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Tag: fear

Grab It By The Tail

by Rob Dunne

Image by Mohd Fazlinhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/phalinn/2984934822/in/photolist_ CC BY 2.0

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”       Joshua 1:9

I enjoy hiking. Prior to getting married, I often climbed Sleeping Giant Mountain where I would spend hours talking with God. On one occasion, I decided to leave the beaten path.

Walking further and further in to the woods, I discovered a nice secluded spot. There was a natural rock wall that was perfect for sitting on. Excitedly, I sat down, opened my backpack and took out my journal.

Shortly thereafter, my focus was broken. An adorable chipmunk scurried past me and leaped off of the rock wall. It seemed odd to me that a chipmunk would willingly draw that close to a person when he could have taken a different route.

As I pondered this, the leaves beside began to rustle.

Read the rest of this entry »

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What Good Is

by Wendy

Image by M42
Flickr.com_2537258043_306e52e206_CC BY-ND 2.0

Anxious and exhausted, I grabbed my journal and flopped on the bed. The room was quiet and neat, just what I needed before the harrowing week ahead.

Oh, the week.  I’d failed miserably two years ago, and I shuddered as images filled my head.  Forty international choral professionals. One world-renowned conductor. And me.  Five days, five opportunities dreaded assignments to conduct. I cloistered myself in my room, studied, skipped meals, and stayed up until 2am conducting.  Finally, with years of habit to unlearn and 2 nights to do it, my arms would not obey. Conducting patterns disappeared as I slipped and slopped my way through piece after piece.  Jangled, disoriented and dismayed, I cried myself to sleep. The next day, terrified, tears seeped out of my eyes in front of the professor, and soon the whole class knew. I was falling, with no net.

Now those same terrifying days would stare me down again in just… twelve hours. Read the rest of this entry »

Consider the Serpent

by Mike McKinniss

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it (Luke 9:24, ESV).

Consider the serpent.

He has but one instinct: self-preservation. Survive and produce progeny—that is his one and only goal. But mostly, it’s about survival. It’s about himself.

Look at him, flicking his tongue through deviously curled lips. Always in search of his next meal, the snake is never satiated. A gluttonous beast.

The serpent roams the forest floor alone. Ever solitary, he has no companion, desires no companion. But for fleeting utilitarian encounters with the opposite sex—and this only to preserve his line—he would eternally be a low-lying island.

Oh, the serpent is not indifferent to the rest of the world. He is not solipsistic. But to the snake, every other living thing, if it is not food, is an enemy. See how he curls himself up in a tangled thicket—the only embrace he will ever receive. It is protection the serpent seeks.

The serpent is driven by fear, and so must protect his life at all costs. Fear compels him to cast a slitted eye toward every creature. Wary of all, the serpent is intent on grasping tightly to his own life. He has no room in his heart for anything save himself.

Now he slithers in the dust, for his fear has brought him low.

But you are no serpent.

You are not made for fear. You are not made to cling and protect, to scratch and claw for your own existence. You are not designed to use others for your own benefit alone, to regard the world as existing for your sole benefit. The fear and solitude of the serpent’s life is not yours.

A child of God, you are made for love.

A voice you were given. A voice to reveal the innermost parts of yourself and to share your secret thoughts. Likewise, two ears hang on either side of your skull to listen to another’s story and so commune with the world. Moreover, a heart beats within your chest, a heart that longs to swell within the embrace of another.

You are made for love, and a life of love desires to stretch itself, to touch all the world—not to overpower and subsume, but to know and to be known. Love longs to serve the world.

But to live so is to risk, for a serpent lies in wait. Strike he will, often without warning or provocation. And he may, with a flash of fang and a shock of pain, inject poison into your veins. To live from love is to open yourself to death.

Die you may.  Nay, die you will. But when you live from a place of love and seek not to preserve yourself, when you reject fear and its solitude, you live as you are created. Vulnerable you may seem, yet you live and you die in the safest place on earth. For the life of love rests in the arms of the resurrecting God of love.

Love, and you will rise to new life, while the serpent remains on his belly.

Partying in the presence of fear

by kerriebutterfield

Flickr 5.25 Party by David Yu_Flickr.com/3518138978_0fa981c779_z.jpg_CC BY-ND 4.0

Flickr 5.25 Party by David Yu_Flickr.com/3518138978_0fa981c779_z.jpg_CC BY-ND 4.0

In early 2012, we felt like God was asking us to sell our house.

We put our house on the market, and after a few weeks, it sold. Which meant we needed to figure out where we would go next. We prayed and God was silent. So, we started looking for rental properties. We found one we loved that stretched our weekly budget, but we decided to take a risk and go for it. On the morning we were scheduled to sign the lease I got a call from the realtor who sold our house.

He said, “Kerrie , I’m calling to let you know we have a problem with the sale. I think it’s off. The inspector found a problem with a support beam. This might not happen.”

My first reaction was, “What do we do? If we wait we will loose the lease, if we sign the lease, we could end up paying for a lease and a mortgage on a house that has foundation issues that are expensive to fix!” We weren’t those people who took financial risks. We liked safe and secure. Surely, this wasn’t how God intended this to work out.

Feelings of fear and anxiety began to gang up on me like bullies. I felt surrounded by fear and I couldn’t stop listening to what fear had to say. It felt dark, and scary. I knew I needed to worship. So, I went into my bedroom and began to sing to God. As I did, the Holy Spirit said, “I love to prepare a table for you in the presence of your enemies. What would it look like for you to celebrate victory in front of your enemies even though you don’t know what will happen?”

I came out of my bedroom and said, “I think we need to go out and celebrate how God is working this out for good. We need to feast on goodness in front of our enemies like it describes in Psalm 23. We can’t let fear bully us. Fear doesn’t get to win.”

At the same time, my responsible husband said, “Kerrie we need to go sign that lease and trust God to work this mess out for us. He told us to sell our house. He will look after us. He is a good Dad.”

Our family went to the leasing agent’s office to sign the lease. Afterwards, we went to a cafe, and my kids had permission to order things I wouldn’t normally allow because this was a “goodness” celebration. We shared our “good God stories.” The stories of God’s goodness towards us and others–His provision and healing–until we could feel His brightness and hope. The Son had come out to party with us!

The next day, the realtor called. The couple who bought our house wanted it “as is” if we would lower the price by $1000. “YES!!!! Sold!”

This was a defining moment for me. I learned trust is a weapon that defies fear by enjoying God’s goodness. I learned to sit down and feast on His goodness while surrounded by the enemy and by partnering with God’s goodness, we robbed fear of its power and influence. It wasn’t something I had done with intentionality or defiance before. In the midst of the journey of obeying and trusting God, bad things happen, but I’m increasingly allowing the “Good Shepherd” to care for me and denying fear a seat at the table.

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
forever. Psalm 23:5-6

Immanuel, God With us: How “With” is “With?”

by Wendy

Seal Your Mouths  by Brook Rosemary flickr.com/photos/indigotimbre/46141712

Seal Your Mouths
by Brook Rosemary
flickr.com/photos/indigotimbre/46141712

The dentist’s chair was the last place I wanted to be. A piddling annoyance for many, the dentist represented far more trauma for me. Vivid pictures swirled in my mind of childhood cavity-fillings without anesthesia, and the more recent “time-I-almost-died-in-the-hospital”: a near-fatal bacterial infection had invaded my system after a broken tooth and a six-month cleaning.

Four years later, I was still terrified.

I cringed in the chair and tried, hard, to imagine Jesus near me. Anywhere near me. Even in the same building. In that moment, no amount of “with” seemed enough, and nothing convinced me – not Scripture, not worship songs, not frantic prayer, nor even hand-holding by a concerned dental technician.

Immanuel, God “with” us, just didn’t cut it, and I sputtered in exasperation.   Exactly how “WITH” was “with?”

The drill whined, and I clenched my jaw, my fingers, and my toes. Eyes wide, my mind went into overdrive, forcing facts into the front of my brain.

“OK Jesus, where are you?” I forced a deep breath, and tried imagining somewhere Jesus might be. Not just a distant force, I reminded myself, but someONE right here in the room. Someone strong and protecting.

What if Jesus was really THERE, in the room, at the end of the long chair…

…wiggling my almost-numb toes.

What? The surprising image popped into my brain. He was wiggling my toes loosening my tension, changing my view and jostling me out of my terror. I giggled silently as the picture gradually emerged and I realized how stiff I was. I flexed my hands, my fingers, my ankles. In my mental picture, Jesus smiled as I wiggled each limb, reassuring me that this was no dangerous visit. I would not die, the pain would not defeat me, and the fear could leave.

Somehow, I couldn’t be scared and grateful at the same time. (That much is objectively true: anxiety and fear both emanate from the same part of the brain, I’m told). I breathed, and stopped chomping vice-like on my physician’s hands.

Christmas was long-gone, but Immanuel was apparently still very much “with.” He didn’t come to leave us alone, but to stay amid our darkness, our fears and instabilities, our joys and blessings, and our anger and pain. He is huggingly close, holding our hands and our hearts and overcoming all manner of evil.

Immanuel, God WITH us. It’s not just for Christmas any more.

Go Through to Break Through

by mymorethanme

A few weeks ago both our boys came down with strep throat. Since getting slammed with a digestive disorder seven years ago most antibiotics have not been my friend; therefore, strep has been at the top of my heebie-jeebies list. I have done all I can (within reason) to avoid antibiotics as well as sickness. Should I get sick, it could take weeks for me to bounce back, and many medications (from cold medicines to antibiotics) negatively affect my system–so much so that I would rather suffer through illness without taking anything for relief than deal with the side effects. While I have not become a full-fledged germaphobe, I readily admit I have used more than my fair share of hand sanitizer.

So how did I handle this plague that struck our home? I couldn’t run, couldn’t hide, couldn’t avoid it. My love for my boys overtook my fear so I held them, stroked their heads, kissed their faces, and prayed. And cleaned. And obsessed a bit. Then, after about a week, my husband and I reluctantly went to the doctor to get checked ourselves because we finally had to concede to the fact that we, too, had sore throats. We were given antibiotics to take–just in case. Our test results had come back negative, but seeing as we had two confirmed cases of strep in the house, we were prescribed the dreaded antibiotics prophylactically. At first we held off, thinking (hoping!) perhaps it wasn’t strep, but then Dad got worse so we each took our first pill. Turns out he did not have strep, but the flu, and I had a mild something that quickly and quietly passed, but since we’d already begun the treatment, on we marched.

Know what happened?

Nothing. I suffered no side effects. I was surrounded by strep and the flu and I barely had a sniffle. I faced and fought panic and Love won. Where I broke down, God broke through.

Now fear has no hold on me.

We are all given the gift of choice. We can allow fear to hold us captive–to dictate our decisions, feelings and reactions. We can ruminate on what-ifs and worst case scenarios (poor uses of imagination) until we are bound and gagged, incapable of moving, living or breathing. We can turn tail and cower in defeat, curl up in a ball, and pull the covers up over our heads while settling into a stagnant slumber. Or we can wake up and live–alive. We can follow, believe, trust, rely and depend on the One who with loving strength and supreme authority earnestly entreats us to, “Fear not.” The power of fear is in the fear, not in the projected outcome we, while dripping sweat, strive to avoid. As it turns out, I did not get the sickness I feared, or suffer the consequences I anticipated by taking the medication I was prescribed. However, even if I had, I would have been given the grace not only to endure the circumstance, but also to be strengthened and empowered by it. There is a tragedy greater than the outcomes projected in fear that most often never come to pass, and that is the time, peace, love, and life sacrificed on the illusory altar of self-preservation, safety and security.

How do we break out of fear’s death grip? We must go through to break through. There is no other way. Turning our backs on fear leaves us vulnerable to being shot between the shoulder blades. We face our fears with faith and triumph, knowing life was never meant to be safe; it was meant to be lived. Knowing we are not victims; we are victors. Knowing we cannot win this battle on our own. Perfect Love drives out all fear. It is in this Love we stand as overcomers, warriors, winners, as more than conquerors.

We belong to our Father. The battle is His and He’s already won. Outcomes are irrelevant in His arms–where our coming apart comes together and our falling pieces fall into place. Where we are held, healed and made whole. Where our breakdowns become our breakthroughs, where all things work together for good, where Love never fails and we are always safe.

The only place we are safe.

The only place we are free.

Staring Down A Scary Path

by Dawn Aldrich

Highgate_Cemetery_East

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 8:11

 The graveyard path stared me down. It was the safest route to school, she said. Yet, my first grade feet stood motionless–planted in fear at the opposite corner. I cowered my head into my mother’s side. No words of comfort, no logical argument could persuad me to cross that street and enter the gates of death.

Then, the friendly crossing guard lady approached, holding open a small, black, silk change purse filled with rainbow sweetness. Nursing a pink jelly bean, I listened to her calming voice. “Don’t be frightened,” she said. “I’ll watch you walk that path and I’ll be right here when you come home. Now take this little purse and suck on a jelly bean when you feel scared. You can do this. I’ll see you soon and Mommy will be here waiting for you, too.”

Isn’t it like that sometimes when we’re faced with God’s chosen path in our lives? We stand–firmly planted in the familiar, the safe–in a stare-down with God’s chosen path. The leaving looks like death–scary and unfamiliar territory. We want to turn around, run back home or take another path.

God meets us and leads the way–feeding us sweet nuggets of encouragement through his Word with each frightening step until we are fully immersed in His joy. What’s better, unlike the crossing guard, he never leaves our side, but walks with us–even through the shadow of the valley of death–until the very end.

Are you faced with a scary, unfamiliar God-path today? Is your heart gripped with fear at the overwhelming road ahead? Grab onto God’s hand in faith and let Him lead you. Lean into His side and find reassurance and joy in His presence and through His word.

“I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

Prayer:

Oh Lord, sometimes your paths frighten us. Your ways are unfamiliar and at times beg us to leave the comforts of home. Yet, Lord, may we find comfort in your promise that you “will never leave us nor forsake us.” Speak your words into our hearts. Whisper your sweet comfort and lead us down your path that always leads to life.

Love Casts Out Fear

by Dawn Aldrich

toddlersleeping“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18a NIV

The shadows rise tall above her bed in the purple room as the night-light bleeds shadows across the ceiling. Blessed with an active imagination, monster pictures squelch sleep from her eyes. She braves the shadows and tries to shut them out, but soon her tiny feet pad across the carpet and into my bedroom next door.

“Grams? I’m scared,” she whispers. “Will you lay with me?”

Groggy, I lead her back to the purple room and tuck her beneath her kitty blanket, reassuring her there’s nothing to fear and pray God’s peace fill her mind and His angels surround her bed.

We’ve repeated this bedtime routine dozens of times in her five years, but last weekend it was different. Yes, the shadows still grew tall above her bed. Yes, the monster-pictures still appeared and teased her out of bed, but instead of announcing, “I’m scared,” she crawled into my bed and after a few quiet moments she asked, “Will you pray for God to give me peace and happy dreams?” And so I prayed our simple prayer and to my surprise she slipped out of my bed and tiptoed back to the purple room and tucked herself back under her own kitty blanket and fell fast asleep.

I awoke the next morning after a full night’s sleep, wondering if I’d slept through her early rising, which normally happens after a restless night. But, there she was, still peacefully dreaming. When she awoke almost two hours after me, I praised her for sleeping so well and she corrected me.

“God gave me happy thoughts. I hummed a little song and pretty soon my eyes just closed and I didn’t have any bad dreams.”

Bedtime routines are tough enough without fighting overactive monster-picture imaginations. By the time we’ve read the fifth book, traipsed back and forth to the potty three times, and answered all their burning questions, the last thing we want to deal with is their imaginary monsters. While we can spend time explaining the reality of the arching ceiling shapes, their little minds can’t comprehend reality from imagination.

So, what’s a mother (or grandmother) to do?

  • Acknowledge their fears 
  • Discuss God’s promises from scripture (Ps. 34:7 – Angels encamp around those who fear the Lord, 1 John 4:18 – Perfect love casts out all fear. God is perfect love., John 14:27 – Jesus gives us His perfect peace and says, “do not be afraid.”)
  • Pray that God would replace all fears with His good thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5b – “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”)
  • Pray God’s protection by sending His angels to protect them. I found it key to pray this because it replaces their monster imagery with God’s imagery.  They can replace their monster images with God’s angel images

While no bedtime routine is guaranteed to work every time, this routine empowers them to seek God as their comforter and acknowledges God as the giver of all good things, including dreams. It reinforces God’s promises.

What are some ways you help cast out fear in your children or grandchildren?

Blessings,
Dawn Aldrich
Author, Blogger

Do Not Be Afraid…God

by Rob Dunne

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

Hollywood has tainted true love. In the movies, two physically perfect people meet, fall madly in love and get married. Maybe they hit a few road bumps along the way. However, the inevitable always happens and they live happily ever after.

This worldly lie prompted me to compile a list of attributes in a wife that no woman could fulfill. Using the list to measure a prospective mate, they each fell woefully short. After church one afternoon, someone boldly asked me why I was still single. I said God hasn’t sent the right one. He called me out and said that I was single because of my perfectionism and fear of making a mistake. That cut me to the core but was a real wakeup call for me.

Three and a half years ago, several friends wanted to introduce me to someone. Hesitantly I agreed. We met for the first time at a community dinner. It wasn’t long before she said she loved me. That freaked me out! Could she be the one?

One day while driving to youth group, I was praying to God. Though not typically a proponent, I asked God to give me a sign. Is she the one that you chose for me to marry? Pulling in to the parking space, the bumper sticker on the car in front of me caught my attention. It read, “Do not be afraid…God.”

Fear is one of the tools that the devil uses to keep us from moving forward and succeeding in the plans that God has for us. Fear has the ability to paralyze us and keep us in bondage. Paralysis keeps you still. There is no way to make advances for the kingdom of God unless you are free from your chains and in motion.

Within an eight month period of time, I was engaged and ultimately married to my wife. If I remained paralyzed with fear or trapped in the lie of perfectionism, I would have missed out on all of the things that God had planned for us. We are an amazing team. Together, we have prayed for countless people whose lives God has touched. Some have received physical healing. Others have been set free from emotional wounds. That never would have happened if I didn’t trust in God and his plan for my life.

Does something in your life have you gripped with fear? If so, surrender your fear to our loving heavenly Father whose heart is for you and not against you. You can trust Him to love and protect you under every circumstance.

He Will Wait for You

by ivyjonah

And He ( Jesus) took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:16

I have been very conscious, lately, of the many aspects of healing that the Lord has brought into my life. Sometimes, looking back is not a bad thing. It can actually be a source of gratitude and an altar of remembrance.

Such was the case, when my husband just got up from his recliner to get our mail from our street side mailbox. I pictured him going up the driveway and crossing the street and retrieving the mail. Going from “Here to There”…the route from the house to the mailbox…a very normal routine.

Years ago, I was living in a new town, with young children, without a car, a church or friends. I started to experience symptoms of agoraphobia. I was terrified of leaving the house. I may have not had a severe case, but it was debilitating. I tried to keep my fears hidden from others, as I thought being honest about them would send me into a hospital.

As I thought about Marcel getting the mail, a question formed in my mind, “Do you remember when going to get your mail was nearly impossible?”

Of course I remembered.

Getting the mail produced an unreasonable amount of fear. I would look out our picture window and stare at the box. To me, it was like being asked to leap between two tall buildings. I was frozen. I was trapped.
My healing didn’t come in one whole swoop. I likened it more to the Lord saying “Take the first step and I will teach you how to walk! You come…you step out…you can do it.”

There is a plethora of touching videos online of military personnel being reunited with family members. The ones with children are the most heartwarming.

The scene is a school gym. The soldier dad arrives and gets about half way on the court and he bends down and waits. At the other end is his six year old son, who is has cerebral palsy. He was never expected to walk. But there he is, walking tentatively towards his dad. It had to have taken tremendous restraint for that dad not to run to his son and scoop him up. But LOVE waited. In that hesitation; he was showing his son the love that says “Come here to your Daddy.” You can do this son! I believe in you!”

So where is Here to There for you?

You have a Heavenly Father that is your greatest cheerleader. He is the One, who believes in you and waits for you. His arms are opened wide, as He scoots down to your level, to pull you into a warm embrace. He is SO proud of you!

My Abba…my Daddy God, let me always remember that YOU are the most important between here and there.

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