So Long Fear

God never meant for us to live in fear.

He came to give us an abundant life. Abundant joy. Abundant peace. Abundant blessings.

A focus and perspective based on His promises found in His Word (the Bible) seems to be the sole source of finding this said peace and joy that we are all seeking in this moment of uncertainty and it is apparent in a life right with God.

Right with God, meaning you’re humble enough to admit your flaws and determined enough to honor Him with your life and be obedient to His Will.

His Will is not for us to succumb to fear, especially media-driven, in the financial, relational, and physical and mental health areas of our lives, but instead be meek enough to trust God highly cares for us and is working all things for our good despite the chaos along the way.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:5‭-‬7 NIV

The people I admire most are those who seem cool under pressure. It’s like no matter how hard their lives get they don’t get stressed. Instead of where you would usually find uneasiness, a prominent presence of peace lies in its place.

It’s peculiar yet at the same time, refreshing.

This is the advice I am taking during all the chaos, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:5‭-‬7 NIV

May it help you too, friend.

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Be The Change

How is it easy for you to be so kind to people,” she asked her momma.

“You of all people have every right to be mean,” she finished.

“My precious girl, it’s because I have been treated so meanly that kindness comes so easily,” she smiled as she pulled her daughter close and kissed her forehead.

Moral: Be the change you want to see in the world.

If You Want Love

We often hear how the greatest virtue is love. Love our God above everything else, love your neighbor as yourself, love your wife as Christ loves the church, wives honor and respect your husband, love and nurture your children- love, love, just love. 

We are told we show God love by our obedience to Him. We attend church. We tithe. We read our Bibles. We follow protocol and obey but why do we feel so empty inside? If obedience is the sole factor, shouldn’t we be the happiest of people? However, there are many in this life filled with gaping holes caused by loneliness.

But we are obedient. 

How in the world do we still not feel loved? We are constantly seeking validation. We search for a glimmer of hope that our existence matters. How can this be if we are being obedient?  I mean we tithe, attend church services regularly, apply ourselves to serving, fulfill positions, read God’s Word and even pray. Our existence matters. But why are so many still seeking to be loved?

While obedience is the vessel through which love flows, the heart has to pump it through. They go side by side, one cannot function wholly without the company of the other helping it along.  If all we do in our families and churches is simply following protocol- we are not really serving or acting in love but out of obligation. I believe one can be obedient but not have his heart in it. What I am talking of is when as parents we have to ask our child to do something and they grumble or complain, but do it anyway. They obeyed but their heart wasn’t there. 

“Hear the word of the Lord , you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah!  “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord . “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.  When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.”

Isaiah 1:10‭-‬13 NIV

Why would one just be obedient and not involve love, you might ask?

Our culture has become calloused. We have bullied each other with our careless comments and smart aleck remarks we’ve caused the sensitivity we all have in us to go into hiding. We have erected these walls that come across impenetrable because we feel we have to hide and protect what we hold in. We are so consumed with protecting said walls, that we fail to notice the walls of those around us who may be crumbling or have completely fallen. We don’t care. I mean we do, but we don’t want the vulnerability to hit us so we focus on our own walls. It’s safe behind them we feel. 

These scenarios I am seeing everywhere. God and I have had some serious talks. Actually He shows me a person, He asks me to observe, then things start coming to my mind scriptural and secular further deepening what He wants me to take note of. 

I am seeing brokenness and the crazy thing is,  I see it in a lot of Christian people whom I love. 

All I can ask God is why. 

Love is painful. It constantly wants to manifest itself in us but demands change in order to have room. Love demands change. Change of schedules, plans, dreams, goals, priorities, objectives, and our focus. You never can have too much love. God is love and He never gives more than you can carry. But love is tough. The renewing of our minds in constant communication renders the tender love we all crave and are seeking. We want to be loved but we don’t want to hurt. We don’t want it to cost us and because we are so afraid to lay aside our egos and expose our inner beings. The walls we’ve built feel safe. They are what we know and to tear them down scares us to death. 

We don’t give deep, genuine love and therefore do not receive it in return. 

NF has a song God brought to my mind when thinking on this issue, this chorus has revived itself over and over in my mind lately. 

 

If you want love, you gon’ have to go through the pain

If you want love, you gon’ have to learn how to change

If you want trust, you gon’ have to give some away

If you want love, if you want love”

 

A long time ago you would hear of testimonies in church on a regular basis. People would share their tragic stories and how God had brought them healing, they would also often share how God answered their prayer. It was common. You looked forward to it in service, well, I suppose I should speak for myself. Honestly, aside from the Bible being read, the testimonies were my favorite part of the service. Why? 

Because people were real. Their hearts were full of worship because of what God had done in their lives. I remember many times people telling of their testimonies and their hearts, as well as those who heard their story,  would align in beautiful unison that only the glory of God could orchestrate. Imagine all hearts in one unison. Life change happens when real moments erupt. 

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

1 Corinthians 13:1‭-‬7 NIV

Let us be vulnerable, not in pseudo humbleness but in genuine humility. 

God has given us all groups (family, church, school, work, the bus stop…) to grow us. Simply following protocol won’t save a soul nor will it grow yours either. You want fulfillment? Love obediently hard. Love obediently deep. Just love. 2-23-2020

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Don’t Do Better

God has always sought to dwell among His people. In Exodus it was in the Tabernacle, today His Holy Spirit dwells in every believer.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 

Have you ever had a situation in your life that you were trying to silence, trying to rid yourself of,  a habit you were trying to stop and it seemed no matter how great your intention to do so you never got anywhere? You told yourself you would do better over and over again, yet you find yourself in the exact same place. 

This phrase, “It’s not about doing better, it’s about being obedient,” has been given to me this week and it has been a game changer. I did not create this verse. There’s no way I could have so I know God has spoken to me because when I meditate on this phrase I am strengthened. The defeat and guilt I felt from seemingly not being able to “do better” has been replaced with a solution.

If we say we are going to do better, it leaves room for making excuses as to why you didn’t do better. And if you’re somewhat better than yesterday you justify why you didn’t fully stop by saying, “Hey, at least I was better.” Don’t do better just be obedient. 

Let me explain. In raising 4 kids I have several examples of this in play. One of my kids had a very hard time not telling the truth. Each time they were caught, they’d cry and said they’d do better only to do it again.  It happened so often they began feeling like a failure and not very well of themselves. I was burdened for them as I know the struggle behind a liar. You get caught in a habit and it’s hard to stop but when given this phrase mentioned earlier, this child sprung back to life with vigor and you know what? The lies have indeed lessened. 

 

It’s not about doing better, it’s about being obedient.

 

When reflecting on this thought a couple verses from the song Come Alive in The Greatest Showman sung by Hugh Jackman (love this man’s voice by the way) came to my mind. 

I will share it: 

“You stumble through your days

Got your head hung low

Your skies’ a shade of grey

Like a zombie in a maze

You’re asleep inside

But you can shake away

‘Cause you’re just a dead man walking

Thinking that’s your only option

But you can flip the switch and brighten up your darkest day

Sun is up and the color’s blinding

Take the world and redefine it

Leave behind your narrow mind

You’ll never be the same.”

Listen to the song (click this)

Remember, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (abundantly). John 10:10” 

Maybe I am not the only one struggling to silence a habit I want out of my mortal fibers and you are there in that place as well. I hope the phrase I feel God has given me (It’s not about doing better, it’s about being obedient)  as ammunition to defeat this situation of mine helps you, too. 

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Radiate

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant of the law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. 

When Aaron and all the Israelites  saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai. When Moses finished speaking to them, he put the veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would out the veil back over his face until he went to speak to the Lord. Exodus 34: 29-35 NIV

As I sit here thinking of these verses, this scene unfolds in my mind. Moses is descending the mountain carrying two stone tablets. I imagine the people noticing him when he reaches the bottom and coming towards them. I imagine them stopping whatever they are doing at staring right at Moses. He notices. Note: I firmly believe this bit of scripture is not of vanity. Moses isn’t bragging on himself in these books.(The first five books of the Bible are written by Moses)

This visual illustration raises questions in my own mind, ‘How did it shine and what would that have been like?’ It says Moses was unaware of it so I can eliminate that this radiance was not something felt physically. It must have been bright because so many seen it at once and was afraid.  “But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.’ 

Did it serve as a cloak of authority from God himself so that the laws Moses was about to share with them have credibility? Was Moses’ ability to radiate kind of like an introduction to the people from God? If so, what an entrance. I’m sure it was intimidating. They had been in Egypt more than likely serving Egyptian gods. LIttle did they know of God at this time. Moses had even been fasting for 40 days. I don’t know about you, but two days without food would have me looking like death was at my back door. I would not be radiating nor would I have caught anyone’s attention. 

I believe any time we surrender our needs and wants for the purpose of fellowship with God he bestows on us this same light. In our moments of seeking Him, we are inspired, we are changed, often refreshed, and sometimes strengthened to make it through trials and missions in order to carry out the will God has for our lives. 

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I also believe people notice. Notice that you spend time with God. They watch your life. They may say nothing at all, but believe me, people notice if you have truly have been in communion with Christ as you have a ‘radiance’ that they can’t put a finger on or understand. And I believe, as a true believer, you can not even notice what you project based on your relationship with Christ. I had someone once told me, “It’s hard to be around you because you make me feel so guilty.” That hurt me. I asked if I had done anything wrong in hopes of somehow fixing it. They said, “It’s not you, it’s me.” I have since learned they were dealing with a huge spiritual battle and were involved in some things they were ashamed of. 

I want to radiate Christ like Moses did. I want, what others see in me, to draw them closer to Him. In order to do that, I must stay in obedience and fellowship with Christ. It’s not about me. It’s about Him and His Glory.

Let The See You In ME by JJ Weeks

Set Free To Serve. What?!

Liberty is not the same as license. In other words, we are not free to just do as we like. We have been set free in order to serve. Definitely not the world’s definition of freedom, is it? 

 

True freedom for the Christian is being free to do the things that God wants us to do. Primarily, that means loving others as He loves. It means being servants of one another, just as Christ was to us. (read John 13:3-17).

 

We are now in a position to fulfil God’s law—the Ten Commandments—by loving others. When we love others, we are loving God. When we love others, we are expressing our faith. When we love others, we are communicating the truth to them. When we love others, we are showing them what God is like. When we love others, they can see what true freedom really is.

 

WE HAVE BEEN SET FREE TO LOVE!

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Lots of Christians have their heads full of doctrines and ideas about God, many of which may be quite true. But if they don’t love as He loves, then it’s all pointless. Reading the Bible. praying, going to church, singing in the choir,  being very religious—all of these things have no point to them at all if we are not serving one another in love. 

 

To set out to love takes an act of the will. We have to learn to say, ‘I will love that person’, or, ‘I will serve that person’ -no matter what it costs. That’s hard, and the sin which still dwells in us doesn’t take too kindly to it! However, to love one another is not a hint. It is not a suggestion. It is a command.

 

Not to love one another as we should will inevitably lead to strife in our relationships. If we don’t love, we will do the opposite. We will just go the way the flesh dictates. We will begin to snap at each other. We will get cranky with others, and there will be a tension between us and those we ought to be loving. In the end, it destroys us. Our Christian fellowship collapses.

 

Don’t let this happen to you. Take care that you guard against this danger. All of us are prone to allowing the flesh get the better of us, when we should, in fact, be genuinely loving and serving each other.

 

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Galatians 5:13‭-‬15 NIV

 

I Want To Be Guilty

Our collective Christ-infused hearts should beat for literal widows and orphans, always.

But here’s something to ponder – what about the figurative ones?

What about those who have been widowed from someone or something they dearly loved, and now their days are full of grief?

And what about those who have been orphaned due to a tragedy of some kind, those who now feel utterly alone and cut off from the flow of life?

In a very real sense, we’re talking about the same people – the lonely who are around us on every side.

Our hearts should break for the lonely. God’s heart breaks for the lonely. To come together as the people of God and to be His hands and feet in caring for the lonely could just be the thing that causes the world to stop and look and say “See how they love one another!”

Dear brothers & sisters, let us be accused of something to be proud of, something that generates hope and healing, something that Scripture assures us brings joy to the very heart of our God. Let us be tried and found guilty of but one thing – love, which is the one thing I want to be found guilty of.

Let us love radically.

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Self Reflection Part 2: Intentional

Post prior to this had me talking about self-reflections and how shopping had played the bad counselor in my last 40 years. 

This post will share with you the second realization I have recently come to terms with. 

In December (2019) God kept laying this word on my heart. I couldn’t shake it. 

I have a personal tradition of looking over the entire year of my life come December. I look back over all my pictures, I review posts I’ve made on my blog, I conclude reading through the Bible and reread through my journaling, I look at our finances and business goals. A lot takes place in December. In doing so, I had the word ‘intentional’ in my mind. I know God put it there because I couldn’t quit thinking about why the word kept popping to the forefront of my mind…constantly. 

It’s like my mind won’t calm down until I get an answer. I don’t think I was annoyed, maybe more perplexed to the point I said, “God, you put the word there. I hear it. Why is that my word?”

Not long after my question was asked, I was rereading through project goals. I had seen one particular goal repeated 3 years in a row. I kept glancing it over. Then I got my answer for the purpose of the word ‘intentional’ being in my head. 

“You dream constantly. These dreams are not your own, they are mine. You’re heartbroken and unmotivated when you don’t see these dreams transpire. Why don’t we set some goals and you and I achieve these dreams I have given you.”  Yes, God’s answer came that clearly and I fully understand. See! This is why I said I had more drive for my next 40 years than I did my first.  

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Self-reflection has brought me to two conclusions. I will not shop just to push aside ‘not feeling well’ I will face my feelings head on. Also, I will be intentional in reaching the goals I have set to achieve these dreams God keeps growing in my heart. 

What are some thoughts you have wandering in and out of your mind that constantly weigh on your heart? 

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Self Reflection Part 1: What Do You Say? Is Shopping Therapeutic?

I turn 40 this year. No, I’m not dreading it, if anything I have more ambition and drive to live my next 40 years than I did my first. However, to succeed at making this happen I felt compelled to take some time for self-reflection. In doing so, I have made some discoveries and have a few dreams I’d like to see come to fruition. Needless to say, I have made some goals for the next 40 years.

In self-reflecting I have realized a couple things. 

Realization One. 

When I don’t feel well; stressed, bored or just ill-feeling, I want to shop. This is a behavior I’ve only noticed recently. My niece who is 18 said she has found this to be true of her as well. She said, “They really should call it therapy because it helps.” I agree. But in looking at this truth square in the eye, a red flag has been thrown for me personally.

I am a strong believer in anything I have being the Lords; money & heart especially. But I feel this tendency to self-medicate through shopping has caused me some major disappointments that led to setbacks in the past. For example, the night my brother was called to Afghanistan, there were some things he needed for his family and himself that he didn’t have the money for at that time. I wasn’t feeling well. (code phrase) 

Life had thrown my brother and I both in very opposite directions and we had been torn apart.We had recently reconciled and had begun to start reconnecting. The fear of losing him again had me in panic mode to be honest with you. I told him I would buy him whatever it was he needed. $1300 later, we parted and he headed out to board the plane. At least I knew he had all he needed. The fact is I didn’t care to ask God nor my husband if I should be spending this money. All I knew was my heart hurt, it was scared of losing my brother again, and I wanted it fixed. My brother had a need that I knew I could fix and in helping him it helped me…for a little while.

 A bit later I was on the phone with my husband telling him what had happened. I was so ashamed, even embarrassed of what I had done. It would have been different had I asked but I didn’t even care in the heat of the moment. I learned a hard lesson there. Back then we didn’t have the financials we do now. So it took some time to pay that back. 

The red flag raised in my conscience by this realization has made me intentionally avoid shopping sites. Instead I fill my camera with pictures, I fill my journals with thoughts as well as this blog. When I am not ‘feeling well’ I let my pen bleed for me as it scripts the thoughts and emotions I feel. I make myself face them. Confront them. I don’t hide behind a shopping cart. In-store or online. Not anymore. Just so that I am clear I still shop online but not like mall-shopping. I do use Amazon a whole lot. We do Subscribe & Save monthly shipments to keep us out of the stores.   

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How about you? 

Do you find shopping to be therapeutic enough to mask feelings and emotions? 

If shopping is far from you, how do you “feel better’ when you “don’t feel well?”

 

Dry Spells Are Tough Spells

We are bombarded by Satan’s darts of bitterness, despair, anger and indifference everyday. The attack has been so great and we have endured for so long, so much that our fires have been snuffed out and the bitter frost has begun to bite deep within our mortal fibers almost halting any sign of life and hope in moving forward. In ever being able to overcome this. Withering, we fade.

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What was once a heart filled with passion and ambition, unable to be quenched, has now become an ice cold pebble. Life can happen and its tendency to extinguish our drive can be great at times. An anxious life can weigh us down. Anxiety is a thief but it’s one you allow. 

 

1 Peter 5: 6-7

Humble yourselves therefore under God’s mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.   

 

With trials, we tend more times than not, to enter a season of stagnancy. Unmotivated. Ready to give up. It’s like being in the dead of Winter, and not yearning for Spring as you have ran out of fuel to continue on… burning. You just want to be left as you are. 

 

Dry spells are tough spells. They usually occur around really trying times in our lives. For us as humans, trying times lurk around many of the corners we have to take in this walk of life. Unavoidable. Each step leads us either to one or through one. 

 

We are not without Hope, though. We were never meant to exist alone. Christ’s very existence and work on the Cross was to rid us of the dark malignancy found in trials. This dark matter is often masked as anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. No, we are not without Hope. Instead, Christ sent His comforter as well as fellow warriors to help give us the strength, grace, and mercy to pull us through. Though scathed, we can still be fully intact.  

 

Psalm 37: 3-7 Describes a way in which we can obtain tranquility. 

 

  • Vs 3 Trust in the Lord and do good.
  • Vs 4 Delight yourself in the Lord
  • Vs 5 Commit your way to the Lord
  • Vs 7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. 

 

 

That is why it is so important to be in the Word and to surround yourself with those we know to be warriors and will not let us stay down once we fall. They may cover us while we bleed a bit and recompose but they will lift us back up on our feet and push us forward. I have a few of these warriors in my life and along with God and His Word, I find them to be my greatest of treasures.

 

May your life be filled with such treasures as well. If not, leave me a comment and I will join you on the battlefield of your life.  I know what it’s like to need others and feel forgotten. Trust me, you are not alone. 

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-Debra Kay January 27, 2020