Taking Fear Personally

Someone lied to you and you found out. Someone rejected you flat out. Someone ignored you, someone hurt you, someone who was supposed to care for you didn’t.

We all have our someones.

If we’re honest, everyone we know is a someone; everyone gives us cause for suspicion.

I’m not paranoid- many of our fears boil down to a well-founded fact: people aren’t perfect. We have good reason to be afraid as long as people aren’t perfect. Reality reminds us every day.

People misjudge us. People have motives in conflict with our own. People make mistakes. People live outside of our control. People have choices. People are insufficient for us.

This world, likewise, is full of uncertainty and imperfection. Beautiful as it is, the world never works in exactly the way we’d like. It isn’t safe. Predictability is an illusion. Sinkholes open up under safe streets. Lightning strikes people in mild, safe regions.

Fear makes sense.

In Kelly Balarie’s book Fear Fighting, we see this firsthand.

Kelly doesn’t run from fear. She doesn’t ask us to scare ourselves out of feeling it or to grow numb to it.

This is personal for me.

Once upon a time, the unofficial topic of my studies was scaring myself silly about whether or not it was worth it to try to do any good in this world since everything’s broken anyway. I was new to faith and wanted to serve the Lord, but feared failing to honor Him.

An advisor asked me- “Do you believe the Lord can handle anything?” The question stuck.

Through clumsily embarking on a different career path than intended to grouchily moving away from everything I knew to painfully setting boundaries in unhealthy relationships, I found out the Lord could handle imperfect plans, circumstances, and relationships.

He could use the things that hurt me and disappointed me to His glory because His ways are higher (and much better!) than my ways.

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But fear fighting got more personal when I picked up the aptly titled book.

I began to read in words what the Lord has been piecing together in my heart: The Lord can also handle working through and in me.

God can display His power in my obvious weakness.

God can redeem for His good use my meager offerings, insecurities, and insufficiency.

God can rework my fear that imperfection is failure into an awed fear of His perfect work.

Yours’ too.

Fighting fear as God’s own children isn’t a matter of learning to lock our knocking knees or bite our quivering lips. There is no 5-step plan for us to fear failing at. We don’t have to undertake an intimidating process of becoming someone we’re not. Fear isn’t squelched when we muster up the guts to stare it down…but it loses its power over us when we fix our eyes on Him.

We let go of all we are not and see all that God is,” Kelly says. Her proposal is simple: “The Spirit says start. Start fearing God rather than fearing everyone is going to take you down.”*

Kelly knows fear, and she knows we can’t beat it by pretending we can. Instead, she reminds us who can and who has.

Our Savior.

Bravery is fearing God.

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Bravery is believing Him about all of the implications of who He is. It’s humbling ourselves before Him because we know Him and we want to know Him more. It’s bringing what’s inside of and outside of our control to His throne, imperfection laid bare because His grace is enough.

Choosing to fear the Lord is choosing confidence because of Jesus. Trust because of Jesus. Awe because of Jesus. Hope because of Jesus.

All because the One who is over all is in us, with us, and working through us fearlessly.**

We can take our fears personally to the personal God. Right up close to Him we can fix our eyes on Him. When our fears come into perspective before His greatness, they end up looking much smaller.

Thank you, Lord, for welcoming us to your fearless faithfulness, thank you for being the only way, the truth, and the life for fear fighting, faithful living, and eternal hope. Help us not to seek or fear anything other than your “only.” You are sufficient, amazing, and perfect. What good news for us imperfect people.

*Pg49, Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie
**Ephesians 4:6; Galatians 2:20
Kelly shares regular encouragement on her blog, Purposeful Faith. Her first book, Fear Fighting, is available beginning January 3rd, 2017. She’s been an example to me and a kind friend for a couple of years now, and I’m so grateful to share her book with you. The Lord has strengthened me through it and I hope He will you too!

{Please note this post is entered into Kelly’s contest. You can vote here for this or another post entered. You can also enter the contest yourself! This post is number 15 if you’d like to vote for it!}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.
This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group,  in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Waiting Isn’t Passive

Our days and lives are filled with waiting. For good, for bad, for new, for people, for change. Waiting is a God-designed practice.

However, as the worn, torn magazines in waiting rooms around the world can attest, patience in the waiting isn’t a natural virtue.

Waiting makes some of us crazy.

In fact, I’m pretty sure if God wanted to test us before we entered heaven to see how much we learned on earth, my exam would be “Sit right here. He’ll call you when He’s ready.”

I’d be pacing the clouds, trying to get through to the Lord via the prayer line: “Hello God. You brought me here. This is the appointment you set. How is it you are not on time?!”

What maddens me most about waiting is the helpless feeling of having no control over what’s going on. Waiting seems passive, and I am not passive.

Truthfully though, waiting isn’t a passive process.

Much like active listening, active waiting is a participatory activity.

Active waiting looks like this:

  • Preparing
  • Anticipating
  • Hoping
  • Being brave and courageous
  • Watching

These are words God features in His Word. They are spoken by God in reference to His call to wait.

With a brief look at what God says about waiting, I’m finding the idea “godly waiting” means sitting quietly doing nothing while completely at peace is just plain wrong.

We shouldn’t wait on the Lord feigning patience.

We can actively wait, participating as God does with a patience that anticipates.

His example of waiting isn’t glamorous or easy, but it’s clear:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” –2 Peter 3:9

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Waiting isn’t about speed or suffering, but being purposeful.

God’s waiting is done with the perfect, purposeful patience of One who knows the wait is worth it.

God believes you and I are worth waiting for- that all people still coming to repentance are worth the wait.

In waiting, He does not sit idly by. He exposes our need for repentance and brings us to it. He offers forgiveness. He enjoys transforming every person up until the last one He is waiting on.

With God, waiting isn’t about the end, but about the beginning.

We wait as those preparing, anticipating, hoping, being brave, and watching carefully because there are new beginnings brought about by the Lord Himself.

It doesn’t matter if you’re waiting on good news or bad. Whether you’re waiting for dreams to be realized or simply for something to change. Maybe you feel all that’s left to wait for is an end of some sort.

Wait assured: God has a beginning ready for you and your “not yet” time is not a wasted time. Instead, your waiting is participation in God’s plan for your life. No sitting on hands required- they have a big job to do praying. No self-muttering needed- you have Someone waiting with you.

He’s demonstrated it for all of time to know: waiting is a purposeful place of peace, joy, and growth for the faithful.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Strengthen

“Be strong and of good courage… do not cower.

Do not heed your fears. Take the land I have given you to possess.”

Joshua 1:6, 7

Joshua is one of my favorite books of the Bible. The third chapter in particular grips me every time. So thankful Christine shared about the Lord using Joshua to encourage her to worship Him during battles of all kinds.

Genuinely praising God amidst the crazy and chaotic takes strength.

That’s the word this week, pulled from Joshua 1: Be Strong.

4 Facts:

  1. “Be Strong” is a Verb

I’m referring to the word strengthen because in this verse, in context, “be strong” means “grow strong” or, simply “strengthen.” It’s an action word.

Strength is not something we just possess. To be strong is to exert power.  It’s to use what you have been given with might.

  1. Strengthening is Multi-Faceted

Sometimes being strong means grasping something tightly. That might involve seizing hold of it…or it may mean clinging with force to what is already in your grip.

When you exert strength, it takes effort and sustenance. You must firm up your muscles- even your Spiritual muscles.

  1. Strength Derives from Something Given

“Adopt” and “apply” are some of the first words listed in the definition of strengthen. The potential of the power and might have been given. The Lord’s promises have been made and His call has been issued.

To be strong is to apply what has been given. Flex the faith-muscle God has been growing.

  1. Being Strong Means Relying on the Lord

Another aspect of “be strong” is “be encouraged,” or, “fasten.” What is it that the Israelites were called to be strong in? What is it we’re to fasten ourselves to, take hold of, and grip with all our strength?

God’s promises. Be strong in taking hold of God’s promises.

Securely and resolutely take hold of the one who is growing you.

That’s what it is to be strong: to flex our God-given muscles in the battles we face.

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We take hold and flex in praise, in faithful following, and, as the verses that follow state, in obedience.

Will you stretch and flex from the soul with me today?

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

He’s Got the Battle If We’ve Got the Praise- The Word Works Series

If there’s anyone I know who is comfortable being uncomfortable, it’s Christine. I mean that in the best way. She’s always bravely sharing about the gritty, not-so-fun parts of life on Precepts and Life Preservers. But she also always bluntly calls us to come with her, nearer to Christ, and to the comfort He provides while stretching and convicting us. Be blessed by her words today.

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Life likes to bring along impossible battles, doesn’t it?

They span a variety of things that threaten our very faith, and our very purpose. Or at least, that’s how it feels.

Infertility. Chronic illness. Job loss. Depression. Divorce. Natural disasters. Oppression around the world.

Maybe you were like me this week, needing to get through something and you felt ill-equipped. Like it loomed over you, solid and imposing and you gathered what little battle gear you have knowing the enemy rolled its eyes at how futile your little pile of armor was.

But sometimes we need to change our definition of armor, of doing battle. After all, we have a Mighty King who thrives on conquering the impossible.

The Father has me camped out in the book of Joshua lately, and the timing is no coincidence. Joshua faces the impossible. Like, major impossibility at every turn.

He’s supposed to fill the shoes of one of the most compelling leaders ever. He’s supposed to get an entire nation of people to a new land inhabited by a people so fierce that they stop the entire bulk of Israelites in their tracks and have them considering going back to captivity. He’s supposed to devise a way to scale massive sets of walls built one atop the other while facing an army of defenders.

Impenetrable.

Impossible.

I love when the Almighty directs us to His Word and places us right where we might witness His provision span thousands of years. The same Jericho-provision given Joshua lays waiting for us right now.

We stare up at our own personal Jericho and wonder the best way to assess it, approach it, scale it, win it, own it.

What gear do I need? What kind of armor is going to make a difference? What’s my big plan, Stan?

We worry, we get ready to pass out, we become frantic, we’ll take advice from anyone, we despair, we become stubborn.

Meanwhile, He waits to complete the provision He’s already said is ours, if we’ll just follow His instruction so that we might witness His glory in all its fullness.

He waits for us to heed His instruction. And He waits for us to let Him do battle while we step into our only role.

To praise Him.

Yep. We get to praise.

Our weapon is lifting our voices and hearts.

Our armor is the victory declaration of His Provision.

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Your Promised Land that looms large? He has said it’s always been ours. We just have to step into it.

“Be strong and of good courage… do not cower. Do not heed your fears. Take the land I have given you to possess.”

Joshua 1:6, 7

And how do we take the land?

We lift victory-praise. We surround, we encircle our Jericho with shouts of His mighty faithfulness and glory. We shout with everything in us that He’s got this. We march and shout and sing and trumpet His goodness until He reaches a mighty hand beneath our battle ground and with one shake reduces it to rubble.

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king, and its army. March around the city once, with all the armed men flanking the priests. Do this for six days. Have the seven priests carry trumpets of ram’s horns in front of the Ark of the Covenant. On the seventh day, march seven times around the city, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast, have the all the people give a long shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”
Joshua 6:2-5

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And do not for a moment think your praise will end your battle, beloved. Your praise itself does not bring your Jericho down.

Your praise is the proof that your God is about to bring your Jericho down!

“The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded all the people, ‘Shout!!! For the Lord has given you the city!”

-Joshua 6:16

He will reduce your Jericho, your battle, to rubble… to stepping stones that will take weary feet into the Promised Land.

How do we know we have this same promise?

The same hand that brought down Jericho is the same hand that shook Golgotha and rent the veil with His Son’s last breath. It’s the same hand that wrenched keys of death from our enemy and freed every captive. It’s the same hand that beckoned Christ from the tomb.

This is who faces our battles. That verse in 2 Chronicles 20:15 that says the battle is the Lord’s? It’s our truth for today, more so than ever.

Psalm 22:3 says the Lord inhabits the praises of His people.

Look at Acts 16 and see how praise created an opening for God to break shackles, open jail cells, even saved the jailer.

Psalm 149:5-9 says,

“Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them— this is the glory of all his faithful people. Praise the LORD.”

So weary friend, unsure about the looming impossible…

He excels at impossible.

And He’s got the battle if we’ve got the praise.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

11. BEHOLD: The Brave

Isn’t it silly which things require bravery? Saying “no” to a friend’s Christmas invitation seems scary because they might be offended. Choosing that particular gift can be frightening because it may not be what they wanted and it will hurt to see it rejected. Telling a co-worker about the Christmas Eve service carries risks.

These things aren’t even really threatening. Yet, we act in fear. Saying yes to everything, apologizing for gifts before we give them, and avoiding the most essential topic in the world.

Thank God Jesus was brave. More than brave- thank God Jesus was fearless.

His fearlessness made Him man, born a dependent baby to sinful people. His courage led through a life of persecution. Finally, His bravery brought Him to die on a cross and be separated from God Himself. And then…to rise again. It’s because of that that we truly live!

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
1 Cor 15:14
“Because I live, you also will live.”
John 14:19

And in all that, Jesus never shook. He never wavered. There was never a compromise to take a step back when threats arose –the very kind of threats we rarely hear but always fear: abandonment, rejection, and betrayal.

Why?

Jesus had no cause for fear. He was (and is!) so aligned with God and so fully accepting of God’s perfect sovereignty in all things that He has no cause for fear. For us to live that same way is brave.

Christ was beholding the truth. So fixed on it was He that nothing could stir up doubt or fear in Him. He was so complete and fulfilled in God that there was no room for fear.

We can follow that example. We can be bold like Christ is bold by beholding Him too.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation–so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?”Psalm 27:1

Behold, the one whose path is straight leaving us no cause to stray.

Behold, the one whose way is perfect, leaving us no need to be afraid of anything.

Behold, the one whose loving-kindness replaces all our fears with the bravery of Christ.