Thursday, June 27, 2019

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


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.




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!


Don't stop reading there.

I've never thought of my friend as stupid.


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!


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 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...


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?


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?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fear, International Travel, God's Word, and #bebrave (plus a few pictures from Uganda)

(somewhere over the Swiss Alps - breath-taking!)

Read this, heard this, discovered this...........somewhere along the way on this journey of #bebrave:

"The first step to over-coming your fears is to locate them."

Understandable, right?

We can't begin to go to God's Word to find His Manna for today if we don't know the specifics (if you didn't read last week's blog, please do...).

Truth will mean nothing, God's words of comfort won't go deep, if we are less than honest.

We can't pray specifically, asking Him to help us be over-comers, if we don't know what we want...

Remember Blind Bartemaus?

The question Jesus asked him is still the question He is asking us:

Behind that question is a statement Jesus is making: Consider this carefully!

Behind that question is another question: Do you really want help?

So, I'm pondering this thought.

What are the specifics surrounding my fears, worries, anxieties....and those things that leave me cycling in discouragement (a sense of hope-less)...when they appear on the horizon of my world?

Travel internationally and you'll discover plenty.

I do. I did on this last trip.

(overlooking Kampala, Uganda and Lake Victoria)

My stomach starts getting tied in knots as soon as I pull out the suitcases.

What if I don't pack the right things?

What if I forget something I need - important things like medicines for some unknown sickness, battery charger, the right clothes, gifts, notes for messages (for Heaven's Sake! - Literally!)...

Did I remember my Passport?  Don't laugh. I did once, and had to cancel a trip because the passport was in Colorado and I was in Arizona.

What if I take the wrong thing and they won't let me in the country? Again, don't laugh, some countries won't let you inside the gates if you've packed anything that slightly resembles camouflage (or Army green)...

Did I remember to fill out all the right paperwork for a Visa?

What if I miss a flight, because of a delay?

I think you get the idea.

(just a few of the homes on our way to church the first Sunday morning)

One of my greatest fears is FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN...

Ed Welch says this:

"Listen to your fears. Listen closely. There is usually a theme of control about them."

What a jerk!

But, the jerk is, oh! so! right!

Life is just plain risky.

And, the truth of the matter is that no matter how many packing lists I make; no matter how much time I give myself between connecting flights when I make the reservations; no matter how many precautions I take to plan ahead; I can't control life.

More precisely, I am not God.

Even though my fears tell me so.

(the predominantly Muslim neighborhood where one of the churches where we spoke is located)

Levi Lusko has written, "Fear often says, 'God I don't trust YOU! I think I can do better..."

He adds, "As with most fear, my false allegiances are identified."

Enter Max Lucado to say a word or two:  It's true. Control freaks are the most fearful.

This last trip to Uganda - on the outbound - everything that could go wrong, essentially did.

It was an exercise in understanding Murphy's Law.

It was an exercise in giving up control.

("God is Our Strength" Preschool, teaching Secular & Islamic theology)

Interestingly enough, the morning we left, the Lord spoke in my quiet time. 

That morning, I read two different passages of Scripture on my list of #bebrave Bible Verses.

The first set of Scriptures is found in Phillipians 4:4-6.

It was the word "gentleness" that stopped me that morning as I sat in the Durango airport, before we had even boarded our first flight.

What does gentleness have to do with anything in the process of working through anxiety?

Well, everything, it turns out.

Gentleness:  the ability to be tolerant in the slightest to biggest deviations of life.

Why? The Lord is NEAR...

There it is again: Being aware of God's Presence is so important in the midst of fear and worry.

I didn't know it then, but the Lord was speaking "tolerance" to my soul.

So, then I turned to Tim Keller (God's Wisdom for Navigating Life).  Keller gave me three characteristics of wisdom. A wise follower of the Lord exhibits each of these:




Little did I know I would need to whisper these words to my ever-growing-anxious-heart over the course of the next 55 hours (an unpleasant new record set in overseas travel)!

But preach 'em, I did...and put into practice, yep, did that, as well!

AND, the peace of God which passes all understanding guarded my heart!

He will yours, too.

But, until you know where your fears lie, God's words of comfort will not reach down into the depths of your soul and set up a guard station against fear and anxiety.

May your fears drive you to the WORD, so it can do it's mighty WORK!