Month: September 2019

  • Exchanging Worry for Peace

    Every once and in awhile, I wake up to a day when my insecurities and worries threaten to get the best of me. It can start subtly, but then quickly spirals into a full-on questioning of the meaning of life! “Who am I? What if people don’t like what I have to say? What if I didn’t really hear God right and I’m not the right person for the job?”

    Do you ever have that kind of day? Maybe the little everyday stressors are starting to stack up and weigh heavily on your heart, making you question everything. It is so easy to allow these worries to get the best of us. The worries might start small, but can continue to grow until all we can see are those worries and fears. They begin to threaten how we see ourselves and undermine our purpose. Allowing them to consume us will keep us from the joy and peace that God intends for us. God wants so much more for you! He knows that the worries of this life will threaten our joy so He has given us a way to be set free.

    Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

    Philippians 4:6-7 MSG

    Joy and worry are opposites in nature. Worry threatens to take our joy and fear is out to destroy our peace. In every situation we must give our worry to God through prayer. When we lay our worries down and place them into His capable hands we are set free from the hold they have over us. We can trust in our all-powerful God, our Heavenly Father, who knows and loves us. He will take care of all our concerns and needs and replace our worry with peace.

    As I turn my worries over to God in prayer, I often realize that my thinking is not grounded in the truth. Instead I am caught up in the lies of the enemy. Satan wants us to remain ensnared by the untruths that tell us that we are not capable, not good enough, not called, that we are unlovely or unloved. He wants us to feel alone and paralyzed by worry, fear and insecurity.

    But God’s message is different. He is gently calling us to hear the truth of how much He loves us and how He sees us. I can picture Him saying to you and to me:

    “Come to me, my child. Give me all that weighs so heavily on your heart. Let me remind of what is true. You are radically loved. You are uniquely and wonderfully made by me and I make no mistakes. I have called you to be my child and be a light in this dark world. You have purpose and significance–there is work in this world that only you can do. I have given you everything you need to do my good work and I will provide for all your needs. Put your trust in me. You are never alone for I am with you always and will never leave you or forsake you. I will take your worries and give you a peace that will guard your heart and mind”

    So today, if you find your worries spiraling out of control, ask yourself: Are my thoughts based in truth? Does the message in my mind match the message of God’s truth? If not, talk to God about it and let him know what is on your heart. Trust Him with all that burdens your heart and mind and allow His peace and joy fill you up.

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  • The Power of Words

    “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” – Proverbs 16:24

    We live in a world with increasing lack of personal interaction with others. Sure, we may speak to others via text, on social media or in passing, but we have fewer and fewer opportunities to truly be encouraged by the presence and words of another.

    I’ve recently been studying the power of words and have found that words have more power than we sometimes realize. As kids, we learn to quote the common phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” While this may be a witty defense, it simply is not true. Words are powerful. They have the ability to inspire someone toward greatness, to spur someone on to take action, or to completely crush us.

    We all need the life-giving power of encouraging words in our life. They lift us up when we are feeling discouraged, they keep us going when we want to give up, they touch our hearts and renew our spirits. Without the life-giving words of encouragement and truth regularly pouring into us, doubt and insecurity can sneak in and we forget what is true about us.

    Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

    Proverbs 12:25

    One day, when I was about nine years old, I walked into my bedroom to find a small, blue piece of paper (the size of a sticky note) placed on my pillow. I picked it up and read the hand-written words, “You are special to me. Love, Mom. ” I stared at those words on the paper. In that moment, those words meant the world to me, and have ever since. I was in a time in my life when I really needed to be reminded that someone cherished me and loved me. I took the note, carefully folded it, and gently placed it where all my cherished and most treasured items were stored…in my Mickey Mouse metal safe, complete with not one but two combination locks! You know what? I still have that note today!

    When my mom wrote that note that day, she probably had no idea the lasting impact those few words would have on me. They are words that I have recalled and could picture in my head many times over my life when I would get discouraged by life’s hard times, or times of doubt. They have spoken to my heart over and over again, reminding me of the truth that I am loved.

    Even in our day to day lives we can get discouraged: when a project at work is overwhelming, or you are going on your 6th day without sleep because you have a sick kid at home, or you begin to question your ability as a parent when your teen slams the door once more. It’s in these moments, that we are at risk of listening to the lies of discouragement that creep in and try to keep us down.

    Because of this, it is important to be connected to a community of people who will cheer you on and support you. We need to surround ourselves with people who will be a source of encouragement for us–who will speak life and truth into our soul, who will remind us of God’s grace, love and truth when we forget.

    “Encouragement is like oxygen to the soul, and everyone needs it.”

    John Maxwell

    This week, consider bringing an encouraging word to the people you encounter. Even the smallest compliment or encouraging word, or a simple smile could mean the world to someone. Those simple words or actions can communicate worth to someone else. They say, “I see you”, “you are not alone”, “you have a place in this world and I’m glad you’re in it”. Your encouragement can have a far bigger impact than you realize. Just like I’m sure my mom, when she wrote down those few words on a small piece of paper one day, didn’t expect me to still have it today. We never know what someone might be needing to hear, but God does. If we listen and are receptive to His Spirit moving in us, He will give us the words to speak to bring the right encouragement to someone in our life.

    Remember to encourage yourself as well. Speak God’s truth and grace to your own soul when you are feeling bad about yourself. Choose to not listen to the enemies lies but hold fast to the truth about who you are in Christ. Remember, you are a child of God, made in His image, beautifully and wonderfully made! Speak to yourself like you would a cherished friend, one who is beloved by God.

    And don’t forget our ultimate encourager, the one who is our greatest champion and number one fan…our Heavenly Father. Through His Spirit and His word, we can be reminded of His great love for us and that we are His beautiful masterpiece. His Word is filled with love notes to us from our Father who takes great delight in you and loves you unconditionally.

    “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

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  • Fixing Our Minds On Truth

    My mom loves to tell stories about my brother and I growing up. One of her favorites, was from when I was about 3 or 4 years old. We were living in Washington D.C. back in the 80’s. One night on my way to bed, I paused on my way up the stairs to my bedroom, and gave her a pensive look. I shifted my weight to one side and put one hand on my hip and said with my very best “old sage” voice, “You know Mom, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I had heard this quote often on a commercial for the United Negro College Fund, emphasizing the importance of education. I was apparently, deeply impacted by it and in my pre-school wisdom, felt the urgent need to impress it upon all the important people in my life. My mom just smiled with a twinkle in her eye and said, “Yes, that’s true, honey. Now go to bed.”

    Although very young at the time, I was beginning to grasp that the mind is a mighty tool–worthy of strengthening, enriching and using. What I couldn’t yet know is how the thoughts in our minds have the power to shape how we see ourselves and the world around us. When focused on the right thing, our minds can be sharp and clear. But if we are bound up in deception and lies, we become captives by the enemy’s greatest tool. Because of this, it is paramount that our thoughts be firmly established in truth.

    As an adult I struggled at different times with this idea of grounding my thoughts in truth. Out in the real world, life had its ups and downs as responsibilities and stresses began to stack up. Anxiety and self-doubt would creep in from time to time. For a season, a relationship left me riddled with insecurities, shattering my confidence. The problem I had, was that I was relying on my own mind and it’s interpretation of what is true about me and about my life. I saw things through the filter of self-preservation and protection, where the path of least resistance was valued over what God was calling me to do, and who God was calling me to be.

    I felt like a prisoner to the choices I had made and stuck on a path that was leading to nowhere. It wasn’t until I read the book “Loving God With All of Your Mind” by Elizabeth George that I was challenged to change my thinking, not out of sheer self-discipline, but in response to the loving Savior who wanted to set me free from the mundane and meaningless.

    It began with an exercise of obedience, first my obedience to God, and then making my thoughts obedient to Christ. Paul gives us some great imagery of taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ.

    We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

    2 Corinthians 10:5

    In every situation, we have a chance to stop right in our tracks and choose which way we will allow our thoughts to take us. Will we see everything that is going wrong and let our minds wander to the worst case scenario? Or will we zoom out to an eternal perspective and trust that God has our very best at heart and will never forsake us? Will we allow our thoughts control us, forcing us into a defensive and reactive posture? Or will we capture our thoughts and measure them against what Jesus says is true about who He is and who we are?

    It is in the light of His truth that we can turn our minds away from the tape playing over and over in our heads and focus on Jesus instead. It takes practice and we have to work hard at it, but the reward is unrivaled peace and incomparable joy.

    Philippians 4:8 says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” The first word in the list of things to focus on, is whatever is true. When we hold firmly to the truth about who God is and who we are in Christ, we have freedom and joy. We are shaped to be more like Christ and we are no longer bound by insecurity or fear. We are free to love ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. We are free to step into our calling when God says go, and free to say no to the things that are not in step with the Holy Spirit’s lead. We are free to live life abundantly. Jesus even promises that when we remain faithful to follow Him, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free! (John 8:32) 

    In what area of your life could you use a little more truthful perspective? What wrong thinking is playing on loop in your mind and needs to be taken captive and made obedient to Christ? Take some time to pray this week about it. Ask God to help you seek the truth about who He is, who you are, and who you can be, in Him. We’d love to pray for you too! Feel free to drop us a line at info@experiencerevival.com and our prayer team will hold you close in prayer. Together, let’s tune our hearts to hear His voice above the noise, inviting us to a life lived in freedom and truth.

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