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.”

Favorites of 2016

I’m a words person.

My Christmas list, birthday requests, favorite surprises, etc., all have to do with words. The Lord’s Word is dear to me. I treasure phrases and conversations. God uses words to teach me, shape me, and grow me in Him.

So it’s no surprise when I think on 2016 that some of my favorite, most memorable gifts from the Lord have been comprised of words like these (in no particular order:)

Favorite Blog Posts

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Clarify Your Calling by Micah Maddox

What the World Needs Now From Christians by Lisa Whittle

When You Need to Make a U-Turn by Debbie Wilson

Why Stuck is a Good Place to Stand by Joy Williams

Hope for the Heavy Seasons by Lois Flowers

Jesus is Not Your Cheerleader by Melissa Kruger

Transitions: When He Shapes, Molds, and Orchestrates In the Middle of the Unknown by Christine Duncan

Waiting for Breakthrough by Lesley 

Books

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Peace for a Lifetime by Lisa Murray

Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung

Soul H2O by Sherry Stahl

Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman

A Foreign Devil in China by John Pollock

What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers

Song Lyrics

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Oh My Soul by Casting Crowns

Thy Will by Hillary Scott

Just Around the Corner by Martina McBride

Be Still and Know by Hannah Kerr and Mark Hall

Dear Younger Me by MercyMe

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I know whom I have believed and am fully convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. –2 Timothy 1:12

Be still and know that I am God. -Psalm 46:10

The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes His steps. –Proverbs 16:9

He must increase, I must decrease. –John 3:30

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him and He will do this. –Psalm 37:4-5

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen – Hebrews 11:1

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? –Hebrews 13:6

The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding –Job 28:28

What words has the Lord used in your life this year?

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.

 

 

 

 

New Amongst the Old

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment,

for the patch will pull away from the garment,

making the tear worse.”

–Matthew 9:16

With the New Year, new resolutions are made. New outlooks are had, and, if nothing else, a sense of hope and possibility is renewed. Within weeks, it all tends to fall apart though.

It’s difficult to live anew amongst the old. We go back to the same jobs and the same co-workers. Day after day, the routine is much the same. Our needs have hardly changed. So as we try to maintain a better perspective and uphold our resolve to do or be better people, it soon seems our everyday lives are even harder than before.

What we experience in the New Year is much like this passage describes: the new making the old seem worse. The old does not adjust to the new easily, making the new feel ill-fitted.

Do you have that sense in your days? As if it isn’t really feasible to improve because nothing around you is?

We aren’t the whole issue. It isn’t just you and I that need improving. Our circumstances, relationships, and lives (though outside of our control!) all need to be renewed.

Fortunately for us, the bridegroom has come.

The “old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17.)

His renewal in our lives affects everything and make all things new for us. His mercies are new every day. He causes the sun to rise new every day. There are new opportunities each day. And moment by moment, He renews in our hearts a right Spirit.

What an encouragement to us!

Though we sometimes feel like new patches stuck on an old, worn-out dress, the Lord assures us that He has clothed us anew. When we wait on His timing and trust in His continuing-creation, the old becomes new, and we do too.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

Out of Excuses

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.” John 15:22

Many religions offer gods to admire and follow: Christianity alone offers a Savior. And with our Savior, the truth that we need to be saved.

Regardless of our efforts, we cannot be good. Not only can we not live up to the perfect standard of the Lord, but we can’t even live up to what we intend for ourselves. And we have no excuse because we know…

“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” –Romans 1:20

We’re out of excuses for our sinful rejection of the Lord. He has been revealed to us. We act on our fleshly desires anyway, even, as Paul says, when we don’t want to. Our guilt is certain. We’re convicted.

However, we are not condemned. Christ, without making any excuses for us, has justified us before God.

Still…we make excuses, don’t we?

When our sins are obvious to others, we point to our good intentions. If we slip into sin, we minimize it, calling it a mistake. We all take opportunities to explain away the wrong we’ve outright chosen –it’s because of my past that I was psychologically inclined to this sin, I might say.

Living without excuse is not something we tend to readily embrace. To admit sin without any excuse seems embarrassing and even self-effacing.

There is no justification, no sufficient excuse, for our sinfulness and our continuing in sin. That is, again, no justification apart from Christ.

To live without excuses is to take hold of the sin in our lives. Taking our sin into our own hands has to come before we can hand it over in surrender to Him. Repentance means nothing is we refuse to admit that we have anything to repent of.

We often say that we’ve surrendered things to the Lord…and then that perhaps we didn’t give it all up. Sometimes, I think that’s because we point God in the direction of the stuff “weighing us down” instead of actually handing it over.

If it’s not yours, you can’t really give it up. Own your sin. Make no excuse. And breathe in full relief and joy when He gladly takes it –your very burden of sin- from you.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory