Thursday, July 18, 2019

Preach It! The Road to #bebrave


This week's "JUST A THOUGHT" is just a series of random #bebrave quotes.

Here's why...

A message I listened to this week made a mention ("in passing") about the importance of filling our minds with Scripture.

It detailed the journey from head to heart and out through our living (behavior).

As we know, in Paul's great poetic speech on dealing with anxiety (which can lead to full blown fear), he tells us this:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. 


The Lord is near; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 


What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.


The process from head-to-heart-to life can be slow.

But, a great way to speed up the process is to speak truth out loud!

Hear yourself saying God-Words over and over again ---- that's part of the "practice these things".

Hear yourself pray the truth back to Jesus.

Hear your words, and your heart will respond; because, when your heart hears the words, it knows there is mindfulness...

In return, conviction is on its way.

Saying the words of truth out loud is a way to declare war on fear.


So, here are a few quotes and verses to preach to your soul, on the road to #bebrave.


"Fear and worry are always fed by ignorance."
Ed Welch


"Worry is simply prayer in reverse."
Author Unknown


"Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but empties today of its strength."
Charles Spurgeon


"Jesus never asked anyone to play it safe. We were born to be brave."  
Bob Goff



Hope is the only thing more powerful than fear...
Hunger Games

Courage is never without fear...
Courage is simply fear that has said its prayers...
Dorothy Bernard



Fear knocked at the door.
Faith answered, and found no one there.
-author unknown-


When troubled by fear and worry, 
Remind God what He has promised.
He can not lie!
He can not be untrue to His character.
He is always faithful.


Now then...here's an assignment I'm working on. It's an assignment for you, as well.  

Grab yourself some 3 X 5 cards.

Write on each card some "God Thoughts" from these statements above in regards to fear and anxiety.

Next time you feel those difficult-to-deal-with-emotions rolling over your soul, declare war!

Start going through your list of truths.

Some may be Scriptures.

Some may just be statements of fact.

But use them.

Preach 'em to yourself.

Often.

OUT LOUD!


These are a few of the ones I've started with...

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Is the Right Gospel Filling Your Heart? If not, You May Not Be on the Road to #bebrave


Normally, when I'm out for a walk in the mornings, I listen to books that have been recorded on Audible. It's a great way to double down on my "reading."

Yesterday, I finished the current book (Bob Goff, Everybody Always - outstanding!!!), so turned on a little music to occupy my mind as I completed the last of my miles home.

I found myself zoning into the words to this song from Natalie Grant, and they ran through my head all day.

Even as I woke in the "night watches," one line kept repeating itself:

"Help me want you, Jesus, more than anything."

Here's a You Tube link so you can take a listen... More Than Anything.

On the road to #bebrave, this is a powerful prayer.

Powerful, because most fears are grounded in divided loyalty.

Not all.
Most.

Last week's fear was no different.

Last week I zeroed in on a fear that, if we are all honest, we struggle with as a whole:

fear of man

It may have been phrased a bit differently, but it is the same animal.

In actuality, that bondage I spoke of is rooted in the fear of man.


It's probably the most common fear for us all.

I am no exception.

As much as I have tried to overcome it, fear of man is a sleeping giant who raises his ugly head and intimidates me often.

I fear rejection,

disapproval,

betrayal,

failure.

I fear being ignored, invalidated, disliked, and unloved.

Here's how those sub-fears manifest themselves:

I try harder, work longer, power-up....or, in a few cases, give up altogether.

I eliminate guardrails; and, let others drive my doings.

I attempt to re-create myself in the image I imagine the other person wants me to be...

I self-protect.

And, much of the time, isolate.

I fill my mind with negative beliefs, get defensive, and sometimes, now and again, I get angry.

The sage of Proverbs wrote these words (obviously, he struggled):


The fear of man lays a snare,
But whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
(Prov 29:25)

Sounds pretty bad.

It's even worse, when you look at the word picture for "snare."

It's more than a trap; it is a noose.

A noose to hang something by; or to lead away - like a leash.

Literally, the Old Testament word meant a hook for a nose.


Disgusting isn't it?

But let this sink in...

When we live in fear of what others think of us, or might do to us, we have allowed them to put (albeit, invisibly) a hook in our nose, and they are able to lead us ANYWHERE. THEY. WANT!!!

In fact, as a counselor, I've seen the repercussions of many a soul, who've been led down paths they never saw themselves going, and ended up in deep, dangerous waters....all because they wanted to please people.

Honestly, seeking approval is truly addicting.

We keep chasing it, always needing more.

What's the answer?

It appears to be the standard Sunday school response:  Jesus.

Trust Jesus.


Hide ourselves in Him.

Place ourselves fully in His arms, His will, His WAY...

The Apostle Paul must have been acquainted with this fear.

In Galatians 1:10, he wrote:


For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying. to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

The trust-answer for Paul shows up in the source of his approval.

Indeed, the answer was Jesus.

So, he switched allegiances from man to THE GOD-MAN.

Here's the hard truth...

When we live in the fear of man, instead of the fear of the Lord, we are placing our trust in a gospel that is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel of Jesus had changed Paul's life (just start reading Paul's testimony in Galatians 1).

Almost immediately he had eyes to see that the gospel of man is distorted, corrupt...perverted (Gal 1:7)...

To place my hope, my security, my identity in any INDIVIDUAL or group of individuals is to trust a gospel contrary to Jesus.

But to trust in Jesus is to trust His LOVING heart toward me.

And, to trust the Jesus who is love, is to cast out fear, and place us on the road to #bebrave.


When the gospel truly grips my soul, I understand Jesus death, not only saved me from eternity, but gifted me with a new identity.

His love gave me a whole new set of "I AM's".

Here are a few:

I am a child of God (Jn 1:12).
I am justified (Rom 5:1) - just as if I've never sinned.
I am bought with a price (1 Cor 6.19-20); I belong to the Lord, and have been given great value.
I am a saint (Eph 1.1).
I am blessed (Eph 1.3-9).
I am redeemed, forgiven, chosen and blameless (Col 1.14).
I am complete in Christ (Col 2.10)
I am God's temple (1 Cor 3:16).
I am a minister of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-21).
I am seated with Christ in heavenly realms (Eph 2:6).
I am His workmanship created with good purpose (Eph 2.10).
I am able to approach God's throne with boldness and confidence (Eph 3.12).
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom 8:28).
I am lavishly (that's how the Lord wants us to feel) loved in the riches of His grace (Eph 1.7).

When I understand the fulness of His love, and the new identity He pours out into me, there is only ONE I TRULY WANT TO PLEASE.



(adapted from Isaiah 51:7)

This week, in one of her twitter posts Lysa Terkheurs made the following statement. There is so much truth in it. Let it soak into your soul:

Lord, help us make peace with the fact we will disappoint people. 
Help us make peace with the fact other people will disappoint us. 
And give us the perspective that not every disappointment is epic. 

Oh, Christian, fear of man is exhausting. Find your Sabbath Rest in the gospel of Jesus and the truth of your new identity in Him. Let's step onto the road to #bebrave together.





Wednesday, July 3, 2019

This July 4th - As We Celebrate Freedom, Consider Fear of Bondage

America's symbol of independence....


Freedom....

Our country fought for it.

Many died for it.


Over the years, freedom has become a theme song for America....
America: 

the land of the free

the home of the brave.


We celebrate our freedom as a nation - every July 4th - once a year;

but, we declare our independence daily (as individuals).

Americans are living the free life;

And, as Christians, freedom is our anthem -

It comes across LOUD and CLEAR!

After all,


"It is for freedom that Christ set us free..."

We are free to live how we want, as we want, under grace.

There is truth to this.

There is also a DEEP, DEEP fear imbedded in this anthem.

I recognize it.

It's quite subtle, actually.

It's:

FEAR OF BONDAGE

Bondage to someone else's opinions.

Bondage to legalism.

Bondage to a "have to:"

    I have to live under the thumb of another...

    I have to live under someone else's expectations...

    I have to perform a certain way...

    I have to look like everyone else...

    I have to give up who I am to become what somebody else wants me to be...

    I have to ___________________________ (you fill in the blank)....

We are afraid of being in bondage to man...

So afraid, we have placed ourselves back in bondage...

I see "fear of bondage" all over social media.

Christians who live in fear of bondage taut their liberties with their words, with photos, with pithy quips and quotes from others...

I'm not pointing a finger.

I live in the center of this fear, as well.

There's a rebel inside of me that fights to live in independence.

To do what I want; be who I want; to live free of any "condemnation" from others...

But, as I sit to contemplate the truth of fear of bondage this morning, I realize something quite alarming....

The more I fight for independence, the more I sink into bondage.

And....the more I want others to join me in this prison.

I'm creating my own brand of legalism....of "have to's"...

I'm asking others to look a certain way -

It's a new "look" that hints at freedom, but reality is that it is bondage, as well.

It's difficult to describe...

BUT

 I want the focus to be on me...narcissistically so.

I want to set the stage for how freedom should look...

I still want others to look like me, agree with me, live the same kind of freedom I think I have discovered...

If they don't, if they disagree with my new found freedom, then these people are haters.

They simply want to bring me back into bondage.

Sad thing, I'm already there.

I'm still under the opinions of others...

It's a difficult thing to swallow.

And, I realize this morning, I don't want this kind of bondage!

To be totally free looks like dependence.


I NEED JESUS.

HUGELY!!

And, His way is the only free way.


Yes, there may be a fence around the play ground.

There may be some commandments to follow.

Some "rules to live by."

But, inside the fence, there is a great deal of LOVE, laughter, life-abundant (peace-filled, protected, FREE).

This Independence Day, I'm declaring my DEPENDENCE.

I'm releasing my fear of bondage, turning back to the only way to freedom - 
I'm dependently on
the Jesus-path, 
clinging to His nail-scarred-hand!

My symbol of dependence:



Thursday, June 27, 2019

Fear, Anxiety and That One Toxic Person You Know...the road to live #bebrave


Words.

They have the power to bring LIFE and WHOLENESS.

They have the power to bring ANXIETY and PAIN.

But...God's Words.

God's Words to me, about me, change EVERYTHING!

God's Words help me step into courage.

Confidence.

#bebrave.

XXXXX

I have known this gal for 45+++++ years.

A wonderful woman - generous, hospitable, funny, good.

She has been a role model in so many ways.

I've looked up to her, loved her, learned from her...

...but, she is just so stupid!

WAIT! WAIT!!!! WAIT!

Don't stop reading there.

I've never thought of my friend as stupid.

NEVER!

But, if I've heard her say it about herself once, I've heard it thousands of times.

Almost every time I'm with her, in fact!

I'm convinced she's convinced that this is TRUTH.

Stupid (see definition below thanks to Merriam-Webster):

Key words: lack of intelligence, ignorant, brainless, dull-witted, foolish, slow, empty-headed...

This is definitely not a description of the person to whom I'm referring!

Hypothetically speaking, if I had said the above statement posted in bold, italicized-red, you most assuredly would have been appalled at my audacity and MEANNESS!

You would have called me rude;

you just might have decided never to look at another blog-post of mine....EVER!

Yet, day after day, minute after minute, we fall prey to mean-talk!


How?

We allow our minds to talk this way about ourselves, and we are never appalled.

Most of the time we wholeheartedly agree.

We have a knack of convincing ourselves that statements like this are true.

Maybe it's not the S-word (we told our kiddos as they were growing up that "stupid" was a bad word...it was never allowed to cross their lips about ANYONE or ANYTHING).

Maybe it's other-words... words like I'm: ugly, fat, useless, unlovable, not good enough, unable, a looser, ______________ (fill in the blank).

Regardless of how you fill in the blank above, these are examples of words that exponentially increase our ANXIETY LEVELS in huge doses!

And, there is just NO NEED...

XXXX

The big buzz these days is all about removing toxic people from our lives, walking away, setting up healthy boundaries.

BUT, what about the toxic person who lives inside our minds?

Seriously!?!

Because here's the problem: that little person who has made his/her home up in our minds is sure to disrupt the peace of our hearts!

The only way to eliminate that toxic person is to hand them completely over to the Spirit of God for radical transformation...

The only way to rid ourselves of this kind of anxiety is to apply a prescription of Philippians 4:7-9:


Today's challenge:
Begin a 40-day word fast.

Declare WAR!!!

It won't be easy.

When you begin to hear yourself say those ugly, anxiety-driven-words, STOP! 

Then, say out loud (shout them if necessary) God-Words...

Think on these things:

Words that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.

You'll soon see how often you set yourself up for a disruption of peace...
...and, you'll see how making one little change can make a WORLD OF DIFFERENCE!


PS. I'm not really a fan of the concept of "boundaries language" regarding "toxic" people (it can become such a weapon, instead of a tool)...but I am a fan of who the Holy Spirit says we are through those He breathed forth words to place in His Word.

May we hang tightly to the Spirit of God, and simply ignore the rest.



"Living loved isn’t deciding in your mind, 'I deserve to be loved.'


It’s settling in your soul, “I was created by a God who formed me because He so very much loved the very thought of me. When I was nothing, He saw something and declared it good. Very good. And very loved.” 
Lsya Terkeurst. 


Read that to yourself during your 40 Day Word Fast...
Over and over...
Just try it.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mulberries, Fear of Scarcity, and #bebrave

I've been thinking about mulberries this week.

Going "round and round the mulberry bush" in a mental sort of way.

Over and over.


Not because I'm hungering for mulberries, but because I'm remembering...

This may be a key memory that taps into a type of fear I've "located" this week.

I'm taking seriously this thought from last week:


I cannot deal with fears in a biblical fashion unless I label them - big and small.

So, I've asked the Lord to reveal some of my fears to me.

Then, this memory of mulberries came to mind.

There was a season during our too-short-stint serving at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya when I was able to purchase cans of imported mulberries at a local market in Nairobi.

They weren't horribly expensive, and they made the best muffins!

One can was just right for a special morning treat of mulberry muffins.


So, on days when I went shopping in Nairobi, I generally picked up one or two cans.

The shelves were always stocked with these very identifiable yellow cans.

Then one day, there were no cans left.

I checked the next time I went to town, and still no more mulberries.

I checked every time for the next 3 years - no mulberries.

We missed our mulberry muffin treats.

For months they had become a regular item on our breakfast menu.

And, it wasn't just mulberries.

It often occurred that you could find something one day, and then...gone.

Sometimes for a season...Sometimes longer.

We went through a season of sugar shortage.

A season of rice shortage.

Those things came back, but never the mulberries.

So, like most people, I learned if it was on the shelves, and I used it regularly, I better purchase the items in quantity; and, since there was no Costco, I created my own "buy-in-bulk" method.


Unfortunately, that mindset began to carry over to other things besides food (clothing, shoes, bathroom products, money, etc); and, unfortunately, even now, living in a country where our markets, stores, and malls are more than adequately stocked, I find myself purchasing more than I need (way more than I need)...sometimes more than I can every use in a lifetime...

In a society that has become minimalistic/simplistic in its preaching, this can be a real issue.

So, wondering why the mulberry-saga popped into my mind this week, I pondered the fear it may have represented.

Here it is:

Fear of Scarcity.
Fear of Want.
Fear of Not Enough.

I recognized this as a real issue in my heart.

I live like that.

If one fits, and I like it - buy two or three.

If it's on the shelves today, it may not be there tomorrow (in America?) - so buy a case.

What if? What if tomorrow, something happens, the world goes to hell in a hand basket, and I am left.....wanting?

The Bible talks about scarcity.

The sage of Proverbs warns us not to be lazy, to tend to business, so that scarcity won't come upon us as an armed robber (Proverbs 24:30-34).


Paul tells us if we want to eat, we must work...

There are principles in place to prevent scarcity.

But, to fear scarcity?

To be anxious about tomorrow?

Jesus says, simply put, don't.


Don't go there.

Why? We have a God who provides for birds of the air and lilies of the field, He will provide for us.

He doesn't tell us this to make us feel guilty.

He doesn't command us to make us miserable.

Jesus' heart, remember, is always for us.

His plans are better - and worry isn't included in "better..."

Don't worry - because God is LOVE.

He says, "I will care for you."

"My name is Jehovah Jireh (I AM HE WHO PROVIDES)..."


Here's the convicting thought that parallels this kind of fear of scarcity...

...Here's what "fear of want" within me is really saying:

"God, you are not enough."

"You are not good."

"You are not generous."

Fear points a finger in God's face, and says, "You are SCARCE."

"YOU have been measured in the balances of my mind and you have come up lacking."

Fear puts me behind the bench as Judge, and, God on trial...


Oh, my soul...

I've been judging my God.

And, it all began on a shelf in a small Nairobi market, when mulberries went missing...

The Scriptures assure me that God takes care of His own.



And the words go even further to promise me that He is not only a provider, but a generous God, a "God-of-so-much-more."


Don't let the missing mulberries in your life, allow you to put God on trial!
Who are we to judge God?