“Fear disrupts faith and becomes the biggest obstacle to trusting and obeying God.” -JohnOrtberg
Some months back my uncle sent me a book about fear and faith. It’s one of those reads that you take a bit at a time because it causes questions to arise. Some answers do not come quickly, but as you keep walking by faith. The timing is perfect for the days we are all living.
What is causing you to fear? Have you been up against this fear before? What was the outcome? Is there anything you need to do differently this time around? From my years of walking with God, I can honestly say He is the God of second chances. He has given me more chances than I deserve to trust Him, not what I can see. So often my first response is fear, but it never feels right. When I shift into faith, I know this is truth to live.
So friend, I do not know what is causing you to fear, but I pray we see it as the obstacle it is and choose faith. It takes practice as most things do. And years down the road, maybe we can write our own books accounting God’s faithfulness during the year of 2020.
*Thank you Uncle Doug for sending If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.
Simple words can be quick on the tongue, but actions that follow our words come a little slower. When we add a big word like trust, there might be much to sort through and some questions to ask. What happened the last time we trusted? What is the track record of the object of our trust? What is my track record with trust? Misplaced trust can leave a scar a mile wide on us or them. Perhaps we were not meant to carry or to place such an important responsibility on us or them. Now, do not think I am flinging the gate open wide on relationships, jobs or responsibilities. No, more of a completion of our heart.
When we talk about our God, He is another story. He alone is worthy of all our trust and the only safe holder of our trust. He does something in our hearts that nothing created can do. Friend, I pray you know Him to be trustworthy today.
“Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.” 1 Chronicles 11:22
Can you imagine being the mom or dad of Benaiah? Me either. What did they say or do to instill such courage? His father was obviously a courageous man, but Benaiah seems to have exceeded him. He was recognized as one of King David’s mighty warriors and “held in great honor” (11:25). While I highly doubt there were any warrior parenting books published during this time, I have to believe they used God’s word to train this man of courage.
If we look back, we read perhaps a bit of the words taught to Benaiah. “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5). There was nothing about a person that did not belong to the Lord. Should we be any different now? The answer is no. We can go on and read more parenting wisdom that should apply to us today as well. I will summarize verses 6-25 if I can. Talk about what the Lord requires often with your children. Do not forget the Lord and never serve another, for God is jealous for what belongs to Him. Do what is right in God’s sight, not what everyone else does. We were once slaves, but God has set us free and we are to live accordingly. Incredible wisdom in just one short chapter.
Friends, our children are facing battles we never dreamed of when we were growing up. Are we training them to go the way of the world or are we raising mighty men and women who love God with all heart, mind and strength? It takes an enormous amount of time and attention. It is pretty consuming to be honest. However, it is worthy work and when I see someone investing in what will matter in eternity, I try and say something. Everyone needs encouragement until we see our King, whom we serve, face to face. Keep going!!
“Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild…” Nehemiah 2:17
I found myself studying Nehemiah again this morning, for it is one of my favorite books. My Bible was still open as I picked up the book a group of us girls are studying entitled Be the Bridge. It is an interesting perspective from one brave lady about approaching this great race divide with humility and the gospel. The comparison between her and Nehemiah came into focus. Both are looking at the brokenness surroundings them and both are inviting us to rebuild with them. The choice was theirs and it is ours as well.
Perhaps we will answer like Nehemiah, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding…” (2:20). It is going to take some people surveying the damage, asking the Lord for wisdom and everyone willing to rebuild. There is and will be opposition by many. There will be ones that deny that anything is broken. Maybe even ones just looking for a place to vent their anger, any cause will do. But the builders will come with humility to the table, talk about what needs be done and get to work. No more excuses, just a determination to see people made in the image of God and love accordingly.
In humility, seeing people of great value, could change everything. Think about it. We can start with the smallest and allow babies to be born, abortion would end. Girls and boys would no longer be sold, trafficked for labor or sex. Families would put each other as priority and children would know their worth from the get go. Our educational system would change and truth would be taught in every classroom. Everything could be effected if only….
Have you ever spent time with a creative person? They are fascinating people I have to say. I am pretty sure the Lord made them to highlight beauty, another side of Himself. How hands can put paint to canvas and produce His reflection, astonishes me. Maybe that is why museums are such visited places throughout the world, everyone is wanting to catch a glimpse of Him, they just don’t always know it.
I visited with an artist today. Took a tour of her studio and found even the floors were beautiful with their drips of run off paint. The colors all just seemed to have landed perfectly. She sent me home with a watercolor set and a jar of pastels for the kids. You would have thought it was Christmas morning when they looked in the bag and saw the treasures. Snack time was put on hold, while paper was pulled out and creating began. It made me smile.
Watching their freedom astonishes me. They did not hesitate to put a gift into use and took delight in the process. They invited me to join them and I quickly jumped in, but my marks looked stiff and far from carefree. Words are my brush and for that I am thankful. Maybe we all have a bit of creativity inside of us, we just have to find it buried beneath the layers of grown up stuff. Because in the creating we are reflecting.
“I will provide rain for your land in the proper time, the autumn and spring rains, and you will harvest your grain, new wine and fresh oil.” Deuteronomy 11:14
We have been living in over 100 degree days. There are cracks in the ground because of the lack of water. Front lawns were starting to look burned, regardless of how hard your sprinkler system worked. And we didn’t really want to use up precious water on what will not last. And then just like that something happened. A cool breeze blew in earlier today and just now the sky opened up. It is pouring rain as I write. What a wonderful sound!
As I listen and watch the rain come down, I am grateful. It has been a dry season for many of us. It has taken a toll on our emotions, wouldn’t you say? The isolation, uncertainties and masks are not soul healthy. While it may help prevent physical sickness, it puts another barrier between people. Go too long and we forget the sound of unmuffled voices, smiles and hugs. No, this is not healthy living, for we were made for more.
So the rain comes, provided by God, and it waters the cracked earth and my thirsty heart. The thunder and lighting remind me of His power and control over all. One of my kids comes beside me and says the rain is a fortune. He knows the value of what God provides. Another leans in for a hug and asks if we can eat dinner on the back porch. I think we will and soak it all up; for it came at just the right time. May what He provides give you all your heart needs today.
“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…” Ephesians 3:17-1 9
Since we are in the season of kids going back to school, the word knowledge stuck out to me in this passage. However, knowledge did not hold my attention for long because I quickly was drawn back to the “rooted and grounded in love” part. And it takes faith in the One who is love Himself to even begin to wrap our minds around real love. There is a difference you know, but I will let you and the Lord sort that one out.
What difference does it make in our lives if we are anchored and steadied by love? Have you ever met a well-loved person? They seem to shine a bit brighter don’t they? How do you think they got this way? I can give you a hint and it is one that I think I have said over and over. Here it is, “We love Him because He loved us first.” (1 John 4:19).
So I ask you the same question I ask myself, are you living loved? If the answer is no, we need to check our root system. For if we are rooted in Christ, we are grounded and discerning, even when it does not make sense. Let the political arrows fly, let the Covid fear rage, but we will remain steady and compassionate. Our speech will reveal our roots. And one more thing, be on the lookout for those who need a reminder of love because sometimes we all forget.
*This picture is of the bracelet we each wear in our family that reminds us He Would Love First (H.W.L.F.).
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship of breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42
Maybe because we are not gathering often, I appreciate when we do more than I use to. The groups have been small and the fellowship has been sweet. It reminds me of these early days described in Acts. I wonder what they ate besides bread? What were they learning? Wouldn’t you have loved to hear them talking out loud to our Lord? I have many questions.
When you read this verse, does it create a longing in you too? I want more of this. Not necessarily more bread, chips and salsa perhaps, but it is the teaching, fellowship and praying together that pulls on my heart. It brings a sense of belonging and being known. Hearing what others are learning is encouraging too and gives us more to think about.
Community is healthy and we have been isolated for too long. And it might be why people are struggling because we need each other. I think about kids, especially teenagers, hurt for them and wonder what our family can do. The alone feeling can bring one into a dark place and the increase in suicides points to that end. So maybe it is time to open our doors. Say yes to small groups of teenagers that need a place to belong among their peers. Maybe we can make our homes known for something too. I make a pretty good homemade salsa:)
What ideas do you have to live out this practice of the early Christians?
Today I was invited to a birthday celebration that was memorable. What made it so were the people gathered around the table and the words spoken. We were asked to come with a word to describe our friend. Around the table we went, each saying in their own unique way the one word and why that described our mutual friend. It was absolutely beautiful! I couldn’t help but think how encouraging this simple gift had to be for our friend. This should happen more often.
Another aspect of my friend that was taken into consideration is how healthy she eats. The menu was planned and served accordingly. It was fantastic! Even the birthday cake was made with pure ingredients, no artificial stuff and nothing that was not beneficial. This became a picture of my friends heart. She is not one to add unnecessary words to a conversation or life in general. She keeps things simple and pure. She loves God and humbly relies on Him continually. There is a genuineness to her that is rare; she is a friend of great value. When you meet her family, you see the reflection of her work. They are a delight!
I do not know what your circle of friends looks like, but I pray you have a table full of them. Ones that are anything but counterfeit and love God with their whole hearts. Friends that speak truth in love and kindness. Ones that sit beside you in good times and hard ones too. We need each other. May the Lord make us the kind of friends that do likewise all our days.
“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
A few months ago are family got a new dog. He came with a great name but would not respond to it. We tried out a few new names and still nothing. We all agreed on Charlie and began to say it an obnoxious amount of times. We gave treats and encouragement but still no response. We kept at it and I am happy to report he now knows his name.
Another challenge when our dog was new is he likes to run and is incredibly fast. A few times he escaped and was hard to catch. It was all a game to him and he was unaware of the danger outside of our fence. He doesn’t do that anymore.
Do you want to know what I think made all the difference? Charlie knows he belongs to us and is loved. He is taken care of, played with and spoken to with kind words. He is disciplined appropriately and is still learning shoes are not chew toys. He has really taken to one of our girls, who needed him the most. He seems to know these kind of things. I have heard about other dogs with this strong sense of knowing who needs care.
What I have watched in a dog, I have seen in my own life. Knowing to whom I belong, that I am loved beyond measure, known by name and have no reason to fear, has made all the difference. My Heavenly Father is well able to take care of what belongs to Him. I accept His discipline because I know He loves me too much not to. Friend, if you do not know this kind of love, acceptance and belonging, I pray you will not waste another day running. There is nothing like being known by your Redeemer.