Bravery or Fear?

I want to be brave. I want to fearlessly walk down unknown roads, and launch into deep waters. I want the kind of trust that goes even when I don’t know where I’m being led.

The truth though, is my brave talk is not always matched by my faith, and that’s frustrating. What I want to do, hope to accomplish, and dream of achieving is reliant on my willingness to step out of the safety and security of the boat, and that is sometimes where I sink. (Matthew 14:22-33)

There are times when I am my own worst enemy. My grand ideas of recklessly following God would be a whole lot easier if it weren’t for me. It’s not that I dont know what God’s word says about trusting Him to guide and protect me; it’s just not always easy to live that out.

So what am I to do when my faith doesn’t seem big enough to slay giants? (1 Samuel 17) How can I be brave when I am so weak? It seems insurmountable, but I promise you, it’s not.

I’m pretty clear that fearlessness does not come by my own strength. (Zechariah 4:6) In fact, the Bible says I am stronger through God, precisely when I am weak. (2 Corinthians 12:9,10) It says God doesn’t give us fear – he gave us power!

So, for me, it’s pretty clear this bravery thing is birthed in my relationship with God. In God I am strong. His word reminds me over and over not to fear. (Matthew 4:27, Joshua 1: 6-9, 2 Samuel 10:12)

What I know is my bravery is not based on my feelings of fearlessness. Braveru is not based on me, and this knowledge pushes me out into the unknown. I am confident in His promise to make me courageous. (1 Chronicles 19:13) so, this is how I fly, how I run, how I step out – in His strength and not by mine. (Zechariah 4:6)

So where do you need to be fearless? If you need a dose of bravery, I challenge you to take a step. Reach up towards whatever scares you. Go with the knowledge that God is your strength, he gives you bravery, and makes you fearless. (Romans 8: 27, 27)

Faith to Dream

What was your dream? You know, the secret longing, the sacred hope, the expectation you’ve carried in your heart for longer than you care to remember.
We all have them. Some of us have very open hopes and dreams. Perhaps we’ve been fortunate enough to experience some of them. But more than likely, there are desires we’ve hidden away, or given up on. It’s the hopes and dreams we’ve given up on that I want to talk about.
I know what it’s like to lose hope. For years I quietly waited for God to unveil a dream I’d had to share my story with other women. I was convinced God had called me to bring the incredible hope He had given me to others. I felt His calling on my life, and it was powerful and real. But, I did not walk through every door God had clearly opened in front of me. (2 Timothy 1:9)
What held me back wasn’t fear or doubt, it was the voice of those around me. I asked for permission from others and was told “not yet,” so I waited. I was told “someday,” so I didn’t walk forward. Finally I was told “no,” and I gave up. It crushed me – for a while. (Proverbs 13:12)
I was sad, but not broken, and soon I began to feel a spark of hope The dream God had given me was too powerful to ignore. The flame God places in us cannot be extinguished, and soon I began to feel it rise in me again. I began to realize I had let someone other than my creator determine the validity of my dream. Lesson learned – don’t put man’s word above God’s. (Isaiah 2:22)
The thing about dreams is they are individual to each of us. We were singularly designed by God; one of a kind, with unique purposes and dreams. God created to fulfill His purpose and He set that purpose in our heart. Our dreams are God inspired.(Ephesians 1:13)
So if God is the author of our dreams, why should we doubt? God promises to guide us (Psalm31:3) He promises not only give us dreams, but to fulfill them. (Philippians 2:13) And, He promises to give us the desires of our hearts. (Psalm37:4)
Knowing this, I challenge you to give yourself permission to uncover the desires you’ve set aside. Look without fear or trepidation at what you believe impossible, and for a moment consider it possible. Why shouldn’t you? The bible gives us many examples of promises fulfilled, against all logic. (Genesis 2:1, Romans 4:18)

While We Wait

It can be a powerful thing when you hear God’s call. For me, it was exciting and frightening. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, or where God would take me. However, what I did know is I clearly heard His direction, and I was ready to move forward to whatever He had for me. So, I took off running.
But what happens when we’re ready to move forward, but God’s response is to pause? What if the direction you get is to stop with no hint as to what’s next or how long you’ll have to be there. (PSALM 27:14)
In my personal life, I am known as somone who “gets things done.” As a project manager, I am supposed to identify the end goal, and map out the steps to get there, so doing nothing makes no sense to me, and as a doer, it’s frustrating.
Waiting is not easy, and how we do it says a lot about us. The truth is, it’s not something I like doing. No one is going to pat you on the back and say “Great job sitting.” It’s not exciting or fulfilling to wait. And, waiting doesn’t get you anywhere… or does it?
Waiting simply doesn’t feel good! However, I learned a long time ago not to base my walk on my feelings (Matthew 2:10). As the weeks go by, I am begining to see beauty in what God is doing. Becoming quiet changes us.
By waiting, we are forced to be, rather than do. Without the chaos of constant movement, we begin to center on Him alone. We start to rely on God for acknowledgement, not on our accomplishments.
When we stop running things get quiet. It’s in the quietness we can best hear God’s still, small voice. (1 Kings 19:11 – 13). There in the solitude we are refreshed and strengthened. We become intimate with God and more dependent on Him to fill us.
I don’t know how long I’ll be in this place of waiting. And, I cannot say I understand fully what God is doing. What I do know is that He is changing me, and whatever the process, His plans for me are always good. (Jeremiah 29:11)
 

 

Breaking the Power of Silence

Silence is powerful. It commands our attention, and can be more deafening than crashing cymbals or blaring horns. It also changes us, causes physical harm and can actually destroy us! ( Psalm 32)

This is especially true when we keep silent about sexual abuse. Not speaking out in the wake of sexual abuse gives power to shame, silences our voice, and steals our God given identity. (Jeremiah 1:5)

God create us with an unique identity He planned in advance for each one of us. This identity is a banner over us, and tells us, and the world who we are. (Exodus 17: 8- 16) Abuse replaces that identity with one that defines us as less than. It says we do not matter, are not important, and have to voice.

God alone can restore our true identity, and that process begins by speaking out. Victim or not, we must use our collective voices to break the silent prison created by sexual abuse. It is time to expose this evil perpetrated against our souls. (Ephesians 5:11-12)

Fearless Faith

How can we respond when our calling requires courage? Is it possible to trust God when fear rises up to demand our attention?
We were created by God to fulfill the purpose He created for us. (Ephesians 2:10) And fear of failing is one of the primary reasons Christians never experience their God given potential. Doubt can be debilitating. It captures our attention and confines us to an imaginary place we’re convinced keeps us safe.
Faith demands us to let go of our ability to control the outcome. Doubt gives the appearance of safety. We want to be courageous, but we’re not always sure it’s worth the potential risk. However our reasoning is often faculty and based on past experience or perceived danger. We see the giant not God’s promise of victory. (Numbers 13:1- 31)
As Christians, we know the answer to fear and doubt is faith – but sometimes it’s not as easy as it sounds. Faith is believing in the intangible as if it were solid enough to hold in your hand. It means trusting that God is true to what He says. (James 1:17)
Fearlessness requires us to set aside preconceived beliefs and expectations and to proceed boldly into the deep. Like Peter we must step out of the safety of the boat – eyes firmly planted on the one who guides our steps. (Matthew 14:22-33) Like Peter, we must base our journey on faith in God’s promise, not on what our fear tells us.

Hurting Stinks

Have you ever been hurt by someone? We all have. If you are around people, you are guaranteed pain. So why does it seem so much worse when hurt is inflicted by Christians?

I think we are shocked because we expect our brothers and sisters in faith to act differently. The truth is our shared belief does not change the fact that – Christian or not – humans are flawed.

Here’s the thing, having a relationship with Jesus changes us (hopefully) for the better. But, because perfection is never fully reached in this world Christian or not, we remain imperfect and capable of inflicting pain on each other.

So what is the solution? Jesus. It’s that simple. When our thoughts are fixed on him, it changes our perspective. Filtering hurt through Jesus changes the way we interpret it.

Hebrews 3:1 says, “Fix your thoughts on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 says to fix our eyes. On him. What we focus on is what drives us – it becomes us. Focus on hurts, and we become bitter, angry, and frustrated. But, focus on Jesus and we find peace and comfort.

This is God’s promise to us. Philippians 4:7 says the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds of we choose to stay grounded in Jesus.

So, when I am hurt, I have a choice to focus on the offense, or on the one who brings peace. It’s challenging, not always easy, and rarely instant. Sometimes I need to refocus over and over.

There’s no distinction in this process whether the offence comes from strangers, friends, family, or Christian brothers or sister’s. The only hope we have comes from choosing to look past the hurt to the ONLY one who can change the ash of pain into something beautiful. Isiah 61:3