Getting a Handle on Fear


Aussie land 145A couple of weeks ago, I posted about fears sinking us.

As I learn to trust God more, I’m beginning to understand to a greater depth that he really is in control of every situation. I don’t believe he causes bad things, but I see how he allows them to bring about something better for us. Sometimes our idea of “good” isn’t as good as his “best.”

As a result, my fear is diminishing.

Over the last three months, I’ve read a couple of books that are changing my perspective.

Prison to Praise is the testimony of Merlin Carothers who describes his journey finding God and his power in Merlin’s life. Power in Praise gives numerous stories of people, including Merlin, who began to praise God for every situation in their lives – both good and bad.

God’s plans for us are good. And they can’t be hindered.

I know that you can do ALL things, and NO purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

Job 42:2

So every situation is from his hand in order to bring about something good.

every. single. situation.

I get that is hard to wrap our minds and hearts around. I have friends who just lost a son. How do we apply this mindset? Honestly, I’m not sure.

Yet.

I won’t offer platitudes. But I do know that God is good and is doing something good even in that situation. It comes down to whether we can fully trust God, his goodness, his promises and most of all his love for us.

And that is what alleviates our fear.

No matter what happens, I’m trying to choose to praise God and trust that he is doing something good. Even when it looks bad.

At the very least, my heart is calmed, and I find peace and joy.

But I’m also finding that God works out the circumstances I thought had no answer or were too bad to take – not usually as I envisioned, but always better than I hoped.

As we approach Easter, I see the ultimate example of this.

When the religious leaders dragged Jesus away, and mocked, tortured and crucified him, his followers scattered. Terrified and alone (so they thought), they tried to make sense of the turn of events. They had believed, expected that Jesus would rescue them from the oppression of Roman rule. They watched their hopes and dreams die on that cross. Right?

Wrong.

God had a better plan. An eternal plan for life beyond the one they were living on earth. He sent Jesus to save them from being forever separated from God. God’s perspective was far greater than theirs. Saving them from their current situation was not as crucial as saving them for eternity.

With God, there is always a bigger picture.

One we can’t usually see until after the fact. You know, that 20/20 hindsight thing. So if we can believe this, trust God and thank him for what he’s doing even when we can’t see it or understand it in the moment, we experience peace. We also take our hands off situations which allows God to work things out.

To experience his best way, we have to get out of the way!

I challenge you to consider taking your life forward by praising God even for the tough stuff that seems bad. What looks bad to us, is a gateway to the ultimate good from him.

Let me know your thoughts…

 

Do You Have Hope?


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Tamera Lynn Kraft

This week’s post is written by my featured author, Tamera Lynn Kraft.
She’s given us an encouraging piece about hope and a brief excerpt from her novella, Resurrection of Hope.

Often, when life feels stuck or circumstances seem to press in on us, we can lose hope. But Tamara points out that our true hope is in Jesus. With God nothing is impossible.

We all hope for things.

If our flowers need watering, we hope it will rain. If we have a picnic scheduled, we hope it will be sunny. We all hope life will be easy. Hope in the Bible is different than this kind of hope of wishing something would happen or wanting something.

In the New Testament, the word hope is translated from the word elpizo. Elpizo means confidently trusting in and waiting for something or someone.

Hebrews 16:19 calls hope an anchor for our souls.

When our hope is in Christ instead of in our circumstances, that kind of confident expectation brings us a peace the world can’t understand and a joy that doesn’t depend on everything happening exactly right. We can rely upon Christ to work things out for our good.

That relieves us of the pressure to fix things we can’t fix.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.     Romans 15:13 (ESV)

My Easter novella, Resurrection of Hope, is about two broken people, Vivian and Henry, who find hope together that only Christ gives. At one point, Vivian visits a friend named Hope who has just lost a child. Hope was told she couldn’t have children.

Here’s a short excerpt from that scene….

Vivian swallowed. “I… I don’t know what to say. I expected to find you distraught after what happened, but you seem to be… almost cheerful.”

Hope’s eyes closed and her head tilted back into the pillow. “I have my moments. Trust me.” She opened her eyes and smiled. “I keep my hope in Jesus Christ, and He gives me the peace I need to get through this.”

Vivian held back a snort. “How can you of all people talk of hope knowing you’ll never have any children?”

Hope pressed her lips together as she propped herself up on her pillow. “If my hope rested on having children, then you’re right. There would be no reason, but my hope is the kind they talk about in Psalms. ‘But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.'”

Resurrection of Hope

She thought he was her knight in shining armor, but will a marriage of convenience prove her wrong?
After Vivian’s fiancé dies in the Great War, she thinks her life is over. But Henry, her fiancé’s best friend, comes to the rescue offering a marriage of convenience. He claims he promised his friend he would take care of her. She grows to love him, but she knows it will never work because he never shows any love for her.
Henry adores Vivian and has pledged to take care of her, but he won’t risk their friendship by letting her know. She’s still in love with the man who died in the Great War. He won’t risk heartache by revealing his true emotions.

Get this book.

 

Available April 11, 2017

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novellas in print. In April, her new novel, Alice’s Notions will be released. She’s been married for 38 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and two grandchildren. You can contact Tamera on her website at http://tameralynnkraft.net

4 Ways Fear Sinks Us


DSC_0154 (2)copyI recently read the story of the sinking of the Kursk submarine in the Barents Sea in the year 2000. It stunned me to find that seven countries offered help that was declined. Apparently, even though the Russian government wasn’t completely in control or even possessing full knowledge of the details concerning the situation, they chose to keep silent, deny their need for help and allow 118 crew members to die.

It seems the facts are still a bit fuzzy, but for the topic of today’s post the illustration fits.

We live in a world of fear.

Various folks have recently commented about how fearful they are because of our new president taking office. They fear the violence in our cities (nothing new, just more of it) and the natural disasters wrecking havoc across the globe. Where I live, car accidents are a multiple per day occurrence which still can unnerve me a bit since we were hit a year and a half ago.

Fear is real.

But if we let it rule us, it will sink us.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading through the book of Matthew in the Bible and a few situations of fear based actions caught my attention. All of these fears were ones I’ve dealt with over the course of my life. Here’s my take:

  1. Fear of looking weak – In the above situation, the Russian government didn’t want anyone to know that they didn’t have it all together. It cost 118 lives. Owning up to our mistakes or lack of knowledge about something can feel awkward and embarrassing, but allowing that fear can cost us and others far more than the momentary discomfort of admitting we’re wrong or need help.
  2. Fear of what people will think of us -(vs. 9) Herod had John the baptist beheaded because of a foolish oath he made in front of his company. He was distressed because he really didn’t want to kill John, but he was more afraid of what his friends would think of him if he didn’t. Hopefully, we’ve never gone as far as murdering someone (if you have, clearly you know the power of fear) because we’ve been afraid of what people thought, but who have we hurt or sacrificed because of that fear?
  3. Fear caused by an inaccurate assumption -In verses 25-26, Jesus’ disciples were out in a boat in a storm. Jesus came to them to help, but they thought he was a ghost. Because of their fear in the situation, they made an inaccurate assumption which caused them more fear. It says they went from fear to terror! I can relate. I’ve made a few assumptions created by fear that ended up making the situation far worse than it needed to be.
  4. Fear of our circumstances – Peter, in verse 30, was in the midst of a miracle. Jesus, walking on water through the storm, answered Peter’s request to walk on the water to meet him. Peter jumped at the chance. What an amazing situation! But the moment Peter took his eyes off Jesus, and looked around at the raging wind and towering waves, he began to sink. Fortunately, he called out to Jesus and was saved.

We are all faced with difficult, sometimes tragic situations which can overwhelm us, bringing fear and uncertainty. Fear was given to us as a gift when God created us.

It keeps us safe.

We don’t jump off cliffs, place our hands on hot stoves or experiment with a circular saw to see if it will work on our limbs like it does on wood. We possess a healthy respectful fear of those dangerous things.

But like anything that we misplace in our heart or mind, fear can become a ruler or master over us taking us into harm rather than keeping us from it. God didn’t intend for fear to control our thoughts, actions or behavior towards others.

Recognizing harmful patterns is the first step in taking our lives forward.

Which of these areas do you feel might be ruling you?

 

 

How to Rebuild Your Life


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Corinth, Greece

Today I’m sharing an adaptation of a popular post I wrote a few years ago. It seems to have been helpful then, and I think it is relevant in new ways at this time in our nation and our individual lives.

There’s a book in the Bible about a man named Nehemiah. 

He was brokenhearted over the fact that the city of Jerusalem was in ruins, and after praying to God about it, he embarked on a mission to rebuild the walls.

I love this story for a number of reasons. 

First of all, I’m moved that someone saw devastation and cared enough to find out how he could help. I feel this way when I hear stories of people whose lives have been ruined. Maybe it was destroyed by a natural disaster, or because of another person’s selfish action, or even by their own poor choices, but whatever the reason, the ruins of someone’s life solicit a compassionate longing to help them rebuild.

I believe that’s how God feels about us.

Secondly, I love that Nehemiah took action. After he grieved for a city that lay in ruins, he asked God to help him and then set out to obtain permission, supplies and a group of people to rebuild the city even though he “was very much afraid.” The king granted him all the time and supplies he needed. Words can communicate compassion, but action shows love.

God gives us time and what we need to rebuild. He’s patient.

Next, it encourages me that Nehemiah didn’t give up, even when his group came up against so much opposition. A local official ridiculed and tormented the people, asking them what they thought they were doing. Lies were flung at them to convince them that their efforts were in vain, that their attempts were feeble and inadequate. Too much was ruined. The rubble couldn’t be reclaimed for a purpose.

I’ve heard those same lies so many times.

At one point in my life, I was exhausted from working to hold together my marriage and my family. My strength was giving out because of unresolved daily conflicts, and my determination to stay married in spite of a horribly dysfunctional situation. My children were showing the effects of living under the strain in our home. I was certain that the “rubble” was too much to wade through. Nothing seemed salvageable.

So God showed me this story about Nehemiah.

Finally, I love the story because God has a plan for rebuilding. As I studied Nehemiah’s situation, I saw some applications for my life. For me the plan looked like this:

  1. Fight for my family even if it meant doing things that seemed to tear us apart. I had to separate from my ex-husband in order to allow us to deal with issues. Pulling out of most of our activities became necessary so we could focus on our family.
  2. Concentrate on what God wanted to change in me. Allow God to heal me and leave my husband and marriage in His hands. Success for me would depend on what God did in my life.
  3. Set up a guard against the things that crept in to hurt my relationships with God and my children. For me those things were fatigue, busyness, not making time for them, and trying to figure everything out without seeking God.
  4. Put God ahead of my marriage. I had been setting my desire for the “perfect marriage” ahead of God. I compromised truth in order to keep peace. My fear caused me to push aside things God tried to tell me even when they would have helped me. I stayed in a place God had tried to release me from and didn’t ask me to stay in.
  5. Be aware of Satan’s plot to destroy us and our family. I had to choose to fight for the well-being of myself and my children even when the enemy told me to give up because it wouldn’t be worth it. Recognizing the lies of the enemy is imperative, but not always easy. We have to be so alert. Nehemiah had the people keep a weapon in one hand while they built with the other.

Rebuilding our lives can be scary.

We can’t see all that lies ahead. It’s like driving on the darkest road or in dense fog at night. Our headlights only shine far enough for us to keep moving. We drive as far as we can see, and as we drive, the path is illuminated ahead of us.

Rebuilding happens one day at a time.

We can’t look too far ahead or worry about what will come. Instead we have to trust God to provide what we need for that day. When I look ahead and start to worry about the future, God asks

Do you have what you need today? Can you believe I’ve got a good plan?

The answer is always “yes.” I always have what I need today. When the next day comes, I have what I need again. Nothing surprises God. He’s already seen all of our life and has a great plan for it. We can trust him to bring restoration to every area of our lives.

His plan rarely turns out to be what we think we need or want.

It’s actually far better. The marriage I once tried so desperately to hold together fell apart. My ex-husband went his own way, but about eight years later God brought me an incredible man – my true love and soul mate . We will celebrate our eighth anniversary in a couple of months. (Read our story.)

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My one and only love – Brendan

God continues to rebuild our lives and the lives of our seven children and nine grandchildren. We are committed to an amazing church family where we are growing and able to serve others in our community.  While we still have struggles, God is bringing such healing and joy to our daily lives. We praise him for the way he has redeemed our past and rebuilt on the ruins.

How is God rebuilding your life?