Why Should I Worry?

As a child, I used to sing a chorus by Eugene Peterson that says, “Why worry, when you can pray. Trust Jesus . . .” Here’s an arrangement I found on Youtube:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/9-d3CvVjaAc]

Philippians 4:6-7 says:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

In A Confident Heart, Rene Swope says we can conquor worry with the following three steps:

STEP ONE – Stop worrying: “press the pause button on . . . consuming concerns.” We all know this is easier said than done. Often we fall into some routine worrying in our lives. This is my list:

  • What if I don’t meet that person’s expectations?
  • What if I fail?
  • What if I don’t meet this writing deadline?
  • What if my marriage falls apart?

If I can choose to press the “pause button” and examine what I’m worried about, I realize I’m wasting my energy fretting about many things I don’t have control over. I will always fail to meet someone’s expectations. I will not always succeed at what I do. Some writing deadlines won’t be met. Without God’s grace, my marriage will fall apart. Even if these things do happen, will it be the “end of my world” so to speak? No. The problem comes when I base my worth and significance on anything other than God.

People will fail me and I will fail others. After all, we’re human. But, God doesn’t love me because of anything I do. He loves me because He chooses to love me. There isn’t anything I can do to make God love me more . . . AND There isn’t anything I can do to make God love me less. My whole world may fall apart, but I can be secure in God’s love. I don’t need to worry!

STEP TWO – Start praying: “tell God what I need.” We all know what it’s like trying to stop a bad habit. If we don’t fill the void of a bad habit with a good habit, we’ll fail every time. We can’t just stop worrying. If we focus on not worrying, we’ll end up worrying more. Instead, we need to pray. God is our Heavenly Father.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)

Book: One Thousand GiftsSTEP THREE – Keep thanking God: “remind (your) heart of God’s goodness by thanking Him for what He’s done.” Many of us are familiar with Ann Voskamp’s book 1,000 Gifts. Every day we have a choice. We can let worry overtake and paralyze us, or we can choose gratitude. Worry and gratitude are mutually exclusive – they cannot co-exist in our minds.

  • Instead of worrying about people’s expectations, I can thank God that He created me as a unique individual and He loves me.
  • Instead of worrying about failures, I can thank God that He knows my weaknesses. I can also thank Him that “. . . we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
  • Instead of worrying about missed deadlines, I can do my best to meet the deadlines and thank God for the results. My schedule is not always God’s schedule!
  • Instead of worrying that my marriage may fall apart, I can do my best to be a loving wife and mother. I can thank God for my husband. I can choose to respect him and honor him. Even if a spouse dies or chooses to leave, God never abandons us

What about you? What worries nag at you? What will you choose to be thankful for today?


The Real Me

In our study of Renee Swope’s A Confident Heart, we took a look at personality traits, natural gifts and spiritual gifts. Renee shares a Spiritual Gifts Assessment which she has found helpful. A month ago, my husband and I also took the Gifts Test which Vince & Cindy D’Acchiolli of On Target Ministries use. There are also other assessment tools available. None of them are perfect, but I’ve found it helpful to spend some time thinking about who I am and what makes me “come alive”.

In chapter eight, Renee challenges us to ask ourselves a question, “Am I doing what God may be calling others to do while leaving undone what He has called me to do?” If we don’t know what our strengths and weaknesses are, how will we be able to determine where we fit in or what God is calling us to do?

Here is what I’ve discovered about myself:

  • I am naturally an introvert. I enjoy spending time alone, reading, thinking, and meditating. In order to have my alone time, I get up at 5:30 on weekday mornings. I also go for walks by myself with my camera in hand to capture the beauty God created.
A picture I took after a recent snowfall.
A picture I took after a recent snowfall.

 

  • Teaching young children makes me feel alive. I love the enthusiasm of preschoolers and their thirst for knowledge. It’s wonderful to see their creativity and spontaneity. That’s why I decided to teach Music for Young Children.
  • I thrive on order. Nothing frustrates me more than working with a group that is in chaos.
  • People often look to me for leadership. Sometimes this frustrates me. Sometimes I wish I could just go somewhere and enjoy being part of the crowd. However, I have come to accept that God has placed abilities in me that other people don’t have and I want to be faithful to His calling on my life.
  • People tell me I’m a good peacemaker. I tend to be a listener rather than a talker. However, when I’m asked for my opinion, I’ll give it to you.
  • My hobbies are reading, writing, photography, and crafts (especially card making). In the past, I also enjoyed embroidery, sewing (I made my own wedding dress), cross-stitch, knitting, quilting, and latch hook. My youngest child is now 5, so I may be able to dig out some of my treasures I hid away when my children were young. (I found it too frustrating to get started with a project and then have to put it away so that no one would play with it.)
  • My personality type is Phlegmatic/Choleric. In other words, I desire peace and control. I tend to be a calm, balanced, witty, low-key, considerate, peacemaking person who is a problem solver, decisive, organized, task oriented, energetic, and confident. My downfalls are that I’m also stubborn, hard to motivate, sometimes careless and unenthusiastic, as well as opinionated, insensitive, arrogant, and manipulative. (Ouch!) I have a workaholic tendency and may try to take on authority God has not given me.
  • From the assessments I’ve participated in and the feedback I’ve received from trusted friends, my spiritual gifts are exhortation and administration. In other words, God has called me to “deliver challenging and encouraging words” as well as “to organize, administrate and promote the various affairs of the local church’s ministry to direct them effectively.”

“Exhorters are oftentimes referred to as encouragers. People with this gift will tend to look for and find the best in others. They tend to be patient and love long conversations where they can get to know others. They also love to share personal experiences as a form of encouragement and counsel . . . They make wonderful coaches and counselors and enjoy helping bring out the best in people. . . A great combination for leadership is exhorting combined with administration.”  (From the gifts test by Vince & Cindy D’Acchiolli)

One thing I really appreciated about the presentation by Vince D’Acchiolli was his focus on how people with different gifts can either work well together or experience incredible conflicts. When we understand how God has created us, it’s easier to celebrate our differences and use them to honor God. Renee Swope sums it up this way:

“When we fall into the comparison trap, it’s easy to feel like we don’t have as much to offer as others do . . . God never intended for us to compete with each other; He wants us to complete one another, celebrating and encouraging each other’s strengths while discovering who He created us to be.”

So there you go. Now you know more about the “real me”. Have you discovered your unique abilities? How will you allow God to use them?

 

 


No More Condemnation – Romans 8:1

“Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow  Isaiah 1:18
“Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as
white as snow Isaiah 1:18

This week in our study of Renee Swope’s, A Confident Heart, we were encouraged to try verse chaining. Here is what I discovered from Romans 8:31

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1 (New King James Version – emphasis mine)

John 3:19  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

John 5:29  and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Romans 5:16  And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.

Dictionary.com says to condemn is “to pronounce to be guilty; sentence to punishment: to condemn a murderer to life imprisonment.”

John 20:31  but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

New 2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Romans 8:4  that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16  [ Walking in the Spirit ] I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.footprints
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I am no longer judged or declared guilty. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me from all sin. When God looks at me, he doesn’t see me as the dirty, guilty, condemned sinner I used to be, but he sees me as pure, clean, righteous, and free from sin. Jesus paid the price and has redeemed me from slavery to sin. I am free from the power of sin and can choose to walk in the Spirit. I have new desires (as a new creation) and can look to the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength as I walk with God each day. In the future, I will not face condemnation either. Instead I will celebrate with Jesus Christ as an adopted child of God the Father, enjoying His presence in Heaven. Wow! I have a lot to celebrate 🙂
What have you been learning in your walk with God? I’d love to hear about it!

Who I Am in Christ

This week in our Proverbs 31 Ministries online Bible study of A Confident Heart, Renee Swope talked to us about dealing with thoughts of “I’m not good enough.”

“It’s easy to think that if we were taller, prettier, skinnier, smarter, younger, or had all that we wanted, we’d be secure. We think all those things could make us feel like we are good enough. But the truth is, even women who ‘have it all’ still struggle with feeling like they aren’t good enough.”   -Renee Swope

We all have “mind tapes” which play over and over in our heads – messages which tell us we’re no good, or we’ll never make it, or we’re stupid, or we’re ugly etc. We need to choose to “record over” these negative messages, replacing them with the truth of God’s word. Dr. Neil Anderson has shared a compilation of Scriptures (see Victory Over the Darkness) to remind us of who we are in Christ. Ginny Blankenship created this visual based on the Scriptures. Every day we need to consciously fill our minds with these truths.Who I am in Jesus Christ

This morning as I sat down to write this post, I was excited to share what I was learning. When I went to sign in to my WordPress account my password wasn’t accepted. I tried several, but none of them worked. Finally I had to request a password reset. Then I logged in and started writing my post. I thought it would be fun to do a Wordle, but when I tried to do that, I found out my Java software was out of date, so the Wordle wouldn’t work. I accepted the fact I wouldn’t get my post written in the time I thought I would, updated my software and then prepared breakfast for my family. While we were getting ready to have breakfast, my husband and son had a confrontation. I thought my husband was being too harsh and voiced my opinion. My husband didn’t appreciate my interference and told me so. We made it through breakfast and then it was time to get our five children out the door for the bus. As they were getting snow pants, jackets, and mitts on, my youngest daughter couldn’t find her mitts. I looked everywhere, but couldn’t find them. I went to a box of old mitts we have and found two the same colour, but for the same hand. No matter how I searched, I couldn’t find any others that were remotely suitable, so out the door she went with mismatched mitts.

At the end of chapter 6, Renee poses this question:

“What area of your life – as a woman, mom, wife, friend, daughter, housekeeper, professional, leader, etc. – do you currently struggle with most in believing you are good enough?”

This morning I was tempted to believe I was NOT good enough in several areas:

  • Computer/technology
  • Marriage
  • Motherhood

Renee says:

“Sometimes it’s not the big things — it’s the smaller, everyday things. How often do you hear doubt whisper, You’re such a failure, when you make a dumb mistake, say something you regret, argue with someone you love, let a friend down, dishonor your husband, or fall into a pattern of sin? How often do you beat yourself up with accusing internal dialogue, saying things like, I always do that. I keep saying I’m sorry, but I’ll never change. I’m constantly disappointing someone. . . we need to remember that accusation doesn’t come from God; it comes from our accuser. . . Accusing is what Satan does best, but instead of believing his accusations, we need to let them lead us straight to Jesus so He can have the final say.”

These are the Scriptures (taken from Neil Anderson’s list) I’m choosing to mediate on this week:

  1. I Corinthians 6:19-20 – I have been bought with a price and I belong to God
  2. Ephesians 1:3-8 – I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child
  3. Hebrews 4:14-16 – I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ
  4. Philippians 1:6 – I am confident God will complete the good work He started in me
  5. 2 Timothy 1:7 – I have been given a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind
  6. 1 John 5:18 – I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me
  7. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 – I am a minister of reconciliation for God

Here’s my Wordle

SONY DSC

Today I’m choosing to celebrate who I am in Jesus Christ. Will you join me?

 

 


When – Then: Allowing God to fill our wells

This week in our online Bible study of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, we are on chapter three, “Finding Love that Won’t Fail Even When I Do”. I highlighted many sections throughout the chapter, but the following quote sums up the chapter for me.

“Our schedules are full, our minds are full, our stomachs are full, our refrigerators are full, our closets are full, our lives are full. Yet we find ourselves with so many empty places. Why? Because the wells of our hearts were created to be filled by God alone. . . By recognizing and replacing our emptiness with the fulness of God’s promises, we drink the gift of living water. We  acknowledge our need, which allows Him to pour His truth into the well of our hearts.”

At the end of the chapter there are questions to help us think through the ideas presented during the chapter. Question 7 says:

“We were made for love that isn’t measured by our last accomplishment but marked by God’s measureless grace (pg. 62). Write a few when-then statements for areas of your life where you can apply this truth.”

ImageHere are my “when-then” statements:

1. When I am tempted to measure my value by how well I am doing as a mother, I will stop. Then, I will thank God that He always sees me as precious and valuable.

2. When I am tempted to fill my emptiness by eating, I will stop. Then, I will celebrate God’s presence and thank Him for his sufficiency to meet all my needs.

3. When I am tempted to look to my husband to meet all my needs, I will stop. Then, I will rejoice that God loves me with a perfect love and He is sufficient for all my needs.

4. When I am tempted to satisfy my needs by being overly busy, I will stop. Then, I will seek God’s wisdom and guidance in my life and trust Him to provide for my needs.

As I read through this chapter, I was reminded of how we get tricked into thinking so many other things will meet our needs, and we switch from relying on God to relying on other things. It’s good to try to be the best mother possible, but I will fail. My husband is a wonderful person, but he is only human and will never satisfy all my desires. Food is necessary for life, but eating doesn’t satisfy emotional needs. Work provides income and a measure of satisfaction, but work was never meant to fill the God-sized hole in my heart.

Renee reminds us:

“A confident heart is found in a woman who knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that she is loved no matter what. Lasting security comes when we bring the empty well of our hearts to Jesus and ask Him to fill and fulfill us with the security of His unfailing love.”

She also says:

“Salvation is a one-time decision, but finding satisfaction in Christ and living in the security of His promises is a daily process.”

I don’t know about you, but I need these reminders. I am saved, and I have found satisfaction in Christ, but I often get derailed in my walk with Him. Today I am choosing to live in the security of God’s promises. Tomorrow, and the next day and each day after that, I will need to “recalibrate” and choose again.

Are you choosing to find satisfaction in Christ so that you can live in the security of His promises?


I Believe

I’m participating in another online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries. This study is based on the book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God’s Promises by  Renee Swope. Here’s one of the questions I’m tackling this week:

“In order for change to take place, we have to first believe it is possible. Refute your own thoughts of doubt with declarations of faith”

Here are my declarations of faith:

  1. I believe God was watching and actively participating in my creation when I was formed in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139: 14-16)
  2. I believe God has a specific purpose for my life. (Ephesians 2:10)
  3. I believe God is always with me. (Psalm 139:2-12; Matt. 28:20)
  4. I believe God leads and directs in my daily life through His Holy Spirit, His Word, other believers, and circumstances He allows. (Luke 12:11, 12; 2 Tim. 2:15)
  5. I believe God strengthens me and helps me as I rely on Him. (Isaiah 40:31; Isaiah 41:10)
  6. I believe God understands my weaknesses and works through them. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
  7. I believe God wants me to be holy. (I Peter 1:16)
  8. I believe God forgives my sin when I confess and forsake it. (I John 1:9)

Life can be difficult. That’s why I need to continually turn away from everything else and focus on God and His word. Then I’m able and equipped to step out in faith with Him.

What about you? What promises do you cling to? How are you stepping out in faith?