Help Me, Lord

I read this sentence in a devotional in my Bible today:  “Where the peace of God is present, there is no room for worry.”

As I pondered on this statement, a flood of emotion surged through me.  The last month has been a whirlwind of emotion as my youngest son dealt with some pretty serious health issues.  What I first thought was the flu led to a diagnosis of Neutropenia (very low white blood cells) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  If you have ever had to walk down a road where your child’s health has been attacked, then you know what I was going through.   At first they were telling me that he could have Leukemia.  I can remember feeling numb.  It was hard to find the words to even form a prayer.  All I could do was just cry out to God.  He knew what I was feeling anyway.  Questions arose in my mind and fear showed its ugly head but after a month, his blood counts began to come back to normal.  Even though I did not have the strength to pray, God heard my cry and answered my prayer.

It is very easy to slip into fear when we are faced with uncertainty.  Fear seems to be lurking in so many areas of our lives that we sometimes don’t even recognize it is there anymore.  I had myself so wrapped up in my son’s health and some other pretty stressful situations going on in our family that I had a hard time breathing.  When I finally went to the doctor to see what was wrong, he told me that it was all stress related.  At that point I had to make a conscious decision that I no longer was going to be led by my emotions or the fear that had taken grip of my life.

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

I love this verse!  When we become a child of God our old lives are over and everything has become new.  The things that kept us bound to fear have been broken off of us!  We are not a slave again to fear.  Fear brings with it torment and unrest.  It enslaves us to become its servant because we can no longer function with the mind of Christ.   God does not want us to live in that state of mind.  He has literally broken the chains that bound us to our fears.  He has given us the victory!

When we are going through stressful situations that begin to cause us to fear, we need to get back to the Word of God and stand on His promises.  Romans 4:20 says that “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was able to perform.”  This was talking about Abraham when God had given him and Sarah the promise that they were going to have a child in their old age.  He could have looked at the outward appearance of his situation and said that having a child was impossible, but Abraham looked up to God and did not waver at the promise God gave him.  How many times are we given a promise by God only to not see the answer in our time table and give up before the answer arrives?  We need to learn from Abraham and hold on to our promise no matter what circumstances may look like.  Abraham was fully convinced that what God had promised He was also able to perform.

I don’t know what you are going through or what you may be facing today but I want to encourage you to seek God and His promises and trust Him to bring you through.  Life is not easy for anybody.  So many times we find ourselves asking God why, but we need to learn to lean on Him and not be led by our feelings and our fears and trust that He has the best outcome for us.  Begin to chase after God’s peace.

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You Mighty Man of Valor

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How do you see yourself?  Maybe you see yourself as being insignificant and invisible; unable to do anything right.  Or maybe you see yourself as not being good enough for the job God has called you to complete.  Well, do I have news for you.

I love the Bible story about Gideon.  Here is a man that I think we all can relate to at some point in our lives.  As Gideon was basically hiding in fear and threshing wheat, an Angel of the Lord appears to him and says; “The  Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor.”  I would love to have seen the look on Gideon’s face.  He may have even looked around to see if there was anyone else standing around him that the Angel could have been talking to instead.  Gideon responded by reminding the Angel that the Lord had forsaken them and delivered them into the hands of the Midianites.  I love the next line that the Lord speaks to Gideon:  “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.  Have I not sent you?” God is calling the things that are not as though they were.  Gideon surly was not a man of valor at this point.  He was a fearful, cowardly man.  But God knew what He created Gideon to become and He knew that there was nobody else that He would rather give this incredible task to. If you continue to read the story you will see that Gideon asked the Angel for a sign.  Once he was convinced, he was able to do the work that God had called him to do.

Every time Gideon thought low about himself and unequipped for the job that God had called him to, God would speak the opposite about him.  Gideon saw himself as fearful, weak, and the least in his family.  But God saw him as a mighty man of valor! Gideon saw himself unable to do the work God had planned for Him.  But God said that He was with Him and he will defeat the Midianites.

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.  I Corinthians 1:27

Dear one, you are great in the eyes of God!  He created you and thinks you are absolutely perfect!  Quit worrying about what other people think about you and begin to believe what God says about you.  Quit allowing your own thoughts and people around you to dictate who you are and who you will become.  Start believing what God says about you. You are awesome in the sight of the Lord and He has good things in store for you.

HELP ME GOD!!!

Sitting and relaxing.  Ears start ringing……what is this?

Reality begins to fade.  There is a feeling of desperation.  Am I dying?  Heart starts racing; a cold sweat breaks out.  Intense fear overtakes.  Body begins to tremble.  Am I going to pass out?  What am I going to do?  More fear.  Heart pounding in chest.  Breathe.  Remember to breathe.  Deep breath in…..deep breath out.  Relax.  Pulse slowing down.  Breathe..Heart not pounding.  Breathe…Reality sets back in.  Breathe….sweating ceases.  Breathe….trembling disappears.  You are safe.  You are ok.  Calmness reappears.

Some of you know exactly what I am describing above.  Like me, you are too familiar with the symptoms.  For those of you who are not familiar with the above description, I am describing what someone who has a panic attack experiences in the midst of an attack.  They are real and they are terrifying.

After a series of intense stressful circumstances that my family has endured over the last three months, I have become all too familiar with the panic attack.  Am I a weak person?  I guess that’s up for debate.  But I don’t believe I am.  I have taken all of the stress and trauma over the last couple of months and internalized it instead of letting it go. The stress began to build up within me until my body couldn’t handle it anymore and then released it as a panic attack.

Many of you may be asking, “why didn’t you just give it to God?”  Well, I did.  But sometimes you are in such a broken state that your mind and body don’t really cooperate with each other. Sometimes the battle is so intense that it affects your physical body.  I cried out to God every morning and every night asking for His intervention.  I begged Him to remove my fears.  I tried to believe for a miracle.  I waited on God to bring deliverance.  It was during the waiting that the battle was the greatest for me.  I wasn’t even sure if God heard me when I was calling out to Him.  It was so hard to find Him.

One night, as I was praying, God led me to Psalm 34:4 which says:  “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.” I realized at this moment that God did hear my prayer and He hasn’t forgotten about me.  He saw the torment I was going through and He cared about what I was going through.  If you deal with fear and panic attacks, I strongly encourage you to read all of Psalm 34.  It will bring comfort to your soul.

I began to see when I thought I couldn’t go on any longer, that’s when God showed up powerfully.  When I thought God was being silent, that was when God was up to something good!  When I couldn’t hold on any longer, I realized that breakthrough was just around the corner!  I want to encourage you today to hold on because I believe strongly that your breakthrough is just around the corner also!!  Be encouraged and believe with me!!

 

 

Is Social Media Stealing Our Lives?

I’m going to go a different route today with my writing because I have been having something weighing heavily upon my heart and I want to see if I am the only one who feels this way.  

We all have seen the benefits of social media and I am sure we all use it everyday to stay connected with people. Everywhere you look you find people looking at their phones and checking on status updates.  Just this morning, I was dropping my son off at school and I noticed the man behind me snapping a picture of him and his son and posting it right to Facebook.  You can’t even have a full conversation with somebody without them checking their phones. I began to get very irritated when I noticed how consumed we are to a “fantasy world.”   There is a side of social media that I began to see that I don’t like at all.  I’m not saying that social media is bad, and I’m not saying that I won’t use social media; however, I began to get convicted of the amount of time I spent on social media.  

I found myself glued to some type of computer device.  I had access to social media on my computer, my tablet, and my phone.  It went with me everywhere—-to the resteraunts, the stores, visiting relatives, my children’s sporting events, and dates with my wonderful husband.  If I posted a comment, I had to check to see how many likes or shares it had.  And if there weren’t many likes, I would get upset because nobody must like me.  Now come on, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has thought this way.  If we are not careful, we can begin a downward spiral of depression because we are too busy comparing our lives to the lives of others.  When will we learn that not very many people are going to post the negative aspects of their lives?  Most people aren’t that candid or real.  I do have a few friends on Facebook who are real and I appreciate them so much.  Nothing is hidden, and I love that about them.  

When I began to realize what social media was doing to me, I began to feel convicted and ashamed.  I was ashamed because I realized that I was forgetting to live in the here and now and forgetting to enjoy the beauty all around me.  I noticed that chores were not being done as thoroughly as they should be.  I noticed more anxiety because I was just sitting there not doing anything.  I noticed the missed hockey goal, or the race being won because I was on Facebook posting how well the kids were doing.  I noticed the missed conversations with my husband because we were too busy checking our accounts.  And I noticed the spiritual hunger rising up within me bacause I was more concerned about what my “friends” were doing rather than what my God was doing.  The bible studies became shorter, and the prayers became shorter…. all because of my obsession with social media.  The music in my heart was gone. I didn’t play my piano as much and the songs stopped being written all  because I was spending too much time on the computer.  I had to get something done.  What would have happened if I would have continued spiralling down this road?  I’m afraid to see.  

I began to wonder what our society would be like if we reached for our Bibles as much as we reached for our phones.  Would things be different?  Would we be a nation that once again feared God?  I guess we will never know.  But I do know what I am going to do.  I have closed my Twitter account and my Instagram account.  I even took Facebook off of my phone.  It will be checked once in the morning and once in the evening.  I am no longer going to be so caught up in other people’s lives that I forget to live my own.  I am doing my Bible study before I check anything on the computer.  God will be first and foremost in my life.  I have chosen to give my family my full, undivided attention.  They will not suffer for todays technology.  Strangers will see my face, and not my head being bent down looking at my phone.  I have chosen to live.  

If you have seen a similar pattern in your own life, I encourage you to make changes now.  Don’t wait until it is too late.  Begin to live your life today in the here and now because you will not get these moments again.

 

Spring is Breaking Forth!

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We had a beautiful spring weekend up here in Western, PA.  As I was walking my dog the other day, I was amazed at all of the spring beauty that had been covered by the winter’s snow. Funny how the beauty was always there, I just was unable to see it because it was covered with snow for three months.  My 75 pound dog also showed his excitement of spring as he dragged me across each lawn to chase every bushy-taled squirrel that he could find.  If you ever saw the movie Marley and Me, you get the idea.

 

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As I was enjoying the outdoors, or at least trying to enjoy them between each dragging of the dog, I began to think about what spring means in my own life.  Spring is all about new birth, newness, and hope.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have been waiting for spring to break forth in my life for a long time.  I need that hope of newness and renewal in my life.  Isaiah 43:19 says:

“Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

The suffering and pain and uncertainty that you have been going through is not in vain.  It has been a season that you have had to walk through.  But I believe God is wanting us to not lose hope.  Through all of the suffering, and with every tear that has been shed, our purpose is going to be birthed.

When you think about spring, you will notice that there is a struggle between the warm and cold temperatures.  Winter doesn’t want to let go very easily.  It is wonderfully warm one day, and snowing the next.  Discouragement sets in becasue you think spring should come easily.  But I want you to know that anything new in our lives does not come without a struggle.   Just as spring does not arrive without storms and tornadoes, so spring in our own lives does not occur without a time of travail.  A woman does not give birth without pain and travail.  The pain is always the greatest right before the birth.  If you are in the darkest pit and you are unable to see because of the storm raging around you,  just buckle up and hold on, because spring is coming. I saw the flower buds, I heard the birds singing, I felt the newness in the air and I know that spring is coming.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 says:

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep; and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, and a time to lose; A time to keep and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; A time of war, and a time of peace.”

As you can see, there are different seasons that we each must go through in our lives.  Some are joyous, and some we would rather do without.  But we need to remember that it is a season to go through.  We are not going to stay in the season.  Seasons change and we must be willing to change and let God do His perfect work in us.  

Be encouraged and know that your season is changing, hope is rising, and spring is on its way.

Hold On!

God never ceases to amaze me.  While looking for a verse to use for the blog post I was going to write today, God led me to another verse which began to speak volumes to me.  So, what I am about to share is not what I originally had planned.  My prayer is that whoever needs to hear this will be blessed and encouraged.

Numbers 23:19 says:

“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man that He should repent.  Has He said, and will He not do?  Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?  Behold, I have received a command to bless; HE HAS BLESSED AND I CANNOT REVERSE IT.”  

As I read this verse I began to think, My God, how many times do I pray and believe a verse only to give up when the answer or miracle is not performed within my time-table?  How many times have I doubted God’s blessings for my own life because I didn’t think He cared about what I was going through because the trial was lasting so long?  And yet this verse says; “Has He said, and will He not do?  Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

There are seasons in our lives we go through that are so difficult for us that it is sometimes hard for us to stand on the promises of God.  When the storm is greatest, and the waves are crashing down, and you just don’t understand what on earth is going on, just remember that what God says, He will do.

I know in my own life there have been times when I have prayed years for something and not seen the answer to my prayer manifest. If I am not careful, I can easily allow fear and doubt to rise up within me to the point that I begin to doubt what God has said.  I begin to believe the lies that say He just doesn’t care about me.  Maybe there is something wrong with me.  So-and-so got their prayer answered and I am still waiting.  But Acts 10:34 says:

“God is no respector of persons.”

What God has done for one, He will do for you.  Every miracle in the Bible, every promise spoken in the Bible is for you and me today.  Hebrews 13:8 says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

God hasn’t forgotten you. He will do whatever  He says He will do.  I know when the battle is raging, it is hard to believe and hold on to God’s promises.  Don’t feel guilty if this is how you feel.  We all battle this when the battle is the greatest.  Tenth Avenue North wrote a song named “Worn” that I want to share with you.  I am going to just share different parts of the song, but you will get the idea:

I’m tired, I’m worn.  My heart is heavy, from the work it takes to keep on breathing.  I’ve made mistakes, I’ve let my hope fail. My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world.  I know I need to lift my eyes up, but I’m too weak, life just won’t let up. I’m worn and my prayers are wearing thin, I’m worn even before the day begins, I’m worn, I’ve lost my will to fight.  I’m worn so heaven come and flood my eyes.

I know every one of us have been in this kind of mental despair at some point in or lives.  It’s lonely and dark in this pit of despair. However, it is in the darkest moments of our lives that we have to remember the promises of God.  There are times when we may have nothing left to do BUT stand on God’s promises.

We must begin to believe what God has spoken.  Romans 8:28 says:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

We must believe that God has good things in store for us.  He wants to bless us more than we want blessed.  Just as we love to give good gifts to our children, God wants to bless us with His good gifts. The last part of our verse in Numbers 23 says that, “He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.”  Praise God!  You cannot stop God’s blessings from coming to you!    When your prayer is finally answered, and the blessings begin to flow, you will have no room to contain them. Nothing can stop your blessing from coming.  Just hold on and don’t give up because your blessing is on its way!

Help! I Think I Am Losing My Mind!

When was the last time you sat down and received God’s rest?  Or beter yet, when was the last time your mind was at rest?

For me, it has been a very long time since I had a rested mind and peace in general.  My stress symptoms are letting me know that my mind has been in overdrive for quite awhile actively stealing my peace.  I am all too familiar with the symptoms of stress overload:  anxiety, heart palpitaions, loss of sleep, fatigue, short tempered, emotional, over-eating, or in my case under-eating.  And if we have been stressed out for a long period of time we may have panic attacks, depression or health issues that have risen from the stress.

I can remember a time in my life when I was so stressed out, that I broke out in shingles on the left side of my face and in my left eye.  We were going through a very hard time in our ministry and a lot of false accusations were being made against us.  We were also going through the whirlwind of emotions connected to not being able to conceive another child.  And then add health issues on top of all of that and you have a classic case of stress overload.

It’s hard to control your thought-patterns when life seems to be falling apart all around you.  I would cry out to God, but my mind was in such an overdrive that I was not able to find rest for my soul.  I was desperate for freedom from the turmoil that was attacking my mind.  Notice I didn’t say freedom from the physical symptoms.  Those were bad enough, but I wanted freedom from the detrimental thought pattern that was manifesting itself as physical symptoms.  I knew if I could conquer the war raging in my mind, I could conquer the physical symptoms.  When you are dealing with stress, or anxiety, or fear, the arena of the mind becomes the arena where victory or defeat will take place.  Isaiah 26:3 AMP says:

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [ both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You and hopes confidently in You.”

How do you fix your mind on God?  By meditating on His Word night day and night.  Even in your lowest state you can find scriptures that deal with your situation that will cause the heart to mend and your mind to begin to find rest.

A lot of times finding the scriptures are easy, but staying focused on those scriptures may be a little harder. Sometimes it is hard to break free from our thought patterns.  We need to learn to cast our cares onto God and believe that He will take care of everything that has us so stressed out.  I Peter 5:7 AMP says:

“Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.”

In order to cast the whole of your care upon the Lord, there are a few things we must reject: Those are the thoughts of fear, worry, doubt, and unbelief.  I don’t know about you, but I’ll give my cares to God and then a thought will enter my mind and before I know it, I have taken back my cares.  This is where the scriptures we find for our circumstances come in handy.  As soon as the negative thoughts come back in, we need to verbally quote our scriptures over our circumstances.  Then we need to roll our burden back onto God so that we can find rest for our minds.

David wrote in Psalm 23:1-3 that:

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul”

David knew something about finding rest for his mind.  He penned that God restores his soul. The soul is your mind, your will, and your emotions.  Only God can give you rest for your weary mind.  Let Him lead you to the quiet places.  Let Him give you rest.  Throw your cares upon Him and find peace.  He cares for you too much to see you battle-scarred from your own thought pattern. Fall back into the loving arms of the Father, and allow Him to give you peace.

You Are Being Pursued…

You Are Being Pursued...

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I just finished reading a book titled, “God’s At War: Defeating the Idols That Battle for Your Heart,” by Kyle Idleman, and he talks about God’s pursuing love for us. He says that, “This is a God who, when turned down, ignored, rejected – even violently, even blasphemously – finds a new way to express His love and issue the invitation. This is a God who has never given up on winning your heart.”

Those are powerful words. He is a God that in spite of all my weaknesses, in spite of all my sin, in spite of all my ugliness, still pursues me and wants a relationship with me. This love is so hard to comprehend. And yet, there are times in my life when I have doubted His love for me. It’s hard to believe that God loves you when your whole world seems to be falling apart. I think as humans we are so programmed with the worldly system of love, that our minds are warped with carnal thinking and believing instead of God thinking and believing. God’s love is not like our human love which is based on fickle feelings. His love is a love that we cannot even comprehend.

I think many times we have taken our earthly relationships and hurts and just assumed God’s love is like ours. There are many times when I think that the hurt and pain we experience in our earthly relationships is carried to how we relate with our relationship with God. We need to realize that we are human and our love is going to fail and not meet everybody’s needs. So many times I look to my husband to meet my needs, only for it to end up in disappointment when he falls short of my expectations. Only God can meet our evey need. His love is perfect and not lacking in any area. He loves us so much that Isaiah 49:11 says:

“See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.”

We are inscribed on God’s hand. He can never forget us. During the times when it feels like God doesn’t care, we need to remember that He literally has us in the palm of His hand. He loves us and is there for us.

In spite of our past mistakes, in spite of our sin, in spite of all our flaws, we are loved by a God who NEVER gives up on us. Romans 8:38-39 says:

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to seperate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It is so encouraging to know that we are being pursued relentlessly by a God who has an all-consuming love for us. If we could grasp this love, many of our fears would be erased because there would be no reason to fear. God is holding us and whispering our name and telling us how much we are loved.

For you who are doubting God’s love, just call out to Him. I have been in your shoes so many times and it hurts. But I also had to come to a point to allow myself to receive God’s love. There will come a time in your life when you have nothing left to do BUT receive the Father’s love. Call on Him. He is right by your side waiting to embrace you in His arms. He loves you unconditionally.