Love Me Challenge #14

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Sometimes, we think we’ve overcome certain fears, and later on, we realize we have to face those fears once again. So, I’m going to share a time when I simply overcame FEAR itself…

It was the summer of 1993, when I had returned home from college. My parents had just moved to the mountains of East Tennessee a few years before, and my room was now a “studio/attic” room on the top floor of their house. I began waking up in the middle of the night with a paralyzing fear. There was a large, double window on one end of the room, the wall I was facing when I awoke each time, and it seemed as if two great big eyes were staring at me. I know, I know, for some this might sound like it is being written right out of one of those cheesy 1970s cheap horror flicks. However, I am here to tell you, I was petrified. I had always battled fear as a child and young adult, but this fear was so debilitating, so overwhelming, I would just lie there in the bed, unable to move, speak or even hardly blink.

This went on for about 2-3 weeks, and the consuming fear of falling asleep was causing me to stay up till the wee hours of the morning, only to fall asleep exhausted and awake to the paralyzing fear just an hour or two later. My mom would just tell me to pray, as I didn’t really give her much detail of what I was going through. The books I’d read would advise me on all kinds of nightly routines to combat the fears and prepare my body for sleep, and the soft instrumental music I’d play seemed to help as I drifted off to sleep but would be off by the middle of the night (remember, this is the early 90s. I didn’t own a iPhone with a playlist built in. 😉 ) It seemed nothing was helping to change this terrible cycle of sleep and fear into which I had fallen. About 3 weeks into this “rollercoaster ride,” I was talking to a former pastor’s wife and describing to her what was going on. She very gently encouraged me to read the Bible more, concentrating on verses dealing with trusting God, combating fear and standing on the promises of God. She encouraged me to memorize one Scripture, 1 Timothy 2:7…

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She, also, told me to just speak His name. I asked her, “What if I can’t speak His Name?” For, I had not been able to call out to my parents during those times or speak a word of anything. She said, “Then, you just whisper it, and if you can’t whisper it, you close your eyes and think His name in your head until you can.” Ok, now that I was armed with “weaponry,” I was miraculously healed that night from all my paralyzing fears, right?? Unfortunately, I have to say, “NO!” That night, when I was awoken once more by that debilitating fear, I started trying to quote the Scripture that I had not yet fully memorized, this all in my mind, of course. (Remember, I couldn’t speak, because the fear was so great.)

All I could remember was, “God…isn’t…fear.” Oh yeah, that’s just great! How can I battle this fear when I can’t even think of a Scripture to quote in my mind? Then I remembered my pastor’s wife, her sweet voice telling me, “Just say His name.” So, I did. I said, “Jesus” inside my head just as loud as my mind would scream it. I screamed it over and over again, and evidently, I drifted off to sleep after about 30+ repeats. This rolled on for about a week before I was able to whisper His name and the Scripture I was memorizing. After about 2 1/2 weeks, I was speaking this Scripture each time I awoke, speaking the name of Jesus, and very peacefully, drifting back to sleep.

After 6-8 weeks, from the very beginning, I no longer had these “night terrors,” as I now call them. I cannot tell you why I had such a battle, and I cannot answer the questions as to why God didn’t just instantaneously and miraculously heal me from that paralyzing fear; however, I can tell you this, I emerged from that period in my life with a stronger faith and trust in my God. I can tell you that I have not dealt with that type of ‘midnight fear’ again. I can also tell you that I have been able to use this story, over the years, to help people who have battled with a spirit of fear.

I have found that, throughout my life, sometimes, God doesn’t answer our prayers exactly the way we want Him to, but if we will allow Him to and trust Him to, He will answer them exactly when and how He needs to in order to fulfill His glory in our lives.

I do hope this story will encourage someone out there who has battled or is battling fear. He is a good God, and He can help you. ❤

*This is a song set in a Christmas setting, but it is a wonderful reminder to FEAR NOT…         I hope you enjoy…

*I do not own any part of this song, these lyrics or this video. Copied straight from YouTube. Song by Travis Cotrell.

PS. Happy Valentine’s Day!! Love the one you’re with, and share your love with those around you!

Are You Comfy?

Comfort and apathy can go hand in hand. We are all creatures of comfort to some extent. I love warm cups of coffee, good books and a great big quilt to snuggle under for an enjoyable night of reading. Some like to drive for comfort, some like to sleep. Some like to get comfortable in the quiet while others enjoy the comfort of people and noise. Comfort for one might not be the comfort of another, but we all enjoy being comfortable over not.

Yet, in our prayer life, our worship and our passion for God, comfort should not be the mode of operation. Comfort can create apathy and apathy creates a death of passion. Comfort and apathy can creep into our prayer lives when we grow comfortable in where we are and over confident in what we are doing. It can lull us to a slumber where we neglect the voice of God and, eventually, even neglect the things and people of God.

When we grow too comfortable, we will become callous in our prayer life, lazy in our worship and apathetic in our God-message to others. Too often, as God did with Moses, He will call us beyond our comfort zone to reach the world around us and to deliver them out of the bondage in which they live. If we are only seeking what causes us comfort, then, we will be more apt to resist change, challenge and things controversial to the common worldview around us. God never called us to blend into this world. He called us to change this world by showing them His love, and His love will always challenge them to leave behind the sin in which they live.

Just as Moses did, when we decide to follow God and walk out of our comfort zone, we may question our ability. We may walk into ridicule from our own families and friends, and we may face a king who hates us and desires destruction for us, “but if God be for us, who can be against us”? (Romans 8:31)

Can we sit back and let this world ‘go to hell in a hand basket’ just so we ourselves may remain comfortable? NO! We must find our voice. We must step out of our places of comfort, complacency and apathy and seek His face. We must step up and allow His passion for the lost to infiltrate our lives to go and seek them. Look around you. See those who need Him and share His message for the redemption of their souls!

“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.Philippians 2:1-4

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2

 

 

 

PROTECTION

My pastor gave this great description of like to share with you:

PRAYER + PREPARATION = PROTECTION

We were actually talking about security in our church when he gave this, but I’d like to take t a step further into our spiritual lives… Both of these steps are vital for our Christian walk. Too often, I believe, we find ourselves in a chaotic mess, because we’ve forgotten one of these two essentials.

When we are so much in prayer, but we don’t prepare for anything, we appear to those around us as spiritual IDIOTS. Please forgive my bluntness, but it’s true. If you are always proclaiming God’s greatness, and you’re speaking your praises wherever you go, but you can’t hold down a job, you can’t pay your bills and you can’t keep your mind and mouth in stability, you’re actually hurting the Gospel more than helping it. Now, I am NOT talking about those who have a tragedy or come on hard times, please understand. Everyone has their battles, and sometimes, we just have to hold onto Jesus a little tighter to make it through the day. However, if it’s a lifestyle of perpetual chaos and instability, you may be missing the mark somewhere. For the Word tells us, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  2 Tim. 2:7

On the other side of this spectrum, if you are so prepared, yet you never pray, your witness will hurt the kingdom, as well. We can be so earthly minded that we do heaven no good. Sometimes, faith isn’t going to look right to the world. Sometimes, prayer is going to seem a little crazy to the carnally minded, and sometimes, prayer is the ONLY thing that is going to bring about victory in your life! If we are so prepared, or maybe I should use the word WISE, in our own abilities and skill sets, we can do damage to our witness for Christ, because we fail to see our need for Him. We rely too much in our own strength and our own smarts. Or should I say, “…for in my weakness He is made strong.”

It takes both the prayer and the preparation to being about God’s full protection. When we have both, we walk in His complete authority. When we have both, we can storm the gates of hell and take back the captives, because it is no longer our own words and our own might, but HIS!

Let us be a people of preparation AND of prayer, and we will watch Him bring forth the victory!

How Do You Pray?

Wow. Read this in my devotion today and thought I’d share. I hope it’s as meaningful to you as it was for me…

The English word, prayer, means to ask for or beg … But the Hebrew word for prayer – tefillah – means to “self evaluate”. So to the Jews of the Bible, prayer was not a time when they asked God for things … it was a time when they examined themselves. They would use prayer as a way to compare their actions, behavior and attitude against God’s holiness.” – Dave Adamson, Instagram.com/aussiedave 

What kind of prayer life would we have if we self evaluated more and begged less? Our prayers are, so often, filled with a long checklist of things we need, problems we wish were solved, and various changes or resolutions we want. Yes, we need to place our petitions before the Lord, I get it. The Bible does say, bring your petitions, but I believe we miss this point of self evaluation sometimes. I think that’s why the acronym PRAY is often taught to us in Sunday School when we are young. 

P = Praise – praise Him for He is good and He is God. 

R = Repent – this is where self evaluation comes in. Clean up time. 

A = Ask – here’s the supplication or petitioning part. 

Y = You – focus turns back on ourselves once again. Might be a reason He created this word, “pray” and it’s Hebrew translation. 😉

Lord, help us to be more aware. Help us to be more honest, with You and with ourselves. Help us to self evaluate in our prayer life.  Help us to be more like You and so much less like ourselves. 💗

  

Fight To Win

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We, as Christians, are often called “soldiers of the cross;” yet, I wonder sometimes in today’s society, if we know what that really means. We get so caught up in fighting with our children to obey or fighting with our spouse to see things our way or even fighting with our fellow man to follow our opinions and our judgements that I think we might have forgotten where the real battlefield lies and what the real spoils and consequences are.
Just last week, I read a blog by a straight, conservative, preacher’s wife, someone who could be a lot like me, who spent a whole article telling me why she didn’t care about the new bathroom policies at Target, and how “I” (or those who disagree) am not necessarily showing love by boycotting them. I read comments by Christians who hated her for it and atheists who praised her for it. Can I tell you BOTH are wrong?? The one party is killing their own and the other isn’t challenged to change. 

I read other articles in which Christians were ‘killing each other’ with their words and demanding their way to be the right way, while I turn the page in The Voice of Martyrs to read of the pastor’s family who pray for their little church meeting secretly in their war-torn village. I hear of the Body of Christ “fighting and clawing” at each other over this opinion or that, this politician, that official, this viewpoint or that, all the while, reading again in The Voice of the Martyrs, of the pastor who has been arrested for his belief in God and the workers in foreign lands who are desperately sharing the Gospel with the lost, even as it costs them their very lives.

Can I tell you, our battle is NOT against flesh and blood, and it will not be won by our seeking after man’s approval, worldly possessions, or cultural agreement? Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

We cannot fight these enemies with just our opinions and judgement calls, nor with our monetary means, nor by simply being tolerant and kind when they demand us to be. We cannot fight them with the conventional words or actions of man’s wisdom. God’s kingdom doesn’t work this way! Just as David didn’t win the battle with Goliath by following the instruction of Saul (he told him to wear the king’s armor), we cannot win this battle for the next generation by following the instruction of this world!

We must stop focusing on tearing each other down, or even tearing down the sinner in his sin, and focus on the REAL battle. We must return to our prayer closets and get on our knees in prayer! We must return to our days of fasting and our meals of His daily bread. We must redress with God’s Armor and join forces with our fellow brothers and sisters to win this battle! It is up to us to pick up our shields of faith, swing out swords of truth and win for the King of kings and the Lord of Lords! It is time for the Redeemed of the Lord to say so! It is time to let GOD be the victor!!

I believe God is stirring His people back to this. I believe He is rising up an army who are not fighting as the world is fighting. They are fighting this battle in private prayer and with public words of truth. It may not be a popular stand, and it may not win you approval ratings with the crowd, but the lives of our children are at stake, and the lives of those who can be won for the kingdom are weighing in the balance.

We must fight this battle God’s way, and we must fight to WIN!

 

Where Did We Go Wrong?

I’ve been thinking of the post I posted on Monday. The question keeps rolling over in my brain… Where did we go wrong? How did we get to this place of remaining silent while this world is fading? How did we get to this point in life that “being tolerant” overrides our personal convictions and faith filled standards?

I’ll tell you when we began sliding on this slippery slope:  when the church became silent in the public arena and began turning on itself, accusing each other of judgmentalism and condemnation. It began when we started looking more in the mirror and at our fellow man rather than staying focused on what’s most important: God. It happened when we became more worried about what the world thinks of us than what God thinks.

It is unfortunate and disheartening. We have forsaken our first love for a lie and have become enamored with our own vanity and popularity. We have abdicated our prayer closets of holiness, and we have embraced our gateways of tolerance. We have forsaken our knees of prayer and become consumed by our mouths of gossip and destruction. We have relinquished our rights for higher standards and grasped the liberal demand for concession on every issue. We have surrendered our fight for a better future for our children and allowed our lives to be diminished and minimized to an anemic, powerless and silent walk of faith.

It’s not the world that has been led astray. The lost will always be lost without the Savior. Those in darkness will always be dark without The Light. It’s the church who has veered from the way. It is our responsibility to seek first His kingdom and reach this world for Him. We must look to God and get back to our prayer closets. We must stop looking to our phones and our friends for direction and comfort in this world and return to the One who called us out in the first place.

We must fall down on our knees in prayer and remember from whence He has called us. As Christians, we are called to a higher purpose, and that purpose is prayer and having power with God! If we don’t seek Him, how can we truly reach them?

2 Corinthians 4:1-6, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

To Abide In The Shadow

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To abide means to remain or to live somewhere. I wonder how often we, as Christians, actually abide in the shadow of the Almighty?

When I was younger, and my grandfather was living, I loved to be with him, to spend time with him and to be right up underneath him, no matter what he was doing. Especially, in the summertime, when it was hot outside, I remember stepping into his shadow and immediately feeling a relief from the heat. I felt safe and secure in his shadow.

We had big live oak trees in his yard, and I can remember standing in the shadow of them and feeling protected from the coming rain. I remember feeling as if I could stay there for hours if they’d just let me. (My grandparents never allowed me to stay outside in the rain; it was too dangerous. 😉) Yet, under those big oaks, I felt like nothing could ever touch me! As I would gaze up into the branches, I felt as big as they were. I felt I could conquer anything!

God is even more so like this. If we could ever learn to dwell in the secret place with Him, we would realize we are more than conquerors in His shadow! We need to “get alone till we’re not alone anymore.” We need to “pray until we do pray.”

Have you ever met those ‘old saints of God’ who seem to have all the faith anyone could ever imagine to have? They seem to never get rattled, never battle fear, never have doubts and concerns about tomorrow. All they seem to talk about is how mighty God is and how wonderful heaven is. I long to have that constant outlook on life! I long to be at the place where my faith is so strong, nothing seems to shake me, nothing seems to cause me pause. Those elders don’t get to that place simply by attending church and having a good song service. They pay the price in prayer. They endure the hard times holding onto His hand. They learn to lean on Jesus when all seems lost.

We can only get to that place when we spend time with The Father. I’m not talking about our cute little bedtime prayers and our dainty little daily devotions. Don’t misunderstand me, we need nighttime prayers and we need daily devotions, but there comes a day when we learn to travail in prayer, and we learn to just tarry with the Lord for awhile…we “get alone till we’re not alone anymore.”

We get to that place only when we rely on Him despite what the world says or what the circumstances look like. We get there when we trust Him in the mundane and in the fiery trials of life, when it becomes a daily walk, a minute by minute abiding in His presence, not because you’re on your knees 24/7, but because you’ve created a sanctuary within your own heart and mind, where He is welcome and into which you run when trouble comes and then you stay even through the sunniest of days.

This is the place I long to stay. This is the place in which I long to live. I want to dwell in His presence; so, I might live in His shadow.

In His shadow, I feel peace. I feel security. I feel strength. I feel I can conquer the world!

 

The Evidence Is In Your Hands

Our true character comes out in the way we pray.

Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer.

We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; The Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.

Prayer is simple, prayer is supernatural, and to anyone not related to our Lord Jesus Christ, prayer is apt to look stupid. – Oswald Chambers**

I picked up a new little perennial calendar with prayer quotes from Oswald Chambers, and I find myself challenged in my prayers more often than not. He has such a blunt way of stating things, and his words seem to pierce my heart even on subjects with which I am very familiar.

“Our true character comes out in the way we pray.” This is so very true. I heard a pastor preached this past weekend on this same subject. Pastor Rhonda Holland was speaking at a ladies conference, and she gave the illustration of the women who went to the tomb after Jesus died. She referenced Luke 24:1, when Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of James and Salome went to the tomb and carried spices to anoint the body of Jesus. She said, “Now, why do you carry spices to a tomb? Jesus had told them He would rise in three days. They had believed in Him when He walked the Earth. They had even followed Him to the cross. Yet, on that third day, the evidence of what they believed was in their hands.” The only reason you bring spices to a tomb is to anoint a dead body! The evidence of what they truly believed they would find in that tomb was carried in their hands!! If they had actually believed Jesus was going to be risen when they got there, they wouldn’t have needed the spices. They would have, instead, carried tambourines for singing and shouting!

Often times, we claim we believe God’s Word to be true. We say we believe Jeremiah 29:11, that promises God has good plans for our life, plans to prosper and not to harm us. We claim to believe Romans 8:28, which tells us He works all things for our good. We even boldly declare the promise found in Romans 8:37 that we are more than conquerors through Christ; yet, the evidence of what we truly believe within the depths of our hearts can be seen and heard in our prayers when the storm really hits too close to home. We cry. We fear. We doubt, and we question Him. We wail and travail, fearing the worst is yet to come!

What if we were to actually believe He was going to do what He said He was going to do? What if we really claimed the promises He gives to us in His Word? What if we actually prayed as if we knew His promises were right and true?

Remember, if those three women had come to the tomb truly believing Christ had risen, they would not have carried those spices for embalming His body. They would have come rejoicing, praising His name, dancing in celebration of what had already come to pass and expecting that stone to be rolled away! 😉

 What is the evidence you hold in your hands?

 

**See more at: http://prayer-coach.com/2011/06/10/prayer-quotes-oswald-chambers/ and http://www.christianquotes.info/top-quotes/18-powerful-quotes-from-oswald-chambers/

 

 

 

Never Let Go (of Hope)

For years, I prayed for a change, for a difference…I prayed for a miracle, really. For more than 20 years, I prayed these two would makes a change; so, we could have the life and the relationships for which I so longed. I knew God could only do so much, for He will never force a man’s will, and the rest would be left to that man. Oh, that human will can be so very stubborn! I was clinging to the last bit of hope in my heart when we got the call…the news was not good; frankly, it was terrible. Shortened days…a shortened life. Surgery impending. Death probable. How could this be? He was bigger than life! He had been the biggest part of my life. He was supposed to be invincible. My sons were supposed to know him and love him like I did. This wasn’t fair! Often, life just isn’t fair. It doesn’t play favorites. It rains on the just and on the unjust. So, we waited. Then, it happened. A vision was seen. His glory was revealed to the heart. A life was rededicated. His faith and his fate were forever sealed. I rejoiced as one lifelong prayer was answered; yet, I wondered, “Could we possibly get another?” Maybe it was just too good of a dream to imagine. Almost 15 years later, my heart had almost given up hope that a change could ever occur. After all, prayers had been sent up for over 35 years. Maybe that human will was going to win out this time… Out of the blue, a mistaken email reveals possibilities, a glimmer of hope. Could it be? Could it possibly be true? I stand in awe to testify of God’s mercy and grace, of His awesome love being shown through a man whom many had counted as forever lost. God is good. Are all things perfect? Are things as they once should have been? Sadly, I must confess, some things are simply lost as the water rushes under that bridge of time. Yet, we will not dwell on yesterday’s regrets, nor will we miss the precious gifts of the present. If we did, we would overlook the beautiful promises of the future! Sometimes, you just have to take the baby steps of grace today; so, you can bask in the love of His tomorrow. So, never let go of hope, for hope is the only thing which brings true life back into our prayers.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1