Fighting Fear

When I am afraid,
    I put my trust in you.
 In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4 ESV

It’s like a black hole that crawls inside my soul. This illogical fear short circuits my brain as my heartbeat runs wild. The cause of the fear? I had to make a phone call to someone I did not know.

For all you extroverts this sounds ludicrous. So maybe talking on the phone to someone you don’t know doesn’t throw your heart into a tizzy and perhaps being asked to be a “hostess” at a table during a single mom’s ministry event doesn’t cause your insides to shake, but there are things that scare you.

Perhaps the idea of standing in front of a room of 10-15 people to share your story of how God worked in your life paralyzes you. Or maybe praying out loud freaks you out. And no matter how many times you tell yourself “Do not fear…do not fear…do not fear…” the ugly fear rears its head.

Fear steals our joy and keeps us in a dark dead place. If we get to comfortable with our fears they can control us. Keep us from obeying God, keep us bitter, keep us dead. But God doesn’t want us to be fearful. He wants us to trust in Him.

Trusting in God means that we believe God is in charge and that no one can take us from His hand. It means we value our lives for Christ’s sake and our deaths as gain. It means no matter what God calls us to do, make a phone call, pray out loud in a group, stand tall in adversity, or sit with the brokenhearted He is with us. He will guide us. There is nothing He will call us to do that He will not empower us to accomplish.

So when fear begins to coil around our hearts it is time to speak the truth. God is near. God is my shelter. God is my comfort. God is my ever present help. Nearly every step of faith begins with fear…So in the fear we speak the truth, and we step forward. We make the phone call, hostess a table, pray out loud, share the story God gave us to share. And God will be there to help us.

Father God too often I give in to fear rather than trust You. Forgive me for letting fear sideline me from obeying Your will. When I am afraid help me to trust You so that I am not ensured by fear. Help me to accomplish the things You have called me to do for Your glory and honor. Thank You for Jesus. In His Name I pray. Amen.

 

For further reading on dealing with fear check out Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears by Kelly Balarie.

Angela

How to be Brave in Adversity

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Matthew 5:11-12 ESV

Foolish. Many folks look at those who believe in God and think we are crazy. Crazy to believe God created the universe. Foolish to think that such a God would care about people in this vast universe. And prayer? It is a pipe dream on the same level as wishful thinking.

It is easy to collapse under the strain of ridicule, especially when the attacks come from people we love. How do we stand brave, speaking God’s truth in love, in the face of such adversity?

We have a secret delight. We know that God is pleased with us when we face adversity for His sake. In fact we God tells us to rejoice when we are mistreated for our faith. The strain of the ridicule is outweighed by the reward we will receive. So we can stand tall, smile big, and love well even while people curse us.

Furthermore God promises He will take care of those who mistreat us:

 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 ESV

So we can trust God to repay and make sure that justice is done. Since Jesus died for us while we were sinners and we are filled with God’s Spirit we are able to do more than not avenge ourselves. We can even show kindness.

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:20 ESV

Bravery in the midst of adversity may appear weak to those expecting a physical battle. But true bravery that trusts God’s justice does not avenge, instead it shows love. We exhibit Godly bravery when we speak the truth in love and rejoice that we are counted worthy of being persecuted for Jesus’ sake.

Father God I do not like adversity. I would prefer to exact my own justice rather than trusting Yours. And I certainly would prefer to not be kind to my enemy. Forgive me Lord for often choosing revenge and anger over trust and kindness. Help me to speak the truth in love, to trust You to avenge. Give the the grace to show love and kindness while I am being reviled for Your name. May I rejoice that You have a reward awaiting me in heaven. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Angela

How to be Brave in Uncertain Times

I held a pen in my right-hand as I read the small gray card. It stated, “Any time, Any where, Any way, I will follow God.” At the bottom was a single line awaiting my signature to seal a contract to follow God where ever He would lead. It was a physical reminder of what it meant to be a Believer to cast my lot in with Christ and live for Him. Brazenly I signed the card, sure confident, naive.

Somehow when life seems to stretch out in a straight line in front of you it is easy to be brave. We fool ourselves into thinking that God’s plans are our plans. His way is the easy one that blesses our chosen course. We complain nothing will change and then we fight change tooth and nail. We cut ties when we ought to sink roots. We turn to stone when we ought to move. We forget God is less interested in our comfort than He is in our holiness, our ability to bring Him glory and honor.

So we stand in fake bravery telling God we will go, we will do, we will…and then He shakes our world. He places a call on our lives we doubt we can fulfill. What was once certain becomes a rollercoaster that speeds downhill at break-neck pace only to slowly painfully climb up the next hill. We rush through one door God is holding open only to stall and have to wait at the next door. We long to know the end, but God patiently shows us one step at a time.

While we stand in the uncertainty of life how do we bravely claim:

 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ… Philippians 3:8 ESV

Worth. Knowing Jesus is worth all the loss in the world. Believing this truth and experiencing it in the craziness of life is difficult. When we are scared and bravery seems far away we need to remember. Remember what God has done for us, recalling His character, His sovereignty, His goodness. Brave actions begin with deep trust. Deep trust finds its roots in experiencing God’s love and remembering how He has worked in our lives in the past. Oh to know God so well and to remember what He has done that when the crazy of life comes we can bravely stand and say “I trust God even in this situation.”

Father far too often I look at the circumstances of life and I’m afraid. I fail to rightly count the circumstances in my life. I cling to the way I want things rather than trusting You when life is difficult. Help me to really mean it when I say I will follow You anywhere, anytime, and do anything You ask. Forgive me for living in fear instead of bravely obeying You. Help me know You so well I do not doubt Your goodness, sovereignty, or love. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Angela

Truth and Love: Navigating Sticky Situations

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,”  Ephesians 4:15 ESV

All of us are drowning in sin. Whether we are drowning in ten feet of sin or 1,000 feet, we are all in need of a Savior.

The truth is that humans are not basically good or even neutral. We are born drowning in sin, we all are in desperate need of a savior.  Worse yet, we are blind to our helpless situation. It is as if we feel healthy and a doctor explains we have a life-threatening illness. He tells us what we must do to be healed, but we can’t believe we are sick.

What would the doctor do to convince his patients that they are deathly ill? Would he berate his patients, point out all their deficiencies, and then tell them he can cure them? Or would he patiently point out the benefits of the cure?

Too often we speak the truth, but we wield it as a sword unafraid of the damage it may cause as we slice through deception. In the wake of our truth sword we leave anger and condemnation. Our truth cuts deeps leaving life-long wounds that leave those drowning less likely to call out for a Savior.

So how do we speak truth and love? We ask ourselves a few questions before we speak.

Is it true? Am I communicating (my word choice, tone, timing) this truth in love? Is it necessary? What is my goal in communicating this truth?

  • First we must make sure we are speaking truth, check God’s Word, do research, make sure what you are saying is true.
  • Second consider tone, word choice, and timing. Often we can choose to communicate with different words, or in a kinder tone or even at a better time to make sure we are speaking in love.
  • There are many times I have spoken truth, but it was not necessary. It only poured gasoline on an already smoldering fire and left a raw bitter swath in the heart of the person I wanted to encourage.
  • Asking what our goals are in communicating a truth further helps us make sure we are loving as we communicate. Too often my goal is to make myself look good, instead of bringing God glory and lovingly speak truth to those around me.

Father God I want to speak the truth, but often I wield it as a weapon rather than speaking in love. Forgive me for hurting people with the truth rather than bringing You glory and honor. Help me speak the truth in love, give me wisdom about timing and word choice. May the words of my mouth honor You at all times. In Jesus’ Name Amen.

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Angela