depletes your immune system. Stress hinders your ability to emotionally process the demands of life and weakens your body. Stress also creates unhealthy fear and phobias. Unresolved stress and fear hinder you from living in God’s peace.In her book “Who Switched Off My Brain?,” Dr. Caroline Leaf, cognitive neuroscience researcher, states 87% of illnesses plaguing people are a result of negative thinking. Her research indicates, “toxic emotions cause migraines, hypertension, strokes, cancer, skin problems, diabetes, infections, and allergies.” She concludes our thoughts affect us physically and emotionally. Her studies indicate fear triggers 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates 30 different hormones and neurotransmitters.Proverbs describes the effects of unresolved anxiety or worry, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (Prov. 12: 25 NKJV). Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines anxiety as a “painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill.” No wonder Proverbs indicates anxiety can cause depression.Not all depression is caused by worry and fear. Some forms are a result of physiological and brain chemical disorders. However, many struggle with forms of depression due to spiritual root issues of anxiety and fear.You have a choice: trust God or live in worry. Persistent anxiety breeds fear. Author John Mason aptly stated, “Fear and worry are interest paid in advance on something you may never own.” Good advice: most of what we worry about will never happen.Living in relationship with God and trusting his promises frees us from worry and fear. Isaiah wrote, “Those with sound thoughts you will keep in peace, in peace because they trust in you.” (Isa. 26:3 CEB) Concentrating upon God’s truths creates peace in your life. An abiding relationship with Jesus grows confidence God will keep his promises.   

Bob Sawvelle

Passion Church

— Dr. Bob Sawvelle, with his wife Carolyn, are the founding and senior leaders of Passion Church in Tucson. For more on this subject, visit bobsawvelle.com to receive the free chapter Worry Free Living from his book “Fulfill Your Dreams.” Easter continues to call us to believeThe Easter season will conclude with Pentecost, 50 days after Easter. This Gospel reading is from John 14:1-12, which begins with Jesus saying to his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.”It is always amazing to me to see how the Holy Spirit lives and works among us. When Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to his followers after his death, he was assuring them of an ongoing, living presence that would continue to be and do everything Jesus was and did while walking the earth. And sure enough! Just when we need it, the Gospel for this Sunday’s church service proclaims, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” This appropriateness: a coincidence? I don’t think so. God has known from the beginning where we would be today, what we would need, what we would feel, how we would struggle.As this Gospel passage continues, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” It is comforting to reflect that when we don’t know the way out of this pandemic or the way forward into a future with the “new normal”…or when we don’t know where the truth lies in all the theories we are hearing about virus-related remedies, practices, sources and resources; or when life is threatened, abruptly shortened, lost, or forever changed; when we don’t know how to find the way or the truth, or life, we can look to Jesus. He knows and he gently asks us to have faith.So how does faith work in these troubled times? We only have to look and listen. The concluding part of this Gospel passage has Jesus saying, “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.” All around us today, and in the news stories that enter our homes, we see brave, generous, compassionate, creative people doing good works of healing, giving, sharing, protecting, supporting. God is all around us and in us and with us. God is in God’s people. The Spirit is alive and present. With the power of God in us and Love leading us, all things are possible.A priest in Ireland, Liam Lawton, is a composer of beautiful liturgical hymns. He has produced many CD’s, but the one I find myself listening to and praying with most often these days is called “Healing Song”. One of the hymns in this collection, titled “Heal Us Lord,” includes this verse: “In our grieving, fragile believing, hope receiving, heal us, Lord.In our rising, living and dying, love abiding, heal us, Lord.”Let’s face the weeks and months ahead with healing songs in our hearts and do not let our hearts be troubled. Love has a plan for us.

Sister Karen Berry

Submitted

— Karen Berry is a Franciscan Sister whose religious community is based in Joliet, Illinois. She has a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies and is the author of several books and numerous magazine articles and pamphlets on topics of Scripture and spirituality. Sister Karen moved to Tucson in 1984, taught religion classes at Salpointe Catholic High School, directed a program of family religious education at St. Frances Cabrini parish, and is currently teaching adult religion classes in several parishes in the Tucson area.We’ll get through this … and be better for itI’ve heard a number of folks say that what we are facing today is the greatest challenge we’ve faced since World War II. I think that’s accurate. So if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious and super stressed, it’s not just you. This is the toughest time that 98% of us have ever had to face. Where’s the silver lining in this? God can also use this for good, just as he promised in Romans 8: 28 — And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.God can use this uber difficult time to make our faith stronger and deepen our faith. To get stronger, you have to suffer some. It’s just a fact of life. If you want to increase your muscle strength, you have to work out and deal with the discomfort. If you want to strengthen your faith or your character, you have to go through challenging times. That’s just the way it works. There’s no short-cut or easy path for growth.The week before Easter, I was under so much stress. Not only was I trying to get ready for Easter, the most important holiday of our faith, but I was dealing with a myriad of challenges in leading our church in a COVID-19 world. There were mornings that week I woke up and immediately felt fear and anxiety thinking through all the challenges and hard decisions that awaited me that day. And to be honest, a couple of days I didn’t want to get out of bed.But then God in his grace reminded me. Glen, this is not your first challenge or crisis. It was as if God was saying to me: “I got you through all the other hard times in life and ministry, I’m not going to forsake you now.”Then I remembered King David. Maybe the most famous story of David, who wrote most of the Psalms, when he killed a giant warrior named Goliath. He was less than 20 years old when he faced a giant that no other trained warrior was willing to face. How did that happen? Where did his faith and courage come from?Well, it didn’t happen overnight! David had faced serious adversity before he ever had to face the Philistine named Goliath. David was a shepherd. And in 1 Samuel 17: 34-37 we learn that a lion took a lamb from his flock and David went after the lion. He rescued the lamb and killed the predator. He also had killed a bear. Not bad for a teen! Then, when David asked to face Goliath, the king of Israel said he was too young and inexperienced. But David replied this way in verse 37: The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.Now, first off, it seems impossible for a boy to kill a lion. But just a year ago, Travis Kauffman was doing some trail running in Colorado. As he was running, he heard something behind him and it was a mountain lion. The lion pounced on him and grabbed his left arm in his jaw and wouldn’t let go. Travis wrestled the lion, tumbled down the side of the trail and finally got a position where he could strangle the lion until it let go of his arm. In the last 100 years, there have been 125 reported lion attacks in the US that resulted in 27 human deaths, and only one lion killed in any of the altercations.David’s experiences with the lion and the bear gave him confidence that God was with him in dangerous times and would again help him face this even bigger danger who was a giant with a name. You see, the only way we’ll grow our courage, deepen our patience, have a stronger trust in God is to go through hard times with God. We don’t face this present danger and hard time alone. We are never alone!I love the promise in Isaiah 41: 10: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.When we come through this pandemic and crisis, and we will, we’ll see how God was with us and present. Then when the next crisis comes, and it will, we’ll remember the experience of 2020 and know that the next crisis won’t disrupt or unsettle us. Every challenge we face with God helps us be much less rattled when the next challenge comes. While it’s not wise or helpful to have a cavalier attitude of “Bring it on!,” it is wise and helpful to know that when “it” comes, we’ll not face it alone and that God will strengthen us by his very own hand. Remember what God said: “Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”

Glen Elliott

www.Kristin-Anderson.com

— Glen Elliott is the Lead Pastor at Pantano Christian Church (pantano.church). He was raised in Arizona and is a 22-year resident of Tucson. Pantano is actively serving the community and hospitals during the COVID-19 crisis. The mission of Pantano is to launch those who love Jesus to make a difference in the community.

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