Category: Faith


Staying Free of Fear

Having managed to move past what for some is the most fearful time of year, Halloween, it begs the question “How can we stay free from fear?”

MaskWhen I was four years old and staying for a couple of weeks at the end of October with my grandma in St. Charles, MN, the doorbell rang.  I made the unwise choice of answering the door before she could get to it and there, under the porch light stood two individuals, not much taller than I, in the most grotesque rubber masks (at least I hoped they were masks) shouting “Trick or Treat!!!” at the tops of their lungs.  To say I was frightened, was an understatement, but I don’t think I went all hysterical or anything.  But that incident did, apparently, leave a lasting impression on me.

To this day, even as an adult, I prefer to walk on the other side of the block or shopping mall away from anyone wearing a mask. I never sat on Santa’s lap, or came anywhere close to an Easter Bunny, and when I had to work at McDonald’s in the ’80’s helping with Ronald McDonald shows, I was good around the actor who became Ronald, but when he was in costume, I was nowhere to be seen!  To say that I’m not a huge fan of clowns of any kind, nice or villainous, would be an accurate statement.

As a child, I certainly never thought in these terms, but as I grew and became more aware of my own emotions and thoughts, I realized that seeing someone in a mask was all about lies. I wanted to see truth, the real person, not a fake, not an act, not a lie. I want to know what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s truth, what is a lie, so I can make an educated decision about it and make the right choices for me.

That being said, we live in a world of lies and deception, fakery, and illusion.  Our movies and TV programs are filled with it and often they only seek to instill fear.  We honor and adore actors who portray heroes and villains for their acting capabilities to make us believe the lies and enjoy the fear — at least for the moment.

But in the real world, there are plenty of fearful things going on and the media plays to that and makes things seem so much worse than  reality would dictate.  Racial issues, diseases from only God knows where, strife, tensions, financial woes, power struggles — personal and world wide, murders, suicides, kids on drugs, unspeakable evil seems to be rampant.  Fear of the future, Fear of lack, Fear of sickness and disease, Fear of loss.  As the Apostle John says in one of his letters to the church, fear has torment.  Where does it stop, and when?

Well, as with everything, it stops — or at least the hold that fear has on us stops — when we choose to believe what God says, rather than what the world, the flesh (us, our mindsets), and the devil says.  Why live in fear when there is a better way?  We were created for God’s pleasure and as a way for Him to show us His love and mercy.  He is the God of peace, not fear. The reason we get into the messes we do is because we are searching for peace, love and joy in all the wrong places.

dove

Let me share some of God’s words that may help you if you feel fear today (or any time):

“7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”  2Timothy 1:7  Amplified Version

 *************

“10 Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.”  Isaiah 41:10  Amplified Version

 

Memorizing Scripture, rehearsing them in your mind, quoting them, putting them in first person — all are great ways of getting the Word of God down in your spirit so that when those times of fear come, you can recall them and remind yourself that God is bigger than any fearful thing you might encounter.  He is in control, not your fears.peace

One of the coolest Scriptures in the Old Testament, and applicable to us all today, in my opinion, is Joshua 1:8, 9.  If we would take it to heart, I believe God will keep us safe from the fearful things in this world, and cause us to prosper in every area of our lives.

“8 This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good [a]success.

Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Amplified Version

Don’t be afraid….Be courageous and confident in God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come On In — Let’s Dance!

DWTS week 8 - Meryl and Maks - Rumba

DWTS week 8 – Meryl and Maks – Rumba

Derek Hough and Amy Purdy -- Tango

Derek Hough and Amy Purdy — Tango

 

Ok.  So…I have to admit that I have become a Season 18 Dancing With the Stars junkie.  Since my cable company removed the weekly programs from their “On Demand” menu a few weeks ago, I have resorted to watching the various cast members’ dance routines on Youtube — both on my computer and on my phone.  I could spend hours watching them all, and then I discovered there are gazillions of interviews from the after show as well.  I’m in heaven.   Well, not really, but I do enjoy all that stuff.  I think I’m starting to feel like a stalker.  Juuuussst Kiddding!

Alright, enough about me.  Is there anyone else out there who loves to watch this stuff like I do?  The idea of dance to express oneself, to dance skillfully, seemingly effortlessly is just an exhilarating feeling, I would imagine.  It makes me smile just to watch them create magic for all of us in the television audience.  I literally sat with a big, goofy grin on my face every Monday night throughout the entire season!

There were times of fun, comedic dance routines, some were dramatic, some romantic, but it was all there.  Anything you could ask for.  And I think this season, more than any other, was not so much about the end goal of winning the Mirror Ball Trophy, but the life journeys, lessons learned, personal growth of each of the participants, the relationships forged with all of the cast members and celebrities.  You could actually feel that they were all pulling for each other to be successful.  A very uplifting season.

Ok, that’s great on TV and for professional entertainers, but how does that correlate to the “real” world?  I mean we actually live 24/7 with our own warts, failings, short comings, inability to dance through this life as successfully as we would like.  And, let’s face it.  We have an end goal so much greater than the “plastic” Mirror Ball Trophy!  Our end goal is eternal life, Heaven, Jesus.

One of the things I have come away with while watching Dancing With The Stars this particular season is that the overall feeling of the show seemed to have changed from previous seasons.  There were several cast changes that might have helped and there seemed to be a more positive outlook altogether.  The pros and celebrities all seemed to be more open and able to express their real frustrations, to show themselves as real human beings with the same issues we might have under the same pressurized situations.

Candace and Mark -- Fox Trot

Candace and Mark — Fox Trot

 

How does that relate to those of us mere mortals?  Most of us already know that in order to have a more successful life in general, we must get rid of negative influences in our lives, which may include changing or eliminating certain groups or individual people from our sphere of influence.  Certain activities we participate in may be harmful and are keeping us from being positive and ultimately having success in our lives.  Our own attitudes of cynicism, prideful arrogance, anger, skepticism, unbelief, and so forth must be first recognized and then eliminated if we are ever to make good progress in our lives.  This is definitely true for the Christian.

Our Heavenly Father says we are to walk by faith, just like He does.  What does that entail?  Wow..what a question!  In part, I think it means that even if we don’t understand, we are willing to trust, have confidence in, rely on His love for us to bring what He has already said in His Word to pass in our lives.  As if it’s already happened.  Because, in reality, in the spiritual realm, it already has.

How to walk by faith is sort of a loaded question, but really it’s just a matter of trust.  Just like on DWTS, the celebrities are trusting their pro partner to teach them step by step and they learn to have confidence in them to catch them during a trick or a lift and to help them make it look effortless and beautiful to all who are watching.  Yes, it takes hard work and much time and effort, but the end result is so worth it!

Have you ever thought about dancing with God?  The Grand Ballroom is waiting…full of angels and those who have gone on before us to watch as you glide effortlessly across the golden floor with Him.  He will catch you, He will help you.  After all, He lovingly created you.

Come on in to the Ballroom.  Let’s dance!

Missing Something?

Recently, I read this daily devotional from Joel Osteen and it made so much sense.  We often forget that God has put everything in us that we will ever need to survive and thrive in this world in which we have been placed.  We only need to believe it, and act on it in a godly and righteous way.  Just wanted to share it with you.

LACK NO GOOD THING

“…Those who seek the Lord
lack no good thing.”
Psalm 34:10, NIV

“When God created you, He put in you everything you need to fulfill your purpose in the Earth. You have the talent, the creativity and the ideas. You are full of discipline, focus and self-control. You have strength, determination and resolve. The Creator of the universe has crowned you with His favor. If you’re going to live a victorious life, you have to see yourself as a “no lack” person.

If you go around thinking, “I’ll never get out of debt. I’ll never have enough,” what you’re really saying is, “I’m lacking talent. I’m lacking ability.” Or, “I’ll never lose this weight. I’ll never break this bad habit.” You’re saying, “I’m lacking discipline. I’m lacking self-control. I don’t have enough.” If you see yourself as lacking, what does that say about God?

Deep down you have to know that because you trust in the Lord, you are a “no lack” person. Meditate on the fact that Almighty God breathed His life into you. He has already equipped and empowered you. You may have difficulties, but it’s not a surprise to God. He has equipped you, and you are well able to fulfill your destiny!”

Let us say like King David, we lack nothing in the Lord.  It is because of Him and His gracious love and mercy that we have all we will ever need.

Uganda Bound (Part 2)

Judy almost packedYou may recall that a few weeks ago I shared an email from Judy, a long time friend of mine who, at the age of 67, is getting the opportunity of a life-time–a missionary trip to Uganda to share her faith and testimony with children and others she meets along the way.

To prepare for her trip she asked those who wished to participate to join with her financially so that she could buy toys, clothing, etc. for the children.  Here are a few of the photos she shared of her endeavors so far:

Judy's trip to UgandaJudy's trip to Uganda3ready to go to UgandaFred and JudyThough she leaves behind her husband, Fred (a saint of a man!), four grown children and gobs of precious grandchildren, she will find it a joy, I’m sure, to minister to others outside her comfort zone.  A month long trip full of experiences, good and bad, that she has promised to share with us during her visit and after she returns home.  I’m so excited for her and hope you will lift her up in prayer and good thoughts for a successful time of giving to the children in Uganda.

Should you wish to find out more about the ministry that she will be working with during her stay, please visit: http://www.shepherdslove.com/

Much has gone into the preparations for this type of trip, much less prayer for months prior, and, yes, years in Judy’s preparation to overcome fear which had plagued her for most of her life to one degree or another.  This is why I’m so excited to support her new venture, because I know how impossible this trip would have been years ago.

So, Judy, knowing you leave in a day or two, I want to wish you every success, blessings abundant, and safe return to your beautiful family in a month or so from now!  We look forward to stories of God’s “little miracles” in Uganda as I’m sure they will bless your heart.  Have confidence in God as you travel.  You are in Good Hands!  God’s Speed!

“And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us.  And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.”  1 John 5:14-15  The Amplified Version

 

Ever Wondered How to Be Happy?

Gratefulness makes us happyI know social media is the “in” thing nowadays and I do “partake” daily of some of its offerings, but occasionally it brings sad, maddening, disgusting things to light, besides all of my friends’ events and pictures, likes, comments, etc. of course, and it’s kind of a bummer.   Today though, I ran across a video that had a unique title, so I fell for it and was pleasantly surprised by the content.  You may wonder why I share it because it seemingly has nothing to do with God, as is my usual offering on this blog, but it seems to me that sometimes, things in the world just prove what He has been trying to say to us through His Word for centuries and He has to bring it out through a “scientific” venue, to make anyone listen.

Please take a few minutes to watch…I promise it’ll have a positive impact in your life for a little while anyway, and maybe even longer!

Discover How to be Happy

Along the lines of gratefulness and thankfulness and the effects they have on us, I’d like to share a scripture with you that exemplifies why God wants us to be thankful.

“As He went on His way to Jerusalem, it occurred that [Jesus] was passing [along the border] between Samaria and Galilee.  and as He was going into one village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance.  And they raised up their voices and called, “Jesus, Master, take pity and have mercy on us!”  And when He saw them, He said to them, Go [at once] and show yourselves to the priests.  And as they went, they were cured and made clean. [Leviticus 14:2-32 talks about lepers and cleansing]  Then one of them, upon seeing that he was cured, turned back, recognizing and thanking and praising God with a loud voice; And he fell prostrate at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over].  And he was a Samaritan.  Then Jesus asked, “Were not [all] ten cleansed?  Where are the nine? Was there no one found to return and to recognize and give thanks and praise to God except this alien?”  And He said to him, “Get up and go on your way.  Your faith (your trust and confidence that spring from your belief in God) has restored you to health.”  Luke 17:11-19  The Amplified Bible

Here we have 10 guys walking along the road when they spot Jesus.  They know He’s been called a miracle worker so since they have a deadly serious illness that causes parts of their body to decay and fall from their bodies, it had to be worth a shot to see if Jesus would help them.  Fortunately for them, Jesus took pity on them and following God’s direction healed them all.  But, they still had to use their faith by following His instructions to go to the priests to declare they had been healed in order to activate the healing.  Many of them had lost fingers, toes, ears, and other body parts, but now the disease was no longer ravaging their bodies to do further damage.

As they walked, I’m sure they talked amongst themselves about this miracle happening to them, but only one of them, a Samaritan–lowliest human on the social ladder in those days, scum of the earth, felt that he wanted to say a personal thank you to the One who gave him such incredible mercy.  When he returned to thank the Master, Jesus wanted to know where all the others were.  Were they not grateful as well?

As Jesus acknowledged the man’s faith, confidence in God, and thankful heart, He said that his actions had put into motion a complete and total healing in his body.  All the parts that had been missing from his body because of the disease, had been recreated and he was made “every whit whole.”Things to be thankful for

So, nine guys went away healed of the disease but were left for the rest of their lives with missing parts because they didn’t consider it important enough to say thank you.  The one who was willing to show his gratefulness went away completely whole.

Happy?  Yeah, you bet he was happy!

What about you?  Are you happy?  Well, if you could use a little more happiness in your life, take a tip from the Samaritan.  Go to God and thank Him for everything…hot running water for your morning shower, food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over your head, and so on and so on.  If you don’t have everything you want in life, tell him you’re thankful for that too.  There’s a good reason we don’t get everything we want sometimes.  He knows some things aren’t good for us!  Or, we need to mature a little before we can handle some of the things He wants to entrust us with.

Check your Happy-O-Meter…if you need more happy…give appreciation, be thankful.  You’ll be amazed at what God will do!

A View of the Heavens

Below is an inspired comment by my dear friend, Doris, who one day, hopefully, will offer some of her own insights on having confidence in God on this very blog, or one of her own making.  For now, I will share just this much because I could not have said it any better.

A view into the Heavens“This image just takes my breath away and Helen Keller’s words here take on an other-worldly significance.  In the words of my youth…”it blows my mind” and I think that’s a good thing.  My God is so much greater than the image of “a kindly old man” sitting on a throne in Heaven.  My God, through His ineffable love and omnipotent  (((and yes, I said omnipotent…I would not worship a being without the power of creation in His very hand)))  and majestic power, has given me all I need to live the life He has planned for me.  I only limit that fact by my own hesitation and earthbound fears.  I’m learning that there are far more open doors than obstacles in life…but I must step out of the confines of my own making…and I must step out in faith.”  Doris H.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Helen Keller

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God is an awesome God and to think, He cares about you and me, and even things as insignificant as a tiny sparrow. That, too, “blows my mind”.

My daughter came up with a unique way of testing our ability to think “outside the box”, to come up with creative ways of solving problems. Apparently, she had had to do this on a few occasions while growing up in her dad’s home with her brother after their dad and I were divorced. And, with plenty of influence from her paternal grandmother during those years and beyond, her life’s motto became almost as strong as Grandma’s has always been — “just do it”. When you come across a tough situation that you think you can’t handle, there’s always a way to find a solution, so find it and get on with it. Don’t dilly-dally.

Can you paint a wall green without paint?

Can you paint a wall green without paint?

At some point during one of their conversations years ago, she decided to see how her first husband would handle an apparent impossible situation by posing this question to him: “If you were told to paint a wall green, but you had no paint, and you could use anything in the house to paint it with, what would you do?” His response is like many of ours would be, I’m sure. “There’s no way. You can’t paint without paint. That’s ridiculous. Stupid.” Some years later, she posed the same question to her brother. “Oh, that’s easy”, he said. “Get some water, a little flour to thicken, and green food coloring.”

See the difference?

Once again referring back to movies, I can’t help but recall one of the main characters in the books/movie Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. The older sister, would always tie her hair up with a ribbon when she would begin to think of a plan, a way out of their current predicament. Her motto, if you’d like to call it that, is “There’s always a way”.

One of my favorite quotes is from Joel Osteen. “You have to realize that you serve a supernatural God, and just because you don’t see a way doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a way.” I guess this would be my motto.

You are much more valuable to God than this little sparrow!

You are much more valuable to God than this little sparrow!

Somehow, we must learn to look past bad circumstances and events, situations, etc. as if they can never be changed, or they’re always going to be the same and never get better. It’s possible that if we will change our point of view, they may indeed stay the same, but WE will have changed and that makes the situation different. Or, the situation may change only when we start looking outside the box for a positive resolution. Either way, wherever we find ourselves, in whatever level of despair, frustration, or hopelessness, “nothing is impossible with God”.

As long as there is a God in Heaven, there is hope. Nothing escapes Him, He is aware of even a sparrow falling from a tree top. You are so much more valuable to Him than a sparrow. He feeds them, he clothes the lillies of the field, roses to dandelions. He’s totally invested in you and everything that concerns you, so you can have confidence in His ability to care for even the small, insignificant upsetting things in your life.

Let's get out of the box this year, and trust God!

Let’s get out of the box this year, and trust God!

Let’s start thinking outside the box this year. Let’s look for the unusual to happen to change things for the better for you and your family, your friends. God is supernatural, you know. Let’s expect better and not the same old stuff to happen. Start thinking bigger, better, out of the norm. God is a big God and He wants to bless you and give you an abundant life.

I’m looking forward to what God has going on this new year. I just can’t help but be excited, even in the face of the gloom and doom prophets and naysayers. It’s when the world is at its darkest that God shows up the biggest and best! If your heart is right before Him, you are in line for a miracle!

So, what do you say? Let’s get out of the box, shall we?

Fear? or Faith!

I came to my computer today not having a clue …well, that’s not altogether true.  I had a couple of ideas, but the point remains that I wasn’t quite sure what God wanted to say.   And, if He’s not saying anything, then there’s no point in my bringing my “drivel” to the table because what I have to say isn’t going to help anybody!

What makes you afraid?

My initial thoughts were having to do with fear and how it ravages our lives.  Our country is in a pickle right now..on the brink of changing forever, possibly.  In the world we currently live in we have fears for our safety, fears for our children and their future, fears of the outside world and those in it who might try to destroy us, fears about our marriages or lack thereof (being alone for the rest of our lives), fears about our looks, our jobs or lack of jobs, fear of lack, fear of rejection, and on and on and on it goes.   There is no lack of things that we can be fearful of.

We are soon approaching Halloween, which often manages to be a way more intense event than just a bunch of little kids getting obscene amounts of candy from neighbors, family and friends.  Fear escalates among the younger set, in particular, during this time of year.

I think I saw these guys in a dream recently!!!

This is due in part to all the scary movies and cartoons that venture on to the TV for over a solid month…Family TV at that, a place where “scary” should not be.  We attempt to assuage our children’s fears by telling them “it’s just a movie” or “it’s not real” but the images are there nonetheless, and will pop out in their dreams in the middle of the night or stay in their memory to come out at some other time when least expected.  And all year long there are the Chiller movies, Syfy scary movies, and all the others combined, but during the month of October they bring out the “big guns” and scare the livin’ bejeebers out of us with movies that don’t normally appear except around Halloween.  Then, if that weren’t bad enough, the movie industry companies try to outdo each other to make the “scariest movie ever” to put on the big screen in theaters during that time frame.  (Don’t think anyone will ever beat Hitcock’s thrillers tho’…just my opinion).  What is it about our society that loves to scare itself so much?

On other fronts, we are daily blasted with bad or fearful news coming from the media, radio, TV, internet, newspapers, magazines, books, etc.  Crime of all kinds has not only increased but intensified in its’ brutality.  The suicide rate shows fear is a very tragic reality to far too many of our family members and friends.  It is no wonder that fear runs rampant in our culture and people are suffering deeply because of it.  We are surrounded by fear.

Well, I have good news!

This morning as I was reading my Bible, something I do not do as often as I would like or should, but I ran across a scripture that really blessed me and I would like to share it with you because God has something to say to us.

You can be free from fear!

I actually started in Hebrews 11 reading about all the heroes and heroines of our faith, accomplishing all they did without, in many cases, seeing the fulfillment of their faith until we came along so many hundreds or thousands of years later.  From Adam’s son Abel, offering a better offering than his brother Cain, on up to King David and some of the prophets…it was quite inspiring.  I would encourage you all to read those stories as well.  But as I read further and reached Hebrews 13, I found some verses that I’d underlined years ago, and was blessed all over again.  Perhaps the words will encourage you too.

Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)!  [Assuredly not!]  So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified].  What can man do to me?   Hebrews 13: 5, 6  The Amplified Version

What a fabulous promise we have from God!  If you are His child, you don’t need to be afraid when those tormenting thoughts come to discourage and threaten you.  He’s got you firmly in His mighty hand and will not fail you in any way or leave you without support.

Books by this author are awesome! Check it out!

Yes, this world is full of plenty of things to fear, but grab hold of this Word, and so many others in the Bible that will encourage you.  Check out Isaiah 41:10,  2Timothy 1:7, Psalm 91  just to name a few. Memorize them and speak them out loud during times of fearfulness so the enemy of your soul can hear them too.  These are weapons that God has given us to fight the “fear war”.  They are very effective and will help you when you are struggling with this vicious enemy.  You’ll be surprised how that fear will dissipate when you start speaking faith words instead of doubt, unbelief, and fear.  I’ve tried it, lived it and I know it works.

Be bold and courageous!  God is good and He is on your side!

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