Resurrecting Faith


Life seems always to be a roller coaster of blessings and trials. We moved 10 times in as many years, started a business, tried to start a ministry and settle down only to get uprooted again and again with oppositions continually pressing in. 

For the last 18 months my husband and I have been going through yet again more life transitions. Some have come to completion and others have not. We’ve been getting hammered on all sides: two moves, deaths in the family, health problems, financial struggles, unexpected legal challenges, job ambiguity, etc…

In every way we’re troubled, but we aren’t crushed by our troubles. We’re frustrated, but we don’t give up. ~  2 Corinthians 4:8 GWT*


I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you my faith has wavered. I’ve had temper tantrums and fist shaking conversations with The Almighty. But God faithfully takes His little girl by the hand and gently guides her back on His path again.

After a long dry spell, I recently began attending a women’s Bible study where we’re learning The Fruit of the Spirit. In last week’s lesson on Faithfulness, the teacher referenced the Greek root word pistis for Faithfulness which is best translated in the English language as REALITY.  

Flashing lights! AHA moment! Wake-Up call!

My level of faith directly relates to my ability to face reality?
The more I want to escape reality – – the weaker my faith is?

Ouch!


What better time than Easter for God to resurrect my faith!

There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us…  Let us embrace reality and thus find ourselves immersed in the life-giving will and wisdom of God which surrounds us everywhere. ~ Thomas Merton**

How do you escape reality? Is the faith / reality connection applicable in your life today?

Image credits: daivi / 123RF Stock Photo

*God’s Word Translation
**Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton

Put Away Childish Things

Children who grow up in a stressful, violent, or abusive environment pick up various coping mechanisms. Whether it’s eating disorders, emotional avoidance, self-distructive behaviors or sexual acting out, these coping skills help soothe unbearable emotional stresses.


When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.  ~1 Corinthians 13:11-12 (New Living Translation)

Our mirror may reflect an adult but inside we’re still a little child. When stressed, often unknowingly, we turn to our childhood comforter. Some are relatively harmless behaviors, like nail biting; others like eating disorders and cutting, can be very destructive. 


It’s scary how easy we can get lost and fall back into old childish patterns. When we’re in pain we may seek relief and pleasure from a habit that will ultimately bring unhappiness. 

Characteristics of Infants / Children:

  • Have a lack of balance.
  • Don’t know right from wrong.
  • Easily give in to temptation. 

At one time our coping mechanisms helped us get through bad circumstances. But now God has something better for us. He wants us to put away our childish dependencies and look to Him for our comfort. 

Characteristics of Spiritually Mature:

  • Grounded on God’s Word.
  • Discerning good from evil.
  • Steadfast in mind and spirit.

God has clearly told me to put away my childish dependencies. Can I do it? Yes, but not alone. It will take a steady diet of God’s Word and a faithful regimen of prayer and meditation. Though I may be fearful and uncertain of my own strength, with God’s help I will do it afraid!


Join the conversation :: 

How are you handling your childhood coping mechanisms? 


If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE for @RebeccaStJames‘ song God Help Me.

RESOURCES:
Life Recovery Devotional
Deeply Rooted in Christ by Joshua Choonmin Kang

Photo credit: innaastakhova / 123RF Stock Photo

Living Life Lessons :: UNLIMITED ACCESS!

Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. ~ Romans 5:2


One day several years ago, I was missing my children who were grown but had been estranged from me for a long time. Then God gave me the above Scripture. With the verse came a vision of hope, a vision of my family fully restored, that has since come true. But before it did I had to lean on this verse for almost four years using the process below.



HOPE: forms the image according to God’s Word

We have something for which we hope… our marriage restored, a spouse’s sobriety, children’s struggles, finances… Whatever your specific needs are, if they line up according to God’s Word you can wrap them up in hope, keeping the vision of what you want to see before your eyes, not looking at things the way they are in the natural. 


FAITH: rises in our spirit, giving substance to the image in the heavenly realm.

If you are a Believer and have faith in Jesus Christ, you have access to God’s grace; which is His favor and blessings. As we tap into this faith, it rises up within our spirit. We bring out our hope package that is filled with our vision, then by way of our faith we send our hope to God.


GLORY: is the physical manifestation of God’s goodness in the natural realm.

Because we have access by faith into God’s grace we can stand in the hope of God’s glory. As we keep our hope vision in front of us, thanking God daily for His favor, mercy and goodness, we can rejoice because this hope will not disappoint.  Attached to our faith we have sent our hope vision to God. In His perfect time, God then sends our vision back manifested by His glorious goodness into our physical realm. 

Today my family is fully restored! We are walking proof of God’s glory. 

Here is the confession I stood on for four years:

I have access by faith into God’s grace where I now stand; I rejoice in the hope of God’s glory!


Take a few moments to get refilled with this song by the Robbie Seay Band http://youtu.be/Wz3vyyy01aw



Photo Courtesy of 123rf.com

Healing Hurts :: ANXIETY

anxiety: distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.



Anxiety seems to be an inevitable part of life. Stimulated by fear, when life comes at us with both barrels, we go into a panic attack or worse, shut down completely. 


Often, we bring anxiety on ourselves, with our too busy, over-productive, thoughtless style of modern work, play and home life. We rush around trying to cram as much into one day as we possible can. And we wonder why we have anxiety! 


If we take a simpler approach to our day we’re less stressed and worried, by slowing down, we find meaning and purpose in whatever task we’ve been assigned, whether it’s scrubbing dishes, driving a bus or delegating duties to an office. If we put more care-filled thought into our daily routine, the mundane will turn beautiful and our self-inflicted anxiety will fade away.


Another word for anxiety is worry. And fear is always at the root of worry. We learned last month in our Virtues~n~Vices column that faith is the only thing that can counteract fear. If you are running low on faith… I have just the answer for you. God’s Word! 


Here are a some Scripture references that help me in times of anxiety. Look them up. When one speaks to you, write it on a 3×5 card and keep it with you. 


God’s Word will renew your mind and remove your anxiety!


Joshua 1:9
Psalms 16:8; 27:1; 34:4; 55:22; 56:11; Psalm 91
Proverbs 3:5-6; 12:25
Isaiah 26:3; 41:10
Matthew 6:25-34
John 14:27
2 Corinthians 1:3-4; 4:15-18; 9:8; 10:5
Philippians 4:8

2 Timothy 1:7; 4:18


5 STEPS THAT OVERCOME ANXIETY
  1. Check Your Inputs Media influences are a recipe for anxiety and depression. Why do we think we need to know everything that’s going on in the world to survive each day? It’s simply not true. There’s very little we can do to change the head lines. Why clutter your mind with all the trivia, frivolity, drama and violence? Life’s too short to waste brain matter on unnecessary input. Instead, fill your mind with praise music to lift your spirit, read a good old book! Need help finding one? Email me.
  2. Check Your Thoughts – Think about what you are thinking about. Journal your thoughts in times of anxiety, trace them back, find the input that triggered those thoughts. You may need to eliminate an activity, a friend or program that’s triggering anxiety. 
  3. Check Your Activity Lack of exercise, not enough or too much sleep can cause depression and anxiety. Take a walk, look at the birds. Are they worrying?  Stillness, silence and solitude work wonders for anxiety. Yoga has been instrumental in my own mental and physical health. (Now don’t get ruffled about yoga… there are Christian Yoga books now.) Also, get yourself on a good sleep routine. There’s a lot of research showing the importance of circadian sleep rhythm – sleep when the sun does. 
  4. Check Your Diet – Eat closer to the earth. Cut caffeine and sugar. Drop soda, drink more water. Look for hidden sugars, high-glycemic levels in bread, grains, fruit, veggies, condiments, etc. By eating more organic, non-processed foods we will naturally feel better. 
  5. Check Your Focus – What do you spend your day thinking about? Take your mind off worries by helping someone else. Become a mentor, volunteer, lead or take a class. There’s always someone who has more problems. When we take our mind off ourselves and put it on someone else, it’s amazing how insignificant our worries seem. 


I hope this week’s column has been helpful to you. I know what it’s like to suffer with anxiety and panic attacks. If you have a serious problem, don’t hesitate to get medical assistance. God has given us doctors to help us. I was on medication for a couple of years to help me press through some tough times. During those years, I stayed busy renewing my mind with Scripture. Soon I had the strength and ability to live without anxiety medication. 



Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. ~ Philippians 4:6-7 (Amplified)


Are anxious thoughts creeping in? 


Watch or listen to @HillsongUnited sing Mighty To Save http://youtu.be/-08YZF87OBQ

* Helpful Resources: 
Hope for the Heart Biblical Counseling Keys: Worry – The Joy Stealer by June Hunt
Hope for Today Bible by Joel and Victoria Osteen
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
The Rule of St. Benedict 
Waiting on God by Andrew Murray

Virtues~n~Vices: FAITH

Step Out In Faith!



Virtue: a valued principle of good moral behavior; a holy habit

Vice: a practice of wrongdoing, essentially corruption of the virtue; an unholy habit.


Faith: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. (Heb.11:1)
Fear: false evidence appearing real.


Whether we believe in God or not, we use faith everyday. You put your faith in electricity when you flipped the switch on the lamp. You put your faith in the chair before you sat down. You put your faith in your car when you started the ignition.

Faith activates God’s power. Fear activates the Satan’s power. 

Faith isn’t a superstitious thing. But to live any kind of godly life, we will need faith and lots of it. The Hebrews definition of faith above is one I’m sure you are familiar with. But I like another definition by my friend Patty:

Faith is God’s mystical gift of love that fills our hearts and minds with the unshakable promise that we have a purpose to our existence. It dispels the darkness and overcomes doubt and fear.

Did you catch that last part? Faith can help us overcome fear. Now that’s good news!


For many people fear can be paralyzing. This distressing sensation brought on by a perceived threat is even used as an escape to avoid life and responsibilities.  Whatever the reason or outcome, fear is a demonic force controlling many lives today.


Fear is more than an emotional feeling. It is a spirit that causes thoughts, that cause feelings which can take us into an area where God doesn’t want us. When we allow fear to control us, we are putting more faith in what the devil says that what God says.


Whose power do we want working in our lives? We have a choice. Let’s choose Faith!


You may ask, “How can I get more faith?” The Bible says faith comes by hearing God’s Word. (Romans 10:17) In today’s world, we have no excuse for not hearing God’s Word. There are more resources available to us that ever before. 


Whether you use the Internet, a Podcast, GoogleTV, a SmartPhone, an iPad or a traditional Bible… Find time to hear God’s Word everyday. I promise, you won’t be sorry!


If you’ve never committed your life to God, please take a moment and give Him every area of your life. The Bible says, if we believe with our heart and confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, we will be saved. (Romans 10:9)


Don’t put it off another day. Today is the day of salvation!2 Corinthians 6:2




Enjoy the music video… Give Me Faith by Elevation Worship

Lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/h/hillsong_united/#share

Excerpts from Christian Virtue by Patty Woodmansee

Working the Steps: Step Two

“Step by step… I’m walkin’ on water to a land no man can see” ~ Bryan Duncan

Having recognized our brokenness in Step One we may feel empty and lost…

“O.K., I’ve admitted I’m powerless. Now what!?” 

Our next step will birth hope in us.

Step 2: Came to believe that God could restore us to sanity.

At this stage we are still hurting and fearful of trusting God about anything. But before we can see evidence of real change in our lives, we have to take a step of faith.

We have to step out to find out. Take the leap. Walk out on that branch.

We’ll never know what’s there until we do.

In my experience God honors that courage and meets us at the level of our expectations. Did you catch the little condition here? If our expectations are low, our results will be low. In the same way, if our expectations are high, the results will be high.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him. ~ Philippians 2:13

This Scripture is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I like to break it down like this:

First of all, God’s going to give me the desire to do what He wants me to do. It doesn’t stop there. He’s going to give me the power to do it, too.

You may say, “That’s awesome! But it  looks like God’s doing all the work. What do I have to do?”

Believe.

Step Two gives us new hope as we begin to see help is available. We must simply reach out and accept what God has to offer. Here a spiritual foundation forms that will help us grow into the person we want to be. All we need to do is be willing to take the step.

Remember, God never asks us to do anything without first giving us the ability to do it.

You may want to pray this prayer:
In humility I pray to believe in the only Power greater than myself–God. Give me increased faith so I won’t be crazy any more.

I hope you enjoy the theme song for our Working the Twelve Steps Series:
Step by Step by @Bryan_Duncan

Copyright © 2012 Reaching Hurting Women Ministry

This Is Only A Test!

The Emergency Broadcast System was established to provide the President of the United States with an expeditious method of communicating with the American public in the event of war, threat of war, or grave national crisis. The test allowed the FCC and broadcasters to verify that the EBS tone transmitters and decoders were functioning properly and that outlets nationwide would carry emergency programming within a period of five minutes when the system was activated.

Growing up I remember the Emergency Broadcasting System testing weekly on television. The above image would appear on the screen along with a high pitched tone signal to get our attention, followed by an announcement similar to this:

This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and other authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, the Attention Signal you just heard would have been followed by official information, news or instructions. This is only a test.

What about you? Is God trying to get your attention with troubling circumstances? 

Are you living in a crisis, war or threat of war?

Job loss, bill collectors, bankruptcy?

Kids on drugs, involved in crime and headed for jail. 

Stress is taking a toll on your marriage or physical health. 

Does it seem like everything will come crashing down at any moment?

When will it end???

You may not have this exact set of problems. But at one time or another everyone meets a crisis in their family. When we do it’s easy to ask: Why God Why? or When God When?

In school, we don’t get promoted to the next grade level without taking tests. Life works the same way. God gives us tests of faith to see if we are ready to go to the next level. The nice thing about God’s tests is if you fail them, you get to take them over and over again until you pass.

Instead of whining, complaining and begging God for answers, we need to heed God’s EBS warning and wake up! It’s time to change the view of our circumstances and see things from an eternal perspective. When we look at things from God’s view it’s easier to see potential purpose in times of struggle.

God never wastes anything. He will bring about something good if we will truly give it to Him.

So when we go through times of struggle let’s ask God to teach us the lesson He wants us to learn quickly so we can pass the test and move on to our promotion.

Will you pass your test?  Call out to God today. He will hear you.

In my distress I cried out to the Lord;
      yes, I prayed to my God for help.
   He heard me from his sanctuary;
      my cry to him reached his ears.

               ~ Psalm 18:6

Book Review: Searching For God Knows What by Donald Miller

Searching For God Knows What
by Donald Miller
Thomas Nelson Publishers 2004/2010
$14.99
249pp

True to form, Donald Miller, in his unmistakable story-telling style, tackles important subjects like faith and theology. Seriously, yet humorously, shedding light on them so that you will never read the Bible the same way again.

As the title suggests, this is a personal journey of faith. Faith renounced then found; but not just found, rediscovered with a clearer understanding of God’s Word and what it means for mankind.

Having read only two of his books, I am a huge fan of Donald Miller’s writing. I especially like the way he includes the reader in his personal struggles with life, God and faith.

I highly recommend this book. It’s an easy, entertaining read, but at the same time will make you think long and hard about what you really believe about God and Scripture.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their www.BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”