Forward Friday: Sheltered From Fear

The morning was overcast, but beautiful. The leaves were golden, crimson, burnt orange. Glorious. The weather was crisp but not cold and I spent the better part of it outside with my earbud in and worship music playing. Intimate worship–my favorite. Just me, the Creator of heaven and earth and ground to eat up as I walked and prayed and praised.

It started to rain (just a sprinkle but it was cold!) and I came inside and opened the curtains to our glass doors so I could view the pond and woods. One of the random cats in our neighborhood likes to roam around that pond, fishing I guess. Who knows! As long as he eats things I don’t want in my house, I’m happy and he can hang out as long as he’d like.

I was listening to Dara McLean’s song:  Find Rest  (so powerful, give it a listen!)  

The cat was strolling the bank, pausing, dipping his paw into the water then moseying on. I was worshiping inside. 

And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the cat spring into action and high-tailed it across the property. So. Fast. 

Something had startled him, frightened him. Threatened him–could have been a snake! He bolted.

That blur of white beelined it straight into our barn. At first, I thought maybe he was sick of getting wet. But the way he ran–the way it hit him out of nowhere…couldn’t be. It was barely sprinkling at this point.

He was afraid of something.

Ugly Cat (mean name but I can’t help it. He’s not an attractive cat!) raced right into the barn. But he never would have found shelter from his fears if the doors hadn’t been open. But they were.  

He found safety inside.

You and I have fears. Sometimes they hit us out of nowhere. Sometimes we see them creeping up on us day by day. Minute by minute.

It’s a loved one making choices that are going to affect them in horrific ways.

It’s the disturbing news.

The bad report from the doctor.

It’s a threat.

Circumstances.

Finances.

Loss of insurance.

Loneliness.

You fill in the blank.

But like that cat, we can run to safety. We can find shelter in the arms of our God. They are always open to us. Always a safe place to run. Always trustworthy.

Oh, but we run in so many other directions, don’t we? We run aimlessly which is exhausting, especially if we sprint. We run to things we call “guilty pleasures” and to comforts like food, shopping, entertainment etc…good things. Bad things. Doesn’t matter. We will not find rest. We will not find peace. We will not find joy unless we’re running to the LORD. Into His arms. Into His grace. Into His unfailing love. 

So many things ruin us. Let us be ruined for better, not worse. Let us be ruined for any useless thing because it’s in HIs shelter where we’re blessed, changed, made new. It’s in His shelter we find our identity. Our passion. Our purpose. You’ll find it nowhere else, friend. 

Let’s run to Him today, and not go back. 

Where do you run when you feel afraid? 

Forward Challenge: Whatever has you anxious, afraid, nervous–take it to the powerful arms of God today. Lay them at His feet. Let Him crush them for you today. There is nowhere safer to run than to His shelter.

Forward Prayer: Lord, thank you that we can run to Your loving arms when we’re afraid, nervous, insecure, concerned or even when everything is okay. They are always open under any circumstance. Today, Lord, show us somehow, some way how much You love us and want to secure us in Your arms. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Forward Scripture:  

 

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Forward Friday: Flushing Fear

 

Fear and anxiety go hand in hand. We all have them. 

My son has a few “phobias.” He’s looked them up on the phobia website, so this past Sunday when our pastor preached on fear and brought up this website, he looked at me with a grin. But then he went on to talk about fear not being from God. My son grew quiet. We’ve talked about his fears and anxiety often. I’ve encouraged him to pray about them, through them.

God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear. Fear is paralyzing. Fear keeps us from moving forward. 

I had quite a bit of fear when I began writing. What if this doesn’t get published? What if I fail? What if I get laughed out of a room, a conference, a pitch session? Every “what if” was one of failure. God had to remind me: What if I succeed? What if I’m greeted into the industry with a smile and handshake or hug? What if these stories are published? What ifs don’t have to be scary. They just typically are. Because fear tends to dominate.

David told Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:20-21(MSG)“Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; he won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch. He’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God.”

Whatever you face today, whatever fear is staring you down, paralyzing you, pushing you back from being obedient to God in whatever He’s asked you to do, know that he won’t walk off and leave you alone. He will finish what He started in you and bring it to completion.

“Jesus said, “It’s done . . . complete.” Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit.” John 19:30 MSG. You may know the verse said like this: It is finished. Jesus hung there and stuck it all out for you and for me. 

Until it was finished.

Not a second sooner.

If He would go to those lengths to nail your fears and anxiety to the cross, why would He leave you now?

Too many people walk out on us, leaving us ripped up and scarred.

Jesus was scarred just to stay with us. To the very end.

I know my son was listening intently to that sermon on fear. He heard how God wants us to be like Gideon . To believe God sees us differently. He called Gideon a mighty warrior. My son’s first and middle name together mean: warrior/arrows. In God’s eyes he’s not a boy riddled with anxiety and fears. He’s fierce. A warrior. 

But my little warrior carries a fidget cube with him. It’s not because he’s antsy. It soothes his anxiety. He keeps it in his pocket and rolls the buttons around. His sister gave it to him to have at school. At the end of service, he asked me if he could go to the bathroom and I could tell he legit had to go, so I told him to go on.

When he came back he had this grin on his face. 

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Well…I dropped my fidget cube in the toilet.”

I snickered of course. “Did you flush it?”

“No, I used a little piece of toilet paper and got it out, then washed it really good.”

Gross. Gross. Gross.

But the thought hit me Monday morning while talking with a friend on Voxer.  That fidget cube represents his fears and anxieties. Oh that he would flush the fear and not try to fish it out of the toilet.

Oh that I would flush my fears down the toilet and walk out of the bathroom trusting more in God and how He sees me. Instead, I’ve picked those fears out of the toilet when God was nudging me to flush the away. l’ve picked back old anxieties instead of letting them go down the drain.

My prayer is that my son will be able to dump the fidget cube. My prayer is that you and I will be able to dump our “fidget cubes” too.

Forward Challenge: Put God’s Word to your fear today. Out loud. You are an overcome. A warrior. A child of God. Whatever He’s called you to do, or to not do, you can. Don’t let fear hold you back!

Forward Prayer: Lord, you have not given us a spirit of fear. We know that tucked safely in Your arms we are sheltered. We can do all that You have asked us to do. We can give up all that you have asked us to give up from unhealthy habits to unhealthy relationships. Every weight and sin that hold us back and down, we can toss aside and lay at Your scarred feet. Give us the faith to believe. The strength to act. And the courage to boldly face those things we have feared. No longer in bondage to fear, we are free in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Forward Scripture: 

*I am not talking about clinical anxiety that requires medication. Some fear and anxiety (PTSD) need to be dealt with through professional help (and of course prayer). 

What about you? Do you have some fears you know you need to flush down the toilet instead of fishing them out, “cleaning them off” and pocketing them again?

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Forward Friday: The Thrill of Fear

It’s October. Profound observation, I know. It’s that month the box office rakes in money hand over fist thanks to scary movies. Haunted houses. Even today it’s Friday the 13th (the “scariest” day ever–I just call it my birthday ha!). Fright Nights. Fill in the blank. But even if it’s not the “Month of Fright” there’s still roller coasters, skydiving, cliff jumping, drag racing…fill in the blank. 

A few weeks ago, my friend Emily Shuff gave an encouraging devotion to us ladies about fear. She said, “Fear makes us afraid.” We all laughed and she did too because it sounds silly and obvious but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that phrase or about the things I am afraid of. We all have something or many somethings. Some are rational and some are not. Because fear isn’t always rational. I think it’s silly for my son to freak out over a picnic ant. “Just step on it! It’s not even as big as your pinky toe nail!” But I am not afraid of ants. Fire ants, maybe. 🙂 

We fear the future. We fear uncertainty. War. Mass shootings. Our loved ones dying. Us dying. People we care about being hurt, sick or leaving us. Again, fill in the blank. These fears are not thrills at all are they? And yet, many people love to be afraid. From scary rides to reading scary books or attempting scary feats. Hello, walking across the Grand Canyon on a tight rope? Just why? Why do people enjoy being afraid? 

In reading up on it, I found something a professor of communication at Purdue said. In a nutshell, he says that it’s not about truly loving to be afraid as much as it is having that sense of satisfaction that they’ve conquered something terrifying. Or even a “profound sense of relief” that it’s over. 

Thrill seekers say jumping out of planes or whatever the thrill is, is a rush. I’ve felt that before on a roller coaster. Or toilet papering someone’s house and running away without being caught by the parents! A rush. We did it! We made it!

The other day after raking out flower beds, I found a tiny salamander thingy in my bathroom. I screamed. I grabbed the Clorox wipes tub I was cleaning with and pounded that joker to nothing. Later that day there was another one on my hearth! I screamed. Raced for something stronger than a fly swatter and nailed it. Then we went to the zoo and looked at those crazy dragons my son loves. I took a picture and sent it to Emily with the caption: This is what it felt like when I was smashing that little lizard the other day!

 

It reminded me of something else she said, “When we focus on fear it magnifies.” So true! That little salamander might as well have been this big honking reptile right here. But what happened when I had overcome the fear, conquered it…I felt a rush. I had braved the lizard and came out the victor! And I won’t lie there was a lot of hollering prayer; it sounds like this:  Oh, Jesus, help me! Jesus!

Because we need His help to overcome, push through, come out on the other side of fear victorious. That rush we experience is called victory in Jesus and a testimony! How many times have you listened to youth coming back from a theme park. They’re all talking up how they rode the biggest, scariest ride. They’re testifying, ya’ll! “I even raised my hands the whole time.” Well, yeah, because an iron bar was holding you in! Jesus is our iron bar! He’s holding us in.

Don’t let fear keep you from raising your hands in praise as you go through whatever scary situation you’re in. God never lets you go.  “Be good to me, God—and now! I’ve run to you for dear life. I’m hiding out under your wings until the hurricane blows over. I call out to High God, the God who holds me together.” Psalm 57:1 MSG

He holds you together. You may feel afraid. But you, dear one, are never out from under his wings or slipping through his powerful arms.

Forward Challenge: Take whatever makes you afraid to God right now. Even if it seems silly or irrational. Remember, He says to cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you. Ask Him to help you overcome them, and trust Him to help you do it.

Forward Scripture: “I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” Psalm 63:8 NLT

Forward Prayer: Lord, your word tells us we do not have to be afraid. We don’t have to be paralyzed by fear. Give us your strength today to move forward. To be victorious. We are more than overcomers because you have overcome the world. You hold us securely and today we cling to you. We praise you because we know that there is no one like you. None besides you. You love us. You’re for us. And if you are for us, who can be against us? No weapon formed against us shall prosper. Whether we are battling insects or cancer…you are with us. No fear is too silly or small. You care about them all. Let us rest in that today. Let us breathe in your goodness and exhale joy and triumph in Jesus’ name.

***Name one fear that you have in the comments. I would like to pray for you and if you see other comments, please pray for each one! Let’s get through them together!

*Note* I am not in any way against theme parks, thrill-seeking activities, or suspenseful movies or books (I write them and I love showing how people can come through with hope and a testimony of God’s faithfulness after being put through the ringer…a scary ringer!) 

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Learn to Fan a Flame of Passion

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I
shouldn’t be afraid of good things.
 
But
sometimes I am.
 
I knew I
was supposed to lead women’s ministry at our church and I tried every single
way to talk God out of His idea. I get ticked over that scripture where God
says, “Come let us reason together.” My reply is always the same.
“I’ll come but we both know I’m going to lose.” To this day, God has
yet to call me a loser, even though I never win in the “reasoning”
department.
 
So shaking
in my boots, or flip flops–I can’t remember what I wore–I set off to our
pastor’s office to break the news. That’s how I felt about it at the time.
Ready to vomit. Unequipped. Void of any great ideas.
 
Ter-ri-fied.
I sat across from him. I told him what I felt God has nudged me in my spirit to
do, and then I broke down and sobbed.
 
I’ll never
forget his words. With a smile on his face (and he had back pain that day) he
said, “Well, don’t cry about it.” And I laughed…and cried. And  cracked a terrible joke.
 
In that
moment of obedience, the nerves calmed. And ideas started flittering through my
mind. And something happened. I got excited. And scared. Then excited. God
began equipping me with people–out of the woodwork!
 
Things
clicked in place. For three years, I led women’s ministry.
 
But God
led me.
 
One of the
greatest verses in the Bible is found in 2 Timothy 1:7. You may know it by
heart. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of
love, and of a sound mind.” NKJV
 
We use it
all the time, don’t we? For any fear or confusion. Some versions say
self-control in place of sound mind.
 
But we
can’t skip the teeny tiny linking word in this verse. Those little words are
important because it gives us context. And context is vital! Even in the Bible.
 
So what
verses are linked to 1:7?
 
Let’s look
at verse 6 in the NKJV. “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God
 

which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

 
Paul is
talking to Timothy about the gift God gave him. But we have one of those
important words: therefore. What’s it there for? So we have to link up again.
 
Verses
3-5: “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure
conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I
remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see
you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when
I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in
your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you
also.” NKJV
 
Paul
recognizes Timothy has genuine faith. He’s not riding Mom and Grandma’s coat
tails–because that’s impossible. And with genuine faith comes something
wonderful.
 
Spiritual
Gifts.
 
Given
by the Holy Spirit. For us. To equip.
 
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There
are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are
diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But
the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:”
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NKJV
 
You have a gift given by God. And it’s to be used to profit
all in the church.
 
Listen
to the way the Message translation reads Ephesians 4:11-13:
 “But that doesn’t mean you should
all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of
us is given his own gift. The text for this is,
 
He
climbed the high mountain,
He
captured the enemy and seized the booty,
He
handed it all out in gifts to the people.
 
Is
it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley
of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to
highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his
gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet,
evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant
work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving
rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to
God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive
like Christ.”
 
 
My
beloved has gone to his garden, To the beds of spices, 
To feed his flock in the gardens, 
And to
gather lilies. Song of Solomon 6:2
NKJV
says, “to equip the saints…”
 
Timothy
had a gift. So do you. So do I.
 
The
#1 things holding us back is fear. Our fears may stem from many different
things. Pick one:
 
My
past reads like a crime novel. I don’t deserve to serve.
 
 No way can I do something like this. I’m a
nobody.
 
I’m
a hypocrite. Half the time I don’t have it all together. And until I do, I
can’t serve.
 
What
if I fail? I failed so many people, broke so many promises, what if I fail God
and He’s been good to me so far.
 
I
have too much going on to get involved in church…i.e. I’m lazy. I’m scared. I’m
insecure. I’m justifying being vulnerable.
 
I’ve
been hurt by the body of Christ (the church people) and I don’t want to go back
there. *Note* People are imperfect. They hurt us. But God never does.
 
Insert
your fear here.
 
If
you belong to Jesus and if you are in a church, you have a responsibility to be
doing something there. How do I know this? 1Corinthians 12:12-31.
 
And
now I’m going to show you the context this famous verse was written in. This is
the answer to all your fears and misgivings about using your gifts in the body
of Christ.
 
“For
God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a
sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7.
 
Timothy
was a worrier. Probably about a lot of things. But certainly about using the
gift/gifts God gave him for the church.
 
Paul
told Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23) “Stop drinking only water, and use a
little wine 
 

because of your stomach and your frequent
illnesses.”

 
Did
you know that drinking some (not lush amounts) of red wine can control
bacteria, heal ulcers and even prevent them. Here is just one link that shares this information. *This is not my personal
invitation for you to go out and slosh down wine or beer. It’s a point I’m
making about Timothy.
 
He
worried himself sick. Literally. Fear jacked up his stomach.
 
My point is: God didn’t give you spiritual gifts to keep
under a flame, hidden in the ashes for whatever excuse you can come up with not
to use them.
 
The
NIV translations says, “..fan into flame the gift of God, which is in
you…”
 
Fan
the flame. Stir it up.
 
Time rekindle it. That word, stir up in the Greek  is anazōpyreō  and it means to kindle up, inflame one’s mind, strength, zeal
 
According
to Dictionary.com, inflame means:
to become hot with passion;
to set or be set on fire
 
 
But how do we do this?
 
*Cue
Alicia Keys, That Girl is On Fire or simply turn to the book of Revelation*
 
Revelation
1:14 is talking about Jesus Christ: “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow,
and His eyes like a flame of
fire…”
 
What are
His eyes like?
 
A flame of
fire.
 
You want
to excited about the gifts God has placed in you? You want to overcome the fear
and shyness that holds you back? You need to stir up some passion and fire? You
need your fire fanned?
 
Look into
the eyes of fire. Let Him stoke the embers to a blazing inferno. The Lord guides you with
His eye. Full of passion. Fire. Ready to consume your fear. Your timidity. And
to kindle/rekindle the zeal you’ve been lacking. 
 
*For more on looking into His eyes read this POST! I wrote on focusing on His eyes while we dance to complicated moves.
 
Don’t you
be afraid! Now get out there and profit the church in a way only you can!
 

 

If you are serving in your church, what do you do? I’d
love to hear!