Facing off with Fear

unknown16

A year ago I prayed a simple prayer that reversed a lot of negative feelings into positive ones.  This past year has been one full, absolutely brimming and chocked-full of spiritual stretch marks. What knowledge I’ve gained isn’t really about the answers but about the process of trust and how I’ve learned to apply trust in God in the face of uncertainty and fear.

Living free in this deep spiritual knowledge has brought me long the way in my healing. It took a lot of courage to get outside of the box.  God has all the courage we need to make life changes. Courage is basic to living free and is composed of three parts:

…fierce hope, fearless faith, and God sized love that takes our breathe away.

How do you start this kind of ripple effect that can propel you out of your state of feeling stuck and towards building momentum with God in a positive way? You simple lay your soul before God and ask how you need to change. In praying, a few simple words, you are opening yourself up to what takes more of the Holy Spirit to accomplish.  The Holy Spirit has been waiting to have His way in you. You have to make the first move to step out to find out. If you have to, even use your hands to reach out, stretching them towards heaven.

There is a part in a movie, “The Croods”, that hits me every time. If you haven’t seen this movie, watch it. It’s all about breathing in courage and conquering fears one step at a time. The story line is of a caveman family where the dad leads a survivalist trek across unknown territory.  At first he is fearful to step out, but finally musters up the courage he needs but never knew he had until he uses it to save his family.

Here’s the deal, the Crood dad has to go way out of his comfort zone to find it by conquering fears.  The good news that he finds that he has the ingenuity, the where-with-all strength, a sound mind AND along the way, he gains confidence!  I’m inspired by his tenacity to hang in there when the going gets tough.

Often, courage is not found until you have to use it.

Since we all face off with fear at some point in our lives, we tend to think that each fear builds momentum to work against us.  Often, we hide behind what we term our inadequacies and those insecurities stops us from moving out of our comfort zones. Friends, let’s just get real for a few moments here.  The best way to live free is to breakthrough in the face of fears and do it anyway.  What you find at the end of your fear is more courage than you could ever need.

It’s one thing to know freedom, but it’s a whole new level to live free, and trust God in the unknown. Sometimes, the unknown looks daunting, uncertain, and like a whole bag of fears and tears.  Trusting God with these areas allows God’s answers to invade your circumstances.  Your praises of His faithfulness will always open the door to what He has for you!

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

There’s nothing to fear when the Lord is near!

His ways will help you out of the darkest places by the light of His love.  What I have found in the uncertainties of life, there’s a strength that shines brightest when faced with the unknown.  Love and fear can’t co-exist.  We lose so much to fear when it renders us powerless.  So remember…be encouraged, you’re not alone!   You have nothing to fear, Love is here!

 

Knowing God’s Will In Five Easy Steps

hand in his will

Is it possible to know God’s will?  Do you recognize when an opportunity is really “yes” by God?  In a recent chat with a friend over coffee, we discussed the courage needed to walk through a door that God was opening.  How can you tell for certain that God has giving a green light or a red for “don’t go!”

“You have a green light until God turns it red.  Go until God says, “No.” Pretty Simple, really!”  ~ Graham Cooke.  Do you agree or disagree?

The Bible gives us some helps to encourage us in faith leaps.  There are ways to know God’s will.

1. His “yes” will keep in you in church.  If an opportunity takes you away from attending church, you can be certain it’s not God leading you away.  God’s Word tells us not to neglect meeting together for worship (Hebrews 10:25).   You don’t need the four walls to worship, but you DO need to remain connected to other believers to be encouraged in faith and unity to build up the body of Christ.

2.  His “yes” will keep you in His Word.  He won’t lead you to fail nor abandon you to go it alone.  His “yes” would never result in a personal compromise or cause you to be disobedient.  His “yes” would never go against what has been promised.  God can’t lie, or contradict Himself.  Now, the devil twists the truth, and tries to get you to doubt what you carry.  The enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy and he dislocates your ability to be used by God.  Plus he will do anything to get you to doubt that you are hearing God right!   Don’t shrink back in fear! (2 Timothy 1:7)

3. His “yes” will keep you close to Him.  We have such a relational God and knows every one of our personal details.  His “yes” always requires more of Him to accomplish and faith to experience Him in a bigger way.  If God is calling you to do something, it will never be outside of His will for you.  Many times that looks like we are being stretched and strengthed.   God is not going to give you something that will alienate you from Him or lead you to believe that you no longer need him. Hebrews 11:6 says: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.”

4.  His “yes” will line up with the gifts He put inside of you.  God will equip you to what He has called you to do.  Never forget that He is the best skills trainer we know.  And that means letting Him develop what He has put inside of you.  You were made in His image, and our creative God loves to have His way with you.  Often that requires us to step outside our comfort zone to discover the God-given abilities He has crafted on the inside (Ephesians 2:10).  When things get tough (and they will) remember God measures not by man’s standards, but God looks at the heart, and sees you with His heart of love.

5.  His “yes” will always be a “yes”.  We have a good, good Father who is always on your side and in a good mood.  If you ever thought He was out to get you, punish you, or spank you, well…you have a skewed picture of who loves you.  His “yes” is His will for you and when you sense that this is “too good to be true” remember Luke 1:37 ” For nothing is impossible with God.”  Remembering the context of this promise to Mary, the mother of Jesus, she was found highly favored and annointed to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world!.  That was her chosen role in the history of Christ, and her purpose and destiny.  God has the same important role for you to carry too!  What looks impossible is possibly setting you up for a miracle!

Many times an “yes” from God is often missed because of fear.  We make decisions on two ideas according to Dr. Caroline Leaf, either faith or fear.  I choose faith, although sometimes I miss the mark too, it’s the goal of God to grow us and carry Christ-likeness.

Micah 6:8 says it simply, “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness].” (AMP)  

Remember His “yes” works FOR you!  God’s grace goes before each one of us and faith always trumps fear!

How the Word Can Make You Stronger

Bible and journal
TRUST ~ HOPE ~ FREEDOM ~ VISION ~ REMAIN

I’m one of those girls that enjoys praying through a word for an entire year.  Not only does it keep you focused on noticing the word, but God will often define it in ways that you haven’t thought of.  I’ve been practicing this for five years and what I have learned in the process gives a deeper meaning to living.  Each year brings a new adventure to digging deeper with God in faith.

“Have you ever thought about writing a book about your ‘word of the year'”?  Good question!  When my friend posed that idea to me, she had me at “writing”!  I wondered if I should pray about that idea first, then I realized I already am doing that.

It’s called journaling.

I’m a verbal processer, just ask my husband.  He says I can talk to a post about anything, even when I know the post isn’t listening.  I have that gift (smirking here).  I also accept that I have a different perspective about a lot of things, mostly because I am a girl and wasn’t blessed with an “empty box” like you dudes!  There are many days I desire to check out too.  Oh how I wish I could put my hurried thoughts and ideas to the side.

I can’t!  It’s the way I am wired and how my brain operates.  For me, if I’m giving my time to something, I’m all in on that something.  What that means is that I will look at an idea from every angle, perspective or meaning you want to throw at it.  I examine every possible detail.  Ironically, though I don’t have to know the details to follow an idea.

I know…don’t try to understand it because it’s the female human condition, but what I have learned from being a deep thinker is that there is always something to learn by taking a second look or looking at it from a different perspective.  I would like to take this process a step further to suggest, that once the negative influence is removed and the positive aspects are brought to the surface, there’s always a gem inside.

It’s much like the gold digger show my husband watches on TV.  They go to great heights to discover one little half ounce.  They consider it worth their time to dig more to find the hidden value, and desire to spend more time doing just that.  Digging in, even if it means time spent produces nothing!  Even when there is a risk involved, (they go to some precarious locations), even against all odds.  They still consider the costs of the desire and then match their motives up with what drives them.

Since I want a personal relationship with my relationship-driven God, then I am going to go for, dig in, and realize as much as I can about the relationship!  I consider it like this:

 Jesus is all about people and loving them where they at in the journey, so that drives me to respond as Jesus does, giving as Jesus does, and loving in a way that changes people toward their destiny.

The process gives me a stronger meaning of it all, but it’s hard work to focus on one thing.  Overall, the process is good, and requires determination, dedication and consecration of everything that you are.  You must faithful unto this as He has been faithful to teach us all. Here are a few lessons I have learned so far about my “words for the year.”

TRUST ~ HOPE ~ FREEDOM ~ VISION ~ REMAIN

When I need clarity, God teaches submission.  
When I need solutions, God teaches abiding trust.
When I need truth, God uncovers deception.  
When I need hope, God shows faithful.
When I need comfort, God teaches how to listen closer.
When I need direction, God shows His protection.
When I need strength, God gives opportunity to show weaknesses.
When I need His heart, God shows His deep love.
When I need faith, God shows me fears.
When I need more light, He pulls back my darkness.
When I need confidence, God shows me how to lead.
When I need freedom, God shows my chains.  
When I need healing, God shows power.
TRUST ~ HOPE ~ FREEDOM ~ VISION ~ REMAIN
Many things are never like I expected but each truth is right and good.  Life is a great teacher for sure, but the biggest lesson is one of humility and learning to listen well and loving in the most excellant way.  That’s a word that we can all grow on!

When You Compare

compare

Pinning your hearts on what the world says about you instead of believing what God says about you is damaging.  The world is a twisted version of what God intended and it takes a relationship with the One who made you to live from His approval of you.  Your worth was worth dying for by Jesus.  You might think this sounds cliché, but it’s true.  Your identity was sealed on the day of your accepting that there is a better way in Jesus.  So why do we compare ourselves with others or with ourselves?

It’s dangerous, and full of pride.  Don’t go there!

  1. Comparisons kill. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”  It’s not a good practice to measure yourself to the standards of man. That makes you a fool!
  2. Comparisons destroy humility. “We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or clever, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking, there would be nothing to be proud about.” ~ C.S. Lewis.  Comparing only measures where you fall short, or fail at something, again foolish and that’s a poverty mindset!
  3. Comparison fools our focus. When you compare you are fooling yourself, allowing resentfulness and bitterness take root in your life.  The road to entitlement is a slippery slope often bypassing gratefulness and contentment.  “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. ” Philippians 4:11-12.

Remember Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God loves you, and has chosen you to be His child before the foundations of the world were created.  Accept that He made you to be you!  You have been given a unique and purpose!

God doesn’t compare His children, so why do you?  Knowing who are in Christ is also knowing who you don’t have to be.

Think of your life like this:  You are an apple tree seed, designed to bear a certain kind of apple.  In a sense, the tree is already in the seed; God put it there.  The seed is the glory of God that is divinely placed, your potential.  Before the apple seed can realize its full potential and become an apple tree it must be planted in the proper environment where it can be nurtured and cared for.  When all the conditions are right – fertile soil, irrigation, the proper climate and the plenty of sunshine—the seed will sprout and produce a tree.  That is the way God designed you, the tree, and the fruit is your glory with crisp, juicy apples.  The apple seed will “become” a fruit-bearing tree, and the kind of fruit that God intended it to be.

You are uniquely you with a God placed vision for your life!   God has made you with His glory inside and He always sees beyond the obvious!  He looks past what is to what can be.  God has planted in us dreams, ideas, passions, imagination, creativity and hope.  These things require the right environment in order to flourish and come to fruition.   Choices we make every day affect both the environment in which we live and breathe and grow.  How we spend our time, our money, how we feed our bodies, the ideas and images that fill our minds form books, movies, or the internet…all of them have an effect on our “trees”!   So don’t compare your tree, patterns of behavior or imitate any fakers.  You have what it takes inside of you to become what God has planned for you!

Keeping yourselves clean, pure and free of comparisons brings contentment and allows God’s perfecting work in you to become what He intended.  That doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes or have flaws but in your weakest moment, you are still powerfully loved.  God’s love overpowers all that you are not!  If an apple tree dies in the seed, we never see its fruit, its glory.  God wants to release you to your full potential.  So be you…you have been divinely designed!  Jesus has given you all the approval you need and nothing compares to that!