A Fear Based Month

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Since October is here, I thought it might be a good time to talk about the biggest message of the season: fear.

A Fear Based World

Wouldn’t you agree that we live in a fear based world? You know, a world where bad news travels fast and good news doesn’t travel at all? It’s not that we’re not living in troubling times that cause legitimate fears for the future of our nation, our world, and our families. And perhaps you, like countless others, have had your courage tested by the anxieties and fears that are an inevitable part of living in this 21st century.

Take heart and remember that God is in heaven and on the throne and is not distracted by any of this. God is not just nearby, He is here! As Believers, we have every reason to live courageously. After all, the ultimate battle has already been won on the Cross! Our part is to remember and trust and not shoulder all of the doubts that life can hand you.

“Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be.” – Rick Warren

Faith not Fear

Fear embeds itself in the mind. This is why taking our thoughts captive is so important (2 Cor. 10:5). It is not our job to “handle” it. It is our job to hand it over to the One who will (and wants to) carry it for us.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

As Pastor Bill Johnson says, “Any thought that does not inspire hope is not coming from heaven!”

So if you’re being challenged right now, lean on the character of God and His Truths. Trust in His Word and what He says. Scripture says we are to “Walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7)”  and “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light (Matt. 11:30).”

God’s character is to love. He is love, and He loves you.

Trust. Breathe.

Cast all of your anxieties about your challenges onto Him. He’s got this. He wants this. Seek Him.

He’s waiting for you to do so.

What We Do to Make Things Fit

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I recently got a great deal on a pair of amazing boots at a local boutique. I was so excited! I got them on sale!

I’ll Figure It Out

There was only one pair left and I had to have them because of the great deal compared to their retail price. There was only one challenge…they are really too big for me.

But that’s ok (I told myself), I’ll figure it out. So I bought them. I now wear two pairs of socks and an insole insert to make them fit so my foot doesn’t slide around and give me blisters.

This morning when I went to put them on, I thought about how much I have to do just to make them fit. It really is ridiculous what I go through just to wear them. And even though I got them on sale, I still spent money on shoes that don’t fit!

As I sat thinking about how much I go through for a pair of boots it struck me that spending time with God, which doesn’t require near as much investment, seems so inconvenient.

Making Him Fit

Let’s break this down;

  • God sent us His Son to die for us so we could have an open communication with Him and it costs us nothing!
  • He is the real deal, not some cheap sale item. And yet we get more excited about an item on sale than we do about spending time and eternity with our Creator!
  • He is the perfect fit for us and all of our problems can be answered through Him. Yet we don’t try Him on. We avoid Him instead.
  • He knows our inner most thoughts and knew us even in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). We don’t have to go through an inconvenient routine to make Him fit into our lives. He’s already the perfect fit!

It’s amazing how God will show up to teach us things through the simplest of examples.

The Lord Woos in Unusual Ways

The Lord brought all these thoughts while I was putting on my boots. I’ll still keep ’em; I love them and I believe God delights in me having found them. But I will also remember what I learned from them too through the Holy Spirit.

Spend time with God through His Word, through Devotionals, through sermons. It is free, and will fit perfectly! You can’t ask for anything better.

photo credit: Here Comes Trouble via photopin (license)

“Watch Me Mommy!”

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The other night, Steve and I had a lovely time out to dinner with some friends. Towards the end of the night, I noticed a couple sitting across from us in a booth. They weren’t talking at all.

Date Night?

At first I asked myself were they fighting? But no, they didn’t have that type of posture towards one another. Now, there is nothing wrong with just being in the moment and not having to talk. As couples, you don’t have to be chatty all the time. There’s nothing wrong with silence in and of itself.

As I focused a little closer however, it was evident that this was a “date night” for them. And I noticed they were distracted. As they were eating their chips and salsa and waiting for their dinner to arrive, the wife was scrolling through her phone and the husband was watching a TV show on his – I could actually hear the show from where we were sitting.

I couldn’t help but think about all the conversations they could be having and the connect points that were being missed. But they allowed themselves to be distracted.

This doesn’t seem like a big thing. After all, they probably have worked hard and needed a night out to unwind, but is that the best way to spend it? These types of habits are dangerous to the long term health of any marriage and/or relationship.

Missed Opportunities

More and more I see these distractions taking the place of relational moments. I was at the park and noticed the mom’s on their phones scrolling or talking as their kids are saying “watch me Mommy!” from the swing.

Steve told me of a similar story. He was driving through a neighborhood and saw kids playing in the front yard. As he passed the house though, the dad was missing the whole thing because he was scrolling on his phone.

As time goes on, we are forming habits that are allowing what’s on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc… to be the first priority of our lives, rather than the real life needs and investment to our growing child, marriages and relationships.

We’re allowing the fear of missing something else to keep us from living in the now.

But there’s hope…

Intentional and Deliberate

Turn off your phone when going out. Silence your phone when playing with the children. Make spending time deliberate. Check what’s on your phone later. Many past civilizations survived without a cell phone and social media and so will you.

Take today as an exercise in character building, and make this promise to yourself and keep it: promise to focus your thoughts and attention on things that are really important- like family, your marriage, your friends, and your future. Don’t allow your phone to be such a distraction that it derails your most important work- being relational.

So Easily Ensnared

Although we will struggle mightily to rise above the distractions of our everyday living, we need to remember we will never struggle alone. God is here—eternal and faithful and patient! He will help us prioritize our lives. He is relational to the core and He is chasing after you to remind you of that.

“Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.”  – Hebrews 12:1-2 HCSB

Distractions are everywhere, but, thankfully, so is God…and that fact has everything to do with how you prioritize your day, your relationships and your life. Take time for Him and take time for relationships. You’ll never come up short.

Basic Instructions

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I truly love studying the Word of God! It is filled with so much. And the more deeply you dig into it, the deeper He takes you.

Dos, Not Don’ts

Now, you might be thinking the Bible is a book of “don’ts.”  It’s not. It’s far more a book of dos and a guide to learning how to behave. You’ll find that the more you seek Him, the deeper you will fall in love with Him. And the more you love Him, the more you’ll want to please Him. And you’ll change.

Approaching the Word, and Him

Right now, Steve and I are going through a real intense testing of sorts. God is in the middle of turning us inside out looking to put “new wine, into new wineskins” (Matthew 2:22). As God is doing His sometimes painful work in us, that doesn’t mean there are not lots of  tears in the process. I cry out to Him often.

But even now, I can see that I have changed in my approach to Him. There is more letting go and surrendering to Him than fighting Him. And if I fight Him, it doesn’t last as long as it use to. I surrender to His will sooner.

Talking through stories from the Bible helps Steve and I through. For example:

  • Courage – Sometimes God stacks the odds like He did with Gideon. God deliberately dwindled his army down to 300 people to take on thousands in the enemy camp. But Gideon chose to believe God would deliver, and He did and God got the glory! (Judges 6-8).
  • Comfort Zones – Sometimes God pushes our comfort zones like He did with Joshua and the impenetrable walls of Jericho (Joshua 6). Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone in order for God to work.

These are just two small examples, but there are many, many more. And they’re there so we can learn.

The BIBLE

Someone told me one time that the word “bible” is an acronym for B-asic I-nstructions B-efore L-eaving E-arth. There’s truth to that!

As Christians, we are instructed to love our Creator and to demonstrate our love by obeying His commandments. When we do, God promises to guide us and protect us, today and forever. Someday, we may all be confronted with a choice to do the easy thing or the right thing. The decision will be yours and yours alone. And the consequences of that decision will be yours and yours alone. Knowing the Word will help you choose wisely.

Wise Words

Corrie ten Boom said it best; “Study the Bible and observe how the persons behaved and how God dealt with them. There is explicit teaching on every condition of life.”

Oswald Chambers said, “Never support an experience which does not have God as its source and faith in God as its result.”

And the words of Peter:

“Therefore, get your minds ready for action, being self-disciplined, and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance but, as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct.” – 1 Peter 1: 13-15

Get to know His Word and you’ll get to know just how much your Creator God loves you, and more importantly; how He wants you to know Him.

Do You Want to Be Justified or Reconciled?

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This has been a particularly difficult week for us. There were a few situations/relationships that had gone…how do I put it?…sideways, and Steve and I needed to step carefully as we navigated our way through them.

Justification

I remember years ago, when situations similar to these would occur I would be motivated to find justification rather than resolution. I couldn’t see it at the time, but that’s what I was doing, and that was wrong.

You may be asking, why would that be wrong? Don’t we want justice and answers when things go sideways?

I recently heard some great council on this that I want to share.

Outside vs. Inside

As we learn and grow to walk with Jesus and be closer to Him, we have to ask the question that was popular many years ago—what would Jesus do? The answer lies with Him. Jesus was always about, what I like to call, the “outside” issues. (i.e.- “How are you? Can I pray for you? How can I serve/love you? etc…)

Our internal voice, and the enemies voice as well, is always about inside, “self” focused things. Words such as, “I”, “me”, “mine” make things all about ourselves and that’s where the need for justification is rooted. We think, “How can I make this person hurt for hurting me?” “How can I control this person?” “When do I get what I want?”

But what if the answer when things go sideways with loved ones was different than justification?

Resolution and Restoration

Just remember Jesus and the woman who was about to be stoned in John 8 (Verses 1 – 11) and the woman at the well in John 4 (4 – 26), are just two examples. Notice His motivation was always about by showing them the way to resolving their issues and restoration back into the kingdom (“Go and sin no more.”).

  • When there is tension in the air and listening has gone out the window, is your goal justification (making it all about you and what you want?) or finding resolution and restoring the relationship?
  • Are you speaking with and from the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?
  • Do you have a hope and a faith for real resolution and restoration?

Jesus Did

In fact, let’s consider Good Friday and what we’ll celebrate in three days.

Instead of justification, and there’s no one more justified to be against us than Him, God chose to offer complete resolution and restoration through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son. And His Son was obedient to the same purpose.

Our goal is to be like Him. We are to strive to be “Christ-like”.

Whether you’re a parent to a child, (or the other way around), or in a marriage, or a sibling—the question is; are we living with a Christ-like manner and do we try to work things out in a Christ-like manner? Do we strive to possess all of the fruits of the Spirit, or do we just want to be right?

I never said this was easy for us. But if we are wanting intimacy with Christ and we search Him out for this, we will discover through the many examples in the bible, that this was His way. This is what the Father’s true heart is for us and that is why He sent His Son to take on our sins and die for us! He wants to bring us resolution because His ultimate goal is for our restoration back into the kingdom.

He loves us so much!

photo credit: IMG_1883 via photopin (license)

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