Monday, August 30, 2010

Fear Not: Part 3

Climbing Sillouette-1
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

In the previous post, Tearing Down the Walls, I mentioned I struggle with the fear of pain. Now I want to ask you, "What are you afraid of"?
We all have unique God given personalities and gifts. All three of my girls have been woven with different and distinct personalities. While each of their personalities is special to me, I have also observed with each personality there is a weakness. Satan knows our weakness! Fear distorts the natural personality traits God has given you and turns them into idols or strongholds! The wall I built around my heart to keep pain out actually was the stronghold that kept God's love from entering in.
Fear becomes a STRONGHOLD when it begins to control our actions. What is a stronghold? It is a fortress or castle. It is anything that set’s itself up against its opponent. In the ancient times a stronghold was the LAST line of defense. So if Fear is a stronghold in our life it is literally putting up a wall or a fortress against Faith. Fear also sets itself up against our dependence on God for deliverance.
According to 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5, A stronghold of fear sets itself up against the knowledge of God. But, the Word of God has the power to demolish strongholds.
Let me ask you a serious question, do you want your strongholds demolished or would you rather have them diminished? Let me explain, a stronghold can become such a fortress in our life that the thought of it being demolished is terrifying. It is then that our stronghold has become our IDENTITY!
Some examples, A man who is afraid of failure at work becomes a work-a-holic. He works hard at his job and in return becomes really good at what he does. His work becomes his identity. God created man to work as for the Lord but Satan distorts this by instilling the fear of failure into the man. Work becomes the place the man retreats to when Satan brings those fears to the service instead of retreating to Almighty God.
Women are all about relationships and spending time with other women. God created us to be in relationship but Satan distorts this when we put our trust, faith and self worth in our relationships instead of in God. It is when we retreat to our friendships to get our emotional needs met INSTEAD of retreating to Almighty God that Satan has distorted what God created for good and turned our relationships into a powerful stronghold. Our relationships; what groups we belong to, what supper clubs or Bible studies we attend become part of our identity. Now, let me clarify, God created us to be in relationship with other women but He never intended for us to get all our emotional needs met by anyone other then Him. He desires to meet our emotional needs. He alone can fill our emotional cup.
Some of us have a fear of rejection but we would tend to think of ourselves as independent or maybe we tend to think of ourselves as trendsetters. We mask our fear of rejection by buying the latest fashions and keeping up appearances. We want and desire nice things so that people will admire us and accept us. In turn, these behaviors protects us from feeling rejected. We become known by others as trendy, hip or self confident but in reality we are so afraid of feeling the pain of rejection that we keep everyone at arms length and put all our attention on how we look or what image we want to portray. God has given each of us unique personalities. He has given most women the desire to be beautiful. He has given us desires to be beautiful for our husbands. But our appearance becomes our idol when our focus and self worth are entirely placed on how we look. It is then that fear distorts what God created for good and turns our appearance into our idol or stronghold.
Some of us have a fear of being alone, this one is a big one for women. What we fear is the feeling of loneliness but we tend to refer to ourselves as people pleasers, extroverts and socialites. Those who fear being alone can also have a tendency to be very controlling. They hold on tightly to those they love in fear of losing them. They develop behaviors that keep them from feeling alone or lonely. This one in particular is a tough one for me.
God wants to be our stronghold. The place we retreat to when life throws us a curve ball. He wants us searching in His is holy Word for encouragement and us finding rest and peace in Him and Him alone.
The Word of God helps us to identify strongholds. We are in a war for our mind and heart. We must fight this war with our weapon, the Word of God. When we identify our stronghold we must confess it and allow the Lord to heal us.
God doesn’t want us living in the past, he wants to FREE US FROM OUR PAST!!! Christ died to set us free. If Jesus sets us free we are free indeed. Listen, I know firsthand how hard it is to take this first step. We might be afraid of the pain we will feel if we go back. But Godly sorrow always leads to repentance and freedom!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tearing Down the Wall

Now Jericho was tightly shut because the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. Joshua 6:1

Most of the time the things I write about on this blog are things the Lord has already brought me through. The lessons learned from a particular trial and the healing that is possible when we trust Him. Today is a different post. This post is fueled by raw emotion as I try and sort out all my hidden insecurities that go along with this season of childrearing. Raising three soon to be four girls, all the while trying MY best to be the wife, friend, daughter, Bible study leader, the Lord has created me to be. I've seen the ugly truth that the harder I try to do all this in my own strength the more I seem to fail. These difficult seasons continue to show me my dependence on Him and the importance of taking hold of His grace in my weakness.

Have you ever felt like giving up? Let me be clear when I say I'm not talking about walking away per se but erecting a wall around your heart? Erecting a tall wall as to not feel the sting of pain and rejection. Erecting a wall to keep from feeling failure as once again your six year refuses to listen and simply obey. Erecting a wall around your heart as your husband comes home once again to a dirty house and the kids fighting over who had what first and who is leaving who out. All the while, struggling with just enough energy to get through the rest of the day. Struggling to put on foot in front of the other and walk out the calling He has for you. Erecting a wall so you will not feel the pain of loss or the emotion of sadness as your child chooses to walk away from you in your moments of weakness and despair. As your husband is too busy to listen to the not so importance details of your day but somehow the mundane events seem to be all there is left to talk about.
These are just some examples of how and why we erect walls around our heart. But the Lord has revealed that our insecurities are deeply rooted in fear and fear sets itself up against Faith. Why are you afraid? What is it that you fear? These two questions kept running around in my mind as I laid awake and because I couldn't shake them, I assumed it was the Lord asking me to take inventory of what was taking place within my heart. Sometimes, we forget that the Lord knows us intimately and completely so we must assume when He asks us a question it is for our benefit. He desires to reveal the lie that we have brought into and set us free from our misconceptions. So I thought about it and asked Him for His wisdom. Already knowing I struggle with the fear of pain, I thought deeper to the root of all my insecurities and fears and it came to me, I fear myself without Him. I have brought into the lie that if I continued to mess up He was going to walk away and leave me to myself to teach me some divine lesson and I was one mistake away from Him leaving me to my own devices.
The Spirit He gave me is the exact representation of Himself and yet I was questioning His unconditional love and acceptance by buying into this lie in my heart. I stress in my heart for my mouth would never claim the above lie as truth but my actions and insecurities indicated that my heart believed this lie. I also somehow brought into the lie that all of this (child rearing, marriage, friendships, family) was up to me to do in my own strength and all the things coming my way was due to my incompetence as a wife, mother, friend and daughter. I have always claimed with my mouth the promise, He will never leave me nor forsake me, and the promise that, He who created me knew every single one of my days before one of them came to be. When I am weak He is strong. I claimed that I am saved not by what I do but because of what He has done for me. I have stated time and again, that there is not one good thing within me apart from Him but praise be to God that His perfection is within me and His provisions are perfect. I claimed these truths with my mouth but my heart never accepted it due to the wall that I had erected. The wall that was erected to keep pain out was the stronghold that kept His love from entering in. I have always struggled with accepting His UNCONDITIONAL love for me and believing that no matter what comes my way He is with me and in me and equipping me. I have also realized that even as a young girl, I erected a wall around my heart to keep from feeling pain and rejection but this same wall has also been the stronghold that kept the love of others from penetrating to my heart. I have always struggled with believing and accepting love from others including those within my own family. A wall built to keep pain out but also the stronghold to keep God's unconditional love from entering in. OH how my heart aches. How it grieves God when we fail to accept His love as if the sacrifice of His only beloved Son was not proof enough of His unfailing love. Oh how my heart aches to think that my girls might struggle with accepting and believing in my love for them and on the same note how my failure to receive love from others must hurt those whom I love the most.
Lord, tear down the wall I have erected around my heart with your unfailing love. Just as the walls came tumbling down in Jericho after being encircled for seven days. May the wall built around my heart come tumbling down as I trust You by faith to do only what you can do and that is bring victory for your Name sake and bring down the fortress built around my heart. Only you can conquer the stronghold of fear and with song and shouts I will praise you in my weakness. May I praise you not only with my mouth but also with my heart and turn every insecurity over to you. May you use this struggle of mine to release the bondage of fear in others and bring healing and restoration to all those reading these words.
Reader, please overlook all the errors and forgive me for the rawness of this post. It is my hope that even in my rambling the Lord will use this post to free you from some of the strongholds built around your heart and use all of you to bring glory to His name.

Fear Not: Part 3 will be posted on Monday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fear Not: Part 2

Do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God trust also in Me. John 14:1

Jesus knows to deal with the mind we must look at the heart. He knows that the heart is the wellspring of life. Jesus, quoting Isaiah, states to the Pharisees, “ The people (speaking of the Pharisees) honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain: their teachings are but rules taught by men". He goes on to say, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth is what makes him unclean.” Matthew 15:8-10 These are what make a man unclean, but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean. Jesus goes on to say in verse 18, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony and slander. Matthew 15:18-20.
Let me pause here for a moment, and give you a little background on the above verses. The Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus in Capernaum from Jerusalem to ask him why His disciples break the elder’s laws by not washing their hands before they eat. Jesus' response in the above verses takes the emphases off of behavior and places the emphasis on the heart behind the behavior. In fact, Jesus states, to follow some of the traditions taught by men, these same men were actually transgressing against God. The Pharisees's traditions had become more important than God's commandments. These verses also imply that essentially all sin resides in the heart. Again, it is much easier for us to obey behavioral commands than it is for us to obey with our hearts and keep our hearts pure before God. We must take a stand to guard our heart. John 14:1 says do not LET your hearts be troubled. The word LET in this verse implies that this fight is active. To guard our hearts is a moment by moment battle that takes an intentional effort not to let the world infiltrate our hearts with all kinds of selfish desires. We must be careful what we allow to penetrate our mind and our heart. This active moment by moment battle takes place in our mind.

Let’s go back one last time to John 14:1, Do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God trust also in Me. Fear is a trust issue. Who are we putting our trust in when the storms of life are raging war against us? Are we putting our trust in ourselves or are we placing our faith and trust in God. Are we focused on our situation or on God’s Word? Trusting that He is going to work out his purposes within us? Do we believe that God is going to supply us with all we need and give us the strength to get through the darkest night? In the midst of our fears our focus must be entirely on God. Fear set's itself up against Faith but if we put our trust in God than our Faith will conquer fear.

I want you now to take a moment to go to Psalms 69 and read it aloud.Our God is big enough to handle all our fears. We must cry out to Him humbling naming our sin and our condition. Telling Him exactly how we feel and asking Him to lift us up. He already knows every detail but when we cry out it opens up communication between you and a mighty God. It gives Him the opportunity to comfort you through your times of fear and despair. In fact, when you read the Psalms, you discover that what starts out as crying out turns into praise. When we cry out to God in the midst of our troubles, he in-turn, reveals himself to us. Think of it this way, if your child was fearful or sad you would want them to come to you and tell you what’s wrong. You would want them to TRUST you with the things closest to their heart. Most of the time, we already know why our children are sad but we still want them to trust us with their feelings of sadness and with their fears. We want them to want us to comfort them during their times of distress.
Jesus, our mighty comforter longs to comfort you during the most difficult of times. Will you allow Him to come in and minister to you during your darkest of hours? Will you cry out to Him in the midst of your distress?

Re-post: Fear Not written in 2008 for a Bible study entitled Footsteps.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fear Not: Part 1

Do not let your hearts be troubled trust in God; trust also in me. John 14:1

We as women are so in tune with our feelings and emotions that at times we fall into the trap of believing that our feelings and emotions are truth. How we feel about something becomes our reality. We rely so much on how we “feel” about a situation that our feelings often override God’s truths. For instance, when we say things like, that just doesn’t “feel” right to me; I don’t “feel” like God loves me; I don’t “feel” like I love my husband anymore; I’m “feeling” a little off today; That particular verse doesn't seem fair and doesn't feel right. We are allowing how we feel at that particular moment to define our actions and our reality. It is at these moments that we must remember, God's truths override our feelings. Can I just interject for a moment, God's will for our life very rarely appeals to our flesh therefore, our feelings can not be trusted. For our flesh and the Spirit are constantly at war within us.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. John 14:1
The Greek word for trouble in this verse is the word Tarasso, which means to agitate, to cause one inward commotion; to take away one’s calmness of mind. It goes on to use words like to disquiet, to strike with fear and dread; to suggest scruples and doubts. When I read this definition I picture someone who is restless, who doubts, someone who is unfocused.
Henceforth, the word Tarasso distracts us from God’s truths and causes our minds to be filled with lies and confusion.
I struggle with fear. Most of the time my fear is unfounded and totally irrational. My husband always says I missed my calling in two areas, 1. As a lawyer because I will argue a point to the ground and not back down and 2.In the C.I.A. in the Preventative Terrorism Division, P.T.D for short, this is my term for my fear disorder. My husband’s term is probably more appropriate, Conspiracy Think Tank Division, C.T.T.D for short.
You see, I struggle with imaginations. I will get silly ideas in my mind and what starts out as this possibly could happen turns into this is going to happen and it is going to happen now. What is my plan of action? I’m telling you if anyone comes in my front door when I am home alone they will be greeted with a golf club in one hand and knife in the other. If anything they might go down in a heap of laughter. Now, I can share this and we can laugh about it but the truth is I have struggled with fear since childhood and I’m sick and tired of being afraid.
The verse in John 14:1 tells us that fear is a heart issue. You and I both know that it is much easier for us to change our behavior than it is for us to change our heart. Heart issues are something we cannot combat on our own. We must have the help of the Holy Spirit. And yet when we look at the word for trouble in the Greek, the word Tarasso, it implies that Jesus is also referring to the mind. Let’s read the definition again, Tarasso, to take away our calmness of mind, to cause one inward commotion, to perplex the mind by suggesting scruples or doubts, to disquiet; to make restless. But Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled. Notice, He didn’t say, Do not let your minds be troubled. He said our hearts not our minds. Jesus did not make the mistake of using the Greek word tarasso when speaking to his disciples. But why did he use a word that seems to appeal to the mind? I believe Jesus knows that to deal with mind we must look at the heart. He knows that our heart is the wellspring of life.

More from Fear Not in days to come.
These messages were written in 2008 for a Bible Study called Footsteps.