Purposeful Faith

Category - Worry

What Does Casting Our Cares Even Mean?

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Kids hear everything.

A few days ago I received a reminder of this. Even when we think they’re not listening or won’t be interested in the conversation, they hear. They pay attention. And yes, they take interest.

In the process of running my mouth to my husband on a phone call I thought was private, I transferred worry. My eight-year-old son who should be thinking about Santa Claus or how he’s going to finagle his next piece of candy was worrying about his baby sister instead.

Because I was worrying about his baby sister.

Our fears have a way of spreading, don’t they? Like they’re contagious. We think we’re carrying these burdens by ourselves, as though the weight of them may crush us. And then out of nowhere we see the weight is also being carried by others. Other loved ones. Other friends and members of the church body.

The crazy part though? It isn’t being carried in a way that lightens our load. We don’t feel any release. They’re anxious because we’re anxious. Instead of releasing the burden, we hold onto it, unaware of its virus-like effect.

A few days after the phone call with my husband, we put the kids to bed and sunk into the couch, watching mind-numbing TV on Netflix. He told me our son had confided in him about what he’d heard.

“I’m afraid Elise’s heart rate will drop, Dadda,” he had said.

When my husband asked why he was worried about this, big brother said, “Well, Mama is worried her heart rate will drop, so I’m worried too.”

My heart nearly broke.

I realized my son was becoming a mini version of me, fretting about the unknown neither one of us could control.

I thought about all the time I spent racing down endless trails of what-ifs. Now my son was adapting this habit that would only add to the circles under his eyes. The thought of it made me feel a knot in the pit of my stomach, and it wasn’t his baby sister.

A few days later, my mind went to 1 Peter and his thoughts on anxiety.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

I’ll admit, many times I’ve heard these words and thought, “What does that even mean?” The command seemed good in theory, but putting it into practice was vague and muddled to me.

But this time as pondered the verse, I thought about what Peter did for a living: fish. He cast his net repeatedly out into the water, hoping for a catch that would sustain.

Then I thought about how heavy those nets must have been. Like all of our problems we carry day after day, and how releasing that net must have felt like releasing the weight of the world.

Peter was a skilled fisherman, but once he released his net he ultimately had no control over the outcome. The fish could come or swim away. They could fill his net or fill someone else’s.

Casting our cares carries the same concept.

The cast is the release of control. Instead of fretting and running through endless scenarios in an attempt to micro-manage, we release the problem to God.

All the troubles we carried in our net become God’s to bear. The One who was in control all along takes the weight we were never intended to endure.

When I unknowingly cast my worry on my firstborn, he tried to carry it, but his tiny frame was too small. He was never meant to bear its load, so he and I both had to release it to the One who holds the future.

As we cast our nets, we still can’t see what lies ahead. But we know baby sister will be just fine.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Why Christian’s stay Blind and Struggling

Blind and Struggling

I’ve been praying lately, to be rid of this flesh-eating bacteria. I know, trust me, I know, it sounds weird. And, I guess you wouldn’t even call it a “flesh-eating bacteria,” because it is more like “soul-eating bacteria.” Or maybe a “peace-eating bacteria”. A “night-time sleep-ruining bacteria.

It chases at my heels telling me I should settle tomorrow’s emotions rather than claiming right now’s peace. You too?

Worry.
It smothers hope; making you desire fix-it dope to feel better.
It exchanges the peace of God for fear of _____.
It stunts the muscles God plans to grow during trials.
It debilitates peace.
It corrodes holy.
It eats joy, causing doubt.

This is why I pray so often, “God, I don’t want to worry. I don’t want to continuously think about people or problems one day longer.”

Because these things blind me. 

..Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” Mark 8:22-23

Do you see anything when you worry?

Where does worry incline your eyes?

He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Mark 8:24

People like trees? Jesus, the miracle-maker, the Prince of Peace, the great physician left this man seeing – trees?  Did the greatest healer – fail? What kind of jacked-up miracle was this?

Let’s consider this deeper…
When the blind man opened his eyes, following Jesus’ touch, “He looked up and said, ‘I see people.‘”

Notice: The blind man did not focus on the Man with Power, but the people with none.

The very God before him – he did not see.
But, he what did see was – his issue.

Where do your eyes head 10-minutes after you get with God?

To people? Problems? Predicaments?  

Sometimes our focus prevents us from seeing – and receiving – God’s greatest work. Like a stray lover, we look at everyone but our first love; we miss his best intentions towards us. We can’t see, because we are too busy looking elsewhere. We become infected with the virus of looking-at-man, looking-at-issues or looking-at-distractions. We partially see God, but we mostly do not.

If we focus on people over the person of Jesus, we’ll never see progress. But, if we focus on the person of Jesus, before the face of our problems, we will face peace.

When we:
1. Wake and seek Jesus as our first thought, our day often is established.
2. Pray and expect God to answer, we get excited to see.
3. Look in order to find God we, many times, do.
4. Ask to see the Lord’s handiwork it becomes more obvious.
5. Hope and request to feel his love, it circles.
6. When we believe that God can do the unthinkable, we perceive God can do the unthinkable.

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:25

I don’t believe this man could see because hands were – on his eyes,
but because Jesus was entirely – in his eyes.

When he opened his eyes, the second time, unlike the first time, he didn’t see problem people, but Jesus, all Jesus, the full-force of Jesus in power and glory, standing right before him. You simply cannot come face-to-face with Jesus – you simply cannot let him into your heart – without something miraculous happening.

This man? With the radiant power of Jesus before him, all he could do – was see. For, Jesus, the man known to have eyes like torches (Dan. 10:5-6) opened his vision to a whole new path. A path to recovery. 

He saw everything clearly. Mark 8:25

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10 Lessons: Don’t let Worry Steal Your Joy (One Day Longer)

I spun like a crazed woman on a treadmill, except for the fact that I was actually on an elliptical. My arms moved as if they were ready to punch the world right out of my way. My eyes focused as if I was really going to finally get myself somewhere. My legs moved trying to knee pressing issues right out of the way.

I was the wild gym-goer –
the girl trying to force herself to new ground –
ground that was unattainable to get to.

I kept spinning. Spinning worries. Spinning problems. Spinning up things that could go wrong. Building a whole lot of motion that was moving me nowhere.

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Motion.

In my mind’s dictionary, it means: 
1. Trying to force yourself to go, make progress or get ahead.

In the dictionary of classical mechanics (which, I know by heart – joke!), it means:
      1. A body either is at rest or moves with constant velocity, until and unless an outer force is applied to it.

An outer force? There was no outer force around me, just an inner force, an inner force of doubt driving my pursuits.

I didn’t trust “Outer Force” would work on my timeline, or according to my demands or with my outcome. God may have some answer like, “Kelly, wait.” Or, “Kelly, my will is being done.”

I get frustrated with those kinds of answers. I get internally irate and put an arm up – choosing worry over wonder.
Do you?

Pumping. Sweating. Pressing in – to my more. I considered God.

And, as if the clouds parted and my mind hit some new parallel of peace, it landed – softly.

Worry Steal Your Joy

I watched him through the giant window. Chilling. Eating. Laughing, almost, at me. He came to teach me something.

10 Lessons Taught by A Bird:

1. Don’t ever forget this verse when you start to worry: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)

2. God doesn’t look at his answers for us as limited, but unlimited. Just as the birds pluck for ample food on the ground, so does God have ample food for me.

3. Life is not feast or famine; it is a continual feast I have to choose to believe in. The birds don’t walk heads down, they walk heads high, knowing God is right about ready to deliver them to their next feed.

4. It doesn’t matter what everyone else has.

Worry Steal Your Joy

God has intentionally mined the ground with “glorious riches in Christ Jesus” meant just for me. (Phil 4:19)

5. There is no need to bump up against other people who don’t do what they should. God has them on their own path for food and joy.

6. There is an invitation by God to frolic and fancy life. In between his great providence, there is a game of “chase” going. We can join in like a little baby bird, who knows life is short and troubles pass.

7. What looks like a dark, vast covering of trees before you, is really just a call to adventure. It is the place you fly into knowing that God is going to take you on a ride that will thrill you. You just have to grab onto his carpet and let him lead.

8. Be present and be calm. Birds don’t have one dang concern about pending storms or world issues. I don’t see them building bunkers or walking around with defensive artillery. It seems they let go of threats that surround them – and let God ground them.

9. To see God everywhere is to see peace, joy and answers abound. Birds keep looking. They move their head left and right like little pendulums. Somehow, I guess, they are soaking things in.

Worry Steal Your Joy

10. We see life through the vantage point of me, myself and I, yet God’s view is sky-high – like a bird sees. There are things up there we can’t see. Probably, things that would blow our mind – disappointments that were used by God to create divine appointments, things like that. It’s a symphony of eternity; it reverberates beyond us.

These birds. They speak to me – almost – singing, “You gotta trust the bird’s eye view to get through.”

My velocity and intensity settle. My arms feel like they can finally be – at rest. I look and soak it all in.

Worry Steal Your Joy

God has this.

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Letting Go of Imaginary Worries

Worries

Post By: Angela Parlin

I used to think I didn’t struggle much with worry.

And then I became a Mom a decade ago. Suddenly there were so many what ifs to contend with. My imagination easily ran off to terrifying places, thinking two steps ahead of them, often fearing the worst.

Sometimes still, I get caught up in a whirlwind of worry, even though I know I don’t get to control things. Even though my trust in God has grown.

Shakespeare said cowards die a thousand deaths, and the brave die only one. I’ve heard a variation of his quote, which rings true for me:

“Some people die a thousand deaths before they die one.”

(Author Unknown)

I know the truth of my thoughts and my imaginations. I don’t tend toward bravery, but fear. How many deaths have I died in my head, or how many deaths have I feared for my loved ones?

What about you? Do you get trapped in worry? Have you grieved for those you haven’t even lost? Do you try to figure out the future, even though you have no power there?

When I’m stuck in worry, my best response is to turn each concern into a prayer, and to listen.

I am God, He says.

I am a good God, He says.

Trust me, He says.

He calls me to hand over all of my concerns to Him, each time they find their way back into my mind.

He calls me to bring my life before Him, to bring my loved ones’ lives before Him, day after day, and to place them in His hands.

He calls me to come to Him in prayer, to lay out the pieces of my life, to entrust it all to Him.

He calls you to all of the same.

When worry takes over, what we need most is to find our way back to the quiet, to fix our eyes upon Jesus once more. There, He speaks kindly to us, transforming and renewing our minds.

There, peace takes over, and worry morphs into trust.

We stop trying to carry our hurts, our struggles, our pain on our own.

We stop trying to bear our burdens–both our real ones and our imaginary ones–apart from the God who holds the whole world in His hands.

And when the worries return, as they often do, the Lord invites us to trust Him again, because He is God and He is good.

Some people die a thousand deaths before they die one, and I don’t want to be that person anymore. Lord, help us to live in peace instead of worry, to trust you with all the pieces of our lives.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you; I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid. John 14:27

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

 

 

Are You Stuck Waiting?

Waiting for Help

I could feel it – but I didn’t want to “feel” it. I didn’t want to deal. I didn’t have time for it.

I was too busy living days of baby insanity –
coping with a screamer who didn’t know night from day or day from night,
that mom sometimes needs 5-minutes without high-pitched wails and
that spit-up is actually the worst kind of perfume.

Babies don’t get all that.

So, even though my legs were going numb and my vision was faltering, I ignored it. Even though it seemed I was wearing 3-D checkerboard glasses of black & white, I said, “Plug on! Mamma, ain’t got time for that.”

Pull, it together, body, you can do it. We have feedings, poopings and sleepings to handle. 

But, as avoidance always does, it catches up; it grabs an just an inch of your leg and doesn’t let go.  It always leaves you with the stark reality of all that is happening and a feeling that you won’t survive.

The words Multiple Sclerosis hit me like a freight train. I longed for those spaces of denial once again. Safe spaces. Known spaces. Comfortable spaces. But, I found myself in hated spaces – waiting rooms.

My waiting rooms turned into fearing rooms with cool magazines and no windows.

My waiting rooms turned into holding cells where worst-case dreams come true.

My waiting rooms turned into agony for ones who hate being hurt.

And, the thing about waiting rooms, is they don’t have to be windowless to trap you. They don’t have to be small to make you claustrophobic with the thought you will never breathe the same again.

I waited to be tested to see if I was going to spend a good part of my life in a wheelchair, to see if the face of my life would be forever changed and tested by God for who knows why.

I wanted to say, “I trust you,” but all I could mutter was “set me free.”  
I wanted to say, “your will be done,” but all I could think was “change my situation.”
I wanted to say, “help all the other people with issues that sit around me,” but I could only whisper “get me out of this torture chamber.”  

Aren’t we all stuck in a place of wait – in one way or another? 

Waiting.
Waiting for a cure.
A release.
A pain to go away.
Deliverance from finances.
A Job Solution.
Children Worries.
Fears.
Family dysfunction.
Relationships.
A legal issue.
An unreachable dream.
A let down.

We are all waiting.

Our waiting rooms can make us feel like an imposition, relying on a paper prescription, that keeps us focused on our affliction. Our waiting rooms seem to hold us captive by an assailant who says, “You will never come through. I will get you.” Our waiting rooms become fights against life, where we always become the projected loser.

What do you when everything is breaking?

When your very body can’t seem to deal with life?

For me, my screaming baby midnight hall walks, turned into screaming midnight baby prayer talks. I called from the depths of my heart for a “great fixing” of all that was wrong. So did my husband, so did countless others.

Sometimes, all you have left to do is pray.

And, sometimes, all you needed to do was pray.

Prayer opens the waiting room door to the Great Physician.

His healing work may not always bind up broken bodies,
but it is always binds up broken hearts.

His surgeries always work,
always bring newness, always surface peace.

His work turns fearing rooms into hoping rooms –
because he clears new room for love.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 Jo. 4:18

My doctors were positive of MS.  My symptoms said yes, but test after test after test – after multiple MRI’s – they still couldn’t fully diagnose me.   So, what was a certain reality, became certainly “not MS.”

God hears prayers. Miracles can – and sometimes do – happen.  But, sometimes the greatest miracle is not the answer to the prayer, but God’s answer in to what plagued our heart. 

He always goes for the greatest healing.

So, don’t give up because you think the great physician has left the office.
Don’t give up because you feel forgotten.
Don’t give up because he is attending to others first.
God has the perfect course of action for you.
He hasn’t forgotten you.
He asks you, will you trust me?
Will you believe that in this wait I have something amazing for you?

And, as we do, he does something amazing.

He changes it all.

Our fearing rooms turn into trusting rooms.
Our holding cells turn into praying cells.
And, our fear turns into a deep knowledge God is near.

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Rubbed Raw with Worry

raw with worry

When I saw it, I immediately knew something was wrong.

The A, B, Cs where there. I was anxious, burdened and out-of-control as I cast my eyes on what was asymmetrical, border-weird and color not-normal.

My days of laughs in the sun,
felt like they were being exchanged for tears at the mirror
as I looked at my back from every angle known by man.

The possibility of cancer, the pain of removal and the fear how long it had been there swung like a wrecking ball in my chest. Whatever was resurrected for Jesus, was all broken today.

Have you ever noticed that,
a heart that dwells on the looming possibilities of fear,
tumbles down the great possibilities of God?

I’ve noticed.

It’s a pack-up-your bags, furious move from residing under the shadow of God’s wing to living in a battle-soaked village of doom and gloom.

The more I looked at that mole, the more I knew I had to do something. So, I picked at it. Then, I started to rub. With no progress, I grabbed the great tool of exfoliating cream and dug into it.

This thing was coming off!
I rubbed some more…

Until all that remained was the bloodied marker of all that was threatening me
and an open sore filled with discouragement and embarrassment.

That’s how it is with worry, isn’t it?

The more we move the chair of our thoughts back and forth over that same spot,
the more we dig deep tracks of distrust into our heart.

We rub, and rub and rub – the same spot.

The more we dig deep these tracks of distrust,
the more we follow these ill-conceived tracks to illogical solutions.

We rub with exfoliating cream.

We ruin the floor of our faith with the imaginations of our future. We take action to things only God had the best action for.  What ruminates in our mind, dominates in our life.

Then we ask:

God, where are you? 
God, why did you let this happen? 
God, do you not care? 
God, are you going to let _____ happen?

It’s like we allow our all-powerful problems
convict our seemingly low-power god –
a god who is entirely lacking in the love department.

We get squinty-eyed at the one who loves us most. We do what we don’t want to do.

God, return my heart and my presence back to you. I am sorry.

Confession is the flashlight to clarity.

Worry doesn’t stop what destroys, it just steals joy.

Worry self-centers us. People, needs and ministry move to the outskirts.

Worry erases the idea that we are living for God’s glory, his plan and his will.
It makes invisible the prayer, “Thy Will be done.”

Worry is like a bouncy ball stuck in a box, it will keep you up all night and get you nowhere.

Worry places our eyes on our present problems, rather than our present God.

What do I really believe?

Do I believe God is an all-sufficient problem handler or
do I believe that he is absent, I am all alone, in the woods, by myself, fending against all my worst fears by the strength of my own might?

Is God the warrior or am I?

The truth is: God has us, he won’t let us go, he has a plan, he will bring us through all pain, he will provide for our every need, he will not forsake us, he will never let us go, he will not let our foot slip, he will pick us up if we fall, he will guide us through suffering as he has suffered, he will bring glory to our pain, he will lead others to know him through our trials.

But the real question is, do I believe this deep down -where it counts?

Hearts that believe God is good, give thanks for their good God.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil. 4:6

Thanks breathes in God and exhales bitterness.
Thanks makes us see all we have versus all we could lose.
Thanks brings into remembrance all of his past faithfulness.
Thanks puts into perspective our present perspective.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:7

What can you find to be thankful for?

What praise can you immerse your one-track mind in
so that you don’t rub yourself raw
with feelings of God-has-left-me?

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Overcome The Real Enemy of Worry

Overcome the Enemy of Worry

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“Mommy, can you just be with me.”

The look in his eyes, says it all – he is worried and scared about the perceived “real enemy” on TV.

Fear and worry fills his face, but, my son seems to know that having mommy next to him makes all the difference.

He knows that with the presence of a parent, he is safer.
That the TV is not real and that his mommy is.
That nothing can come against when is mommy is there.

I love both his faith in me and his desire to draw near to me in this moment.

But, I wonder am I this way when I come face-to-face with worries?

Do I choose to sit with the enemy and dwell on his tactics
or do I choose to sit with my Father and dwell on his goodness?

Do I choose to let God protect me, guard me and speak truth into my soul
or I do I choose to let the show and all it’s details play on and on and on? 

Do I choose to sit with the fear-consuming, worry-ravaging, all-powerful Father 
or do I choose a screen that replays my worst fears,
my worst case scenarios and my enemy’s worst threats?

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Ps. 16:8)

I keep my eyes on the Lord!  I. WILL. NOT. BE. SHAKEN.

Eyes on God can’t have eyes on problems.
Eyes beholding nature’s beauty can’t be beholding life’s injustices.
Eyes beholding God’s love can’t be beholding the world’s hate.
Eyes beholding God’s truth in a still moment, can’t be running circles in fear.

When we have our eyes set on God’s perfect love, and we receive it in a moment of close embrace, fear is cast out. (1 Jo. 4:18).

The presence of God that sits with us when we fear, gives us a new perspective on what looms near.  His presence confirms to our soul – we are his.

By faith he (Moses) left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. (Heb. 11:27)

Moses seemed to know God is “Emmanuel” – meaning, “God with us”.  He seemed to know, when God is with us, nothing can come against us.

When we dwell on God’s nearness, worry fades and strength pervades.

Moses knew he could move forward with “God with him”; He could persevere verses cower in fear.

He saw the one who is right there.
Always present.
Always helping.
Always leading.
Always loving.
Always protecting.
Always giving.

Do we see “God with us” in our problems? Do we allow his real and powerful presence to cast aside all our worries?

Because when we pull near, he is there and there is no room left for fear. His love pulls up and fills us up – in a real and powerful way. Then, worry has to leave.

Suddenly, we overcome the face of fear through the power of faith.
We know he is closer than any looming disaster and more powerful than they enemy.
We see him with us as we go through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4).
We remain in God – and he remains with us.  (John 15:4-5)

Worry and worship aren’t friends. When one comes, the other leaves. Stillness and a racing mind don’t hold hands either. One runs away from the other.

When we choose “God with us”, we seemingly find our way of escape, our protector, our strength, our hope, our defense. We can trust he is working all things out for his purposes, which are always good.

Enemies can try to come against, but when God is with us, we send their bags packing, because God wins every time.

Dear friend, I know what it is like to worry. I know the pain, I know the agony and I know the despair, but today, God is calling you to something greater. God is calling you to get real, honest and transparent; he is calling you to bask in his presence.

Will you call him near as the screen of life portrays images that invoke fear?  He offers the ultimate protection.

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Today, I linkup with #LiveFreeThursday and Five Minute Friday.

The Gift of God-With-Us

Post by: Angela Parlin

For a couple months, we’ve looked forward to hosting two sisters, who are orphans, in our home this Christmas. We selected clothes for them to wear, rearranged bedrooms, stocked up on groceries, and scheduled outings. We shopped for Christmas gifts, wrapped them all in red and black glittery paper, and hid them in a closet.

It’s been great fun, preparing for Christmas and getting ready to welcome these little ones into our family for a month.

But then, this week happened, the last week before they arrive. You wouldn’t believe how many things went wrong. (As in, not according to plan.) My stomach feels knotted up. I’ve had to remind myself to breathe. I’m having a really hard time slowing down, especially enough to pray.

We’ve known all along that this could be an amazing month–or it could be a very difficult month. But it’s like this news just now caught up to my insides, for the first time. All the concerns, what ifs, and fears floated to the surface.

I want to look forward with faith, to anticipate great things from God. I don’t want to feel so incapable, or worry about details. I don’t want to give fear some big, shouty platform in my life.

But I don’t feel I have much control over my anxiety right now. So last night, I put myself to bed early. But first, I read a chapter of Luke, where an angel tells Mary she’ll give birth to Immanuel (God With Us). And then I fell asleep thinking about something he told her:

The Lord is with you.

We need that reminder, don’t we? Because sometimes, we know it in our heads, but we live as if we’ve completely forgotten.

Today, I’m still fighting anxiety, so I looked up some places where the Bible repeats this truth, The Lord is with you.

I read about Jacob, who dreamed of a stairway between heaven and earth, where the Lord stood and clearly said to him, I am with you. He woke up and realized, The Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. (Genesis 28)

I can relate. Can you? I have not felt the Lord with me this week. I’ve fixed my eyes on my concerns and to-do lists, more than I’ve fixed my eyes on Jesus. But the Lord is in this place, in this week, even when I don’t feel that way.

I read about Moses, when he considered himself unqualified to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God said, I will be with you (Exodus 3), and then showed Himself to Moses in so many visible and miraculous ways.

I found numerous reminders of God’s nearness in the Psalms. The Lord is near to His children; The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. (34) God is an ever-present help in trouble. (46) The Lord is near to all who call on Him. (145)

I read parts of Isaiah, where the prophet shares these words from the Lord—So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41)

I read about when Jesus arrived in this world, as God-With-Us in the flesh. And then before He left again, He told His followers–Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28)

I could keep going, keep on finding this truth repeated.

The Word of God offers us this beautiful gift—The Lord is with you. It’s a truth we need to remember, and a truth we need to act on.

Whatever your struggle this Christmas, whatever your anxiety, whatever your pain, whatever difficulties you face, please remember this, friend–the Lord is with you. So take your concerns to Him!

God’s Word promises:

  • He will give you rest.
  • He will fill you with peace.
  • He will help you.
  • He will strengthen you.
  • He will give you what you need.
  • He will uphold you.

May we remember, the Lord is with us. Let’s unwrap the gift of God-With-Us this Christmas.

~Angela Parlin

ang3

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos. 

3 Proven Tactics to Let Go of Fear

Let Go of fear

Sometimes we see life gearing up to deliver a punch that we think can take us down. We see it winding back, we see it gaining power and we immediately know what to do – we get afraid.  We curl up in a ball of fear – aggravated, tormented and usually alone.

Why? Because we see every detail of the punch- the blood, the anguish, the embarrassment and the feelings.  And we know one thing is for sure – we are in for it.

I can’t even begin to tell you the places my mind has wandered, the things I believed would come true and the ditches I thought I would be in.  I was the queen of fear and I still struggle with it today to a degree.  My fears would stop me in my tracks.  They would consume my mind.

But, I noticed, when I was fearing, it was impossible to be worshipping.  When I was worrying, I couldn’t be glorifying.  When I was plotting, it was impossible to be loving.   Fear consumed my mind – and I turned inward. I became all about me.  Because of this, I knew I had to change.

Fear was holding me back from God’s plan. If I was so consumed with fear, I couldn’t be consumed with his calling.  I couldn’t be consumed with his glory. I could only be consumed by how bad the blows of life would hit me.  My fear made me motionless, serviceless, useless and passionless.  Fears depleted me.  

How often do we let the unknown consume our minds?  How often do we let it trick us into thinking we can control it?

Somehow we think that by worrying, we are gaining control over the situation.  It’s almost like we think we have power to change the unchangeable.  Until we come face to face with the reality that we aren’t in control – and then we fear more.

So, can we take charge of this bully called “fear” and prevent it from ruling us? From mocking us?  From pushing us around?

I have tried every trick in the book to combat fear: the imagine-the-worst-case-scenario trick, the worries-only-happen-99%-of-the-time strategy and the just-don’t-fear approach – I have tried it all. None worked.

But, there is one approach that helped me to stand up to this bully called fear – and I think it will help you too.  But, in order to be successful at this, you have to get ready to feel like an underdog. You have to see yourself for what you are – a small warrior.  And, you have to relate to another small guy who gets your predicament  – David!

Little David stood up against one big bad bully named Goliath.   Could he have cowered in fear?  Yes. Could he have walked away from God’s mission because it was scary?  You bet.  Could he have told the Israelites to get out here in fight instead of him?  Absolutely. But he didn’t.

David fought what could have been decapitating fear in 3 ways:

1. He remembered and drew strength on God’s faithfulness in the past.
The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (1 Sam. 17:37)

God was faithful to him in the past, and he would be faithful to him today.

2.  He looked up to the One Giant larger than the giant.

He looked upon the strength of his Lord, not at the strength of his arms.
He looked at the power of his God, not the power of the obstacle in front of him.
He looked at the might of the Almighty, not at the might of other possible fighters.
He knew that nothing could stand against the power of the living, working, powerful armies of God.

“…Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam 17:26)

3.  He didn’t listen to the naysayers.  He didn’t look at the circumstances.  He didn’t let who he was hold him back from what God had set before him.

“But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” (1 Sam. 17:28)

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” (1 Sam. 17:33)

If you are not fearing something today, you likely will be tomorrow.

What if you were to approach the looming punch differently?  What if instead of cowering down to the giant bully called “fear”, you choose to do something differently?

Imagine for a moment, a little boy.  He stands before the meanest, baddest, strongest bully the school has ever seen.  But, for some reason this boy stands smiling.  This boy stands proud, fearless and courageous.  He stands strong.

We might wonder why?

He is able to let go of fear, because he sees something the other kid cannot – his own Father.  His father stands directly behind the bully and he stands waiting to help his son, to protect him and to ensure the right outcome to this situation.

And, your father is standing right behind your giants too.  Maybe you can’t see him today, but he is there.  Maybe you can’t feel him right now, but he is there.

If you believe God is right there for you, could you approach your giant differently?

There is no giant bigger than the giant of God.

Rather than running to hide, living anxious or cowering in fear, look to Him to gain strength.  See how he has delivered you in the past.  Lean on his faithfulness.  Don’t let naysayers intimidate you or circumstances rule you.  God will deliver you when you trust him.

Our God is greater.  Our God is stronger.

God will put the giants of your life into perspective.  He Is. They aren’t. With God, we can let go of fear.

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10 Bible Verses For Hard Times (Part II)

In Part 1, When Life Gets Hard, we saw the life’s wreckage from a different vantage point.  But, it is one thing to see something from a different perspective and quite another to live changed.  So, how do we live out the truth that we are being remade, renewed and recharged?  We go to the Word of God, the Word that is sharper than a 2-edged sword. Let’s take a look at 10 bible verses for hard times to understand what the Lord wants you to believe as you are being transformed.

 

10 BIBLE VERSES FOR HARD TIMES:

1.  We can look to the world to fill our needs – but only God completely fills.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” Phil 4:1

2. We may tend to forget things, but God never forgets anything – especially you.
“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Psalm 31:8

3. Need Help?  God has sent the Spirit, the ultimate Helper.
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” John 14:6

4. The word “Provider” is defined in the Name of God.
“They all wait for You To give them their food in due season. You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.” Psalm 104:27-28

5.  God is the ultimate Comfort in a time of need.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

6. The world can tremble, but God still remains sturdy.  He is our strength.
“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn…” Is. 54:17

7. God is our hope in what seems like a hopeless world.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

8. God will give you a future and an eternal home; this has already been secured.
“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” Ps. 16:5

9. When you feel troubled, God will help you a time of trouble.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

10. God offers wisdom, when you have none.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

These 10 Bible Verses for Hard Times illustrate that God stands ready to help us. Even though life may seem like it is crashing before us – God has a plan in the midst of the chaos.

When all else is stripped away – when life breaks down to it’s very core – we see the making of our vehicles.  We see our maker. We see the foundation.  We see God.  We see what is important.  We see what is valuable. We see Christ’s power on the cross.

So, fear not.  Fear not!  Keep your eyes on Him.

Fall into his arms. Rest in Him.  Let him helicopter you out of your personal crash site so that you can view all the little pieces with fresh eyes.

What you will see is beauty.  What you will see is that all the little pieces – broken pieces – are just his way of putting you back together as a new creation. A new you that is being transformed into his image (2 Cor. 3:18).  A new you that lifts others to new heights in their time of need.  A new you that sees your life from a new perspective.

Renewal is not always in our timing.  God sanctifies us according to his timeline – his perfect timeline.

From personal experience, I can assure you – God is the master mess cleaner.  He leaves us sparkling with a new spirit, a new spring in our step a new passion in life.  He gives us more than we ever had.  I have seen this happen and I know it to be true.  God will be faithful in creating a new “you”!

Know, God will not abandon you in the midst of your collision.  He will take care of you.  I promise and more importantly – He promises!  He not only promises, but he delivers! Cling onto these 10 Bible Verses for Hard Times.

 

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