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

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!

46 things I’ve learned from 2013

Last year was a rough one, and a beautiful one for Jonathan and I. In a snap decision, we followed God a really long way from home where we knew no one, and watched it unfold beautifully in His timing.

I learned more than ever before. God truly became my closest friend and ally. I messed up a lot. I changed a lot.
Allow me to share my post a year ago about what I was learning at that time, and still rings true today!

Most of all last year I learned that 1 Corinthians 13 is pure truth. Love is a game-changer in any battle. Love is the still small voice of God that fights harder and longer than any other tactic. When we carry this love for others with us in the everyday spiritual battles, God {who IS love} wins.

Consuming Fire

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  1. Give things time.
  2. Even when you want to- don’t burn bridges. Take the higher road.
  3. Everyone must give account of their actions someday to God.
  4. Breathe.
  5. Just because things don’t go the way you’ve planned doesn’t mean you get to skip out on your calling. It hasn’t changed, and neither has God.
  6. Write everything down. Everything.
  7. You need soul-rest. Get alone, sit and have a hot drink with Jesus.
  8. God is always a step ahead of you. Because he transcends time he’s behind you, with you, and taking care of the future.
  9. Take a bath, hippie! {no seriously… it’s therapeutic.}
  10. Don’t write people off. Even though it’s hard. If you don’t make friends with messy sinners… you’ll never have any friends.
  11. Prayer is important- but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. It’s useless if you don’t read God’s love letter- the Bible.
  12. “They can’t drive you crazy if they…

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Born to Die

I’ve been listening to the Bible this Advent season, and it has helped my “old way” of reading to go away and has made way for a fresh way of thinking about many of the passages I’ve read over and over.

I’ve been on a journey the past two years of trying to study Jesus’ leadership. (trying to be more like Christ is just that- I try and fail!)
I believe that the Word of God is true cover to cover- and that with the proper interpretation from the Spirit of God alone, as well as emulating Jesus as feet-on-the-ground sent from Heaven: we can understand His Word- a love-letter to humanity.

I can’t believe we have a Savior who said His “heart went out to {us}”(Luke 7:11-14), a Savior who IS willing to make us well (Luke 5:12-13), the Light and Joy of our lives (Luke 8:16-18).

I love that our God, THE God, cared enough to be born into a lowly family, in a lowly town, in a tough government, who said “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance..” for, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (Luke‬ ‭5‬:‭31-32‬ NIV)

Lastly, I can hardly believe Jesus came to die for us. How many times have we seen Jesus revealed in some fashion right before our eyes, and yet rejected His love and care?

This is the story Jesus used to tell the Super-righteous-religious crowd about His death as the Messiah:

“A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!” Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” (‭Luke‬ ‭20‬:‭9-18‬ NIV)

How you can rise in the midst of great affliction

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1 Samuel 1-2

Sometimes out of the midst of our greatest pain rise the greatest prayers + worship we can give God- because our hearts are offered up to Him in full. {Tweet this Quote!}
Hannah was in great pain + distress. She was feeling great emptiness + loneliness. She was teased and tormented to the point of depression. She wept bitterly and saw those around her seeming to just carry on with everyday life while she bore her burden alone.

1 Samuel 1:1-8, “There was a certain man … whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year.
…her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

Hannah did something different. She didn’t accept the circumstances and she also could not continue on “as-is”.
This is the beauty of the “Hannahs” of life: they know their Savior. {Tweet this Quote!}

Verse 9 is my favorite verse, although it may seem insignificant, it says everything about Hannah.
“After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose.”
Simple words to live by. After all this; Hannah rose.
She rose up to call on her Savior because she knew He could + would do something to help her because He hears.
Her prayer is one of the most beautiful and sought-after in all of history.

Verse 11: “…she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.
…+ Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard.”

People may think you’re crazy {like Eli did}. But you can call out of your distress, knowing He hears you. Knowing He cares, knowing He’s powerful enough to do all you can imagine and more because He.Is.God. {Tweet this Quote!}

In Hannah’s story- she actually left the time of prayer and worship and her face was no longer sad. It says in verse 19 that The Lord remembered her.
Cry out to Him! He hears you!

Stuff Happens.

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Have we ever considered that everything is a test from God? Not because He wants to give us a hard time, but because He loves us?
I think sometimes it’s to see if we can be trusted with little- so He knows He can trust us with more.

Sometimes I see in my life that it’s to teach me a good lesson in order to help me grow. Even if it makes me want to pull my hair out- I know that if I respond (even eventually) the correct way He can bless me with new knowledge, restored relationships, a better outlook, even “graduation” from my previous situation to a better one.

The key is to look at every situation and say, “What am I supposed to be learning here?” We should never walk through this journey sleepily thinking things just “are”; because everything has a purpose. If you let it, life can be one big lesson- none of us the wiser.

Even when we think we’ve figured something out, and “graduated” to be entrusted with more (more people, ministries, items, money)… Don’t think we’ve arrived. This, too is a lesson waiting to be learned, an experience waiting to be enjoyed, a relationship waiting to be worked at, a prize waiting to be snatched.

When life gives you lemons, realize that God is the one that actually made them and intended them for good.

Even when it seems to suck the life out of you- God can be strong so you don’t have to be. This too shall pass.

That’s why life with Christ is an adventure, right?

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3