Being Brave in the New Year

 

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Interrupt Anxiety with Gratitude…
Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. THEN you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. Some very key people in my life have needed me to open my mouth and to help them through some things. I grabbed God’s lifeline and for these various events, friends, gatherings, encouragement-sessions, what-have-you… I found the strength to speak out against what plagues me… because others were hurting, too.

Have you EVER met ONE Christian who can do all those things? I have not.

God has told me that every disease that plagues us doesn’t melt away instantly, although he is the Healer. Some, he uses to define you, shape you… so you’ll share with others.

I broke down and cried right in the middle of leading the congregation on Sunday. As my heart wept, my voice cracked and I backed away from the mic, down to a whisper in total weakness and brokenness. To me that’s not a failure… but a victory. I claim it as victory when the Holy Spirit moves on the hearts of his worshipers and whispers gently, I don’t love you in bits and pieces… but gave my life to save you. You’re everything to me… would you give everything back? Stop holding all your fear and anger and hurt inside. Let it out. It’s okay to let your guard down with me. I am the Lord your God.

I’ve definitely been walking through a season of dark depression and unexplainable anxiety.

The word cling in the dictionary means:
a : to hold together
b :  to adhere as if glued firmly
c :  to hold or hold on tightly or tenaciously
2a :  to have a strong emotional attachment or dependence
2b :  to remain or linger as if resisting complete dissipation or dispersal

I’ve written God’s word all around my home, office, and car- to encourage myself! This morning I spoke at a breakfast study. I encouraged the other ladies to do the same: posting encouraging scriptures all around them, to see God in every situation. That’s why I’m posting my thoughts from our study today.

See.. if you put good IN…. good will come OUT.

Max Lucado said, “God says don’t worry about your future. He is the author of your story and He’s already written the final chapter.”
If you recount God’s victories in your past, you can KNOW there’s triumph in your future, just like Moses and God’s people did in Deuteronomy 6:1-13 (NLT):

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. {Then… what will happen?} →
“{THEN}: The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. You must fear the Lord your God and serve him.

Being brave. “The giant in front of you is never bigger than the God inside of you.”

Like the nation of Israel was promised the Promised Land, and they feared the people that lived there… we sometimes fear the very things that God has promised we’d overcome. (Numbers 13)

Sometimes we make a habit of telling our all-powerful God how powerful our enemies are.

Yet we serve Jesus… who stared death in the face and won. We have nothing to be afraid of. We can take his power into our daily lives, with us. Whatever struggles come our way we can know God will protect us, sustain our energy to complete the task, and remove obstacles– in his way and in his time.

I’ve come to realize that in life: I have got to live inside my head, with my perspectives. If I worry about where my life is going, I’ll feel like it’s going nowhere. However, if I grab a hold of my my life like an overcomer, brave & courageous- know the Lord my GOD is with me wherever I go… I can do anything- through Christ who gives me strength.

That’s why I decided for my Christmas gift this year, I wanted to tattoo this scripture upon my left forearm.. the arm I see every time I play or hold a mic:
Exodus 14:14 (NIV)- “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
the lord fights for you
Even when you’re just not doing all right… you can cling; adhere as if glued firmly: to God and His promises. This will enable you to be brave.

 

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God’s voice tears down Anxiety

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I was learning from one of my favorite Pastors and leaders this morning in my quiet time. Steven Furtick from Elevation Church. He drew a connection I had never realized before. At the beginning of time, God spoke, and the earth came into being. He spoke, and it was GOOD.

In Isaiah 55 God says:
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me {He’s SPEAKING again!}, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.”

The parallel that Steven Furtick drew was this: What God speaks HAPPENS. It DOES.

For me, suffering from anxiety that feels like an ocean that I’m constantly treading water in: with no help from a raft or a life jacket… this fact from God about Himself IS a life jacket. No, better. It’s a huge boat with a life-line.

It’s the best news ever. If God SPOKE that I can listen to His words and promises because they’re TRUE… then I don’t have to fear.

If He promises protection… it WILL happen.

Steven said:
-Suffering from Anxiety & Fear? Combat it with the promise that God says, “He will.”
-Suffering from Insecurity? Combat it with the promise that God says, “I AM.”
-Suffering from Shame and Condemnation? Combat it with the promise that God says, “He HAS.”
-Suffering from Discouragement? Combat it with the promise that God says, “I can.”

This is from his sermon series and book entitled, “Crash the Chatterbox”.

I’m so relieved someone isn’t afraid to talk in a book or on TV about the fact that we as humans hear negative voices all the time. The battle, as Steven says, is the battlefield of our MINDS. We need to shut the voices of fear and condemnation UP!

I’m learning so much more from the explanation of this passage than ever before.

Sometimes churches are too nervous to approach the topic emotional and mental disorders. Regardless… the sheep are still suffering from it all the same. That doesn’t mean they don’t love the Shepherd. Those sheep are scared because afar off they can hear the wolves howling from the safety of their pen. That doesn’t mean they don’t know their Shepherd is strong and powerful enough to save them.

Why don’t we all as Christians tear down our walls of ‘fake’ and just level with each other: we all hear those wolves. We all get scared. A ton of us suffer from chemical imbalances that cause emotional and mental instability.

Now… that being said.. let’s take the Word of God and fight fear … together! Let’s hit these tough topics… like GOD does! He speaks of fear and anxiety all throughout his Word.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“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.” Isaiah 41:10

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Draw Near to God, He is already Near to You

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Recently I thought I had too much on my plate. I exercised my ability to say “no”, and took my day off seriously. Looking to the future: I tossed the idea of cutting down my hours at work. I wanted to work on future details of our family, make our house a home, and visit my family back home more.

None of that was the plan, for now.

In a recent turn of events I was asked to take on more of a leadership role at the Church, with more responsibility, with pay cuts and budget cuts all across the board for our church.

So. I dropped my plans and fell on my face before Jesus. He has been my Rock. I have peace. I have joy. I am brave.

I know God will make it possible for me to plan our future as a family, cook, clean, plan visits, have people over, take care of our pets, enjoy life… all while taking on this important calling. I just need to listen to His voice.

I’m ashamed to say in these times of turmoil… they are the sweetest times of worship for me.

Why can’t I seem to be this close to my Lord during the good times?

I realized today that I find the most peace and joy in the trials– not because God has changed, but because I have. Tweet this.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you {HE IS already close by}. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

No Matter What

God loves you, no matter what.

God sees you with gifts and with much value, no matter what.

You are His child, no matter what.

He will equip you to do His work, no matter what.

You need to lead out of a spirit of power, love and of a sound mind… No matter what.

FEAR HAS NO PLACE. No matter what.

You need to be consistent in your beliefs, no matter who or what is pressing down on you.

You need to love, no matter what.

God IS in control and seated ON His throne, no matter what!

He is our very present help in a time of trouble. He is the rock we cling to!

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

Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Hebrews 13:20-21, “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Valley of the Shadow 

 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me. (‭Psalms‬ ‭23‬:‭4‬ NASB)

When we go through hardship- God doesn’t help us from his seat up in Heaven; He helps us by entering the dark times with us. 

He is right beside us – protecting us in the crossfire.

What other god stands with you and fights for you? 

He’s not distant.

I’m so glad He’s in the valley of the shadow of death with us. 

That’s all for tonight. Trying to get some rest!

Courageous

Joshua 1:9:
“Be strong and courageous
Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord Your God is with you
wherever you go.”

While eating lunch with a friend yesterday… she said “Brittany I remember you talking about how much your anxiety affects your every day life. In Sunday School this year we’ve been talking about having courage. You came to mind.” Then she proceeded to ask me to come speak to her Sunday School girls about courage.

I was taken by surprise. Courageous is probably the last word I would use to describe myself. Before I was diagnosed and treated for my anxiety disorder I had no idea anything like that existed. I went through my life thinking that something was desperately wrong with me, but too afraid to share it.

I’d always volunteer to lead things and immediately find myself beating myself up internally for it.

One day, I stopped eating. Not by choice… it was like I was so in dread of everything that lay ahead that food made me sick. I tried to eat, but I was so overwhelmed the food would get stuck and try to come back up. My stomach and my brain stopped talking to each other because my brain was too busy dreading conducting our choir on tour, my senior vocal recital, graduation, my upcoming wedding, my beloved girls I was placed to take care of in the dorms, my senior internship.

I finally went to a doctor and they diagnosed me. They tried out some anxiety medications to manage the fear and I was told to stop talking about work, classes or having business meetings anywhere near food.

I was so embarrassed on choir tour when my host-home mates started taking notice that I hadn’t eaten. I would hold my one slice of un-eaten pizza and watch my friends eat, laugh and carry on… they would grab that second slice while my hand was shaking with my one slice. Paralyzed. My brain was in another place. Thoughts of that next congregation watching my little arms wave as I tried to keep everyone together- when I was falling apart.

But today; I think about how God has given me passion and joy. How he has transformed my fear into an absolute LOVE for what I do. I think about how my confidence has grown as the Holy Spirit picks me up and carries me on my journey so I don’t have to. Today; my feet don’t touch the ground.

Today, He has replaced my fear of the congregations I serve for a genuine love for HIS Church. He replaced my inner-thoughts of hate for myself and lies from the devil with whispers of His voice. Today; my every move and word is already planned for me.

Instead of the most terrifying hour of the week, leading the Church in worship is my most precious and life-giving time of the week. I live for it, thanks to Jesus Christ! Click to tweet.

I think about that lunch with my friend yesterday and I realize something. She is seeing “me” farther down the road in my journey than I was. A prettier picture now vs. then, for sure.

I realize that I have courage because God fights for me. Like He told Joshua after his mentor Moses died and all seemed terrifying:

“Be strong and courageous
Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord Your God is with you
wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

God doesn’t tell us to “just be strong and fearless” on our own, though.

He says: “I will be strong for you. I’ll back you up when you step out in courageous faith. You don’t have to be afraid OR discouraged**… BECAUSE:
I am – I AM who I AM – YHWH is with you wherever you go.”
**(see that pairing? “Don’t be afraid or discouraged”… God knows that often anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand. Nothing gets by Him.)

 

So go- be courageous, my friend.