Archive for the ‘Fear’ Category

Chillax and Know . . .

I noticed a few weeks ago that one of my FB friends commented that she didn’t quite know what it meant to, “Be still and know God.” So since I often look for inspiration from all areas of my life, I wanted to write about that very question. But before I do, let’s look directly at this verse and a few others just before it in chapter 46 of Psalms:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging . . . The Lord Almighty is with us . . .

‘Be still, and know that I am God’ . . .” *

I don’t know about you or where you live, but I haven’t experienced any major earthquakes or witnessed any mountains falling into the sea in my neck of the woods. Life may be hard at times, but so far, it’s not been catastrophic for me.

But even if it was falling apart, God would still be with me—with us. In other words, if God can keep us safe in the worst of circumstances, then he can certainly help us with the small matters that plague us from day to day.

So then what does it mean to “Be still”? I think it means to stop striving and controlling. I think it means to surrender. I think it means to trust God instead of trusting myself or my circumstances.

Recently, I had a friend jokingly tell me to, “chillax.” I’d never heard of that expression before (although according to the online dictionary it has been around since 1999!). The term, as you might guess, is a combination of the words “chill” and “relax.”

I think the word “chillax” is very descriptive of what God wants to say to each one of us. If I were to translate this passage into modern day language, maybe God would say something like this,

“Chillax my peeps! Trust me, I got this.”

All humor aside, God just wants you and me to know that he has it all under control. In fact, I think that every time we worry or fear, we’re actually insulting his power and goodness. So the next time you feel yourself giving in to anxiety just “chillax” in God’s mighty embrace. The mountains may fall, but if you fall, he’ll be there to pick you up!

*Psalm 46:1-3, 7a, and 10a (NIV)

Today’s Post is linked to:

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

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I Put My Boxing Gloves Down

Recently I was resisting God in an area of my life. I wrote about it in my post, Boxing with God. It took me quite a long time to finally decide to drop my guard and surrender to him.

At that point, I made the decision to do whatever God wanted me and my family to do. I realized that he would get us through any challenge or circumstance as long as my family and I, in particular, yielded to him.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life, but once I was on the surrender side of the equation, things started to happen—things that I never expected or believed were around the corner.

Since that day (October 9th, 2010), God has allowed not only blessings, but also changes that are hard to completely understand at this point. In fact, I’ve felt like I’ve been in limbo in many areas of my life for at least two years now.  But now that I’ve finally decided to surrender this area to God, he has initiated movement in my life–going from zero to 100 in a millisecond! In fact, it’s a little hard to catch my breath!

As many of you already know, one of those changes is the transfer of our foster daughter to another home. It is a tough situation and we are praying that God will be her ultimate parent in the days, months and years to come.

One great blessing in our time with her has been her decision to receive Christ as her personal Savior back in July. I believe that was a genuine decision on her part and I pray that, “He who began a good work . . . will carry it on to completion” in her life. We hope that she will stay in touch and we will be able to see God’s completion in her life.

Another change and blessing for me in this past month is what I believe is a God-given vision for a new ministry, my new blog – Messy Marriage. God had given me the idea for a “Messy Marriage” book years ago, but not until last month did I think about beginning a ministry to those with messy marriages.

I hope that you will visit this new site and perhaps subscribe or become a follower. I hope to use my blog as the beginning platform to meet the needs of those who struggle in their marriages. I have a heart to help people who are in the trenches of a messy marriage or who simply want to make their marriage better and stronger.

This blog will continue biblical and psychological posts, but my posts regarding the marriage relationship will only be found from now on at Messy Marriage. Please pray for me as I begin this mission (with the help of my husband on occasion).

I believe that God uses every circumstance in our lives to give us understanding on how to help others with the hurt they are experiencing. And I’m thanking God for the opportunity to turn the messes in my marriage into lessons and blessings for others who struggle.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Today’s Post is linked to:

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

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Spiritual Roller Coaster

Have you ever felt like your spiritual life is like a roller coaster?  One minute you’re flying high with passion and enthusiasm about your faith in God.  And the next minute you’re so down that you feel like you’ll never recover.  You’re not alone.  All of us have experienced those treacherous dips, as well as, those exciting climbs in our spiritual lives.  They are a part of life.

One great example of this spiritual roller coaster ride was evident in the young life of a soon-to-be-king named Saul (1 Samuel 10).  The prophet, Samuel, had just anointed Saul king when the Bible says that, “the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul . . . ” So he ratchets way up!!

But later when Saul met up with his uncle, he didn’t even mention what had just happened to him.  Call me crazy, but I don’t think I’d forget to mention a little thing like being anointed king! So he zooms way down.

A little later when Samuel was about to present Saul to his new subjects, the people of Israel, Samuel couldn’t find him!  Saul was hiding like a child among some baggage that was nearby—probably out of fear and insecurity.  Let’s call this one a “loop-dee-loop.”

But as we read just a little further on we see that the Spirit of God came upon Saul once again and he was able to fiercely attack a neighboring country that was threatening a tribe within Israel.  And Saul didn’t just defeat them, he slaughtered them!  In other words, he went from zero to hero in the span of a millisecond!  Click, click, click—up he goes again!

We all wish that our spiritual lives would climb like the ever-ascending ride to the top of the track.  I think it’s because we love the view at the top!  And conversely, we really hate the fall back downward.  But consider for a moment a true roller coaster addict.  He lives for the break-neck rush to the bottom!  He even lifts his arms to increase the feeling of falling as the wind surges past him, bolting him toward the valley below.  You know that’s why the addict gets in line dozens of times, just so he can feel the exhilaration that can only come from being suspended above a big, long, hairy fall.

What downward spiral are you reeling from today?  What incredible plummet are you in the middle of in your spiritual life and perhaps in your life overall?  It’s incredibly scary!  It’s a feeling of complete helplessness.  But remember, God is waiting for that exact moment when He will raise you back up, catapulting you to the top once again.

Allow me to share just two thoughts on the roller coaster of life:

  • Don’t live only for the ups.  And . . .
  • Don’t miss the beautiful surrender that comes with the ride downward.

God is in control, even though it may not feel like it.  Raise your hands and fall back into His strong arms.  Believe me, you’ll never forget the ride!

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way. Psalm 23:4 (TLB)

BTW, just today I was listening to the radio and heard the song, “Your Hands” by J.J. Heller and felt like it really captured what I was trying to say in this post.  Click on the link below and listen to it if you have the time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfD14nCb0Sw&feature=related

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A New Way to Look at Your Problems

Lately I’ve been reading about the life of Joseph and his brothers in the book of Genesis.  I’ve probably read this account dozens of times over my lifetime, but something new jumped out at me because of my own recent attitude and circumstances.

Let me give you a little background on this story before I reveal the insight I’ve gained.

https://i0.wp.com/www.sciots.org/sanjoseno9/images/pharoah.gif
Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery many years earlier when he was probably only about 17.  And in chapter 42, they had providentially run into him again many years later in Egypt.  Of course, they didn’t recognize him.  After all it had probably been around 15 years since that terrible day when they coldheartedly sold Joseph to a caravan of traders.  The brothers probably couldn’t conceive of their “little brother” as an adult.  I can also imagine that Joseph dressed like most Egyptian lords—a far cry from the coat of many colors he was wearing on that awful day way back when.  It’s also safe to assume that he had an elaborate headdress and lots of thick Egyptian eye make-up concealing his Hebrew peepers.  And the fact that he was second in command of Egypt might have thrown his brothers for a curve as well.
After all those years of alienation from his family, it was now Joseph’s turn to be in control of the situation.  And he, at least in my opinion, seemed to relish using his brother’s ignorance to his advantage. So Joseph set about to play with his brother’s heads just a little before revealing the truth.
First of all, he accused his brothers of being spies.  They protested, trying feverishly to convince him of their innocence.  The load of guilt and the burden of the lie that they had kept from their father for so many years was probably weighing heavily upon them.  They believed that their predicament was God’s punishment for their crime.
Joseph saw their anguish.  He felt their pain.  But did he go easy on them?  No way!  Instead, he took one of their brothers, Simeon, and threw him in jail and wouldn’t release him until they brought their youngest brother, Benjamin, back with them on their next trip.  With heads hung low, the brothers trotted back to their father in Canaan. Along the way one of the brothers discovered that the money he had paid for his grain was in the top of his bag.  What a gut-wrenching realization, since this meant that it would incriminate the brothers all the more upon their return.

When they finally reached their home and father, they presented a long and whiney list of woes to him.  And this is the point in the story where something interesting popped out at me.

The brothers could only see the apparent problem. In the brothers opinion everything was a problem from

1) The money they thought they had paid being found in the top of their bags

to . . .

2) Returning to Egypt and being taken directly to the harsh Egyptian leader’s house

to . . .

3) Discovering the harsh Egyptian leader’s cup in the top of little brother Benjamin’s bag

The point is that every problem the brothers experienced (and there were many more than I just listed) was really just a stepping stone that brought them closer to the blessings God was going to give them.  In other words, they looked at the apparent problem as, well . . . a problem.  But in the spiritual realm, if they had looked with spiritual eyes, they would have seen that the problems they were facing were really blessings in disguise.  If you know anything about the story you’ll realize that God reunited this family and blessed them in every possible way later down the road, but God used the problems to set the stage for what was to come.
I have a tendency to view my apparent problems as actual problems.  In other words, I’m spiritually nearsighted a lot of the time.  The reality is that God views my problems not as problems at all.  Remember He sees the long view.  Furthermore, He not only sees the road we are on, but what’s ahead over that jagged mountain we are traversing as well.
In other words, God views our problems not as roadblocks to our goal or mountains we cannot scale, but rather as opportunities for us to trust Him.  We need to remember that He is way ahead of us and knows how, with His help, our apparent problem will work out.  And if we trust Him and follow Him when we are in the middle of our problem, He will lead us to a better place.  We may not be able to see it now because we are often spiritually nearsighted.  But if there’s one thing I know, our inability is not a problem for our farsighted God.

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In the Pits

Do you ever get so caught up in what you hope for that you lose sight of what is most important? I’ve done that lately. Well, actually I’ve been doing it for quite a while, sliding ever more deeply into a “pie in the sky by and by” mentality. And I’m not talking about having a more eternal focus, but rather a constant focus on wishful thinking for the future. Thankfully, God has pulled me back down to earth.

I’ve wanted some things that God has chosen not to give to me yet—at least not completely. So I’ve felt like a nomad in limbo land because of it. I’ve passively waited for perfect opportunities while real opportunities passed by me. No wonder I’ve been frustrated and depressed!

I’ve been reading a book by Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and have found truth that is penetrating my dodging heart and hard head. If *Benaiah who jumped in a pit in order to kill a lion, could take faith risks, so can I! What am I waiting for? Perfect conditions? I don’t exactly think that jumping in a pit on a snowy day is the ideal scenario for killing a lion. But when the imperfect opportunity arose, Benaiah was willing to trust God enough to take that leap of faith.

I want that kind of courage—that kind of faith in God. I admit it. I’m a big wimp in many ways. I’ve struggled to some degree or other with fear all of my life. But I want to live differently. So, please remind me if you see me slipping back into “wimpdom.” It’s a very familiar and comfortable place for me. But I’m stepping out—Lord willing—into the pit!

*“There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. Once, armed only with a club, he killed a great Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it.” 2 Samuel 23:20-21 (NLT)

Dear Beth-E: Should I stay or should I go or should I grow?

Anonymous wrote:

I recently ended my relationship with my ex-husband. I had felt strongly to do so for some time. Unfortunately, I have moved on to yet another relationship that does not uphold my Christian values. I know I need to move from this relationship, but my question is, How do I guard myself from attaching to someone because of fear of being alone? I know to trust God. That’s why I took that leap to leave my ex.But I then convinced myself that God must have sent the other individual. I am quickly learning that is not the case. What do I do?

Dear Anonymous,

It sounds as if there are many factors that I would need to know in order to make a fully informed suggestion.  But based upon the facts you’ve provided, I will give it my best shot.  My first observation is that it sounds like you already know what you need to do!  The Bible is very clear about being unequally yoked, whether married or dating (2 Cor. 6:14).  If you are married to him, then you must choose a different course of action to honor your vow.  But if you are simply dating him, maybe you just need someone to encourage you to end the relationship.  But if that’s not enough to move you in the right direction, then here are some more specific suggestions.

If there are major problems cropping up because he is an unbeliever, then as time goes on those problems will not get any better.  In fact, you can count on them to get worse–not just stay the same. I’m assuming you are not married to him, since you have referred to him as this “individual” rather than as your spouse.  If that is the case, then you can pull away from the relationship, although it sounds as if you have difficulty doing that once you’re emotionally involved.  If you cannot take the steps necessary to pull away, then I would suggest getting into a support group of some kind, or maybe even seeking a Christian counselor or Christian accountability partner to walk through the issues with you. The very fact that you recognize that you have a problem attaching to men in a premature or unhealthy way indicates that you need to seek additional support and perspective.

I would also say that those issues probably stem from two main areas: unresolved issues from your relationship with your ex-husband and unmet needs that probably began in your childhood.  You will need to “process through them” or even “grieve them” in order to adjust that inner drive to attach in unhealthy ways.  Working on that can take months and even years, so I would suggest getting down to work as soon as possible!  In addition to the emotional/psychological end of things, I would reinforce your spiritual support as well.  If you are not actively involved in your church and a Bible study, then now would be the time to commit to all of the above.  Hope this helps!

If anyone has other questions, please click on the comment box attached to this post and I will reply when I can.