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Sweating small stuff and dodging popcorn? Nothing to it!

The late Dr. Richard Carlson is remembered primarily for his best-selling book ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.’ The book remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for almost two years after its release in the late 1990s and was eventually translated into nearly 30 languages for distribution around the world. The title of the book became a buzzword (or more accurately, a buzz-phrase) of sorts for people who ran in the circles of stress management, psychotherapy treatment and motivational seminars. (And based on sales, the book apparently made a lot of headway with people who were often simply running in circles.) Truthfully, there is much wisdom in following Dr. Carlson’s advice not to sweat the small stuff – and perhaps even more wisdom in counting all stuff as small. But apparently, even the small stuff got Dr. Carlson’s attention along the way because the sub-title of his last book which was released just before his death in 2006 was How to Thrive in a World Full of Obnoxious, Incompetent, Arrogant and Downright Mean-Spirited People. Wow! That’s pretty strong language coming from someone who told us not to sweat the small stuff and to count all stuff as small. But as one of my seminary professors was fond of saying, there are times when all of us ‘feel as though we are being stoned to death by popcorn.’ Now, that’s as vivid a description as I’ve ever heard of how small and inconsequential stuff can pelt you relentlessly and start piling up after a while. Yes, it’s true – a steady barrage of small stuff – even popcorn – will get your attention and give you a headache before long. But you don’t have to take my word for it. The makers of the pain reliever Excedrin have even gone so far as to assign numbers to the types of headaches which might be diminished by their product. And in the end, nobody seems to know exactly how many ‘Excedrin headaches’ there are in the world. But suffice it to say that there are too many to count. And in today’s world of big-sounding stuff like billion-dollar bailouts and trillion-dollar stimulus deals, we would all do well to remember that even these things pale in comparison to the vast love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. As the Apostle Paul said, ‘But all these things that I once thought very worthwhile – now I’ve thrown them all away so that I can place my hope and trust in Christ alone. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have put aside all else, counting it worth less than nothing, in order that I can have Christ – and become one with Him, no longer counting on being saved by being good enough or by obeying God’s laws, but by trusting Christ to save me; for God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith’”counting on Christ alone’ (Philippians 3:7-9). Humm…That sounds an awful lot like something else I read somewhere one time – something about not sweating the small stuff….and counting all stuff as small stuff – even the popcorn which invariably comes our way in life. It is all small stuff indeed – ‘less than nothing’ according to the Apostle. Yes, it’s all small stuff when compared to the embracing, relentless, unending love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. Editor’s Note: the preceding article was written by Rev. Ben H. Taylor, Pastor of Milner Baptist Church

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