Peace instead of Fear

What burdens are you carrying today? What fears?  What needs do you have?  What do we do with them? This past year, I have joined with others locally and across our nation, to pray earnestly, unceasingly, not like before, as we have been burdened and fearful for our nation- the loss of religious freedoms, the ever encroaching evil in our culture and the fight for godly values in our homes and schools. God is working mightily through our prayers on a large scale.

Now that those times of prayer for the elections have past, will we continue to pray earnestly, unceasingly? The burdens and battles are never over in this world – whether for a nation or in our lives. We continue to fight the darkness around us in our  lives and homes, our communities and churches. Paul reminded the Ephesians living in an ungodly culture:

“Hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil…take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.” (Ephesians 6: 16, 17) 

Daily we feel the pressures and burdens living in this world. Satan tempts us to believe that God doesn’t care. He has left us. So, we decide to worry and fret, overwhelmed by carrying these burdens ourselves. But when I choose to go to God in prayer and give these cares to him, I do not go away empty handed – God gives me himself in return, his joy and his peace.

Thomas Watson, an English Puritan Preacher who lived almost 400 years ago wrote in his book, The Ten Commandments:

“Let us cast all of our burdens upon him-our fears, our needs and our sins. Christian what troubles you? You have a God to pardon your sins and to supply your needs, therefore roll your burden on him, “Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. Those who have a covenant union with God may be filled with contentment of spirit, for God is a rich blessing to the soul. He is a sufficient good. He who has God has enough…If God is our God let it cheer and revive us in all conditions…Let us live as those who have God as their own, and walk in holy lives, that others may see there is something of God in us.”

As I abide with God in a close relationship with him, praying daily and hourly for mine and others’ burdens, I can trust he will work things out in his good timing. Then God produces the peace and joy I need in my circumstances. My spirit is refreshed and I become refreshment to those living in darkness around me. Hopeless, they are burdened with sins and sorrows wandering around looking for someone who cares. I can lead them to our God and to His son, Jesus, who takes the burdens of those who call out to him and desire to live godly lives.

“Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not allow the godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:22

So there are two choices for me and you today as God’s children: 1) worry and fret until I am overwhelmed and totally stressed in my circumstances or 2) give my burdens to God through prayer and experience His peace and joy, trusting in a good and powerful God who loves me.

“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15

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Are You Listening?

listening

Praying for my day,everything was planned out.  I had traveled to Raleigh NC to help serve at the I Commit conference for Voice of the Martyrs and was on the way to the church to set up. Making a quick stop to get a bite to eat, the fast food place was fast but there was no seating. Holding my tray of food, phone in my hand, planning on making some phones calls, an older man sitting alone at a table for four motioned for me to sit with him. Thinking, “I don’t have much time to talk but just to eat”, I made my way to his table.

We introduced ourselves. Smiling, I politely told him I had to eat hurriedly because I was helping with a Christian conference. That really didn’t matter to him as he proceeded to share his story with me. I slipped my phone into my purse, realizing I was there for more than a quick meal. This man, Tommy, shared how he came to the restaurant often, and the people there knew him. He had moved to Raleigh with his wife to be near their children. Then he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the benign tumor was removed but left him with no sense of smell and sight in only one eye. Thinking he would not mentally survive, his wife divorced him and sent him to a mental hospital. His kids rescued him from the hospital and he eventually found a friend in a church near his apartment. He smiled and said, all is good and I enjoy seeing my kids even though I live alone.

We continued to have a wonderful conversation. He wanted to know more about VOM and my family. Finishing our lunches, we shook hands and gave each other a name card to stay in touch. But I walked away convicted. How many “Tommys” are there who just need someone to talk and share with?  They aren’t in my planned out schedule but need someone to hear their story.

Jesus also lived a busy life on earth. Preaching in the synagogue, teaching to the masses and to His disciples, yet, He made time to listen to people. People were his purpose. As He went about His day, Jesus listened with love, patience, kindness and gentleness to people’s stories – the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Zacchaeus’s questions, Martha complaining about Mary, the disciples fussing about the greatest in God’s kingdom, and more.

Thinking about my time with Tommy, I have started a habit of asking God daily who He wants me to listen to, pray for, or share His message of love with. Yet, am I willing to be inconvenienced? Jesus was often inconvenienced as He traveled from town to town listening to others.

Jesus told his disciples, “go” or “as you are going” make disciples. (Matthew 28:19)  While I am going throughout my day, going in many directions, am I listening to the hurting people around me, ready to share God’s love for them?  Next time someone needs a listening ear, I’ll put the phone down, the plan book up, and show the fruit of love, kindness, patience and gentleness as Christ would have done.  Who knows, I may change someone’s life that day just by listening.

“Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  Colossians 3:12

(photo by Whitebeard)

Life on Pause

Snow in Fleetwood

More cold, snow and ice are forcing its way through much of the U.S. and its cities. These winter storms have brought interruptions to everyday life.  Hundreds are unable to travel, attend school, or open businesses. Everything has come to a halt and normal life has been interrupted – for a while.

Life is full of pauses and interruptions:  weather, sickness, job loss, death in a family, birth of a child, or a move to a new location. These pauses can last a few weeks, months or even years. For some months, my own life has been on pause. It has been a time of change, a time of reflection, a time of silence and a time of renewal.  I had to put my blogging aside, on pause, for a while because of interruptions – good interruptions, difficult interruptions.

A few months ago, I packed up our home for another move (10th move with my husband and family) since my husband began a new job. That move took us to the mountains of North Carolina, 4 hours away from our friends. At the same time, I had put my blogging aside to finish writing a book about revival (more on that coming soon). Even though a long process and learning curve, the book has been a good interruption. I hoped someday (now) I would get back to my blog again.

During the pauses of life, while waiting for our lives to return to “normal”, we can become impatient with ourselves, others and even God.  King David understood times of interruptions and wrote:

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7

The fruit of patience is often cultivated when we are forced to pause and learn to trust in an all knowing God who is good.

In the pauses of my own life (which there have been many), I have learned to do four things which help me to “wait patiently” for God:

  1. Rejoice in my circumstances: “Rejoice always, again I say rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
  2. Pray for myself and others: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18
  3. Give thanks: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.” Psalm 136:1
  4. Read God’s Word daily which gives me hope: “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path…your word is my only source of hope.” Psalm 119:105,114

If I wait patiently, instead of fretting, peace encompasses my heart and I can actually enjoy the pauses in my life while I wait. With my hope in God, I continue to grow deeper in my trust of Him. Then He produces new fruit in my life during those seasons of interruptions. Thankfully, seldom do life’s interruptions or pauses last forever. The warm sun will come out again and there will be new fruit on the vine – hopefully, the fruit of patience with myself, others and God.