How Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

How Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

I remember receiving the phone call like it was yesterday. The police in our son’s out of state college town wanted to speak with us about some trouble he’d encountered.

 

That moment started a cyclone of emotions and a paralyzing struggle with fear that simply blindsided me. Although I struggled to identify exactly what I was afraid of, over the next many months, the Lord walked me through a painful and gut-wrenching spiritual journey of discovery and surrender.

 

As early as the onset, I trusted the Lord and believed—even through this trial—that He had a good plan for my son and our family. Still, I experienced a gripping level of trepidation that nearly stopped my ministry in its tracks and began to have a crippling impact on my life roles of wife and mom. Every part of my life felt as though it were under attack.

 

The Beginning of Breakthrough

 

One day my pastor suggested I borrow a book called Fearless by Max Lucado. He pulled it from his bookshelf and I placed it inside my handbag to take home. It sat on the desk in my home office for weeks. Every day as I walked by it, I’d think, “I should read that.” But I was unable to muster the strength to take even the smallest step toward freedom. It was as if I were too sick to reach out and grab a cure.

 

At last, I picked up the book and opened it. On the first page was nothing more than a Bible verse. It was Matthew 8:26, when Jesus asked His disciples,

 

“Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”

 

That was all I could take.

 

Tears spontaneously filled my eyes. I slammed the book closed and dropped it on my desk as the words penetrated my heart like a dagger. I couldn’t make myself read another word for quite some time.

 

But as only He can do, the Lord used His living Word to plant a seed of truth and understanding into my life. Matthew 8:26 swirled in my thoughts. It stayed in my mind when I slept, while I showered, and walked through my daily tasks. Slowly, over time, the Lord used that one verse to help me understand the powerful impact of fear and its relationship with faith.  Jesus used His Word to reveal a path of victory over fear that has stayed with me many years later.

 

The Opposition of Fear and Faith

 

 

In Matthew 8:26, Jesus referred to His disciples as “men of little faith” because of the fear they experienced. That unfolds an interesting dynamic. Faith and fear are like opposite platforms on a scale.

 

As our fear increases, it diminishes the manifestation of our faith. Conversely, if our faith increases, it diminishes our fear.

 

Fear and faith are in opposition and have a direct impact on one another.

 

It can sometimes feel difficult to hold fast to our faith, which leaves us vulnerable to the enemy’s fiery darts of fear. Even when we can’t identify that “thing” of which we’re fearful, effects of fear can be paralyzing. Just because we follow Christ doesn’t mean we’re exempt. I can tell you from first-hand experience that fear

 

  • Masks our joy
  • Keeps us from pursuing our calling
  • Causes dissension in relationships
  • Makes us feel separated and discontented
  • Can manifest in physical symptoms
  • Holds us in captivity
  • Makes us forget how big God is

 

Wielding the Shield of Faith

 

During that season in my life, there was little question that I was in bondage to fear. Each time those fiery darts made impact, I felt the sizzle and smelled the scorch. But God, as He always does, provided a way of protection. Ephesians 6 addresses the full armor of God and teaches that our shield of faith will “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (v. 16).

 

The Greek word thureos describes a large, oblong shield that protected every part of a soldier. It was an essential piece of equipment that was covered in leather to help defend against flaming arrows. The thureos was about waist high and at least as wide as an average person. Warriors became so skilled at using their shield that other pieces of armor often escaped any impact at all.

 

The illustration aptly demonstrates the power of faith. As Paul referenced a shield of faith, he selected the word thureos to make his point. Our shield of faith offers such complete protection, other pieces of armor (the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, and shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace) rarely receive impact.

 

“Imagine yourself holding up your shield of faith. All is going well until your eyes see something astonishing. Within your field of vision is something you never imagined and you stand, mouth gaping, feeling your left arm, which holds your shield, begin to slump. What you see with your eyes affects your faith and it begins to falter, ever so slightly. As your faith begins to weaken, your shield moves out of position and you are suddenly vulnerable to the enemy. We may have other pieces of protective armor, but when the enemy fires a flaming arrow, we’re sunk.  In my estimation, fear is a flaming arrow!

 

Think of what was happening to the disciples in Matthew 8. The storm was fierce. It was what the disciples could see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and feel upon their skin. What emotion did they experience? Fear. It can paralyze our brains and make us completely forget (even if just temporarily) how BIG God really is.   

 

I’ll just come out and say it:  Fear seems to make us lose our minds and forget the wonders He has performed in our lives and all the ways that He has proven Himself trustworthy. The disciples had many reasons to put their faith in Jesus. They saw Him work many mighty miracles, and yet were afraid when the storm on the sea arose.” *

Finding Joy in the Journey* this is an excerpt from my book, Finding Joy in the Journey (available on Amazon.com)

 

As believers in Christ, we love the Lord. We have learned to put our trust in Him and He has proved faithful through His work in our lives. We have seen Him perform modern-day wonders and bring us through hardships, trials, and heartaches. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He is incapable of dishonesty, yet at times, fear consumes us.

 

Why are we afraid when Christ has proven Himself so faithful? Why do we fear when the Lord of lords is on our side? What is it that makes us waver in our faith?

 

The Progression

 

Can you see the progression?

 

Our situation becomes frightening and our eyes fix on our situation.

 

We turn our focus to what we see (our situation) as opposed to what we cannot see (God’s activity).

 

Our faith is compromised, which causes our shield to move out of position.

 

We become a vulnerable target for our enemy, which causes deeper fear and a shield that shifts even further.

 

Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear!

 

There is good news! Just as quickly as our fear can cause us to lose faith, our faith can conquer our fear. Remembering to raise our shield of faith and duck behind it, even as we quake and tremble, our faith can overtake our fear. And here’s the thing – it can happen in a split second!

 

Because God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7), the enemy of our souls will not win this battle. With this in mind, take courage. Raise your shield and fight the good fight, knowing God is your defender.

 

Throughout this battle with fear, God impressed five specific fear-fighting strategies that continue to help me to this day. I’ve compiled them into a beautiful, FREE Printable that you can keep close at hand when fear strikes.  Click here to access 5 Fear Fighting Strategies and download the printable instantly!

Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

 

 

 

 

I pray that you always remember to wield your shield of faith and allow it to offer its vast protection against the schemes of the evil one. God is victorious! And as His children, so too, are we!

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like this 7-day series on calming anxiety!

Thank you for sharing on social media so other women can find encouragement too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

How To Calm Anxiety & Find Sleep

How To Calm Anxiety & Find Sleep

Welcome to day 2 of the series 7 Days Toward Calming Anxiety! This time of year brings a unique level of stress, fear, and even anxiety. So together, we’re taking a close look at Scripture and using this valuable resource to calm anxiety and embrace the joy of the Lord.

Calm Anxiety, Find Sleep

Any time I experience anxiety, my sleep suffers—tremendously. When I don’t sleep well, everything in my life is affected. And that causes, you guessed it, additional stress and anxiety.

Most nights I can fall asleep without any trouble. But then, for no apparent reason, I wake with a jolt, feeling worried and anxious about my situation. Sometimes anger and fear lie in wait for me in the dark of night, too, and I can’t seem to turn my anxious thoughts away.

That’s why I love these verses about sleep:

Psalm 4:8
I will both lie down and sleep in peace,
For You alone, Lord, make me live in safety (HCSB).

 

Proverbs 3:24
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
You will like down, and your sleep will be pleasant (HCSB).

 

In context, these verses pertain to trusting the Lord and following His ways. When we keep God as our focus instead of our troubling circumstance, He surrounds us with His perfect peace—even while we sleep.

These scriptures remind me that the Lord is always with me, protecting, guiding, and promising safety. Sleep is His design and He intends that it is peaceful and restful every evening.

I’ve heard it said that since God never sleeps, He is carrying our concerns and working His diving solutions to our problems even in the dead of night. So, we can go on sleeping in pleasant peace and security knowing that He continues to work on our behalf.

Practical Tips for Restful Sleep

Here are a few helpful tips that I’ve adopted for falling asleep and staying asleep, even during some of my most anxiety-plagued seasons of life:

  • Before sleep, I agree with the Lord and what He says in His Word. Using the two verses mentioned above in prayer, I pray the scriptures back to Him. My prayers may resemble this:

“Lord, you alone bring peace and safety. I accept this demonstration of your loving kindness. When I lie down to sleep, I will dwell in your safety. You will help me sleep in peace. Tonight, I will not be afraid because You watch over me, my situation, and my family. Thank you for sleep that is pleasant and sweet. I look forward to feeling rested and restored in the morning.”

  • I play restful music. It helps me to listen to soothing instrumental music, nature sounds, or white noise as I drift off to sleep. There are several radio channels available on our favorite music apps that are pleasant and helpful.

 

  • When I wake in the night and have trouble going back to sleep, I play audio Scripture from the YouVersion Bible app. Before I know it, I’m sleeping once again.

 

  • I often get out of bed and read God’s Word or pray over what’s troubling me. Since I’m losing sleep anyway, I set out to accomplish Kingdom work. I find that the enemy sometimes plants doubt and insecurity while I sleep. When I use his untimely interruption for prayer, I find that he’s a lot less apt to disrupt my sleep.

 

What are some of the ways you ensure a good night’s sleep?

May God’s Word strengthen you, bringing peace, calm and joy.

 

 

 

 

Taming Your Thoughts With Truth: You Are the Lord’s

Taming Your Thoughts With Truth: You Are the Lord’s

An exciting journey awaits when we deepen our understanding of who we are in Christ. Let’s face it, we spend too much time using unkind words toward ourselves, name-calling, and tearing ourselves down from the inside. We believe we’re incapable, unworthy, unloved, and insignificant. Jesus, on the other hand, says that we are gifted, valued, adored, and precious in His sight.

 

Taming our negative thoughts is critical to overcoming fear and anxiety or treating others with respect. It’s essential to consider our own identity based on who God says we are rather than what we accomplish (or fail to accomplish) each day.

 

There is often a great divide between how we feel and what we know to be true. Controlling our thoughts can prove a difficult hill to climb but it’s not impossible because we can fight them with the Sword of the Spirit. That is the Word of God.

 

When Emotions Grab Hold of Mindset

 

Rather than letting emotions grab hold of our mindset, are commanded take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. We’re empowered by the Lord to do so. That means that He gives us the ability to think as Jesus thinks, to have the “mind of Christ” as the Bible says (1 Cor 2:16).

 

Taming our thoughts is possible when we begin to use the Word of God as the mighty weapon that it is. A weapon is of no value to us when it sits on a shelf gathering dust. But when we take it down, dust it off, and put it to practice, we become proficient in wielding it and benefitting from its power.

 

By filling our minds with the truth of God’s Word, we push away any room in our thoughts for negativity and lies of the enemy. By meditating on and receiving God’s truth, we begin to shift our destructive mindset into one that equips and empowers us. Accepting ourselves for who God says we are in His Word brings victory and freedom instead of captivity and defeat.

 

Take Hold of the Truth

 

Isaiah 43:1 provides several notable truths about who we are in Christ:

 

“Now this is what the LORD says—

… Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”

(Isaiah 43:1, HCSB).

 

According to God’s Word, the truth is:

We are redeemed

God calls us by name

We are His (He call us “Mine”)

Therefore, we are not to fear

Respond with Action

 

Read Isaiah 43:1 again slowly and receive it as the cherished gift from God that it is. Meditate on the words as if the Lord were speaking them directly to you.

 

Allow this truth to push away the negative thoughts you’ve thought about yourself today. Tame those thoughts with the truth of God’s Word. Throughout the day when you begin to think such things as “I can’t…” stop that thought in its tracks and say aloud, “But God’s Word says that I am redeemed. He has called me and a belong to Him.

 

 

Embrace the Joy

 

There’s no doubt you’ll see an immediate breakthrough when you replace the lies of negative thinking with the truth of God’s Word. The more you actively receive and accept the love of Christ and see yourself as His beloved child, the more you’ll walk in confidence and assurance. You’ll stop putting so much pressure on yourself to perform well or to be perfect when you know that the Creator of the universe loves you just as you are today.

 

Walking through this practice daily will also bring blessing and assurance. You’ll soon find truthful thoughts come to the forefront of your mind more quickly. You’re taking steps toward taming your thoughts which will help mend relationships, move you into greater service for God, and naturally share the love of Christ with others.

 

I hope to see you back here for the next post in our series about taming thoughts.

 

Until then, may the Lord continue to strengthen and encourage us through His Word.

 

 

 

 

Tame Your Thought Life by Trusting God’s Truth

Tame Your Thought Life by Trusting God’s Truth

What’s on your mind?

 

If we could sit down over coffee, would you answer this question honestly? Or would you show me your happy face? You know, the one we often bring out in public to make it look like everything is okay.

 

I’d truly love to know what you’re thinking. Because if you’re anything like me, your thoughts might be hard to control. Sometimes they run amuck with lies and misconceptions about ourselves. Instead of clinging to the truth of who we are in Christ, we replay the unkind thoughts and ugly, unpleasant musings.

 

You might reason, “They’re just thoughts—they don’t hurt anyone.” But I beg to differ.

 

The Dangers of Adopting a Negative Mindset

 

While it would be wonderful to have a warm, fuzzy identity in our own minds, the reasons to tame our thoughts far exceed the desire to feel good about ourselves. It may seem that our thoughts are harmless, but when we allow them to replay, we begin to believe them. And that comes with devastating and ever-increasing consequences. For instance,

 

  • A negative mindset causes us to become overly critical of others. We are suddenly hard to please and those around us feel as if they can do nothing right.
  • We begin to doubt our God-given gifts and talents.
  • This causes hesitation to serve our church, our community, or even of family. We draw back instead of stepping forward to get involved.
  • We succumb to the temptation to accept mediocrity instead of embracing the best God has for us. He offers more, but we convince ourselves that we’re comfortable with things as they are.
  • A mental fog can overtake us, dulling our peace and joy.
  • Discipline in our time with Jesus begins to wane, and soon we recognize that we don’t connect with Him the way we once did.
  • Our prayer life diminishes and we doubt its effectiveness.
  • We begin to overcommit and overwork, believing that it will help us “prove” ourselves.
  • We shrink back from making new friends or deepening our existing relationships.
  • It becomes hard to trust others.
  • We lose sight of the reality of the cross.

 

When we believe the lies that the enemy of our soul whispers into our hearts, it becomes second nature to estimate our personal value on what we do rather than who we are.

 

Taming Your Thoughts by Trusting God’s Truth

 

What if our struggles in marriage are due, in part, to the personal identity we hold of ourselves? Is it possible that our relationship issues, our lack of confidence in parenting, our battle with the bathroom scale, or that simmering anger that we seem to always carry with us, stem from our habit of listening to untrue thoughts about ourselves?

 

What if we could break free and step into the truth? Imagine what could transpire in our thoughts and then in our lives if we began to grasp the full richness of God’s glory and see ourselves as He sees us.

 

As daughters of the King, we have a Heavenly Father who loves us—just as we are—and is the Source of our true identity. Yet, rather than trusting in the truth of God’s Word, we yield to the temptation to find our value in the things we do, in what we produce, and in the opinions of others. It’s time to stop the madness and embrace all that the Lord has for us.

 

Today kicks off a new series of articles on the blog that will point us to the truth about who God says we are. I believe that all women need to hear that they are enough. They are worthy. They are loved.  It’s time that we stopped estimating our value based on our mistakes, our histories, the unkind words of others, or the lies of the enemy. Those things can’t define us. Only God can do that.

 

Will you join me for an exciting journey where together we’ll deepen our understanding of who we are in Christ? I look forward to meeting you right back here and unpacking the exciting and trustworthy truth of God’s Word!

Trusting in God’s Word,

 

 

 

 

 

Calm Anxiety Through Gratitude

Calm Anxiety Through Gratitude

Thank you for stopping by the blog! Today is Day 4 in our series 7 Days Toward Calming Anxiety where, day by day, we allow the truth of God’s Word to calm our anxious hearts.

 

Philippians 4:6-7 were two of the first verses I ever memorized and the Lord calls it to mind often as I struggle with fear and worry. It’s become a trusted source of comfort that provides me with several action steps to calm anxiety.

 

Philippians 4:6-7
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (HCSB).

 

The most common takeaway from this familiar passage is prayer, which is powerful and effective. Prayer should be our go-to response to trouble instead of the last resort that we turn to when nothing else seems to work. If you know me at all, you know that I value and fully embrace the power of prayer. In fact, I shared a series on the topic of prayer that you can read here.

 

But today I’d like to focus on a little phrase inside of this treasured verse that’s often overlooked:

“with thanksgiving.”

Calm Anxiety Through Gratitude

As I’ve learned (and continue to learn) how to conquer worry and anxiety, one of the most powerful weapons in my arsenal is gratitude. It’s pulled me from many obsessive thought patterns that firmly grip my mind. Giving thanks to God not only spurs our faith, but it’s also a healing practice with the power to transform and renew our minds.

 

Today as you continue in mindfulness about your own anxiety, I encourage you to take a break. Grab a comforting beverage, find a quiet place to reflect and list 5-10 aspects of your current situation for which you’re thankful.

 

I’ll share transparently that I struggle today with the unknown. After decades of solid employment in our home, I’m wrestling with our current uncertain situation, “what if” types of thoughts, and more worry than I care to admit. I can’t see the future as I once believed I could. As I practice gratitude, I am thankful that . . .

  • I have an incredible man of God partnering with me on this journey
  • while we can make plans, it’s the Lord who determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9)
  • God provides for our every need and has given us countless examples of that
  • we have friends who stand in the gap on our behalf, both praying and doing great, generous things
  • we’re learning to find contentment in every season
  • God’s timing is perfect and He is never late
  • Multiple opportunities await us on the horizon and we can look forward to new adventures

 

Simply listing simple statements of thanks shifts my mind from worry to peace and from anxiety to calm. May the practice of gratitude transform your thoughts as well.

 

Be blessed by God’s mighty promises,

 

 

 

 

 

calming anxiety through gratitude

Finding Peace Through Humility

Finding Peace Through Humility

Welcome back! This is day 3 of the series 7 Days Toward Calming Anxiety. Together, we’ll focus on the peace that the Lord brings and use His strength to calm our anxious thoughts.

 

Today’s Bible verse is one of my favorites.

 

1 Peter 5:6-7
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you” (HCSB).

 

I don’t often consider humility as a powerful tool against anxiety, but it certainly is.

 

As we succumb to worry and anxiety, we focus on our circumstance to an unhealthy level while pushing away the truth of God and His Word. We begin to believe that our situation is too big for God to handle, that He won’t bring the right outcome, or that He’ll make the first mistake ever recorded in eternity. Do you see how we begin to inflate our trials until, in our minds, they become more powerful than our mighty God?

 

We don’t do it intentionally, but we put ourselves and our concerns in the center of our “universe” instead of giving God His rightful place in that position. We exalt our concerns over the peace of God.

 

Taking Thoughts Captive

 

Calming anxiety requires that we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. He is bigger than our circumstance, bigger than the trials that we face, bigger than our worries and He is more than able to calm our anxiety. 1 Peter 5:6-7 reminds us that rather than carrying the burden of our cares in our own strength, we can cast them onto God who loves and cares about us.

 

Each time you find yourself dwelling on your troubles or feeling anxious, take those thoughts captive. Remind yourself that God’s ways are best. He cares for you and is always working for your good. With God on your side, everything will work out per His good and perfect plan.

 

Allow God’s truth to overtake your fear, worry, and anxiety. And be sure to check out yesterday’s post about calming anxiety here. Be sure to read yesterday’s post and stop by again tomorrow for additional inspiration.

 

May God’s Word strengthen you today,

 

 

 

Finding Peace Through Humility

 

 

Finding Peace Through Humility

Pin It on Pinterest