fear

When Others Deem Our Actions Foolish

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Sometimes the best choices are the hardest to make. Sometimes wisdom appears foolish and faith fanatical. As a young mother striving to live for Jesus, I quickly learned just how contrary the things of God can appear to some.

When I chose to stay home, some deemed me lazy.

When I attempted to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance and guard our daughter’s influences, I was accused of sheltering her. I was told my actions would ultimately harm her and leave her maladjusted.

My attempts to explain, or perhaps more accurately, to defend my choice, didn’t help. My discussion of God’s leading—of His gentle voice, spoken softly yet clearly to my heart—and the deep assurance that followed made no sense to those who had never heard Him or hadn’t learned to discern His voice.

Perhaps some even found me delusional:

“She claims to hear from God,” they say, with a raised eyebrow and slight smirk. “Does she talk to the Easter Bunny too?”

Over time, I learned to be a little more cautious regarding what I shared and with whom. And honestly, I hate that. I hate that I so often allow other people’s opinions to hold me back. I wish, like Paul, I could boldly and consistently say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes …” (Romans 1:16, ESV) and then back this up with my actions.

I’ve been ridiculed by my peers. He’d been imprisoned for his faith. I’d stood against cultural opposition to raise our daughter. He stood against the religious elite and angry mobs. I’ve been excluded from certain groups due to my “passion for Jesus”, but he’d been smuggled out of Berea in order to save his life.

There’s a lot of reasons I could give for why, at times, sharing the gospel makes my stomach knot and my palms text image using quote pulled from postget sweaty, and yet, in each instance, it comes down to this—whenever I stifle God’s message within, I’m putting my pride above someone else’s salvation.

When I look at it that way, my concerns and fears seem petty at best.

I imagine Paul felt as I have, on many occasions. Otherwise why the need to make such a bold and declarative statement—for I am not ashamed. Unless maybe he’d been tempted to feel ashamed in the past—perhaps when mobs of angry people shook their fists at him, spit on him, and hurled stones at him. Or perhaps others, maybe even believers in Rome, had demonstrated that they were ashamed of him. Or maybe he was simply stating a fact with all the courage the Holy Spirit allowed—I am not ashamed! No matter what others say, no matter how foolish or irrational my words appeared, I choose to speak life.

Even if it costs me mine.

Lord, help me have that same confidence Paul demonstrated again and again, regardless how others respond or how unpopular Your message appears. Because life’s too short and there’s too much at stake for any of Your children to remain silent.

Life’s much too short and Your love for the broken too strong for any of us, Your mouthpieces, to live afraid. Click To Tweet

To the contrary! As ambassadors of the sovereign King, we can walk into any and every situation with our heads held high, our voices sure, and our message clear: “I am not ashamed, and I refuse to be, because the words I speak have power and life.”

Let’s talk about this! When has obedience caused you to look foolish in the moment or left you misunderstood? How did you gain the courage to step forward in faith? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other. And make sure to engage with us on Facebook and Instagram where we post daily snippets of encouragement!

Faith Over Fear imageIf today’s post encouraged you, make sure to check out Jennifer’s Faith Over Fear podcast, released by Salem Communications. Keep an eye out for her correlating Bible reading plan and weekly video devotions. You’re also invited to participate in her 10-week Faith Over Fear challenge, launching February 6th, through social media. Grab her daily focus calendars HERE.

fear, surrender

Fear of Missing Out

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My schedule had ballooned, leaving me fighting for air. Though I managed to juggle all the demands and responsibilities bombarding me each day, I made numerous errors. I epitomized the phrase, “Jack of all trades but master of none.”

Or perhaps that’d be better phrased as “Doer of all but proficient in few.”

My joy, peace, and relationship with Christ was suffering. In my constant rush to tackle one task after the other, my prayer time had shifted from treasured and protected soul care to something I squeezed into my already rushed day, out of guilt and obligation rather than a desire to genuinely connect with my Savior.

Though I claimed God’s sovereignty over my present and future, my schedule and mistakes—my choices, my will—became my God.

If I did X, Y would happen. If I failed to do C, D would never occur. And if I stepped down from a certain role that, potentially, led to promotion, my life’s dreams would be irrevocably derailed.

In other words, when I evaluated the root of my busyness, it came down to this: Fear of missing out. Fear that if I said no to a particular opportunity, I was potentially robbing myself of something good that could lead to something even better.

My fight for control and fear of missing out, of in some way hindering God’s very good plans for me, revealed deep-seated, faulty views of God.My fight for control and fear of missing out, of in some way hindering God’s very good plans for me, revealed deep-seated, faulty views of God. Click To Tweet

Either I believed He was sovereign or I didn’t. And if I did, then I didn’t need to stress over the small stuff or my ever-changing circumstances. Instead, I’d rest in the One who walks beside me, stands behind me, goes before me, and holds me secure.

Either I believed He was supreme and worthy of all my praise, or I didn’t. If I did, then I’d recognize that everything I engage in or pursue on earth is but a shadow of what God has prepared for me. I’d remember how insufficient temporary pleasures were in filling my deepest needs and heart’s desire.

My schedule revealed my priorities—my true gods. But perhaps most convicting, my stress and fears revealed what I truly believed about God, His heart, and ability to care for me.

That realization empowered me to make changes. I analyzed my thought processes and the things that caused anxiety in light of truth, and I asked God to center me in reality.

Text pulled from postHere’s reality—God is in control. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 says , speaking of God, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all” (ESV).

Because God is bigger than any obstacle or setback I might face, and no matter how things might appear today, in the end, He wins.Because God is bigger than any obstacle or setback I might face, and no matter how things might appear today, in the end, He wins. Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about this! Do you struggle with a fear of missing or disrupting God’s plans for you? How might focusing on obedience help you find peace in the uncertainties and abundance of opportunities assaulting you each day?

If today’s post encouraged you, make sure to watch out for Jennifer’s Faith Over Fear podcast, releasing soon by Salem Communications, during which she discusses how to overcome our fear of missing out to choose trust in Christ instead.

Faith, fear, God's Will, Hardships and Trials, obedience, Uncategorized

Training for Our Heavenly Race

By Jessica Brodie

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

It was harder than I imagined. There I was on the side of the lake, face beet-red and lungs about to explode, not to mention sweat dripping off every inch of my frame. I’d convinced myself I could jog the length of the dam, only my body was far more accustomed to race-walking and circuit training than a nonstop pounding run.

“How do people do this?” I asked my sister breathlessly.

“You just have to train,” she replied. “Few people can just lace up and run a 5K out of nowhere. You have to build up, little by little.”

I followed her advice. Every day, I’d start by walking, then I’d run—first just a few minutes before shifting back to a fast walk, then increasing my run time. Soon I was doing far more running than walking. By the morning of the 5K, I’d trained enough. I completed the 3.10686 miles out of breath but victorious. I’d persevered! I’d run the race! And now I could celebrate.

In our earthly lives, we know perseverance—resolve, tenacity, determination—pays off, and not just when it comes to running. We persevere in studying hard for our final exams so we can achieve good grades. Through difficulties in our jobs so we can remain employed and advance our careers. Through troubles in our relationships, fighting for a healthy family.

And when it comes to our spiritual lives, perseverance is critical.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, #perseverance is critical. Click To Tweet

When we believe in Jesus and repent of our sins, we receive eternal salvation. But sometimes our faith is sorely tested. We face trials and temptations. We pray for health, only to receive a scary diagnosis. We hope for relief, only to experience the devastation of a hurricane. We love others well, and get rejected. Sometimes it seems easier to give up than keep the faith.

Sometimes our #faith is sorely tested. Sometimes it seems easier to give up than keep the faith. That’s when we need to hold fast and press on. #holdon #jesus Click To Tweet

But Scripture tells us to hold fast and press on. In the Book of Hebrews, the author reminds us that we are to model ourselves after Jesus, the “pioneer and perfecter of faith,” who ran the race with perseverance. “For the joy set before Him (Jesus) endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3 ESV).

Jesus encountered much difficulty during His life on earth, even more than us. He was questioned, mocked, challenged, beaten, tortured, and ultimately hung on a cross by the very people He had hoped to save. But He kept His eyes on God and did God’s will. He persevered because the future goodness outweighed the present suffering. He taught and healed, and He died for us so that we, too, may be saved for eternal life.

#Jesus encountered much #difficulty during His life on earth, even more than us. He was questioned, mocked, challenged, beaten, tortured, and ultimately hung on a #cross by the very people He had hoped to save. But He kept His eyes… Click To Tweet

When we set our sights on God despite opposition, we will follow Jesus and be victorious in our trials. How do we do that? We train ourselves to pray, to focus on God’s Word the Bible, to follow Him, to put Him first, and to love others as we love ourselves.

When we set our sights on God despite #opposition, we will follow #Jesus and be #victorious in our trials. Click To Tweet

Sometimes the race gets hard. Our course might take us uphill over rocky terrain. We might slip or want to give up. But when we cling to our faith and push aside any stumbling blocks, when we keep our eyes on the prize (eternal life in heaven!), our perseverance will pay off.

Our course might take us uphill over rocky terrain. We might slip or want to give up. But when we cling to our #faith and push aside any stumbling blocks, our #perseverance will pay off. #nevergiveup Click To Tweet

What is holding you down? What hardship seems too big to overcome? Little by little, lace up your sneakers by turning your heart toward God and make Him a priority. Build up your muscles and lungs by reading God’s Word. With Jesus, you will persevere and run the race.

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian author, journalist, editor, and writing coach with a faith blog, Shining the Light, at JessicaBrodie.com.

fear, Heart Issues

How Jesus Helps Us in Our Fear

quote from Sarah pulled from the post.

Did I hear God right? Leave our family and move half way across the country on our own? With a nine month old?

Leave the only hometown we’d ever known?

Where were we going to live? How were we going to make new friends? I was scared of the unknown. I was nervous and unsure. I wanted to stay where I was—comfortable, where everything felt familiar.

About 5 1/2 years ago, my husband and I were shopping in Hampton Virginia when my old boss phoned me. He’d recently moved to Omaha, Nebraska to be the Vice President of Marketing of a senior health organization. We’d kept in touch, so the call wasn’t out of the ordinary, but the reason for his call was. His company wanted me to spearhead their marketing for an expansion project.

My first thought was, Omaha, Nebraska? What do they do there? Farm? Grow corn?

At that time, my parents and my husband’s parents lived a mile from us. They were our safety net. Always there and available to help. The thought of moving and leaving where we’d grown up, a house we’d recently purchased, our parents, our friends, our church, and our life group felt overwhelming. Yet after much prayer, we felt certain we were being called to the Midwest. Even though we knew we were following Christ’s leading, we still feared the unknown.

I was afraid the job wouldn’t work out. I was afraid we wouldn’t make new friends. I was afraid my husband wouldn’t find a job. I was afraid it was a huge mistake.

What do you fear the most? Do you trust God’s provision?

Even Jesus’ disciples, struggled with fear and trusting the Lord. In Matthew 14:30-31, Peter and the disciples saw Jesus walking on water. Peter questioned if the man they saw truly was the Son of God, and said “‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’

“He said, ‘Come.’

Peter got out of the boat and walked towards Jesus. “But when he saw verse image Matthew 14:29b-30the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’

Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”

Peter let fear paralyze him when he was walking on water. But Jesus comforted him with an outstretched hand.

When we step out in faith, despite our fear, God does the same for us.

I didn’t know why Christ was leading us to Omaha. I just knew in my heart we were supposed to be there. Fast forward a little over three years, and we learned why. In early 2016, I had a stroke while sitting in the waiting room at Children’s Hospital with my daughter. The medical community in Omaha is fantastic. Within fifteen minutes of our home, we have several nationally recognized teaching hospitals with every specialty imaginable.

These options were not close to where we previously lived in Virginia. I would’ve most likely had to drive to Baltimore or North Carolina to receive the medical treatment so readily available in Omaha.

If I hadn’t taken that phone call in Marshalls, and if I hadn’t listened to God’s calling to relocate to Nebraska, I may not be alive today. My fear of moving could’ve cost me my life.

When has God called you to the unknown? Were you fearful? Unsure? How did you push the uncertainty away? Let’s talk about this!

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