Thursday, July 25, 2019

1 More Way to #bebrave

It sneaks up on you.
Before you know it, it has iron clad fists around your heart.
You're paralyzed.
It's hard to think practical every-day-common-ordinary thoughts, let alone make life changing decisions.
Your mind feels a bit like Hurricane Barry has hit the coast. 

It may start in the brain (which you wish you could shut off), but it quickly turns physical:
- heart palpitations
- sweaty palms
- sleepless nights
- inability to focus
- nauseousness
- difficulty breathing

But, then, there are spiritual side-effects, as well, that leave you totally confused and left wondering if Jesus is sleeping somewhere in the back of your boat. 

You just can't locate the ability to find rest for your soul. 

You know Jesus has promised it, but it's like He's hidden it from you. On top of that, we have to mention the guilt that comes, because if people really knew what was happening inside your soul, they'd brand you "one of those." You know, the "oh-you-of-little-faith Christian..." 

Fear never makes sense. It hits at random, and, always, inappropriate times. 
It answers to several names, you take your pick:

No matter what you call it - it's the same beast.
A giant-of-varied-size who has crossed the battle line and is now invading your personal space.
He taunts, mocks, and tries to call you out. 
Sometimes you feel particularly spunky, and you march out with your sling and stones, but the rocks fall short. The giant doesn't die. He just walks off laughing, and once again, you feel defeat.
His specialty is torment.

I get it.
I've been there.
I still hear his laughter - an echoing ghost from my past.
However, the problem is greater. 
He still steps over my personal red line from time to time.

Not dealt with, this giant starts bringing his brother to the battlefield: Depression. 
Put the two of them together, and you're not only outnumbered, you're pretty sure you'll never see daylight again.

Jesus always contrasted anxiety and fear with faith

I've known that, but something deeper and more practical (& maybe more powerful) is rising out of Scripture as a new weapon of choice. A bigger stone to put in my sling of faith: Fighting fear with fear.

This verse caused me pause this week:

The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied...unshaken (Proverbs 19:23)

Right there. 
Promised rest.
Promised contentment and peace for the soul.
It's in four little words.

One way to fight fear is with fear.
(Please note, I said one way. Not the way, or the only way...)
It takes the right kind of fear, however.
Fear of God.
Meaning...a great respect; deep reverence;'s a better word - AWESTRUCK!

Satan is sneaky.
If he can't get us to give in to blatant denial of God, he'll get us to take God for granted.
Reduce His majesty.
Put Him on a more human level.
I've heard myself say it before, at the risk of being repetitive, I'll say it again: 

When we lose our wonder, we lose our worship.

I looked again at the story where Jesus calmed the storm after the disciples finally woke him in the back of their boat. Here was their response:

And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matthew 8:27)

The disciples marveled over Jesus. That's another way to say they were AWESTRUCK

Jesus left them breathless with wonderment. 

Oh, sometimes, I'm caught off guard by him. Sometimes, I'm thoroughly intrigued by his manifestations of grace toward me. But, it's not often I'm left breathless....and I wonder why not?  After all, the God who paints the skies, orchestrates my life.

The God of Creation cares about every detail of my world. I'm falling into that trap that Satan has set...and I desperately need to fight fear with fear. Otherwise, boldness, confidence, decision-making, even life-fun-events will allude me. I will be the one to miss out. I will be the one with regret. I know this, because I often do. I often am.

This truth has formed in my heart and mind this week: 

The greater my AWE of God, the less my fears have potential to control me. 

It's time for me...perhaps you? reclaim, recapture, relearn the grandeur and wonder that is my God. It's time to recover, reform, yes, redeem my ability to be AWESTRUCK, to live with childlike-wonder.

Really, one of the surest ways to conquer one's fear is to find a greater fear.
And, God is greater than any of our fears!


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'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.



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.

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,




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....


Our country fought for it.

Many died for it.

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



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...


 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.



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: